Tuesday, January 31, 2012

First Month, Last Samurai

Whatta Tuesday, and it's not even noon yet! I find it amazing, as I trust you do too, how fast things can go from the garbage dump to the penthouse suite. I think there are more than a few lessons here, foremost among them:

Never say die. Don't quit. Ever. Under any circumstance. Get off the floor and back in the game. Make a call. Take a walk. Roll the dice. Keep the faith. Get mad. Ask for a favor. Find a friend. Tweak it. Serve. Fight. Run. Write. Read. Chop wood and carry water. Respect. Lead. Listen to the wind. Stare into the fire. Look into the eye. Laugh. Be valiant. Be gallant. Be there. Be here. Honor thy Father. Clean your room. Try your best not to bear false witness. Consume no flesh. Heal thyself. Run in the forest. Accept total responsibility for everything. Support. Sing. Focus. Embrace. Touch.

Pithy indeed. But it helps me stay somewhat sane in this world gone absolutely mad. Long time VBAers will remember some of the seasonal rituals that foster my reticence and devotion to the practice we call continual improvement. One of them took place last night, another starts tomorrow and the third is underway. I'll summarize:

I watch a handful of movies once a year. Each has as special message for me, a combination of art, ideals, morals, plot, character development, lessons and plain old good film making. I don't have to tell you the special and rare brand of magic thusly created. Last night, I was in need of inspiration. I was down. My tender right hamstring forced cancellation of the evening run. I was frustrated and hurt, carrying a heavy heart inside an empty pocket. I heard the muted inner voice console, and soothingly say, "The Last Samurai."

Watching Ken Watanabe's masterful portrayal of Katsumoto provides more meaning than almost anything I can think of. It answers questions I can not formulate, that intrinsically beg for resolution. There are answers. There is code. There is courage. There is no fear and no mind. There is a reminder that we have a long way to go, but perfection can be here now. I love this movie.

Secondly, today is the last day of January. How are we doin' with those resolutions kids? Tomorrow begins my annual no-beer February. I am also cutting glutens as well in this years two part experiment. I am about three pounds over racing weight, with a good percentage being muscle. The goal is to lean out in 28 days, continuing the power increases, get to 154, and hit the pool in March for a month long swimming block.

Thirdly, this is the work in progress one. The Boss called this morning to ask my opinion on a "package deal" for the Australian Cycling Team that includes four VeloTrons and a custom created RCV of the London Olympics Time Trail course for their exclusive use. We have the VTs in stock, the video?

Never say die. Think positive thoughts. Hang in there. Be patient. Be prepared, be strong. Where there's a will….

We'll find a way. Hai.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Warp Speed

Results from last night's ladies 20 minute ftp test. For our purposes ftp, functional threshold power, is described as your average watts produced over test time. The whole enchilada test is 60 minutes, but we can get close by using 95% of your average watts from the 20 min. test. The smart guys in the white lab coats are close to unanimous (perhaps a first!) that once you have established your ftp number, the fun begins. As in bike fitness improvement via the following easy to follow protocol:

Warm up for ten minutes, ride at 85% of your ftp for twenty minutes. Rest for five minutes, repeat. That's right folks, a twice weekly 2x20 at 85% of ftp is the magic formula. Here is the data from last night:

  • Rin 84 80 68
  • Mimi 169 161 137
  • Clo 210 200 170
  • Cindy 148 141 120

As I mentioned last night after completion of the test., I would LOVE to get two groups together of four and conduct a 60 day test. Group A would conduct the ftp test, do the above training and re-test at the end of 30 and 60 days. Group B would do our three days a week spinning, take the test also at 30 and 60 days. I think the results would be fascinating.

As a matter of fact, I am going to make a couple of phone calls and see if I can drum up some funding. Anybody wanna play?

Here are a couple of relevant links to topics we have been discussing of late. Here is an excellent medical site (using some rather gritty video) of the breathing technique known as diaphragmatic. I think we made some headway this morning with the 'water-in-mouth' drill.

Next is what I consider to be a superb cycling site talking about training with power, particularly this ftp idea.

Lastly my old pal Joe Friel makes some interesting points on testing, training and racing.

Have a great week folks, we are stream-rolling into February, hold onto your hats.

Tired but happy after the test: (I was asked if I could take pics BEFORE from now on) Cindy B, Rin L, Mimi H, and Clo C. NIce work gals.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A big if

It is a big if.

If you are currently eating healthy.

If you are eating lots of fruits and veggies.

If you are drinking enough water.

If you are getting enough rest and recovery time.

If you are currently working out at least once a day.

If you are not taking any medication.

If you are managing your stress effectively.

If you are not suffering from diabetes, heart disease or recovering from injury.

Then you probably don't need to take additional protein supplements. Even if you are active and in training. You will get in it your diet. Maybe not 100 grams worth, but enough. Anything in addition to that is simply creating expensive urine. Worse is that the body stores excess protein as, oh-oh, fat. Just what you needed, right, another layer to insulate you from the coming ice age.

I will editorialize however, briefly, on the placebo effect. One training season I took custom supplements that were created as a result of urinalysis. It was a few years ago and I was Ironman training, working hard twice a day. I felt very confident that my nutritional needs were covered as a result of this supplementation and it created an increased state of confidence. And a rather unnatural day-glow colored liquid excreted daily into the porcelain pot. I trained and raced successfully throughout the year and felt as if I had accomplished my objectives. The following session was more of the same. With the exception that I discontinued the sups and started yoga. Urine returned to a more organic hue, my flexibility increased, and I trained and raced successfully. I will leave you to determine your own 'moral of the story', but mine is this: Eat good, drink well, work hard, sleep deep, save your dough.

