Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Recovery Day Funsies: Danimal v/s Animal

Yeah, this has nothing to do with triathlons or marathons, but it's my day off from training,and...this is hilarious.

Check out the staring contest between Danimal (OK GO) and Animal (Muppets)!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hit The Bricks (Movin' On Up)

Today I got up at 4:30am without complaining, because today I got to move up a rung on the comeback ladder. Today I graduated from training just one discipline at a time, to working a 'brick'.

Bricks are training two legs of the triathlon together without stopping - ride bike, get off bike, take off helmet, put on running shoes, run. Most often, a brick is bike to run, but can sometimes be swim to bike or swim to run. I'll do a swim to bike in a few weeks, but today was my first of a 6 week series of bike/run bricks.

Central Park gets crowded in the evenings after work, and during the day it is open to traffic, so if you want to get a decent bike ride in, you have to get there crazy early. This class started at 6am, so that meant a 4:30 alarm and I had to be ON the 4/5 train no later than 5:30. It was still dark when I rode to Union Square, but by the time I got to 86th st, the sky had that grey, heavy quality that I used to associate with dragging my ass home after all night partying and a sense of dread for the hangover that was coming to get me in a few short hours. The circumstances were different, and I was anticipating rather than dreading, but make no mistake, that self-inflicted pain was still coming, and rather than hammering my brain with the blunt edge of too many margaritas, it was going perform a full body guerilla strike on all of my muscles over the next 48 hours.  OK, bring it.  I'm ready.  I know for whom the bell tolls, and it tolls for my sorry ass.

Today's brick was going to be 'easy'.  The bike leg was only 10 miles, with just one attack on the Harlem Hills, followed by a 2 mile run at 5k race pace on the reservoir.  A hard brick would repeat that 3-4 times, with less than 10 minutes rest in between, but today we got a greak.

Hit the hills on the west side, and got a chance to have the coach watch my shifting.  I'm having trouble timing my shifts, and as a result, I'm getting dropped on hills.  Worked a bit, improved, was confident going up Cat Hill, and then managed to get cold dropped AGAIN at the top of the Harlem Hills.  I gotta get this shifting down, because everytime I lose pace, a pack of racers wooshes past me and I lose the line I was riding as the pack spreads out.  I thought I hated those hills when I was running, but climbing them on the bike is a new definition of pain.  Eventually we will do strength drills and I will need to start doing standing climbs in a higher gear, rather than spinning my way up.  I am not looking forward to that day.

The bike to run transition goes from a non weight bearing exercise to full weight bearing, so you can feel like you are running on dead legs for the first mile or so.  I was told to spin in an easy gear for the last mile or so to work the lactic acid out of my legs to help get them ready for the run, so the last mile was spent furiously pedaling in the hopes that my legs would not feel like jello for my run.

They felt like jello for my run.  It wasn't too bad, and after a quarter mile, I was fine.  I started late, but I felt good, so I knew I'd catch people. I forgot my watch, but it felt like a good tempo pace that I could hold for 2 miles, and sure enough, I started spotting people from the class and just worked on reeling them in.  I finished behind only two dudes, and I still had a little energy to burn, so it was a good run.

I liked this workout, I know its going to get harder, but it was nice to do so well at my first attempt.  Gave me a little swagger for my ride out of the park and into the morning traffic on my trip back to the west side to drop my bike off.  Its not THAT bad of a ride, but it is in traffic with lots of buses, morning truck deliveries, potholes, clueless pedestrians and everything else that makes riding in the city so exciting/terrifying.

I couldn't find any good Central Park bike videos, but to see a rush hour bike commute, check this one out.  This dude rides from the Upper East Side to West Midtown.  Its a pretty good example of why I don't ride in midtown, and why we get up so early to take advantage of the car-free hours in Central Park before rush hour. I have to work through the West Side and Downtown traffic all the time, but this is beyond what I can comfortably handle. Riding in this town is no joke, but I'm!

Monday, June 21, 2010

That's My Jam

I went to swim class on Friday, and after a warm up, I got settled into the DMC Pop Lock stroke, and funked my way down the pool. I was so tired of fighting it. I just wanted to enjoy being in the pool again, so I decided this was just going to be my signature ‘thing’. Paula Radcliffe bobs her head funny when she runs, Haile Gebrselassie runs with his left arm hooked tighter than his right, DMC does the robot when she swims. Done, right?

Coach says no, I have to fix this. I am laboring too much and I will be exhausted by the time I get to the first transition. He says I mostly need to stop THINKING so much. Which is hard. I am a nerd. Apparently I am also an Overglider and my extremely technical approach to training is holding me back. Check the link for a complete description of all the stroke problems I have. It really is like they wrote this specifically for me.

We settled into the lesson for the week, and we learned another variation of the single arm drill. I learned this back in Swim 1, but this time I had no glide arm in front to guide me, I had to fully rotate to the opposite side to breathe after each stroke. It felt odd, but it wasn’t hard, and it was actually pretty fun. After a few laps of this, we switched back to freestyle.

It felt different. My stroke rate was quicker and it felt easier to get the propulsion I needed. Coach walked down the lane, watching my stroke and after a lap, pulled me over.

‘THIS is your drill. You dropped your dead spot, smoothed your stroke out and your timing and rotation are almost perfect. Keep going, keep going, keep going.’

A few more laps and then he had me add more extension to my reach and it felt even better. Then I added bilateral breathing, and for the first time, didn’t feel like I was going to suck water down every time I breathed to my left side.

I am to work on other drills as needed, but to ALWAYS end with this one before my workout sets.

So there it is. Single arm 'choke stroke' drill is the key to unlocking my pop lock.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Gear: The Elliptigo

I heard about this when I read Kara Goucher's latest blog entry on Competitor. Apparently her husband is training through an injury on it.

I give you: The Elliptigo
I...don't know what to say.  I've always seen the elliptical machine as a training time-out;  it is for recovery work.  Yes, you can get a good work out on it, but...90% of the people who use it just don't.  People who talk on their cell phones during a workout use it.  It has a damn MAGAZINE RACK.  Its not a bad workout, but its fans have made it kind of...lame.

So the idea of bringing it out into the world as a bike/running hybrid sounds...good.  Ish.  Again, it really is a good workout when done correctly. Maybe this will take it back from the Juicy Track Suits who leave their muffin crumbs and Jamba Juice buckets in the cup holders for me to stare at while I try to get a few miles done without dying of boredom.  I wonder how it looks?  Hey, Dean Karnazes - show us how its done:

I....just don't know if I can get on board with this.  It is another way to get outside, and you get a better work out on varied terrain, but this just looks weird.  I kind of want to try it, but I think I'd be laughed out of Central Park on that thing.  Seriously, every tri, running and cycling club in the city would beat me up and take my lunch money.  I don't think even the recumbent bikers and running jugglers would hang out with me.

