Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

More importantly though Halloween means one thing... its time for the game formerly known but no longer officially referred to as the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. This little skirmish down in Jacksonville between the University of Florida and the University of Georgia is heightened this year due to Georgia's on field antics last year. After scoring their first touchdown the entire team ran onto the field to celebrate. While it really was silly, I guess I can understand why the dawgs were so happy to get a measly six points seeing how they had lost 14 of the previous 17 meetings. Tomorrow's game promises to be a good one as both teams come in off big wins but hopefully the Gators can pull it out. I cant wait!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why do we play?

Paulo and Joel both posted a recent rant from San Francisco's head coach, Mike Singletary, during which he rather emphatically stated that he, "only wants winners". This of course reminded me of one, if not the greatest, all time football coach rants from former Jets head coach, current Chiefs head coach, Herman Edwards. It is concise, coherent, and marvelously well delivered:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

All trianer, all the time

While daylight savings time doesnt officially end until this Sunday, November 1st, bike riding outside during the week has all but completely vanished. The sun is now setting a few minutes before 6:00 which means there just isnt any way to get in a 1:30h ride after work but before the sun sets.

As a result, I've been on the trainer the last two nights. Fun times for sure. Luckily though I actually havent had that hard of time getting motivated for the sessions, likely due to the fact that Clearwater is just around the corner. Admittedly this sentiment will likely have completely vanquised by the middle of December when my nearest race is months away but we'll just have to deal with that then...

While I was mashing the pedals last night I was watching E:60 on ESPN while also listening to one of my stations on Pandora. I had a Zn4 workout to DOMINATE so I was really just listening to the music and only using the TV as ancillary entertainment. However, during a rest interval of the workout, I noticed there was a story on Viagra as a performance enhancing substance. They showed pictures of the Rockies and of football players at Mile High Stadium getting oxygen on the sidelines but the story seemed to focus on cyclists, especially older age group athletes looking for a boost. Unfortunately I was too busy pounding away at the intervals and listening to music to hear the story.

Interested, I did a bit of Googling and found this story in the New York Daily News which is centered on the fact that WADA is looking into whether or not Viagra is a PED. While there are numerous studies currently being carried out, Kenneth Rundell, a respiratory researcher at Marywood University, says, "There have been studies that indicate that Viagra allows you to exercise at sea-level capacity at higher elevations." Additionally, according to the infamous Victor Conte, "Viagra vasodilates (widens) the lungs and pulmonary arteries. This is where the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen occurs. So more red blood cells carrying oxygen get into the heart and more carbon dioxide is pumped out." Naturally then this would help improve performance in endurance sports.

So what does this all mean? Unfotunately it looks like this is another way for people to cheat. There will never be drug testing in amateur cycling, running, or triathlon races so this really just harms those who try to do it the right way and want to be competitive at the same time. While some of these people are certainly out there for that all important AG award, I believe most people know what a good performance is for them and get satisfaction out of that good performance, whether or not it is accompianied by a ten cent plaque.

Monday, October 27, 2008


S: 23,900 yds
B: 9h 53min
R: 5h 53min

Total: 21h 45min

I had another nice week of quality workouts capped off with the best (in terms of TSS) long ride of the current training cycle. This is encouraging because the increase in TSS came while the duration of the ride remained the same, indicating an increase in intensity. I also upped the intensity on the tempo run as I joined David on his MP run. I kept him company for six miles which was enough for me since by that point we were running faster than 5:30 pace. He continued on for another 6 and should have an awesome debut marathon.

With the last long ride out of the way and less than two weeks until Clearwater, the hard work is (almost) completed. Now its just time to get ready to race... Bring it on!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The wonderfood that is apple crisp and other ramblings...

