Saturday, March 30, 2013

Going was a Good Friday.

Saturday:  3hr ride (at 80%FTP)...56 miles  (windy, overcast, and PERFECT)
Big Bike Week: 370 miles since last Saturday.

I read a great article on NPR this week (NPR Article) about "The Philosopher"...a 9 year old Socrates who was tackling dark matter, the possibilities of a multi-universe, and the greatest question of all: What is the meaning of life?  The young man's answers were brilliant, reflective, and wise beyond his years.  See for yourself:
So the question begged to be this 9 year old a genius?  Perhaps.  There is no doubt that he had discussed these topics before...but you could also tell that he spoke of ideas he truly believed in.  Not just what he had heard.  The thing that struck me most, was his free admission that he REALLY DIDN'T know...that he might be wrong.  When is the last time you heard a 9 year old say that?
So yesterday afternoon, I was sitting on the couch with my 8 year old daughter.  I asked if she realized how perfect Earth was to allow for life to arise.  Which led to our discussion about the possibility of life elsewhere...and ultimately to the question I wanted to get at:  What did she think the meaning of everything was?

My giddy, never-stop-talking 8 year old did something she never does.  She stopped talking.


She thought about the question.  And then said...

"To go places?"  (ahh...we're getting somewhere)
"To try new things?" (a small smile from Dad)

And why not?  They were as good as any answers I had ever come up with.  We talked for another ten minutes or so...and then played Uno and ate chocolate covered pomegranates.  It was a good Friday. was a great Friday.

The weather broke this week.  And I emerged from my five month hibernation in my garage...stuck on my trainer. Going absolutely no where. But no more. This week...I donned the cold weather bike gear and got crazy on the bike. This week...I was going places.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March? This...IS MADNESS

Dear God-I know I haven't been perfect, but please fix the weather. #TotalFratMove


First day of spring has come and gone. I saw a robin in the front yard today. Poor guy was frozen solid.

My toe warmers are almost gone. I've worn and washed my winter running gear more times than I am willing to count. I've been riding in my garage for FIVE months. They say if it doesn't kill you, it just makes you stronger. Well, I'm almost dead.

What have I learned on this long...long...winter:

1. Buy one set of stellar cold weather gear (not four sets of mediocre)...and wear it all the time. Seriously.  Keep it dry.  Keep it clean.  And wear the hell out of it.
2. Make your time count. Swap four hour rides for ball-busting 90 minute rides.  Watch your power soar.
3. It's never too cold out.  See #1
4. There is nothing like a run through the woods after a fresh snowfall.

Read a great article today on the things that happy people do differently.  Thought I would include it below.  I consider myself to be a fairly happy guy...and I see a lot of myself and in the list.  Plenty that I can work on...especially #19.  I don't think triathletes can sneak by on #19.


This article is from Chiara Fucarino. Enjoy!

There are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within. The richest person in the world could be miserable while a homeless person could be right outside, smiling and content with their life. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.
The question is: how do they do that?
It’s quite simple. Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do things differently. Ask any happy person, and they will tell you that they …

1. Don’t hold grudges-Happy people understand that it’s better to forgive and forget than to let their negative feelings crowd out their positive feelings. Holding a grudge has a lot of detrimental effects on your wellbeing, including increased depression, anxiety, and stress. Why let anyone who has wronged you have power over you? If you let go of all your grudges, you’ll gain a clear conscience and enough energy to enjoy the good things in life.

2. Treat everyone with kindness-Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being kind makes you happier? Every time you perform a selfless act, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that eases tension and lifts your spirits. Not only that, but treating people with love, dignity, and respect also allows you to build stronger relationships.

3. See problems as challenges-The word “problem” is never part of a happy person’s vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Whenever you face an obstacle, try looking at it as a challenge.

4. Express gratitude for what they already have-There’s a popular saying that goes something like this: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.” You will have a deeper sense of contentment if you count your blessings instead of yearning for what you don’t have.

5. Dream big-People who get into the habit of dreaming big are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don’t. If you dare to dream big, your mind will put itself in a focused and positive state.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff-Happy people ask themselves, “Will this problem matter a year from now?” They understand that life’s too short to get worked up over trivial situations. Letting things roll off your back will definitely put you at ease to enjoy the more important things in life.

7. Speak well of others-Being nice feels better than being mean. As fun as gossiping is, it usually leaves you feeling guilty and resentful. Saying nice things about other people encourages you to think positive, non-judgmental thoughts.

8. Never make excuses-Benjamin Franklin once said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Happy people don’t make excuses or blame others for their own failures in life. Instead, they own up to their mistakes and, by doing so, they proactively try to change for the better.

