Friday, January 30, 2009

Weekend Preview

WARNING: To all the men in Huntsville with young, attractive wives... there will be a skinny Portuguese man on the prowl attempting to seduce your ladies. He is expected to arrive in town sometime Saturday evening with a departure date TBD. Dont worry too much though because you likely have nothing to worry about. (Unless of course your girl happens to be particularly fond of the flight paths of small objects...)

In other news... before the festivities get under way on Sunday evening I'm racing a 9 mile time trial on the bike on Sunday afternoon. I'm generally not a big fan of biking TTs, mostly because I'm not very good at them, but this will be a nice opportunity to open it up and meet with Prof Pain. Plus, it will be a welcome break from the weekly long ride. Hopefully I won't embarrass myself too much!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Last night before commencing with the trainer madness I strapped on the sports bra (aka HR monitor). While I used to wear it fairly religiously when cycling I've stopped bothering with it recently due to the fact that it has lost relevance now that I have the awesomeness that is the PowerTap. However last night I thought that it might be fun to see what kind numbers I'd get during the Zn5 workout.

Needless to say on the last few one minute bouts my legs were burning while I was pedaling as hard as I could. (Those last 20 seconds were especially brutal!) As a result I got the HR up to 175 by the end of the last few at which point I was just happy to still be alive. This got me wondering how in the world people see numbers in the 200s or 210s on the bike?? Hell, I dont even think I could hit 190 without someone holding a gun to my head. Regardless, if nothing else this little exercise verified that I am, in fact, still alive so that is one benefit of wearing the strap. After all, having a heartrate and therefore being alive is a good thing, right?

Monday, January 26, 2009


S: 47,200 yds
B: 7h56
R: Goose egg

Total: 20h 21min

Well the IT seems to be improving but is still not runnable. Hopefully another week off the roads but on the roller will result in continued improvement.

I had a couple really nice trainer workouts this week but the cold weather is really getting old. Hopefully this weekend will be warm but I'm not holding my breath... Saturday was particularly brutal as I as was riding into a 20 mph headwind while the ambient temp was 40F. It was just one of those time when you just have let out a big, "WTF?!?!?!" and just do what it takes to get home.

Finally, I get a little break for the upcoming week in the pool. I really mustve been swimming quite a bit as Paulo actually wants me to back off this week(!) and "only" swim 30k. Good thing too because the incessant chlorine induced itchiness is getting old!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Huntsville on NPR!

Yep, 565 is pretty awesome!

fb ramblings

"There are people from my past life that I never would have tracked through 10 job changes and 20 e-mail changes," says Nicole Ellison, an assistant professor at Michigan State and lead author of the Facebook "Friends" study, which focused on undergraduate usage of the site. Facebook offers what she describes as a "seamless way of keeping in touch that doesn't involve all this work."

Cool article from TIME about the role that facebook and other social networking sites play in people's lives. Many of those who are anti-facebook argue that it is simply a waste of time or, more importantly, that it de-values actual communication. Proponents, of course, argue just the opposite. Ultimately the author, Lisa Davis, comes to the conclusion that facebook is a good thing because it does, in fact, enhance relationships rather than limit them. I'd have to agree.

On one hand, nothing can really replicate actual face to face interation with someone else. If you really want to be a part of another person's life (whether it be a friend, relative, significant other, whatever) you need to spend a significant amount of time with that person. So clearly face to face contact is the best way to increase social interaction.

However, this does not answer the question of whether facebook brings people together or increases isolation. In order to determine this the question becomes what the facebook user would be doing if he/she was not facebooking. Although emperical data is lacking, chances are said facebooker would likely be watching TV, playing a video game, or surfing the web rather than spending quality time with another human being.

In fact Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam addresses this very issue. In this groundbreaking book, published in 2000 (before the explosion in popularity of social networking sites), Putnam shows that over the last 25 years we, as a society, have signed fewer petitions, belonged to fewer organizations that meet, known our neighbors less, met with friends less frequently, and even socialized with our families less often. In fact the title of the book, Bowling Alone, comes from the fact that although the number of people bowling across the country has risen, a higher percentage of them are bowling alone. He goes on to theorize factors that may have contributed to this phenomenon of increased isolationism but the bottom line is that we, as a culture, are spending less time with others (or at least were up to the time the book was published) and losing "social capital".

Therefore, the "Web 2.0" explosion, highlighted by the expansion of social networking, sites has begun to reverse this trend by allowing people to interact more. Sure, face to face time may never again reach the levels of the 40s or 50s, but that does not mean that time spent on facebook can not increase social capital. Seeing newly "Status Updates" pop up on the "News Feed" will only remind someone to reach out to that old friend, relative, or even neighbor he/she hasnt seen in a while. Additionally,
posted pictures can even enhance a relationship moreso than the "old-fashioned" telephone call.

