Friday, July 31, 2009

Banking more Karma points

I am putting more points into my Karma bank. I woke up early this morning so I could beat the heat and humidity for my workout. I had a 1 hour run planned and when you get out early, it's quite nice. I loaded some new tunes onto my iPod last night so I had some different stuff to listen to. I was just getting going when I had a great pick-me-up. The Beatles Good Day Sunshine, followed by Good Morning, Good Morning. I got to my turn around point and was heading back when I stumbled upon car keys on the ground. I reached down to pick them up and noticed a tag on it for a local gym. I carried the keys home and after my shower I drove to the gym. They scanned the tag and said they would call the owner and let her know. Whoo hooo, more points in the bank. First I saved the dogs, now this.

So now that I am off for a couple of weeks, I am back in the kitchen. The other night I made bolognese sauce. It started with some sauteed onions:

Then I added the meat mix (beef, veal, pork) and chopped it fine:

Once the meat lost it's 'raw' color, added some milk and simmered:

Once the milk was gone, added some wine and simmered more:

Once the wine soaked up, I added the canned tomato (chopped) and cooked over low heat for 2 hours:

Once it was done, I poured it over some whole wheat pasta:

The good news is I have left overs of the sauce for another night.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Well, the NYC tri is in the books. As usual it was a fun race and I enjoyed it even more knowing that after ~25 minutes my work was done!

On Saturday we met up at the pre-race meeting and then picked up our packets. Once again, they included a good water bottle in the bag. What can I say, I am easy to please ;-)

After the meeting we dropped the Wingman's bike off in transition and headed out for dinner. Then, we went back to the apartment to relax for the rest of the night. Oddly enough it was very quiet out on the street. I guess the upper west side does not get as much traffic so I did not hear horn honking or trucks driving though. I had no trouble falling asleep but the usual trouble staying asleep. The best thing you can do for sleep is to get a good night's sleep two nights before the race. And I did.

When the alarm went off at 4:30a Sunday, Wingman looked out the window and said it was raining. Oh boy. What will run off into the Hudson is all I was thinking. I've always said when it comes to rain and NYC, you gotta love a city that can make it's own gravy when it rains. We packed our stuff and walked over to the race site around 5a. It stopped raining by the time we got there. Len met us around 5:30a at our transition spot. Team BAMF was present and accounted for. At this point I had to make the 1 mile trek uptown to the swim start. I bid farewell to my teammates and started my journey. As I got closer to the swim start I started thinking about the actual swim. It had been raining on and off all week so the bacteria count must have been somewhat high, but not high enough to cancel the swim. Then I started feeling a little bit of pressure about my role on the team. If for some reason I bail on the swim at any time, as a team we are done and all the training Wingman and Len did was for nothing. Holy cow, the weight of the world is on my shoulders!!! I calmed myself down and put on my wetsuit. Backwards. Crap. I got it off and now I am a little sweaty so getting it back on was a little harder. Finally got it on right. Oh, gotta go to the bathroom (and not what you can do in a wetsuit). Damn. I'll wait until the swim is over and then go.

When my wave finally makes it to the floating dock, I am one of the first ones down the ramp. The best spot is the one furthest from the sea wall. The current is faster the further out you go. I grabbed the rope and slid into what was going to be my personal hell for the next 21 minutes. I swear I was hanging on for dear life as I was being pulled downstream with the current. When the horn went off, I let go and started to float and correct my position so I was not feet first! Got myself righted quickly and noticed that I could not see my hands in the water. It was so murky and gross. I did this race last year and really the Hudson River was not this bad. Had it been, I would have skipped this race. Now I am really focused on making sure no water enters my mouth, nose, eyes, etc. I can't get the nasty thoughts out of my head. At this point I picked up my swim stroke a little bit to try to get out of the water a little faster. I sighted pretty well and did not go off track. But at some point I could almost taste the water. And let me say it was not good. I focused on what Dory would say:

So I kept on swimming. Then about 3/4 of the way into the swim, something touched my face. It wasn't my hand and there was no one around me. I had a flashback to all the rain this week and the sewer runoffs:

I will never know if it was doodie or not. I'd like to think it was not. But of course this inspired me to swim much, much faster. As I got closer to the swim finish, I remembered my exit strategy from last year. Don't step down until you know for sure you are on the ramp. Let the lifeguards pull you up. But before I got there, my hand touched the bottom of the water. And it felt like mashed potatoes. At this point it was all could do not to cry. The water was even murkier from the swimmers kicking up more sediment from the bottom. I reached out for the lifeguards and they pulled me up the ramp. Phew. I am out. I ran up the ramp and crossed the timing mat. Now I had to run 1/4 mile barefoot down the waterfront to transition. I only slowed down when I came upon the showers. At this point I wish I had some brillo with me so I could scrub my skin. Instead, I just rinsed my face off well and kept running. By the time I got to transition the balls of my feet felt so raw. Even today, they are still a little tender. I passed off the chip and was done for the day.

