April 29, 2006

The Pre-Race Psycho-Somatic Jitterbug Blues

Morning Workout
30 minute easy spin
Heart Rate Zone: Recovery (Zone 0) + Aerobic (Zone 1)

10 minute easy run
Heart Rate Zone: Recovery (Zone 0) + Aerobic (Zone 1)

Random Comments: Tomorrow is race day, our first of three triathlons this season. Cat and I are down here in beautiful (and I use that term very loosely) Tampa, Florida with the rest of my family for St. Anthony's Tri - an Olympic distance extravaganza. Unfortunately, this morning's 30 minute easy spin and10 minute easy run were anything but easy, no thanks to that ridiculously challenging 16-ish mile run we had last Sunday. Cat's quads, legs, knees, and ankles are throbbing and my back has gone to complete hell. Ah, ya gotta love the pre-race psycho-somatic jitters.

I would really rather stay at the downtown Marriott, I told my mother when talking about our Tampa hotel accomodations for St Anthony's race weekend. What's wrong with the Tahitian Inn? she asked in that partly curious partly Jewish-guilt type of way that has become firmly ingrained in my family's communicative technique.

The Tahitian is nice (according to Florida standards, that is), but what with all the traffic lights and such, it just takes too long to commute from the hotel to my mother's house. It gets very frustrating and, being one who gets easily frustrated before competing, the last thing I want before a race is to compound my frustration with driving annoyances. The Marriott is a straight shot from downtown - a long road but only a few traffic lights away. And, besides, I am a proud member of the Marriott Rewards program and heaven knows I've gotta capitalize on those memberships so that I can properly build up enough points in order to receive absolutely nothing in return except perhaps a free croissant and a copy of USA Today at my door in the morning.

So Cat and I check into the Marriott yesterday, ready for a good night's sleep after a long day of travel. My first warning should've been when we were given a room on the second floor of the hotel. I've always found the higher floors of hotels to be much quieter and more pleasant. After all, any Vegas-frequenting individual knows that you harbor all of the riff-raff down there on the lower floors so they only ruin the evenings of the other riff-raff and not the do-gooders like me who just want a good night's sleep so we can be all rested and ready to throw away our money in peace the next morning.

Is this a quiet room? I ask.
Yes, the Marriott employee responds with seemingly friendly, if not fidgety, eyes.
I didn't say anything more.

My second warning was when we got off the elevator, turned to the right and within about two steps got to our room door. I harumphed to myself for being so close to the elevator, but with the promise of quiet still fresh in my mind, I didn't say anything more. We walked into the room and began to unpack.

I've stayed at Marriott's before and, aside from the really low-end chains, most of the Marriott hotels are pretty nice. This was not one of them. The carpet was old and scruffy, the furniture a few insects short of a yard sale and the bathroom was great, but only if you were used to doing your business in a Port-A-Potty. Yet I still didn't say anything. We were tired and we hadn't slept much the night before so we just wanted to go to bed and get a good night's rest.

Cat and I finished unpacking, closed the shades, turned off the lights and climbed into bed. We lay there silently, both of us inviting the unconscious blanket of serenity to wrap itself over our tired bodies. A few minutes later we were drifting off to sleep when it began. Three, perhaps even four guys were standing in the hallway talking a few decibels louder than the customary "inside voices." In an instant I snapped out of my pre-sleep phase. I lay still and listened to them. They must just be going into their room across the hall, I thought. It'll be quiet again soon. But, alas, they kept talking. And talking. And nary the sound of a room door opening was heard. Just them blabbing on and on about God knows what. After about fifteen minutes of this, as my wit was nearing the proverbial end, they finally got in the elevator and disappeared.

I looked over to see Cat lying still in the bed. I turned over quietly and spent the next five minutes willing myself back to that pre-sleep stage of uncoinsciousness. That didn't work so well. Within a few minutes I was rudely interrupted with a: Grrrrrrrrvvvvgggghhhh........

What the...?! I perked my ears up a little more. A few seconds later it came again.

Grrrrrrrrvvvvgggghhhh........ ding!

It was the churning sound of the elevator that seemed to be emanating from a point about six inches beyond Cat's face. Grrrrrrrrvvvvgggghhhh........ ding! Right on the other side of the wall, a few inches beyond the edge of the bed was the motor that ran the hotel elevator.

Grrrrrrrrvvvvgggghhhh........ ding! it would go. And then silence would descend for five, maybe ten, perhaps even fifteen minutes. But inevitably it would move again.. Grrrrrrrrvvvvgggghhhh........ ding!

Suddenly Cat, who had remained eerily still and silent through this noisy drama, broke out into hysterics. The kind of hysterics one breaks into when things can't possibly get worse. She should've saved those hysterics for later in the evening.

This is ridiculous, I said.
I know, she roared through her laughter.
If it weren't for us having to re-pack at this hour of the evening, I'd change rooms immediately, I said.
No kidding, she concurred as her laughter mellowed out to a light chuckle.

We lay there in bed, willing ourselves to be lulled by the churning of the elevator wheels. And it must've worked because I was just short of falling head-first into sleep when, at about 2am, the tricked out, bass-pumping pimp mobile came to the party. It parked right at the hotel's front door, which, thanks to our prime room location, was about 5 feet below our front window. This car was booming music at levels previously unheard by the human ear. The bass was pounding so strong I couldn't even hear any other sounds but the BA-ROOM, BA-ROOM, BUMP BUMP, BA-ROOM of the bass. I was quickly shaken awake from my sleep.

