Thursday, October 11, 2012

KICKING OFF THE DUTCH INVASION


 

This coming week marks the kickoff of the Dutch Invasion.  This is the busiest and most exciting time of the year at work. It’s a stretch where I’m sleepless, working like a boss, and having a great time.  It’s when my Dutch colleagues are with a posse of their students for an intense, 8 day, student exchange.

Where set up all types of activities, trips, and gatherings for the kids. The two weeks leading up to this is killer for me! I am at my most efficient work-pace all year-churning out lessons, correcting, recruiting, organizing, and communicating. It’s a crazy time, and it’s the best of times!

The Dutch arrive on our doorstep this Monday.  My fam is ready to host the teachers for the 6th year in a row. We have gotten to know the teachers very well by now and have built a great working relationship and friendship with my colleagues from the Nederland.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit my friends in the Netherlands the last few years and their homeland has really impressed me. I’ve gotten to explore both the city(Amsterdam) and the countryside quite extensively.  Their cycling lifestyle is very contagious!  If only I could train on their flat, car-less, endless trails along the dikes and farms! 

So it’s time to break out the orange, cheese, stroopwaffels, and Heineken’s and enjoy the invasion.

Can my training schedule survive??? 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I've Got Nothing to Offer but Blood, Toils, Tears, and Sweat.


Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Winston Churchill

What exactly does it mean? First-that I am a history geek!  Second- I’ve accomplished my immediate goal of competing in a TRI.  Third-it’s time to advance my training to the next stage and not to be happy just ‘getting here’.  
Too much junk food in my diet? You betcha!!

This quote sums up exactly where I am in my training. Not the end-even though the big part of the race season is over.  Not the beginning of the end-I’m not retiring from sport!  Maybe- the end of the beginning! I’m ready for the next phase of my TRI career!

It’s been two weeks since my first triathlon and the training has dropped off a bit. I did run a 5k race last weekend but I’ve slacked since. I do have one more 5k race on my radar this year but it’s time to step up the training of all 3 tri disciplines. I’ve been taking it easy since the big race and it’s time to regroup!

I’m going to have to take some steps to ensure training success.  One thing I need to do is put up one of those training widgets on this blog so my loyal handful of followers can keep track of my workouts and continue to motivate me. I have received some great encouragement from fellow bloggers and it has provided some great motivation to me. Please keep those shout-outs coming!

Another part of plan tri-recommit is to sign up for a tri or two for next year. I’d like to do a handful but I need to make it official! Olympic and Half-Ironman are my goals…not planning on holding the world-wide press conferences on these until the $$ is sent in but will keep you posted.

Time to chill out is over, but some 80's tunes, firepit, and a sociable are just what I need
 
Seafood diet...Jacqueline's favorite-Steamers!
 
There is no better time to start the training than first thing tomorrow morning(yeah it’s late now!), so it’s time to fire up that  ‘80s music because I’m ready to rock! BTW-quality 80s tunes are VITAL to my training!

Here are some pics from life since TRI#1…
Time to stop being a weiner?

What gives you motivation between races????


New training workout: Chasing Riley Ann!


No Sleep till Brooklyn for Jacqueline

Riley starting her TRI training?


                                                          Live from NY, it's....US!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reliving the Dream ... pics of my first TRI


It’s now almost 2 weeks post-race and the race pics have just been posted. With my workouts slowing down, I need to relive the moment so here are some action shots!
The BEFORE pic...Race time. Even though showers were forecast, the sun was shining on us that day!
1- My inaugural tri so you guessed it, one of the first on the scene. I had already been at the reg table for about an hour by this point!


2- Just before the gun! Notice the waves visible ABOVE the heads of the racers...


 
3- We're off. Wasn't easy getting past the first few swells!

4- I'm somewhere on the far left...


 
5- Finishing the swim, Gameface is ON! Actually, i was a little wobbly at this point after getting thrown around in the surf.





6- Trying to make up some time after a sub-par swim.  Headwind!


7- Salt marsh and me.



8- Feeling good at this point and just taking it all in!


9- Yup!

10- Not gonna lie- Kirk has a much cooler victory dance than I!

11- Telling war stories already!



My photographer (dad!) taking an accidental photo of himself! May have to convince him to take part in a relay next year!?!

Time to keep the dream alive and recommit to training!!!



















































 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

On the Road...Again- Jack Kerouac 5k race report


For the 2nd straight year, I decided to run in the Jack Kerouac 5k in my hometown…the Big City…DTL…the Mill City…Lowell, MA! 

It was an exciting day scattered with some showers and a few race faux pas by yours truly.  I thought the weather would clear up by racetime but the light rain would be constant all race.  Editor’s note-now that I’m home watching football, it has turned into a beautiful fall day with plenty of sunshine and colorful foliage is lighting up all over the place!