Wingman biked like hell up and down the West Side Highway and Len tore up Central Park. My cousin Jen and her fiance Chris came down to meet up with us to watch Len run. We made our way over to the park and caught up with Len afterwards. From there we went out to a celebratory breakfast. The waiter brought over a bunch of pickles and said "these are sour and these are not sour". Wow, thanks for the detailed description buddy. I grabbed what I thought was a non sour pickle. Jen asked me if it tasted "not sour" and all I could say was "It tastes like the Hudson.........." My taste buds were a little off the rest of the day.

Overall, it was a good outing for Team BAMF. I hope we will reunite for future races (other than NYC perhaps). Next up for me is the East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue Open Water Swim Challenge in Amagansett. My friend Sinead did the Montauk race earlier this month and enjoyed it. And it won't hurt me to get some more swimming in.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Beast is home

Last we left off, my bike was at Carl Hart getting a new groupset installed. I got the call today that it was finished. I wasted no time in getting down there to pick up the Beast. I had my bike fit tweaked while I was there. Overall, the new shifters will take a little getting used to. It has a much firmer feel to it, but the actual shift feels smooth. Can't wait to get it on the road, but of course, it's raining so I will have to wait until the sun comes out .

Here are a few photos:

The Beast:

Front chain ring and rear derailleur:

Rear derailleur with ceramic bearings, 12-25 rear cassette:

TT Return to Center shifters with adjustable trim for the front derailleur:

Compact crank with 50/34T:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


On Saturday the call came in. My new shifters for my tri bike came in.

I am using the SRAM red groupset on my road bike and have been waiting for the new shifters to come out before upgrading my Cervelo tri bike. Of course since I was racing in Montauk on Sunday, I would have to wait until Monday to drop the bike off at Carl Hart. Needless to say I was at the bike shop Monday around the time they opened. I reviewed my crank length and size with them and the crank arms will have to be ordered and perhaps arrive today. I should get the bike back Thursday barring any delivery problems. Not a problem though as I can ride my road bike. My next tri isn't until late in August so I'm not worried about it.

Went out for a ride yesterday with the Wingman. He's getting his last few rides in before Sunday. He will be ripping up the West Side Highway for his part in our NYC tri relay. We've been watching the Tour de France every night on TV and now he says he will be "dancing" on the pedals this Sunday. He's learning all the cycling lingo from Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett. I just told him to haul ass and take no prisoners. Even Len (runner) is focused. He told me "I got my eye on the prize now, no distractions." Look out folks, Team BAMF is coming!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Montauk Sprint

Today was my 4th time out at the Montauk Sprint Triathlon. It's a super race, very well run, great volunteers and an awesome course. This was going to be a challenge because I had to serve as my own sherpa for the race. Wingman was working and unable to make it.

I was fortunate enough to cut the commute to Montauk dramatically by staying with my friend Sinead, about 30 minutes from the race start. It gains me about an extra hour of sleep in the morning so I jumped at the invite she offered. After catching up a little last night, I wound up going to sleep relatively quickly. Usually I sleep poorly on race nights, but I didn't sleep too badly last night.

When the alarm went off at 4:45am this morning, I didn't bother to hit snooze. I got up as quietly as I could so I would not disturb anyone sleeping. Got dressed, ate my breakfast (OK Jen, no need to scold me this time around) grabbed my gear and headed out. Put on my iPod in the car and a great song came on. Perfect song for the weather of the day:

(Jeff Lyne is sporting quite the 'fro if you ask me, and what's with the guy jamming on the cello?)

The interesting thing about this race is there are two transition areas. So I drove to the swim start transition, dropped my swim and bike gear off, then drove up to the lighthouse parking lot to drop off the car and my run gear. Rode the bus back down to the swim start and put on the wetsuit. I recently purchased a new wetsuit, the DeSoto Black Pearl two piece suit. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love this new wetsuit. The fit is great. Since it's two pieces you can purchase two different sizes (which I did) and it does make a difference. Plus the customer service of this company is outstanding. They stand behind their products and will almost bend over backwards to keep the customer happy.