Good Lord. OK, I said to myself, the car is just at the front door picking somebody up, it can't possibly stay there for too long. And I kept repeating this to myself for the first five minutes. Then fifteen minutes. Forty-five minutes later, with Cat snoring to the booming beat, I lay there wondering what the hell the car could possibly be doing. Are they robbing the Marriott? Are they holding the night-staff hostage until they hand over all of the mini-butter packets they could find? Can the Tampa Marriott really and truly be a homeboy hangout and if so aren't these people embarrassed? I mean, couldn't they find a better place to be at 3am than a Marriott?!

I thought about these things for quite awhile until it helped lull me to sleep. When I last looked at the clock it was 4am.
The alarm clock woke me at 6am as I angrily rolled out of bed and got ready for our bike and run.

Today we are checking out of the Marriott and moving to the Tahitian Inn.
I can't wait.

April 26, 2006

What Ever Happened to Dick Van Patten Anyway?

Morning Workout
3000 yards
Main Set: 3 x 600 yards off 30 seconds rest

Random Comments: It is 10:40pm right now, a mosquito wing short of 2 hours passed the point in which my chariot turns into a squash-like vegetable. My mind has already turned into a squishy squashy morsel, however, I am digging into my sanity reserves and trying to pack for race weekend. That's right, St. Anthony's Triathlon is this Sunday. Not only is this our first race of the season, but it's a full-on family event. Five of us (including me and Cat) are racing on Sunday and if you pile on the three generations of spectators, there will be about thirteen of us down there. I have no doubts it will be fun, I just have a hard time building up that excitement right now as I sit here pre-sleep with my pain-filled back, tired legs and an alarm clock that is primed to start yappin' away in a little over 6 hours. I'm at the stage where I've packed my bag but it is only half full. Or half empty, depending on your psychology of traveling. For the life of me, I can't get my mind to figure out what I've forgotten to pack - even though I've reviewed my packing list at least four times. Yet I know that come tomorrow afternoon I will suddenly remember the billions of things that have yet to be crammed in there. Better yet, I will probably awake amidst my 6 hours of sleep and drag myself out of bed to grab that extra bottle of anti-fog so I don't forget to bring it because I know if I don't do it right then and there it will keep me up all night as I try to remember not to forget. OK, listen to me... damn I'm tired. I'm going to sleep. I've got a busy day tomorrow. Stop talking to me already.

April 24, 2006

The White Man Treadmill Dance

Morning Workout
30 minutes on the treadmill at Lactate Threshold pace (for me, that's 6.8 miles an hour which probably means nothing more than a number to you and, honestly, barely more than that for me either).

Random Comments: I have a fairly high tolerance for exercise-related pain. After years of ridiculously stupid, ritualistic mind-over-body training programs, I've turned into somebody with a lot of leg injuries but an ability to keep moving forward despite the pain. I'd imagine this talent would come in handy if, say, I were a prisoner of war at some sick type of health spa in the remote jungles of a country who's name I can't pronounce. That, however, isn't my reality. I'm a free man in Southern California who just likes to run, bike and swim, sometimes for longer distances than my body is naturally capable of. So you could imagine how easy this mornings 30 minute treadmill run would be for me and my hypothetically focused mind. Well, the tables have turned. This was one of the most excruciatingly painful runs I've had in a long time, perhaps ever. In fact, it was so painful, the 30 minute run took me 50 minutes to complete. After my usual 2 minute warm-up walk on the treadmill, I picked up the pace to begin my usual 8 minute warm-up jog. That lasted all of 20 seconds. Within those twenty seconds I was hobbling about on the treadmill like a stumbling, maniacal whacko who just walked across the Mojave desert with nothing more than a bottle of sun tan lotion and a pomegranate as my sole means for survival. I used all my energy to reach for the treadmill controls and slow down this death machine to a plodding, lethargic pace that was suitable for the sadly pain-filled state of my body. I continued walking and walking. Finally, after 20 minutes of this nonsense, I built up the energy reserves to get the treadmill moving at my Lactate Threshold pace. And somehow, someway, driven by some unknown force, I managed to make it through the 30 minutes of running. In, as previously mentioned, fifty minutes.

Star Spotting Of The Day: Jason Hervey, famously annoying older brother on that television classic, The Wonder Years

: Downtown Malibu

What He Was Doing
: Shuttling his two children into his sleek black Mercedes and, clearly maintaining character, being a bit annoying about the whole thing in an over-acting, white-man dancing sort of way.

April 23, 2006

I'm Writing Slowly Because I Know You Can't Read Fast

Morning Workout
3 very hilly hours, consisting of both kinds: the excruciatingly steep up and the ankle-biting, knee-jarring down varieties.

Random Comments: Cat and I decided to go for a nice trail run this morning through the beautiful Malibu Creek Park which, by the by, is where they used to film the TV show M*A*S*H. Of course all that's left of that classic set is a rusted out army jeep and a sign that says MASH Site That-A-Way. It always breaks my fragile little heart seeing that because I was such an enormously huge geeky M*A*S*H fan when I was but a wee lad. I used to watch the show three times a day every day: 5 o'clock, 7 o'clock and 11 o'clock. I couldn't get enough. I've seen every single episode of M*A*S*H, probably at least twice. I even still have that special Time Magazine issue that came out the week of the final episode. What a painfully sad week that was for me. Now here I am twenty-odd years later feeling quite a different pain as I run by the filming site of the show. This pain probably has less to do with the end of a TV show and more to do with the 2500+ feet of rocky trail climbing that we'd been doing over the first 6 miles of this run. What part of my legs weren't tired out from yesterday's run, swim and 85 miles/6200 feet of climbing on the bike, got partially destroyed in the first 6 miles of today's run. And then what little ounce of muscle was left at the peak of this run, got demolished shortly thereafter. It's all downhill, you say. Yeah, well, let's see you run this ridiculously steep downhill without hurting. And that is what hammered the proverbial nails into my not-so-proverbial legs, which at that point felt very similar to proverbial concrete coffins. The thing is, we were running right along the tippy-top of the breathtakingly gorgeous Santa Monica mountains. The dark blue ocean was sprawled out to infinity in front of us, and the lush green undulations of hills stretched as far as the eye could see in every other direction. In fact, somewhere around mile seven, about 5 minutes before I completely hit the wall, I told Cat that despite my overriding agony, I'd probably be referring to this as a "great run" shortly after we finished. So, guess what I'm about to say... Yep, you got it...it was a great run. Of course, I'm in a tremendous amount of pain right now and could probably use a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital if one were nearby. But Hawkeye, Hot Lips, Radar and Trapper John aside, I'm damn glad I did it.