That being said. I still take protein supplements. Mostly due to my diet. I do not eat meat. And yes, that includes fowl and fish. Therefore, by choice, I face a daily challenge to get to the amount required for my specific needs. Right now, doing, at least, two hours a day of HIT training, my body is asking (politely) for around 100 grams per day. That is a lot of spinach. I am just now finishing another round of testing, this time with hemp protein, because it is cleaner than either whey, soy or rice, containing less non-essential proteins as fat calories. Sometimes this is reported on the labels, sometimes it is not. The hemp seems to accomplish the objective but I have been feeling bloated and 'backed-up' a bit, with a tendency to, ahem, fartalot. Now I am off, after a 60 day test, gauging the results, listening again to the story as told by my body.

In the meantime, I thought I'd try a little home cooking and whip up a protein smoothie of my own. Here are the ingredients:

Low-fat soy milk

No-fat cottage cheese

Low-fat ricotta cheese

handful of rhubarb

handful of strawberries

one banana

I figure this is good for 25 or so grams of clean protein. Not perfect, but a good recovery cocktail, and it tastes good.

After our 60 minute indoor ride this afternoon, I'll have another one. With some beans and rice for dinner on a bed of steamed spinach. If I manage to break the Hour Record I might even have an oatmeal cookie and a beer for desert.

But THAT is a big if.

Friday, January 27, 2012

From the top

The nose and the ear. Seemingly always in the back seat, while heart and lungs drive and navigate up front. I won't try to diminish the importance of the pilot and co-pilot, but as every successful crew knows, having mastery of the entire vehicle is what wins races. You need the mechanic and you need a communication guy.

Today we'll take a closer look at these unsung heroes, the importance and power in breathing, and the subtle skill-set of rhythm. The noise and the ear. Here, here.

Ten watts doesn't seem like a lot when judged in terms of overall power production that can reach 500 for our class of athlete. 8% has also been used to describe the gains possible with mastery of nose-only diaphragmatic breathing. Please allow me a one-word adjective of this 10 (free) watts or 8% increase: WOW. You mean all I have to do is breath deep into my belly, and I get 10 watts of additional power, or an 8% overall gain? Precisely.

I don't need at this point to overemphasize how big this is. Ten watts can mean the difference between winning and losing, podium and pub, Kona or Tacoma, first and last, or even (dare I say) a personal best and more mediocrity. The difference between all these polar extremes could be just one breath away. Get good at it. Practice it. Refine it. Put it into play. Take a deep nose-only breath right now, feel your belly expand to accept the life supporting clean air. Hold it. Count to five. Empty your lungs. Relax. Better? 10 free watts. All yours, once you get good at it and can keep it up for an hour.

OK, there is the mechanic. On to the radio-man. The ear. Your body loves rhythm. The groove. The heart-beat. Repetitive patterns of sound. Music. We are a dancing tribe. We love to move. Music makes us move faster, smoother and longer. Tests have proven that you will accept more pain (suffering) if you buy into a groove. As I am found of saying, our bodies are smarter (and hipper and cooler) than we are. As soon as you think about it, try to figure it out while doing it, you trip. Let it go. Hear, feel, flow. Let your body do what it loves to do. It's only Rock and Roll, but I REALLY like it. What is that worth in watts and or percentage of potential improvement? Tough to measure but some reports have put the number at 3-5%. Whatever it really is, it's free just like the air.

Listen to the music, find the beat, raise your intensity, breathe deep, relax and groove. 10-15 watts, 8-10%.

Repetitive fundamental patters of monitored structure.

Shall we take it from the top?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Another walk?

I know that many VBA were wondering what results came from my walking meditation yesterday while the power was out. I thank you for your concern, inquisitiveness and empathy. I am not adverse to struggle. The concept of hard work excites, rather than intimidates me. I will rise to the occasion and fight the good fight. I believe that to be reward unto itself. Maybe that guy toting the sacks of gold is taking full advantage to cut the gap during this time of challenge. I know what needs to be done, and it looks, on screen, like this:

DO NOT GIVE UP. Take the next step with awareness and grace. You may be bent but you are not broken. Find the joy. Keep the fire burning. Love more, move more, judge less, fret less. IT WILL BE OK grasshopper.

Hilarity ensues. As most often, the comic paradoxical prankster had the last laugh, as once the juice returned and I went about the business of reestablishing communications with the world, there was a phone message from my 'A' client left, of course, as I was out in the rain and wind pondering the complexities of an honest living in today's challenging times. Seems that as I was out searching my soul for inspiration he was calling with an assignment. And with some other good news as well (that I cannot reveal at this time). I don't know about you, but I find the timing on this absolutely hysterical. Or miraculous, or perfect, or whatever magical combination of astounding you prefer. It restores my faith in faith. Additionally, after our wonderful, relaxing (yet calling for special effort) three-lap recovery run, there hiding damply in my mail box, was my 4Q royalty check from same client. Ask and ye shall receive? If you build it they will come? Keep the faith pilgrim? Never say die?

The assignments are to cover and shoot the two latest events from the WTC, World Triathlon Corp., IM New York , being hailed and promoted as the US Championships, and IM Mt. Tremblant, outside Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I was so excited to regain my status as an actual free lancer with an assignment that I didn't even look at the dates prior to our run. As you know my red-letter event this year is Ironman Canada, on August 26. What if there was an overlap, what if one of these two was on the same day? OMG, a scenario only Shakespeare would love. What would I do THEN, I wondered on our last lap, sensing yet another thickening of an already dense plot.