With the ride postponed to this afternoon today due to chilly early morning temperatures, I decided to make some apple crisp. Now is the season for apples and when I saw some Granny Smiths on sale at Publix, I couldnt resist. What I didnt realize, however, is that it is great pre bike ride food. Of course with the enourmous amount of sugar, this should be no surprise. It was so good preride, I had some more after the ride as well:

And here is the cumulative damage:

In other ramblings... naps are awesome. Especially when they follow swimming, running, and homemade buttermilk pancakes... The WLOCP next weekend in Jacksonville will be huge. Florida and Georgia both had comfortable victories this past weekend setting up next weekend's game as the de facto playin for the trip to Atlanta in December. The game also has national title implications with the loser all but gone from a chance at the national title and winner still very much in the hunt (albeit still needing some help). As if all that werent enough, there are the antics from last year which were at the annual preseason SEC Media Days... Rednecks like their dogs. They also like to let their dogs run around their yard. Thirdly, their dogs like to chase things, like cyclists. When it only occurs once in a while, getting chased by a dog isnt too big of a deal. But when it happens 4 seperate times by a total of 6 dogs it has just gotten out of hand... I feel really sorry for Rich Brooks. Its never good when your defense cant stop the opposing team's offense. It also isnt good when your offense cant move the ball against the opposing teams defense. But its just downright awful when you also get your first two punts blocked. Result? Florida 28, Kentucky 0 after the first quarter.... Speaking of things that arent good, it is never fun to get stung by a wasp, especially when it is 2h into a 3h ride... How 'bout the hoos?? Somehow Virginia pulled out a big win over GA Tech. This can only mean one thing: a loss next week against Miami even though the hoos will certainly be favored... It has gotten chilly here and will be getting cold next week. Good thing Clearwater is just around the corner... Despite the aforementioned "distractions" I had a great ride today. Of course I wouldnt have known this without the PT. Yes, it is just that awesome.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Flipping through the channels on Tuesday night I came across a new episode of Frontline entitled HEAT. The summary looked interesting, so I decided to watch. Not surprisingly, it was superb.

If you aren't familiar with Frontline, it is a show which airs weekly on PBS. Each episode is essentially a two hour long video report on a given topic. The length of the program and the fact that each episode focuses one only one issue (unlike other news magazine programs), allows the reporter to thoroughly explore every aspect of the given topic. Additionally, the reporting is generally remarkably unbiased, with tough interviews of influential representatives on both sides of a given issue.

The episode which aired Tuesday was HEAT, "A global investigation into one of the greatest crises that mankind has ever faced -- Can we roll back global warming?" It began by discussing some of the causes and effects of climate change and then dove into the economic and political forces which have been and are continuing to drive our nation's (and the world's) energy policy.

Some of the more interesting topics which were highlighted and discussed included the advantages of and barriers to carbon sequestration, the glaring lack of investment of oil companies in alternative energy, and (most importantly) the absurdity of ethanol as a viable sustainable energy option. It even touched on topics like the rise and fall and rise again of the electric car at GM and the huge increase in carbon emmissions of India (several hundred million new drivers will be taking to the streets) and China (where they currently building new coal plants at the rate of 2 a day).

If you missed it, the entire video is available here, on the PBS website, and I'd highly recommend watching. While I was in grad school at UVA I took a class on energy policy and since then this is the most thorough, non-biased overview of the factors currently influencing our country's energy policy that I've seen.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hey Paulo, you think that stew had a lot of saturated fat??

Last week Paulo commented that my beef stew recipe was loaded with saturated fat. If only he had realized how timely his comment was. The beef stew may not have been the leanest meal I've ever made but it was downright anorexic compared to the feast I enjoyed on Saturday.

The occasion? My friend Greg Reynolds decided to have some people over for a barbecue and football watching on what was otherwise just another Saturday in the fall. Unbeknown to me, Greg is quite the master when it comes to grill.

He got up at 4AM to get the smoker going and start smoking two pork butts* and some racks of ribs. They were, quite simply, incredibly delicious.The pic below shows the thermometers as its hard to time these job precisely...

Here is a nice shot of the ribs:
And here is one of the butts...

before Greg pulls it apart. MMMMM pulled pork.... YUMMMMMY!!!
Greg used a kick ass dry rub and the meat was so flavorful and juicy that sauce really wasn't needed. My contribution to the party was some apple cider vinegar based coleslaw which complemented the pork nicely.