9. Get absorbed into the present-Happy people don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. They savor the present. They let themselves get immersed in whatever they’re doing at the moment. Stop and smell the roses.

10. Wake up at the same time every morning-Have you noticed that a lot of successful people tend to be early risers? Waking up at the same time every morning stabilizes your circadian rhythm, increases productivity, and puts you in a calm and centered state.

11. Avoid social comparison-Everyone works at his own pace, so why compare yourself to others? If you think you’re better than someone else, you gain an unhealthy sense of superiority. If you think someone else is better than you, you end up feeling bad about yourself. You’ll be happier if you focus on your own progress and praise others on theirs.

12. Choose friends wisely-Misery loves company. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with optimistic people who will encourage you to achieve your goals. The more positive energy you have around you, the better you will feel about yourself.

13. Never seek approval from othersHappy people don’t care what others think of them. They follow their own hearts without letting naysayers discourage them. They understand that it’s impossible to please everyone. Listen to what people have to say, but never seek anyone’s approval but your own.

14. Take the time to listen-Talk less; listen more. Listening keeps your mind open to others’ wisdoms and outlooks on the world. The more intensely you listen, the quieter your mind gets, and the more content you feel.

15. Nurture social relationships-A lonely person is a miserable person. Happy people understand how important it is to have strong, healthy relationships. Always take the time to see and talk to your family, friends, or significant other.

16. Meditate-Meditating silences your mind and helps you find inner peace. You don’t have to be a zen master to pull it off. Happy people know how to silence their minds anywhere and anytime they need to calm their nerves.

17. Eat well-Junk food makes you sluggish, and it’s difficult to be happy when you’re in that kind of state. Everything you eat directly affects your body’s ability to produce hormones, which will dictate your moods, energy, and mental focus. Be sure to eat foods that will keep your mind and body in good shape.

18. Exercise-Studies have shown that exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft does. Exercising also boosts your self-esteem and gives you a higher sense of self-accomplishment.

19. Live minimally-Happy people rarely keep clutter around the house because they know that extra belongings weigh them down and make them feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Some studies have concluded that Europeans are a lot happier than Americans are, which is interesting because they live in smaller homes, drive simpler cars, and own fewer items.

20. Tell the truth-Lying stresses you out, corrodes your self-esteem, and makes you unlikeable. The truth will set you free. Being honest improves your mental health and builds others’ trust in you. Always be truthful, and never apologize for it.

21. Establish personal control-Happy people have the ability to choose their own destinies. They don’t let others tell them how they should live their lives. Being in complete control of one’s own life brings positive feelings and a great sense of self-worth.

22. Accept what cannot be changed-Once you accept the fact that life is not fair, you’ll be more at peace with yourself. Instead of obsessing over how unfair life is, just focus on what you can control and change it for the better.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Paleozoic 25km Trail Race: Chaos In The Mud

Yesterday,  IMLP training took a slight diversion, as I competed in the inaugural Paleozoic 25km Trail Race...the goal, as they put it:  Do Not Fossilize

I've had the race on the calender since New Year's I had planned my Lake Placid training accordingly.  I basically spread my week 7 training plan over two weeks (last week and this week), with the race scheduled for Saturday.  That would give me some time to take it easy a few days before and after the race...

I thought it ironic that we would head into the city for a trail race...but that's what we did.  Up at 5:00am, on the road by 5:40, my good friend Adam and I headed into Joliet, IL.  The race was capped at 200 people and had both a 50km and 25km race.  25km seemed enough of a challenge this year...especially since I needed to get back to IMLP training ASAP.

The weather was cold and windy.  I opted to go with my Salomon Gore-Tex trail shoes w/gaiters, shorts, two short sleeve shirts, arm sleeves, stocking cap, and gloves.  I was cold before the race, but knew I would be fine once we got rolling.  I carried 20oz of Ironman Perform to drink and two Gu packets.  

The beginning of the race was a bit chaotic, as they sent the 50km racers off a little after 8:00am and we followed about 15mins later.  Why they choose to send the 50km racers off before the 25km racers is a mystery to me.  It would seem that the 25km racers would ultimately have to work through the packs of slower 50km racers.  This indeed turned out the be true.

The first 5 miles we great.  Adam and I held a fairly conservative pace and steadily moved through the field.  The trails were in fine shape considered the weather N. Illinois has experienced.  Lots of mud and snow...but most parts of the trail had decent footing SOMEWHERE.  Hit the first aid station at mile 5, took in a Gu and drank some water.  All is well.  

Immediately after the aid station, we latched onto the lead female runner.  The original plan had been to pick up the pace during the middle 5 we did, and managed to run with her during this stretch.  Things were about to get interesting...around mile 7, we passed two guys on bikes (walking their bike).  They were supposed to be out in front marking the course...but said they couldn't and we should follow the marks on the ground (in the mud and snow).  Hummm....

