A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thoughts - March 30 - Recovery Week, Very Important!!!

Last week was the capper of a very good vigorous 3 week schedule. I ran 65 miles last week. Included was a 15 mile road run, a 20 mile trail run, and a 5 mile trail race.

The 4th week on my schedule is always a recovery week. And one that is well deserved.

The last 20 mile run on Sunday showed why a built in week of recovery is needed in any endurance training schedule. 3 weeks of accumulated fatigue was setting in on that run, and I had to struggle with mental focus as well as physical lethargy.

In other words, it was time for the body to recover for a week.

Two days into the week and I only ran 4 easy miles so far. I'm only doing 30 miles this week.

This also gives me the extra time I need to tackle other things that I've had to put off for a couple of weeks. In other words, the recovery week provides a bit of balance in my life as well. And the balance between work, play, family, etc. is absolutely critical for a full life.

The bottom line is that it is absolutely critical to build in rest periods into your schedule to give your mind and body time to heal up as well as focus on other things in your life. Without this you are at higher risk of mental burnout and physical injury, especially in long distance events like Ironman and ultra-marathons.

----

Next Saturday I continue with the Greenbelt group trail run of the High Rock Challenge. We meet at 8AM in the High Rock Parking Lot at the end of Nevada Ave. (off of Rockland Ave.).

Sunday I will be in Middletown, NJ for the Indian Trails 15k Road Race. This is a real challenging course with 4 significant climbs. Once done with those climbs one is rewarded with a nice view of Lower New York Harbor with the silhouette of NYC in the distance as you run down the last hill of the course on mile 9.

Members of the SIAC will be providing carpools from the Eltingville Park & Ride at 7:15AM. If interested, let me know and I'll relay it to the group.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Race Report - Chimney Rock 5 Mile Trail Run

I had the privilege of coming back to NJ to run in a small but growing race, the Chimney Rock 5 Mile Run in NJ. The race is touted as a very challenging short distance trail race with over 2000 ft of climbing.

Unique "Rock" Awards from a nearby quarry in the area.

The Raritan Valley Road Runners organized this race and the after-race festivities. Although their primary focus is on, of course, road racing, they often make forays into other aspects of running also, including triathlon and trail running. Organizing this race shows how far they have expanded outside of their normal scope. In my opinion, it's a big plus for the club.

Early spring, like so many times in previous years, turned out to be as cold as a mid-February day. It seems that Spring tends to hit the snooze button every year in the NJ area. When it finally does wake up, it just passes the torch to Summer then goes back to sleep. I cannot count how many times temperatures went from freezing on one day to sweltering on the next.

Race morning was no exception. Temps were about 25 degrees and quite windy the morning of the race. I entertained the thought of shedding my outer heavy jacket for the race, but decided to keep it on instead (me at left in photo, all bundled up like one in a cocoon). Comfort over performance today. Today wasn't as important a race as the Holiday Lake 50k a month ago, when I shed my jacket for a thin long-sleeved shirt and shorts in 24 degree weather. Holiday Lake was the first ultra of 2011 and a key race for me, so I opted for performance over comfort.

The race was about 2 loops of rocks, roots, and hills. The major uphill to the Hawk Watch starts out each of the loops, then meanders along the top of Chimney Rock Mountain until it comes down a rocky descent back to the start of the loop. The second loop is basically the same, but with a small modification that forced us to climb a bit higher up the mountain before descending.

We started promptly at 9AM. I decided to take it easy and mingle in with the middle of the group. It only took about 2 minutes before we hit the real technical hilly section on the first loop.

The only time hills really bother me is right at the start of a short distance race, when I haven't established a rhythm to my running yet. This first hill was no exception as I huffed and puffed up it. A couple of walk breaks near the top enabled me to settle down for the rest of the run.

The descent was technical, but nice for me. I passed several people on the way down the rocky slope to the bottom.

When people ask me how to best get down a rocky hill, I always tell them that they have to lose their fear first. This is very important as fear can put one at a major disadvantage on a difficult downhill. Each step *has* to be sure and true to minimize injury and that can only happen if one doesn't let fear take control of his/her actions.

