Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Power of the Ring

I used to play in a football league on the weekends which was so much fun.  Our team was really good and was always competitive, made the league playoffs, and won a few championships over the years.  It was really fun, but back in 2010 it caused some problems with the then fiance.  The wife and I got engaged in 2009 and spent a lot of 2010 planning our special day.  Playing football and getting married never conflicted with each other.  Until 1 day in particular which changed a whole lot.  The day before our engagement photo shoot I had a football game.  No biggie, right?  Wrong.  About 5 minutes into the game, our quarterback threw me a pass down the middle of the field and 2 defenders smothered me and deflected the ball into my fingers and ended up breaking 2 of my fingers on my left hand.  Man, was the fiance pissed since I called her from the hospital and now we had to change our photo shoot the next day.  Not good.  What was worse was that one of the fingers I broke was my left ring finger.  Yup.  That one. 

The reason this is important to this post is, the fiance and I decided we would buy a cheap "throw-a-way" ring for our actual wedding since my finger's swelling didn't fully go down.  So we couldn't get a proper wedding band since we had no idea how large my finger would be on our actual wedding day.  After doing some research, I settled on a $25 tungsten ring.  Actually, I settled on 2 rings.  One one size, and a second a different so we can decide how large my finger was on a our wedding day.  Great plan we thought.  Obviously we got married, and I have been wearing that ring for the past 3 plus years.  I surprisingly love the ring even though it was so cheap.  I love the color, the fact that its impossible to scratch, the feeling of it and a few other things. 

My old ring on Riley's newborn foot
The problem is, the ring is so damn heavy.  Plus, since my knuckle is permanently swollen, the ring gets over my knuckle but is loose around the base of my finger.  As a result, I have never worn my wedding ring when I train, race, workout, etc.  The wife hates it.  And because I work out so much, I forget to put my ring on all the time.  I even forgot to put my ring on to go to a wedding with the wife.  Talk about pissing off your significant other.  That was not a good look. 

Since then, I have been looking at alternatives to solve this problem.  I'm always jealous of people I see at races who have wedding rings on.  I just couldn't be that person. 

I did some research and came across SafeRingz.  I remember hearing about them, but the more research I did, the more I started to love the brand.  Basically, its a rubber ring that is painted the color of metallic to look like metal.  I ordered one and haven't taken it off since. 

All rubber rings
Because of the ring being rubber, I don't even notice it on my
finger.  I have completed swim, bike, run and weight workouts all with this ring on.  In some ways, I think it actually helps me during my workout.  This might sound cheesy, but since I never worked out with a ring, now that I do I look down and know what I'm training for.  When I'm out on a run and I feel my ring, I don't get as tired, I don't feel sluggish.  I know I can push myself.  It makes it seem like there is something more important than what I'm doing at that point so I tend to push myself a little harder.

There are times when the wife is a little upset that I have this ring on because its not the ring that we actually got married in, but I make her remember that the plan was always to have a replacement ring.  So maybe on important events, I'll wear my actual wedding band, but for now, I plan on wearing my SafeRingz.  I cant wait to have a race with the ring on.  I know that it will help get me to the finish line stronger.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Things have been really slow recently with everything.  It’s kind of that time where its after the off-season, but not quite at the start of training season.  I’ve been working out really hard though.  I’m obsessed with my new Wahoo Kickr and Garmin Vector power meter pedals and finding out how much power I can product, so I have been pushing myself really hard over the past few weeks. 
What I don’t understand is why people ask me what am I training for or why do I do this if there is no race on the schedule.  I got that question a bunch of times over the past few weeks and it really bothers me.  It’s like they think we all of a sudden stop training and turn into a 450 pound person who sits on the couch and watches TV and does whatever we want.  Then once “race season” comes around, we have the ability to turn it back on and pick up where we left off.
It doesn’t work like that people.  We cant just turn it off and on when we want.  I cant go from running 100 miles a week to 0 miles a week then back to 100 without anything in between.  I know people don’t understand that but if I want to train, let me train.  There is no harm in that.

As for some other things, Riley turned 1 this year, and we had a huge birthday party for him.  Of course, I complained about all the birthday parties that I went to over the past few months, so I guess this was payback.  Riley had over 70 people for his first birthday party.  Yes, let me repeat over 70 people to a 1 year olds party.  That’s just nuts.  But it was a great time and Riley had a blast. 
He’s really becoming such a little person now.  He’s walking around, babbling, communicating and growing up.  He even plays on our bed while I’m on the trainer and thinks his daddy working out is the funniest thing in the world.  At certain times when I’m pushing myself on a specific interval, all I hear is him cracking up. 

Anyway, it’s been really slow so nothing huge to update on, but I have a few things brewing so stay tuned.

