Thursday, February 23, 2006


I have been pretty beat up physically and mentally over the last few weeks. While at the weight room this evening I tried focusing on my legs and core. What a terrible session. I am surprised I lasted over an hour. Energy level was low, form was terrible, ankle was bothering me a little. Just all around lethargy. Heck check out my workout schedule for the week and you can see some serious negativity there.

I got back home and somehow I got on my bike and started spinning. No DVD, no music, no magazines, just me and my thoughts. I really wasn't sure what to expect since I was already on the bike earlier in the day and my legs were beat up from lifting. I got going for a few minutes, finally strapped my feet into my shoes, and just pedalled. 90 rpms ... 95 ... 100 ... 105 ... 110 rpms. I started to cruise. Not really sure how long I went, but maybe 35-40 minutes at 100-110 rpms. I was in a zone. I finally slowed up because I realized I needed to make something for dinner and it was already after 21:00.

As I got off the bike I realized, damn, it's coming back to me. The desire and the passion. The fear of failure. The hunger for success. They were still in me, I just hid them under a wicker basket.

I have a shelf with some mementos from some of my trips. I have a boomerang that sits prominently among the other items. I saw it tonight and it struck me. We all train and race for various reasons. But whatever those reasons may be they still push us to keep spinning even when we are tired. Sometimes those things that drive us appear to be moving away from us. We may even lose sight of them. But if we do things right, our focus will turn around and come back to us - just like a boomerang.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I was going to post concrete evidence that humans evolved from smurfs, but the image of my nasty, blue, bruised foot was not something I want to see on the internet. So instead here is my new cache of training supplies. Thank you to THE MAN for getting me a few weeks worth of Gatorade endurance, GU, and Clif bars. You will be handsomely rewarded after IM Wisconsin.

So if you look at my training schedule for this week, you might think it looks a little light. That's okay because I am not 100% with my heart or my foot. But here are a few positive spins on the situation.

Last week drained me mentally so this week I made it a priority to flash my BIOS.

I get to practice patience. Previous experiences with overcoming injuries have made a just a little bit wiser. Although tonight's liquid nutrition may make me forget what I have learned.

My pool is closed for a few days due to the school's league championship. I will not freak out trying to find another pool for two nights.

I am going out of town, but I will not have to worry about fitting in my weekend workouts. Although I will miss my club's indoor tri and Curly Su's concert, I will be meeting up with my family which includes my one month old niece.

So I may not be where I want to be right now, but over the long haul things will work themselves out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Wingman (sequel to The Terminal)

So at the end of my last post, I was just leaving the hospital for the 1st annual interclub social. My Ironman sister called me the night before. She was not sure how many people she would know there and asked me to come along. I was noncommittal because I knew I would have a long day. But when the time came, I decided to go. It was a pretty good event with folks from lots of clubs: tri club, mountain bikers, runners, skiers, cyclists.

So my IM sister ends up coming with a friend of ours. I just wanted a few beers and some good conversation, but I should have known there was an additional agenda. So after a while the room gets scoped out and the targets narrowed down. A few more beers were consumed and the pool balls were starting to drop a little quicker. Finally my IM sister gets a lock on a guy and the four of us close the place down. It's probably 23:00. So what next? My co-wingman was planning to fly out to Colorado with her husband the next morning so she and I both hesitantly agree to head to another bar. We drive over to Pannini's. Closed. Now we head back to the Winking Lizard. Still open, all right. Let's get a beer and some grub. Unfortunately the kitchen is closed. Arggh. So we make do with liquid nutrition. We close that place down probably around 12:30 Saturday morning. Surprisingly I am still awake, but maybe I should call it a night soon. Well, no I can't since I left my car back at the first place. So where is my IM sister going to take her two wingmen next? She's amped up like she had just taken a double shot of gel.

