Monday, April 30, 2012

Eye on the Ball

Keep your eye on the ball. This is not the time to get sloppy. We have come to far, accomplished too much. We've grown, honed and toned. We have endured. To ignore all this would be disrespectful and lazy. Sloppiness is not something we want to add to our list of good habits. And I am not talking about the cleanliness of your room (although that is part of it). The important part we are considering today is one of fundamentals. Of base. Of foundation. And of form. That is our starting point as well as our point of reference. Everything builds upwards from there. The details are placed atop the pillars. There is a reason we call it the core. It is solid. It is strong. An immovable, impenetrable marbled slab of solidarity. Your foundation. 

It has been suggested by many far wiser than I, that this takes time. Patience not only a virtue but a prerequisite as well. You have to put in the hours and miles. You must experience this path of peril with a singular focus and happy heart. You must have faith. You must trust yourself. It helps to make some friends along the way, friends you can call upon when you need a favor. REAL friends. The kind that won't let you down when the going gets tough. Allies like confidence, speed, power, stamina, humor, compassion and empathy. 

This is a process. It is not going to happen overnight. On May 1 of 2012 you are going to feel strangely the same as today. Unless you tweak your 'tude and start to clean house. Start to up the ante. Jettison the excess. Step up to the plate. Take your current contort zone and put it in the history section. 

Saturday was fun. A sectional cutaway: 90 minute spin, sauna, blueberry protein smoothie, 75 minute massage, fresh (local, organic, free range) three egg cheese and broccoli omelet. 

Or Sunday: 45 mile ride - Can I go harder, longer? Or longer, harder? Either way the need for focus is crucial when fixed at 25mph. Followed by a 12+ mile run. Can I go smoother, easier, with economy and impeccable form longer, faster, or faster, longer? Either way the need for calm and confidence wins the debate.

What debate?

You know the one. The sloppiness one. It is so easy to allow bad habits to prevail. Bad habits, the lack of fundamentals, the loss of form, the fear of success, giving in to the slightest amount of physical discomfort, self doubt, negative chatter, sabotage, tossing in the towel, practicing the art of the quit. Giving up. Taking your eyes off the target. Losing sight. 

There is something somewhere that we can all use for this drill. Maybe your focus, maybe your climbing, maybe your power or endurance. I was reminded of this watching Junior play Little League Baseball Saturday (after the spin, sauna, smoothie and rub down). 

Sometimes keeping your eye on the ball can mean more to adults than to kids.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Go fly a kite

"We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon."
- Emil Zatopek, 1952 Olympic Marathon gold medalist

Interesting stuff keeps it interesting. I guess. One could easily shrug shoulders dismissing as coincidence at best or meaningless, random, unrelated or trivial, but I much prefer to add the meta to the physical, adding the more, beyond, ancestral, mystic. Keeps me in the game longer wondering if there is something still to come as a result of the journey to here. 

We were talking about 'the dialogue' again this morning. That (sometimes) two-way discourse that takes place when we have earned the right to speak with Mr or Ms Fatigue. Because that is when it gets interesting. The gist of that conversation will tell the tale. On your training session, in your event, on your journey. Goes like this:

You: Man it's hot out here today. (Glance at watch) 2 hours and I'm only at mile 13. I am so slow. I should never should have signed up for this race, I'm not ready.

F: Hi there. How's the piriformis handling all these foot strikes and elevation gain? You look a little peaked. Dehydrated, too. It's OK to quit you know, your Mom will still love you and the County Assessor will send you a letter soon. C'mon let's slow it down and think this through. 

You: Look, pal, you are an illusion. You are not real. There is no such person as Ms Fatigue. You are a figment of my fertile and fickle imagination. Please, and I mean this with all due respect, go fly a kite. We, or me alone, are going to finish what we set out to do with focus, with grace and with confidence. I can do this, so please either stay and support, or scram. Your choice.

F: There is no choice. You are fatigued and must slow down or stop. Can't you feel that buildup of lactic acid practically burning holes in your legs? And your heart rate, I can hear if from here. Your feet are sore and your lower back is starting to spasm. You will fail. Stop now and all that will vanish. Trust me.

You: There is a choice. And I choose to endure. I chose to keep moving, I choose to invoke all the skills, power and endurance I have earned in preparation along with my enhanced mental toughness to stay present and in the moment. I will survive. Stay positive, breathe, relax and add some economy and love. That is my choice. You are a phantom. 

F: OK, fine. Have it your way. Go ahead and hurt. Enjoy the suffering. You have ten miles to go and the route is lined with pain. I'll be back.

You: See ya. 

And fatigue is gone. You have transcended. You have won the debate. At this point, the outcome in hours and minutes makes little difference. There is one thing certain, you will finish, on your terms and to the best of your focused ability. 