I think elliptical training culture may be too strong to overcome.  This is a shot of Dean training for an ultra a few weeks after he shot his promo video:

I guess we can only sit back and wait for the novelty to wear off.  Snowboarding was considered strange when it was first getting off the ground - many ski resorts wouldn't even allow boarders to use their slopes.  Barefoot runners were a fringe hippie group until a year ago, when this book brought it into the mainstream.  Marathon running only became popular in the 70's, and even then it was a very specific group of loners and misfits who were drawn to it.  Maybe the Elliptigo will make it through its growing pains and become a popular sport as well as an effective way to cross train.  Cycling managed to do it.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Race Report: Japan Day 4m

A race report! I finally get to do a race report! I checked my history and it is almost a year to the DAY since my last one! Today I ran the Japan Day 4 miler with Nixta!

It does feel a little wrong that of all things, we are sponsored by MSG laden ramen noodles, but oh well. Lookit my race bib!

I've been having some aches and pains that could be from anything from speedwork, residual pain (my muscles that spent a year holding tight around that injury waking up again and going; 'OMG! We gotta protect this again!'), pain from orthotics that haven't been dialed into the 'sweet spot' yet, or....reinjury. I don't think it is the last option, but it is enough to make me want to be careful. I took 3 days off, alternated heat/ice/compression, did all my stretching and strength training and waited to see how I felt on Sunday morning. Which was 'good enough to run it like a training run', so I saddled up and led Nixta to the 5 train.

We caught a train as it entered Union Square, and once we sat down, we noticed the passengers were predominately runners. By the time we got to 103rd st, the car was PACKED with runners. I wish I had taken a picture! I will next time, because it really is a kick to see all the running nerds commute to the 'office'.

Got there a bit late, so I ditched Nick at the corrals while I combined a warm up jog with a run to get my bag checked before the time limit. I then found my corral and started my warm up stretches while I watched the chaos of runners v/s cyclists on the other side of the barrier. 5.500 runners were there, wandering around, trying to get to where they needed to be, which is OK, but we were blocking the road that the cyclists use. There were volunteers yelling at the runners to move to the side, but once you put people in a large group, they go retarded, so no one was listening, and the cyclists had to slow to a crawl to get through. Most looked annoyed, but would either slowly pedal through, or they unclipped and walked the 30 feet that was the most congested. Now that I can count myself among both groups, I felt sympathy for both sides. There was yelling, swearing, threats, eye rolling and general bitchitude from everyone, and I wished I could just give them all a 'time out' so they'd stop bringing me down on the day of my 2010 race debut!

Running nerds...cycling douches...I feel you both, but can't we all just get along?

So, announcements, national anthem and then the horn sounds and WHEEEEEE! I'm running a race again!

The splits:

Mile 1 - 8:35
Mile 2 - 8:20
Mile 3 - 8:53
Mile 4 - 8:22

I kept this one around 8:35 avg, and apart from the weirdness of running on concrete again, as well as the stupid humidity and heat that made me want to die, I did ok. It was a sissy loop of CP; counter clockwise, using the transverses so no Harlem hills and the course lanes were pretty wide and easy to navigate. I took water at two stations (walking 30 secs at one) and other than some mildly sore groin muscles, hip flexors and butt, it was an OK run. I still had to do the negotiation dance with my brain/body, but I kept it steady-ish and finished just above my first 4 miler pace from last year. This was a slow training run for me. If I didn't have the old injury and the oppressive heat + humidity to deal with, I could've PR'd this bitch without sweating too hard. Nixta locked into a 7:30 pace and cruised it home, finishing in 29:57. We met afterwards for finisher bagels and a walk around the reservoir, then we got back on the 5 train to head home.

I have some soreness when I poke at the tendons in my groin area, but none when I walk, run or sit and as the day progresses, the soreness is going away. I'm going to take the week off from running, hit the R.I.C.E. + heat treatment, call the orthotic guy to discuss possible adjustments and just work on my swim stroke and weight training. Then we can see how I feel on Saturday for the Mini 10k. I can run it, I can skip it...whatevs. Right now, my focus is on my Triathlon debut at the NYRR Sprint Tri in August!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pop Lock & Drop Me

Memorial Day Weekend means BBQ's, beers, sleeping in and amateur hour on all outdoor sport fronts. Central Park was packed with fun runners and tourists who stand and mouth breathe in the rec lanes. The West Side bike path was packed with day cyclists, rollerbladers and tourists who stand and mouth breathe in the bike lanes. My beloved ghetto pool had scaled back lap swim hours so that they could pack in more time for local mouth breathers to bob up and down in the swim lanes. Memorial Day weekend is a training shit show, so other than my (non) speed session with the Boss and the Cool Kids on saturday and a few slow bike rides up the bike path and around Central Park, I kept a low profile.

After weeks of runs on my own, stretching, massage, strength training for my sissy hips, breaking in orthotics and gentle whining to the Boss, I finally got the go ahead to try a session with the Boss and his stoopid fast pirate crew of runners. We met at the Engineer's Gate at 8:30 Saturday morning. While we did a little stretching and got our water, I met the rest of the crew. One other woman named K there had the same injury as me and was about three months further in her recovery, so we warmed up together. The rest of them....stone cold dropped us on a warm up jog. I got dropped on a WARM UP jog. Damn. These kids mean business and I like it! We finished our mile and the Boss had us gather 'round for instruction.

'OK guys, we're going to do mile repeats at your 4 mile race pace with 3 minute jog recoveries. Do 3 sets, and I don't want to see any stopping, walking or wheezing. I'll run with the 6 min/mi group, the 6:30's will follow, K - you take some 7:20's and just try to hold on at 7:50's.'

My splits were as follows:

Mile 1: 7:51
Mile 2: 8:00
Mile 3: 8:06

Mile 1 wasn't that bad. It was back at where I was peaking last summer pre-injury, and I just had to keep my breathing regular and my legs pumping.

Mile 2 I started to get tired. New muscles were being recruited and they weren't happy about it, but I kept going.

Mile 3 I was miserable. The negoitiations between body and brain were getting intense. I remembered a scene from a Family Guy that Nixta and I had just watched, and this exchange is pretty much what goes on in my head when I'm running harder than I want to; my body is the whiney Luke Skywalker voice, my brain keeps telling it to shut up:

Afterward, my hip flexors were not happy. My left side felt twingy and weak, and I had a feeling that maybe it was too soon for speed work, no matter how slow my 'speed work' may be. The Boss & crew were great, they all said I looked great and seemed to be running easy (Ha! Suckers!). As I left, I told the boss about my pains and he told me not to worry too much but to go home, stretch and see how I felt in two days.

