Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I feel so tired. I can barely stay awake to listen to the Leaf game. (And it's not like they've been winning so often lately!)

I did make it to the gym today. My trial membership was expiring tomorrow, so I invested in another 5 months today. (So now I have to keep exercising.)

I tried some new drills in swimming today, and I think it went pretty well. I am continuing to improve, but I still get out of breath pretty quickly. Although I did a total of 28 laps today, they were with an abundance of breaks. Even a sprint triathlon would need a distance of about 18 laps or so. I can't imagine doing that without stopping at all in between. (Well maybe if I treaded water for a little.) I know I'll have to get lessons at some point, it's just a matter of having time. Well I have time, it's just not when the lessons are given. Doing this with private lessons all the way would be pretty expensive. My plan is to keep working at improving myself, and at some point in the not too distant future I'll get some private lessons to polish things up a bit.

I also made it to the bike for the first time in almost two weeks. I took it kind of easy today, keeping my cadence in the 90's. That corresponded to a HR of around 130. (In the past, I've pushed myself harder. I'm not sure exactly, but I think my cadence in the past was closer to 110 or so, pushing my HR into the 150's. As a point of reference, my HR is often about 160 when I'm running.) I did cycle at this tempo for 30 minutes, with a little bit of a faster push in the last 5 minutes. Using the "random" setting at level "7" (out of ???) the machine gave me 8.59 miles after a half hour. Combined with the cooldown, I ended up burning a disappointing 261 calories. (I think I'd rather not see that number. I like to feel good about exercising, as opposed to thinking I just counteracted my whole workout with half of my lunch!)

Anyway, when I'm a little less tired I'm going to read up a little bit on cycling and cadence. I have a feeling it's like running, where sometimes you just need to go slow and get the miles in, and other times you have to do some "speedwork". But I really don't know. Any suggestions?

Monday, January 30, 2006

A little better

I swam and ran yesterday. But I'm lazy today. Maybe later...

Friday, January 27, 2006

This week sucked

What a crappy week.

The wedding was nice, but I didn't exercise at all the whole weekend. (Except for my mouth.)

Since then I've developed this cold sore, which is really interfering with my life. Because I'm worried about spreading it, I won't go swimming with it. (Which really makes me wonder what everyone else is going swimming with!) It's also pretty painful, and has left me not in the mood to do anything.

Though I decided to spare you a gross picture, it is getting slightly better. I finally got out for a run yesterday, but was wiped after 2 miles. I told myself I'd run again today, but somehow all the little errands ate up the day. I'm planning on getting in a good run on Sunday.

Just before posting this I realized this was my 100th post. Considering how I didn't post anything all week, and this post kind of sucks, it's hard to really celebrate this milestone. (But it is cool, anyway.)

Have a great weekend, all. And good luck to Rachel, as her marathon has finally arrived!

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Short post, as I'm not home. I'm in Brooklyn over the weekend. A close family friend is getting married tomorrow night and I'm spending the weekend here, along with my parents.

I've been keeping up in the pool. The Total Immersion drills build up to the point where you practice rolling back and forth, while "switching" your hands underneath your body. The next step is to introduce proper above-water strokes. I've been practicing my current drills, trying to build up endurance and stamina before going to the next step. I think another few more sessions and I'll move on to their "lesson 4".

I also went for another run on Friday. (The weather got nice again!) I was supposed to meet somebody for the run, but when she didn't show up on time I did a few extra laps while I was waiting. After a little while I gave up on her, and did my usual run. Of course I had left my Garmin at home that morning, so I didn't know how far I was running. When I got home I used gmaps to figure out I had run 5.5 miles. Nice. It's the longest I've run since you know when. No wonder my legs were tired...

Anyway, this weekend is a total eating fest, as you can imagine. I brought my shorts and shoes with me, so I'm planning to borrow someone's treadmill tomorrow, before the wedding.

Ok, that's it for now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Water temperature

I forgot to mention yesterday that I did make it out for a run. I was waiting for it to warm up a little, but then compromised on running earlier because of the availability of a running partner. I had on a compression shirt, a long sleeve t-shirt, and a wind jacket. It really wasn't too bad.

I got 4 miles done. It wasn't easy, but I persevered. I'm constantly amazed at how hard running is for me now. It wasn't that long ago that 4 miles was a walk in the park.

