Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Long Overdue

Just wanted to drop a quick note to anyone that has ever read this blog or may start to read it. I've been extremely flaky with blog posts because I've been so busy over the past few months. In a way, everything that I've been so busy with deserves its own post. Over the past few months I've raced a LOT and made some huge life decisions that I'm looking forward to in the future. Please stay tuned as I come back with a better update shortly. Hopefully I'll also come back with a new design. Anyway, thanks for reading and talk to you soon.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March Madness Biathlon Race Report - 1st of the Year

Ever since I've started racing back in 2007 (am I already in my 3rd year?), I've always participated in the March Madness Biathlon (or Central Park Biathlon as its called during the fall).  I used this race as a good indicator of what my fitness looks like and how I've progressed over the years.  The event is basically a 2 mile run, followed by a 12 mile bike (2 loops around Central Park), and finally another 2 mile run.  My results over the past few years are as follows:

2007 Central Park Biathlon
Time - 1:21:46
Overall Place - 147th out of 253
Age Group Place - 8th out 12

2008 March Madness Biathlon
Time - 1:21:08
Overall Place - 150th out of 346
Age Group Place - 10th out 16

2009 March Madness Biathlon
Time - 1:11:40
Placing at the end

The good news as you can see from the times is that I made a dramatic improvement over the past two races.   My overall time decreased by about 10 minutes, which is mostly due to my running improvement.  In 2007 and 2008, I only wished to hold a pace under 9:00 min/mile, but in 2009, I'm extremely disappointed if I'm not at least holding a 7:30 min/mile pace.  My expectations of my own abilities have grown significantly, and as you can imagine, I had high hopes of coming out of the gate strong in 2009.  In the weeks prior to the race, I checked times from past years and knew I would finally be competitive.  My goal for this race was to get my first set of hardware by at least placing in my age group.  I knew I had it in me until....

In the week prior to the race, I managed to injure my knee which is probably a product of running too hard too soon.  I've been racing hard at the NYRR races this year and it probably gave me a case of Runner's Knee (pending a diagnosis from my Sports Medicine Doc this week).  It took me out of commission for a few days and I had to basically rest which was frustrating after getting into a really good groove with training.  It felt OK the morning of the race, but still not race ready.

I also followed the weather obsessively in the week prior because the forecast was for heavy rain on race day.  I HATE the rain.  Unfortunately, the prospects of a nice weather never got any better even though I thought if I refreshed my iPhone Weather Channel app enough, it would finally tell me that it wouldn't rain.  In anticipation of the rainy weather, I bought this cool, but expensive, jacket specifically to keep me warm.  I expected to keep it on throughout the race, especially on the bike, since it could get really cold when its about 40 degrees and raining.

On race morning, I woke up from a 6 hour slumber at around 5AM.  I literally laid in bed for the next half hour debating on whether or not I should do the race.  I obviously peeled myself off my bed and woke up my wonderful sister who offered to stand in the rain and cheer me on just in case I did end up placing in my age group for the first time.  We eventually made the drive over to Central Park in the downpour and I still kept on second guessing whether or not to do the race.  A few thoughts ran through my head:

"Maybe no one will show up and my chances at placing will be better"
"All triathletes are generally crazy, so its not like rain will stop them now"
"My competitors, present or future, aren't doing this right now"

My sister and I finally arrived at the race site and I picked up my race number, set up my transition, and warmed up, all in the dreadful rain.  Before I knew it, the race was about to start and I toed the line with a surprisingly large amount of athletes.  Fortunately the rain had let up and the race began...

Run 1 - 2 miles

Goal time - 0:14:30
Actual time - 0:15:57

I went into this run starting out very strong as I strided up a slight hill.  I took at my watch real quick to check on my heart rate and noticed that it was way too high.  I was close to 197 which is just under my max heart rate.  I put out too much effort too early, but stayed strong and managed to negative split the first run.  I wore that rain jacket that I bought the night before, but overheated because I had too many layers on so that contributed to my crazy heart rate. My knee felt OK, but it was when I came down the last hill towards transition that I noticed it wasn't 100%.  I saw the clock from about a 100 yards out and saw I was already over my 14.5 min goal time.  I was pretty disappointed as I ran into transition, but I heard my sister yell, "Don't worry!  You'll make it up on the bike!"  I thought the exact same thoughts and it was time to test my new bike in a race situation.