April 22, 2006

Smiles So Wide

Morning Workout (and, for that matter, the Afternoon Workout too)
30 minutes in the Ocean

6 hours
Heart Rate Zone: Aerobic (Zone 1), Lactate Threshold (Zone 2) with a bunch of long, steep canyon climbs up to Steady State Threshold (Zone 4)

34 minutes
Heart Rate Zone: Lactate Threshold (Zone 2)

Random Comments: Like many people, Cat is not a big fan of swimming in the ocean. However, she is quite the adorer of dolphins. Come to think of it, "adore" might not even be a strong enough word to capture her feelings. She's infatuated with dolphins, if that's even possible. She must have retractable cheeks because, I swear, the smile that stretches across her face at the sight of a dolphin extends far beyond the confines of her cute little face. So I'm sure you could imagine her reaction this morning when we were at the beach. Cat was standing about in dread, not the least bit motivated to get in the water... and then Flipper and his family of friends appeared out of nowhere, majestically cresting the surface. I'm not sure, but I think I may have even seen one wave a fin to Cat. Needless to say, Cat decided to get in the water lickety-split. And what a wonderful swim we had, if for nothing more than to swim amidst the serenity of the dolphins passing us by. Ahh... It definitely doesn't suck living in Santa Monica.

April 20, 2006

Ad Noying

Morning Workout
5 x 800 meters + 5 x 400 meters
Heart Rate Zone: About two beats short of a myocardial infarction.

Random Comments: What with the continuously recurring leg injuries, I haven't had a chance to do any serious speed workouts this year. In fact, conveniently enough, I spent the entire speed/strength phase of my training whoopin it up in the Aqua Jog lane with all of my geriatric comrades. So this morning was my first real track/speed workout in something short of, oh, about four years. To really describe how painful it was would require me to complain to you every ten minutes throughout the entire day about how my quads are hurting. "My quads are so sore," I'd say ad infinitum. Perhaps even ad nauseum. Definitely ad perpetuum. And just when you're about to thwack me upside the head, I'd switch it up to something like, "How do your legs feel? Mine are in so much pain. You wouldn't believe how much pain they are in." And I'd continue on until you can truly believe how much pain they are in, because that's how annoying I can be when I really put my mind to it.

April 18, 2006

A Sad And Lonely Demise In The Lap Pool

Morning Workout
BIKE (on le trainer)
Heart Rate Zones: I did 3 minutes at Aerobic Conditioning (Zone 3), 3 minutes at Steady State Threshold (Zone 4) and 2 minutes at VO2 Max (Zone 5+), then took 2 minutes of recovery at Lactate Threshold (Zone 2) at which point I repeated the entire shebang again. And again. And again. Until I had done it four times. At which point there were a series of 15 second sprints at maximum power, all the while watching Al Pacino in Two For The Money, which wasn't nearly as crappy as I was expecting it to be considering Sir Pacino has really become a caricature of himself these days. And not in a good way (assuming there is a good way to be a caricature of yourself which, to be truthful, I'm not sure there is).

Evening Workout
3000 meters
Main Set: 3 x 600 meters,

Random Comments: The thing about the long aerobic swim workouts is that they're so gosh darn boring. I was actually sighing during the 600 meters sets today. If I could actually twiddle my thumbs and swim at the same time, I'da probably done that too. It's amazing I didn't yawn. Of course, I probably would've swallowed a bit too much water with a yawn. Maybe I would've even drowned. I can imagine the headline already: "Local Loser Bores Himself To Death In The Lap Pool". It'd really be a shame to go out that way. I mean, the embarrassment that would be beset upon Cat and my family. Oy, the shame. I tried singing to myself while I was swimming, but it's tough because I keep losing count of my laps. So what I tend to do in order to keep me awake is just watch all the other swimmers in the pool, with the hopes of picking up pointers from the fasties. Unfortunately there was this woman I was sharing my lane with that was going a bit slower than me. Every four laps or so I'd swim up behind her to pass her. And being how I was watching other swimmers in the pool in order to stop me from yawning, inevitably I'd look up to see the backside of this slow moving, fairly out-of-shape seal of a woman in front of me. I get shivers and a growling feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about it. I won't go into the details, but suffice to say, there was a whole lotta jiggling going on. Well, at least I didn't yawn myself to the netherworld.