Believe me, it's tough to swallow fear. It took me a couple of years before I was confident enough to go down difficult hills at a quick pace, but it can be done.

And this led me to gain several places on the downhill section in the first loop.

At the beginning of the second loop I was a bit more ready for the uphill section. Again, some walking was involved, but I was a bit quicker getting up to the top section. I wasn't affected much by the added uphill on the second lap and before I knew it, I was on my way downhill. Again, I passed about 3-4 people coming on down the hill. I did manage to get a bit confused at the end of the second loop and didn't know where the turnoff to the finish was, so I waited for a bit until other runners showed up. After a bit of confusion with the group, we decided to choose what we thought was the best path back. It turned out to be the correct one. I lost about 45 seconds and a place on that confusion, but I finished below the hour mark. 

Official time was 57:53. Good for 25th place out of 64 people (pdf).

Post-race festivities was at Chimney Rock Inn. Their thin-crust pizza was free and the beer hit the spot!

It's a great race that is sure to grow in the coming years as more people take to the trails. It is a great race for all those new to trails as well, since one gets to actually see the added challenges of a trail race over a road race. Hopefully I will be back next year to do this race again.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thoughts - March 23 - Spring Snow; Touring Setup for Triple Ironman

What a BEE_YOOTIFUL spring day.

Yeah, right. That is if you're a polar bear that is.

Or a Canadian.

Last week, we saw the last of winter. That was accompanied by 70 degree temperatures, running in a singlet and shorts, and a great feeling to be outside again.

Monday was the first day of spring. And we get...sleet and ice.

Today? Snow. Enough to cover the cars.

Nature can be a cruel joker sometimes.

Monday's run was a surprise as I braved the cold wind and the sleet for 5 miles. And  I luckily saw the weather predictions for this morning, or else I was going to have to run for 15 miles in this muck. No thanks.

Instead, I moved that run up to yesterday morning instead, and it was a great choice indeed. I had a nice clear day in the mid 40s, which is perfect for a long run. 

It also allowed me to stay indoors in the pool and the bike today, leaving nature and its cruel jokes outside, where I am not.

Still, tomorrow morning is still supposed to be cold and perhaps snowy. I do have a run tomorrow, so maybe I might have to venture out in this wintry crud again.

If so, I'll gut it out like I've been doing all winter.

---

I think I had some nightmares last night about the Triple Ironman. It was about the 336 miles on the bike.

That's a lot of mileage. That's more mileage than going from New York City to Washington DC. That's about as much mileage as going to Montreal from New York City.

The nightmare included huge back spasms and nasty saddle sores as I finished the bike, not to mention other things.

Well, whatever this nightmare was, it definitely gave me a warning. If I am ever to even think about attempting this, I'm going to have to refit my bike in more a touring setup than a racing setup. That means a nice, cushy saddle for a comfortable ride, a different angle of my handlebars so that I'm a bit more upright (and thus comfortable) when I ride.

The overall theme is sacrificing a little aerodynamics for comfort.

The most I ever did was 130 miles on a bike and I found it very uncomfortable on a triathlon racing setup. For me to endure 336 miles on a bike, my bike had better be comfortable!

I'll be looking at some of the touring bikes and their setups for pointers in the near future.

---

The Greenbelt Trail Runs will be on at 8AM this Saturday, although I will not be leading this weekend (I'll be at the Chimney Rock 5 Mile Trail Race). There is also a Trail Maintenance Workshop from 10am to 3pm offered in the Greenbelt by the NY/NJ Trail Conference.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thoughts - March 22 - A Triple Ironman?!!

So yesterday, I was sending in some payments to races in the near future like the Chimney Rock Trail Run and the Indian Trails 15k race. Since the Virginia Double Ironman this fall is now a definite, I was ready to send in payment to that too.

Then I paused.

Their information webpage has their double ironman as $425. Their TRIPLE ironman costs $575.


Only $150 more to tack on another Ironman. Hmmm...

So here I am. Should I just throw caution into the wind and sign up for the triple, knowing full well that I actually have to DO it this October?

I mean, what would it feel like finishing a 336 mile bike ride only to have 78 miles of running staring me in the face?

One person I know said that the only way to play is on the edge. He could be right. But how far is the edge now?