Actual Time - 0:01:01

It was an uneventful transition where I just jumped on my bike quickly and sped away.  I ripped off my rain jacket to help with the overheating and just put my head down ready to mash the pedals.

Bike - 12 miles

Goal Time - 0:33:30
Actual Time - 0:35:59

I was excited to ride my new bike because it was the first time I was on a true triathlon bike.  Not too mention, my bike was probably 1 to 2 pounds lighter, so it would be helpful on a lot of the climbs.  I immediately started pushing a big gear up the first hill and it was business as usual.  The bike is my strength so I just started reeling people in.  I eventually got to the first downhill and was surprised at how nervous I was, so I uncharacteristically squeezed the brakes.  The rain had certainly made the roads slippery and I just haven't been the same descender after I crashed during a race last year going close to 40 mph down a hill.  That killed me because I got pulled back in by all the people I passed leading up to the first downhill because I was basically scared.   I got to the north side of Central Park which is the hilliest part.  I knew that was my opportunity to get back into the race, so I mashed the pedals and climbed past a few more competitors.  Overall the basic story of the ride was that I pushed up the hills, was just as fast or even faster than anyone else on the flats, but scared to descend.  By the second lap, I knew I was close to potentially placing because I figured with all the people I pulled in on the bike, there couldn't be too many people left in my age group in front of me.  The rain and the cold finally got to me on the bike though and I was basically freezing by the end...


Actual - 0:01:02

The nice thing about having spectators is that you are forced to make your transitions look pretty slick since its the only time they will ever see you during the race.  As I entered the transition and ran on the wet road barefoot, I racked my bike, and took a 2nd pair of dry sneakers out of my bag (first time every racing in 2 different shoes, but needed to keep dry).  My sister was yelling "Go! Go! Go! Hurry up! What the hell are you doing!?"  My toes were so frozen from the bike ride that I couldn't manage to put my shoes on.   It was the furthest thing from graceful, but I finally got them on.  Regardless, I exited transition with another woman and I heard a volunteer say to her, "You're the first overall woman! Go!"  I figured if I could stay with the first overall woman, I'd be in pretty good shape to place in my age group.

Run 2 - 2 miles

Goal Time - 0:15:00
Actual Time - 0:17:40

I tried to keep stride with the first overall woman and ran pretty hard; however, within a quarter mile, I felt my legs start to cramp.  After about a half mile, I couldn't keep up with her.  Just before the turnaround, I saw a bunch of the top male athletes running back, so I figured I was at least 8 minutes back, which I was OK with, but I was hurting from the cramps.  I pushed through the first mile of cramps and gave it all I had for the final mile.  My knee wasn't too happy about the pickup in speed so I didn't feel as stable, but as I looked around me, I noticed that I passed a few lagging runners and to my surprise, no one was around me, so there was no threat to my age group placing.  I just wanted to finish as fast as possible so I strolled in and saw the clock and knew I had my work cut out for me as I finished in an overall time over 1:10:00 which is not where I wanted to be at all.

I walked up to my sister a little disappointed and she said that she didn't see too many young guys in front of me.  I realized that this shouldn't be my race mindset at all, but I couldn't help but beat myself up.  I know should be more concerned about leaving everything out on the course and not leaving success up to chance like this.  After waiting for about a half hour, it was awards time.  Luckily since I'm in the younger age groups, they announce my age group placing early and my sister and I were getting sick of freezing in the cold and rain.  First the overall men were announced and luckily one of the guys that won my age group in this same race last year (and who is also coached by my coach) placed third overall, so he was no threat.  I joked that he actually helped me out by being that much faster this year.  Then the announcement was made for the 18 to 24 males.  It was so quick that I barely absorbed it all, but unfortunately, my name wasn't called.  My sister immediately said "Don't worry! You did great!" and I nodded but felt disappointed.  As the day progressed I became more and more obsessed with the fact that I didn't place and eagerly awaited the official results to be posted online.  When they were finally posted, just as I expected, I was in 4th place in my age group, missing the 3rd place spot by 3 minutes.  My competitors just ran faster and that was the difference.