*A "butt" actually refers to the shoulder of the pig. Why it is called a butt I have no idea...


S: 23,700 yds
B: 9h 33min
R: 6h 28min

Total: 21h 57min

Another solid week down the drain. I can't say there were any spectacular workouts, just a lot of high quality "getting the work done". Additionally the perpetual state of soreness/tiredness has returned to almost full force so getting out the door has been a bit of a struggle but with Clearwater less than a month away, the motivation is there to get out and train.

Bonus to the weekly update we have a quote of the week. This gem is courtesy of Newt Gingrich who, when referring to the Bush Administration on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, said, "They came in as social conservatives and are leaving as conservative socialists..."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Only in Alabama

Last night I was stuck on the trainer again as rain + fleeting daylight + everyone trying to get off the Arsenal at the same time = extremely unsafe riding conditions. So after getting home and setting up the pain machine, I got started around 5:30 and was flipping between PTI and World News with Charles Gibson before watching Modern Marvels from 6-6:30 then picking up the Thursday night football game on ESPN at 6:30. While getting a shot of Erin Andrews always rates near the top of any viewing experience, the highlight of this evening's television was actually a commercial. At some point there was an ad for Woody Anderson Ford where they were advertising a free shotgun with the purchase of an F-150. Thats right kids, buy a truck, get a gun. Honestly, I couldnt make this up if I tried...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Beef Stew

With the weather turning its the perfect time for a nice warm, hearty, stew. Last week I made some chili but this week I wanted to try something new. After scouring various food recipe websites, I settled on a recipe for a beef stew from Dave Lieberman which looked particularly appetizing. Unlike the standard beef stew containing beef, carrots, potatoes, onions, and maybe some celery and/or peppers, this ingredient list still has the standard fare of beef, carrots, potatoes, and onions but also contains crushed tomatoes, red wine, green beans, and fresh rosemary. So Sunday afternoon I made the usual trip to Publix, picked up the ingredients, and got to work. The full recipe can be found here.

I realize that simply linking to the recipe is admittedly a bit lame but the instructions were well written and the soup came out really well. The flavors of the beef, tomatoes, red wine, and rosemary all work very well together to produce a savory stew. While (like any good stew) it did take a while to cook, the wait was well worth it! Additionally, the best part are the leftovers! This one pot will last at least four or five meals and most likely be just as good (if not better) each time so although there is a bit of work required up front, the ROI is substantial especially when considering how much more time is available on the weekends for food preparation compared to the weekdays. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


is the name of the game right now on the bike. For those unfamiliar with the acronym, BRO stands for Big Ring Only and comes via The Professor, Matt Calarco. Matt grew up riding in San Diego in the pre-Lance days when cranking a big gear was all the rage. As the story goes, he and his friends would have contests on long training rides to see who could get the farthest up a few long climbs in the Southern California area in their big rings. This doesn't sound like fun for your knees but when you're 16, who cares??

Anyway, what was once merely a joke has now turned into a training philosophy as Paulo is convinced my cadence is too high in races. And who am I to argue? So in order to counteract that its been lots of BRO riding in training. Now while this may be easy and even comfortable for the uber bikers out there like Bjorn, this is not particularly fun for me as its quite difficult to make my little legs crank a high torque. The bottom line though is that as long as it will make me faster on two wheels, I'm all for it!

Monday, October 13, 2008


S: 22,900 yds
B: 9h 10min
R: 4h 12min

Total: 19h 7min

With less than a month to go until Clearwater, its all about intensity. Of course with daylight disappearing about as fast as investment banks, its hard to rack up much bike volume during the week. Even with the shorter weekday workouts, if I have to stay late at work I'm relegated to the trainer. This happened on Tuesday AND Thursday this past week which made Thursday's workout especially mind numbing.

I almost forgot... Happy Columbus Day! I'm not sure who decided this needed to be a holiday, but I dont have to work, so I'm not complaining. Gotta love those random government holidays!