Fatigue is relentless, as promised, it returns. The dialogue is repeated, but this time (at mile 20) it's not (quite) so animated:

F: Still thinking that I don't exist? It's never too late to toss the towel. C'mon, in the history of the world no-one will ever care that you quit, AND I have came up with the perfect excuse: Hyponatremia. Nobody knows what that is and it sounds scary. When you tell 'em that you quit at (now mile 22) because you went water toxic, they'll go, "oh, you poor thing, how that must have hurt." And all you have to do then is agree. IT'S SO EASY. JUST STOP.

You: You are wasting your time. I am not giving in. Matter of fact I feel stronger and more confident then ever. Yes this hurts, but you know what? I can take it. We are so close. I can taste it. This is sweet. 

There is no reply. No counter, no additional spin. It is simply you doing what you do. There is no duality. OF COURSE IT HURTS--IT'S SUPPOSED TO. The point is that you took charge. You are now totally in control of you. The demons are dust. You stared them down. You faced your fears and sent them scurrying for cover. Impowerment, growth and an incredible sense of being is all that remains as the finish comes into view. 

F: Last chance. 

You: No. Watch this (you sprint the last 100 meters with all remaining octane in the tank). 

F: Nicely done.

You: Thanks, could't have done it without 'ya. Seriously.

F: I know. I just try to keep it interesting. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Each year more than 700 cyclists are killed by drivers on our nation’s roads while another 62,000 are injured. In the United States, the total annual death toll inflicted by drivers averages in excess of 40,000 people. It’s the equivalent of two jumbo jets crashing every single week, all year long, every single year, or entire towns being wiped off the face of the Earth. Salem, Massachusetts last year; Hoboken, New Jersey this year, and Twin Falls, Idaho next year. Every single year. Former pro racer turned bike lawyer Bob Mionske.
More on (and pic) Bob here from Pez Cycling News.

The lines blur. Blues and reds blend into a gradient creating the illusion of purple. What you see is not always what is there. Intents are often mistaken and messages mixed. There is innuendo, metaphor, rhetoric. Mass market media moguls want to influence your buying decisions. Somebody today will ask you for some of your time, money or effort. The result of all of this can be a distraction. We lose our focus. Our attention wanders. There would be far fewer incidents and accidents if we were better at keeping our attention precisely where it is needed most. 

That would be wherever we are and whatever we are doing. Your attention is (always) needed most in the eternal here and now. You might be sitting and spinning 2X20 of your FTP. Keep your focus on your cadence and your form. Engage your breathing and be in the moment. That is where all the good stuff happens. In that moment.

Bad stuff happens when we lose our 'nowness'. When our bodies are here but our minds are in another state. If you are training or racing in California, please do not mentally feed the bears in Yellowstone. This is a rather benign example, as the only injured party is you, however, I will illustrate for you a much more serious and catastrophic example that I witnessed this morning. 

Having completed our usual Thursday morning power spin I was headed to the Safeway for some liquid protein and fixin's for a later smoothie or two. Our little island has suffered from growing pains over the years, the volume of vehicular traffic and the frustration of drivers unable to make left turns being excellent examples. I am two cars behind a SUV that is making a quick left into the aforementioned supermarket parking lot. As the SUV disappears I see that the bicycle commuter who, coming down the hill had to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid the steely broadside of the turning truck. I cannot tell if she is screaming, yelling or shrieking from fear as she has just come within five inches of massive pain, major trauma and possible financial ruin. Or worse.

I pass, feeling her rage and fear. As soon as I enter the lot I look for the SUV. I see it and from across the lot I can see a woman on a cell phone. I am furious. I decide to act. I am going to confront the driver and ask her if she saw the cyclist and understood the seriousness of the actions she had set in motion by her (I am assuming) inattention.

I wait by the front door as I see her continue to talk on the phone and then apply make up in the rear-view mirror. As she is doing all this I am trying to remain calm and make sure that whatever conversation takes place it is civil, objective and compassionate. I also know that whenever I have had this same pep talk with myself in the past it has failed miserably.

She walks to where I am standing. I recognize her. She is a Safeway employee. She works in the bakery department. Sometimes she says hi as I bag my bagels. I see consternation and anxiety in her eyes. She knows. 

I improvise, sensing that additional friction would cause more harm than good. I decide to let her off the hook. I am going to trust that she learned the lesson and from this point forward will keep her focus on the road and the others that share it with her. 

I shop. I second-guess myself, suddenly feeling derelict in my responsibility to the lady on the commuter bike. What if it happens again, with another, uglier, outcome, as a result of my non-action? I debate my social responsibilities in the produce department holding an apple in one hand and an orange in the other. The colors blur. 

The possibility exists that she never even saw the terrified commuter. If that is the case, she will get the story.  I know who she is. Perhaps tonight after the evening class I will visit and ask her about the near miss, as time has passed, hoping she has already learned the lesson, not needing my input to do, from this point on, the right thing.