On my walk across the park to get Mega Bike from its uptown stables, the twinges subsided and after my bike ride back downtown, the pain was gone, but still....I think speed work is a mistake this early in the game. I tried running again on wednesday (aka The Day I Met The Queen) and while the run was fine, I was still getting inflammation and tightness afterwards. I think I strained a muscle. The coach told me to rest for 3 days and try an easy 4 miles on Sunday. If it gets sore again, I gotta take a week off and just focus on swimming and strength training. I'll be slow coasting through the Japan Day 4 miler tomorrow with Nixta, and will update afterwards.

So after all of this, I had swim practice on Friday. Because of the Memorial Day Mouth Breathers, I hadn't been in the pool for a while, so I knew I would be a bit rusty, but considering that the last practice I had gotten some big props from the coach for my improved stroke and endurance, I didn't think it would be that bad. But this week, he introduced a new drill. This week we had to focus on the pull in the underwater catch and pull portion of our stroke.

This sucked everything out of me. I had just gotten everything else together and now I had a new element to deal with. My stroke fell to pieces and my fluid movement was gone. Coach would stop me at every lap and give me more instruction, but instead of channeling Mr. Smooth I had started over analyzing everything and was back to poppin' & lockin' my way down the pool.

This is a screen shot of Mr. Smooth. (Check out the link to see what he looks like when he's animated)

This is what my stroke devolves to when I am frustrated and thinking too hard about how to do things correctly.

Coach was very patient, but I must've looked especially pathetic, as at the end of class he patted me on my swim capped noggin and told me to meet him afterward to talk more.

We talked for about 20 minutes and he said that my years of childhood dance training were working against me - I was throwing my shoulders back too much at the top of my recovery and hand entry and it was making me too wiggly in the water, but most of all I just needed to stop thinking so much and just DO. He also talked to me about my training schedule and told me I was pushing too hard. I need to stop doubling down my workouts for a while, get more sleep and enjoy a cheese burger and a beer every once in a while.

And so, after I finish my beer (race tomorrow be damned), I'm off to bed and hopefully my run tomorrow will be pain free. If not, I have all week to work on my swim stroke in the pool. Mouth breathers & manatees - report to the slow lane, I'm comin' back.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Back in Black

Back from a communication black out- my laptop was on vacay. It got some R&R; a few margaritas on the beach, a little sunburn, and a whole new motherboard. Apparently I have a habit of riding that thing hard and putting it away wet, so I need to be nicer to it in future. Laptop...girl – I am sorry for treatin’ you so wrong. Don't leave me ever again, lady.

Last week’s otherworldly run is still pretty unbeatable, but last night’s run was a pleasant surprise that brought me back to giddy, 8 year old levels of happiness.

I’ve been going hard the past two weeks – training 6 days/wk doubling up workouts 3 days of the 6, extra weight training, lots of bike work and my first speed workout with the Boss and his pirate crew of stoopid fast runners (more on that later). I’ve been hurting and my muscles are wound up so tight, I’m afraid if I don’t take a break, there will be trouble, so I considered taking yesterday off and picking it back up again for Thursday/Friday. Humidity was on the books for the next two days, and humidity is definitely NOT fun to run in, so I decided to take it easy on a 4.5 mile loop and see how it went.

No Garmin watch today, I ran by feel. I cruised up the path, and saw a huge crowd of runners at the Donna Summer Playground/Team For Kids meeting area. I slowed down to see who was there, and my friend Mark came jogging over to greet me. He reminded me it was National Running Day and he was there to volunteer for the NYRR group run. Mark’s subway luck was against him that evening and he did not make it in time for his pre-race greeter job, so he joined me for my easy loop. We talked about training and discussed possibly going back to train with TFK. I would really love to, but the Boss sets my schedule and I’ve been so busy getting in my training for my first triathlon (oh yeah, did I mention that yet?), I didn’t know if I could fit another team in. We went back and forth a bit, and after a while we had looped back to the KC & The Sunshine Band Playground where I saw two of my former coaches; Sid Howard and Frank Handleman!

I felt like I was about 8 years old as I ran over. I almost shouted ‘Lookit me! Lookit MEEEEE! I’m RUNNING!’ I got big hugs from both and they introduced me to the third person standing with them; none other than Mary Wittenberg. Frank had me give her the saga of my injury and how I managed my recovery, all the while Sid kept interjecting ‘I love this story! Mary, listen to this! This is great!’. Since I am the biggest running nerd EVER, I went a little shy when I was talking to her (c’mon, its MARY WITTENBERG! If you are a runner in NYC, its like meeting the Queen!), but for reasons I still can't fathom, she was super interested in hearing my story and said she was very impressed with my discipline and focus. Sid asked me about my times on my recent runs and then grabs Mary and tells her ‘Watch this one, her progress is going to be interesting to see and she’s gonna get FAST’. Seriously, again...I’m 8 years old! It was as if I had been given a gold star on my book report, extra tater tots at lunch AND the honor of taking Sniffles the class guinea pig home for the weekend. All of last fall/winter I had been so depressed about missing out on all the team runs/parties and working with coaches like Sid. It was the best feeling to know that training time was here again and that I had more experience and the people on my side to help me see it through to the end.

I left the park not knowing my pace or my run time, but I didn’t care. It was awesome to come back and know that I wasn’t forgotten and that people were glad to see me again. For a long time I was pretty down on myself about my ability, so having people so respected in the community tell me that they admired all the work I put in on my downtime and all the progress I have made in the past 2 months was pretty huge for me.

I still don’t know if I will have time to train with TFK this year, but seeing Sid and Frank reminded me why I missed them so much. I’d like to rejoin the team and I’d like to raise as much money as I can for the charity because I really believe in the work they do. I may have to wait until after my triathlon before I can do a any runs with them, but my earlier decision to skip the team this year is back up for debate.

To go from having no choices to having too many...its a nice problem to have. Its going to be decision time soon!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Gift

I’ve always loved running in the rain; it keeps me cool and it means there will be fewer people on the path. Sometimes I want the convenience of dry shoes and not walking home in a downpour without an umbrella, so last night, I scheduled my run to avoid it. The universe had other plans.

The Boss had me down for an hour run, and since Wednesday was so unbelievably hot, I was planning to do it in the morning while it was still cool. Then I remembered I don’t yet have a place where I can shower near Central Park, so rather than stew in my own stank all day at the office, I decided to suffer through the heat and humidity after work. The day turned out to be pretty mild and overcast with showers to come around 9pm, so when I finished up work at 6, it was looking to be a comfortable run. I changed into my gear and headed to the park for a long loop around the bridle path.

