Friday, December 31, 2010

Best and Worst of 2010

***Disclaimer-This might get a little mushy (especially at the beginning), but it's my blog and I reserve the right to write whatever I want:).

Best of 2010

1-Meeting Anne. I mean, c'mon, is there anything else that could possibly top this? It sounds cliche, but she is absolutely amazing in every sense of the word. I've never met a person that I've been in awe of more, and she continues to amaze me with every day that I know her. As beautiful as she is on the outside (and beautiful is an understatement!), she's even moreso on the inside. I've never met someone more genuine and honest, and I'm extrememly lucky to have such a wonderful person in my life. If the rest of my entire year had been terrible, meeting her would have still made it one of the best years I've ever had. Oh, and for some reason she seems to not mind spending time with me and all my goofiness and "only child-isms":).

2-Getting to go to Spain-TWICE! Ok, well crashing hard on my second visit sucked, but it was still wonderful to spend about 3 weeks total riding my bike in the mountains of Southern Spain. I'd never been to Europe, and getting to ride a bike around olive fields and up and down mountains in another part of the world was amazing. Not to mention making some great friends and learning how much more I'm capable of athletically.

3-Being blessed with a family that has allowed me to chase dreams, not matter how crazy they may seem. Throughout my life, I've been blessed to have parents that have supported me in every endevour I've chosen. They've never questioned my path in life, and continue to back me no matter how crazy or outlandish my ideas may be. I don't know many other people that have it as good as I do. I'm truly very lucky in this regard.

4-Having a job I love doing and working with the people I work with. Being a personal trainer was never part of my original "plan". As a kid I thought I'd be a pro ice hockey player. Didn't have a doubt in my mind. Then, after college I thought I'd make it as an actor. After doing that for a few years (and not exactly "making" it-though I did make a bit of a living), I decided to focus all my efforts on my passion-health and fitness. I've never looked back and I couldn't be happier. Sure I'm not a millionare, but that really doesn't matter to me. I'm happy as a clam and know that I can do as much as I'm willing to put the time in for. I've learned that if I work hard enough, I have the talent and skills to make a living however, and wherever I choose. Again, I've got a freedom that few others I know enjoy. Also, the people I work with have been such a pleasure over the years. My clients are some of the most generous people I know, and they've all become part of an extended family. If I had the money, I'd train them all for free. There's not one person I work with that I don't honestly look forward to seeing. They've inspired me just as much as I hope I've inspired them.

5-Finding and falling in love with mountain biking. In the same way I fell in love with triathlon, Mountain biking has taken hold of me. There's no form of riding I like more than being out on the trails, and now that I've found mtb racing I'm more pumped. I caught the bug and I don't see it going away anytime soon. Sure I'll still do tri's, but mountain biking is a new love that's definitely here to stay.

The Worst of 2010:

1-Easily the worst thing to happen was the snowstorm of last weekend. It could not have come at a worse possible time-the day I was to fly out to the UK to see Anne. I've never been more bummed in my life. It's taken a couple days to actually sink in. I was sure that the snow would miss us and I'd be able to go, but sure enough, we got snowed in, the airports closed, and I missed the chance to spend the holidays and New Years with Anne. Still can't believe how much this sucks. Will see each other in a few weeks, but the fact is that I miss my girl like crazy and nothing is going to bring back the fact that we're not spending the first days of 2011 together.

2-Nagging foot injuries. It started last November and lasted throughout most of the 2010 season. I woke up the day after Thanksgiving with a terrible, "bruise-like" feeling in my right foot that took months to heal. I couldn't run for 4 months, and missed out on what I feel was some serious development in my run. Then, after about a month of pain free running, the same thing happened to the other foot. The injury didn't last as long, but since, both feet have turned rogue on me. If it's not pain in the ball of the foot, it's arch pain. If it's not arch pain, it's pain to the outside of the foot. Maybe this is why I've grown to love cycling so much...

3-Anne's injury. This was a toughie. She suffered an injury late in the season that ended her year early. She raced with it, and it was extremely hard to watch her suffer with pain and dissappointment. Seeing someone you love go through rough times with something they love is extremely hard. In the end it has turned out to be ok, but that was definitely a rough road to go down.

4-My Dad's health. People get older and that sucks. When people get older and get sick, it sucks even more. My Dad has lung cancer and it's a bitch. He's dealt with it in a way I can't even imagine-must be the 'depression-era' stubborness, but he's never complained once. For me it's been tough seeing someone that was Superman to me as a child diminish a bit, but he's getting stronger and the treatment seems to be working. I guess you can only keep Superman subdued with kryptonite for so long!