That being, of course, to stay focused. Pay attention precisely where and when it is needed most.  Like always. It is always here and now. Spinning, training, eating, racing, driving. All the same. Clear.

In focus. Aware.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


You have heard this before. This message will be repeated again (and again) until it becomes catechismical. So lets take it from the top:

Every time we do this, the 'this' being training, we get a step closer. One little baby step closer to where we want to be. Your goal. Your aspiration, your dream. 

It is crucial that we continually reaffirm our motivation. Look at our goals, make an assessment and trim the sails to correct for the current wind speed and direction. Is what I am doing RIGHT NOW augmenting that goal?

In our training we talk a lot about fatigue. We sometimes see it as an enemy, something or some mysterious body that we must defeat to continue. We use metaphor and simile to create an artificial demon that we must slay to survive. We talk about pushing past pain, dealing with suffering and transcending. We talk about The Wall, the Bonk, the Death March and the Ironman shuffle. All negative by-products of accumulated fatigue. We know empirically how to introduce fatigue, but the ways and means to manage are vague. They vary by dialect and culture. One athlete's ceiling is another's floor. 

Run until you puke.
No pain, no gain.
Go hard, or go home.
Tough it out.

Our latest bit of redundancy has dealt with changing our definition of fatigue. As in, it's all in your head. That your brain actually has more to say about fatigue than your body. That your central nervous system is actually under the command of something called the central governor, a handy device tasked with keeping you from overworking yourself to the point of injury, or worse. Don't forget that the guy who ran the first "official" marathon immediately passed out and died after his 26.2 (although historians debate.)

Additionally, we have toyed with the suggestion that fatigue, essentially, is a choice. We can measure and manage, test and train, adapt and grow, train and race and still, at some point. come face to face with the reality that fatigue has caught us from behind. Ran up, patted us on the butt, and said, comically, "Whoa, twenty miles, nice, but now you're done so let's go have a beer." THAT my friends is the choice. You can quit. You can oblige and go share a cold one with your pal. Or you can find something hidden deep inside and courageously choose the hard way. The path you know contains ample amounts of pain and suffering. Hurt Road. 

How do we do this? What makes us strong enough to pick door number two? What is the opposite of fatigue?


Proving it in practice. Again and again. Over and over. Gaining, growing, getting. To the point that we are fearless of fatigue. We have skirmished. We have bled. We have pushed the limits. We have engaged. We have endured. 

Every time we do this we get a little closer. We gain a little more confidence. We know that when our buddy shows up offering the easy way out, we can politely (or not) say no, I will do this longer, faster, harder, smoother. I will achieve my goals. I will survive. 

The opposite of fatigue is confidence. 

Here are a couple of interesting, related articles:
How to deal with The Wall.
A desperate masochist wins a CompuTrainer (with some nice comments about Real Course Videos!!!)

Pic: 2007, Andy Potts wins his first 70.3 Championship in Clearwater, FL. Confidence helped. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


My first band was a formed in Mom's garage in 1964. At the time The Beatles had five songs in the top ten and KRLA played them in constant rotation. A random set might be: Beatles, Stones, Beatles, Kinks, Beatles, Supremes, Beatles, Beach Boys. A transistor radio version of the good old days. I bring this up not merely because it revives wonderful memories from an innocent age, but also because the name of that band (a lip-synch act, we wouldn't actually play instruments till the next year) was The Verbs. The moniker was a clever (I thought at the time) double entendre, part reverb and part action. We were learning seventh grade sentence structure as we experimented with sound amplification in Mom's garage, making The Verbs way more than simply a totally bitchin band name, using the poplar vernacular of the time. Mom would occasionally complain about the noise, once going as far as to say that we should spend more time with sentence structure than strumming six stringed amplified instruments. 

Flash forward 48 years. 

Not much has changed.

I am still interested in action words, sentence structure and sizzling Stratocasters. The Verbs live on, as demonstrated in this special Tuesday extra-credit grammar exercise:


I do triathlon.
I am doing a brick tomorrow.
I have done over a hundred triathlons.
I have been racing triathlon for 15 years.
I did my first Ironman in 1996.
I was doing marathons before that.
I had done twenty marathons before my first Ironman.
I had been doing little aerobic exercise prior to that.
I will do another Ironman in August.
I will be doing the 30th Anniversary Ironman Canada.
I will have done 500 days of training in preparation.
I will have been doing that for what seems like forever.

Things I had learned from this exercise:
I should have listened to Mom.
I should have practiced the guitar more.
I should have kept the band together.
I should keep it in the present tense.
I should go run.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Little Slices

Was asked for an update on the POP (Pizza Oven Project) this morning. I am applying the third layer of cladding to the dome before the fireclay finish topping coat. This another tedious phase (in a series of tedious phases) that takes more time and patience than I had initially allocated. It is especially difficult to multi-task (sorry Zen kids but I gotta do it) coming inside from the POP with mortar and brick dust everywhere to sit and try to finesse my non-linear editing system into little video slices of art. But progress, on both fronts, is being made. 