The first negative sign of the day was at registration when I got the bad news that no more race shirts were available.  I’m all about the race gear and getting denied some race bling was not cool!  Things started looking up when I bumped into a couple of old friends while stretching out. Jeff and Becky are a couple I got to know after working with Jeff’s brother for about a decade. They have two children the same age as my own and our oldest both went to preschool together.

After saying hello, we all made our way to the start line and as usual, I queued up my ‘80’s tunes. Because it was a bit cool, I made the gametime decision to run with a long sleeve tee. This would be an irritation all race long. Another minor pain was noticing that one of my earphones lost their bubble piece thingy that helped them stay in my ear. Oh well….

                                                          Pic from the 2011 Kerouac race website-i'm the green guy!
At the start, it became clear that this would be no ordinary 5k. There were about 1000 numbered runners! Last year, there were about 150! It seemed that every racing club in the state had a crew racing! With 1000 people at the start, one unfortunate driver tried to make her way through the entire field waiting for the gun. There were some light moments from the would-be run rioters,joking about tipping the car and I found that runners jokes weren’t too funny- I fit right in!!!!

Once the gun went off, I got off to a decent start. Crossing the Merrimack River and to mile one in about 7 minutes. This was one of the funniest parts of the day.  At the one mile mark, there was a gigantic sign with the race time on it. You couldn’t miss it! Right in front of the clock, a race volunteer was yelling out the time: second-by-second. Being a wise guy, I had to yell on the way by “hey buddy, turn around!” This  produced a few chuckles from the handful of runners around me and we kept trekking away. As I mentioned in previous blog entries, I believe racers are way to quiet on the course. Whether it is in triathlons or 5k’s, we need to talk it up people! Have some fun out there and take your minds off the pain!

The long straight away in this race was parallel to the mile of mills in the city and provided for some great sights along the run. I am, of course, a little biased being from the city but this race brought you through all the mills and historic areas of the city. Good times.

                                                  Another '11 race pic. Today was wetter!
Over the last mile, I picked up the pace by the Lowell Auditorium at a nice downhill stretch and was moving quickly over the cobblestoned streets of DownTown Lowell (DTL). The last half mile brought us by City Hall and the Tsongas Arena before running parallel along the Suffolk Canal to the eventual finish at the Lowell Beer Works.

My final time was about my average: 23:37. I was happy about a couple of things: 1-I hadn’t run since my triathlon 1 week earlier so under 24minutes was nice. 2- I had checked my time from last year’s Kerouac race(different course) and it was 24:17 so some improvement.  I still feel like I have lots of room for improvement if I can ever get serious about my run training…
Where else in the world do you find two graves in front of City Hall???? No- we aren't crazy here...they are two of the first victims of the Civil War...
 
The race organizers did a great job of putting together some food and snack options at the finish line. They also had a PA guy giving shout-outs so props for that.

After the race, I caught up with Jeff and Becky. We had some sociables in the Beer Works with some of their friends and we were able to catch up on lost time while watching the Pats on the big-big screen.

All-in-all, it was a quality race with the biggest sized field I have been a part of. The next biggest field that I’ve raced in was about 500. The weather was a drizzle but nice to run in. The layout of the course was probably the most scenic that could be offered in the Mill City. This race definitely fit into my requirements of taking part in races of either great scenery or great post-parties! I give this run a thumbs up for both of these categories.
 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Race Report for the Wallis Sands Triathlon- breaking the ice!




After months of training and planning, TRI day finally arrived. To avoid getting up ridiculously early, my fam rented a beach house for the weekend that was about a 15 minute drive from the race location.

The evening before the race, I went to great pains to make sure everything was packed properly…my race bag…check. Water bottles….check. Race equipment….check. Although I am not the most organized person, I made sure everything was laid out the night the night before, packed what I could in my car, and filled all my bottles up that night.  I even was able to call it a night at a respectable hour. It was looking like I would get a quality night’s sleep and be totally recharged for the race.

My alarm was set for a 5:30am wakeup but it turns out that this wouldn’t be necessary because I awoke at exactly 2:59a.m.! After playing on the iPhone for a few hours, I was ready to depart for the big race. There were two big fears I had going into the race. 1st- the ocean swim. My training was mostly in the pool with a few ocean swims and to be honest, I was a bit concerned about completing the swim in a decent time. Worry #2 was the weather. The forecast said there was a decent chance of showers and I had not cycled on wet pavement at all in my training.

Leaving the house, the first thing that struck me was the 60F temp and that it wasn’t raining. The only drawback was that the pavement was wet. Hopefully, things would improve by race time.

Once I arrived at the race, I quickly picked up my race packet, got marked up, met up with my racing partner Kirk, and went to watch the sun come up on the beach.

