Naked Old Men At The YMCA

There's something about old men, nudity and locker rooms.  I don't know what it is.  It cannot be explained.

I was at the Y the other day getting ready to go swimming when I accidentally noticed a naked old man. This is nothing new...naked, I mean...or old.  But this time it was too much.  Way too much.

He had his back to the locker room, foot on a chair and was bent over clipping his toenails.  My eyes!  My eyes!

Are they completely oblivious to the rest of the world?  Do they really no longer care?  Is that even possible?  It's a very difficult concept for me to grasp. How can a person possibly get to a point in their life where they either don't notice or don't care that everyone in the locker room just got a glimpse of their tailpipe?  


This had me thinking: maybe they truly do not realize what they're doing, so I came up with a good rule of thumb.  If you're in a locker room - or let's say, public - and you're in a position where someone else can see the back of your boys, you're doing something that requires underwear.  It's that simple.  Put your underwear on, THEN clip your toenails.

Or better yet, put your underwear on and clip your toenails at home.  

More artwork by Courtney.  She had a hard time drawing hair on my head 
so I put my watermelon helmet on. I'm not crying, my eyes are bleeding....
and the actual toenail may have been green like the one in the picture.  

A few months ago I was in the locker room changing into my swimsuit.  There was a naked, old man sitting on a towel on the bench clipping his toenails.  Little white elephant tusks flinging around the locker room...disgusting.  Then he slipped on his underwear and stood up to pull them up and the towel he was sitting on was stuck between his cheeks.  He was attempting to grab the towel to free it from his butt, but he couldn't reach and with his underwear around his knees I was afraid he may fall.  What I saw was a man in need and a situation I wanted no part of.  I've never changed and exited a locker room so quickly. 

When I swam at the high school, there was a chubby, little kid that used to eat pretzels in the shower (I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's true).  Have you ever seen a bloated, water-soaked pretzel sitting on the shower floor?  It's pretty disgusting, but not as bad as a bent-over naked old man.  I'm pretty sure switching to the Y was a step in the wrong direction.  If only the hours at the high school were as good as the Y.  If only.... 


Effortful Swim Workout

Effortless swimming workouts....huh?  I might have to check that out.  Sounds like the kind of swim workout I can get behind....or maybe it's the kind of workout that makes you fall behind.  

Either way, it doesn't matter.  I find the effortful workouts produce better results.

Other than masters on Monday and my Friday swim workout I already posted, here's my other swim workout for the week:

One Hour - 3000 yards

Warm Up (900)
100 Swim/100 Kick/100 Pull/100 Kick
10x50 on 1:00 (paddles optional)

Main Set (1800)
3x (6x100 on 1:45) 30 seconds rest between sets

Cool Down (300)
300 yards easy

That's all.  Just felt like posting a swim workout.  It's kind of a go-to workout for me if I need a workout with decent volume and only have an hour.


Swimming With A Parachute.

One of the toughest aspects of swimming, biking and running, I think, is the concept of efficiency.  As a concept, it's easy enough to understand.  Basically, go as fast as you can with as little energy as possible (i.e. swim, bike, run with good form).  Going from understanding the concept to actually achieving efficiency is the true challenge.  It requires patience, practice and focus, all of which become increasingly difficult as fatigue sets in. 

It's easy to go out there and hammer out the miles as hard and sloppy as you can, and you'll go fast....for a little while.  But without being efficient, you'll waste energy and eventually get tired and slow waaaaay down.  Efficiency is why the elites make this look so easy.  It's not that they're not working hard.  It's that they've learned to use their energy efficiently.

Swimming is the sport where efficiency comes into play the most.  Water creates a lot of drag, and if you're not an efficient swimming you're going to waste a lot of energy and you're not going to go as fast as others using the same energy and producing the same amount of power.

The power needed to push an object through a fluid changes according to resistance (drag).  And the drag increases with the square of the speed.  For example, to go twice as fast you need to exert four times the amount of power.  To go three times as fast, you need nine times the power.

When you think about it like that, you can see why spending some time becoming efficient is really important.  You can only generate so much power, so if you can figure out a way to go faster on the same amount of power you’re definitely headed in the right direction.