So that's it! All in all it was a great year. Some bumps in the road, but many, many more positives than negatives. The older I get, the more I figure things out, and I'm starting to get a handle on this "life" thing:). All I want for my future is to be surrounded with people I love and care about. All the rest is just icing on the cake!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Completely Miserable San Diego

Normally I'm a real "look at the bright side" kind of guy, but in all honesty the last 3 days have sucked ass. First and foremost, my flight to see Anne in the UK was cancelled. We got smacked with a hellish snowstorm Sunday that cancelled thousands of flights and shut down all the major airports in the northeast United States. I can easily say I've never been more disapointed. This sucks, sucks, sucks! We haven't seen each other in around 2 months, and I wanted nothing more for Christmas than to give her a giant hug and kiss at Heathrow. I could get a flight out, but the earliest it would be is Thursday night from JFK. Because I'm scheduled to come back to the states Sunday the 2nd, this would literally be like a 72 hour visit. While I would fly a million miles to see her for 5 minutes, it just wouldn't make sense for me to get there only to turn around a day or so later IF it is possible for me to get a refund on the flight. So we've decided that if it is possible for me to get my money back, we'll save that money, and put it toward a more enjoyable and extended visit for her here in the states near the end of next month. While I'm happy about that, the fact is that I still miss my Anne and want to see her asap!!!
So with that, the next thing to fail has obviously been the weather. While I certainly don't mind the cold and snow, when you have no immediate plans it can tend to put a cramp in your style. The snow on the trails is more than a foot deep, so riding and running them is out. I mean technically I could get out there on the bike, but the workout wouldn't be worth much and I'm not a huge fan of putting undue stress on my mtb because it's the only one I've got at present-needs to last and I'm not rolling in enough cash right now to run through a drivetrain and new suspension.
I did manage a run yesterday, but again, it was on icy, slippery roads, but I can say that at least it was some good "base" milage. It got me out of the house as well, helping to get me to stop dwelling on the fact that I'm stuck in New York instead of the UK.
On another, and more positive note, I did manage to get in 2 of the best mountain bike rides of the year (and most likely the last mountain bike rides of the year) in the days before the storm. Christmas Eve was a short 2 hour ride that felt ridiculously smooth and fast. Then Christmas day was a longer, 3:15 ride that was equally as good. There are two things at play here. First and foremost, I'm getting good on the bike-real good. I wouldn't say that my fitness level is any better than it was toward the end of the season, but my handling and technical skills are just getting better and better. Since I started getting into mtb'ing seriously this past August, techy stuff has always been a strength of mine and now I'm just reading another level. There's still more to go, but I'm more than happy with the progress I've made.
The other element here, is just that I'm getting used to riding on dirt and judging the conditions as I go. I've been able to develop (much I'm sure like all mountain bikers do over time) an inate sense of soil and rocks and roots. That is, I know exactly how each is going to feel, and just how much I can push until I loose traction. This isn't something you can learn over night, and I'm sure with all riding there's a point of trial and error, but with this development in my riding, I feel like I can go faster and push the limits just a bit more. It's exciting as hell!
So that's the good and the mostly bad. I've got some serious cabin fever running right now and the end might not be until next week. It's tough not to dwell on the fact that I'm missing Anne like crazy now, but on the positive we will be able to spend time together in only a few weeks time from New Year's. Here's a quote from an all time cinematic masterpiece, Happy Gilmore: "Harness the good, block the bad. Harness good, block bad." Hehe, words to live by!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Off Season in Full Effect...well sort of...

Been deviating quite a bit from the training schedule this week. With Christmas coming, work has been kinda sporadic this week, so it's left me plenty of time to take care of "life stuff"-which, of course, I haven't done any of:). I need to go Christmas shopping-haven't done it yet. I need to clean my apartment-haven't done it yet. I need to get money (GBP) for my trip to England Sunday-just did it today (and subsequently had to spend an extra $10 to get overnight shipping because I waited so long!). And of course, I need to train-which I have managed to do every day.

However, the training part hasn't exactly been by the book, so to speak. See, I have this wonderful plan laid out for me, and I've almost completely ignored it. Ok, well I've done the workouts, just not on the days planned. Oh, and I might leave a couple out (like the whole swimming thing for example). :) I'm just not really into anything but riding my bike easy and running easy. Just getting some miles in, enjoying the weather, and having fun letting my mind wander a bit.

