Tuesday, December 31, 2013

We Made It!!!

It has officially been 1 year.  1 year since the wife’s and my life changed.  It’s amazing how fast time goes by when you don’t realize things.  It seems like 2013 came and went in a flash.  Every other year when the New Year comes, I’ve been able to sit back and feel how long the previous year has been and dissect it.  Not this past year.  This past year came and went in a blur and I still can’t believe where the time went.

At 1am January 1st, 2013, the wife’s water broke and we went to the hospital a few hours later to welcome in Riley to our family.  One second we were out to dinner (with the same people we’re going out with this year), and the next second we are parents.  How crazy is that?

We’ve had the best year we can possibly imagine.  It’s been filled with more laughs than I have had in 32 years combined, more feats accomplished or at least recognized, and just more or everything.  Probably because we now celebrate all the little things that make life so great. 

I’ve learned a lot of things in the past 365 days. I’m sure a future post will be about that, but this past year has been incredible. 

So with that, the wife and I have made it one year without breaking, damaging, ruining Riley’s life.  I’m sure that time will come in the future. But while everyone is out celebrating New Year’s day, the wife and I will be celebrating Riley’s first birthday and the fact that we made it one year.  We’ll be popping champagne bottles and formula filled ones wishing our son the very best 1st birthday.

Happy New Year to everyone, and especially a very Happy Birthday Riley.
We made it 1 full year

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013 Season in Review

 Now that it’s the last week of the year, I can look back on my year and grade it in its entirety.  I probably could have done this in October when my season “officially” ended, but I figured I would save it until the official end of the year.  Plus, you never know when a random race would pop up and I would enter it.  One didn’t, but that would look weird if I graded my season and a few weeks later, I ended up doing another race.

I’m going to review all parts of my 2013 season, and not just the actual races, but everything that encompassed my year.


I didn’t know what to expect this year at all.  With Riley being born, I figured I would have less time to train, have to really focus on my workouts and I couldn’t deviate from any plan.  That’s the reason this blog started any way right?  To track me being a first time new dad and how it would relate to my training and racing.

I have to be honest and say that my training actually went up in performance over the last few years.  Maybe it was the early season marathon that I was training for which led to me having the best base fitness I have had for any season.  I think having the ability to do Boston so early really gave me such motivation and then allowed me to focus on speed and maintaining fitness and distance than having to balance building up my distances.

I learned a lot about what needs to be done during a training season this year.  For example, I started doing a lot of drills during my swim and bike workouts this year.  I could really tell the difference how my body responded to these workouts and it made me have the ability to push through plateaus and also the hard parts of certain races. 

I think the one thing I still need to work on is my swimming training.  I get so bored in the pool and want to stop my workouts early.  I also need to improve my form and types of swim training.  I think I learned how to structure my bike and run workouts, but still need to figure out how I can improve on my swimming.