My masters coach, however, opted for the opposite approach last week.  Double the power output, cut the speed in half.  How, you ask, did he manage this physics-defying feat?

Enter the parachute….

I had heard about this workout and was looking forward to it.  I thought it would be a fun change of pace.  Boy was I wrong.  The parachute is horrible, but not for the reasons you may think.  Yes, it adds quite a bit of resistance, but that’s not the worst of it.

We had three colors to choose from: yellow, blue and black – yellow being the smallest, black being the largest. 

“Mike, what color do you want?  Blue?”

What I’m thinking is: No, I WANT yellow but you just offered that to the girls and asked me if I want blue.   So I said yes.  Of course I want blue.

So you have a strap around your waist and you drag the chute behind you to add resistance.  Simple enough.  The problem is that the cord for the chute gets tangled in your legs as you kick, so you end up kicking funny (wide, if that makes sense) and that throws off your entire stroke.  Soon your arms are countering the movements of your legs and your swimming sloppy, inefficient AND slow.  It’s a bad combo, if you ask me.  I need to work on my form and become more efficient so practicing bad form just to add resistance is a mistake, in my opinion. 

I like paddles.  They add resistance AND help you focus on form.  If you have bad form, paddles will let you know in a hurry.  If you enter the water with your hand pointed down instead of forward you’ll rip the paddle right off your hand.  And they help you ‘feel’ the water so they improve your catch.  I say, forget about parachutes and grab the paddles and pull buoy for some added resistance in the water.  You’ll be able to focus on good form, efficiency AND you’ll build strength.  It’s a win/win….win. 

Here’s my resistance/form workout I have scheduled for Friday:

1 hour 2800 Yards

Warm Up:
100 Swim/100 Kick/ 100 Pull/ 100 Kick
10x50 on 1:00 with paddles (focus is on good form)

4x100 (Spear R, Spear L, One arm R, One arm L)

4x50 Pull on 1:00
4x50 Pull/Paddles on 1:00

Pyramid (rest in parentheses)
50 (15”) 100 (20”) 200 (30”) 300 (30”) 200 (30”) 100 (30”) 50.

Cool Down
50 easy
50 kick



February Training

February is kind of a tough training month.  The weather is still pretty bad so you're stuck indoors, yet it's also the month you start to realize spring is coming and it's time to get in shape.  It won't be that long before race season is upon us.  But with it still being winter, you're not in the shape you want to be.  You might have a few weeks of training under your belt, but you're still building your base.  But the real problem is that you're starting to have expectations and goals with your training that you may or may not be meeting.  

I am not meeting some of my goals right now, and it's a little frustrating.  

Saturday was the second of three one-hour indoor time trials this winter at SBR Coaching.  Last time I averaged about 272 watts and wanted to bump that up close to 280 this time.  I started out around 280 and faded a bit and couldn't pick it back up.  I was getting pretty frustrated toward the end.  I was pushing hard, but just didn't have that last little bit I needed to hit my goal.  I ended with an average of 273.  It was enough to win the overall, which is nice, but that wasn't my goal.  My goal was 280 watts.  


My running is going well, but again I'm not quite running up to the level I wanted to be right now.  I'm hoping things come around, but it's a little frustrating and makes me wonder if my goal of going sub 10 hours at IMWI this year is obtainable.  I still have a lot of training time left so I'm definitely not giving up, not by a long shot.  But self-doubt enters in when you're not where you want to be and you start to feel like there's a ton of work left to do....even if there is a lot of time to do the work.  

On a positive note, my swimming is going well.  I'd say I'm about where I want to be.  It's tough to say because I've never done a lot of swimming time trials so I don't have much to compare things to.  I'll have a better idea where I'm at when I do my first triathlon and aquathon this year.  Then I'll know if I'm where I need to be or not.

I signed up for the Shamrock Shuffle 5K in March so that will be a good test for my running.  I ran that race in 2008 and assuming it's the same course I'll be out to beat that time, which should give me a good idea of my progress.



How To Wear A Helmet And Not Get Mooned

The Luge.  I've been watching, mainly because I'm addicted to the Olympics, but it's not my favorite sport.  I can't tell the difference between one run and the next.  The only way I know if it was a good run is by the time they post after the run is over.  But my biggest problem with the luge is the helmets.  I don't know what it is exactly, but they drive me crazy.  Every time I see a shot of the helmet, I think of that picture of the cat wearing the watermelon helmet.