Running has been joyful again. I'm pain free and want to keep it that way, so when I have run recently I've just let it happen. Not fast, not slow, just at I guess what would be called "conversational" pace for anywhere from 30 mins to an hour. Biking has been more serious, with more frequent and longer sessions, but at the same time, nothing above a solid aerobic effort. Rides have ranged from 90 mins to three hours most days, though I'm really itching for a 4-5 hour mtb ride before I leave Sunday. We'll see if that happens though.

Anyway, the important part is that I'm enjoying it. There's always room for structure, and of course it's necessary, but I really think that at times it just wears my body down to the point where I'm almost forced to slow down, or just fizzle out from burnout and injury. I have some ideas for next year, but I need some solid verification before I proceed.

So that's the happs for now. Just pluggin' along until the weekend, surely leaving it all for the last minute just like I always do:). What else could be more fun??? :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Long Island Cyclocross Series Race No.3

After perhaps the worst start in the history of cyclocross, I was able to claw my way back to a somewhat reasonable finish.
The course yesterday was frozen-fast. I probably should've gone a little lower with the tire pressure, so I had to suck up a lot of the bumpy 'frozen-ness' with my ass and legs. After the bad start I was able to get into a bit of a rythm and fight my way back up through the field, though unlike the first two races of the series, I had no chance to even try and stay with the lead pack. This was a little frustrating as I really feel that I had a chance to hang with the faster guys for a least a couple of laps yesterday, given the development I've made in 'cross, but oh well.
Anyway, I worked with another guy and we were able to make up quite a bit of time and we both finished top 10. I believe I was either 5th or 6th (unofficially) and he was 7th. Overall it was a great race and a pretty cool, albeit low-key series. Next season I actually plan on taking this 'cross thing seriously and doing some of the bigger races. It's such a great sport and I really had a ton of fun. Not to mention racing almost every weekend is such a bonus and keeps things fresh. Keeps the competitive juices flowin'!!!
Here are some pics:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mtb: 2:30

Got out on the mtb today even though I wasn't technically suppossed to. The forcast called for snow tomorrow (that's since changed) and I was thinking it might be the last 'snow-free' ride of the season. Also, mtbing makes me happy, and I wanted to be happy today:).

Saturdays have usually been a longer mtb ride for me in the past couple months, so I stuck to that format and kept things almost completely aerobic. One of the things that I need to fine tune in my riding is shifting. The trails here, while not containing any crazy long climbs or equally long descents, do have plenty of super sharp climbs, and super sketchy descents. It's hard to find a rhythm as you would normally on longer climbs, so shifting is critical to not only making it up the hill, but being as efficient as you can be. Without proper shifting, you can definitely expect a super sore back from all the straining by the end of your ride.

Anyway, I've been working a lot to include the "granny gear"-smallest chainring-in my riding. It's funny how just a small change in riding style can produce a big challenge. So anyway, I worked a lot on using the entirety of my gears, rather than just the largest two rings. Made some mistakes, but in the end I wound up using my energy much more efficiently, and ultimately riding smoother and faster than I have. I'm finding that being smooth is where the speed is, not hammering.

It's the skill work that I really love about mountain biking. Being technically proficient is just as important as being fit. One without the other is never going to get you more speed.


There's definitely something to be said about quality. Whether in training or in equipment, quality is were it's at! I've been riding a couple different bikes lately, one in the hope of making it into a race machine and the other in the hopes of just keeping it in it's already great form. Anyway, due to some mechanical functions on what we'll call the 'training' bike, I had to take out the 'race' bike. Both bikes are set up identically, with similar components, and the 'training' bike even has a better, albeit, older fork. The only significant difference in the bikes is the frame. One is Trek's highest grade aluminum (the alpha red version), and the other is Azonic's scandium (produced by Easton a few years back I believe). I don't think it's necessarrily the material of the frames that makes the difference, I believe it's the design.

As we all know aluminum is a stiff and light material, but not very good at soaking up the bumps. When it's designed right, though, it can make a huge difference. My back has been killing me on training rides riding the generic design of the Azonic bike. I love the bike, it's stiff, quick, and light, but after a ride my lower back feels like it's been torqued every which way it's NOT suppossed to go. On the Trek yesterday, I felt completely fine. Same trails I always ride, just a different bike, and all my pains went away. As I've said, the bikes have identical set ups so I know it's not the fit. It literally just comes down to a better design of the Trek over the Azonic. I'm not bashing Azonic, but the design of the frame just doesn't work for me on longer rides.