Training Grade: B+.  I think once I figure out how to encorporate better swim workouts and start working with my power meter and tailor workouts, this grade could go up.  I honestly don’t know how much more I could have improved upon this year.  I learned how to balance training and raising Riley, so I am happy with this past year for the most part. 
This is the hardest part for me to look back on.  There are a lot of things that factor into a good racing season.  My goals coming into the season was to get at least 1 podium finish, requalify for Boston, qualify for the USAT Nationals, and do well enough in the Rev3 Maine Half Iron.
You can read all of my race reports on here if you wish, but as for my grading:
Running the Boston Marathon was an experience that I will never forget.  There are 2 parts of marathon day.  The race itself and the tragedy that ensued.  I choose to look back and have fond memories of the day.  I will remember forever racing Boston and will make it my goal to get back there and race again.  As for the race, I don't think I had my best race that day so once I knew I didn't have it that day, I started to enjoy the course more.  I really wanted to race well there, but some days you have it and some you don't. 
Small Triathlons- My small or prep Tri's this season couldn't have gone worse.  One was screwed up because of bad directions, another was marred by a bad crash the week before, the third had major goggles issues and just a bad time there. I don't have much to say about these anymore except they happened and I'm glad the miscues happened in these than the "important" ones
Rev3 Half Iron- I loved this race.  Everything about it was awesome.  From the week leading up to it, the course itself, the weather, the experience.  It was all great.  I learned how to pace myself during a long race like this, and I learned how my body would react to such stresses.  I'm very happy with this race and can't wait to use the experiences here for a better 2014.
Racing Grade: C+/B-.  This grade can be a little higher but I'm mine own worst critic so I think it should be low.  I did end up qualifying for the Rev3 Age Group championships with a overall ranking of 9th in the country, and did qualify for the 2014 USAT National Championships so I accomplished things I wanted to and even some things I didn't think I could, so overall I'm happy with the racing season, but my results don't necessarily show it
This year, I partnered with some great companies that I have raved about on here for the entire year.  I don't think that I could have done any of the things this year without any of these partners:
Skora: I found my favorite running shoe of all time.  Not just one style from a company, but a company that has a lot of quality shoes.  I found my dream shoe in the Skora Base and raced every single race his year in them.  I can't wait to continue to have success with them.
HoneyMaxx: Over the past few years, I have had issues with cramping, electrolyte consumption, and never truly learned how to fuel my body.  Partnering with HoneyMaxx solved these issues.  I've never felt as strong as when I've been using HoneyMaxx.  It's such a great tasting product and gives everything one needs to have a strong race season.
X-1 Audio: Let's be honest, swimming countless laps in the pool is just boring as crap.  Its tedious, monotonous, boring, and just not a fun experience.  Once I was able to get waterproofing solutions for my ipod and earphones, I actually started to enjoy swimming more.  I'm still by no means a lover of the pool, but at least this way I can zone out, listen to music, and get a good workout in
Misc grade: A.  Finding the right training tools is essential to race day performance and I think I found companies and I products that have the same beliefs that I do, and brands that I can use and be proud of. There are a few other partnerships that I would like to have, which would be the only way to increase this grade, but other than that, I don't think there is anything that could improve here.
Overall Season Grade: a solid B.  There are definitely things that I can improve upon, but there was a lot of good this season.  I learned how to train and plan to train during Riley's first year, I crossed the finish line with him in my arms, I qualified for a bunch of championship races.  I'm satisfied with my 2013 race year, but I know there are a lot higher expectations for me going into 2014. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I've got the Power, and some other toys

Over Thanksgivingukkah, I received exactly what I wanted for gifts this year.  That’s a first in itself because I’m so hard to shop for and I usually buy things I want myself which makes it difficult for others to buy me presents. Since I didn’t received any birthday presents from my family this year, they told me they would double up and get me exactly what I wanted.  My in-laws also helped and gave me some money towards the gifts of my choice as well.

With that, I am finally now in the age of Power.  As in a power meter for my bike.  Not just any power meter, but the brand spanking new Garmin Vectors.  It’s way too early to review them, but my initial impression is I love training with power.  I don’t have the exact knowledge about everything pertaining to how to train with power, but so far I’m liking what I see. 

I’m not a numbers guy like most other athletes where they do a workout and analyze it and then figure out shortcomings and work on them.  But I am a numbers guy in the sense that I need to train with numbers.  For example, I want to know my cadence, speed, and now power with every ride, just like I want to know my pace when I run. It's a goal.  I want to hit my goal numbers so I need to have all the data I can.  Even though I upload all of my workout data to Garmin Connect, I don’t sit there daily and look at it.  But during an actual workout, I definitely need to see some numbers and work through them at that particular time.  I think this will help me in both my training and my racing.   I look to hit a certain wattage for the workout and make sure I stay there for that specific interval.  I race by feel, but I train by numbers so I want to make sure that I know the numbers well enough when I'm training that when I'm on course for an actual race, I can feel the hard work that I've put in and know how my body will respond.
Another amazing gift I got was the Wahoo Kickr.  This is basically the best rated indoor cycling trainer on the market.  I was so excited to get this for many reasons.  First off, it controls my power for me on any individual ride.  All I have to do is plug in my course, and the Kickr does all the work for me, well except for the actual cycling part. Unfortunately, I still have to do that. But it controls the resistance for me and I don't even have to shift gears.  The other great part is I don't burn through tires because I take my back wheel off and use their own cassette.  This is great since I don't have to worry about tires wearing down, putting my bike back on the trainer, and anything else.  The only thing I have to do when I want to ride outside is take my bike off the Kickr and put my rear wheel on.  It's not the easiest thing in the world to do with my Flo wheels and dialing in the brakes, but it's a lot easier to do this once than having to put training wheels on, change them out, change the tires, etc. 
I've been working with the TrainerRoad program with the Kickr and it's awesome.  I took my FTP test and know my specific wattage that I need to be at and what my body can handle for an extended period of time pushing it to the limits.  I actually think my FTP is low since I wasn't sure how to test with the first time I used power so on my actual workouts, I've been bumping up my FTP threshold to work out harder. 
So far, I'm very impressed with all my new toys.  I think training with all of them will help me work on some of the weaknesses that I have and make me a stronger racer.  Since I've never worked with power, I know it's going to take a while to get used to it and know what certain numbers mean, how I can use them, and how to take advantage of all this new data.  But I'm excited, and whenever we get new toys, we tend to play with them a lot which is exactly what I've been doing over the past few weeks. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Studio 14 Clycling