A mile later, we ran into the leaders...two guys that were absolutely killing it.  They were back tracking, so we assumed they had made a wrong turn.  We spent about 5 mins jogging around a few trails, looking for the right trail when all of a sudden the leaders headed back down the trail they had just come from.  Our conclusion?  It WAS the right way.  Follow them.  At this point, we know we are running in 3rd and 4th place.  Lucky break for us....

We finally hit the 2nd aid station, mile 10.  Grabbing some calories and some water, we continue on for the last 5 miles.  The trail got BAD.  At this point, we began to put a little distance on the lead female and began to feel that we had 3rd and 4th place locked up.  This is about the time we passed the race director.  He said that there were no more marking from this point on...and then told us which way we needed to go.  Great.

With about one mile to go...I managed to find a smooth, and rather large patch of ice. I slid for a moment, and then hit the deck hard.  And I mean HARD.  Adam laughed...and I was up quickly with a little shot of adrenaline.  Approaching the finish (which is also the 10 mile check point) two guys showed up out of literally NO WHERE. My theory is they were hitting mile 10 of their race (which was also the finish line)...they were not listed as complete finishers. About 1 min later...the top female finish crossed the line.  Now for the weird part...about 10 mins later, the two studs killing it out front finished.  So, either they took another wrong turn and made their run longer...or we took a wrong turn and cut the run short.  If we cut it short, I'm fine with a DQ.  Otherwise, there was no one between the "studs" and us...putting me in roughly 3rd or 4th place.  The official results list the top female finish 2nd overall...and I'm not even listed.  It is what it is...bummer to have such confusion at the end of a race.

Although the course could have been marked better (or just plain MARKED at some points)...any day is a good day for a run in the woods with a friend.  Especially when they give you shiny medals at the end.  Back to the Lake Placid grind...lots of biking to do this week.  Thanks for reading.

(PS:  Got a great email from race director explaining all of he problems they encountered.  Seemed like a great guy.  I'll run it again...really was a nice race/course.)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

...and I can move the Earth

"Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

                                          -Alfred Lord Tennyson

Saturday:  3:00 hr bike ride (w/main sets of 3x12' at 100% FTP and 4x12' at 85% FTP), was supposed to go 3.4 hrs but ran out of gas for the last 1/2 hr...but that was to be all zone 2 stuff...really didn't miss much except another 1/2 in the saddle.

My wife has a masters degree in English Lit.  She loves Tennyson.  I once made a trek to Hanbury Arms in Caerleon, Wales to sit in the same pub that Alfred penned "The Lady of Shalott".  Hell, our second daughter's middle name is Tennyson.   I figured that gives me free reign to quote the man.  I am not a literature guy.  My night stand is littered with books I've tried to read; "The Great Gatsby" and "The Road" were the last two.  I find simple joy in the simple stuff...give me Stephen King, "Lord of the Rings", or Dan Brown any day.  But I do enjoy my life sprinkled with some of the finer things...a good mascato, the Chicago Symphony, Charlie Mingus, and Tennyson quotes.

The quote above came to me in the movie Skyfall...which was my entertainment for most of my 3 hr ride today.  

Again, I'm not the right McHale to analyze poetry...but it seems that Tennyson is speaking of the importance of tradition.  In the movie, Bond must return to his boyhood home of "Skyfall" in Scotland.  For me, my mind strolled through some of the traditions and "strengths" of my well as some of the traditions and lessons my wife and I are trying to instill in our girls.

  1. Hard work gets you far.  As that relates to my current endeavor...I'm hoping hard work will get me 140.6 miles...quickly.
  2. Balance.  Don't let your life get out of whack.  Keep an eye on the prize, and your priorities in check.  My life WILL get "a little" out of whack over the next 150 days.  But that will be temporary.  Even more specifically, the act of training for an ironman is a balancing act.  So much to juggle-swim, bike, run, strength, nutrition, recovery.  
  3. Perfect isn't always perfect.  Mistakes are lessons and sometimes, just because things don't go as planned, they can still perfect.  
  4. Don't postpone joy.  "Be awesome" is the phrase I've been using with my daughters.  It's simple. It's cliche'.  But they get it.  Find the good in life...even when it's hard to find.  Don't be the turd in the punch bowl.
Just this past week, I was discussing Archimedes with my physics class.  The topic was torque. We discussed Archimedes famous quote: "Give me a place to stand...and I can move the Earth."
While I was trying to trying to illustrate the physics of underlying message was that that one person could move the Earth.  One person, no matter how small could change the world around them.

Go find your lever.  Go move the Earth.