2009 March Madness Biathlon
Overall Place - 47th out of 283
Age Group Place - 4th out 13

Maybe its important that this happened to me so early in the season, because it just left a bad taste in my mouth.  I know that I'm racing for age group podiums now so I need to definitely step it up.  It was a big kick in the ass, so I have a lot to work on.  I realized that I can't just rely on my bike strength to pull me through, so I need to be faster.

I have some major changes coming down the road that will change a lot of things for the better so that I can continue to fight against cancer and pursue my own triathlon goals.  My overall goal is to still fight against cancer, but I've developed a drive to just annihilate my competitors and crush their dreams.  For the moment, let's just say I'm frustrated with how things are being done, so its about time for a change.  More on that later...

Before I finish, special thanks goes out to my sister for toughing it out in the rain.  I probably wouldn't have been as close to placing as I was if you weren't there screaming louder than anyone else.

As usual, thanks for reading and please stayed tuned for more...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Week 6 & 7: Stepping Up the Intensity

Week 6 Totals

Swim - 5 km (3 miles)
Bike - 48 miles
Run - 15 miles

Total Miles - 66
Total Training Hours - 8 hours

Week 7 Totals

Swim - 5 km (3 miles)
Bike - 93 miles
Run - 18 miles

Total Miles - 114
Total Training Hours - 10 hours

I apologize for not updating sooner, but getting back into a regimented schedule of training has been taking up a lot of my time which is a good excuse I guess.  Over the past two weeks, while the volume of mileage isn't as high as I'd like it to be yet, it has definitely been a lot more intense.  During these past 2 weeks, I raced 2 NYRR races in my quest to qualify for the 2010 NYC Marathon and finished with times that seem to get better everytime (not counting the port a potty breaks that plague me every race).  Unfortunately, my body is fighting back a little and telling me, "Whoa, not so fast," because I am now nursing a case of what is probably Runner's Knee.  So with my bum knee, this week, I'll primarily be swimming and cycling with hopes of recovering and getting 100% healthy for my first multisport race of the season on Sunday, the March Madness Biathlon in Central Park (2 mile run, 12 mile bike, 2 mile run).  I'm extremely excited about getting back into multisport racing and I've done this race every year since I started this crazy hobby so it'll be a great benchmark of how far I've come.

One thing I've learned first hand over the past few weeks as I've ramped up my training is just how delicate and resilient the human body can be at the same time.  Since I've come back from Puerto Rico a few weeks ago, I've been sick with the flu, jammed my toe, developed runner's knee...all setbacks of course; however, during the same few weeks, my swimming stroke has become much more efficient, my cycling power has increased by close to 10%-12% over a 40KM distance, and my running fitness is the best it has ever been.  I see training as a destroy and rebuild process and for the first time I'm battling with the balance of how much I should actually be destroying vs. rebuilding.  I'm not a invincible kid anymore.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Week 5: Back in it

Swim - 0 miles
Bike - 84 miles
Run - 21 miles

Total Mileage - 105 miles
Total Training Time - 9 Hours

I came back from Puerto Rico last Monday fresh from vacation and slowly recovering from a 3-day fever.  I was itching to get back into real training and just in the nick of time, I received a challenge on my F-Cancer initiative.  I owe my latest motivation to train to this challenge which was to train 100 miles in the month of March.

It wasn't till Wednesday though that I actually did anything, but I knew that I could easily hit 100 miles if I just followed my plan.  I of course accepted the the challenge, but I wanted to take it up a notch and finish off the challenge in 1 week.