IM New York is on Saturday, August 11. It will be another RCV of a course that you can only ride either on race day, or by viewing and riding the finished product. The entry fee for this event was a thousand dollars. It sold out on-line in eleven minutes. I will be there.

IM Mt. Tremblant is August 19. The week before IM Canada. It has already generated tons of buzz due to the bike course which features spectacular scenery and a 12% climb, done twice. It is also sold out. I will be there, too. Oui.

The big challenge, the irony, the hilarity and yes, the beauty of these two events being the weeks leading up to Canada is not lost on my sense of humor and appreciation of the odd. A fact I was again reminded of immediately following a simple introspective walk in the park, one phone message and a recovery run. And the 4Q royalty check?

Delinquent property tax payment.

Time for another walk.

Bike course profiles: Top is Mt. Tremblant bottom is NYC. Time for some hill repeats!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


"We need to offer education, accountability, and support that matches their (not our) specific needs. Our focus should be to provide an educating, motivating, and enriching environment that creates a positive experience with physical fitness and wellness. The clients that want more will seek and do more. The ones that don’t will still make a marked positive change in their lives and avoid succumbing to the masses of diseased and defeated Americans. Either way, neither we nor our clients can lose." Functional Strength Coach3.com

The irony is not lost upon me. Today we have no power after last night's wind took down a 200 year old fir tree like it was a toothpick, placing it on the street along with the severed main power lines. I heard the transformer pop at 0202 and then laid wide awake listening to the subsequent winds clean up the forest from the top down. We have a power outage. No juice. Back to the Stone Age. Which has always been OK in my log. I like the simplicity of the fire, cold water from our community well and the silence of the clear, crisp winter air.

Except that it makes it tough to blog, research and edit video. So I sit downtown at the Madison Diner with an endless cuppa Joe and my iBook, after another rockin' 60 minute session at the HoM.

I have been thinking a lot of late about business. How to take the current mashup of indoor cycling, video, training partnerships, web ops and available technologies to, pardon the cliche, the next level. As in the generation of cash. And not because I am greedy, but because I am hungry. The, shall we say, state of the union, has created an interesting challenge. I have financial obligations. I have debt, not a lot mind you, but enough to keep me on my toes. This power outage, a temporary and fleeting test of our ability to deal with change, is a timely opportunity for me to take a walk, refresh the creative batteries and come up with something. Maybe even re-invent myself as a job creator. Whoa!!!!

I am most grateful that in spite of the economy, the loss of electricity and the current state of my affairs, I can still maintain a focus on my overall plans, goals and dreams. Despite all of the above I can keep my mind, my body and my spirit tuned, toned and true. I don't need money to run in the park. I have a library of unread books, and meditation is only a zafu away.

As I search the cosmos for inspiration today I will use the marvelous thought of making a marked and positive change in peoples lives at the front of my walking meditation.

There is plenty of power in that.

Pic: When things get tough, I think of a Kona sunset in October.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This means YOU

It was Sunday morning. I had the rare opportunity to sub a spin class on a day and time usually reserved for what we affectionately refer to as the long steady distance. This time of year, for me anyway, that means a long run. In the spring and summer it is either a ride or a race. As we sat in the cozy confines of the House that Mirth built, spinning with unabashed harmony to a sublime Afro-Celts groove, an idea began to take shape in my mind, perhaps as a result of the increased blood flow, endorphin mix or a combination of all blending stimuli. The thought was an old one. Thou shalt have no fear. The thought grew and stepped into the light demanding an audience. Have no fear. Don't be afraid to try. Don't be afraid to go harder than you (ever) have before. Don't be afraid to go faster, longer, stronger and with more synchronicity of mind, body and spirit than (ever) before.

No fear.

And that includes change. One needs courage to step away from the norm, to toss a ta-ta to the tenable and tackle the tenacious. To do the outrageous. To attempt the impossible.

You cannot fail. There is no such thing. Only the next proper step in a series of steps we like to call your life. You may stumble. You may fall. You may suffer. I can assure you that there will be pain. But failure is not in God's plans for you. To fail is a verb concocted by man. We like to label things so we can compartmentalize and judge. Success and failure, courage and cowardice, wining and losing, good and bad are all hallow abstracts similar to our illusion of money, power, fame and time.

You cannot fail. Have no fear. Go, do, experience. Grow.

I was reminded of this last night as I finished the final chapters in Michael Hutchinson's The Hour. He had spent an entire year, painstakingly preparing a attempt on cycling's most revered record, The Hour. Sixty minutes of 'more-than-max'. The final two chapters describe his process of mind-body awareness as he circled a track in Manchester, England in pursuit of cycling's Holy Grail.

Fear's little brother, doubt, creeps like a shadow over sunny consciousness the moment things turn for the difficult. Can I do this? Will I fail? What will the people think? Will I be revealed as a fraud, a phony, a loser? Will it affect my credit rating, my relationship, my standing in the community?

Today, in tribute to both the writing and courage of Hutch and his work, I am doing a reading of the chapter in which he narrates his own effort on the track that day. The plan is to pair it with the Wine Tasting video. It might work, or it might not. That is TBD.