Nice RPE power session this morning as a recovery ride from yesterdays 3:45 (total time on course) monster lsd run. Amid the 2 minute seated climbs + 2 minute standing climbs + 1 minute seated summit was the musical trivia question du jour:

You know that The Beatles hold the record for most songs making it to Number One on the Billboard Top 100 Charts. You know that. There is not a song on that list that you haven't heard a thousand times. You know all the lyrics and have probably sung a chorus of many in the shower. They set the post-Elvis standard (Billboard began keeping score in 1962) at 20. That is a lot of number ones!! 

So the trivia is not the glaringly obvious: Name them, but the glaringly insidious: Who is number two on the list? The answer might surprise you as much as it did me. If you haven't already guessed or Googled, I will tell you her name tomorrow, with the follow-on caveat that I will also play one of the 18 number one's in class, if I could just figure out which one because unlike the Fab Four, I know none of the lyrics and know nary a melody line. 

On the to Monday lightening-round update:
Nice work yesterday by tough-as-nail-polish marathoner in training, and long time VBAer, Stephanie for slugging out another long slow distance. When lsd runs are considered harder than childbirth, you got the distance about right!

We are back in the running for the Olympics Mens TT course video. Hope to have the corrupt middle section re-shot with a civilized file-format in a week or two. We are less than 100 days from the big event.

Pitching a potential new client on a vehicle wrap promo for the ToC. An extraordinary value for the sponsor. On this trip, to this audience we could reach 100,000 views. People will be watching. Your logo, our rig, on-site. We deliver. The client manufactures swim, cycle and triathlon high-tech gear and garments, designed by a former space and aeronautics engineer. I came up with a tag line for the gig: Smart, Sexy and Fast. What else is there? 

Made some nice headway on the RCV wheel re-invention, testing a sweet little Canon Vixia HRF300 and some third party image stabilization software. I won't reveal any brands yet until a winner is selected and tested. The guys in the home office are testing likewise to bring YOU the next generation of CompuTrainer Real Course Video. The new RacerMate One software is getting some nice reviews from the beta testers, several commenting on the ease of interface with the RCVs. YES!!

The sun is shining again dear ones. I have the center section of the day to hit production mode at top speed. There is work to be done. Life to live. Little slices of art to create. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Yes or No?

Each runner is unique. You can only get so far as a runner by following cookie-cutting training plans. To become the best runner you can be you must master the mind-body connection and learn what works best for you. RUN shows you how to do that through the examples of mind-body running masters such as Joan Benoit and Haile Gebrselassie, as well as fascinating new research on the role of the brain in exercise. From Run, The Mind-Body method of RUNNING BY FEEL, by Matt Fitzgerald.

Mr Fitzgerald, whom I have often quoted here, is going to be quoted once more. This is a juicy one. Dealing with fatigue (again). Are you tired of this topic yet? No? Good, because it is absolutely critical that we come to grips with what it entails. Which, of course, for the long-course triathlete, marathoner or century rider, is everything. We all know fatigue. As mentioned yesterday, we visit it often. I actually have a frequent fatiguer program available at nominal cost. Works like this: You come in, I add fatigue, you go home. Repeat three times per week (in most cases) and at the end of the FFP block, usually 6-9 months, you are rewarded with membership into the endurance club. Meaning, natch, that you can no go longer, harder, faster as a result of your choice.

Choice, what choice?

You mean, to do or not to do? To face fatigue or quit and go to the bakery? To grow and adapt or slowly lose what we thought we once had? Simply say yes or no?

Exactly. And here is Matt's juicy quote on the subject, just so you know this is his extrapolation and not original thought on my part:

"Fatigue is essentially a choice."

Please allow me to repeat that with a larger font.

"Fatigue is essentially a choice."

That is so large. XXL. Fatigue is a choice. You can choose to understand and embrace (and then endure and sustain) or you can deny, succumb, misunderstand or plead ignorant (and subsequently slow down, quit or seek validation elsewhere.)

He further suggests, and here we start to merge thoughts, that once this premise is accepted, practice soon ensues in order to perfect. We can actually get better, masters even, at the art of fatigue. We practice the push past part. Dealing with the physical manifestations, we know as pain, suffering, intensity and physical discomfort. Because we realize, through this training, that this is the only way to acquire the return on our training investment.

In other words, if you want to run long and slow forever, please continue your practice. If, however, you want to go faster, go longer, achieve your race goals, burn more fat, and actually feel some race day glory (which means more than a medal and a cheap T), we must meditate on Matt's mantra long and deep.

