Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reflection on the Year

My 2010 racing season was like a roller coaster. The first race was the marathon back in January. I knew going into it that it would probably be my last one. For now I am happy to say that I am still 'retired' from the distance. The only way I will commit to running 26.2 miles is if I sign up for an iron distance race.

My triathlon season was pretty successful. Out of 4 races, I placed in my division in 3 of them. My last triathlon in September didn't turn out exactly as I hoped, but I crossed the finish line with a desire to work on my shortcomings. And throughout the fall things started to turn around. In 4 different distances, I set 4 PR's. In all honesty, my good fortune caught me by surprise. And it motivated me to work even harder. Sometimes the stresses from my last semester prevented me from hitting all workouts, but I did what I could with the time I had. I am excited that even though I started 2010 on a downswing, it's ending with things heading up.

The 2011 racing season is right around the corner and my schedule is pretty much set. The bonus this year is I won't have homework or constant studying during the spring. I am also making a commitment to my swimming. 2006 was my best swim season and the reason was because I swam early and consistently. I signed up with a masters swim club and swam one session with them already.

So if I want to improve my standing in the races, I have to put in solid training in all 3 sports from the start. The past few years swimming took a back seat but not anymore. There are plans in place to improve all 3 disciplines.  This year will be a full blown assault on the season. Before each race I will set a goal of something to be accomplished. There is no more showing up and just 'participating' this year. I mentally feel ready to focus on what it takes to get to the next level in racing. So who's with me?!?!?!?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Working out the kinks

The last few days have been crazy. We stayed home Sunday while it snowed. I was forced to run on the hamster wheel treadmill instead of outdoors. That was two days in a row that I was indoors. Cabin fever set in big time and I was eager to get out of the house. Monday morning our neighbor came by and used his snowblower to clean our driveway and walkway. What a relief that was. Then we took the Element out for a ride just to get out for a little while. I needed a change of scenery.

We drove around town, grabbed lunch and Wingman dropped me off and then went to work. I grabbed a shovel and cleaned up the rest of the driveway. The hardest part was the end of the driveway where the plows leave snow. But since I didn't have to shovel the entire driveway, I wasn't about to complain. I just paced myself and considered it my weight training for the day.

Yesterday I drove out to Hewlett to visit with some friends. My 'little' friend, who's not little anymore :-( is almost 21. Zoinks! I could go on and on about with "I remember when she was this big"stories, but I will spare her from any public embarrassment. Her family and I went to lunch and then drove around a little while looking for places to take pictures. I had a few ideas for photos, but with all the snow, it made it hard to do. So we went back to their house and I swapped lenses, handed her the camera and set her loose on some stuff.  She did a nice job. Her stuff came out really nice and I gave her digital copies of all the pictures.  We had fun and it was great seeing her again. When the weather gets nicer we'll plan a trip out this way and head further east for some photo opportunities.

This morning the Wingman and I went out to run. We drove to another part of town where the shoulders are wide and clear of snow. Plus there wasn't a ton of traffic to deal with either. I had a 45 minute 'easy' run planned. It started out as anything but easy. But I am starting to learn to be more patient at the beginning of my runs. In the past, if I started sluggish or feel slow, I would get aggravated with myself and have a bad run. Now, I find myself a little more forgiving about it and it keeps me relaxed. By the 2nd mile, I was moving along with ease. Before I knew it I was at the turn around and heading back to the car.

We got home and I enjoyed a nice hot shower. Then it was off to the stores for food shopping and then home again. My shoulder was sore from the snow shoveling the other day. It's a little hard to work on your own shoulder, but I did some soft tissue work on my pec minor/major and that relieved a bit of my soreness. I whipped out my foam roller and massage ball to work out some trigger points near my right scapula. Then I did some stretches for my neck and shoulder. I also have some glaring muscle weaknesses to address.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Torte Reform

Well, maybe not that kind of torte reform. I decided to try my hand at making a torte for Christmas Eve dinner at Dolores and Lou's. Last year I made a triple chocolate mousse cake. Each year I like to do something new, so a torte was in order. The one I settled on was a Chocolate-Raspberry Torte.

 Always start with the best chocolate, never skimp

Mmmm, chocolate and butter melting

Chocolate, butter and espresso 

 Flour and almond mix

 Baking rounds filled with parchment

 Half of the torte assembled with raspberry mix

 Torte assembled prior to ganache

 Oh yeah, more chocolate and heavy cream

Raspberries totally make this healthy

Transferred to the cake carrier, ready for departure

The torte was a hit at dinner last night. Of course there are little things here and there I could improve upon, but I didn't hear anyone complain about. So now I have to start planning next year's dessert!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The things I do......