The run up the west side was nice. There were a few teams out, some people running hill repeats, some kids heading over to the fields for baseball practice, but most of the traffic was on the main road, which was packed with people, so I was glad to be on the bridle path. It has been so rainy this month, everything was lush and green, and it was nice to not have to suck down water every 5 minutes to stay cool. No pain to work through other than the discomfort of pushing my heart rate up, maintaining my leg cadence and not letting my stride devolve into a distance runner's shuffle. The first few miles of every run seems to be me telling my body, 'yes, we are doing this again, and we are going a little longer this time, so quit your bitching and get on board'. I don't think that negotiation will ever completely go away, especially as I get into the 15+ mile runs leading up to the Marathon, but its getting shorter and I'm remembering enough of how it feels to finally push through it and resist the urge for a sissy walk break. It hurts and I'm tired, but I'm already here, so lets get this done and go home for dinner.

I love the bridle path because it presents you with a good variety of hills. I've been trying to remember to go easy on them until I've got a few weeks of pain free miles behind me, but by the time I got to the steep uphill that takes you to the lower reservoir loop I was feeling reasonably strong and I heard a thunderstorm coming, so I decided to put my head down and charge up to the top and try to beat the rain. My energy level went to zero, but I wasn't going to let some stupid hill beat me, so I turned right and headed for the REALLY steep incline to the upper reservoir loop.

Pain, misery, not wanting to finish my run followed. I'm not strong enough for hill work yet. I couldn't hold my pace on the way up and I was having trouble getting it back as I ran the level reservoir path. I remembered why I used to prefer running the east river promenade- it is flat as a pancake and easy to crank out long runs with relatively low fitness. The bridle path was making me work when I didn't want to and I was NOT happy. And then it started to rain.

I finished half a loop on the upper path, and at the turn off to go back down the west side, I noticed a lot of runners stretching quickly and packing up. I wanted to join them but my bag was at the office and I had no cash for a cab, so I had to keep running.

Running along the main road, I still saw some teams out, a lot of cyclists in pack rides, but no one looked pleased about the sudden downpour. I wasn't either. The raindrops were big and heavy and there was a lot of lightning starting to come quick with the thunder. It was suddenly pouring and I still had almost three miles to go.

Then I crossed over the road and back into the darkness of the bridle path and everything changed. I had recovered from doing those steep inclines and was back on pace. My breathing was less labored and it felt like the world shifted more into focus than it had been a moment before. I looked around and I was the only person on the path. It felt like I was the only person in the entire PARK. The air smelled like wet earth and electricity. It was dark, and the only sound beyond my own breathing and footsteps was the rain coming through the trees. I felt my stride become more fluid, I was lighter on my feet and everything felt effortless.

I'd see groups of runners waiting out the storm and I picked up speed as I passed them in the dark, cool shelter of the bridges . I felt sorry for them; If they had started their run a little earlier, they might've tapped into the same magic I was feeling and not cared about the rain. I passed a few runners going the opposite direction, and we gave each other 'the nod'; that acknowledgment that we were both logging the hours and working hard, but this time we were also sharing something that few other people were. As long as it kept raining and as long as we kept running, we OWNED Central Park.

I flew up the last two hills on the lower west side of the path and kept running out of the park at Columbus Circle. I got caught at a few lights and had to dodge some umbrellas, but I kept running until I was at the lobby of my office building. My boss was by the door waiting for her car service to pull up, and she shook her head at me as I coasted past her.

'Poor you, what a miserable night for a run.'

I didn't expect her to understand, so I just smiled and went through the lobby and up the elevator. After I grabbed my bag, I went back down, to the subway station and onto the train. The doors closed and I looked up at several people staring at me. I glanced at my reflection in the window and saw what they were seeing. I was soaked to the bone and my legs were covered in mud and dirt. My knees and hands were purple with bruises and scabs from a couple of spills off my bike the last weekend, my hair was wet and stringy and my 'waterproof' mascara had shifted down far enough to give me some serious panda eye. I looked like I had been through hell. How could I tell these people that I do this on purpose? I push because it hurts, I get up because I know I'm going to fall again, and I run because most of the time it is hard, but sometimes is the easiest thing in the world. Anyone who runs long enough can tell you about the 'runners high', and knowing that it lives just on the other side of pain is enough to keep you going when you are really in agony. Sometimes, if you're REALLY lucky, the universe gives you a gift; time stops, you are given a double shot of endorphins right in the mainline, and for a few minutes, you get to own one of the most beautiful parks in the world.

I paid for pushing those hills too early in my comeback with sore achillies tendons, and I have some serious stretching to do before I go back to the park for my run with my coach tomorrow, but it was worth it. I can't hope to have that exact same experience again, but I can keep running until I am rewarded with a new one.

Monday, May 24, 2010

New Music: Marc Ronson

It looks like I'm not the only one who relies on the memories of wasted afternoons chasing high scores to keep them going when they are hitting a wall. Marc Ronson apparently pretends he's in the Legend of Zelda when his hours of DJ'ing/producing/giving Amy Winehouse a chance to prove she has things to offer society, start wearing him down. I don't think he uses GU Roctane as his power-up, though. (via Culture Kings)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Media: Gooooaaaaalllllll!

I'll watch soccer every now and again. I went to a Liverpool home game with Nixta a few years ago, and while I'm glad I went, the whole 'mounted cops in riot gear/old stadium with creepy riot ready feel/REALLY intense fans that literally have to be separated AT ALL TIMES to avoid a massacre made it difficult to enjoy the match.

The best experience I had was the last World Cup, when we were taking a month long road trip through Italy and Sicily. We watched matches at most every stop, even managing to find a British pub full of expats in Rome to watch England tie Sweden as the bartender bumping euro techno music at the England goals.

The guitar riff from the White Stripes 'Seven Nation Army' was the Italian team theme song, and it was really fun to hear thousands of Italians all chanting 'dahhh, dah dah dah dah dahhhhh...DAHHHHH' in unison during sports updates in between the bumping euro techno music on all the Italian radio stations we listened to on the drive.

We watched the final match between Italy/France on a ferry up the Dalmatian coast from Dubrovnik to Rijeka, Croatia. We were all crowded into a low ceilinged, dark 'lounge' with a large TV. Swarthy Italian and Croatian sailors in euro Love Boat uniforms with uniform mediterranean mustaches and cigarettes dangling from lips left their posts to come watch with us, and any time a child made a noise or blocked the view of the television, he was swatted in the head, sworn at in a mix of Italian and Croatian, then hustled off to a far corner with the other children, where I assume they formed their own Lord of the Flies social hirarchy, because their adults had clearly abandoned them for the duration of the game. I THINK they all made it out alive.

The boat kept losing the satillite signal, so the crew (which was heavily Italian) decided to ignore 'schedules' and when we got to a spot where satallite coverage was good, they weighed anchor in the middle of nowhere for an unscheduled stop. The Captain came down, hats came off, beers were passed, and we all enjoyed an amazing match. When Italy won, I swear I felt that huge ferry rocking under the weight of hundreds of booze soaked Italians screaming and jumping up and down.

So, while I don't watch it regularly, I do enjoy the World Cup and I'm looking forward to this summer's games.