April 17, 2006

My Own Private Reasons For Driving

Evening Workout
1 hour

Random Comments: I so desperately want to have something valuable to say tonight. Or at least some humorous anectdote that I can share with you. But, alas, I have nothing. My mind is as blank as Mel. See, even that wasn't the remote bit funny. For goodness sakes, you probably didn't even get the fact that it was a Mel Blanc joke. So why am I typing? I guess I'm writing this because I know way deep inside me there is something to be said. As you can probably imagine right about now, this is the point where I segue oh so smoothly to Ironman training. You ready for it? OK, here it is... Everybody who participates in an Ironman has a personal reason for doing it. Racing an Ironman distance race isn't just one of those things you decide to do on a whim like, say, that 5k fun run you and your buddies decide to do the night before while you're out at the bar joking around and pounding beers like the alcohol loving lush you really are. No, no... there has got to be something deep within you that drives you to compete in an Ironman. Racing this distance isn't normal. In fact, I challenge you to find me a medical study, any medical study, that proves Ironman racing is actually healthy for you. Let me save you the time - you won't find any article because it doesn't exist. Not only is it not normal to race this distance, but it's not even healthy to tax the body like this. So why the hell do we do it? Y'know, the thing is that everybody who does race Ironman has their own reason for doing it. Truth be told, when you first start your training you may not even know exactly what that mysterious light is inside you. But the more you train, the more you realize that there is, in fact, a reason deep down within you that is continually driving you forward. And the more you train and the closer you get to that race, the more you can begin to understand what drives you forward and what will ultimately carry you to the finish line. You begin to become one with that reason. It is your nourishment and your sustenance. Cause in the end the only thing there is between you and the finish line is a clock that stops at 17 hours and your own private reason to keep pushing forward and beat that clock.

April 16, 2006

Since When Does "The Hair Of The Dog" Apply To Training?

Morning Workout
3 hours 15 minutes
Heart Rate Zone: Recovery (Zone 0) + Aerobic (Zone 1)

1 hour 30 minutes
Heart Rate Zone: Recovery (Zone 0) + Aerobic (Zone 1)

Random Comments: This is by far the longest, most grueling recovery workout I've ever done. Period. Granted, we weren't going that fast and weren't using up a lot of energy, but yumpin yimminy... a 5 hour recovery workout after yesterday's tiring extravaganza?! Let's be serious here people, just the term "recovery" implies, say, a 30 minute slower-than-all-hell run followed by an obscenely large breakfast, two hours of reading the paper, an obscenely large lunch, one hour of crossword puzzle, a nice relaxing afternoon nap, an obscenely large dinner and a vat of ice cream. And here we are on Easter morning and, if I may add, a fair bit of Easter afternoon biking for 50 odd miles and running for 10 odd miles, all on legs so tired I think they may very well fall off. Now as I lay here on the couch typing this, everything hurts. And I mean everything. Not only do all my regular muscles hurt, but I do believe that I grew new muscles today and, yes, they hurt too. Recovery?! I spit in the general direction of your so-called recovery. Ccchat-ptewie!

April 15, 2006

The Slow Lane Of Life

Morning Workout
3000 meters
Main Set: 3000 meters. Yeah, it was just a non-stop 3000 meter swim.

I know, I was shocked too.

Heart Rate Zones: 15 minutes bike at Steady State Threshold (Zone 4) / VO2 (Zone 5) and then jump off the bike and do a 2 kilometer run at Steady State Threshold (Zone 4) / VO2 (Zone 5). Take three minutes of active recovery then repeat the whole enchilada two more times.

Random Comments: There were only two people in the slow lane when Cat and I got to the pool. The medium and fast lane both already had five people swimming laps in them. Needless to say, we got into the slow lane to swim. As it was completely expected, within fifteen minutes of us beginning our workout, five other people started swimming in this slow lane. For the record, I am definitely not a swimming snob, throwing my nose up at those who are beginning swimmers. After all, I'm not that great of a swimmer myself. However, I do have a very short fuse for those that don't bother to learn the rules of the pool before diving right in (pun completely and utterly intended.) The thing is, the rules are simple. Like, for example, if you are resting at the edge of the pool, let the faster swimmers pass you by before you begin your paddling. Which leads me to the fat, flailing fifteen-ish year old who could only swim 50 meters at a time before he needed a big long rest. Now, believe me, there is nothing wrong with being able to swim 50 meters. To the contrary, I applaud the child for making the effort. However, this little Beelzebub in a bathing suit wouldn't just swim his 50 meters and rest. No, no... it couldn't be that easy. He had to race me in the process. So here I am in the middle of my slow and steady 3000 meter swim, and every 200 meters when I touch the wall and turn around, my newfound nemesis had to push off the wall at the exact same time and flail as hard and as fast as he can to race me the 50 meters to the other end of the pool. The thing is, he would swim just a hair slower than the pace I was going... Not slow enough for me to pass him by without missing a beat, and not fast enough for me to drop back and wait for him to finish his lap. Now keep in mind that the lane only allows for 3 people to swim side by side. You swim one way on the left, another way on the right and you pass in the center, making sure not to crash into any oncoming traffic. So with my friend racing me down the length of the pool just a tad bit slower than my pace, my only choice was to continually sprint much harder than I wanted to in order to pass him and not ram head-on into the swimmers coming the other way. It was tiring and aggravating. At one point I tried swimming this kid right off the edge - you know, forcing him to swim into the wall in order to get him to slow down, get out of my way and give me more space. But then I felt guilty and moved out of the way again. Finally, after 2000 meters of these shenanigans, I could take no more. I looked over and realized that the medium speed lane only had three people swimming in it. I quickly moved over and continued my workout, where my pace clearly annoyed the just-a-slight-bit-faster swimmer that was tailing behind me every single lap.

April 14, 2006

The Tale Of The Boiling Frog

It's about time I told you the Tale Of The Boiling Frog. Truth be told, and consider yourself told, the tale is a perfect analogy for the sport of triathlon in so many ways. So scurry yourself into bed. Cuddle up between the warm sheets and pull that blanket up to your chin. It's story time, boys and girls.