Tuesday was a bizarre day for working out. I got up with the Wingman and we went on a 60 minute run. I opted to go the route he had planned. The wind was howling, but I thought it wouldn't be too bad. What's a little wind, right? I could only wish it was a little wind. On the way out I had the wind at my back and could feel it pushing me a long. Even running up a hill didn't feel too bad. But then the inevitable turnaround was coming. I knew I'd have to run into the wind to get home. Running back up a hill into the wind is no picnic. It was like a treadmill workout. My legs are going, but I felt like I was stuck in place. The last 3 miles was brutal. I was working so hard to hold a super slow pace. I tried to run faster to get home faster, but that wasn't happening. I could feel my eyes tearing up from the wind and it streaking down my face. Good thing it wasn't too cold so it didn't freeze.

When I finally got home, it was such a relief. I hopped into the shower to warm up and then went about my busy day. Dropped the Wingman's bike off at the bike shop and did a little light shopping. Then I came home and continued my cleaning.

For the evening, I had something planned that would cement my status as HOTS. After not swimming since September, I went to a masters swim workout. Oh yeah, chalk up another notch in my HOTS belt.

When I got to the pool, I told the coach on the deck that I needed the 'slackers' lane. It was a slow night so I had a lane to myself. She then instructed me to do an easy 200yd warm up. Piece of cake I thought. Finish my 200, then she tells me the next set. I do that and still feel kind of OK. All throughout she was watching my swim stroke and offering me advice on how to correct stuff. First thing she wanted was for me to start breathing on both sides. What?!?! I only breathe on the right. When I try on the left, I sink. But I figured I should try it so I don't look like a pain in the ass on my first night. And what a sight I was. If they had a lifeguard there, he probably would have thought I was drowning and rescued me. What a pathetic sight I must have been. But the coach gave me some more tips and sent me out for the next set in the workout. Huh? It must be close to the end of the session, right? Wrong. Still plenty of time to add to my misery. 

The sets just kept coming. And I kept suffering. And I swear the pool clock at one end of the pool is faster than the other end. When I would stop for my 10 sec rest interval in the deep end, the second hand seemed to be moving too fast. When I had my rest intervals in the shallow end, the clock seemed to be moving slower. I like that clock.

Finally at the end of the night, I lost count how many yards I actually swam. I was more concerned with how I was getting out of the pool without using my arms. Thank goodness the shallow end is really shallow so I didn't have far to lift myself to get out. I went into the locker room to change. I can only imagine how ridiculous I looked trying to put my sweatshirt on without lifting my arms. I put the arms through first and then bent over at the waist to wiggle my head up into the shirt. I could bend my arms at the elbow, but over the head was not happening.

This was an appropriate shirt for me last night

I bid the group farewell and said I would be back Thursday. I should be able to move my arms by then. Leaving the pool was another story. I get to the door that takes you out to the parking lot but it doesn't open. I push again. Not opening. Weird, I just saw people go out that door and there's another guy waiting behind me to leave. I had to lean into the door to get it to open. That's how pathetic I was after the session. I made my way to the car and drove myself home. Needless to say I slept like a baby last night. I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.

What I looked like after the swim session

Monday, December 20, 2010

My First Day Off

So this morning I still managed to wake up early, despite not having classes. I would prefer to keep my body clock on school time so when my clinical starts in two weeks it won't be a major adjustment.

With the holidays coming up I got a jump on my food shopping and meal planning for the weekend. I took a ride up island to Trader Joe's and was scared when I first pulled up. It was gone. Then I saw a note on the door that they moved to a shopping center behind the mall. Phew. I drove over and was able to pickup what I needed. The new store is nice and big. Very well lit.

From there I headed home and grabbed my gift certificate to PC Richards. I got it in my race goodie bag this summer and it was expiring soon. I've had my eye on a Blu-ray DVD player with networking built in. This one has wired and wireless ports. I got it home, unpacked and setup in less than 10 minutes. I setup my Netflix account and now I am streaming movies to the TV. Piece of cake. Right now I am watching "My Cousin Vinny". What a good film.

"Imagine you're a deer, you're prancing along, you get thirsty, 
you spot a little brook, you put your little lips down 
to the cool clear water.....BAM...a fuckin' bullet rips off part of your head. 
Your brains are lying on the ground in little bloody pieces.
Now I ask you, would you give a fuck what kind of pants the
son of a bitch who shot you was wearing.?"

I will spend the rest of the day cleaning and putting my books and notes away. I know, I lead an exiting life.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A bunch of ho's.......