Let's go dancing!!! We wind up at the Velvet Dog. The two wingman chill upstairs while the new happy couple cut a rug downstairs. Just one dance they said. Well, unfortunately they were stuck downstairs and were not allowed to return. So around 2:00, the tired wingmen were ready to split and find the rest of our party. I get back to my car somewhere around 2:30, but our new found friend was left behind by his wingman. Smooth. Anyways, I end up taking the guy back to his house since he was on my way. I don't know I probably got there around 3:00, got back to my place around 3:30. At this point I didn't really know what time it was. I didn't care either. I had been awake too long. Rehydrate. Brush teeth. Where is my bed? Indoor cycling in a few hours. Set alarm clock. ZZZZZzzzzz. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. Damn it, time to wake up already!!??

Notes on The Terminal and Wingman

Well hope you all enjoyed the recap. I wanted to try to present my day in a little different manner. In hindsight, I do not like it; I feel like it is still Saturday morning. Oh well. It is what it is. At least I hope you enjoy the image from Top Gun. It's not quite as nice as Tri Eric's car wash.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Terminal (cont'd)

Due to the "breaking" news flash, I edited my epic. So let's pick this back up again.

T-28 is where I took my rest stop to sort through my chart and CT scan. I had fun reading about my ACL reconstruction from a few years ago.

Next stop S-15: blood work. Well, I told them I needed an EKG too, so they sent me to F-15 where I could do both at the same stop.

Back over to F-15: blood work and EKG. I get a matching bandage on my right arm as they drew SIX vials of blood from me. Need food soon. The EKG went okay. I might have fallen asleep.

Next stop was F-30: talk with the Doc. I check in a little before 16:00 and tell the receptionist that I am going for food. So trek to the cafeteria scarf down a sandwich and head back to the waiting room. I finally go back to an exam room and wait a little more for the doc. A little after 17:00 I get to see him. He looks over most of the results and says everything looks fine. Stress test, excellent, Echocardiogram, excellent, CT scan normal, Blood work fine, (they even checked my prostate specific antigen levels!!) Even my EKG was normal today. The bad news: there is a small chance I may have a rare condition that would cause my heart to stop suddenly. Ugghhh. So the doc is going to look at the raw data from the holter monitor from a few weeks ago and then decide if or when I should get tested for this rare syndrome. Sigh. He gives me the yellow light - I should stick with really low intensity workouts for now. I was about to start pushing my lactate threshold, but I guess that will wait a bit.

So at 17:30 I was done playing patient for the day.

Back to T-28 to meet some classmates how are working on an annual QA for a linac. They probably worked till 23:00. They are hardworking and a lot smarter than I; and I sincerely mean that. I stuck around for a little while - till about 19:00, but since I was not required to stay there I decided to go play Wingman. And so this Friday epic will continue at the Interclub Social.

Ankle Update

Ankle still swollen, although I do have good range of motion and little pain. Will stay off the running for a few more days, but will get back in the pool, weight room, and bike the next few days. I need to practice patience.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

24 versus the TV Miniseries

So Friday was a long day and yesterday I wondered how to write about it. Since I was up for nearly 24 hours anyways, I though about breaking it down almost hour by hour. I also thought: "Are there any more of those two or three part TV miniseries. You know the ones that start on Sunday night and finish later in the week?" If I tried to do a lot of little posts, I think you all out there would get bored since my day did not involve guns, car chases, or bomb threats. Besides there are two distinct halves to my day on Friday. So miniseries it is.

The Terminal

Friday began around 4:30 in the morning. Two of my test later in the afternoon required me to fast so I got up earlier thatn normal and had me some breakfast. I took a long shower, fired off a few emails, did a little reading, then took a 45 minute power nap. Woke back up got a haircut, cleaned up and was at the hospital by 10:30. I prepared for a long day on the hospital campus and a lot of walking around to several different building.

First stop was the F-17 desk: echocardiogram and stress test. I was not very relaxed during the echocardiogram. I just did not feel right lying on my left side while some guy behind me had his arm over top of me while he was probing my chest.