After stretching out a bit, I made my way to the transition area to set up. I was happy to be assigned a decent spot at the end of a row and a little more room for my gear. Things were off to a decent start.

 

“Where are all the lonely people?”

About 10 minutes before the race start, I took a quick dip in the North Atlantic to get acclimated to the water temp. The good news is that it wasn’t that cold. Bad news is that the waves were over my head! After a few minutes, I got back to the start line and spotted my wife and Kirk’s wife and waved hi. It was gametime!

           Myself and Kirk without pre-race jitters!

The start was in the water, about knee-high. I had a decent spot on the outside. The course was an upside-down triangular shaped course. When we were off and swimming, I had a little trouble to get past the breakers. The swells were still pretty intense but eventually I got out! By the time I reached the first buoy, I was a little tired so I started to conserve my energy a bit. After making the first turn, the crowd had thinned out and it seemed like it was just me and the ocean. There was no panic in me(unlike in my training!) and it was actually pretty peaceful out there. I had no doubt that I would conquer the swim, it just went slow. I wasn’t the last out of the drink, but most of my wave(wave 1) was in front of me.

     
 
 
 I am somewhere on the far right…..

Coming around the final buoy, I made a decent angle just as a big swell swept past. The swell threw the buoy on top of the swimmer in front of me and he was out of sight. I turned for the home stretch and could barely make out the sure through the crashing surf. By the time I reached waist-high water, I started walking. Not going to lie…I was a little wobbly at this point so I just made sure I started a steady pace towards T1.

I was able to get the top half of my suit off nice and easy before reaching T1 so I was in pretty good shape to nail this transition.

Swim time- 13:05; 1/3 mile

T1- by the time I reached my bike, I started ripping off my suit. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion at this point! I got the suit off and quickly got into my cycling gear. At this point, Kirk ran by with his bike and gave me some encouragement. I told him I’d catch up with him soon! Thankfully, I had some water/Gatorade mix and it did the trick-I felt much better after getting some electrolytes back in my system. At this point, I grabbed the bike and took off for the T1 exit.

T1- 3:56

Bike- I started out the bike course at a pretty good pace. I quickly passed about a dozen people in the first half mile.  I really pushed it on the bike. Although about a dozen of the top females passed me, I pushed it most of the ride and passed more people than passed me. The one tough part of the bike was the headwind facing us for more than half the cycle course. Although I was pushing it, I never spotted Kirk, who left T1 about a minute before me. He must have been moving at a good pace!


                                                       Trying to get my bearings! Awful pose!


I was pretty happy to be out of the water and on the bike! I was determined to enjoy the day so I made it a point to talk it up with the other athletes. Most of the people that I passed were pretty friendly and jumped at the chance to talk it up. I met some good people out there! The people passing me didn’t have too much to say and I really didn’t want to slow them down anyway.  The last 4 miles of the bike were along the coast and the views were fantastic. I pushed it as much as the wind would let me. This was my best effort on the bike to date but I was a little worried that the time wouldn’t be better than my training times because of the wind.

When I approached the lot where T2 was, the rider in front of me was flying towards the dismount line. The scene was pretty surreal with all the yelling and cheering. The rider in front of me was going way too fast so a race volunteer got next to him to warn him to dismount. With his brakes screeching, he wasn’t able to unclip and he wiped out right next to the volunteer. I was moving at a good pace to and I was determined to avoid this mistake. I quickly unclipped a leg and put it over the other side of the bike so I rode to the dismount line on one leg and came to a smooth spot. I never really practiced that and don’t think I could repeat this feat if I had too! However, in all the commotion, I was just reacting without thinking and things worked out just fine!

Bike: 47:34; 14.5 mile;  18.3 mph/avg

T2- 1:35

I quickly got to my gear and looked at the bike rack with disgust. For some reason, I left my swimsuit right on the rack where my bike was going to go. I can’t really explain why now, but I thought that this was a dumb idea and didn’t even think of putting my bike on top of it(duh!) so I threw the wetsuit on the ground and racked the bike. All of a sudden, I figured out that the suit was actually my neighbors and not mine. Woops!!! After putting his suit back, I racked things up and quickly got my kicks on. A little more water/gaterade and off I went. Without thinking, I ran about 10 yards towards where the bike entrance was before realizing I needed to make a 90degree turn towards the run exit. Overall, I felt pretty good about T2. I also got to see my dad at the entrance snapping away with the cam!
 
Leaving T2 with a smile!

Exiting T2, the girls where there cheering me on. I started the run feeling decent. The legs weren’t feeling heavy at all. It seemed I was doing ok because I was passing a bit more people than were passing me and of course I was chatting with most of the people on the course still! About a mile into the run, I caught sight of Kirk! He was slowing down a little and I caught up to him. We greeted each other and ran together for a bit. He then urged me to go ahead saying he didn’t want to slow me down. I slightly picked up the pace and what do you know- Kirk picked up his game and stayed by my side! The next half mile went well and we finally made it to the water station at the 1.4 mile mark. That water hit the spot and gave me some new life. We quickly reached the turnaround point and started the run back.