In fact, for the rest of the evening, and even more so today, my legs were really sore. Not my usual shin twinges, but sore muscle aches in my quads. (This is a "good" sore, in that I know it's from muscle use, and not from any mechanical problem!)

I put in a quick session in the pool today. No real swimming, just drills. The drills I'm doing right now have me concentrating on swimming on my side, while occasionally switching from side to side. The only strokes I do are underneath my body, in the water. (Underswitch, from Total Immersion if anyone's interested.) These drills incorporate breaks in them where you supposed to stay in the "sweet spot", breathing comfortably. I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to get as out of breath as I do, but I keep working at it. I did do some 100 yard repeats today.

The water was a little cooler than usual today. Since there's a lot of elderly people that use the pool, and I guess because it's cold outside, they generally keep the pool very warm. The lifeguard, when I can distract him from his newspaper, sidekick, or phone, tells me that it's usually 88 degrees. One of the things I've always hated about swimming was having to jump in to freezing water. Even normal temperatures in pools always felt so cold when you first went in. Not so in this pool. It's almost like getting in the bath, it's so warm. I'm sure it's not great for swimming, but I love it.

Anyway, today was cooler than usual. I didn't get that "freezing" feeling when I went in the pool, but it didn't feel warm either. It was probably just right. I was sure it was in the 70's until I asked the lifeguard what the temperature was on the way out. I'm not sure how reliable he was, but he said it was 86 degrees today. I really have no sense for water temperatures, but I thought it was going to be less than that.

As a reference, I remembered that there were temperature rules for wetsuits in triathlons. I looked them up and it turns out the main cutoffs are 78 and 84 degrees. Under 78 is considered cold, and everyone can wear them. Over 84 is considered warm, and wetsuits are prohibited. Between 78 and 84 is in between, and you can wear a wetsuit if you want, but you can't win an award.

So 86 is warm! The same lifeguard tells me that many pools are kept in the low 70's. Ouch! I can't imagaine swimming in water that cold. But then again, in the past I couldn't imagine running in 20 degree weather either.

Do any of you regular swimmers know what temperature the pools you swim in are?

Monday, January 16, 2006

It's cold again

Thanks a lot Rachel, for sending the cold weather this way. This was the temperature as I was driving home last night. I was wearing a spring jacket 24 hours earlier. Ridiculous...

Anyway, I had a good swimming day yesterday. I felt like a made a breakthrough after all these Total Immersion drills I've been doing. The breathing was a little easier, and I could feel I was doing the drills more properly. (I still think that it's less of a workout than running or biking, but I'll leave that for now.)

I also put in some hard effort on the bike. Using the random setting, and a slightly higher level of resistance, I did 8 miles in just over 25 minutes. I cooled off with another mile over the next 5 or 6 minutes. Total calories burned: 248. How is that after 30 minutes of hard work, and sweating like crazy, I haven't even burned the calories I had for breakfast. (Consuming the calories: 30 seconds. Burning the calories: 30 minutes. This isn't fair!)

By the way, I'm mad at my roommate for buying these. (Even if they are "reduced fat".)

I've been telling myself that on a real bike it would be easier. In the gym I'm constantly cycling. In "real life" I'm thinking I could rest for short periods while the wheels kept spinning. Can anybody confirm whether this theory is true? (i.e. is 8 miles on the road easier than 8 miles in the gym?)

Another Monday, another "all you can eat" night. I'm going to have to stop this habit of mine if I ever get serious about getting back to "training weight".

Saturday, January 14, 2006


I'm back in NY. It's hard to tell, since it's been so nice this past week. The forecast calls for a return to freezing temperatures with a high of 30 tomorrow, but by Wednesday it's supposed to get back to 55. I have to tell you it's hard to get too worked up about this global warming "problem".

I've really slacked on the exercise lately. My shins were hurting earlier this week so I didn't run as much as planned. In the three days of the week that I was back here though, I got in a quick session on the bike, and two sessions in the pool. It was tough in the pool after having been gone for a week, but I still think I'm making progress. Not very quickly though.

I've been thinking of the whole swimming thing. For now I'm going to stick with it, but overall I don't have a favorable impression of the sport. I've broken it down into a list of pros and cons and I'll give them to you here.

First the cons:

1) You need a pool.
This means that unless you have one in your backyard you have to belong to a gym or community center that has a pool. This generally costs significantly more than membership to a non-pool gym. In addition there are usually set times when you can swim. Even if the pool is open all day, there are only limited times for “free swim”. So you have to tailor your schedule to the pool’s hours.