I followed my plan the best I could with some short bike rides and runs during the week.  The weekend was where I really wanted to turn up the volume.  I typically hold my weekends for long rides and runs.  On Saturday, I woke up and took advantage of the beautiful weather.   I ran 12 miles around Manhattan mostly on the West Side Highway route.  On Sunday, I took my long ride and although I was only supposed to do about 2.5 to 3 hours, I managed to stay on the bike for over 4 hours.  The last time I did this route, I was training for my half ironman and its always an epic ride that has me seeing all kinds of things.  I basically start from my house and head straight up north across the NJ/NY border till I get to Harriman State Park.  While in Harriman State Park, I get some hill work in on tired legs.  It was a great ride until it started raining and I ended up descending about 7 miles in rain basically freezing my ass off.  In all, I ended up riding about 65 miles.  During this ride, I see the craziest things like ponies, a ton of deer, hasidic jews on bikes, a chapel in the middle of the wilderness, etc.  The list goes on.  Next time I go on this ride, I'll take pics just to show everyone how ridiculous it is.  Anyway, thats it for now.  Week 6 is off to a great start and I'm hoping to get even more workouts in.  Updates soon.   Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Week 4 Blah

Week 4

Swim - 0 miles
Bike - 20 miles
Run - 3.5 miles

Total Time - 1.5 hours

Another slow week of training mostly due to a jammed toe from playing basketball, a bout with a nagging fever, and a quick weekend vacation trip to Puerto Rico. Not really much to say here right now, so I'll leave it at that. I'm looking forward to a great few months of training up until the summer. I realize that its probably better if I build more of a run focus over the next few months to prepare for the San Diego Rock n' Roll marathon I'm racing in on May 31. Hopefully March will be better as it brings in my first multisport race (March Madness Biathlon on March 29) and the spring season.

Sorry for the boring update, but better posts to come so stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Moment of Truth

Week 2
Swim - 1.5 miles
Bike - 30 miles
Run - 0 miles
Total Training Hours - 2.5 hours

Week 3
Swim - 3 miles
Bike - 0 miles
Run - 8.5 miles
Total Training Hours - 3 hours

The thing about this challenge that I set up for myself is that it forces me to be brutally honest. Each week becomes a moment of truth. Did I deliver or did I not? Unfortunately for myself, its been tough, but the little volume you see here in training is not necessarily an indication of my laziness. I would probably be more inclined to train more if I had a donor that did challenge me on my training volume. I've had some interesting challenges, but none that have pledged a small amount of money for each mile I cover. Anyway, if you're interested in raising the stakes for March, April, and May, please visit my page here

I've been involved in some other physical activities including dodgeball, basketball, and even bikram yoga and have experienced some small victories outside of triathlon. We made playoffs in dodgeball, made the championship in basketball (and lost while also managing to get a first real injury that I had to get checked out), and lived through one bikram yoga session (an accomplishment, I swear!).

I also got the chance to finally tell my story to a bunch of college students at NYU. I was invited to speak about community service and my charity which I was really excited about. It felt like I was finally taking the right baby steps towards making my charity a much bigger movement. The key challenge I had here was that college students just don't care. Nothing against them at all either because I was there once and really didn't care. Like every stage in our lives, the minds of college students get so consumed with their own problems and responsibilities pulling them in about 9348759328475 different directions. For college students, its finishing a paper, getting a job, figuring out your major, stretching your money, getting with that girl, clubs, fraternities, etc... I knew donating is a pretty large task for poor college students, so the goal of my presentation was to get their hearts and souls invested into my charity as well as performing community service in general. I looked at this presentation as an investment for the future, because they will one day be making the big bucks and calling the shots around here. I just wanted to tell a story and get them to think about outside of themselves so that they could really take in all the causes out there that are larger than themselves. I was glad to finally give this presentation because not only did it further my cause, but it was truly the first time that I shared the complete details of my story with others. While I was presenting, I realized that I was entering a new stage of bereavement from being secretive and quiet about my story to telling the masses so that they can learn something from history to make a better future for everyone. A large task of course, but I hope I touched a few people. At the end of the day, I really enjoyed giving the presentation and I hope my audience did as well. I hope this is an indication of bigger presentations and more initiatives to fight cancer.

That's pretty much it right now, but more to come soon. In the meantime, I'll be nursing this stupid basketball injury so I can get my run training back in gear...

Luckily X-Rays said it wasn't broken, although my ego took a hit after having to go to the ER only to tell the receptionist that my toe hurt when she asked what was wrong...