Running past the water station again, the volunteers told us of the different drinks they had. I grabbed one and to make sure it was water, I gave a quick peek to confirm it was clear. After taking a quick chug, I was greeted with something that tasted like lemonade with vodka in it! I tossed the rest and got ready for the rest of the run. Although I didn’t like the drink, within minutes I felt like I had plenty more energy! The final mile of the run would be a piece of cake.

Kirk and I ran a good pace over the last mile, chatting every stride, and just enjoying the race. It wasn’t my fasted 5k time, but it was my most enjoyable 5k run! The last half mile was downhill and the two of us made a good pace to the finish line. We crossed the line at 1:29:15 but for some reason our official time is listed as 1:31:15 and we had no penalties…Too funny because I predicted 1:30….Because we weren’t pushing it that hard on the run, both of us were feeling and looking good at the finish.


                                                                     In my Team Finland gear!

5K time-  25:20

Overall, my swim time wasn’t great, the bike went almost as planned, and the run wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. The race itself was an incredible experience and I will definitely take on this challenge again next season! I didn’t forget to pack anything and although my transitions were the best, I was at least organized. My research online and blogger buds helped with plenty of tips that improved my performance.  Looking back, I am thrilled that Kirk and I were able to finish side-by-side. We got into this together, did some training together, and had a great run together to wrap it up!

I have some work to do in order to be more competitive and I look forward to more tri’s next year!!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Finished the race!

Successfully finished the triathlon yesterday! The monkey is now off my back.  My overall official time was 1:31:00 (although the clock said 1:29:10 when i crossed and had no penalties!).

I will put together a race report in a day or so but it was a warm day for September, I had a fantastic time, and I can't wait to do another tri!!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

RACE COUNTDOWN...MAKING A PRE-TRI SPLASH!


Four days until the big race!!! The excitement is at a fever pitch but the last few days leading up to my first triathlon are going by pretty s...l…o…w! Things have been very busy at school and with life but the countdown to the race is just dragging by!!!

My training has been going pretty smooth. On Monday I squeezed in 10 miles on the bike and will probably do a short ride tomorrow. I also plan on swinging by the bike shop to make sure my bike is race-worthy.

Over the last week, I’ve been spending most of my training time in the pool because it’s my weakest area. This morning’s swim was my best yet and left me feeling pretty good for the race. My main goal in the tri is to make it out of the water on my own! After today’s workout in the pool, I think there is a good chance I will make it out of the North Atlantic! I might take a quick dip in the ocean the day before race day just to get acclimated to the frosty water.

After running a couple of races a week and a half ago, I haven’t run much. Tomorrow’s plan is for a really short run and to start packing.  Will probably put all my tri gear aside and look up some packing lists just to make sure I have everything.  
     Finishing the PJ Johnson Memorial 5k
My workouts have been toned down and I’m feeling pretty refreshed.  I’m ready to do this! The only thing that could shake me at this point is the forecast. Not sure how well I would cycle in the rain.  On Monday, they forecasted a 60% chance of rain for race day. Yesterday, the forecast called for a 40% chance and today there is a 20% chance of afternoon showers on race day. After a lot of stress, it is looking like the weather may hold up for us.

                                                       Grammy- the captain of my support team
 
My tri team is ready for the race too- my two little ones, my parents and grandma, Kirk’s fam, and a couple of friends are all expected to be at the race to cheer on my racing partner-in-crime, Kirk, and I. I’ve also been fortunate to receive plenty of support from a few co-workers who are avid runners. The support network has kept me fired up and with race day just around the corner, it is time to put everything together and crush it!

 
I've enlisted the help of the rebels just in case. Going into the race with the Force on my side should give me an edge over my competition!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

ANATOMY OF A 5K RACE!


Two weeks and counting until my first TRI and this weekend I’ve signed up to run in two separate 5k races this weekend. While racing today, so many thoughts were racing through my head so I thought it would be only fitting to dedicate a blog entry to it. So here you have it-all the thoughts going through my head pre-race, during the race, and post-race.

My pre-race goal was to keep busy so I wouldn’t get too excited or butterflies. I was roaming the house like a man on a mission!

Gotta do this, gotta do that! Can’t go to the race till I’ve finished this and this…Looking at watch-30 minutes till race time so I gotta get the heck out of here!

I jump in my car and start the 6 minute drive to the race…

Forgot my water bottle! Oh well, no big deal…Forget my racing belt! Again, no big deal, I’ll just make sure to use it tomorrow.  WAIT-forgot my iphone, no 80’s tunes during race? Should I turn around? Nah-I’m not using the headphones during my tri so I have to get used to racing without them anyway.