We start our story with everything and its purpose in life. (Hey, I never said this was a light-hearted story.) Every being is made with a purpose. Thanks to either God or Darwin, depending on which side of the fence you plant your daisies, all living things are highly intricate beings, each molded for survival. Whether it be the quills of a porcupine that save the ugly little critter from untimely demise, or the human eyelash that protects our vision from random particle intrusion, we have been perfectly molded to interact with our surroundings.

The frog, for reasons that I have yet to comprehend, has a discerning survival instinct. More specifically, the frog's instinct is only triggered by sudden, abrupt changes. And this is where our little story begins.

Let's say you have a live frog in one hand and a pot of water in the other. Let's also say you put the pot on the hot stove and wait until the water is boiling. If you then place your helpless little frog directly into the boiling water, he will jump out as quickly as he can, doing anything in his might to escape the danger. (As for you, you should feel ashamed of yourself. But that's another topic.)

Now let's take scenario number B. Let's say you've got that same, now slightly cautious frog in the one hand and a pot of cool, pleasant water in the other. And let's say you put the little feller in that cool water. Well, he'd be swimming around as happy as a frog in a pot of cool water. Now that we understand how sinister you are, let's say you ever-so-slowly turn up the heat on that water. Here's the catch - your little pet frog won't notice. To the contrary, the frog will enter a pleasant little stupor, a smile upon his froggy little face. In fact, the little critter will not be aware of any danger until it's too late and you're left with a pot of boiled frog and perhaps a little extra guilt on your shoulders. Frog killer.

And therein lies the Tale Of The Boiled Frog, which isn't necessarily a tale but it's about as good of an analogy as you get for Ironman triathlon.

You see, when you start training for Ironman, your workouts are nice and easy. It may be a 2 hour, extremely slow bike ride on one day. Perhaps a 30 minute aerobic run the next. Maybe it's a 1500 meter slow swim the third day. All simple stuff. And the easy training continues on and on until you're lulled into your own private sense of safety and security - just like that frog swimming in the cool water.

But then things begin to change. You think you notice the change, but you really don't. Every week you gradually increase that level of exercise. Maybe the 2 hour ride is now a 2 1/2 hour ride. And then the 2 1/2 hour ride turns into 3 1/2, and that turns into 5, and that.... And so it keeps building and building until you wake up one day and - WHA-BAM!!! - you realize you are smack dab in the middle of a boiling pot of water. And you have absolutely no clue whatsoever how the hell you got here. Maybe you just finished a 100 mile ride followed by an 8 mile run. Or perhaps it was a 3000 meter swim followed by a 15 mile bike followed by a 15 mile run.

And then it hits you.... you realize that this is how ordinary people do extraordinary things. And this is how you know you will make it to the finish line - because of that poor little frog in the boiling water who gave his life for our accomplishments.

April 13, 2006

Oh My Gobbles

Morning Workout
30 minutes
Heart Rate Zone: Lactate Threshold (Zone 2)

Main Set: 20 x 100 meters with 30 seconds rest in-betwixt

Random Comments: The Top 10 Things that were annoying me during today’s morning workout:
• Hip flexor (left)
• IT band (right)
• Hip flexor (right)
• Calf (left)
• Arms (all of them)
• Shoulders (all of them too)
• Callous on palm at base of pinky (left hand)
• Forehead right above eye (right eye)
• Uncontrollable ankle flexibility (right)
• Tendon right below buttock (left cheek)

All in all, I’d say it was a pretty decent workout.

My niece is about three years old and is arguably the cutest, most well-behaved child in modern history. She started swimming recently or, shall I say, she started going to the pool recently but apparently she's a little too scared to jump in the water. However, she puts on her swimsuit and goggles, all rarin’ to go. But she doesn’t call them goggles, because she’s got a tough time saying that word. That's the cute thing. She calls them “gobbles”. Understanding how painfully precious that sounds, Cat and I have taken to calling them gobbles as well. So let me tell you about my gobble problem.

I got out of the pool after my swim this morning and, as is standard operating procedure, I grabbed my poolside clothing and began walking to the men’s locker room to dry off and get changed. As I was walking over, I passed a few young ladies walking the other way. We looked each other in the eye as they each flashed me a glowing smile. Of course they’re smiling at me, I thought to myself. After all, I am a strapping young lad, what with my streamlined swim shorts and just-out-of-the-pool slicked back hair. I whipped out my charming “thanks for making me feel good” smile as I walked on by.

Ahhh, it's good to be king.

Feelin’ pretty darn positive about myself, I walked into the over-crowded locker room, laid down my belongings and started changing into my warm dry clothes. As I finished dressing and began walking out to meet Cat, I took a glance over at the mirror to make sure my hair didn’t look too ridiculous. I’m not sure who I saw on the other side of that mirror, but it was no reflection of me. This being staring back at me was deranged looking - like the Elephant Man's thinner, slightly less scary looking brother. The awkward looking gentleman in the mirror had hair that was in such disarray it made bedhead and pillowface seem like black tie attire.

I stepped closer to the mirror to face this monster and that was where the coup d’grace disgraced me ("the coup d'graw disgrawsed me"). My gobbles, oh my gobbles, they had bore indentations in my face. As thick and prominent as a newly minted tattoo was the outline of my gobbles around my eyes, over my forehead, across my nose. I looked ridiculous. I felt ridiculous. I had taken off the gobbles five minutes ago, but apparently the gobbles hadn't taken off me.

I quickly took my Yankee cap and crunched my hair inside. I pushed the hat as low across my face as it could possibly go, hoping I could look like that kid Donald from Fat Albert who's just got the lips sticking out of his hat. I dropped my head to the ground and sauntered out of the locker room to meet Cat.

I'm not quite sure, but I think I saw those young ladies out of the corner of my eye pointing and smiling.