Yesterday the Wingman and I went out to Bethpage for a 5k race. Wynn & Teresa came out as well to join in the festivities. It's quite the atmosphere since it's a holiday race. People come down dressed in costumes and sometimes we even get snowfall for the race. It didn't snow this year, but there was plenty of cheer. The weather was actually nice for this time of year. Probably around 32 degrees at the start.

The race consists of two loops with an added section on the 2nd loop. Prior to the start, I took my spot in the front 3rd of the pack. There were 1058 people in the race and I didn't want to get caught behind any walkers. When the horn went off, I started my Garmin and took off down the road. It's a bit of a narrow start so you have to be patient and wait for some open space. Well, one douchebag in a Team Runners Edge jacket clearly wanted no part of waiting. I felt his forearm on my shoulder and next thing I knew he shoved me hard out of his way. Now, I understand sometimes you use an elbow to maintain your position. But why would a grown man shove a woman out of his way just to get slightly ahead? I managed to stay on my feet, but now I was filled with rage. I chased him down the road and plotted my revenge. I seriously thought about jumping on his back and taking him down. Or pull his coat over his head and pummel him with a few punches. Or just trip him. I ran behind him for a little bit and he had no idea of what could be in store for him. Instead, I asked the running gods to let a boil appear on his ass and fester for a few weeks.

When we made the first turn I settled in and tried to let it go. I made it around to the back side of the course and when I approached mile 1, I hit my lap button on my watch. Or so I thought I did. I wound up hitting the stop button instead. Whoops. Realized it about 1 minute later. Started it back up again.

Came around for lap #2 and was flying by all the spectators that lined the course in front of the school. Then we had to cut into a small development and run around a circle. I stayed close to the curb to keep the distance that I have to run to a minimum. Problem was two small kids had the same idea and boxed me in. I had one in front and one to the side. Really?!? I debated what to do. I didn't want to slow down to drop back and then come around them. And there was no room to cut between them on the angle. Then I remembered a quiz I took about how many five year olds I can take in a fight. These two weren't five, but they were small. I could pick the kid up that was next to me and throw him at the girl in front of me and take them both down. But then again, I think I would have gotten a major ass kicking by the crowd. So I waited patiently and the boy dropped off and I was able to get out.

When I made my way around the back side of the loop, I could feel a massive energy drain. The last few weeks of school stress and decreased training volume were catching up with me. I knew I just had to hang on for another half mile or so.

With about .3 miles to go, I felt something hitting my ankle. I looked down and my show lace came undone. Crap! Decision time - stop to tie it, take the shoe off and run, or just keep running. I went with option 3 - just keep running. I knew the final sprint was out of the question with a loose shoe but I made the best of it. Crossed the finish line 20 seconds slower than my PR, but going into the race, I knew a PR was not even an option.

Wynn had already finished so I went back to stand with him and wait for the Wingman and Teresa to finish. Afterwards we went inside to grab something to eat and wait for the raffle. The food line was long but we managed to get in. They had the most wonderful looking cupcakes and they were HUGE!! Teresa and I stood there and drooled, but stayed strong and didn't get one.

The raffle was uneventful. None of us won the TV or the camera or anything else for that matter. Once it was over, we drove to Holbrook for a post-race/pre-birthday lunch at the diner for the Wingman. Teresa filled us in on her first marathon she ran last month. We reviewed each other's racing schedules and what is on tap for next season.

For now, I have two weeks off and then I start my clinicals. No more classes for me. Ever (except continuing education stuff). So I have two solid weeks to get ready to ramp up for my 2011 training to begin. I have a race in early Janauary (10 miler) that I am excited for. It's just a training race, but a good barometer of where I stand to prepare for my 1st 'A' race of the season in April.

Bring on 2011!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


"The individual nature of running appealed to me. You start at the same place with 
your fellow runners. You all finish at the same place. How you do is largely up to
you. If you win, you congratulate yourself. If you lose, you evaluate how
to improve. You can't make excuses like "he didn't pass me the ball" or 
"the coach didn't put me in." It's on you. That's the beauty of the sport.
                                                         - Meb Keflezighi

Hard to believe

It's been 30 years since John Lennon was murdered outside his apartment in NYC. Rolling Stone magazine is releasing the entire transcript from his last interview 3 days before he was killed.  In an excerpt I read, some of what he says is pretty eerie. His comment about the fans criticizing him for his 5 year hiatus:

"What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean," he said. "I'm not interested in being a dead f------ hero ... so forget 'em, forget 'em."

And his talk about touring again: 

"But there will be no smoke bombs, no lipstick, no flashing lights. It just has to be comfy. But we could have a laugh. We're born-again rockers, and we're starting over ... There's plenty of time, right? Plenty of time."

We only wish he had plenty of time. It would have been great to see him reinvent himself over the years. He was an amazing songwriter and musician.