So while the arguement can be made against facebook that actual face to face interaction superseeds any kind of pseudo interaction through facebook, social capital built through stalking on facebook and discussing later (or never) is still better than none at all.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Trainer Tuesday

Last night was another dreaded Tuesday night on the trainer which I was especially not looking forward to after a particularly awful experience with the 5x6min last week. I went out too hard on the first one and then had an extended stay in Sufferville for the next 4 during which time the PE increased but the power plummetted. So this week when I saw 6x6min I realized it would probably be a good idea to actually try to keep the same power throughout (or maybe increase a bit) rather than going out too hard and blowing up.

The result? Mission accomplished. The average power for each 6min bout was +/- 1 watt from the overall average with the exception of the first 6min effort which was three watts low. Furthermore, the average for all six was higher than the average from a similar workout last summer so I'm pretty happy with how it went.

Looking back, I think the success of the workout can be attributed to one thing above all else. Even though I was listening to one of my Pandora stations to help take my mind off the pain, I also had a college basketball game on TV. While I wasnt really watching and couldnt even tell you who was playing, I did catch Erin Andrews interviewing someone while I was warming up. This was far and away the highlight of the evening and clearly resulted in such a kick ass workout. So while watching college basketball on ESPN in and of itself doesnt provide any benefit, the mere chance that you will be graced with the presence of the heavenly Erin Andrews undoubtedly makes it worth tuning in.

Monday, January 19, 2009

2009 and MLK day

First off, some may have noticed some slight changes to the right (your left) side of the blog. These are the sponsors for the upcoming year, most of which came through my spot on the Timex Multisport Team. I've been a member of "Team Timex" for the last two years and am happy to announce that I have signed again with them again this year. I was really pleased with the direction the team moved last year and am looking forward to even better things this year. Tristan, the team manager, does a great job and all of the other team members are really positive so I'm just honored to be a member.

In other news, I should thank MLK Jr for being awesome enough to have his life warrant a federal holiday. After a nice swim this morning, I went out to run some errands, one of which was to Publix where I had an entertaining encounter with the checkout lady. A few days ago I saw a recipe for "The Ultimate Homemade Tomato Sauce" posted on MDA's blog which I thought would be very tasty over some pasta. I had most of the ingredients but needed some red wine and herbs. After gathering everything I proceeded to check out at which time I was ID'd for the wine. This is a pretty regular occurance for me so I had the driver license out in order to expedite the transaction. Apparently however, the checkout lady had other ideas. She stared at the license for a while, glanced at me, turned the license over, another glance at me, then asked,

"Do you have something else with your name on it?"
"Sure..." I kindly said even though I'm thinking, "You've got to be kidding me!"

So I handed over my Discover Card, she looed at it, matched the signatures, then asked,

"What is your birthday?"
"August 16th, 1983." I answered. Thats right, I was born in 1983, which makes me 25 and this lady is grilling me like I'm a 16 year old trying to score a six back of Bud Light. Finally she reluctantly returned the ID and credit card at which time I asked if she would like one of my business cards. She doesnt reply... I guess I should be glad that I dont look old but this was a bit humerous.

Happy Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.!!!


S: 50,000 yds
B: 8h 5min
R: 0

Total: 21h 18min

No, that '5' in the first row in the first column is not a typo... and neither are the four zeros after it. So yes, thats almost 30 miles of swimming and a new PR for weekly mileage. On top of that, a good portion of it was with the kids so there was a reasonable amount of intensity in there as well.

On the running front, the IT seems to be improving which means it will likely get tested today with a little jog. Hopefully that will go well as I'm thinking I should probably start running here pretty soon if I want to be ready for California 70.3.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Duel

The Office returns tonight!


After finally acknowledging and attempting to control steroid use (abuse!), Major League Baseball appeared to be moving in the right direction with regards to performance enhancing substances. Known cheats Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were forced out of the game while a number of suspected players "on the juice" (Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire, Brady Anderson, Jose Canseco, etc.) have retired.

On a broader scale, this trend can be seen empirically by examining home run production. After reaching a peak of 2.34 home runs per game in 2000, there were only 2.01 home runs per game in 2008, the lowest total since 1993, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Additionally, the "small ball" Tampa Bay Rays made a captivating run to the World Series relying as much on stolen bases (they led the majors with 140) as on the long ball. Indeed, it appeared baseball had turned a new page.

However, looks can be deceiving. A recent article by Michael McCann on highlighted another "legal" PED, ADHD medication. It appears more professional baseball players, up from 103 last year to 106 this year, have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Seem odd?

The issue whether of ADHD is under or overdiagnosed in children is certainly a hot topic but not one to be discussed here. More importantly though it should be noted that the drugs prescribed for treatment of this disorder are essentially stimulants. By convincing a doctor to diagnose them with ADHD, professional baseball players can be granted a TUE (therapeutic use expemption) which allows them to use drugs which are essentially legal versions of banned amphetamines and cocaine. Do these enhance performance? Absolutely! When your job is to try to focus on a little white ball, decide whether or not to try to hit it (within a couple of seconds) and if so when and where... then yeah, the ability to focus is paramount!