Over the holiday weekend, the wife and I went and checked out Studio 14 Cycling and Yoga studio.  We decided to try it out for a few reasons:

1)      We went to high school with the owner of the studio and wanted to show him some support since he has recently opened the studio

2)      We needed to figure out a time/place where we could both work out in a certain window with Riley sleeping and us having plans for the entire weekend and doing this together seemed to fit in perfectly

3)      We wanted to include other family members

So on Black Friday morning, the wife, the wife’s brother, my sister, and I headed to the studio for a spin class.  After a heated car ride due to everyone trying to play navigator and getting us there, we finally arrived.  The wife is used to taking spin classes at high end studios like Soul Cycle and has bought into the craze that follows.  Her brother has also taken classes with her so he enjoys those types of spin classes as well.  I know my sister takes spin classes but I don’t know where she goes.  As for me, I typically don’t enjoy taking a spin class, especially one that my wife is in the same class.  She would agree with me completely.  The few times we have gone together, she ends up hating the class because she sits next to me and watches me the whole time.  I end up looking at her and I try to push her and she yells at me to stop.  We just like to do our own thing.  So I knew this would be an adventure, especially since we added more of our family members. 

I don’t enjoy going to a spin class partly because I believe you are paying only for motivation.  I believe I can get a better workout in by pushing myself and doing my own workout than during a class that has so many different type of people with different fitness levels.  I can push myself harder than any instructor can, so I don’t think going to a class is worth it for me.  However, there are plenty of other people who need that someone blasting their music, yelling out motivational quotes and pushing people.  So I completely get it and wont say anything bad about spin classes.  They just aren’t for me.

Part of the Studio, but it's spaced out so everyone isn't on top of each other
Once we got all settled, set our bikes up and hopped on, the class began.  Our instructor walked in and she was ummmm, well, very eye catching.  I wont go into detail since I don’t want to sound sexist and disgusting, but I know a lot of the men in the class enjoy the our bikes were facing hers and she was facing us.  So while she was working hard, we were enjoying the view. 

One of the things I loved about this studio is there were screens on either side of the room that showed each bike number, the power that each rider was producing and the energy output.  Basically it was one big competition to see who was working the hardest. Right there, I knew this class would be better than most.  Part of the reason I don’t enjoy most spin classes is it just seems like one big party.  Not here.  Not with screens up there showing who’s doing what.  Of course, I had to push myself to be on the top of the leaderboard.  Not many studios have bikes that have power meters on them.    This added a huge benefit for me. I guess I should have expected this because the owner is a triathlete, 2X Ironman finisher and knows what his clients want.  All good things when putting together a spin studio.
As the class went on, I kept staring at the leaderboard to see where I stacked up. Honestly, there wasn’t really a competition to see who had the highest wattage, calories burned, rpm’s when it called for a sprint.  So to keep myself really engaged, I kept trying to push myself to see how much more my numbers could get compared to the second highest person.  So when we were told to increase our gears to level 12-15, I was working within the range of 18-20.  I was trying to put out more wattage than everyone in the class. 
I just had to be on the top, didn't I?