I thought at one time that the edge was doing the Ironman. I was wrong. I then thought by going beyond the marathon into ultras that I'd find the edge.

I've completed my first 100 miler and believe me, it definitely felt like playing on the edge. But is this really true?

A Triple Ironman: 336 miles on the bike. Jeez, that is about 20+ hours in the saddle. Wow. Then topping off with 78.6 miles of running? 

This is just too rich.

Yet it beckons. Just like the Ironman did 15 years ago. Just like the 100 mile ultra did 2 years ago. And I heeded the call.

I guess if I am to ever truly find out what my physical and mental limits are, then the only way to play IS on the edge.

Still, I have to temper it with rationale. After two 100 mile races this year, would it be practical to aim high this year? Or should I stay with the Double Ironman this year and upgrade to the triple next year when I can probably train more properly for it?

These are the questions I have to answer. Either way, I'll be there in Virginia this October testing my limits.

---

Saturday is my participation in the Chimney Rock 5 Mile Trail Run. Anyone who wants to carpool to NJ to do this race can notify me. It's supposed to be a real challenging race, so leave your excuses at home.

Sunday I'll be doing a long run in the beautiful Cheesequake State Park (Green Trail shown). I haven't been there since last fall, so it's high time I pay the park a little visit. Anyone who wants to run long (15-20 miles) can come on down. Let me know if you're interested and I'll give you the details and the exact times.

April 3 is the challenging Indian Trails 15k race. I will be attending. I know some people on Staten Island who are coming down to the race. Those runners on Staten Island will be further treated to the fact that some of the best runners in NJ will be attending the race since it is a USATF-NJ championship to them. So competition will definitely be high. Again, carpools are welcome.. Let me know if interested.

As for the Greenbelt group runs (High Rock challenge), there will be a group at 8AM this Saturday. I won't be there but another person will lead the group into the woods. Come on down to the parking lot at High Rock (end of Nevada Ave.).

Last thing. It's a beautiful day today. Get out there and enjoy a nice run today. Because tomorrow it'll be really lousy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thoughts - March 17 - SI Advance Interview, Warm Weather!!!

To be honest, I'm not very good when it comes to interviews, especially over the phone.

The Staten Island Advance interviewed me at noon today about the group trail runs for the High Rock Challenge on April 30. While I think most of it went OK, my mind did draw a blank on a good part of it.

Although I can blame the fact that I was away doing some work at the time of the phone call, I think I can really pin it on my Italian heritage. When I talk, it's not my mouth that does the talking, it's my whole body.

The typical Italian always uses his eyes, arms, and body movement to convey what he means. These gestures always seem to drive the point home for me when I talk. 

Although I love the practice of the gesture, it doesn't really work over the phone. It can only be limited to the voice. No gestures allowed.

The person who invented the phone really didn't have Italians in mind, didn't he?

When it came to how to properly run the trails, my words just...stopped. How can I describe how to properly run up a steep hill on so many words without my showing it to people? Pictures are worth more than a thousand words, right?

The poor journalist who interviewed me has her work cut out for her. She's going to have to really pull out my stammering and the useless phrases out to get to the gist of what I was saying. I definitely apologize to her for that.

We'll just see how the final article comes out tomorrow.

---

It is a beautiful day for a run. If you haven't done so, get out there. NOW! The shorts and the singlets are back in style again, baby!

I ran 15 glorious miles this morning for the first time in a singlet and shorts and I'm aching for more!

I'm ready to put the winter running clothes away. Even if only for a few days (the weather does cool back down in several days).

And tomorrow promises milder temperatures. I might go out for a long run tomorrow like I did today.

Saturday will be the group trail run at the Greenbelt. Hopefully the weather will bring a lot of people out this week.

Until then, get outside while you can. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thoughts - March 16 - Primal Shakes, Weekend Runs

I have started experimenting on variations of the "primal shake" this morning.

Just what is the primal shake?

I am dabbling quite a bit with the Paleolithic Diet (or Caveman Diet) lately in conjunction with the elimination of High Fructose Corn Syrup from my diet.

The Paleo diet encourages the use of nuts, fruits and vegetables, and lean meats while minimizing grains and processed foods for optimal performance.