Nike makes my favorite running nerd commercials, and they killed it with this short film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu for the World Cup. In addition to the soccer stars, Kobe, Federer, Homer Simpson and Gael Garcia Bernal make appearances.

Watch it! If you aren't excited about the World Cup, you will be after this.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

First 5 Miler Of the Year!

Today was an awesome 2fer; my longest run of the year (and in my new orthotics!), and I did it with a suprise last minute special guest...Nixta!

We met outside of my office at 6:00 and headed to the end of the bridle path under the Pine Bank bridge at west 62nd to start our loop.

The Boss (aka The Running Coach), told me to hit 45 minutes, so we decided to do a long bridle path loop up to the 102nd street transverse and back down the east side. Nixta was sweet to run slow enough for me to keep pace, so we had a nice chat;

'I think I started too fast.'

'Stop whining.'

'This feels weird, I wonder if the injury is acting up again. Maybe I should stop.'

'Don't be such a sissy. Keep going.'

This was me today. Seriously. Coming back from a long injury is NOT pretty.

After a few miles I felt better, but it was an odd feeling to be running this long again. I kept thinking it was time for a sissy walk break, but I was able to keep going by using my old 'I'm in Super Mario Bros' trick; Pick a tree in the distance, keep running to it and get 100 points for not stopping. Pass that group of speed walkers, 300 points. One of these days-I'm going to find somewhere that will redeem all of the 'points' I've accumulated, but until then, I keep racking them up as a way to keep going when I want to stop.

I also found more stamina using my patented RUN RUN DMC hill training technique, but Nixta was not impressed. He's an idiot. Runners- the best way up a hill is to growl at it, say 'Screw you, hill!' and then charge it like Mel Gibson leading a pack of blue faced soccer hooligans in that ridiculous movie about never letting the Brits take your freedom. Now that i think about it, that's probably why Nixta doesn't like it, and hangs back when I do it. Runners- the best way to take out a British competitor is to shout 'Screw you, Limey!', and charge the hill. Seriously.

Nixta got tired of my nerdy crap at about mile 3.5, so he ran ahead as I battled it out with a body that was not happy at running for so long. I wanted to keep it at an 8:30 pace as long as I could, but the corporal rebellion was beginning. My cardio fitness had peaked and I was starting to feel like my lungs were going to burn out. I have yet to fully convert back to my runner's diet, so my run was putting some stress on the digestive process, and my entire GI system was unsure if it should keep working or reboot (note to self: bacon turkey club sandwich w/cheese and potato chips 2.5 hours before a run...not such a good idea). I spent about a quarter of a mile wondering who of those around me would come help me if I threw up. I have a lot of faith in the running community, I think I would've had no shortage of concerned running nerds making sure I was OK and then congratulating me on pushing past Mach 2 on my post injury puke barrier. I finally did need to walk it for about 30 seconds at mile 4, but I rallied quickly and finished 5.38 miles in 48:32. I hate that this is so hard for me. I'm used to blazing through a 10 mile run at this pace on a BAD day, steps. I'm getting back there. Slowly. A pretty solid effort for the first time I've taken it out of first gear post-injury.

Running with the orthotics was great, though I did get a blister on my right heel because I went too long too early in the breaking-in process. I think its going to be fine, but I need to walk around in those things a little more before my long run on Saturday. I changed into my Pumas for the walk home and it was INSANE how much different they felt after that run! It was like the (previously perfectly serviceable and comfortable for walking around town in) Dr. Scholls arch support in my left shoe was in BACKWARDS. Everything felt wrong, and I could feel my feet and ankles flopping around and rolling out like the Coach had been telling me. I thought he was exaggerating when he made those faces at my feet while I ran on the treadmill a few weeks ago, but...apparently not. My stride without the orthotics had more funky loose movement than a Soul Train dance line, and with the orthotics...steady, military precision. Look out races. Its about to get SERIOUS. My feet are NOT playing anymore. If these orthotics do what the Coach thinks they will, I am on my way to world domination. Or at least finally get down to the consistent 7 minute mile pace that I know I have in me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More About My Barbie Feet

Its a sure sign you are getting old when you start passing up cute shoes because you can tell they will murder your feet. You are REALLY getting into old dork territory when you start putting Dr. Scholl's inserts into your zapatos. I do both of these things. I still love me some hot shoes, but my relationship with them is more abstract than it used to be, and I have become more intimately accquainted with running shoes and how (if I'm not careful) the wrong choice might eventually lead me back down Injury Lane.

According to the latest running theories, if you are running in shoes, you should be running in the lightest, simplest shoes possible. This (fantastic) book did the rounds of every running club in the US last year (thanks in large part to this author interview with John Stewart) and this NYT article and video prompted many running nerds to snap up so many pairs of Vibram Five Fingers, a shortage and hippie running nerd panic ensued.

Vibram 5 Fingers-Because you can't run in your Birkenstocks and Whole Foods won't let you buy your post-run goji berries barefoot

I've read a lot about the barefoot running theory. I think it sounds logical, and I'm interested in seeing how it pans out for people who log a lot of hours in longer road races. I've read the Chi Running book, and have seen a lot of improvement when working on applying the forefoot strike technique. When I was starting to think of my recovery options, I briefly thought about at least going for some minimal shoes, like Newtons. I may still go for the Newtons once I'm a little stronger and have no more recovery pains to work through, but I have to listen to my sports doc and my running coach, and both have told me to stick to my trusty, cushioned Adidas for now, and that my high arch induced funky stride needs the support of custom orthotics. I am not ready to be sidelined again for ignoring the advice of two seasoned marathoners, so I made the appointment to get fitted.

The orthotic guy made me stand on a platform, where he took several measurements of my feet, checked how my knees and hips aligned when sitting and standing, made me do several squats and single leg lifts and then stuck me in some wet plaster to get casts of my feet. While we waited for the molds to set a bit, he told me that I need to stretch my hamstrings and achilles muscles much more. Everything was tight, and just loosening it all up would help immensely. The high arches still needed support and the discovery of a leg length discrepancy (my left leg is a few milimeters shorter than the right!) made him feel that I needed a custom insole. I don't need stability shoes, and I may be able to drop to neutral shoes with less cushioning later, but I do need the orthotic. Sorry running hippies, I like the way you think, but I went for the orthotic, so now we'll just wait and see what happens.


My inserts smell like a mixture of rubber, Ben Gay and hospital corridor. Its been a week, and starting to fade, but every time I take my running shoes off, I get a whiff of old people. They feel like hand ball rubber, are very light and apart from the thick area that supports the arch and the heel cup, they are quite thin.

Check out the blue wedge on the left heel. That's for my gimpy midget leg.