April 12, 2006

Bipolar Climate Disorder

Morning Workout
1 hour 30 minutes
Heart Rate Zone: Aerobic (Zone 1) + Recovery (Zone 0)

Evening Workout
1 hour

Random Comments: Nothin' like a nice 90 minute spin on the bike in the dark of morning, well before the sun rises, after 5 1/2 hours of quality sleep. That sounds nice, huh? That's how us brain-washed triathletes learn to speak. It's not normal. A normal person would most likely utter that sentence in quite a different way. Perhaps for them it would come out something like this: "Lord, give me the strength to not pummel the first person that dares speak a word to me. I only got 5 1/2 hours of miserable, continually interrupted sleep last night and now, for reasons I can't even remember, I'm pedaling on my bike at some ungodly hour that barely even qualifies as morning. This is ridiculous. I hate this shit. I quit."

Do you see the difference?
So anyway, I had a wonderful, peaceful ride this morning.

Holy shit it is beautiful today. I've been out here in Paradise for just short of 17 years now and, beat me with a billy club if I'm uttering a lie, but I still don't take this weather for granted. Just about every single day is sunny and gorgeous. And I'll tell ya, it doesn't suck.

There's another world out there, though, where life isn't always as wonderful. It's an ugly, evil world; a world plagued by Bipolar Climate Disorder. I'm sure you're familiar with BCD. You may wake up one day to a biting, miserable ten degree storm that has somehow managed to rain, sleet and snow all over your parade all at once. Then magically the next day turns out to be sunny and sixties. But, oh, that's only there to taunt you, because twelve hours later it's going to drop to freezing again and you're inevitably going to end up with the flu that you've been working so hard to avoid for the past ten months anyway.

But, still, when you get those random warm sunny days, it is like God has granted you new life. The only thing you can think of is to be outside. You will do anything in your power to get as much time as you can outdoors and soak up as much of that sun before it disappears. Because you know that sun is, in fact, going to disappear and heaven knows you may never see it again in your lifetime.

Those sunny days are special. And I don't mean special like short bus special. I mean special like happy-go-lucky special. There's an energy that envelopes the city on those days. Everybody is happy and everybody is loving life. That's the type of special I'm talking about. Even the special people feel special on those sunny days.

Picture that feeling, if you will. That feeling of surviving the endless dread of winter and emerging happily on the other side. Imagine the joy of those random sunny days that light up your life like a million Christmas lights (or Chanukah menorahs, for my Jewish brethren). Cause that's what its like every day out here in Paradise. Everyday is a multi-menorah fest. And everyday I wake up and look out the window and I am so excited for it to be sunny. I want to do everything I can to spend my entire day outside. For seventeen years I've experienced the daily sun and I'm still nervous it may go away.

So when I wake up to days like today, where the ocean is so calm, flat and inviting, the mountains so lush and endless, and the sky a cloudless infinite blue, well, I can't help but be happy. I can't help but find joy in going for an early morning bike ride to watch the sun rise and set fire to the world. It makes me smile in a special way - and not the short bus type.

BTW, you've gotta check out the article at Ironman Live about Latin. It's hysterical. Click here to read it.

April 11, 2006

I Wonder If I Can Hop A Time Trial

Morning Workout
3 mile time trial (oh look, it rhymes)
Heart Rate Zone: VO2 Max (Zone 5)

1500 meters
Main Set: Um.... I didn't make it to the main set. I take that back. I made it to the main set but then crashed and burned. Today's main set consisted of a whopping 300 meters instead of the 1800 meters that it was supposed to be. Yeah, I had a crappy swim today so I decided to stop. You gotta problem with that?! I didn't think so.

Random Comments: As you know by now, I've been having some pretty frustrating achilles problems for the past, oh, fifteen years. But if for nothing more than to amuse myself, I decided to head out to the track at the wee hours this morning to piddle through the 3 mile time trial. Of course, the real trial would be whether I could even make it through the three miles. But I figured if I could break 30 minutes, it'd be a happy day. So I started the activities with what was going to be a slow one mile warm-up jog. I got the slow jog part done pat.. .it's just the "one mile" part of that equation didn't add up. In fact, the first two laps were feeling like they may also be my last two laps. My calf was a little tight and I got a few random twangs of discomfort in there. That's really what it feels like in my calf muscle, a twang. Actually, more like a twangggggg, where the string just continues to reverberate long after the plucking has faded. All banjo analogies aside, I started chastising myself for not making this workout an aquajog like any sensible similarly injured person would do. However, instead of calling it quits and never even beginning my time trial, I decided to hit the start button on the third lap. Hell, if I wasn't going to be able to go the entire distance, I at least wanted to get past the damn startng line. Lo and behold, I made it around the track once and it wasn't too painful. Then twice. And three times and suddenly my first mile was done. As I continued running my leg continued to feel better. And next thing I know I'm starting my second mile and realizing that I'm running faster than I've run since this plucking injury consumed me in the first place. And by golly jimmy jehosefats, my legs are starting to feel pretty good. So I picked it up a bit more. And suddenly I felt that wave flow over me - that wave that says everything feels good. And within minutes I crossed that finish line. I looked at my watch. 23:07. I quickly calculated that out to be about 7:40 per mile. I yelped in my mind. I screamed in joy in my mind. I hallelujahed like I haven't ever before. And then I smiled. And all was good in the world.

April 09, 2006

The Salad Bar Is My Office

Morning Workout
30 minutes on the trainer
Heart Rate Zone: Was supposed to be Steady State Threshold (Zone 4) but even though my legs were pushing as hard as they possibly could under the circumstances, my heartrate just couldn't creep up any higher than Zone 3. The whole point of the damn ride anyway was really just to tire out my legs for the run and truth be told, I didn't need to get my heartrate up all in a huff to make that happen. Mission accomplished.