That I am not afraid to try I see as the next step. Here is a sample of the record attempt in Hutch's own words, in which I think you will see my point:

"This isn't fast enough. But just pressing the pedals harder won't help. I have to keep the rhythm. It's my best tool. I can make the rhythm do the work; it's easier to concentrate on that than on something as brutal as just riding hard. Riding hard is hurting yourself, like holding your hand in a candle flame. Rhythm is an art. It can allow me to do things I would never do if I had to face them directly…..Riding with no rhythm is like starting from scratch on every pedal stroke. I have to preserve the momentum and pattern of all the little things I'm doing to hang on to the whole."

He is dealing with his fear and doubts on the fly, in real time, under extreme physical and mental duress. He is trying to ride 34 miles in one hour and he is suffering big time.

Have no fear, you cannot fail. And yes, this means YOU.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday, yeah

Monday. Have I mentioned before how much I have grown to like this day? It is a condensed start, a new beginning every seven days, a weekly refresher. Ready for this week? OK Go.

With twangy hamstrings and some minor patella soreness on port side (from yesterday's off-road in the snow, ice and rain brick) we HIT the ground running this morning at 0530 for our weekly ceremonial practice of 'the good start'. The day's testing protocols consisted of a series of 60 second 85% of ftp intervals followed up with sub-threshold alternating sits and stands. Great workout. I am quite sure that all this HARD WORK will translate to improved power and faster times come next CompuTrainer testing. Did I use full-on cap mode to emphasize the importance of HARD WORK effectively enough? Was the volume sufficient? Did you hear? Please allow me to take it one step further. Another name for magic, and probably more accurate, is hard work. That is what creates results and the achievement of goals. Of PRs and PBs, of victory and deep appreciation of the process. The ability to enjoy EVERYTHING, to embrace, accept and befriend the tangent effort and tactile sensations created during the process of growth. We also sometimes refer to this wonderful phenomena as suffering. And to a great degree your success will come from your ability to manage this flow-state. As in, how long can I stay here? Here being a zone, a level, a number a data point. Whichever one (or ones) happens to be accessible at the time of execution. The only magic involved with training at 85% comes from the endorphin mix in your blood as heart pumps, lungs deliver and muscles produce under stress. And that, dear friends, is more fun that pulling a rabbit out of your hat.

And speaking of hard work, rabbits and visiting the Magic Kingdom, and I don't mean Disneyland, I was asked for an opinion on Cross-Fit. Which is kinda like asking Phil Knight for an opinion on Adi Dassler. In as much as ego (or hard-nosed business acumen, take your pick) might elicit a round of mud-slinging as knee-jerk first response (see Newt, Mitt and Ron run), and because we all know that if you have a flaw, blem or skeleton in the closet, you discredit the opposition first and promote yourself second, a objective opinion on this touchy subject is asking a lot. Nobody, and no thing is perfect. But therein lies the rub. My opinion is totally objective. The only objection I have with CF is the way that they promote themselves by targeting us as the defacto bad guys. They have created us (traditionalists, purists, triathletes, masters) as their targeting point of marketing. A way of saying this is better than that. They are the aggressors, slinging mud and fostering the negative 'our way or the highway', 'you're either with us or against us' immature mentality. And that is the issue I have, NOT because what they teach, preach and sell is snake oil. Because it ain't. It is good stuff. Explosive power? Core strength? High intensity? Have you ever heard me say that a stronger, fitter athlete stands a better chance of success? Have we heard all these terms somewhere before? There doesn't have to be a bad guy. It can all be good. Let's cut the crap. They want your money, and I want your health and fitness (and still stand firmly in the camp of strength training). Here then, is the RCVman semi-litmus test:

If you are buying the hype, and think cerebrally that this is something you should do because it will make you faster, do it. Try it and see. Find out first hand. When you recover from your injuries, a couple of thousand dollars later, we'll pick up where we left off. (You rolled your eyes didn't you?)

If you have achieved, through diligent practice, a heightened sense of total body awareness and then staged a dialog with your physical self, the results indicating that additional strength is necessary for improvement, do it. Start tomorrow. Go in whole hog. When you discover at mile 80 of your ride that no kettlebell will replace the practice of sitting for five hours producing 200+ watts of efficient power as preparation for a 26 mile run, we'll pick up where we left of. Truly, you will be wiser from the experience. Maybe even more fit. But maybe not as race-ready. Why?

The term is specificity. It means exactly what it implies. Sport specific. To mimic the motion. Get good at what you want to do. If you are a triathlete that means, swimming, biking and running. I am not a professional athlete, I have limited time available to train and recover. Adding CF, for me, is not an option. I have zero interest in competing in a CF event. I already do most of this stuff at home between chores as is. Still, it is your choice. I encourage experimentation. Nothing magic about it. It is all hard work. And that's good.

There are many paths. Many roads leading to the same place. I follow one. That is MY path. You must find your own. I do not begrudge or hate an opposing viewpoint. This is not about that. I have no agenda other than to refine and perfect what I have already proven to be successful, and to offer it to others as the voice of experience. There is no duality. I will not argue that one method is better than another. Everybody responds differently. I do have one request, however:

If you choose to experiment please do it with respect and awareness. Do it with joy and peace. Not because of a slick marketing campaign with the agenda of making somebody else the bad guy.

Here is the link to the article in Runners World. And another from CFHQ.

More on the magic of 85%

More yet, with some cool charts and explanations.

Monday. Yeah.