The next time you hear ol man Fatigue knocking on your door, practice some tough love, and DO NOT LET HIM IN. That is your choice. IT IS YOUR CHOICE. Yes or No?

Lastly, my friends, a little goes a long way at this intensity level. If you can hold him off (ol man Fatigue) for just a little while longer, ten seconds at 500 watts, one minute at race pace, or five miles at marathon pace, it is tough love well spent.

Try it and see. Yes or No?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spilled Wine

I stop at the Safeway after our Tuesday and Thursday morning class to grab whatever sundry items are missing from my bodega and to buy a protein drink. After our challenging 'Four Bills' session, I was wandering the perimeter searching for quality, organic, healthy and on-sale foods (try it sometime if you need additional frustration in your morning), when I came upon a touch of chaos in the wine department. Seems the boys are doing a re-set, moving all the fermented grape to allow the installation of new flooring. That is my guess anyway, I didn't spend a lot of time getting official confirmation. Adding sadness to the frustration was the carnage created during the move. Shown is $22.95 of Pinot Nior that has ended it's cycle in a somewhat less than celebratory fashion. My Italian grandfather used to say that it wasn't an authentic Italian gathering unless there was some spilled wine on the tablecloth. I am now sure what he would say about this. Gentlemen, please be careful!!!

In case you are wondering what exactly the Four Bills protocol is, I will detail here:

Five minute warm up.

Four minute standing climb at gear 16 (Keiser), RPE 7 (LeMond) or 250 watts (CompuTrainer).

Seated 400 watts (four bills) for 30 seconds.

Seated light resistance spinout (default) at 120 RPM for 30 seconds.

Add 1 gear, one RPE unit, 50 watts per repeat.

Get to 22 (Keiser), RPE 10 (LeMond) or 650 (CompuTrainer) and then reverse (descending values) until 60 minutes has elapsed.

Cool down.


Visit Safeway for protein smoothie.

In between sessions today (we'll repeat the protocol this afternoon using "Three Queens" power - 300 watts), I will press ever onward and upward on the pizza oven project (now known affectionately as the POP). Both dome archways are in and I have finally found suitable flat iron for the facade arches and oven door frame. If I can finish her by June it will represent bringing it in nearly ten months behind schedule and almost four bills over budget.

Time and cost like spilled wine. Can't cry over 'em. Salute!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Boston 116

My memory of running Boston in 1997 is all positive. I REALLY wanted to go three or less and in failing by 18 minutes, decided that a silly thing like time should't detract from the experience. It was great fun, every minute, every mile. I remember the Wellesley girls lined up a dozen deep screaming non-stop for the two minutes it took me to pass their beautiful campus. I remember finally hitting downtown and seeing the crowds watching and waving, as if I was a parade Grand Marshall, sometimes waving back, sometimes managing a smile, always surging forward. I remember thinking that Heartbreak Hill wasn't so bad, until a mile past it when my legs turned to yoghurt. I remember the final 100 yards on the blue carpet and I remember the finish, the final steps and then the stop. The refresh, the recovery. Ten deep breaths and some leg stretches. Then it was over. Water, a bagel, a banana. Looking for Dad. 3:18.

They are doing it again in Beantown today, for the 116th time. I want to go back again one day and try again, even though now I would be trying to break four hours instead of three. The marathon hurts. Yesterday's half hurt. Ironman hurts. I accept this as part of the price one must pay. I guess it keeps ya honest. At about the half way point yesterday, my right hip flexor was sending neuro-texts indicating extreme tightness, this as my calves and ankles signaled advanced fatigue. My heart and lungs had already surrendered to the grind yet mind was strangely calm. You might say I hurt all over. It was the flow of go.

I remember hurting all over in Boston and thinking that it was one of the greatest feelings one could have. Fatigue. Exhaustion. Effort. Output. The physical price you have to pay. It is unlike anything else, that feeling of success, of completion of accomplishment, of non-quit. You can almost see your soul smiling. It is as alive as you can get.

I still think that to be true and I can't wait for the next run.

Congratulations to everyone who qualified for Boston and ran today. I'm proud of ya!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Always a chance to get something done when it's so nice out. This helps.

Saturday was our weekly 90 minute spin in which we stretched out the intensity and sincerity via the infamous Double Shot protocol. TWO tunes standing followed by a multi-tasking high cadence sit. Multi is used to represent the duality in a simultaneous recovery from AND prepare for, song. It is work. But, and this is where the magic is pulled from the hat, you get used to it. You can actually feel yourself adapt to the stress and duration, with a very measurable point in the sit song that designates the transition from recovery to prep. It is like seeing your shadow on a sunny spring day, "There it is." Good stuff, and most welcomed.

Later Junior and Michael dropped by for a trail walk to the beach, a little catch in the park and a chili burrito. Junior is honing his baseball chops to the point that a few of his tosses put that old and familiar sting back in the palm of left hand.