Anyways so now for the stress test. You would run on a treadmill and every three minutes they would increase the speed and ramp up the percent incline. The echocardiogram tech decided to talk a little smack and said: "The longest I've ever seen someone on this was 14 minutes when I did this a few years ago. If you can get to 20 minutes I will start running again." Oh boy! The gaunlet was thrown down! Starts out pretty easy, of course. Three minutes in - yawn, wake me when it gets hard. Six minutes in - start powerwalking. Nine minutes in - okay now it starts getting tricky. I have not mentioned yet that they want you to hold onto the rail with your right hand. You also have a bunch of wires and a monitor hanging off your chest. So I actually start jogging now. Twelve minutes in - still not that bad but at 18% incline things are getting tough. My heart rate is over 170, but I could do this for a while if I need to. Fourteen minutes in - I look over at the tech and say: "Yeah I could keep going for a while." He says nothing. Fifteen minutes in - now we're up to a 21% incline and the heart rate climbs into the 180s. Hard, but mostly on the leg muscles. I know I could hold this heart rate for a while because I have been doing that during my indoor cycling sessions. Finally the stress test tech says, "We're going to stop you at eighteen minutes. I say, "I could keep going." But was told, "You worked hard enough." Both the techs were impressed though.

So, now I bring my heart rate down, towel off a little and prepare for my next stop.

Second stop was the Hb6 desk: CT scan. I had to wear a gown for this one. I waited about 10 minutes in the waiting area with the cold air blowing across my back. These gowns suck. So I finally get called, go to another waiting area, get my iv started, and return to the second waiting area.

On a sad note this is where I ran into a former high school track/XC teamate. He tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was all right, I said yeah just some precautionary test for my heart. I could tell though that he was absolutley beat but since he was in stree clothes I knew he wasn't the one getting scanned. He told me his wife was sick and has been in the hospital for over a week without having found a cause. We offer each other encouragement as she is wheeled around to get scanned. Sad. Pause in story...........

So finally after a long wait I get to head back to a CT scanner. Have you ever had an iodine tracer? What a sensation. You get this warm fuzzy feeling into your arm, to the heart, to the head, then down the rest of your body, into the hands and fingers, and finally down all the way into your toes. The scan was pretty quick, but I had to wait for the films. Why couldn't they go digital?

Third stop T-28: rest stop. I decide to head over to my department for a while to

News Flash

We interrupt your normally scheduled program for an urgent news update. This just in: I am cursed. I had been doing a number of runs on concrete and sidewalks. So I decided to get in a trail run. What do you know, I twist my ankle. Oddly enough it was less than half of a mile from where I severely sprained my ankle right before my senior year cross country season. SUCK!!! So now I have a funky heart and a gimpy leg. Why can't I have an injury free season? Why.....

Friday, February 17, 2006


What a week. I typically get between 6 to 7 hours of sleep every night and have been urged to get 8. I have totaled about 17 hours of sleep this week. Waiting for that inevitable crash...

How much sleep is everyone else getting?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Triathlon versus the Career

Some people don't believe me when I say I will be retiring from racing soon. I will present some evidence to support my case. Right now my watch says 04:05. I spent the last twelve hours doing a ton of work. I will be heading out the door at 08:30 to log in maybe another seven hours or so. Skewed working hours and long days do not leave much room for good training days. I already know that I will have to be creative with my schedule during my peak months of IM training this summer.

I have spent the last several years in pursuit of some really big race goals. Sadly I may not reach them all and I am okay with that. Maybe I am developing a social conscience, but there's some serious satisfaction when you know somehow you are helping someone else reach their goals. That's the kind of race I want to try to run.