I took them out for a 2 mile spin around the track last Sunday, and they felt great. I picked what felt like an easy pace and cruised along. When I looked down at my first mile split, I noticed that easy pace was my old 8 minute mile pace. I haven't hit that pace since last July and I was just gliding through it. I stopped after two miles and had none of the inflammation I was starting to get on my last few runs. I had the boss man look at my stride today and he says its much improved. After a few more weeks of strength training to get my muscles balanced out, I'll be out of recovery mode and ready to do some road races again. Just in time to make a comeback from my pitiful performance at last year's Mini 10k!

Friday, May 14, 2010

New Music: Sleigh Bells

I'm not liking the constraints of 'Music Monday'. I'll still tag everything with 'music monday', but I'm just going to post this stuff whenever, self-imposed rules be damned.

A while back, I was tipped off about a band called Sleigh Bells. I posted one of their songs here. For months I've been waiting patiently the full album to come out and it's finally here.

Download it from itunes here.

Check out Crown on the Ground here:

As one astute youtube commenter states: this band 'goes to eleven'.

Download it now, and swagger your way through your training this weekend.

You're welcome.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mega Bike!!!

I saved and saved and saved for the duration of my injury, and two weeks ago I finally got to drain my account. In the name of death, dismemberment and triathlons...I got a road bike.

My sweet new ride!

I rode a couple of Felts and a Jamis, looked at a Cannondale and ended up going with a 2009 Felt F75. It was a little above my budget, but after riding the two bikes I came into the store with the intention of choosing between, I realized this one was the winner. Aluminum frame with carbon forks, steer tube and seat post, Shimano 105 deraileurs and levers and a Shimano 600 crank. I had no idea what all of these things were until a month ago when a bike nerd friend started helping me research bikes. I had no idea what all of these things REALLY meant until I rode a few bikes and noticed the differences between this bike, and the lesser models. I wanted THIS bike, and going a few extra bones above my budget was worth it for the jump in quality. We (me and Lou the bike shop guy) decided that if I went with one of lesser bikes in my price range, I'd spend the extra money upgrading components, and then still want to upgrade the frame down the road. This bike...maybe we'll upgrade the wheels and rims down the road and try adding some aerobars when I start racing long distances. Apart from that, this ride is everything I need.

Well, apart from THAT, and the ridiculous seat. I mean, seriously. LOOK at it. Its about the size of a burrito, and as hard as a plank of wood. I realize that I need to have some degree of hardness for racing and a squishy saddle will slow me down and hurt me in the long run, but there HAS to be something with a little more padding that can actually support my whole butt and not just one ass cheek at a time. I got the cushiest pair of bike shorts I could find and a whole tub of chamois butter, and I'm still afraid of sitting on that thing for longer than about 20 minutes. I'm going to try out a few saddles; the Terry Falcon X is up first, and the Specialized Ruby is on deck just in case the Terry can't deliver. Both are a bit wider, so hopefully having some actual support under my lady spaced sitz bones will allow me to ride longer than a few miles without crying.

Banana Seat!

I've been riding with platform pedals and cages, but it really just freaks me out. I can't tighten them enough to make them useful AND be able to pull out quickly, so I'm gonna make the shift to clipless next week. I predict some skinned knees and bruises in my future. I am fully prepared to eat it at the most embarassing and nonsensical moments. It will not be smooth sailing those first couple of tries, but that's ok...because seriously, check out how my new cycling shoes match my bike!!!!!!

You see that lady sport designers? You see that you can make a lady product without making it PINK?!!!

So to track my rides like I track my runs, I'm adding my Garmin Forerunner to the mix. Clip the face to the handlebars, a cadence sensor at the rear wheel, strap on my heart rate monitor, and I can train like the cool tri kids do. The Garmin mounts like this:

Garmin on the left, Light on the right.

The cadence sensor mounts like this:

The Black Box

And with that, I can measure my heart rate, speed, cadence and distance. That's right ya'll...its MEGA BIKE!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sissy Hips and Barbie Feet

So its been a while since I was given the go ahead to start running again, and all seems to be going well. My doc hooked me up with a new running coach and I now have the athletic micromanagement I so desperately crave. Every once in a while I will get extra sore muscles and go into a mini panic that I have to be talked out of: 'muscle pain is normal, you are starting from square one, trust the recovery plan'. Its hard to not go into a tailspin at every little ache or pain. After 8 months off, I'm wary of hurting myself again, but that's why I have the coach. Babysit me back to health, boss!

Before I got the coach on staff, I found a fellow runner (and increasingly awesome triathlete) who suffered from the same injury, probably caused by the same factors that took me down; overtraining, nutrition deficiencies and muscle imbalances (more on this later). We both had trouble getting a diagnosis and even more trouble admitting that maybe there was something really wrong, but Frayed Laces took it one step beyond and actually RAN (and finished) her first marathon on 2 full pubic rami fractures. You can read about her race, injury and recovery here.

I emailed her just before seeing my doctor to gauge whether my recovery aches and pains were similar to hers. She was super helpful and I felt much more confident in the way I had handled my time off and PT over the last 8 months. She also pointed out that if I got the OK to start running again, I needed to go slow for several months, as newly laid bone isn't strong enough to handle the impact of running. A slow buildup would help condition the bone and build the muscles in the hip area to help protect the old injury site while it healed. I was still nervous though. My last sports doc experience was pretty horrible, and I didn't want to hear another doctor tell me to give up.

Thankfully, the new doc shares my passion. He is apparently THE go-to endurance athlete doc in NYC, and when I finally saw him, he showed me all that beautiful new bone my hip was now sporting (still trying to get a copy of the xray film!), and told me to start training again, because he expected to see me at the starting line in November! After reading my MRI's we saw that I actually had TWO fractures (superior and inferior pubic rami), which is pretty common, but it was still a dick move for my old doc to not bother telling me. I told new doc about old doc and he kind of rolled his eyes and gave me a 'what a hater' look as he pitched the wonders of triathlons and how I needed to get going on my bike training soon!

He looked at my feet, had me do some single leg squats and a few resistance exercises, and told me three things; I had really high arches, weak hips and super tightly strung hamstrings and quads. The high arches mean I get less shock absorption on impact, so while I don't overstride, I'm getting a lot of pounding that can cause bone injuries. The weak hips mean that my knees are collapsing inwards, I'm not running from my core as much as I should be, which throws off my form, which causes a lot of pounding that can cause bone injuries (it also causes knee and IT band issues, which I was starting to have after the BK 1/2). The tight muscles make it harder to recover from a run, and will eventually pull too much at the bone and ligaments...which can lead to bone AND soft tissue injuries. Even if I had kept my training volume low and was nutritionally tip top, the stage was set for this injury.

Barbie Feet. Not so cute for runners

So then I saw the coach. He took one look at my feet/hips and told me to get to the gym for strength training and get into some custom orthotics. Like now. So I got fitted and until I get them back...I'll be running slowwwwwly.