This morning we carried the Toe Jam torch into year 32. The field was down slightly from last year (a record six) to just Ironman Bob and myself. Made no difference to either as the 13.1 rugged miles were traversed with relative ease, Bob staying on course this year and taking the TJ32 crown with a snappy 1:42 to my 1:45. As excuse du jour I will claim the four minutes spent in a rather convenient porta-potty at Ft. Ward, dealing with the remains of the chili-burritos.

Tomorrow is Boston. As I sit with muscles in full-on recovery, it is good to remember that this is part of that. If you want to run, run fast or run long, there is going to be some sacrifice. It is going to sting a little. It will not always go exactly as planned. There will be unavoidable stops. But we endure. We accept that the flow isn't always as swift as we had hoped, nor the outcome always jubilant. We learn little lessons along that path, adding to our stores. Trusting that one day, maybe, with any luck at all and with a boat-load of courage and consistency, all the lessons will provide a taste of victory.

Lesson number 438: When Junior asks for chili, that doesn't mean YOU have to have it too.

Pix: RG and me at Boston finish in 1997. Shadows on the deck. Junior at the beach.

Friday, April 13, 2012

SMART goals are:

Friday's are, as you know, my off-day. Not a day off mind you, but a day for rest and recovery. A day to allow the miracle of rejuvenation to unfold as muscles rebuild and mitochondria multiply. Towards the end of last night's final double-session I was feeling a little 'resistance' from one of the strings that bind the right ham together. Nothing major, more a subtle reminder that a day of R&R is both necessary and timely. It remains one of the great ironies of training that the actual gains are made as we rest, not while we labour.

In between sessions yesterday I continued cleaning Frankie's place. The plan is to get everything out and then make an assessment. Sell 'as is' or repair and hope to attract a higher price as fruit of labour. I moved a dresser and an old work bench from downstairs and loaded up the dishwasher that never saw the light of the kitchen, sitting under a blue tarp on the deck for about five years. I also thumbed through another box of books that are headed to Goodwill. Found a gem called Lists to Live By (second collection) by Grav, Stevens and Van Diest. You know I am a sucker for books and headed back to the cabin leafing through the compilation.

This one caught my immediate attention: SMART GOALS ARE:

1) Specific

2) Measurable

3) Achievable

4) Realistic

5) Timed

I wondered aloud: Are they talking about us? It sure seems like the goals we are chasing in the HoM, with the CompuTrainer Multi-Rider and with our relentless pursuit of power (fitness or optimum health). They fit nicely into the SMART GOALS ARE category.

Tonight is Boy's Night in the HoM. Another set of FTP testing prior to the opening round of the Spring Stage Knock-Out Tournament. Twenty all-out minutes on the CT will specifically measure achievable and realistic goals as accurately timed by the CompuTrainer. There must an acronym for that.

Here is the trending to date on the Boy's being re-tested tonight:

Name First test Post MiM %Inc TONIGHT?

Tony 228 238 4.3

Garry 226 243 7.5

Jeff 250 284 13.6

Chris H 250 261 4.4

I was going to test tonight as well, but then I remembered the R&R principal and decided to go do a few meters in the pool instead.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

This was sent to me yesterday by a great friend, thought I would share the love a little.

A to Zen of Life.

Dalai Lama

Avoid negative sources, people, places, and habits.

Believe in yourself.

Consider things from every angle.

Don't give up and don't give in.

Everything you're looking for lies behind the mask you wear.

Family and true friends are hidden treasures, seek them and enjoy their riches.

Give more than you planned to.

Hang on to your dreams.

If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.

Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

Keep trying no matter how hard it seems.

Love yourself.

Make it happen.

Never lie, steal, and or cheat.

Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.

(Good) Practice makes perfect.

Quality, not quantity in anything you do.

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

Stop procrastinating.

Take control of your own destiny.

Understand yourself in order to better understand others.


When you lose, don't lose the lesson. Excel in all your efforts.

You are unique, nothing can replace you.

Zero in on your target and go for it!

Here is something I have to add to this beautiful list. Take the three first letters of your name (or four) and string them together forming your daily mantra of things to be aware of and practice. Here is mine: (which just so happens to be completely appropriate, timely and of value)

Keep trying no matter how hard it seems,

Make it Happen, and

Love yourself. WOW.

Here is another, semi-randomly selected (just to make sure mine wasn't a fluke)

Stop procrastinating,

Hang on to your dreams, and

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer. HUMMMM.

OK one more,

Believe in yourself,

Hang onto your dreams, and

Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values. YESSS

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


It's hard to say, really, what mental toughness is worth. We can't truly measure it, gauge its percentage or place a metric on it. But we know it is important. In that regard it's like trying to define quality. Sketchy at best. So today, after an interesting experience with both these nebulous isolates yesterday the time might be right to toss the double whammy. As in the Quality of Mental Toughness. Because you can be tough, and then you can be TOUGH. The difference is in the quality.