One last note, Friday will be another big day for me. I get to spend probably a good five hours getting my heart tested and evaluated. I will have my fingers, toes, and everything else crossed. Hopefully the Almighty upstairs will give me some good news.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The truth is out there

I need to get to the bottom of this irregular ticker business. Being a skeptic, I was not satisfied with the results and explanations I got from my regular family doctor. We had figured out what was going on and we had a treatment plan. But what was the cause of my irregular heart beats and why do I still have them? So I squeezed in an appointment with a cardiologist today and an EKG was taken. He looked at it, asked me a few questions and said: "You have a right bundle branch block." Any time you hear "block" in the same context as heart that can't be good. It definitely sounds worse than PVC. He assured me that RBBB is mostly benign, but it could also be a sign of some serious problems. So back to the lab. CT scan, stress test, an in depth EKG, and more. And yes it was recommended I start the beta blockers. Luckily I am in a recovery week for my training, but this mental stress can't be any good for my heart. Let's hope for some good news on the heart this week. At least the legs are still holding up.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Gold Nuggets

Looking over some of my posts, I am pretty light on my training details. So here are my workouts from this weekend.


Indoor bike (who needs Spinervals!!!)
  • warmup, about 15 minutes
  • Spin ups
    • 120-135-120 rpms with a 5 rpm increase every minute
    • 120-145 rpms with a 5 rpm increase every minute
  • Isolated leg drills
    • 2x2 minutes each leg
  • Overgear
    • 16 minutes with six accelerations between 60 and 110 seconds
  • Lactate ladder
    • 55 seconds @ 100rpms and acceleration of 5 seconds to 120 rpms
    • increase the accerlerations 5 seconds every minute until 10 secs@100 rpms - 50 secs@120 rpms
  • Climb
    • 24 minute total climb
    • 14 minute climb with 90 second accelerations every 2 minutes
    • then a 4 minute acceleration
    • then 6 minutes out of the saddle with accelerations
  • Sprints
    • 2 sets of 5x10 seconds all out with 1 minute recovery
  • Cool down
  • Squats, dead lifts, lunges, calf raises, hanging leg lifts, back extensions, situps


Run (So what if it's freezing outside, it still beats the treadmill)
  • 65 minutes outside with a 12 minute climb/up tempo push.
    • Includes a short run up and down a "helix" to prepare for IM Wisconsin.
Swim (workout cut short due to other commitments)
  • 300 WU
  • 400 pull
  • 300 kick
  • 5X100
  • 300 CD

So my body is handling the workouts right now. No aches and pains, no really sore muscles; feels okay so far (except for those annoying times when my heart skips a beat). But my mind needs to recharge. I keep looking ahead and feel a sense of impending doom. Those really long workouts that I will need to do in a few months loom. I hope I can stay focused.

Finally, I want to thank my friend from way back who called me up out of the blue today. She happened to be in town and tracked me down. We met for lunch and good conversation. Things like that are like finding gold nuggets, little pieces of treasure that lift your spirits.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

You know I really do not have anything exciting to say today. I avoided all the high school kids at the pool by swimming over the noon hour and followed it up with a run through Lakeview Cemetery - which will have its own post some day in the future. Got a stupid parking ticket because I thought the meter was jammed. Had a decent session in the weight room in the evening. But now, I am tired; not just because I spent three hours working out today, but for whatever reason my brain is just slow today. Thankfully I have a day off training tomorrow and a recovery week is just a few days away.

So I guess now would be a good opportunity to say thank you to those who have stopped by, made some comments, and have kept me going. I hope you enjoy my ramblings and I hope I can provide some motivation for you. And for all those who seem to have run into some storms recently, I will do what I can to help you navigate your way.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Fresh Tracks

This is as close to downhill skiing as I will get this year. I think it is fun to trek through some fresh powder, especially if you are the first one to leave your tracks in the snow. What is even better is coming back on the same path and seeing only your original set of prints.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I really enjoy football. As a little kid I had aspirations of playing in a Super Bowl. My friends and I would all dream about making an acrobatic game winning touchdown catch in the end zone or bursting up the middle for a 75-yard TD run. I played one season of organized football in eighth grade. I remember having to wear shoulder pads at my weigh-in to meet the minimum requirements. I never saw much game action, but I had a great time.

I will use a fast-forward and save the story of my high school football career for another day.