1 hour 30 minutes
Heart Rate Zone: Aerobic (Zone 1) + Lactate Threshold (Zone 2)

In the Ocean
Distance: Somewhere between a quarter mile and a half of a mile

Random Comments: Catherine doesn't have a lot of ocean swimming experience so, with just three weeks before St. Anthony's, we decided to go into the ocean for a short get-to-know-you type swim. The water was supposed to be in the 50s. I wasn't looking forward to that part. I expected it to be quite uncomfortable in an ice bath sort of way. Lo and behold, the water temp must've been in the 60s. It was like a warm carribbean dip. Aside from the muddied up water, and the random trash floating by. Oh, and the aftertaste of things I'd rather not think of. Blech.

There are a few reasons why I like sitting outside the Coffee Bean and reading the newspaper in the morning. First of all, it is tres peaceful over there in the wee hours. Not a lot of traffic in the morning makes for a calm, relaxing way to ease into the day. Secondly, and oftentimes more importantly, it is a central location in which to witness all the crazies. And there are lots of loonies here in Los Angeles. We are a breeding ground for the loonies. We keep them all in a bin. Get it? A bin....

Here are a few samples of my favorite conversations overheard at the Coffee Bean during the last few weeks...

The Wannabe Model/Actor just doesn't stop talking about himself:
"I have coffee mugs with headshots of me. Want one? I'll send you one. I also have self-portaits painted by me of me."

The Compulsive Gambler doesn't speak much, but when he does, it's brilliant:
"I used to be a big idiot, now I'm just a regular idiot."

When the Fish Tank Sales Guy comes by, you know he's not going to be quiet. You end up saying anything to get him to leave. Otherwise you'll spend the morning listening to such witty banter as this:
"I'm fat to give you a chance with the ladies."
"You want fresh air? Go to Malibu."

The Trust Fund Guy really tries to be funny. Sometimes he actually is:
"After we bomb Iran, we should bomb France, just for the hell of it."

And then there's the Certifiable Guy. He's always talking to his three friends. It's just that nobody else can see them:
"I'm psychopath-IC. There's a difference."
"The space ship came down. I saw inside. It had all sorts of stuff in there I don't understand. I saw a tall warrior looking man with smoke coming out of his head. He looked mean and angry. Man I was scared so I bailed off."
"I'm just here to protect the world, to save the people."
"The salad bar is my office."
"My hands, they are controlled by God."

It's always a good time up there at the Coffee Bean.

April 08, 2006

To All The Cells I've Loved Before

Morning Workout
5 hours 22 minutes / 91.9 miles

Random Comments: All in all it was a great ride. Well, just short of great. One water bottle short of great, to be exact. I was one water bottle short of having a wonderful ride. One water bottle away from not being a dribbling, incoherent fool at the end of it all. But, alas, with no money I could not get that extra liquid I needed to keep my energy cells from dying rapid, pain-filled deaths. One by one the cells marched to their demise. With each pedal stroke I could hear another cell kick the bucket. I pushed with my right foot - "aaaaaarrrrhhhh" - then my left - "uggghlgggg" - then my right - "acchhhh" - and my left - "noooooo". They were good cells. Good, decent cells who lived distinguished, reputable lives; who carried my weary body up hills and through dales time and again. Because I was just one bottle short, they gave their lives for me today in honor. They will be missed dearly, the cells. Let us all have a moment of silence in their memory.... that is, right after I drink this glass of water.

April 07, 2006

The Day After The Day Before The Day Before Tomorrow

I usually don't do much writing on my rest day because, well, it's my rest day. My body is tired, my brain is tired, my fingers are tired. After six long days of creation, God, for instance, didn't bother creating anything on Sunday. He rested too. Not that I'm saying I'm God. I'm not. In fact, I wouldn't even want the job if it were offered to me, which to my knowledge it hasn't been. The job comes with too much pressure. You've got so many different people talking to you all at once, everybody asking you for this and that, talking about where and when, making false promises left and right - I just wouldn't be able to handle it. And the swearing? Good Lord, how the hell would I be able to stand people swearing at me so much? Frankly though, I think the entire God organization is having a bit of trouble these days anyway. I haven't checked their stock price lately but I know it's been falling rapidly. What with the Darwinian faction creating all the hoopla with their bruhaha, and the priestoids playing out their biblical fantasies with the young nubiles, I'm not sure if the God Company is doing any better than our US government. And since I brought that up, the fact that our Homeland Security officer was caught living out his child pornography fantasies makes me suddenly realize that the US government and God, Inc. are all rowing similar boats towards the same waterfall and I'm not sure if they'll be able to jump ship in time. Which in turn gets me scared about where the world is headed and, more specifically, what will be happening with the United States over the next few years. I remember living my life in constant fear during the Cold War. It was as if we were all jumping on broken glass, knowing that eventually one of those shards would puncture society, most likely through some sort of atomic weapon that would cause a sudden need to redraw all the US maps. Perhaps with California missing. The terrorism of today has awoken those feelings yet again. I don't know if the water I drink is contaminated with lethal chemicals, if the plane I fly in has a bomb in the luggage bay, if the building I work in will suddenly explode. I don't know if our government has created such enormous ill-will in the international landscape that what is now a position of super-powerdom will quickly turn into the loneliness of an isolationist bully, cause no matter what anybody says, the kid who steals the milk money every day will never be the most popular person in school. I don't know if the economics of consumerism will send all the US money to countries we've pitied for years. While we were so busy feeling bad for them, they were busy taking business acumen night classes. There's so much worry available in the US these days, it's unbelievable. If you're looking for something to worry about, I've got a grab bag for you that's filled to the brim. Which I guess is one reason why triathlon is such a great reprieve. There's a freedom in knowing that I can keep improving on myself and getting better, stronger and faster. In knowing that the only limitations I confront are those imposed by my own body and mind. There is a freedom in triathlon that brings ones perspective down to its most basic, granular level; that all I have and all I need is right here, right now. In a world of global estrangement, it is a peaceful, unifying force - and it allows a reformed hobbledehoy like myself, to accomplish the unfathomable.