Pix: Saturday afternoon in the HoM: EJ, Tony, Jeff and Garry. Back to the track and more of the same. From Runners World, the gal is not the goal, please keep this in mind.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Numbers changing

We have changed the numbers to protect the innocent and pure. Everything else remains the same. I was reminded via interoffice memo this morning that our target demographic contains very few in this category, and that henceforth I should keep my opening statements directed towards the audience that actually reads this blog, and from whom (remember the directive came from the corner office) we might actually be able to manufacture some type of response, one that also includes the potential transfer of cash. Ah, commerce. Business. Value. The barter system without the hassles of bean counters and compound interest. We provide THIS and you provide THAT. And everybody lives happily after.

What we provide is somewhat of a grey area. We don't have a product per se. We sell no widgets. Our brand is widely unknown. Our market share oscillates between dismal and bleak. We are the table scraps of the health and fitness industry, the red-headed step-child of the training arena and the prodigal son of triathlon. Our niche is so small that is was suggested we re-brand to RCV(subatomic)man. We have a mission statement only a Mother could love and a logo made for radio. The company car is a bike and my travel budget, once decent enough to allow flea bags and subway sandwiches vanished faster than our 401K plan. Right now our overhead is to low what the pole vault is to the limbo stick. Still we press onward.

When this grand event began many years ago, I was told at the race brief that by doing what I love, the money would follow. I suppose I should take great delight and deep satisfaction in the fact that my speed and endurance has kept me in first place miles ahead of the guy toting those sacks of gold. Son, they said, the money will FOLLOW, not necessarily catch up and deliver. Oh, sorry.

So we changed the numbers. Not an accounting trick, no smoke and mirrors, no Ponzi schemes, nothing illegal. We just look at it differently, trying to control what we can and not fretting over what we can't. More innocence and more purity. The heart of the matter.

What we vend is the hope of a better me and a better you. We sell dreams. We relentlessly (as in every day) throw varying ingredients into the blender of motivation and have it puree a tasty concoction of information, inspiration and fun. I have in the past confessed to being a shameless thief when it comes to good ideas. When I hear one, it gets tested. It gets researched and it gets what the corner office likes to call due diligence. If it passes this litmus testing, it gets tossed into the mix. I am doing all that again as we communicate.

You always know the results, the methods, the pathology, practice and protocol. You also know the price.

We changed the numbers. Used to be (we said) you can do anything for five minutes. We proved that to be true. Used to be (we also once said) you can do anything for an hour. Proven affirmative. Used to be (we postulated) you can do anything for 90 minutes. Roger that. Time is not money. My training focus needs to be pure, innocent and dedicated that eternity depends on each nanosecond. Change the numbers, see for yourself. You can do anything for a lifetime.

Oh, and hey, no additional charge.

And that guy following me with the money? I take great joy in keeping him well behind. Something the corner office seems to have issues with. Oh well.

Pic: Pure snowflakes fall, business' fail, time marches on. Just keep the bakery open. Lynwood Center, and Pane d'Amore Bakery, open for business.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Monks amongst us

An article in NPR this morning asked a simple question of their readers interested in health and fitness. The questions was this: Which of these maladies afflicts 1 in 5 Americans:

A) Heart Disease

B) Diabetes

C) Mental Illness

D) Cancer

The correct answer, per NPR as reported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is C, Mental illness. The news of which is, as expected, is causing an interesting debate on the NPR forum. It is also the third ranked "biggie" on the RCVman list of things you need to manage better.

The first two being your diet and your exercise routine. You have no doubt heard this before but it needs an echo: Stress is a killer. Worse is the fact that we live in stressful times. There is no avoiding the stressors of modern life in the big city. Unless you are a monk. Do we have any monks amongst us? Didn't think so (sadly).

If we cannot avoid them we had better learn to control them. And that comes to identification and subsequent practice. The deep beauty of this comes from the synergy of our practice. Anybody out there exercise as a stress reducer? An outlet? A way to burn some steam? Interesting. Anybody enjoy the focus and stasis created by a steady heart rate at high intensity, the flow, the feel, the high? Amazing. Anybody tank up with high octane fuel to power an efficient engine and witness the thrill of the ride? What happens is that stress becomes a combustible in the fuel mixture and ends up as organic exhaust, used up, spent, and then depleted. It is addition by subtraction. More of this and less of that. Diet as fuel, your motor as the catalyst burning fat and stress, leaving a non-polluting dynamo of light and energy ready on demand.

Sure we need a little stress to stay sharp, the trick is in the balance. I find it very difficult to carry unnecessary stress with me as I train. I am too concerned with my form, my breathing, my output to worry about property taxes, suicide bombers or something somebody said on Facebook.

You wanna sure fire way to cut stress?

Take your heart rate to 95% of max and keep it there as long as you can. Rest. Repeat.

Or you could become a monk. Choice is yours (again).

Pic: Cycling monks from Globetrottergirls.com

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Success (but not at last)

I like success stories. I love when people share them with me. No matter how large or small, the scale is not the story, it is the effort. That is where it all comes together, flows, gains momentum, challenges our resolve and ultimately manifests as growth. There are certainly other names for it; Victory, achievement, winning. But they infer a completion, and ending. And I think of all this as more a journey than a road with a final destination. Making The Road, the goal. A path with a thousand options, the tao of the journey. Along that sacred, unique and sometimes chaotic trip success should be monitored relentlessly as motivation to press intrepidly onward. One step after another.

On days like today, sitting in my humble cabin sanctuary amid smells of fire blazing and coffee brewing, the snow has condensed our world. There will be no barefoot running in the park, no swims in the lake and no long rides. It is an indoor training kind of day. Just another way to deal with the circumstance. Another way to overcome obstacles and simply do what must be done.