Additionally, we can improve upon whatever level of QMT we currently possess. Regardless if we are sprinters or marathoners, blessed with fast or slow twitch muscle fibers, or prefer anaerobic to aerobic events, at one point or another in every training session, race or event we will arrive at the defining moment. That pressure zone where we face an important decision. Go or no go? Sustain or diminish. Hold or slip. We have all been there. We have all faced this decision. We have all done the best we can. Or have we?

I think the best is yet to come. I am not talking about personal bests, records, times, victories, rewards. I am talking about going further than you did before. Perhaps ever. Holding a speed ten seconds longer, staying with a power number for five additional seconds, keeping in the moment just a little longer. Some call it the extra mile, and it is predicated upon you being able to up the quality of your mental toughness. This is not a beginners drill. This is advanced work. You have spent hundreds of hours honing your physical skills, developing muscle, adding speed, advancing your power to weight ratio, chasing a higher FTP. The next step takes you upstairs. To the attic of your race.

Ever hear about the percentage? That the mental part is 70, 80 or even 90% of the game. If it is that high, how come we don't practice it more? If it is that important, we don't we have a set of drills designed exactly to enhance it? Well we do, sort of.

Anything that challenges you to go a little longer, stay a little longer out of your comport zone, test your ability to sustain, to endure, is that.

It is also helpful to add the cognitive and supportive as motivators:

1) Quit the negative thinking. Quit looking for excuses to justify anything but your absolute best. Stop giving yourself permission to quit. Really, stop it. How? Next time you hear yourself trying to persuade you that you would be better off sipping a diet soda on some sunny beach somewhere, say this: (if you are a polite and demure person), not now, thank you, I have another two minutes on this hill climb. Or this: (if you are motivated by the banal, naked harshness of the real world), shut the fuck up you sissy and get your weak ass up the hill. With some practice you can be eloquent and successful without the vulgarities, but for now, if that helps, so be it, the world isn't all strawberries and rainbows, buttercup.

2) Visualize your success. See you as the you you want to become. We ARE doing this for a reason, are we not? What is yours? You want faster, fitter, stronger, longer or lighter? See you as that when the going gets tough. You have to go through this to get to that. This is the quality. This is the test. Practice this to get that.

Those two alone can make a huge difference in your QMT. A percentage of increase that adds to your growing acumen and motivation.

Try them and see for yourself.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

CT MR @ BAC Myth Busters

CompuTrainer Multi-Rider @ BAC


Myth: The CompuTrainer Multi-Rider System is for elite athletes, advanced cyclists and Ironman types only.

Fact: At its essence, the CompuTrainer is a super accurate electric bicycle ergometer. That means that through advanced technology very precise measurements are taken, in real time, to provide the user with reliable and important data that is stored, displayed and used to build fitness and training programs to maximize one's limited exercise time. It makes no difference whether the users are novice or experts, veterans or beginners, racers or riders, fit or not. What we do is provide an enjoyable and valuable exercise experience to enhance one's fitness.

Myth: I have to be fast to use the CompuTrainer.

Fact: Speed is a component of power. Power is what we develop. Makes no difference whether you start with 1 watt or 100 watts. Power, and power to weight ratio, is all relative. YOU HAVE TO START SOMEWHERE. And that somewhere, my friends, is where you are right now.

Myth: I have to have a good bike to use the CompuTrainer.

Fact: You don't have to have a bike at all. Yes, it is one of the myriad functions to train on your bike, in your racing geometry, but if weight loss, or power gain is your primary goal, we have an assortment of bikes you can use to achieve amazing results. Once you are convinced that this is the real deal (and it is) you can upgrade or bring in your new ride.

Myth: I would be embarrassed or intimidated riding with accomplished cyclists.

Fact: I can say this unequivocally; We do not discriminate. We are here to support. You are on our team. Everyone wants you to experience the same thrill and motivation that at one point we all went through. We know how hard it is and appreciate your effort. There is something that you have, a smile, a laugh, a character trait, that you will bring to us reciprocally. I can also say that some of our greatest rewards come from watching and helping others get started and seeing their immediate gains and quantum improvements.

Myth: It is too expensive:

Fact: The CompuTrainer Multi-Rider System costs less than ten dollars per session. Want some perspective? A large pizza at the Tree House is almost $28. A new carbon bike at BI Cycles is four grand. Twenty bucks a week to tune your motor (so you can occasionally enjoy a pizza) is cheap. Ask your doctor.

Myth: I don't want to train with people I don't know.

Fact: One of the beautiful things about the MR System is that we can handle up to four people simultaneously, all training at very precise wattage levels that accelerate physiological improvement. Put together a team of your pals, your tennis partners, your golf foursome, your bingo buds, and call for an initial assessment. Twice a week we'll meet as a group and push you down the path to fitness.