So, say, for breakfast, I can eat scrambled eggs with a some bacon on the side, and a small glass of apple or orange juice.

But I shouldn't have this every day. Variation is important to keeping with the goals of the diet. One such variation is the primal shake.

Today's shake combines Almond Milk, a banana, flax seeds, and some spinach leaves into a blender. The shake is then pureed for a minute or two until everything is nicely blended.

The resulting shake actually tastes great!

The shake provides the good fat from the almond milk and the flax seeds, provides a great source of iron from the spinach, and a great source of carbohydrates and potassium from the banana. There is really no downside from this shake healthwise.

Variations of this shake can include using coconut milk instead of almond milk (or maybe a combination of the 2). Cherries or other types of berries can be added in for extra flavor.

One variation I saw called for chocolate. Chocolate is acceptable, as long as it's dark chocolate and is used in limited amounts.

I tell you one thing...it's much better than waffles with man-made syrup (laced with high fructose corn syrup).

But on the bright side I did see a recipe for pancakes made with almond flour. This is a recipe I will try in the near future.

---

I wish all of you luck who are doing the NJ Ultra Festival this weekend, especially those doing the 100 miler. You will have great weather this weekend, so enjoy the moments (and there are a lot of them over the course of 100 miles).

For those who prefer much shorter distances, if you prefer trails, you can come on down to the Staten Island Greenbelt to run with us. Registration is now open for the High Rock Challenge, so get in some good trail running with the group at 8AM this Saturday to prepare for this race. The High Rock parking lot is at the end of Nevada Avenue, just off of Rockland Ave.

For those who prefer shorter distances on the road, the SIAC will have the St. Paddy's Day 5k at Wolfe's Pond Park on the same day (March 19 at 10am). I might just go over to the event from the group run from the Greenbelt to cheer everyone on and to lend a helping hand if needed.

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thoughts = March 15 - Bumper stickers and Superhuman Feats

Just saw a picture of my pacer with this sticker. I got to earn me one of these this year.

(there are no Vermont stickers like these or I would have had one already)


Hopefully I can place it next to these two stickers I've already earned...I've done the "official marathon distance" 11 times and have done the Ironman distance 6 times. 

But going beyond those distances is where the true glory lies.

I don't want to diminish the achievements of thousands of people who complete the marathon and the Ironman distance. These people deserve some true accolades in being the few people in this obese society to buck the trend and actually get off their couches to do something very commendable.

But there is something truly superhuman to run 100 miles, especially if those 100 miles are up and over mountains. In certain analytical ways, I can definitely rationalize running the distance. But from a certain layperson perspective, I still cannot fathom the fact that I ran 100 miles last year in Vermont with over 15,000 feet of elevation gain.

In fact, I measured 100 miles on a couple of trips that I made with the car. Here is what I got...

Going from Staten Island to Scranton, Pennsylvania = 100 miles.

Going from Staten Island to the campus of Yale University in New Haven, CT = 100 miles.

Going from Staten Island to the Delaware Memorial Bridge = 100 miles.

Going from Staten Island to New Paltz, NY = 95 miles. I would need to do an extra 5 miles of running somewhere to complete 100 miles.

These are staggering distances, and yet with a little persistence and willpower, the human body can be adapted to go that far.

We are an extraordinary species. Our bodies can be adapted to serve us in a lot of ways, even in extraordinary circumstances. Our minds really know no bounds if put to good use.

Used together, our minds and our bodies can do almost anything!

Remember that the next time you feel it's not possible to do something.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thoughts - March 14 - Tsunami Coverage, Bad Soda, and the Greenbelt Trail Runs

First post of the new week this week, and a lot to tell.

First and foremost, my prayers go out to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Sources indicate that there is a lot more trouble to come with their nuclear reactor plants, and that there are already multiple meltdowns occurring there.

Here is incredible video of the impact of the tsunami on a personal level. I haven't seen this shown in the mainstream media yet:

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1605260179420

Somehow the mainstream media is trying to sanitize this, but the alternate media on the web and on Twitter have been showing the real deal.