Once I easily put on my wetsuit, I walked to 1/2 mile to the swim start. Man, it was getting warm in that suit as I walked down the beach. In hindsight I should have waited to put the top on until I got to the actual start, but that would require some thinking on my part and on race days, thinking goes out the window. My wave was going off at 7:12am so I had a little time to kill. It was a water start and the water on the cool side. I made my way out to the start buoy. When the horn sounded, I started swimming. My hands were freezing in the water. Took a while to warm them up. I would say about halfway in they finally were comfortable. I don't know what was going on in the swim, but it seemed long to me, or maybe there was a current against us, or I just suck at swimming. Who knows. All I know is that I felt really comfortable on the swim and I had a crappy swim time to show for it.

I finally made it to the last buoy and turn in to the shoreline. I finally make it out of the water. I didn't wear a watch so I had no idea what my time was. Honestly, I wasn't worried about it. I just wanted to find a nice rhythm in all three parts and nail my nutrition. In T1, the wetsuit peeled off nice and easy. Cleaned off my feet as best as I could, put on my cycling shoes, helmet and sunglasses and grabbed the bike to head out for the ride. The wind was favorable today. Wasn't much of a factor for the race.

The bike course is nice. The first ~10 miles are flat as a pancake, but the last 4 is uphill. I did remember to set my timer on the bike to go off every 15 minutes to remind me to drink. I did this for my Ironman back in 2006 and after my race nutrition discussion with Jen from my last race/fiasco, I decided it was time to go back to what works. And what do you know, it worked again! I never felt flat on the bike. I passed people and was riding at a nice pace, until the uphill section came along. I did lose a little time, but overall, I was ~2 minutes faster on the bike this year over last year. I made my way to the dismount and safely got off and racked the bike. Now was the challenge.

Last month this is where I fell apart. For the life of me, I could not run. I had lead legs and a heart rate that was sky high. This time around I took it out easy on the run and actually felt good early on. I plodded slowly along until I felt like I had my running legs under me. The run course is really nice. It winds through Camp Hero near the lighthouse. It's a relatively flat course and shaded in most parts. By mile 1 I was feeling good. I felt my tempo pick up a bit and my stride widen. Next thing I knew I saw the 2.5 mile sign. Only 1/2 mile to go! I was cruising along now, but once I hit the main road again, I realized that I had the uphill climb to the lighthouse for the race finish. When I approached the bottom of the hill, I just kept my head down and kept the feet moving. There was no way I could sprint up this hill today (you can see the hill in the photo above). I took 4 minutes off of last years pathetic excuse for a run. The other nice thing about this race is they have a super energetic race announcer. This guy, Terry, calls out each person's name and is really enthusiastic about it. He has some stats about some of the athletes and will add that info to his announcing to the crowd.

Overall, I was disappointed with my time, but then again it feels like everything is coming together and I am finding a rhythm in my racing, something that has been absent for the last two season. Plus, this was not an "A" race for me so I am not too worried about times right now. I am just trying out things to be sure they work well for me.

I'm looking forward to next weekend's race - the NYC Triathlon. I am doing it as a relay. i will swim, Wingman will ride, and my cousin Len will run. Our team name is "BAMF" which stands for Bad Ass Mother F*#kers, which we are a far cry from being. But it's all in fun.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

More Paul Pics

Paul McCartney

So last night Wingman and I drove to Citi Field to see the opening show for Paul McCartney at the "new Shea Stadium". As usual Sir Paul did not disappoint. I've seen him live 3 times now and I am crossing my fingers to try for a 4th show this summer!
*small bit of trivia, this blog is named for a song written by Lennon/McCartney

He had some opening band that I didn't really pay attention to. I mean, really, I was there to see Paul and only Paul.

Finally around 9pm Paul came on stage. Sorry the pictures aren't so good, I wasn't close enough to get some good shots.

His set list contained the usual Beatles/Wings/McCartney mix. He pulled out a song from the original Shea Stadium show "I'm Down". He even pulled out "I've Got a Feeling" from "Let It Be". The place came alive when he played "Back In the U.S.S.R". Gotta say I was surprised to hear him play "A Day In the Life". My only gripe, and I am sure I was in the minority last night, was "Let It Be" and "Hey jude". If I never hear him play those songs again, I would be OK with it. They are overplayed and he has such a library of Beatles songs to pull from like "Two of Us", "Getting Better", or "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da". I think you get my point.