My runs are short, they are few, but check out some of the views I've been enjoying!

My first run! Behold the glory of the East River Promenade

The East River Track has views of Williamsburg Bridge and the Domino Sugar Factory!

Central Park Bridle Path: my favorite run in NY

I'm running, I'm biking, I'm swimming, and I'm back on the blogging! More (belated) updates coming throughout the week!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Injury Update: Abridged

Went to my sports doc today. My fracture has healed. The doctor said those three little words I've been longing to hear for 8 months. 'Full Bone Union'.

I'll write a longer post with all new Xrays and the all new game plan later. For now....

7 weeks of run/walk and then:

Running is GO

Summer races are GO

and finally...

NYC 2010 Marathon is GO!!!!!!

Runner status: Active.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Race Report: Run* For Haiti

*Or walk. Whatevs. Just do it for Haiti.

I have been status: Injured for almost 8 months. It was hard to adjust to not running, but as time went on I was able to do more and more (like swimming and the eliptical) and while my cardio fitness options were limited and I had gained a few pounds, I was able to keep a level of fitness and build some strength while I was waiting this stress fracture out. The worst part of being status: Injured is that you are in runners social siberia. You can't go to group runs, you can't race, and eventually you won't be seeing your running buddies as often. It is NOT personal, you just aren't on the radar if you can't keep up. Every once in a while I would make an effort to show my face at functions and races, and that helped me feel less isolated, but honestly, unless you can log the miles, you are going to be benched, so just focus on your recovery and know that you won't be injured forever and that this is a good time to put in some quality time with the non running friends that you weren't seeing much of during your training. Luckily for me, most of my downtime was during the off season, but when I started seeing facebook status updates from friends about running late winter races, it started to get to me.

Thank god the Run For Haiti came. I had convinced Nixta to run it and once it was announced that I could walk it and still get double credit towards my 9+1 for NYC 2011, I decided it was time. My trainer said it would be a good test for how well my fracture was healing, so I could walk it. It sucked to not be able to run it, but I was going out of my mind and I had to participate somehow, so as much as I hated having to do it, I signed up as a walker. Nixta wanted to definitely run it and I felt a little silly walking on my own, but luckily it was pretty easy to find some friends who were down with walking 4 miles for a great cause, so I'd have some company at least. I picked up our numbers and D-tags a few days before, and ran into my friend Mark at the clubhouse, which was nice. We talked about my stupid injury and his awesome new job and how we always seem to pick the races with the lamest t-shirts and I started to feel a little of the old pre race day excitement coming on. The night before I set out all of my gear like I normally would, got to bed early like I normally would, and looked forward to being in CP again after a LONG absence.

Race Day!

I love race day. I love the vibe, I love the ritual of getting ready, I love running into friends as we head to the corrals. It was definitely cold, but it was clear and sunny and I was just happy to be there. I went waaaaaaay back past the runners and in the last corral, I saw my friends and we found a spot with the rest of the race walkers. I was still feeling a little down about not being able to run, but my buddy Jeff just wasn't having it and was a champ at keeping me in a positive mindset. I told him that I was tempted to push it and make sure I came in FIRST amongst all of the walkers and he said wouldn't it be better to compete for dead last? Yeah. Yeah! Why push myself and think about what I can't do (and possibly re-injure myself in a slow JOG) and just have fun with what I can do? So that was it. Me, Jeff and Jeff's lady friend started stretching, warming up and trash talking about who was going to push who across the finish line first.

We were SO far back. So far back, we couldn't hear the opening speeches and it took about 20 minutes to cross the start line after the gun went off. It was the first start that I wasn't worried about starting my watch as I crossed the mat or looking for a clear line to run in, so it was nice to be able to see everything else that goes on during a Central Park race. There were bands! There were people cheering and waving! There were these Haitian guys dancing on stilts! It was a beautiful day in the park.

Once we crossed the start mat, I felt the urge to start running. I picked up the pace and must have looked like I was about to make a break for it, but Jeff reminded me that I wasn't going to come in last if I didn't get over that urge to run, so I slowed down. I can't let that guy beat me to last place! We settled into a brisk walk, and enjoyed the scenery as we climbed Cat Hill. My injury felt fine, I even felt like I was waking up some long dormant muscles, and I was kind of breaking a sweat, so I was pretty happy. And then...I heard the course marshalls.

I can't complain too much. The course marshalls are mostly runners like me, looking to fulfill their volunteer requirement in the 9+1. They are there to make sure you stay within the cones on the course, and if anyone goes down, to help get them to the med tent. If they'd like to offer encouragement, that's cool, but after hearing what a lot of them were saying, I'd like to give a little list of things that will help, and things that will get you punched.

Course Marshall Do's:

-Do remind runners to run in the lanes. But, it gets crowded and sometimes runners need to pass. Remind them to pass quickly, but get back in the course lanes as soon as they can. Know the difference between passing and running the race outside the cones and do your best to encourage quick execution of the former and keep the latter to a minimum.

-Do have some enthusiasm. This shouldn't be a chore, you are supporting your fellow runners! Smiles, clapping, cowbells, whoops and high fives are awesome. Runners appreciate it and seriously, its fun.

-Do encourage runners. Good things to say are variations on 'Nice job, runners' and 'Great job athletes'.

Course Marshall Dont's:

-Don't be a jerk about the lane thing. You are essentially a race day hall monitor, not the NYPD. Don't get nasty, don't yell and don't threaten bodily harm (I've heard people do this at more than one race). Its just a RACE. If someone is blatantly being a running jerk, get their bib number, remember to talk to the race coordinator afterwards and otherwise, LET IT GO.

-Don't hang around with your bros, clearly not wanting there. Its hard to crank out those last miles when a group of people are staring you down with their hate faces on.

-Don't tell people 'you're almost there' when they aren't. You should only say that when they are actually ALMOST there. Like within sight of the finish line. Acknowledge that its hard, tell them to keep going, give an accurate distance if you can, but don't say 'you're almost there' to someone who is burning their lungs out and trying desperately to find the will to keep going. A short distance to you can be an eternity to them. Respect the pain.

-Don't tell people to 'pick up the pace', 'work harder for that PR' and CERTAINLY don't tell people that 'if they aren't going to run faster, they have to give you a smile'. You don't know anything other than they are making the effort, so acknowledge it and let them decide how hard they need to work. And any woman who has ever been harassed by a stranger on the street to 'smile' should know how infuriating this is and not participate in that kind of nonsense. See above for good things to say for encouragement.

I was feeling good around mile 2.5, and it was getting a little cold, so I decided to try a little jog to see how it felt. It was weird to be running again! I had done a few intervals on the treadmill, but I had forgotten how it felt to run on the road, was weird! I felt fine, none of the old 'twinges' from the fracture, but I didn't want to push it, so after about 2 minutes, we went back down to a walk.