2) It’s crowded.
There are always other people to share the pool with. I’ve heard that in some pools people share lanes, but in my pool “circle swimming” seems to be favored. Since everybody is swimming at different paces this always results in people stopping and waiting for room to open up. For me, who can only swim 50 yards at a time without stopping to suck air, it’s not really a problem. But I imagine that for people trying to get in a good workout this constant stopping must be annoying.

3) You smell like chlorine.
Always. No matter how often you shower, your skin and hair smell like chlorine.

4) You have to walk around in a bathing suit.
I guess there are some people that look like the front cover of “Men’s Health” or “Shape”. Most of us, however, are probably somewhat self conscious of walking around that close to naked.

5) It’s hard.
Running is natural. Maybe some people overpronate, but in general it can be done without any specific training. Even cycling is pretty easy. You need to be taught to ride a bike when you’re 4 years old, but after that it’s pretty straightforward. (Like “riding a bicycle”!) Swimming on the other hand, is ridiculously hard. I took swimming lessons for years as a kid, and yet I still don’t seem to do it right. I can get from one side to the other, but I’m clearly not doing it properly. Just figuring out how to breathe is tough; I’m way out of breath after just a few laps.

6) It’s not a great workout.
Whenever you tell people you’re swimming they tell you about how great a workout it is. I don’t think this is true. I think people think it’s a good workout because it’s hard. So although I’m out of breath after two laps, it’s not because I just had a good workout. It’s because I don’t know how to breathe properly. I’m sure if I ran on the treadmill while holding my breath three quarters of the time I’d get out of breath pretty quickly too!
In addition, I’ve noticed something else at the pool. There are a few people who seem to have figured out how to do it properly. They seem to just glide through the pool without any effort. They could swim lap after lap forever. And you know what? Those people are not skinny!! I think that once you figure out how to swim properly, it no longer acts a good (enough) workout. When I run in Central Park all the runners and cyclists seem to be in great shape. At the pool the best swimmers are often way out of shape. I find that kind of discouraging.

Ok, there are a few pros:

1) It doesn’t hurt your joints.
This is definitely a major plus. It doesn’t hurt your shins, your knees, or your iliotibial band when you swim. I see a lot of elderly people in the pool, and I think they find the pool soothing for their joints.

2) You can participate in a triathlon.
I can’t remember where I read this, but the comment was made that swimming was included to weed out the weak. I think many runners would make the jump to the triathlon, if not the swimming obstacle.

3) You get to see other people in bathing suits.
In my pool most of the swimmers are there as part of the “senior fitness” program. In other pools however, this could be higher up on the “pro” list.

4) It may save your life.
I’ve listed this pretty low because I think the scenario for this to happen is very unlikely to happen. If you’re not far from shallow water most people could probably get by with some dog paddling. If you’re in the middle of the ocean you’re screwed no matter how well you swim. So it’s really only if you’re stuck in water that just the right distance from safety that proper swimming will save your life.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Update from Florida

This morning was a perfect morning for running, even though I wasn't in the mood for it when I woke up. (It's possible this is related to last night's trip to the comedy club, and the two drink minimum. Possible.) Anyway, I forced myself out the door for my planned 5 miles, before my French Toast breakfast.

Ouch. My shins were really bothering me. I was really frustrated, since I've been feeling pretty good lately. I toughed it out for a mile (slow: 11 minutes), but it wasn't getting any better so I slowed down to a walk. I walked for about 10 minutes, then ran another mile, and then walked back home to finish up with about 3 miles. I was (and I'm still) really bummed. I've been making progress and was not expecting this at all. I think that running on the golf course on Thursday, with all it's hills, probably is what did me in. It's also possible that the crappy sandals I'm walking around in aren't doing me any good either. Neither explanation was sound enough to stop me from worrying. I iced and stretched, and I won't be giving running another try until at least Wednesday. We'll see how I'm doing then...

By the way, here's a picture of that golf course I mentioned. Three days I've been walking by it, and not a single golfer. Only that old dude sitting in some armchair watching security monitors waiting for the "code one" when I started running on the course.

As for the rest of my trip down here, it's been pretty good. Considering there are two little kids here it's not always the most relaxing of trips, but it has been really nice to hang out with my friends again.

We went to one of the local science centers on Friday. It was pretty cool and I learned one good way to lose weight: move to Mars.