I've gotten a ton more more pictures and information from alternate media sources like Al Jazeera, Zerohedge, and Russia Today than CNN, NBC, or ABC.

I guess the mainstream media is so used to lying on a regular basis that they can't help stop the lying.

The truth might hurt, but telling the truth goes a long way in restoring peoples' trust in their media. That's a simple but important fact and one that the mainstream media should understand.

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Last week was a week of perseverance. Despite the bad toothache I still was able to run. It served a great purpose in that the running masked the pain, but it was bad that it hurt like the dickens after the run.

Basically I had to have not one but two teeth refilled. There was decay happening under the old fillings.

How does that happen? My dentist said one word and that got my attention. And that word is SODA!!!

I've always understood soda to be a very dangerous drink in various ways. Damage to the teeth is one such danger.

The sugar and the acidic pH (around 2) provides a double whammy to the teeth. Since this is also in liquid form, it can penetrate into all vulnerable areas of the teeth, including under the fillings! No other food really decays teeth as effectively as soda.

The problem is, I do tend to drink too much of the stuff. I admit it is a weakness; one that I was trying to avoid facing.

Well, this weekend, one of the dangers of soda just slammed that point home, big time, and it's probably giving me the willpower to stop drinking the stuff cold turkey.

One of the other dangers of soda is that it is made with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), another nasty ingredient that everyone needs to avoid. 

But avoiding High Fructose Corn Syrup (or "corn sugar") is going to be a tougher thing to avoid.

You see, I figure about 75% of all the foods in your normal supermarket are made with the stuff. Therefore, avoiding HFCS needs to be consciously done every time I shop.

Oh, which brings up another thing...fluoridation. Despite the common belief that fluoridation helps your teeth, there is a growing amount of factual evidence to the contrary.

Fluoride was once considered a rat poison about a century ago. Why a rat poison would be now beneficial to ones health mystifies me.

So now I am exploring options to try to de-fluoridate my water, as well as use a fluoride-free toothpaste to brush my teeth.

You just might want to do the same thing also.

---

The Staten Island Athletic Club (SIAC), New York Adventure Racing Association (NYARA), and the Greenbelt Conservancy are teaming together to promote trail running in this area. As a result, I will be leading most of the weekly trail runs to help out people who want to do the High Rock Challenge on April 30.

Saturday was the first run in the Greenbelt and we had a small group of cheerful ladies running the trails for their first time. I hope to see more people next Saturday.

If you're interested, come on down to the High Rock parking lot this Saturday (March 19) at 8AM. The parking lot is located at the end of Nevada Avenue, which is off of Rockland Ave.

The calendar on the side of this blog will show the remaining trail runs in the Greenbelt leading to the High Rock Challenge.

Come on down! The more the merrier.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thoughts - March 8 - Weight Training!!!

There's nothing better than a sunny morning day to wake up to!

Let me try to explain in detail about my weight training program that I'm on.

I would like to caution you first that weight training can impede your triathlon or ultra training if done the wrong way or if timed wrong. If you do include weight training, it needs to be done as soon as you start your training for the next season, not late in your training season with one of your big races only weeks away.

Remember that proper training in the pre-season progresses from general all-around training to race specific training as the season nears. You certainly do not want to include weight training in the specific end of this cycle. That is, unless your big triathlon or ultra race includes a weight training segment (I don't think dumbbell curls while on the bicycle is a good idea anyway).

So it has to start early. For me, the weight training started last December. It includes all the major muscle groups (traps, abs, quads, bis, tris, back, lats, pecs, hammys), and some core exercises.

My weight training is a modified form of the training that Mark Allen did when he was winning Ironman Hawaii 20 years ago. It is the training plan that I feel gets the most bang for my buck, and it definitely works wonders.

In all phases, I do 2 gym sessions per week.

The first 2 week segment is the "start up phase". Basically, it's 2 sets of 10 reps of light weights to prime the body for what is ahead. This is to avoid that initial soreness that results when going to the gym after a long time off.

The next 12 week segment is the "build phase". These are usually done 3 sets of 12 reps of each major muscle group. During this phase, weights are incrementally added to each exercise when they feel easy to do. Usually, this happens a lot in the first 4 weeks of this phase, but it starts to taper off until a plateau is reached at around the tenth to twelfth week.