I didn’t see it in this class, but there is another screen on the front wall.  It looked like a big projector screen and from what I gather, the studio could project a course on that screen. So for particular classes, riders can simulate going up and down hills, working on flats, sprints, etc.  This would have been really cool, but having this gives a different feel for a spin studio that most don’t have.  It would kind of like being in a CompuTrainer class.
During the class, I kept looking over to the wife and my brother in law.  The wife probably didn’t love the class since she is so used to a place like SoulCycle, but my BiL was working hard.  I was really impressed with how hard he was pushing himself.  I didn’t expect it, but he was working. It's great to see how far along he has come in about a year.  The only complaint I really had about the class was how vocal the instructor was.  Normally, a spin instructor pushes the class, plays really good music and that's it. I didn't need to hear about how much turkey and pie and whatever else our instructor was trying to burn off today.  It wasn't a big deal since I can block that out, but I can see how it might have bothered some people in the class. 

The class winded down and afterwards we gathered our stuff and I ran into my friend.  I haven't seen him in a few years so it was nice to catch up. 

Studio 14 was a really good class and I highly recommend it.  It also has Yoga classes, so it caters to a whole different clientele that other studios don't.  It is a really smart idea.  I am not a yoga person, but I know my brother in law is so he is definitely planning on taking a few classes there.  Having an owner who knows how to differentiate himself from his competition is a good thing.  He's looking for people like me who want to compete against others in the class by having the screens up there, but he also knows that not everyone likes this so you can choose to not have your info for public view. 
All in all, if you're in the Port Chester NY area and have a choice to take either a Spin Class or Yoga class at Studio 14.  In my opinion, its a better option than what's out there.
Check out their website:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Home for the holidays- UGH

Obviously last week was Thanksgiving.  Normally, its a time to give thanks for what we have and appreciate everything around us.  While the wife and I definitely did that, there were some things that probably didn't rank up high on the list as the highlights of our holiday weekend.

As I've stated before, the wife and I grew up in the same hometown so going home for the weekend is both good and bad.  It makes it very easy to see both sides of the family, but that isn't always the best thing.  Its a constant battle of who we have to see and how long we have to see them.  Let it be known that no one actually cared to see the wife and I.  Riley was the big attraction which he should be, with Thunder coming in as a close second. 

So Thursday morning, the wife, Riley, Thunder, and I along with about a carload full of presents, laundry, wardrobes, toys all packed the car and heading home.  But since, this is blog is about how I balance Riley and training, I had to figure out a way to get a workout in.  I've had some issues with my calf the past few weeks so I haven't been running for over 2 weeks.  That kills me.  I love to run.  But Thanksgiving has always been a huge running day for me.  I don't know why but I love to run on this particular day.  It's like in my mind, I'll be able to run off everything that I'm about to eat.  But trying to find the time in the morning to get a long run in was difficult.  We had to plan around Riley's nap, travel time, eating time, etc.  So after waking up a little earlier than normal, I headed out for a nice 10 mile run.  It was awesome.  I just went out and was so comfortable out on the road.  Definitely what I needed and the best part of my weekend. 

But after that run is where our weekend became too hectic.  After the wife and I got to my parents, we unloaded the car and played with Riley for a little.  But since my mother was making Thanksgiving, Riley couldn't take his nap at her house since it would be too loud.  Explaining that to my parents wasn't exactly the easiest.  All we heard was "why can't he sleep here"? So of course, we had to repack him up and bring him to the wife's parents.  Once we got there for a specific purpose, all hell broke loose.  The in-laws didn't understand it wasn't play time, but it was nap time.  They wanted to keep him up instead of letting him nap.  He was already cranky.  We didn't need him to be even more so.  So after fighting with them, they let him go to sleep.

The weekend was like this the whole time.  The wife and I have a schedule for Riley that we have learned to work around.  No one else seems to care or think that matters.  All they care about is themselves.  The worst is actually eating meals.  Everyone thinks its easier to go out and eat. They all say they are going to help, but when we sit down fir dinner, its the wife and I making sure Riley is ok while the family sits leisurely and eats at their own pace.  Only when they are done with their meal is when they offer to help.  Unbelievable.

Friday morning was much of the same.  However, the wife and I arranged so the 2 of us, my sister and her brother would actually take a spin class together.  More on that in the next post, but at least we were able to get a workout in.  It was a nice turkey burn.

As the weekend went by, the wife and I realized that coming home for an extended amount of time is just a lot to deal with.  There are "too many cooks in the kitchen", but not enough chefs if you understand what I'm saying.

Luckily we went home and had one day left to just sit and relax.  I know holidays are a time to be with family, but after this past weekend, the wife and I have decided that family time will have to be cut short in the future.  Its just too much for us to handle and we need a vacation.