Here are some pics from "Live and Let Die"

At some point early in the show, it started to rain, but no one seemed to mind. I brought my hooded raincoat and stayed relatively dry throughout the show. The rain started around "Let Me Roll It" and I think finally stopped around "I'm Down".

Here's the complete set list:

Drive My Car
Only Mama Knows
Flaming Pie
Got To Get You Into My Life
Let Me Roll It/Foxey Lady
The Long and Winding Road
My Love
Here Today
Dance Tonight
Calico Skies
Mrs. Vanderbilt
Eleanor Rigby
Sing the Changes
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
I’m Down
I’ve Got a Feeling
Paperback Writer
A Day in the Life/Give Peace a Chance
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hey Jude

Day Tripper
Lady Madonna
I Saw Her Standing There (with Billy Joel)

Helter Skelter
Get Back
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/The End

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Building back my Karma points

I am in the process of getting back some karma points after my recent rash of bad luck and flat tires. I might have turned the corner today.

I was out for a long run and was making my way down a busy street. I am always on the lookout for small animals to avoid an incident. So up the road I see two small four legged creatures making their way across the road but it looks odd for two small dogs to be out near this road. As I make my way closer, I see that it's two small Jack Russell dogs. They crossed the road away from the homes towards open fields. Now they want to come back. They attempted to come out into the road, but there are cars zipping by and swerving around. Normally I am a full believer in Darwinism (survival of the fittest), but I have a soft spot for dogs. At this point I stop running and walk out into traffic to stop the cars. This gives "the moron twins" a chance to cross back. They trotted back across and made their way back into the neighborhood and I got out of the road.

The rest of the run was uneventful, but I hope that the flat tire gods are going to be kind to me tomorrow as I have a 3 hr ride planned.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Swearing like a sailor......part II

The other day I wrote about my string of flat tires. I still have not shaken my bad karma. I went out for a ride today and at the halfway point I hear this 'ticking' sound and then that sound I have become all too familiar with. So I pull over and it goes a little something like this:

Not only did I get a flat in my tube, I punctured the tire itself. I found the puncture and started yelling at the tire:

It was a nice argument but as always, I was on the losing end of it. I had a spare tube, but I don't carry a spare tire. So like the NY Lottery says "all you need is a dollar and a dream". I took a dollar bill, folded it up and put it between my new tube and the puncture mark in the tire. I filled up tube and was on my way home. No more swearing for me. Now I have to go get another tire so I can get my dollar back.

So for those keeping score it's: Flats 4, Susan 0

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July

In celebration of the 4th, here's some fireworks for you to enjoy!!

John Lennon was right

"Instant karma's gonna get you"

Wednesday afternoon when Wingman got home we got the bikes out and went for a ride. We were about 9 miles in and cruising along (with an awesome tailwind) when I noticed a rock in my path. I got the front wheel out of the way but the back wheel went over the rock. Next thing I hear is that god-awful hissing sound. Yep, another flat. I got off the bike and started swearing like a sailor. This is my 3rd flat this season. I am getting to be quite good at changing flats. I was prepared to do it blindfolded. I pulled my spare tube out and took one look and started swearing again. The valve stem was too short!! I was riding my deeper rim wheel (60mm) and the spare tube I had on me was a 60mm stem. I needed an 80mm. Crap!! At this point Wingman rode home to get the car and come back to get me. I had to kill time at the side of the road. I knew it would take him 30 minutes to get home and another 10 to drive back.

For Wingman it was a brutal ride back because he had a headwind. So I took out my blackberry and surfed the web and sent some text messages. I was near the old Grumman facility so there is nothing around to do. So I picked up some rocks and threw them at a sign on the fence. My aim was improving so I don't think I lost much of my throwing arm over the years ;-)

I did notice one thing, of all the cars that passed by, only two stopped to see if I was OK. I didn't really care because I wasn't trying to flag them down. But the one that disturbed me the most was the Riverhead Police car that drove right by. You could clearly see that my bike was in two pieces (bike and wheel) on the shoulder of the road and I am standing around. So from now on, if Riverhead Police send any fundraising PAL stuff to the house, right into the shredder it goes. I could understand the cop not stopping if his lights were flashing or if he was driving really fast to give the illusion of going somewhere important. Nope, none of the above.

Wingman finally arrived and we loaded up the bike into the back. We drove straight to the bike shop to pick up a spare tube. When I got home I took care of the wheel.

I must have done something in a previous life to warrant this barrage of flat tires. Yep, "instant karma's gonna get you, gonna knock you right in the head.........."

But the good news is, the Tour de France starts today. We've become addicted to watching cycling on TV.