So the question becomes, do all of these players really have this disorder, or are they simply convincing some doctor (who conincidentally also happens to be a big fan of the team!) to make a questionable diagnoses. More importantly, should there even be a TUE for these drugs in Major League Baseball? The idea behind most pharmaceutical drugs is to make people who are disabled "normal" or on par with the rest of society. However, playing baseball on the professional level is not normal. In fact, it is quite difficult which is why the relatively few people who do posses the appropriate skills to be competitive are compensated very well for those skills. By allowing a select subset to have an unfair competitive advantage, baseball is compromising the competitiveness of the game and undermining the good it achieved with the steroid testing.

Additionally, many of these drugs contain serious side effects, the worst of which include heart attacks and strokes. There is a reason these drugs are tightly controlled prescription medications.

McCann's article suggests Congress may get involved but with everything else they have on their plate right now, something tells me this isnt (and shouldnt be!) very high on their priority list. On the other hand, it is up to baseball to come to the realization that the policy is flawed and needs to be changed. This is likely hopeless as the likeliness of the player's union to bargain away anything is akin to a snowstorm in Kona. With that having been said however, hopefully Mr. McCann's article will at least get the discussion rolling.

ADHD should be taken seriously when it affects a child's ability to learn and interact in school properly. However, it should NOT be used as a lame excuse to enable professional baseball players to take illegal performance enhancing drugs.

Monday, January 12, 2009

S: 45,100 yds
B: 7h 58min
R: 0

Total: 19h 50min

Pretty good week in the pool but it was way too cold to be cycling outside on Sunday. Hopefully the weather will warm up before next weekend!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The arms are still there... the toes?

I woke up this morning pleasantly surprised to see my arms still attached to my body. Additionally, because there is no swimming on Sunday, it would appear they will make it through today as well.

The toes, on the other hand, are another issue. Thanks to 34F temps and overcast skies, they lost feeling after only about an hour on the bike. The problem of course was that the ride lasted a total of 3h15. Upon finally arriving back at the apartment, I was overjoyed to see my toes still attached to my feet. I cant say they were in working order but at least they were still there... Stupid biking!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hey arms, still there?

After another morning with the kids, my arms are shot. I'm really just thankful they are still attached. Anyway, on to the workout. I'm only posting the main set because 1. the aforementioned arm soreness seriously inhibits excessive typing and 2. it was too much to remember anyway.

Main set: 500 pull + 5x100 IM on 1:20 + 400 on 5:00 + 4x100 on 1:10 + 300 on 3:45 + 3x300 on 1:10 + 200 on 2:30 + 2x200 on 1:10 + 100 on 1:15 + 100 on 1:10

So yeah... that last 2k might as well have just been a 2k for time!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Trainer hell

There are three things that greatly enhance trainer riding experience: A large flywheel, a large fan, and good music. Now admittedly the size of the flywheel is fixed (or at least was as soon as the trainer was purchased) and therefore the only other two variables which can be controlled are the fan and the music.

Today I went over to Craig Armstrong's place for some trainer action as I was looking forward to having some company for my workout. The company was nice. The other details were not as nice.

First off, the entertainment was Hell on Wheels the DVD which chronicles the 2003 Tour de France. The DVD itself is pretty good however it follows the German squad T-Mobile and therefore all the speaking is done in German with English subtitles... not exactly optimal for trainer riding.

The main problem though was that Craig forgot to tell me it was BYOF. Therefore, while Craig had a little fan pointed on him for some convective cooling, I was left swimming in my own sweat. On top of that I had my first extended Zn4 intervals which amplified the pain that much more. The first one hurt a lot (and was probably a little too hard) but with the PT there I couldnt slack on any of the others so each subsequent effort hurt even more. Good thing there were only 4!

Monday, January 5, 2009


S: 30,200 yds
B: 9h 43min
R: 30min in the pool

Total: 18h 10min

Another week with a day off work, New Year's Day, resulted in another week of artificially high (for winter) bike miles. I'll take any time outside on the bike I can get this time of year as the days are short and the weather is always questionable. It was also a good week for swimming as I cracked the 30k mark in only 5 swims. The main advantage to the low frequency of course is that it limits the chlorine reekage, probably the single limiting factor of swimming a lot.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

mmm pancakes

Saturday was another swim with the kids, upping the number of the sessions last week with them to three. Luckily I then had today off from swimming because Saturday wasnt fun at all. As I made my way to the pool, my arms were already sore and I knew I was in for a long day. The only thing that got me through the workout was the thought of pancakes at the end.

After thinking about them for 2 hours in the pool, they were everything I wanted and more. I used Alton Brown's recipe with a couple of alterations. Rather than using buttermilk, which I didnt have on hand, I used regular 2% which did the job just fine. I also added some macadamia nuts after pouring the cakes on the griddle but before flipping. Finally, I topped them with some blackberries and maple syrup. A nice cold glass of milk was the perfect complement to a delicious post swimming meal.