A minor success in itself. If you are serious about anything you will find a way to make it work. Despite the challenge. Despite the amount of work necessary for completion and despite the weather conditions outside.

Let's consider for a moment what the journey would be without conflict.

Frodo Baggins finds a ring and walks a mile to give it back to its rightful owner under the 90 degree sunshine of a summer day in the Shire.

Harry Potter and his pals go to school.

Barack Obama gets all his legislation passed, ends poverty, war, sickness, is reelected in a landslide.

Tim Tebow tosses ten TDs.

I win my AG at IMC

Without conflict, without the opportunity to face seemingly insurmountable challenge, without harrowing pitfalls and detours, without all the evil and nasty bad guys, and without formidable opponents, there is no story.

And I like the story. I like it jam packed with action, adventure, challenge and the classic confrontation of good vs evil. I like drama. I like a passion play. I like suspense. I like clenching my fists and pounding YES, when push comes to shove. I like character development. I like the transitions, the arc of change as success builds on success. I like the moment of truth and I like the powerful feel of momentum change. Truth be known, I like a little romance in there as well, but that is another story altogether.

For today then, as the snow begins another volley, let's take a close look at our paths. The success' that have led us to here. And the many success left to come.

There is another success story awaiting somewhere today. Keep your eyes open.

And your toes warm.

Pix: Curried baked tofu with onions and capers. The Exploder to the rescue again. Frankie's woodshed in the snow. Success' all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Puzzle

Everything changes. Everything is in a state of flux. It is fluid and dynamic. There is birth, growth, entropy, decay and death. With any luck at all, or with a great deal of self-actualization, awareness and effort, we have some fun along the way, learn a few things and perhaps even help others. The number of pieces in this puzzle has been estimated to be ten thousand. Ten thousand individual, constantly changing, bouncing off walls in a sub-atomic rave, relentlessly interacting in a complex process of impossible magnitude, things. And that is just today. Fit in last year's missing baggage and next year's fear and anxiety and you have a real 'now' puzzle. Staying present. Focused. Managing growth. Charting courses. Looking for that odd shape to fit the leadership element held snug between thumb and index finger. Seek, search, test, create.

Our thoughts create our realities. I was reminded yesterday that there exist but a pair of things you can do to fail:

1) Not giving your all, and

2) Never starting.

We face these challenges every day. We use our positive conditioning and deep understanding of value, process and joy as pieces of the bigger picture, eagerly testing them in different locations to augment the whole. Experience is the voice of wisdom. Better to do this, than that. The patience piece has coves and protrusions of fascinating complexity, demanding saint-like virtue. Have faith, this hardship will pass. The awareness piece fits only when you surrender. Let go. Your bias', failures, defeats, losses, rejections and traumas do not serve you any longer, they are the square peg, and this whole is round.

You are not the same today as you were yesterday. In a stunning display of algorithmic adaptation, you added some power to the mix. The data showed improvement, science framing the masterpiece you call a work in progress. Your textural application of crimson, indigo and burnt umber dazzles the imagination, the colors of speed. Together, math and mayhem, data and dreams, numbers and colors bring the big picture into crisp focus. The body's bottom line. Your net worth has nothing to do with currency.

It is you becoming you. The big picture you. The ALL you. Every day we have a miraculous opportunity to add another piece to the grand puzzle of life we are tasked with managing. US. We change the whole by changing parts of the whole. That is your part. You are responsible and accountable for your part. The entire cosmos depends upon you, me, he, she, it, them and us.

We are all in this together folks. We are all connected. The pieces of the puzzle are here. All we need to do is fit them together.

What a wonderful and noble quest. Today let's use the power of our thoughts to focus on the workout. Keep in the present moment, affirm your progress, feel alive and capable of enacting positive change, enjoy this challenge, you are up to the task. Breathe.

Pic: Yasuyo inside the HoM, as the snow flurries out. The paradox and the dynamic. All pieces of the same puzzle.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pane, vino e Bici

Looks like were not yet out of the woods. Another storm on the way. Calling for big snow in Seattle where drivers annually lose all remaining bits of common sense and directly go to panic mode. Note to drivers: Please know your brakes (ABS or not) should you hit snow or a patch of ice. Note to drivers who have no clue what type of brakes they drive: Stay home. Start a fire. Make some soup. Finish the book you started ten months ago. Clean your bathroom. Ride the indoor trainer.

Oh, oh. Did someone say RIDE THE INDOOR TRAINER?

Because we have been doing so much of that ourselves of late, I thought another round of YouToob searching might provide some interesting and entertaining comparisons, observations and insights. So here we go:

2B Coaching (intro to CT)

Coach Chris Navin

CTS Racing Action

Mike Ricci at D3

Linda Cowart at Tri Training store

Clifton Park, NJ commercial spot

Triathica in the OC

Endure it, Naperville, IL

In closing today, we have two local event announcements.

1) This Sunday, Jan 22, we will do an organized brick. Here's how: I am subbing for Sarah in HoM from 0800-0900. We will do our usual high-intensity hour spin and then lace 'em up for a 10K (or thereabouts). Course will be: Out the back way on Meadowmeer Circle to Koura, left on Mandus Olson and into the Grand Forest, cross Miller, continue through trail and into Battle Point Park, one lap around and return to club same route. Once back at the BAC we'll have some type of healthy and nutritious post-brick snack. Sound fun?