So that's my mini "review" of the bikes of sorts. I'm excited to look into other options of bikes, including getting to demo a titainium bike. I also might have the opportunity to build up a sweet carbon bike for this upcoming season, so we'll see where that leads. On the surface, I'm a bit concerned with riding a carbon mountain bike, but I'm sure that since so many people ride them it'll be fine. Excited nonetheless!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fun in the snow!

Gonna keep this one short today...

We got our first dusting of snow today and it rocked. I usually dred the coming of snow (mostly because it means cold temps and cold hands and feet while riding), but when I actually get out in it I'm like a kid in a candy store. The seasonal change is important for athletes I think, because it gives you a natural (and often forced) change of pace.

Anyway, I got out on the trails with the 'cross bike and loved every minute of it. I wasn't alone, so I had to take things slower than I usually would if I could just put my head down and cruise, but being on skinny tires on the singletrack I usually ride my mtb on was awesome. Funny how just a change in bikes can give you a whole new appreciation of how to ride a trail! Not to mention, riding a cross bike on techy trails WILL make you a better rider. After a few more times of this, riding through these same trails on my mtb will be like a walk in the park!

*no pics today-I was waaaay to busy having fun playing in the snow!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Back on the Horse

Got back on the bike today. Yesterday (Sunday) was filled with torrential rain. Sort of a nice early winter nor'easter. I woke up, looked out the window, and went right back to bed. In fact, I managed not to even get out of my pj's for the whole day. Needless to say, the bike, road or mountain, didn't get touched yesterday.

It was still a bit rainy this morning, but I got out for about a 90 min spin that felt pretty good. I'm a little concerned with my motivation right now, but then again it is the winter and I still haven't taken a proper break from training, save a couple days here and there. If this lack of motivation continues, I may consider shutting it down completely for a few days. With my upcoming trip to the UK on the horizon as well, training may naturally take a backseat as it is-which will probably be best for my body and mind.

I was reminded yesterday just how hard it is NOT to move during my lay in yesterday. Sure it was relaxing for a while, but at the end of the day I was feeling sluggish, slow, and bored out of my mind, not refreshed and invigorated as I had thought I might be. Something has to be said for physical movement. I couldn't imagine living that way. Sadly there are quite a few people that do...

Anyway, tomorrow will most likely be a swim and strength workout, but I'm not sure how the day is going to pan out. I might wind up fitting in a mountain bike and a strength session depending on how I feel. The trails are going to be terriffic tomorrow with all the rain we've had in the last days, but I'm worried that the temps will freeze any tacky dirt that we get. Also, I'm going to have to devote some time to taking care of my body. After not spending much time on stretching lately I'm about as tight as a drum, and my IT band is acting up. I did some light stretching yesterday and after my ride today, but I really need to prioritize it some more, even to the point that I may replace a training session for a stretching session. We'll see.

Friday, December 10, 2010

No Exercise

Made the decision NOT to exercise today-at all. I just didn't have the desire to force it, and the weather made things even harder. Most times I'm a hardass. I'll train in snow, rain (though Anne knows that I have to be on my "rain" bike when it rains:) ), sleet, cold-whatever. I usually laugh when people get on me about "but it's raining outside" when I head out of the gym in my run gear or cycling kit. But today was just one of those days that didn't happen.

I started early with a wake up of 4am, and just kept on cruising throughout the day with client after client. When the time came to train I napped and read a book. When I got back home after my afternoon apointments, I pulled out the book again and poured a beer (see pic). I thought a lot about bikes today, but just didn't have it in me to pedal. Anyway, it's the winter! I guess I can afford to be fat and happy for ONE day:).

Tomorrow I'll be back at it, recharged and ready to go with a 3+ hour ride on the mountain bike. Super mellow, super enjoyable. I'm hoping there aren't more of the 'weekend warrior' types about that try and race me after I pass them when they're stopped by the side of the trail. It's not like I'm a jerk and just go blasting by, or that I don't say hello, I guess they just feel the need to try and overtake me. This happened last week and made me want to rip the guy behind me's legs off! He managed to crash on a techy section when he was trying to keep up, and I can't say I felt all that bad. Hehehe:). Rant over...time to drink that beer!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rollin' along

Whacked at the finish...

Pushing hard into a corner

I hope these guys were hurting as me as me!

Some more images from the first 'cross race a couple weeks ago. Funny how time flies. Feels like that race was just yesterday!

Things have been moving pretty fast around here the past few weeks. Work has been keeping me super busy which is really funny for this time of year. Usually things slow to a crawl between Thanksgiving and Christmas for me. I'm almost waiting for the bottom to drop out! Either way, I'm happy to have so much work as it means I have more money:) Funny how that works!