Wind blows aka Another reason to train with POWER

Below is a comparison of the first half of my rides the last two weeks. I only took the first half because the route is fairly flat and doesnt have too many stoplights. So here goes...

Date: 10/5/08
Pnorm = 214 W
Pavg = 205 W
Avg Speed = 21.7 mph

Date: 10/12/08
Pnorm = 217 W
Pavg = 207 W
Avg Speed = 20.5 mph

As you can see, although the power values for both rides were about the same, the average speed on 10/5 was 1.2 mph higher. The main difference? It was really windy yesterday whereas the 5th was a relatively calm day. Of course everyone knows that a headwind or crosswind will slow you down. The problem is that it is hard to say how much. Additionally, because struggling to pedal along at 12 mph into a headwind feels so different than flying along at 30 mph with a tailwind, it is often hard to use PE to determine which is better workout.

This just another advantage to owning a power meter. Unlike speed, which is highly dependent on external environmental variables, power is only affected by how hard you are working. So whether you are going 12 or 30 mph the power meter doesnt care.

The map below encompasses most of the first part of the ride but I have to admit I dont know all the road names so I only made it as far as I know ;)

View Larger Map

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pretty nice little Saturday

Yesterday started off with the Monte Sano 15k. I have been doing a long tempo run on Friday night so I really just switched it to Saturday morning this week and did my usual 50min Saturday morning run on Friday night. Heading into the race I planned on running the first half in 5:35 pace or so (the course is pretty hilly) and then picking it up the last few miles. I felt good starting out and was in 2nd for the first few miles and everything was going according to plan. However, going up a couple of the steeper hills I started having some lets just say... internal plumbing issues... and was worried about changing pace too much. The legs felt fine though so I just kept the same pace for the rest of the race and upon finishing continued straight through the chute and into the little boy's room.

After clearing things out, I felt much better but was dissappointed about not being able to accelerate at the end of the race. Still though, the legs werent really sore and I ended up getting in 18 miles on the day with 9.3 @ 5:37 pace, so all in all it was a pretty good workout. Even better, it only costed me $15 to sign up and I got a long sleeve tech shirt and a free pair of shoes as an award. Not a bad deal! Plus, even with the digestional issues, it was a lot more fun (and a more quality workout) doing the race as opposed to the long run by myself.

From there I headed home to clean up, watch some football, and track the IM. Texas-Oklahoma put on a good show as well as South Carolina-Kentucky.

At the end of the early games it was time for a bike ride. Because I didnt get to open it up as much as I wouldve like to at the race, the ride ended up being better than expected.

With that out of the way it was time for the highlight of the day: Florida-LSU watching with the Spring City Gator Club. The gathering was at a member's house this week and due to the matchup with LSU, the club bought some gumbo and asked everyone to bring something to share. I made some cornbread and was stoked for the game.

In case you missed it, the game was total domination for the Gators as they "hung half a hundred" on LSU. It was the first time since 1996 that LSU had given up 50+. Anyone want to guess who that came against? Thats right, the Gators, under some guy named Steve Spurrier.

But back to the game. It really was a great performance by the Gators. The offensive line opened up some nice holes for freshman running backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey helping Florida amass 265 yards on the ground. Additionally, the defensive front stepped up big holding LSU to only 80 yards rushing. This is dispite the fact that LSU's leading rusher, Charles Scott, had rushed for over 100 yards in every game this year. And finally, Tim Tebow was Tim Tebow. I can only hope they'll (yes they, NOT we) play this well the rest of the year. If so, it should be a great season!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Branded :0

As if I didnt hate the trainer enough already, it gave me even more of a reason to despise it. Or maybe it was just getting back at me for all the evil things I've said to it, who knows. Anyway, this little incident offers the perfect opportunity to highlight trainer safety. After spending 1.5h suffering, be very careful when putting your bike and trainer away!