2) On Sunday, March 4, starting at 1100, we will conduct a short course (30 min) tournament in the CT MR @ BAC. I am in the process of creating an accompanying video for this with video from the various wine producing regions I have rode, raced and films over the years. The day is sponsored by two of our BAC jersey sponsors, Eagle Harbor Winery and Pane d'Amore Bakery. Once the indoor tournament has been finished (winners get wine and bread gift certs), we'll ride over to the Eagle Harbor wine tasting room on Sportsman Club and sample some of Hugh's fine wines with bread and cheese from Pane d'Amore. This event is limited to fifteen people. There is no cost to participating members, for non-members and non-riders it is $15 per person. It now pays to be a rider!!!! Sound like fun?

So let's ride the trainer indoors today in preparation.

Or, I suppose, you can go out and lock-up your breaks on Queen Anne hill.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The bricklayer's notepad

A few interesting observations from the last 48 hours. Yesterday was a long day, not so much because the days are getting fractionally longer, but because we found a way to jam in more stuff. And I am thinking that is important as we make yet another reassessment at our ramp schedules for the upcoming season.

Trying to structure training time is a challenge. To the power of three when talking triathlon. Toss in work, sleep, some semblance of social engagement, food prep and facebooking, and your training avails reduce significantly. Creating the need for serious time management. Stuff needs to get jammed, in other words.

In triathlon we call jamming bricks. It is one workout followed immediately by another, mirroring the race day conditions referred to as T1 and T2. From swim to bike and bike to run. The etymology myth has it B(ike)R(run) ick. And when you stack your first set of bricks they do feel pretty icky. But the body adapts. Through practice and vigilance, you become somewhat accustomed to running with legs that feel filled with Jell-O. An important skill for the competitive triathlete.

Timing it out almost perfectly I finished my hour CT ride and met up with my fearless running partner for a 12.3 lsd run. We were tested further by the elements of the day which featured biting winds, snow flurries and icy roads. But we made it with just enough time to shower, thaw and head out for a scheduling session to discuss the aforementioned, rapidly approaching season.

The topics I wanted to present while running were tabled as a result of my frozen lips and appear here for the first time.

When time trailing on the CT, rolling resistance plays a large part. There is always press-on force at the point where the wheel meets the load generator cylinder. This is how speed data is captured and resistance established and regulated. In the attempt to travel as far as possible in 60 minutes (and it quickly became apparent by mile 5 that I was working harder and going slower than required) I used the tried and true strategy of adding gears and standing to power up and then returning to the saddle to recover. Without aerodynamics to contend with indoors this seems to be effective. However, as I repeated this tactic I began to notice the wattage fluctuations at the point of change. It was dramatic, amd I started to focus on keeping a steady state of efficient power as I initiated the attack, and then returned to rest. Creating a much more efficient power model. Immediately I remembered some elementary physics and motion mechanics. Specifically Newton's Second Law regarding acceleration. I was using precious energy to re-start the inertia lost in those nanoseconds transitioning from the stand to the sit. Why would I want to do that?

The CT is a powerful way to test your ability to manage pain. Here is a perfect example from Pro Triathlete Dede Griesbauer (pictured above) to illustrate. And here is another from a 24 hour team TT. At the half-way point yesterday I was on schedule to hit overall target (24 miles) but also cognizant that I would have to suffer some to get there. Just more of the same. I am used to it, I know what it feels like. I wish I could crank out 325 watts without breaking a sweat, but I can't. It's all work. All effort. And the more focus I can bring to every pedal rotation the easier it seems. One of my early mentors liked to say that there is no pain in the present moment. Further, I am now quite fond of the sign that reads: You can do anything for five minutes. I managed my pain for another thirty minutes, constantly keeping tabs on real time data and doing the mental mathematics to tabulate "time remaining to target". I am going to have to play Bittersweet more often.

By the time that we had traversed the 12+ lsd miles my face was numb, thumbs locked into frigid stiffness and toes barely functioning. It was a good effort, a great brick and a superb builder of confidence.

The brick was in the books. The scheduling books were on the table and the table was now topped with pizza and beer. It was a long day.

I like 'em that way.

Pic of Dede on the CT doing a TT is why I add attitude to the equation. Ya baby she's got it!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

CEO: Let it Snow

I thought I would assist in your emergency preparedness planning as we await the arrival of Armageddon here in the Northwest. By providing some entertainment and motivation. Here are a few videos of indoor training and outdoor racing:

We will combine BOTH in a few hours with another attempt at the BAC FLAT 60 record. An opportunity for you to test your current power status, indoors on a CompuTrainer. As we await the snow. So please don't forget water and matches. Candles are useful as well and make sure your axe is razor sharp. You will need some food, unless your pantry is stocked to sustain you through the mother of all storms (that should be gone by Monday.)

Assuming that you have all those ducks in a row (the Husky fans among us will forgive the rhetorical usage), we can focus on the record. For men it currently stands at 22.4 miles. The women's record is at 16.8. Here is the protocol: One hour. Your bike. A flat course. No wind. No dogs. No potholes. No snow. The 1630 first heat is now sold out. If there are takers we can add a heat immediately following the finish of the first, at approximately 1735. You need to go to the CompuTrainer Multi-Rider @ BAC Facebook page to sign up. Also, if you are not currently a member of this prestigious community, please ask for permission to join. There is one criteria: You must want to improve your cycling skills, riding indoors with like minded others.