Looks the same to me.  

Then there's speed skating.  Now that's a sport I enjoy, but again the helmets drive me crazy.  They look like old bicycle helmets.


That picture's a little dated, but still good advice since a lot of people don't know how to properly wear a helmet.














Don't beat yourself up if you get wrong and make a mistake.  Even Lance screws up from time to time.




Lance's explanation for no helmet is a little weak.

But there's a price to pay for screwing up: you get mooned.


That's a chick.

All you have to do is wear your helmet - wear it the right way - and you'll never get mooned. Guaranteed.



I Don't Understand Women

I think that was probably proven years ago and doesn't need repeating, but it's true.  I don't understand women.

I was watching the Olympics last night when mens figure skating came on and Johnny Weir took the ice.  In the middle of his routine, the women went crazy.  They love this guy...





Um.....ladies.....Johnny's not interested....

....not that there's anything wrong with that.


(Un)Frozen Toes

I mentioned a few posts ago, that I reached my breaking point early this year, and couldn't take the trainer anymore.  So I braved the cold temps and rode outdoors.   We had a snowstorm mid-week, but then the sun came out for a few days and the roads cleared off - for the most part.  So I got out for more outdoor miles this weekend.

My biggest challenge a week ago was my toes, my frozen toes.  I have Pearl Izumi shoe covers, which do a good job, but just weren't cutting it.  So this weekend I tried something new....toe warmers.


No, I didn't figure out how to photograph the bottom of my feet.  I put the toe warmers on the top.  I was thinking my feet were getting cold from the wind coming through the top of my shoes (and shoe covers) so I figured these would keep my feet warm and help block the wind.

This is my cross bike, my winter ride....
Here's my other 'winter beater' hanging above my cubicle waiting for new tires.  It's been hanging there with a flat tire for about 8 months now. 



The temps weren't too bad, upper 20s, and the sun was out.  The wind was calm, but I was still worried about getting cold because my plan was to ride for 4 hours.  My longest outdoor ride in temps below freezing, by a few hours.  

The toe warmers worked great.  My toes were warm the whole time. My lobster gloves kept my fingers warm.  My jacket blocked the wind.  My balaclava kept my face warm....all was good...considering it's February.

The ride:





Ride Time = 3:45
Distance = 55.8 miles
Ave Speed = 15 mph

This puts me up to a little more than 100 outdoor miles already this year.  Not bad for the middle of February.  Next Saturday is the second indoor TT at SBR so I'm not sure if I'll get out for another ride.  Maybe I'll do a short ride after the time trial.


Ironsurgery - Knee Surgery The Ironman Way

A friend and co-worker of mine had knee surgery Friday, so I was planning on writing a post about knee pain and injuries.  I’ve had one serious knee injury (torn semimembranosus tendon) and plenty of aches and pains, but I’ve managed to train the past few years injury free so I thought I’d go into details on that and what helps me avoid injuries.  But a good blog has pictures, so I needed a picture, and surgery pictures can be a little gruesome so I asked Courtney to draw a picture of Dave having knee surgery:

Oh wow. 

I think I know Dave’s problem.  He’s seeing a green doctor.   Seriously, Dave, I know being ‘green’ is a big thing these days, but there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed.  Buy a ‘green’ car, but don’t go see a green doctor (notice green wasn’t in quotes for the doctor because he’s literally green – see picture).  Our insurance is better than that.

Green doc aside, I couldn’t quite figure the picture out.  Why is Dave’s doctor doing surgery on the run?  I get that it’s the ‘Ironman Way,’ but that would make Dave’s doc more of an Ironman than Dave (maybe green people have phenomenal endurance, I don’t know).  Then it occurred to me, Dave isn’t actually outside riding his bike.  Courtney forgot a few very important details:

Much better.  He’s in his basement on the trainer.  Don’t worry, that’s an aero helmet on his head – otherwise the doctor would be operating on that big, pointy head.  Or at least I hope so. 