Myth: I can't get to the Gym at 5am or 5pm.

Fact: Another beautiful thing (and yes there are many) about the CompuTrainer is its versatility. We can use the system any time the BAC is open, outside of Spin Class hours. That is roughly 16 available hours per day.

Myth: My butt will hurt.

Fact: Not as much as a heart attack, diabetes, or a stroke will.

Myth: You are too hard to contact.

Fact: 842.1099 is home. 360.674.8128 is my cell. is my email is the blog and CompuTrainer Multi-Rider @ BAC is our Facebook site. Those all failing you can leave a post-it note at the Bainbridge Athletic Club front desk.

Myth: I understand you are not a Nike fan.

Fact: I am not, however they once created one of the most successful ad campaigns of all time, of which I AM a great fan:


Cool Nike commercial.

Cool Lance commercial.

Semi-cool CT MR @ BAC commercial.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday Update

The Monday Update:

1) Don't forget (how could you with that GIANT RED sharpie circle) around this Sunday, April, 15 at 1000. It's TOE JAM 32. Thirty Two consecutive years we have been running this monster half-marathon and we aren't about to stop just because there is no "official" event for us to run counter to. Although truth be known I always liked the idea of running under the radar as bandits!!! Start and finish is Bethany Lutheran Church on Finch Rd. If you plan on showing please use the comment feature below so I know how many trophies I would have had to buy.

2) We are under way with our FTP testing for the Spring Stage Knock-Out Indoor Cycling Tournament @ BAC. This just in: Tom at BI Cycles has generously agreed to provide a special tune-up service AND awards for this prestigious event. If you plan on participating you MUST go to the FB page and select one of the seven test dates. We did two this morning, with another pair this evening. Just click on the CT club jersey at left for instant transport to the FB site.

3) We have one spot reaming for the Tour of California trip, May 13-21. We have also added a couple of rides, the first being 40 miles from South of San Francisco to Aptos (the finish for ToC Stage Two) and the 33 mile loop around Crater Lake on the ride home Monday May 20. All it costs is your share of gas, food and lodging.

4) I made some serious progress on the PO (pizza oven) over the long sunny weekend. Today the cladding gets installed along with some dome finish bricks. We have hit the home stretch folks, it won't be long before we do the inaugural ride/run brick to celebrate. That's amore!

All for today, I simply cannot allow this ideal workout/workon weather to pass without progress. As mentioned this morning, we have worked hard, diligently and consistently all winter. The time has come to take it to the streets!


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Today's Circle

One of my favorite sayings:

It is more important to me to be happy than to be right.

I do not have a compelling need or compulsive desire to be right about everything. Matter of fact, there are precious few things I am 100% right about. This is somewhat akin to the suffering idea. We know that life contains generous amounts of suffering. Once we accept that truth it gets easier. It makes it more palatable if we know what it is. When we train with intensity, or add duration, we know that, at one point or another, it is going to hurt a little. Maybe hurt a lot. We also know that the effect from this will cause growth. We will get better at it by repeating it.

Back to the track and more of the same.

Embrace what once induced fear. Accept the truth. Adaptation requires effort. Effort insinuates 'out of comfort zone' levels. Big gains come from big pains. There is no other way.

Further, I am NOT here to tell you that this is the only way. There are many paths. You can run like Forest Gump, swim like Tarzan, or ride like Lance. You can practice yoga, lift weights, swing kettlebells, zoo-zoo Zumba or split cinder blocks with your Chi. Do what you like. Do it with passion and awareness. Do it with grace and joy. And do it often.

It makes me happy to know that in this specific regard, I am 100% right. It may be the ONLY thing I am 100% right about. I have deep questions, big doubts and serious issues with just about everything else, making my take from all of this two-fold:

One: I need to have the patience and presence to allow others the freedom to choose, to practice and to live their lives as they see best, without judgement.

Two: I will dance to the beat of my own drummer. I will NOT be forced into something in which I am a conscientious objector. This is all-inclusive and self-evident. I gotta be me. It may not always be pretty, but to my own self, I will be true.

Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to just give up and follow. Just shut up and go shopping, watch TV and complain about the gays, or liberals, or blacks, or the cost of super unleaded. Be a NASCAR fan and justify my sloth somehow. Stay numb.

And then I think, sorry pal, you can't do that. Why not? And I hear another of my favorite sayings:

Once begun, better finish. You have things to do, missions to accomplish, goals to achieve. You took that first step. More steps may be painful but they are of great value. There is additional work to be done and nobody is gonna knock on your door and ask if they can do it for you. It is ALL you Bubba. Do or die. Whatsay?

And on that I am pleased to be 100% right. Which of course makes me very happy, completing today's full circle.