Arriving at race where a big fair/festival is taking place…

Can’t believe I can’t find a parking spot! Race starts in 20 minutes…I gotta make a power move, find a spot, and get to the starting line! OK- I’ll park at this lot where office is closed for weekend!

I register, get my bib, and actually have 10 minutes to get ready!

I have to make sure to stretch the legs well! Remember Jim…hammy was a little tight during last 5k you ran, loosen that puppy up! Bad news- my cheering sections (the fam) can’t make this race. Good news- I don’t have to entertain my little girls before race starts and have more time than normal to stretch! Loosen everything up…OK-time to line up…don’t be too far back, remember-you got boxed in last race and was slowed at beginning a bit!

O.K. got a pretty good spot at start line but it will be a little tricky- all runners have to run through narrow finish gate to start race…I’m all set- good spot!

Here the gun- go! Wait, old guy next to me is trying to squeeze in through gate. His elbows are up as he tries to get me to budge!!! Remember Jimmy- you are a city boy!! This gibroni is not going to push me aside! Put your elbow up! Did it- through the gate, now get a little distance between group with a quick sprint…Two guys in front of me cut me off 25 yds past start so they can chat…I push my way through them and won’t see them again this race, and I’m off……

Half a mile into the race…

Wow- got off to a quick start. Maybe pushed a little too much! Breathing heavy, gotta try to control my breathing!

One mile in and running a steady pace…

Getting fatigued…O.K. Jimmy, remind yourself why are you running in this? Why did I sign up for this race? I am gassed! Can’t believe I’m doing this. I should start to walk…but remember your triathlon! You can’t walk a 5k workout with only 2 weeks! Could I? New plan- keep up with gray shirt guy in front of you! He has a steady pace that is right where I should be at!

Here comes water station- only been running 1+ mile? WTF! Water wasn’t bad, feel better for next 3 seconds. Where is gray shirt guy? OK- got him in sight, all set! Time to set my pace and run the way I’ve trained-steady pace!

Mile 2…

Wow, feeling much better! Small rolling hills/inclines… I can keep this pace, still right behind gray shirt guy. We are both running steady. Nobody passing my either. WAIT= two high school kids are a making a move on me? Can’t break my pace to speed up, I’ll never finish! Go ahead guys!

End of Mile 2…

Last water station, another boost of energy for 5 seconds! Pace is still the same. Gray shirt guy now 40 yards ahead. WAIT- another person passing me?...Female too? This gal can run…good shape, good form, she is legit! I’ feeling good, same pace-she’s quicker and I’m letting her go! Older guy also passes me…oh well…

Mile 3 marker…

Feeling decent at Mile 3! I can make a sprint!!! Small hill 100 yards before finish line-I’m going for it! All out spring up hill and I’m gaining on everyone! I pass the girl early into the sprint. Old guy too!!! Wow. Sprinting gets you tired at the end of a 5k!!! Wait- here is gray shirt guy in front of me. I got him in my sights…He is at his usual steady pace…Wow, I’m tired. Maybe I’ll just follow gray shirt in to finish. I run side-by-side, slow down with him. I’m just 1 stride behind him…he is not challenging me…I’m just gonna follow him, I’m gassed anyway…I can push a little more, but remember Jimmy-you are running another race tomorrow and your fam isn’t here anyway so now drama needed at the finish. Don’t use all your energy today and leave yourself with an empty tank tomorrow!… I am going to follow gray shirt guy…Old guy re-passes me 25 yards from line. That’s ok- I’m following in gray shirt guy…Just wish I brought that iphone…I could really use a boost from Vince Neil or Joe Elliot right now!!!

Almost at the line now, oh yeah, check the race clock. Holy Moly, I’m 1 minute ahead of my time 2 weeks ago! 22 minutes flat!!! A personal best 5k! Not too shabby! And I thought I’d be slower without my 80’s tunes!

Get your post-race drink and snack! Keep walking around but don’t take too long, the fam has quite a bit going on…Get to your car….Ouch! You should have used body glide today! What were you thinking!!! Chafing sucks!!! Don’t rush out of the house next time!

Despite forgetting your water, body glide, iphone, and racing belt you still had a PB. That is a trade-off I can live with. Guess there will be no headphones for tomorrow’s race either!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Tri to workout and TRI to work it out NHL


Week 1 of the school year is officially in the books and now I am officially a working stiff again! This summer was an epic on but it is time to get back to the grind. It is going to be a challenging year at my school because renovations have us cramped and crazy, but I am fortunate to have great students this year. The one issue facing me is how devote enough time to my training while working full time.