Training has been going well, though I'm really getting concerned about my motivation for tri recently. I still love it, it's just that I've found something special in racing bikes. I'm not the best at it-yet-but it still fascinates me. Mountainbiking has become very special to me, and cross is just rediculously awesome. There's just something about being on two wheels in the dirt that gets my blood moving. More and more I'm really considering a break from tri and a focus on racing bikes this next year. Hmmm.....

Personally things are great. I get to see Anne in another couple weeks when I head back to the UK and to say I can't wait is the understatement of the year. I miss her terribly every day, but I know it's just going to be that much better when I see her beautiful face again. Gotta say I'm the luckiest guy in the world:). 'Till then it's just work, work, train, sleep, and work.

I took things easy, training wise today. Just an easy swim. I'm really pretty shot from a Tuesday that envolved a run and hard session on the mountain bike-hard not because it was really suppossed to be, but hard because I didn't have much time to fit it in before I had to head back to work. Great opportunity to fit in some good tempo work! Tomorrow I'm deviating from the schedule a bit to run in the AM and head out on the road bike for a couple mellow hours in the PM before I have to head back to work. Looking to keep things easy tomorrow as I wanna get in some good miles in the trails Saturday. It's been cold as f*ck here this week and Saturday is suppossed to be warm (mid 40's) before we get some snow and rain on Sunday. More than likely, Sunday will be a rest day for me as I desperately need to sleep late and catch up on my rest. Besides, the Jets are playing and hopefully they can redeem themselves from that embarrassing debockle from this past Monday night. Ugh...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Long Island Cyclocross Series Race No.2

'Cross hurts...bad. When I was 19, in a moment of 'non-thought', I pierced my nipples. I took the piercings out after 6 months, but I'll never forget how much it hurt. 'Cross is similar to that pain, but it lasts for an hour rather than only a few seconds.
Today hurt, but I was rewarded by a better finish than last weekend, and a more thoughtful race overall. Being that this is only my second ever race, I still have a bunch to learn, but at least today I was able to get in the mix a bit more.
I had a great start (mostly because it was a grass, uphill start-but I'll take it) and was able to stay with the front group for the first 2 laps. I got dropped off the back of the 4 or 5 guys ahead of me and basically stayed there for the rest of the race. I managed to move up to 5th by the end, despite a small crash I had on a sandy switchback.
The course was much more to my liking today. Much more techy with some great opportunities to power past folks on the sharp and loose uphill sections. I did the best I could today and wasn't upset to get beaten by guys that have just been doing this longer than me.
I did realize today, though, that in order to get better on the 'cross bike, I actually need to RIDE the 'cross bike more than just on raceday:). I promised myself all week that I'd get out to practice, but the urge just never got to me. I got in some solid days on the mountain bike, and my road rides were strong too, but I really need to get more used to the handling of my cross bike and the gearing to be faster.
The next and final race in the series is in two weeks, so I'll have a great opportunity to fine tune my skills before then. In the end I really wish I'd started 'cross earlier this year. For sure, next fall will be seriously devouted to getting in some real good 'cross races and practice. This is a damn fun sport!

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Got out on the trails again for a mellow ride. I know I keep referring back to the 6 hour race, but I really am thinking it took out of me much more than I thought. Though it was three weeks ago today, I think it took until now to get fully recovered. I wasn't strict with my recovery tactics, and tried to get right back to full training right away after the race. The fatigue set in a few days later, but I thought it was only a matter of not sleeping enough-DUH! that's the essence of NOT getting in recovery! So stupid! So anyway, the last few days I've kept things pretty easy and my body feels like it's coming around. My last two rides have been strong, and my legs finally feel like they're back again.

Tomorrow is another 'cross race and I'm totally pumped. I promised myself that I'd practice a bit on my cross bike this week, but in the end I just didn't feel like it. I split time between the mtb and the road and don't have any regrets for doing so. I had fun and that's what this time of year is all about.

Today will probably be a few more mellow hours on the trails with the mtb. Nothing hard, just getting in some pedal time and enjoying the cool weather. It's hovering right around the freezing mark, so it's getting brisk. I'm delighted to see how much warmer it is in the woods though. The combination of slower speed mixed with the blockage of the wind by the trees makes things pretty pleasant as compared to the roads. My feet were still cold yesterday, but overall I didn't need nearly as much coverage as I'm used to on the road. Will try to take some pics today as well.