Oh, and lastly, this mornings traditional HIT 90 spin session provided the forum for metaphor. Perhaps you know by now that this is on my top ten 'reasons for spinning' list. Today we compared you and your training to being the CEO of your own company. Like you are your brand. You have an identity in the marketplace, a relationship with vendors, a mission statement, and a team of VPs, managers, supervisors, technicians, agents and customers. Except that in our training scenario YOU get, more, you HAVE TO , do it ALL. You get to wear all the hats. If ANYTHING is to get done, get made and get sold, it it 100%, totally up to you. Kinda like training, yah? Kinda like prepping for a race. Kinda like taking charge of your own health and fitness. YOU are the big cheese. The Boss. You get the reserved parking space and can hire and fire at will. That is all the good news. It represents a boatload of responsibility. There is no-one to blame if failure follows. It is all you baby. The bad news is this:

You are also the janitor.

So please keep your bikes clean, your water bottles topped off and your kits at the ready.

It may snow tonight. I don't care. My training work will be done. I am on schedule to meet my racing goals, we posted a gain in the 4th Qtr, dry firewood is stacked by the door and I have enough beer to get to Monday. Let it snow.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Today we rest

Today we rest. It has been (another) long week. Last night's final spin session cooked the proverbial goose. There was nothing left. Nada. Niente. Zilch. Zero.

In that incredibly marvelous state of total exhaustion some images and accompanying text began to mash up in the scratch pad of my consciousness. It was interesting to witness as in the physical world, all motor function and execution of the mundane was operating on auto pilot. I was going through the motions of looking for some clean protein at the Safeway, navigating my car through traffic, stoking the fire and lastly making my way upstairs and laying the poor body down. All the wile the images and ideas swirled in my mind like a desert dust devil at twilight. I began to sample them, spinning as cosmic VJ, mixing some of the ideas with the imagery. It was fun, putting a whole new dimension of the marching to a different drummer idea. It has long been known that music, drumming in particular, can invoke the magic of the trance, a higher vibratory level, an otherworldly state of reality, inducing experience not obtainable elsewhere. The quest of the Shaman. A rite of passage, a ritual of transcendence, leaping through the quanta of the known towards energies, lights and sacred spaces. Anyone who has run a marathon, or slugged out an Ironman knows about this. You can be transported 'somewhere else' as you struggle to maintain an aerobic trance of movement. Your mind MUST leave the body to manage the pain. While the legs and lungs are on auto pilot, the mind and soul are in deep meditation, watching, chanting, praying, with the endless empathy of a angelic drum circle, keeping perfect time with nonjudgmental mallets of joy. In this vision, I heard three distinct percussions vibrate and resonate, each pounding a different tone and pitch,


The three were soft and subtle, backbeat rhythms in a divine mono-groove, a paradiddle close to my still-elevated heart rate. They were tribal yet ultra sophisticated and suave. I felt a movement in my loins and a new power emulating from the core. it was getting louder, and the lead drum came forward to solo, as a lens flare spot illuminated the house. It was a brilliant sound, both bongo and bass, clean, pure, cellular. Whomever was playing had their eyes closed seeing something no one else could. I saw this:


Words by Don Miguel Ruiz. Music my me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Twinkie the Kid

Twinkie the Kid (pictured at left) was never quoted as saying any of the below:

Plan, do, check, act.

Recognize and acknowledge improvements

Define, measure, analyze, improve. control

Self realization of process

Identify, reduce, eliminate suboptimal processes

baby steps not giant leaps

We, however, are building the future from yesterday's success. That is ONE of our core principals. Training is testing. We measure and we manage. We pay attention to details. And, as I have already repeated several times today, we are forever faithful (semper fidelis) to the form, foundation and technique that got us here, or as we used to say in the wonderful world of shit-kickin country music, 'ya dance with what brung 'ya.

And what brings us to this point was a idea suggesting that we might be responsible for our own good health and fitness. There is no entitlement, no pill and no secret formula available only in third-world countries. It is the almost alternative view that if it is to change it is up to us. Nothing that the FLOTUS will ever say will get me to do pushups. There is no conceivable offer that Jillian Michaels can make to get me to lose weight. I don't care about washboard abs, a chiseled physique or The "V". I don't usually take delight in the hardship of others by when I read last night that the folks who make Hostess Twinkies have declared for bankruptcy protection, some LMFAO ensued.

It is up to us. Take some responsibility. WYFAO. Where W is work and Y is Your. That part is simple. You can be fit or you can be fat. This is America. Wanna ram ten Twinkies a day and waddle to work? All yours. This freedom is yours to accept or reject. NOTE: We interrupt this blog post to bring you the latest national score: The Acceptors 25.4%, The Rejectors 74.6%. It seems that almost 3/4 of us reject this freedom of choice. One amazing statistic!

ACCEPTORS: WE ARE GETTING CREAMED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Almost 75% of the current 308 million Americas are either overweight or obese. YO REJECTORS: Put those Twinkies down and get moving! Even if it is something small, baby steps, a walk in the park. Even if it is rolling on the ground laughing. Something. Get started, One step. Then continue. DON'T STOP.

Identify, reduce and eliminate the bad. That doesn't take a degree from Cal-Tech. Then, find something physical you like to do, and DO IT.

And do it again.

And again.


See the trend? Continual improvement. One day at a time. Take in less calories today than you use. Less bun more burn. That is huge. We will repeat it tomorrow until it becomes habitual. Like brushing your teeth. With time we will add intensity and duration. Be vigilant. It is up to you. We are with you.

Join the losing team. Be an acceptor. Twinkie the Kid has grown up. And he is fat.