At about mile three, Nixta (who had long since finished) jogged back to find us, and we all walked the last mile together. I was having so much fun laughing and joking with everyone, I didn't notice when Jeff took two steps back and...was last over the finish line. DAMN that guy!

Me and Nixta, realizing we had just been cheated out of our last place glory

Oh well, a second place finish isn't too bad for my first time back on the race course and its helped me through these last few weeks of non running. I say last few weeks because....I see my new sports med doc tomorrow for new X rays an an evaluation of what the next steps will be. I'm really hoping that it was indeed my 'last few weeks' in siberia. I'm feeling good, feeling positive. Its coming up on about 8 months of no running and close attention to recovery, cross training and strength training. Lets hope its going to pay off soon....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Adidas Only Bring Good News

After going dark for a few weeks, I was afraid that the Yoji Yamamoto Y-3 Adidas collaboration was finished. This was too much to take on the back of the news that LuLuLemon had discontinued my favorite sexy sports bra. I had been away for too long, clearly sports was breaking up with me.

Today I checked again, and Yoji is back with some amazing gear. It is incredibly overpriced, but I don't care, run your eyeballs over this:


and this:


and this:


I need to make more money, or learn to not care about how I look when I'm gettin' my aprés sport on.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Holding Pattern

Sorry for the radio silence, but sometimes no news is good news. I'm still slowly working on recovery, and other than being able to run a bit on the treadmill, speed walk outside, and lots of new muscle pain from waking up my hip flexors, there is no big news right now.

I will put up a 'race report' (I walked it) for the Run For Haiti 4 miler this weekend, and other than that, I'm laying low until I see my new sports doc on the 15th (next Monday!). I don't want to think too much more about this injury until I have some hard facts to go on, and I'll be getting those next week.

More to come, very very soon.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Music Monday: Super Fantastic Wednesday Edition

I can't be bothered to wait until next monday, so here is Music Monday on a Wednesday. Its like having breakfast for dinner! Let's go!

Disclaimer: I don't care if you heard these bands ages ago. If you enjoy them too, I'd love to hear it. If you just want to tell me you heard about them ages ago...kindly take it to Brooklyn Vegan and comment on his blog. I got no time for nonsense.

This band got a lot of attention at CMJ last year. My friend who knows about these things says they will be huge very very soon. Who am I to argue? Great running music.

This band is The Drums. They are from Florida. They are now based in Brooklyn, but they sound kind of like The Cure might sound if they were from Florida. Here is their stupidly catchy submission for the next big hipster whistlin'song;'I Wanna Go Surfing'. They are even running in the video! And at 52 secs in, one of them is doing The Pushup Challenge! But they get winded pretty quickly. And they run like a bunch of floppy armed hipster girls. I could so take these dudes.

This band is The XX. It is one that Nixta and I are divided on. I like them, Nixta doesn't. Anyway, I have this dream of sneaking into the pool at night, taking the lane lines down, and swimming alone in the pitch black. Floating on my back, diving to the bottom, swimming under water...lose all sense of direction and time and just BE. I'd need the perfect song and this one is a candidate.

Egyptian Hip Hop are from Manchester. These dudes are only about 17 years old, are unsigned and have like 3 songs done, so of course they are getting all kinds of frenzied attention in the UK, and hipster haters are already bitching about how 'over' they are. I can't find anything beyond one song on you tube, and their myspace page. Go there and listen to Wild Human Child and Heavenly. They are the best two of all three of their songs. But the third one is called Rad Pitt. And its not that bad either. The songs as is are fine, but I'm more interested to hear what they sound like once they get signed, get a producer and put out a full album.

Memory Tapes are the latest band my friends have been telling me to listen to for months, but I get busy and forget. And then I hear them a few weeks later at a bar and say 'who is this?' and people look at me like I just said the dumbest thing in the world and I feel kind of embarassed. But then I get over it, and listen to Memory Tapes and realize I really like them, and beyond that, nothing really matters.

The last one only has demos and one real name; Mike. His fake name is Perfume Genius and he works in a furniture store in Washington and is 26 years old. And that's about all anyone knows about him besides his amazing music. Kind of Anthony and the Johnsons meets Daniel Johnston meets Jens Lekman. The video for 'No Problem' is stunning, and really is encouraging me to move ahead with my plan to break into the pool some night, as does the song 'Gay Angels'.

Mike, please finish the album soon. I really need this kind of beauty in my life.

And btw, your myspace quote is fantastic!

Hope everyone enjoyed the pancakes and waffles, because we're back on training tomorrow.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Off Season Update

Sometimes I feel like I'm just talking to myself on this thing, and then out of nowhere, someone will tell me they've been looking for updates for weeks and could I please post again. I didn't post because there wasn't a whole lot happening on the fitness front for the past several weeks, so here is my downtime in bullet points, and then on to new business.

• 2009 was the year of sickness and injury for me, and it wasn't going to give up on killing me without a last stand; Christmas was 2 1/2 weeks of misery.

• I got to see some family (which was nice), but since I was sick the whole time, it was from my couch/death bed. They were very understanding and kept me supplied with tea, painkillers and kleenex. Thanks family!

• According to those who were present, I made my most glorious Christmas Dinner of all time. I think it really was my official best, but I don't know for sure because I have this disease that makes me utterly disinterested in food once I've made it, so I just had 3 or 4 bites of everything and then watched everyone else load up on seconds and thirds. I thought I'd rally and put a big dent in the leftovers over the next few days, but...sickness.

• Now that I am training consistently and have been focusing on some big goals for well over a year, I can say that I'm not really a fan of the holiday season. The three major holidays involved take up the whole of my off season, and the trouble I get in to can be summed up in three sentences-

1) "Of course I'll come. I wouldn't miss your party for the world."

2) "Egg Nog White Russians sound delicious."

3) "Where are you going with that cheese plate?"

Repeat 2-4 times a week from Mid November until early January and then drag your tired ass to the scale and see how that went. My amazing trainer, Manny gave me a weigh in/body fat analysis on my first trip back to the gym, and we were kind of shocked at the results. I have gained about 6 pounds during my last 6 months of downtime, which is expected and I'm ok with that, but a large portion of my former lean muscle mass is now body fat. I won't say the numbers, but we were both pretty taken aback. I thought it would have settled into my hips, but most of the muscle loss/fat gain was on my upper arms and less so on my thighs. Manny thinks that most of this happened over the past two months (see above), and that we can get back on track fairly quickly, so I've been off the booze for two weeks and have reeled my diet back into reasonable shape. My next weigh in is on Monday, and I'm curious to see where I'm at.

So there. Now the training season is back upon us, and I'm ready to go! I'm back in the pool, I'm back in the gym, I'm finally back on a full training week, and I've started the Push Up Challenge. I will have more to report very soon.