This is where I am now.

The next 4 week segment is the real tough "power phase". To keep it simple, 20-25% more weight is added to each exercise, and I just blast through 3 sets of 8 reps (or to exhaustion, whichever comes first). There is a punch-drunk feeling when I leave the gym, so I try to make sure that any important swim, bike, or run workouts are steered clear of these gym sessions.

Yikes! No, you shouldn't get this big if you train right.

Oh, and I definitely have that yearning for a big slab of meat after these sessions. It's strange, but the appetite is huge during this 4 week period.

After the 4 week power phase, I go into the last "sharpening phase". This segment is only 3 weeks long. The weights are brought back down to the same at the end of the build period. Only 2 sets are done, but at 15 reps each. This should tone up the muscles, and give it that finishing touch.

If everything is done right, the strength gains for triathlon and ultra races are enormous!

As for the type of exercise, I tend to mix it up a bit. Here are some examples of exercises I do for each muscle set. I pick one exercise from each muscle group per session:

Pecs: Pulley Flies, Dumbbell Flies

Back: Back Extensions, Lower Back Seated Row

Abs: Incline Abdominal Crunches, Ab Crunches on the Machine

Bis: Preacher Curls, Dumbbell Curls

Hammys: Pulley Deadlift, One Legged Cable Kickback

Tris: Triceps Pushdowns, Two-Arm Triceps Extension with Dumbbells

Lats: Lat Pulldown, Two Arm Dumbbell Pullovers

Traps: Barbell Shrugs, Dumbbell Shrugs

Quads: Hack Squats, Plate Loaded Leg Press

Delts: Upright Rows, Upright Dumbbell Press

Core: Wobble Board Exercises, Plyo Ball Exercises

There are more exercises, but these are the main ones. It takes me basically 1 hour in the gym to do, so it's pretty easy to fit in my early season workout. regimen. The weight training this year ends in April, well before the summer racing season starts. At that point, the pre-season training gets more specific, so weight training is phased out while more swimming, cycling, and running are phased in.

With the new found strength, I would be ready to kick some butt in these 3 disciplines!

That's about it. If you have any questions, let me know.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Thoughts - March 7 - Training With a Cold, Group Trail Runs

It's Monday again, although I don't think you need to be reminded.

The past 4-5 days I've been saddled with a particularly nasty cold. Although I was able to do most of the training last week, it still was tough to actually get focused to do them.

Colds can be nasty things. Sometimes they just throw your schedule out of whack for a week, or even more if the cold is severe enough.

The decision to train while under the weather is a dicey one for a lot of athletes. What should your ultimate decision be each time you need to train? Should you train anyway? Should you bag it? Or maybe train a bit easier than what you normally would have done?

For all the technical stuff coaches tend to give, I always try to simplify things so that anyone can understand. People like using plain English to try to explain things.

So I narrowed it down to 2 rules.

1) If you have a fever for ANY reason, do NOT train at all.

2) If you're not running a temperature, but your cold is making you feel abnormally fatigued, it's strongly recommended you bag your training for the day.

Now the technical mumbo-jumbo...

Fundamentally speaking, exercise breaks down the muscles in your body in anticipation that they will heal stronger than what they were before you exercise. This breaking down of the body does have costs associated with it; it has to work to heal that muscle back, right?

A cold is basically your body's way of fighting off an invader to the system (viral or bacterial). This fight also comes with costs as the immune system has to use energy to fight off the invader.

Now, if you do exercise while having a cold, there is a good chance that you tax your body enough so that both your healing and your immunity could be impaired.

If your body is taxed too much, and your immunity system is compromised, this might lead to a more serious cold.

When you feel unnaturally fatigued, this is your body telling you that the cold is pretty serious and that the body using a lot of its energy just to fight it off. If you try to exercise on top of this, you might compromise the system and the cold might progress to a more serious state.

Better to bag the training and let your body fight this cold off. Missing training for 2 days will not destroy your season.

A fever is a more serious condition. This should tell you that the body has a desperate fight on its hands and is resorting to the more drastic measure of raising the body's core temperature to fight off the infection. Never, NEVER, exercise when you have a fever.