Riley right before digging into his birthday cake

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014 Goals

I'm going to write up my goals for 2014 before I actually write up my race schedule, which is normally the opposite of what most people do.  Part of the reason for this is because I haven't finalized my race schedule (I know, bad), but the other part is I want to look at my goals as independently as I can without linking them to races.  There are definitely some goals that are associated with specific races, but I also want some that have nothing to do with a certain date, race, place, etc

I'm a strong believer in setting goals for yourself.  I work in sales and many people in my industry have a quota and sales goals.  I never understand being excited to hitting quota.  It's always something I hear when I interview people, see resumes, hear for year end results/reports.  But it just doesn't make sense.  First off, a quota is an arbitrary number that someone has put together with (usually) no rhyme or reason.  They pick a number out of the blue, and can usually justify it by saying its an increase by X percentage.  But that's it.  Also, in my mind, achieving quota is not a milestone.  Its the lowest possibly expectation placed on me.  Quota is exactly that.  An expectation. So when I set my sales goals for my company, I typically look at specific situations and set individual goals based on those situations.  For example, I recently changed companies.  My new company hired me to put on a sales force from an area that had no sales previously.  How can anyone set a quota with sales numbers when no one knows what the region will look like?  How can someone tell me that I need to bring in X worth of dollars each month if they don't know what its going to take to get business?  It makes no sense.  What I do is look at each part of my region and dissect it based on  how I plan on tackling it.  I might set a goal of converting a surgeon or hospital in a market, or might set a goal of hiring 4 sales people by a certain date.  Those are specific goals that will eventually lead to success and me "hitting my quota".

I plan on doing that with my racing goals for the year. 

1) Stay healthy- This sounds pretty obvious, and I have been lucky the past 2 years where I have been healthy, but we all know injuries happen.  I plan on doing everything I can to keep my body healthy and have the ability to train, compete, and recover properly. 

2) Learn how to effectively train with power- As you know, I recently got both a power meter for my bike and a power trainer.  I want to make sure I utilize these tools the most I can.  For me to have these expensive tools is great, but if I'm not using them in the most effective way then I am wasting money.  I have my FTP already set up, but I want to be able to increase my FTP by 10 watts over the next 6 months.  I think it's doable but I'll have to work hard and use my tools

3) Have fun- Leo and I always go at each other during the race season.  I think he should push harder and he thinks I should enjoy my time more.  I learned a valuable lesson last year in Maine.  Enjoying the race makes it go by faster, easier, and its not as sucky.  I want to take a page out of Leo's book and enjoy the process more.  My favorite race moment last year was crossing the finish line with Riley in arms.  I want to have more moments like that this year

4) Place in the top 5 of Age Group Series in Knoxville- Last year I qualified for the Rev3 Age Group Championship series race in May and my current placing is 9th in the country.  I know at least one of the athletes ahead of me is not competing in the championship race, so that means I'm started with a placement of 8th.  I want to move up at least 3 spots with a strong performance in May to get a podium finish for the entire series.  Notice I didn't say, place in the race, have a time goal, etc.  I don't know the course, the athletes competing, or anything yet.  But I want to make sure I have a good enough showing where I can leapfrog a few athletes for the entire year's standings.

5) Run a sub 3:10 NYC Marathon- I decided that I'm going to run NYC this year even though I said I don't have a desire to run any more marathons for a long time.  After this years race, the wife and I figured out that this would probably be the last year I could run it for a while.  We live on the marathon course. Things couldn't get any easier, and since we think we'll probably move out of NYC within the next year or 2, we have no idea when I could run it again.  That leaves this year as the last time I could run it as a NYC resident. In addition to that, I want to re qualify for Boston.  I'm in a nice spot this year.  Since NYC is after registration for next year's Boston, I actually age up for the 2016 race.  This means my qualifying time gets slower by 5 minutes.  Instead of having to run a 3:05 marathon, I can safely run a 3:10 marathon and get my BQ.  It's kind of getting 5 free minutes because of my age up

6) Podium finish in at least 1, if not more of my races- This is always the goal, but I think there a few races that I'm planning on doing where I have the ability to do extremely well.  I know its who shows up on that specific day, but I also look at previous years times and look how I would do on that course.  I think the one race I have the best chance that I know I'm doing this year is the Toughman Tri in September. 

7) Raise awareness for the products that I'm partnered with.  I love all the brands that support me.  I'd love to bring in more customers or opportunities for them.  Getting free products are great, but these brands expect something from me, and I want to make sure I hold up my part of that commitment.  Plus, the more awareness those products get, the more support they can give.

8) Plan a 2015 race so the wife can enjoy the trip- I want the wife to have a say where we go on some of these trips, so maybe a race in Hawaii in 2015, or somewhere in Europe or Caribbean?  Since 2015 race planning is done in 2014, especially ones that require travel, my goals is to work with the wife to make sure she is happy.

9) Run a race with the wife- The wife has been saying for 4 years that she would run either a 5k or 4 mile race (she doesn't know which is longer).  Yet, every year she never signs up and always gets out of it.  This year, I plan on making her stick to her promise and running a race.  I'll do it with her, but she has to do one. 