Finding the time to train during the summer is now problem for a school teacher, but what about during the school year? I just completed one week on the job and i would like to share some observations:

·        To keep up my training regime, I am turning into a model of efficiency. Balancing the kids, work, grad school, and my training is keeping me busy. An occasional two days off from training is not ideal but it is becoming a fact of life.

·        Prime workout time-right after school. Mornings are too dark to do much outside.

I finally found some extra time yesterday to dedicate to training and pulled off a brick workout! Exciting…not because I did a brick…exciting that I found the time for one! I was all fired up for the rest of the evening. My increased mojo was evident to the fam too. When playing with my youngest before bed, I decided to squeeze in some crunches and it turned out to be a pretty awful idea. I felt a little tweek while doing my set and immediately felt my ribcage tighten. The discomfort did not go away for the rest of the evening. I had plans to do a 5:30am swim but when the alarm went off the discomfort hadn’t gone away so I had to call off the swim.

The day at school, I spoke with the athletic trainer who thinks a strained the muscle/tendon/whatever-he-called-it in between my ribs. He said to give it a little rest. I am a little bummed because the swim is my weakest sport and by early next week I need to get back in the water. Running and biking aren’t restricted so I don’t have to put all the training on hold.

The big triathlon is two weeks away as of this Sunday and I plan on a busy weekend. I am running a 5k both Saturday and Sunday. I also plan on squeezing in a bike ride on Saturday and a swim sometime on Sunday. During the two weeks leading up to the tri I plan on cutting back on training a bit but I am going to get into the water as much as possible-I need the work! The swim is my biggest concern so I plan on doing as many swims as I can. That doesn’t mean I’ll be in the pool everyday…I just hope to swim 3 times each week at the least.

Also need to remember to do my Sunday training EARLY… well before the NFL takes over my life! I am fired up for the football season here. Remember, I’m a New England guy so that means the PROS only…college ball is not a big deal here. Our big college sport is HOCKEY and if you are wondering, my fav squad are the UMASS-LOWELL River Hawks! One more month until they drop the puck for their season. This may be the only hockey that is on this season because the NHL’ers are sounding like they may not play at all. I refuse to believe that my Bruins won’t be playing! My boys are in the middle of a decent stretch where the team has plenty of talent and young players. Now is not the time for a year off!!!! Wake up guys(and owners)!
                                                  My fav Lucic brawl vs Komisarek!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Everybody's NOT working for the weekend! Thoughts and question...


This week’s return to school marks a new beginning and with that uncertainty comes many questions about the future. Today’s post focuses mainly on questions-about my training, triathlons, school, and life.

                                         Kirk and I in our new suits-bring on Wallis Sands!
 
First, a quick TRI training update. I was able to jump in the ocean once again yesterday with mixed results. The workout was decent but difficult. My TRI brother-in-arms, Kirk, and I decided on an ocean swim after a birthday party filled day with pre-teens. Our choice of beaches was probably not the wisest-Plum Island is known for its’ decent surf, strong currents, and powerful undertoe. Just to make sure we made things as challenging as possible, we jumped in at high tide. The workout was one of the hardest I’ve had(out of only a handful) because of the big waves but we both lived to tell about it.  Despite the tough seas, I was glad we ended up at Plum Island. The kids had a tremendous time and provided plenty of smiles. My youngest daughter, Riley, was running around chasing after seagulls and yelling ‘Ducky’! ‘Ducky’! Riley was a huge help during the swim workout. While finishing the last leg of the swim, it was impossible to sight anything with the sun in our eyes. Luckily, we could hear Riley yelling ‘Daddy!’ so we knew exactly how far to go! Could this be my secret advantage during the race next month???
                                                                  Riley patrolling the shore
My last weekend of summer vacation has been fast and furious. Cookouts, birthday parties, visits to the beach… just living the dream. It has been the greatest of summers. Two more days till classes start so there is still time to squeeze in a few things more. I’m thinking more ocean swims, back-to-school shopping, and 1 more BBQ!

After that…questions. What will school do to my training schedule? Will there be enough hours in the day for work/school/play? Only time will tell.

While thinking of these questions, quite a few triathlon questions have come to mind and I thought that if I posted them, maybe some of you could offer some insightsJ

·        What exactly is in an ‘essentials bag’? I get it- kicks, glasses, etc. But what accessories? Snacks? Type of fluids besides water? Things a newbie wouldn’t think of????

·        Does it make sense that I can train in the pool for 75 min, but 15 min in the ocean wipes me out?

·        Sneakers- are $100 running kicks really worth it?

·        Duran Duran or Pet Shop Boys?

·        Water bucket in T1 or water bottles for cleaning up?

·        Short/quick rides on bike or longer/steady pace?

·        Need a new pre-race tradition before first race. Have seen dance poses by some. I’m leaning towards a history theme for my pre-race ritual…after all, I am a history geek!