A handful of friends, ex-college classmates, et cetera gather every couple of weeks to play tackle football, without the pads. Even though I weigh more than 100 pounds now, I am one of the smaller players out there. But I can outrun them all. Every Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest game of the year for this motley crew. So this past Sunday it was a pretty nice winter day, and an even better day for football. The ground was pretty soft from the mild winter, but a fresh coating of snow would cushion the several unavoidable big hits I would have to take. The temps were probably in the 30s, with a little bit of wind. After running around a bit I would be warm and I could streak down the field in just thick Under Armour. So as game time approached I, alas, was nowhere near the field.

Last September I made a commitment. I understood the ramifications. I would need to be disciplined. I would need to manage my time better. I would need to be patient. I would need to make sacrifices.

We all make sacrifices. I will wake up a half hour earlier tomorrow to get to the pool. I will not eat Combos or drink beer this weekend. I will skip out on playing football with my friends.

Why? We have lofty expectations and big dreams. We are focused and determined. We have love and passion.

So on Sunday I went for a 45 minute run with my "IM training sisters." I barely missed playing football. I want to be an Ironman.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Me and my PVC

I do not work with polymers such as polyvinylchloride. I do not have a thing for rubber clothing. What I do have are premature ventricular contractions - PVCs.

My doctor's appointment from Friday yielded some answers and some questions. The echocardiogram of my heart did not show any abnormal structure or function. As a matter of fact the report estimated that my heart pumps about 125% the amount of blood of an "average" heart. The report from my 24 hour holter monitor came back "essentially unremarkable." They noted that even at 180-185 beats per minute, no signs of anything abnormal showed up. It did pick up on a number of PVCs. PVCs happen when your heart beats a little early. The next contraction is usually a little stronger so it feels like your heart "skips" a beat. They could be caused by a host of factors including alcohol, caffeine, and stress, but I am still not really sure what caused these PVCs to start showing up. They say PVCs are totally benign, everyone gets them, but boy are they annoying.

To treat them, you can do a few things. The more popular treatments are to: 1 - do nothing 2 - take a beta-blocker to slow the heart rate. I am still debating whether I should go on the meds or do nothing. Bottom line is I can continue to train, with no restrictions except to use good judgement. But as I stated in an earlier post, it will take my mind some time put these out of the way and push the limits.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Today's run, by the numbers

Numbers* from today's trail run.

55 - time of the run in minutes
unknown - number of miles traversed
0 - times that I cared how many miles I ran
1 - other runners I passed on the trail
3 - deer running across my path
2 - stream crossings
3 - fallen trees on the path
1 - times the mud sucked my shoe off my foot.
1 - times when I did not know where the trail went
3 - scratches on my leg from the shrubs
1 - pair of unwashable socks - I have no trail shoes yet =(
1 - college buddy I had not seen in years pulling into the parking lot
2 - times I thought about my Friday appointment
3 - times I thought about Wil's post from today
C = constant, as in amount of time I should be thinking how fortunate I am...

* - I am a numbers geek so pardon me if I use this format often for my posts.

Karaoke night at the pool

I returned to the pool tonight for the first time in over two weeks. I am fortunate enough to be able to swim in a really nice 50m pool, but in the wintertime, it turns into a 25yd pool overrun by kids from several high schools. I still got my own lane, but I am next to a few girls who, everytime they stop at the wall, decide to sing to along with the tunes pumping out of their boombox. So I warmup a little....."Because of you, I never stray too far from the sidewalk...." start into some of my drills ...."I've found a reason for me to change who I used to be a reason to start over new...." slip on my zoomers ...."My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps. Check it out." So not only do they sing like dying chickens, they can swim faster than I can! These 15 year old girls are motoring along with their kickboards creating huge splashes and here I am puttering along with flippers with a ripple behind me. Ugh.

But hey think positive right?
I am in the pool again. Yeah!
I think I was actually rotating from the hips a little. Yeah!
My last 100 of my 8x100 was a controlled 1:25. I could barely do 1:50 two years ago. Yeah!
My heart is beating normally. Yeah!

As for that last yeah, I am sooo anxious to get back to my doc to get my test results. I know something is slightly off, but will I be able to get through and Ironman safely? Friday can't come soon enough.