The weather has been (relatively) cold down here in Florida, and I even had to wear a sweater last night. Today was a little warmer and I broke out the shorts again. Tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer and I'm looking forward to more time in the sun. By the time I have to home on Tuesday, I'm sure it will be like paradise down here. But hey, I'll take what I can get.

Time for Trivial Pursuit...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Greetings from Florida

On kind of a last second decision, I flew down to Florida this morning. I have some friends who live here in Hollywood, and I'm staying with them. I saw them about a month ago in New York, but it's always more relaxed down here in the sun.

Speaking of which, it was in the mid 70's today. I went for a run outdoors in shorts and a tech shirt. In January. I used my Garmin to guide me and ran for 3 miles in the neighborhood. Two of the miles were on a paved path going through a golf course. Maybe it's because Floridians consider 70 degrees to be winter, but there wasn't a single golfer on the course. The only guy I saw was some old dude in a golf cart who told me to get lost. "No jogging, swimming, or fishing" on the golf course. I don't have a lot of love for the "sport" of golf, or its golfers for that matter.

We went to North Miami Beach for dinner. On the way back I saw a banner on the side of the road for the Miami Marathon coming up. (Sorry, no picture. I was in a moving car.) It made me think of Rachel, who will be running that course in a few short weeks. Go, Rae!

My hosts have a pool in their backyard, but they say it's too cold to swim in the "winter". The pool is not heated, and this afternoon the water temperature was 72 degrees. It doesn't sound that cold, but I didn't feel like jumping in there alone. In my pool back in the Bronx, the temperature is in the 80's to keep the elderly patrons (and myself) happy. The next few days are going to be in the 60's here, so it won't be an issue.

I had hoped to run this race in Central Park this weekend, but instead I'll have to run the 5 miles myself. That also means I won't get a number to add to my new posterboard. There's another race in 2 weeks, but it's 10 miles and I'm definitely not ready for that. I can see that getting 9 races in is going to be tough...

Off to bed as I'm tired from traveling. I need to rest up for tomorrow's busy schedule of... hmm, what am I doing tomorrow?


Tuesday, January 03, 2006


In lieu of any athletic accomplishment, I'm going to enjoy reaching the 5,000 visit mark for this blog today. For whatever reason I've been looking forward to that one. I can't figure out who it was, but thank you whoever you are in Pleasanton, California. Honorable mention to Flatman for being 4,999 and to Louis for being 5,001. To celebrate the momentous occasion I've replaced the video in the sidebar with an even more enjoyable one, even if it comes at my expense. Enjoy.

My long awaited bib frame came in the mail today. Here's what it looked like:

Remember it cost $164. Compare that with the less than $20 this homemade one cost.

Side by side:

You know what I see? A learning experience.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Weekend update

Happy 2006!

Let's see, this weekend. Lots of eating, some running.

I went to the hockey game Saturday night. That was really a lot of fun. It was kind of empty because it was New Year's Eve, but for me that worked out pretty well. I had the cheapest seats, but I was able to sit pretty much where I wanted. Also, because of how empty it was, the thousands of Leaf fans there made quite a presence. There were probably about 1,000 Leaf fans there (in an opposing team's stadium!) with occasional chants of "Go, Leafs, Go!" Other highlights included a penalty shot, a fight, and a hat trick. And best of all, the Leafs won 6-3. Sweet.

Sunday morning I met up with Audrey. She was really sweet, and doesn't look at all like her tough cyclist chick picture from her profile. We run for about 45 minutes to and through Central Park. I think it might have been a little faster than I'm used to, or maybe it was just the chatting that I don't usually do, but I was struggling a bit. I hung in there though and made it back to where she was staying, even if we did skip the big hill in the park. Using the Gmaps Pedometer it turns out we ran about 4.7 miles. This Sunday is a 5 mile race, and I hope to be there for that one. Time to start my next posterboard.

Speaking of which, I put together a poster from some pictures from the marathon. This "unofficial" one cost less than $20. It looks pretty good, and it was probably a big waste to order the official one for $164. I still haven't got that one yet so we'll see.

Finally, here's a few more party pictures. This was from the crazy "several hundred people in one apartment" party from Sunday night. I didn't stay too long.

I'm glad the holiday season is coming to a close and things will go back to normal again. The rest of my "real life" is actually pretty stressful right now, but I can't get into it here. Unfortunately, this probably won't be resolved for a while. I'll start working on some temporary fixes tomorrow.

If only I was able to sleep now...