·        Swimming- we do people run for cover from the pool and oceans when it rains?

·        Cycling shorts or no cycling shorts during race?

·        Other traditional snacks during race besides gels/powerbars?

·        Will Scott Brown win a U.S. Senate re-election bid just because he is a triathlete?

·        Let Obama and Romney run in the Lobsterman, ME, half-iron, winner gets the keys to Pennsylvania ave!
Feel free to offer your thoughts, opinions, or expertise!

Shop, bike, BBQ, pool with kids today! Hope all of you have a great holiday! Cheesy sounding, but I will be back teaching in front of kids soon so I need to start getting in character!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Summer’s End State of Sports and Leisure Review


With school starting on Tuesday I have a few thoughts about sports and life I’d like to share.

Just wondering where I will find the time to train and work now that my teaching gig is starting back up and taking grad courses to boot…

Baseball- the Sox are an afterthought in New England for the first time in over a decade. The bandwagon has crashed! Still plenty of loyal followers though-my 88 year old grandma still refuses to miss a game on TV. However, even grandma has conceded the season. So many of us here had disowned the team after none of the players attended the funeral of the beloved legend Johnny Pesky. Sox ownership quickly went into damage control and demonstrated some serious stones by trading most of the team core. I applaud them for having the gumption for such a bold move and getting rid of good players that were so disliked by the fans.

Football- fantasy football draft in complete and it’s time for ‘Are you ready for some football’ tune to be heard time and again. Making plans for at least one trip to Foxborough to see the Pats dismantle the Jets…

Hockey- the NHL will break my heart if there is a work stoppage. Can the owners be that stupid to undo all the gains the sports has made in the last decade? I find it hard to believe that there won’t be hockey this winter. We’ll have to wait and see. The fam and I got a partial hockey fix last week at Milan Lucic’s celebrity softball game that had Looch, Seidenberg, Tuuka, Mottau, and Johnny Boychuk playing. However, I should point out the Mickey Ward got the biggest ovation of the night-Lowell rocks!

Old-timer league hockey team gearing up for another season of mediocrity and fun!

Basketball- whatever.

Personal Tri training- moving along nicely, 3 weeks to my 1st race. Hope to dip into the ocean twice in the next 3 days and ride the course once. Still not finding the time to hit the gym and do some weight training. Must…find…the…motivation…to…do…more!

Summer Travel Recap- one of my favorite leisure activities: travelling. Did more travelling this summer than over any 3 month period in my life! I’ve been pretty fortunate this summer and I’m not too sure how I can top it after taking a handful of trips to Europe, Caribbean, Disney, and NYC. Although I’ve had an incredible journey this summer, I’ve figured out one important thing- I love New England. I don’t think I could ever move away from here. I love the coast and beaches, incredible seafood, Boston and its’ history, the mountains that aren’t too far away, the hockey culture here that you don’t find in too many other places, I actually enjoy ALL the seasons, and my hometown of Lowell(even though I moved next door to it recently). People give the city a bad rap- the mills give it a feeling of history that many cities do not have.  

I still love to travel but “I love that dirty water…Boston you’re my home.”

Signing off from the sport and leisure rant.
My nephew, dad, and I rocking the Skydome/Rogers Centre for a Sox game.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

WILD WEST WORKOUT WASN’T WEDNESDAY…IT’S THURSDAY!


Yesterday’s inaugural open water swim(OSM) did not go as smoothly as planned. That’s too mild…it sucked. However, today is a new day and that means getting right back on that pony!  Drove right back up to the ocean today for a rematch with the mighty Atlantic!

My biggest mistake of the day was before the workout even began-I arrived before the lot attendant called it a day so I ended up forking over $8 for parking. C’est La Vie!

Arriving at the beach during primo beach hours was quite the spectacle. Sunbathers galore during the hottest part of the day and here I come strolling onto the scene with my full wetsuit on. I didn’t want to scare the children so I didn’t put the cap and goggles on till splashdown in the ocean!  BTW- any New Englanders ever notice that people you meet at the beach are so much nicer than strangers you meet everywhere else? Maybe this is just a New England thing…

My swim workout was much better than yesterday’s in both distance and comfort. Don’t get me wrong-I wasn’t at a great pace but I was thrilled that I showed IMPROVEMENT! The self-doubts from the swim portion are not as strong now. There may be a tiny, tiny, tiny lingering doubt somewhere in my thick head but it is much smaller than the previous day(self-doubt, not my head)!

Another win today was remembering my Body Glide and using quite a bit. No friction burns today and the wetsuit came right off. WIN!

Next up was my first time cycling the course I will be racing. I drove the course yesterday and today I was pumped to be cycling it today. My plan- take it easy on the bike today so I can get a feel for the terrain. I’d do a decent pace but I wouldn’t attack any of the course.