On the other hand, if you have the sniffles or sneeze a lot, but you are not overly fatigued at all, you can definitely train while under the weather. Just monitor your condition carefully; if you start to feel any abnormal fatigue coming on, then you might want to reconsider your training.

That's it! Two rules. There's nothing technical about them. As long as you listen to your body, you're fine.

---

This past weekend I did manage to train in the midst of a cold. I was not abnormally fatigued at all (although I was getting tired of sneezing). Today, it seems like I'm finally getting rid of the cold. Hooray for me.

I did manage 40 miles of running last week. This week I will try 55 miles of running this week. Hopefully without a cold.

And now, I start running regularly on the trails. The snow is all gone now. Good riddance winter. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

I would like to open up my long runs to those who are interested in running long. Starting this Saturday and every 2 weeks afterward, I will be running long in either Staten Island or in New Jersey (maybe altering between the two). If you want to come on down, you are surely invited. We will go slow, and I will supply some water and Clif Bars.

The first run is this Saturday (March 12) on the Greenbelt White Trail at 7AM and 9AM. We will start at Great Kills Park. Park in the main parking lot near the bathrooms. The early group will start promptly at 7AM, doing a 10 mile loop (people can certainly do less mileage if they want). After the 10 mile loop, the early group will pick up the 9AM group and do the second 10 mile loop. 

You can do either loop or both if you're enterprising enough.

The second run is in Cheesequake Park on Saturday March 26, about 15 minutes away from Staten Island. Same times (7AM and 9AM), same distances. Again, water and Clif Bars will be available.

If you are from Staten Island and want to carpool I do have 3 spots available in my car. This way, bridge tolls won't be a problem.

If you have questions regarding the 2 runs, you can e-mail me at ironpete@ironpete.com

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March 3 - Totally Disjointed Thoughts

Since this is a low news day, I'm going to just blurt out some pointless thoughts...

One person said to me that Bag Balm smells. Yes, Bag Balm does smell, but I'd rather be a bit smelly than be chafed all over the place. Chafing sucks, period.

The trails are clear of snow. It may be time again to start going to some random parks and run long on the trails again.

Facepalm alert: I already know of two people who are getting the new Apple iPad after the announcement yesterday. Funny thing is, they already have iPads! Um, hello?

The definition of cult - great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad.

It is safe to call Apple followers a cult now?

My only exposure to Apple has been brief...I bought an iPod one day. Returned it the next day because it only allowed me to download music from the iTunes website. Sorry, but I don't want to buy into a monopoly.

Choices, choices! Should I do two training runs of 15 miles on Saturday and Sunday, or opt for the Caumsett 50k in Long Island on Sunday? I'll decide tomorrow.

There is a prediction of rain this weekend. Doesn't really affect my decision because once I'm wet, I really cannot get any wetter, right?

Those relay sprints at the Armory were really out of my league. Why do I do them anyway? Don't know. Maybe the relay was a novelty that I had to participate in for a different form of fun? Yeah, I'll accept that.

So everyone in my immediate vicinity has some serious colds. Makes sense that I come down with one today as well. Thanks guys.

Cold or not, this weekend will be an important one with distance running. Count on me out there running long this weekend.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Thoughts - March 2 - No to Beast Series, Yes to Double Ironman, Frankenbike must LIVE!!!

So, I have this conundrum about The Beast Series, and now I'm back to square one again.

Sorry Beast, not this year...

Everything has to do with transportation to Virginia. I do not want to drive for 8 hours to an ultra, do the exhausting race, then drive the 8 or so hours back to Staten Island.

That leaves 2 options, commercial transportation and carpooling.

Commerical transportation is a stretch at best. The best option is Amtrak, and the earliest train arrives at 8:30PM before the race (pdf). The race venue is 25 miles away from the start, so that puts me in a bind. Renting a car is an option, but an expensive one. The bottom line is that commercial transportation turns out to be not very feasible when it comes to expense. So that is out.

That leaves carpooling. I honestly don't know of anyone in the NY/NJ area who is doing The Beast Series. I will send some feelers out to see if anyone else here is doing it, but it doesn't look good.