When winter finally rolls around I'll likely just leave the bike on the trainer permanently as the chances of riding outside during the week will be nonexistent. However, because I plan to ride the orange speed machine outside tomorrow and Sunday, I went ahead and took it off the trainer last night after the workout. Wanting to keep the apartment semi-straitened, I decided it would be a good idea to move the trainer out of the middle of the room. However, I did this right after finishing my workout and apparently wasnt paying much attention because I allowed the cooling unit to hit the back of my leg. Because I had just completed my session, the unit was still quite hot and I got a nice little burn on the back of my leg. As if the initial pain wasnt bad enough, the shower last night and dip in the pool this morning have offered repeated reminders of its presence.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Rain, rain, go away!

or at least come again later in the day. Actually, there no reason the rain needs to go away... just the lightning that accompanies it.

Shortly after dragging myself out of bed this morning at 4:30 I noticed it was raining. It wasnt a torrential downpour but it was coming down fairly steadily. I didnt think too much of it except how nice it would be to have a legitimate excuse to just go back to bed and skip the trip to the pool. However because a little rain is certainly not the requisite excuse, I proceeded on my standard pre-swimming procedure of starting the coffee maker before getting dressed. However, once the coffee was ready I had to pause a bit to ponder how wonderful going back to bed would be. That lasted all of about 13 seconds and soon enough I was savoring the coffee while constructing my lunch.

Up to the pool and even during my 5 minute drive there were huge discrepancies in the rate at which precipitation was falling from the sky. I arrived at the pool, got changed, and stoop out on the deck for a few minutes, procrasitinating about starting the workout. I eventually jumped in and went through my usual 800 yd warm up. Shortly after starting the main set, however, the plug was pulled on the early morning fun. There was lightning in the area and we had to get out. Dumpster. At this point I had had coffee and warmed up, so going back to sleep really wasnt an option. However, I also didnt really do a workout so needless to say, sleeping in would have been a much better decision but such is life.

Monday, October 6, 2008


S: 23,800 yds
B: 7h 42min
R: 4h 11min

Total: 17h 50min

Last weekend was the SC Half so the first few days of this week were relatively light training. However, by Thursday I was back to regularly scheduled programming. I've been feeling great in the pool and got in a few really high quality swims to end the week along with a very solid long ride on Sunday.

As for this week I have a 15k to look forward to on Saturday. It takes place up on top of Monte Sano Mountain so it should be nice and cool for the 8AM start. Other than that it'll be business as usual as I'll just be focusing on GTWD before Clearwater.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday Ride Summary

I had a pretty decent long ride today so I thought I'd post the stats. The workout was a pretty typical Sunday ride, 3h Zn2 with 3 x 30min Zn3.

Duration: 3:02:31 (3:03:26)
Work: 2147 kJ
TSS: 208.9 (intensity factor 0.831)
VI: 1.07
Distance: 63.571 mi
Cadence (avg): 86 rpm
Speed (avg): 21.0 mph
Mountains traversed: 1

Friday, October 3, 2008

Gotta get LEAN

And no, I'm not talking about body fat...

The last few days I've been sequestered in a room with 10-15 other materials engineers with the goal of coming up with a process for... writing processes (technically materials and process specifications) for the manufacturing of the Ares Upper Stage. Sounds fun, huh? This was a "Kaizen" event which is where you are supposed to take a process, analyze it, and then "lean" it out. The only problem was that we didnt really have a process to begin with. So after following our "moderators" instructions and going through all the steps, we eventually formed our "idealized" process and came out with some "action items" for management. IMHO, we couldve done this in about half a day rather than 2.5 but of course this was a "value added" activity due to the fact that it was a "Kaizen" event. Yeah...

So after being holed up all day yesterday (and Wednesday and Tuesday) it was nice to get out for a run. I'm back in the routine after the race last weekend and last night was tempo run night. While the weather is becoming less and less ideal for cycling, it is patently perfect for running. This led to utter enjoyment once I got the legs going. Now admittedly I certainly didnt break any records in terms of speed but the cool, crisp air was just what I needed after the 3 day headpounding session I had to endure at work.