I need to point out one more thing about this picture:

Dave’s bike is a serious piece of shit.  I don’t know what’s going on with that thing.  It appears to have two top tubes.  One that’s really straight and one curvy, wrinkly one that doesn’t really connect to anything (except perhaps the rear tire, which is another problem all on its own).  And I don’t see a headtube at all.  I’m not sure this bike is structurally sound.  This explains the knee problems.  Well, this and the green doctor.

So I guess I’ll go into my knee pain theories and strengthening exercises another time. 

I warned you: surgery pictures are gruesome.

[sidenote: Dave’s surgery went really well.  He won’t be able to run for about 5 weeks, but his knee should be good to go once it heals and hopefully this won’t completely derail his season and he’ll be able to do a few late-season races.]


First Yoga Class

Being an Ironman, I sometimes have a little too much confidence in my ability to suffer through a workout.  I’ve done two iron-distance races, several long bricks, biked 134 ‘horribly hilly’ miles, climbed Mt. Evans….and because of it I tend to have confidence, sometimes too much, in my ability to survive a workout.  I know going in it won’t be my best workout ever, but I figure I’ll get through it.  I always have some way or another.

I’ve been doing yoga for about two months now, but it was all beginner yoga home DVDs.  Some of them are really good, and I enjoy them, but until this past weekend I had never ventured into a yoga studio for the real deal. 

Saturday, Courtney and I took a beginner yoga workshop that came with a week of free, unlimited classes at Bliss Flow Yoga in Madison.  The workshop was pretty basic and slow moving.  It wasn’t bad, but I had done enough home yoga at that point to need a little more than the workshop offered.  But it came with a week of classes so I figured I’d get my money’s worth eventually.

We thought about doing Power Yoga early Sunday morning, but opted for an ‘easier’ class instead – and later in the day: Yoga Flow.  It was 4-5:30.  Being the overly-confident (read: stupid) triathlete that I am, I did the math and decided this gave me just enough time to run 11 miles in the morning, eat some lunch, bike for two hours outdoors, get cleaned up and make it to class just in time.  And I was right.  Just enough time to get cleaned up and make it class….

….with very tired legs.

The class is taught by Marta, and if you believe yoga instructors weigh about 100 pounds and are all kinds of bendy and stretchy, Marta perpetuates that stereotype.  Oh yeah, she’s strong and teaches a tough class.  Tough because she likes to – meaning believes you should – hold poses for a while to get the full benefit.

I’m thinking I can go in with tired legs and get in some good, relaxing stretching and come out feeling like a million bucks.  Not the case, not by a long shot.  Holding warrior poses made my legs burn and shake and my balance, which is lacking on a good day, was pitiful.  We held the poses… and held the poses….and held the poses…..

…and we held our arms up and did some planks and then we did the side plank (with arms straight).  I didn’t realize it until we were in the plank, but my shoulders were really tired and they started shaking immediately and eventually I had to surrender.  I had to take a break and come out of the pose.  I was the only one in the class who couldn’t hold the side plank, and it was humbling….especially since it was my legs that were tired going into the class, not my shoulders.  It turns out my upper body strength is nothing to be proud of.  

In the end, I somehow survived the class and learned that, while some yoga classes are slow and easy, some yoga classes are very challenging and require a lot of strength and should be taken seriously.  I wasn’t feeling like the million bucks I was hoping for.  More like a wrinkled, tired, old dollar bill that’s been in circulation a little too long.

But I loved it (apparently, I love a proper thrashing) and returned for another class on Tuesday evening.  This was taught by the owner of the studio, and wasn’t quite as long or brutal and was exactly what I wanted: a little bit of strength work with plenty of flexibility work.  One of these days I will return to one of Marta’s classes and I can assure you I will be well rested and ready for a challenge.  Lesson learned (maybe).

I’m no yoga expert, not by a long shot, but I’ve done enough now to have some favorite poses which I think are great for stretching areas runners, cyclists and triathletes need work on to help prevent injuries and create balance between the right and left side, so I’m going to go over those in a future post.


Apples...big, juicy apples.


I give Apple a lot of credit.  They made one hell of a turnaround.  It wasn't that long ago that Apple wasn't cool or compatible with anything and you had to wonder if they were going to make it.  Then they started making their computers look really cool, then they came out with the ipod, then the iphone...you know the rest of the story.