The first few miles and the last few miles are incredible- on RT 1A that hugs the coastline for incredible ocean views. There were plenty of other cyclists along this route, every one of them giving a friendly wave that I returned. Deep down, I wonder if each person I see is signed up for this race and they are the competition. Hmmm… you never know.
Post-workout chillin'!
 

Running shape, Eddie Money, and the 5K


Running has to be my least favorite part of the 3 triathlon disciplines. It’s not that I necessarily struggle with running, I just get bored during workouts. I never run without my 80’s tunes now, and this has helped a little with enjoying my workouts. I haven’t been pushing my distances- staying mainly around 3-4 miles per run. I average 7.5-8 minute miles…

 

Earlier this year, I ran a 5k road race and came away from it knowing that I wasn’t in the greatest shape- my time was a 1:30 slower than the same race the year before. It wasn’t a bad day, my training was about the same…I was just slower. It was about this time where I committed myself to getting in better shape and doing a triathlon.

 

Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve had some decent run workouts. I’ve felt a bit better out on the road. My numbers only slightly improved, but I felt much stronger in the workouts. My next step in my run workouts is to meet up with some friends and do group runs or at least with one other person. I guess the same can be said for my cycling and swim workouts too. I have done some research on the internet for Triathlon Clubs/teams my area. I live in Mass right near the NH border so clubs from Boston to Southern NH are all on the table. I found a couple of possible leads. I just want to make sure the group I pick fits my needs- workouts with a reasonable area, a club that actually has regular workouts, and a group that is serious but also doesn’t take themselves too serious(a group that knows how to have fun!). My goal is to join one of these groups by the end of 2012.


My youngest daughter Riley and I, post-race, at my old lunch table from high school                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  

Last week, I ran my first 5k since picking up my training. The race was a cancer research fundraiser in memory of Marci Lemkin. My old high school hosted the festivities and was the starting point.  I loved the course, mostly flat and along the Merrimack River. I ran at a steady pace the entire race, never sprinting but never slowing down either.  I actually had a little bit of a burst left in me at the end but I misjudged where the finish line was- I never saw it until I was 40 yards away. Another rookie mistake! Also failed to spot the wifey and one of my daughters at the finish line.  I finished the 5k with a time of 22.59.  I was happy with the time and pace I sustained. Much of the credit should go to Vince Neil and Joe Elliot for firing me up with some quality tunes mid-race. Where does Eddie Money come into play from the post-title? “Wanna go back, and do it all over…” Stroll down memory lane while walking through the old school.

 

Post-race summary: I feel better on the course and improvements can be made in my time if I pick up my training. Also, I should know the start and finish better. I was trapped in a slow group at the start(it only held me up a little) and I should have known where the finish was. I also developed a blister from my tight running shoes. Shoes will have to be retired- they are too small. These were old and super cheap so no big loss. My back-up pair of kicks fit fine and they are now my primary ones. They are newer and fit perfect –should have made this switch sooner.

 

Signed up for two more 5k races that are both next weekend. Never ran races on consecutive days but these races are parts of bigger celebrations that I’m really looking forward to.  Then, 2 weeks of light training before the much anticipated first triathlon!

 

Off to the ocean for a brick workout on the tri race course!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tri training like a beach bum!


Only 6 days left in my summer vacation so I decide that I will splash down in the ocean for 4 of those days! Although I attended an open water swim clinic, I haven’t done an open water workout yet. Tonight, I call my training partner at the last sec to see if he can do a swim-no goL I decide to drive the 45 minutes anyway to do an ocean swim. I go to Wallis Sands State Beach, site of my upcoming TRI.

Mistakes, mistakes, and more mistakes

It’s just before dinner time when I pull into the parking lot and I stumble upon a group of about a dozen people putting on their wetsuits.  The few fellas I speak to in the parking lot are very friendly, but I don’t hang around long because I’m ocean bound!

Note to self- when you have some type of phobia about swimming in the water, stick with the group swimming! I choose to go solo and last about 20 minutes. A half-ass workout for sure. 

2nd note to self- go pee before jumping in the water. I’m not willing to christen my wetsuit during the 2nd time using out so I call off the workout. The facilities on the beach are closed… Fini, just like that.

Maybe the biggest mistake- I don’t pick up any seafood while at the coast even though it’s dinner time. What was I thinking?

Before I go home, I do drive the bike route for the first time so at least I become a little familiar with things. However, I call it a night with some lingering doubts about the swim. While working out in the pool, I felt like I was cutting through the water and building my endurance a bit. In the open water, I’m not focusing on my technique, some panic sets in, and I fatigue much quicker than the pool. I’m not going to give up with this but it’s clear that I have “miles to go before I sleep…”
Tomorrow- ocean swim, biking the race course, and maybe a short run on the course!