So that leaves me with my original plan. Forget about The Beast Series this year and focus on the two 100 mile races (Massanutten and Leadville) and do the Double Ironman in October.

Hellooooo Double Ironman!!!

If I don't get into the Western States 100 next year, and if anyone else is willing to do The Beast Series, I can tag along then.

Sounds like a plan!

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Another month, another project.

This one is triathlon related.

My road bike failed me last August, and although I cobbled together a bike for indoor Computrainer usage from old parts, I'm afraid I do not have a road worthy bike for triathlons this year.

But I'm up to the challenge.

I want to see if I can get a used bike frame, and equip it with old and new parts to make a bike worthy of a champion.

Let's see if I can make it live!!! I'm calling it the Frankenbike project.

A couple of goals I need to keep in mind...

1) The frame must be cheap to buy. This means a good, used frame at a reasonable price.

2) The parts to put on the frame are dependable, but cheap as well.

3) The bike must be robust, roadworthy, and safe. Nothing more to say here.

4) The bike must perform to my excellent standards. I *know* I can make a $2000 bike that performs better than a new $5000 bike that was pre-built from the bicycle shop. I just have to prove it.

My frame of preference right now is titanium. The metal is perhaps the best option for a bike frame due to its durability, weight, and flexibility.

There were a couple of frames on Ebay, but they weren't the right size (55-56cm).

I'll keep searching for that perfect bike frame every day. Until then, I'll try to get other options available in case this fails.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thoughts - March 1 - Training Milestones, Bag, Balm Supremacy, Bike Building

Seems like I made a key milestone the past several days.

In ultra training, whenever I get to a point where I feel I can do a long run any day of the week, even on consecutive days, my body is ready for the next step.

On Sunday morning, I did a 21+ miles of running. By Sunday evening, my legs did not even feel sore. I was ready to go again. Great!

Last year, I was able to achieve this point at around May. This year? March 1. This earlier milestone is key; believe me, I'll be ready for the rigors of Massanutten (race report) in May if I stay on board with my training.

This is going to be a very, very good year. :-)

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I'll be looking at some local triathlons to fill up my calendar. One is the Flat as a Pancake Triathlon that takes place in my neighborhood. I know several people doing this race.

That means I'm going to have to get my bike in road-ready condition. This is going to be a huge project this year. I'll be building up a new bicycle from scratch.

Yes, I do happen to have some pretty good bike mechanic skills. Why do you think I was able to do triathlons on the cheap when I was at my peak?

I didn't really have to rely on bike shops to keep my bike in peak condition. For me, that was the equivalent of throwing $50 away each time I visited a bike shop.

Better to learn the skills myself and save a lot of dough.

This project will definitely put my bike mechanic skills to the test. Building a bicycle from scratch. Bring it on!

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Bag Balm still puts Body Glide to shame!

Yes, this is the lanolin based ointment that was originally made for milking cows. It's an industrial strength balm that works like a charm in preventing chafing in endurance sports as well.

I still have the same 10 ounce tin container of Bag Balm that I bought in Vermont last year. It only costs $8 t0 $10. I'm still not quite half-way through the container.

I would have already bought about 3-4 Body Glides at the same price during the same time period.

That's about a $50-$60 savings over the overrated and overpriced Body Glide by the time I finally finish off the Bag Balm container.

Sorry Body Glide. Your secret that you're NOT #1 is about to be unleashed to the triathlon world. With each triathlete that I talk to, I make this secret known.

Your time is up Body Glide.

Bag Balm can be purchased at the Vermont Country Store or at Amazon if you don't live in a farming community. The stuff worked wonders at the Vermont 100 (race report). It's worked wonders on all my long training runs, and in the other ultras I participated in since last year.

I'll bet it works in half-Ironman and Ironman triathlons as well. The stuff will absolutely not come off in water (during the swim portion).

And it's very cheap. I know most of you triathletes will start feeling the economic pinch soon, so I'm just helping you in this regard.

And you'll save money in the long run. Just don't buy those ridiculously priced $450 pair of cycling shoes with the saved money. That would be defeating the purpose.

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One last shoutout...ZC...congratulations on getting in off the wait list into Massanutten. I'll be seeing you there!!!