10) Not fight with Leo- As I've said previously, Leo is my training/racing wife.  We fight all the time.  About everything from what races, to how hard to train, to what to wear, to where to stay or eat.  Seriously, we bicker like Grumpy Old Men.  My goal (and this is probably the most difficult one I'm going to set) is to not fight with Leo this year about anything related to racing.  Other things, game on.  Just not about training or racing.

11) Learn more about my abilities and how to use them- I train very hard. Sometimes too hard.  I want to make sure I learn how to workout properly so I don't have to cut a workout short because I worked too hard the day before or earlier in the workout.  I know I am an above average runner, but how can I use this in my training? Can I focus more on swimming and cycle and use my natural running abilities? I want to make sure I am learning more this year so as the years go on, I'm not making the same mistakes over and over again.  I learned a lot in 2013, but I want to use this info and build on it.

I have more goals for the year and some of these are very broad, but I think for me to put these down, everyone can see them and hold me accountable.  Other goals are just for me and I'll continue to work on them and reevaluate changes that need to be made, but I'll start with these.  If I'm not changing my goals throughout the season, then something is wrong.  I plan on making sure I strive for these, but also work on continuing to progress them

Monday, January 6, 2014

What I learned in 2013

Now that 2013 is over, I can look back and see what I learned from the season.  I think it's always good to look back and see what I learned, both good and bad.  It will help me become better in all areas of my life.
Well, if I wasn't a zombie, maybe the kid would be. 

So here are a few things that I learned last year both in and out of training:

1) Being a parent isn't as tiring as everyone has made it seem- Maybe it's just how easy Riley is and that he has been sleeping 12 hours a night since 3 months, but I assumed I would be a walking zombie when we was born and have no time to think, eat, train, or anything.  I have had more time and energy to train than I thought in Riley's first year.

2) Developing a specific training plan is a lot better than trying to wing it.- Yes, I know that sounds so easy, but just as its good to have a training plan, it's even better to follow it.  It's sometimes difficult for me to follow a plan because of my travel and ability to get to a pool, bring my bike, etc.  But when I have followed a training plan, I have had more success and better races.

3) Trusting your training is crucial- Training for races is a process.  Every day and activity should have a purpose. Some days are meant to be hard, and some are easy or drills.  I used to train hard every day and push myself as much as I could.  But I would also get burned out quickly and couldn't get a full week's workout in because I was too tired or sore.  I learned that I should trust in the process and not just push myself as hard as possible. 

4) Laughing with Riley is so much better than laughing without him- Riley has the silliest laugh I have ever heard.  To make him laugh and hear the response is way better than laughing at something else.  It's great to share in the joy with him.

5) Specific Nutrition for me- In year's past I have had cramping issues and never really dialed in my nutrition.  This year, I figured out what works exactly for me.  There have been a few tweaks to my process this entire year, but I now know exactly how and what I need to put n my body during races.  I found the gels that I like the best and give me the energy I need, and partnering with HoneyMaxx has dialed in my liquids and electrolytes.

6) Sometimes a race is a race, and sometimes it's an event- I race hard every time I toe the line.  I always want to have my best showing.  But sometimes, that doesn't happen. Other times, it's just awesome to take in the sights.  I learned that during Boston this year, and while I didn't have a good time for me, I loved racing Boston this year and actually got emotional during the race.  During the HalfFull Triathlon, to see all the cancer survivors was a sight and I knew this race was bigger than me. Finally, the highlight of my race year was spending time in Maine with my family and capping that week off racing the Half.  But crossing the finish line with Riley in arms was an event during the race I will never forget.

7) Swimming or biking for a specific time does nothing for race improvement- Pretty stupid of me to assume this since I always vary my run workouts, but I hardly did that for swimming or cycling.  I would swim for 30 minutes and be done. I did a little more than that for the bike, but nothing major.  Now I know that I need to work on hills, one legged drills, sprint intervals in the pool, use paddles, etc.  I think I'll start to see a big improvement on both my swim times and bike splits in 2014. 

8) It's all about the looks- If you feel good, you'll race good.  I've been trying to coordinate race outfits, sunglasses (yes, I wore 7 different sunglasses in races this year), shoes, bike colors.  Coincidentally, I've also felt good on almost all of my races this year.  Yes, this last one was very vain

9) Off days are needed and don't feel guilty- I've always hated taking off days, and an off-season.  I just don't like the idea of not doing something every day.  But I've learned that some days you just need to shut it down and not feel bad about not doing anything.

10) I sleep so much better when Thunder is around- For some reason, I can't sleep when he's not curl up in my legs at night.  I can sleep when the wife isn't there, but if Thunder is gone for a night, it's so hard for me to get a good night's sleep.  I know weird, but hes been with me for 8 plus years.  I'm used to it now.

11) I need to start planning races in places the wife can enjoy- She made me agree that one.  In the future, I'm sure there will be races in very tropical locations

There is so much more I learned, but I didn't want to add too many.  I look forward to building on a lot of these this year to be better in 2014.