But I have to admit, I don't get the point of the ipad.  I can't decide it it's a bad ipod touch or a bad iphone, but either way it's bad.  Maybe it has potential in the long run, I don't know, but right now it doesn't seem to offer enough to make it worth the cost or the hassle of carrying around a giant phone that can't be used as a phone.  I think they should go back to their roots a bit with this one and market it at students, go back to education.  Then it makes sense for it to come without wi-fi or phone or 3G capabilities...or a camera.

It's like Apple sat down in a conference room with an iphone in the middle of the table and asked the question: how can we make this thing suck? "I know, make it really big."  "That's good, anything else?" "People seem to like the camera." "Consider it gone."

But it is what is it, and Apple may turn this into the next big thing.  We'll see.  But here's a product that already has a ton of potential:

It's brilliant, although I think it should come with a phone and perhaps a camera.  Or better yet, a video camera.  Think about it. What gets more attention than boobs?  Nothing.  You want your product to get attention, put it in a boob.  Or on a boob.  Or near a boob.  
And who wouldn't love to see some footage from the boobcam?

Just sayin.

I know...this has nothing to do with training.  See banner at top of page: nonsensical ramblings. :)


Bad Blogger!

I haven’t been a very good blogger lately.  In fact, I’ve been a bad blogger, a lazy blogger.  To be honest with you, I’ve gotten a little bored with the blog lately.  I started it as a way to chronicle my journey to my first Ironman.  I thought it would serve as a way to journal my thoughts and training and add content that I didn’t include in my training log.  After my first Ironman, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my blog, so for the past year or so I’ve been updating it but I haven’t put a lot of effort into it.  But I decided if I’m going to continue with the blog, which I am, I should put a little more effort into it and try to spice things up a bit.  Make it more interesting, add content, share more training and maybe add more personal aspects of my life so this isn’t just another boring training (b)log.

As with the boredom I’ve experienced with my blog, I experienced the same feelings with the dreaded trainer.  I’ve been struggling to put in big hours riding indoors this year, and Saturday was my breaking point.  I cracked.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I was doing my best to stay motivated and block out the fact that I still had a few hours to go when I looked out the window and saw…..the sun?

The hell with it.  I’m riding outdoors.  My cross bike was at work, and in pieces.  And I had an afternoon yoga class.  But….maybe….just maybe I had time to ride.

In my inbox was an e-mail from Dennis asking what time we were riding.  He’s been riding outdoors lately, and invites me knowing I' won’t actually take him up on the offer.  This time I did.  I replied: 3:30 at PC.  Paoli loop.

I hustled over to the office, put my bike together, grabbed some lunch (I have a serious Gino’s addiction) and then it was off to yoga (more on yoga later).  After yoga, I hurried to the office where Dennis was waiting and we hammered out our first Paoli loop of 2010 in blustery conditions.  It was 25 degrees and windy.  But the roads were clear and the ride was great.  It felt so good to be on the open roads, to actually move when pedaling.  

Backwards Gun Show loop.

We weren’t fast on our cross bikes, and to say we attacked the hills would be pretty generous.  We survived them, however, which was good enough for early February. 


Sunday I rode again, alone this time.  I ran early, from about quarter after 10 until 11:45.  Then I ate some lunch (not Gino’s – worth noting) and went to PC to get on my cross bike and get in some more outdoor miles.  My legs were tired from the run, but I figured I’d find a way to get through the ride. 

I mixed it up a bit and did an out and back.  I rode out to Paoli and past and climbed Observatory Hill.  Then back.   It was a good ride, nothing special. 30 miles which gives me a total of 53 outdoor miles for 2010.  Not too shabby for the middle of February.

I finished the ride at 2:45 and then ate some more, showered and went to a yoga class that started at 4.  And it destroyed me.  More on yoga in a future post.  I’m loving it, but I’ve also learned to respect it.  Don’t show up with seriously tired legs and expect to be okay.  Yoga’s hard. 

But now I feel better, less lazy.  I made a few changes to my blog template and have a few ideas to improve my blog.  I got in some good training hours last week (15) and even got outdoors.  I ran and swam more miles in January than I did last January.  I’m ahead of last year, which is progress and that’s all you can do: keep making progress and hope you get where you want to go when you need to be there.