Also, I've started to Twitter to provide some quick updates on training and any charity efforts. I'm sure there are many of you that are saying "Soooo what" but for times when I'm in my training cocoon, I hope to stay in touch with friends and family through Twitter.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Week 1 of the F-Cancer Challenge

Week #1 (2/1/09 to 2/8/09)*

Swim - 2 miles
Bike - 0 miles
Run - 19 miles

*Typically weeks will go from Monday to Sunday, but I'm including an extra day for the 1st of the month. No particular reason why, that just how triathletes do it.

I'm a little embarassed about this post, but I signed myself up for it, and will be sure to never let it happen again. I don't have any excuses. I just didn't train as much as I should've during week 1 of the challenge and I'm already behind on one specific challenge from Cheryl. See below.

Cheryl's Challenge

I will donate $4 if you sing “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go... Read More” while running that 1 mile.

I will donate $45 if you take a video of you singing “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” while running that one mile (or run for at least the duration of the song). you also have to post it public to facebook by 2/5/2009. i will subtract $1 from my donation for every day it is not posted. okay, maybe you can make it private for certain people. that is negotiable.

I highly doubt this is the kind of challenge we’re supposed to give, and it probably doesn’t really benefit your training thaaat much. sorry. nonetheless, I hope you accept it.

This should help you:

I will post the results of that challenge soon (hopefully after this weekend!).

While this past week was light on training, I experienced a few events that I just wanted to touch upon:
  1. First of all, I went to my old high school to see my old wrestling team. It brought flashbacks of a time when all I cared about was winning. It was pretty awesome because I remembered how fired up I used to get and just how sweet winning was. I was lucky to see my old high school previously ranked #2 in the county come through with an upset by beating the #1 team in the county. I love that winning feeling so its about time I get it back through triathlon.
  2. Last week, unfortunately, I learned that an acquaintance of mine, Pat Antonio, lost his mother to lung cancer . It really hit me hard because I remembered just how devastated and messed up I was right after. I came out a much stronger and better person as I'm sure he will. Anyway, I'm dedicating my initiative to Amelita Antonio in addition to both my mom and my aunt and the many others that have been touch by this disease. I'll be posting up a special challenge in honor of Amelita Antonio in the coming weeks. All money received from that special challenge will be donated in honor of her. Stay tuned.
  3. This weekend was warm. I can't believe how giddy I got about running outside. I ended up running my longest distance thus far and it felt great. I almost forgot how awesome a nice long run in the outdoors can be.
  4. One of the small things in life that I truly appreciate is listening to the right song at the perfect time during a workout. During my long run I hit a few walls, but its awesome how a song was able to lift me up when I hit the wall. A few of these songs are:
    • Eminem - Till I Collapse

    • Eminem - 8 Mile Road

    • Kanye West - Stronger

    • John Cafferty - Hearts on Fire (from Rocky IV Soundtrack)

    • Survivor - Burning Heart (from Rocky IV Soundtrack)

    • Rocky IV Training Montage

    • Robert Tepper - No Easy Way Out (from Rocky IV Soundtrack)

      • Note: I love Rocky I, II, III, IV, and VI. Rocky V was an unfortunate mishap. F*ck you Tommy Gun. I'm working on a separate ode to Rocky blog entry. Stay tuned!

    • John Legend - Green Light (yes, that just happened)

    • Alicia Keys - If I Ain't Got You Dio Remix (i know, that just happened too. anyway, special shout out to my summer of S.A.M. boys on this one)
5. And finally, I realized how lucky I am to have never dealt with significant injury (knock on wood). To those that are fighting back from injury, I'm right there with you. Where there's a will, there's a way. Just keep working hard and find a way to work with the body you have. As Kevin Garnett profoundly said after winning the chip, "Nothing is Impossible!" Keep in mind, Lance Armstrong had lung and brain cancer like my mom and should've probably died. He had other plans though and went on to win 5 Tour de France's and is going for another one this year.

That just about wraps up my weekly dose of random thoughts from a triathlete with ADD. Week 2 is starting and its been good so far so please visit this blog and remember to donate often.

Comments welcomed! I'd actually appreciate any other songs you guys listen to when you workout.