....Now do you understand why I don't write on rest days?

April 06, 2006

Come On Baby, Let's Do The Twist

Morning Workout
20 minutes
Heart Rate Zone: Aerobic (Zone 1) / Lactate Threshold (Zone 2)

40 minutes
Heart Rate Zone: Aerobic (Zone 1)

3400 yards
Main Set: 4 x 200 yards (off 15 seconds rest) + 6 x 100 yards (off 15 seconds rest) + 4 x 50 yards (off 50 second intervals). It tires me out just writing it down.

Random Comments: I finally realized that the only way I can run is if I bike first, so that's what I did today. I laid out my morning paper on the stationary bike next to all the other morning paper reading, stationary bike pedaling, gym going early birds and I read the latest news as I pedaled off into absolutely nowhere. Twenty minutes later my legs were hypothetically loosened up so I galavanted over to the treadmill for what was going to be a 10 minute brisk walk followed by a 10 minute slow jog. Well, I'm really not one for walking. Ironically enough, I'm a terrible walker. I go very slowly and seem to trip on air pockets at random moments. Needless to say, 15 minutes into my walk I had just about enough, so I kicked up the volume a little bit and started jogging. And it felt great. So I sped 'er up a little more. Then a little more. And I kept running and it kept feeling great and the next thing I knew it was 40 minutes into the run and I was so damn happy that I didn't have achilles problems that I practically jumped for joy - until I realized I have achilles problems so that's probably not a good idea. So instead I went swimming.

Have I told you about my double tarsal coalition?

Not many people know about it. I try not to flaunt it. Sometimes the double tarsal coalition makes others feel uncomfortable. I can understand - it's a very private thing. It's also a very rare thing, or so I'm told. I didn't know I was so...how shall we say.... "special." But apparently I am.

It all started nine years ago...

I was training for the Big Sur marathon which, as it turns out, I never got a chance to run. Training was going very well until that one particular run in which I twisted the bejesus out of my ankle. I probably haven't told you this but I'm a serial ankle twister. I've twisted my ankle more times than Chubby Checker. Sometimes its from losing my balance climbing over rocks or hiking on uneven terrain. Other times its from just plain ole walking and tripping - like those miscellaneous air pockets I mentioned earlier. Either way, my ankles have seen better days.

So anyhoo, there I am training for the Big Sur marathon and somehow, while in the middle of a stride, the ground jumped up at me and slammed into my foot, catching me off-guard and heretofor twisting the foot in an unnatural position and consequently injuring aforementioned ankle. Ouch. Within minutes it was swollen as big as a jackalope's burrow. Within an hour I couldn't walk. Within a day I was in severe pain. Within two days I reached deep into my ass and pulled my head out, at which point I then went to the hospital to get my ankle x-rayed.

So there I am, post-xray, sitting on the doctor's table waiting for him to come in. Fifteen to twenty hours later, he shows up carrying the x-rays. OK, he says. Lets take a look at this. And he puts the x-ray up on the big lightboard they have situated for exactly these circumstances. The x-ray is up there and he's looking at it.

Hmmm, he says.
Interesting, he repeats.
Hmmmm, he says more emphatically.

He looks at me.
Then back at the x-ray.
I'll be right back, he says as he walks out the door, leaving me perplexed and quite a bit nervous, if I must admit (which I feel like I must).

Forty-five hours later the door opens again and the doctor is walking in with another of his colleagues. This is what I was talking about, the first doctor says pointing at the x-ray. The second doctor stares at the lightboard.

Wow, doctor two says. You're right.
I've never seen one of those before, doctor one exclaims.
Yeah, me neither, Doctor two concurs quietly, all the while eyes not leaving the bone-shaped glow of the x-ray lightboard.

They both look at me.
Then back at the x-ray.

OK, guys, I finally say. I don't mean to interrupt your little x-ray party over there, but will one of you please explain to me what is going on and why it takes two of you to marvel over it?

They both look at each other in a silent chess match, wondering which one will speak first. Finally Doctor two begins to talk. Well, he says slowly. And with a big breathe, lays it on me - Apparently you have a double tarsal coalition.

At this point one would expect that the entire world fell silent. All of humanity stood at a stand still. The cars stopped, the passers-by halted, the animals stopped grazing - even Bambi, Thumper and all their little furry forest pals stood in wonder. Double tarsal coalition, I imagine they murmurred in their animal speak. He's got a double tarsal coalition. Poor human.

I could feel my face go flush as all the blood in my body immediately evaporated. I was an empty shell of a man crinkling around nervously and uncomfortably on that annoyingly loud paper they put on doctor's tables.

Do we have to cut the foot off?Will I be able to run again?Am I going to live?Tell me doc!!Tell me!! The words were streaming through my brain. Finally, fighting back tears, I was able to speak....

Uh.... what's a double tarsal coalition?

The doctors chuckled at me, as they tend to do in situations like this. It's that chuckle that really makes you feel inadequate, as if there were this big joke and the entire world was in on it except you.

Here's the story, doctor one says as he pulls out one of those skeleton-like models of a foot that shows most, if not all, of the bones. When people are born, he continued, the bones in their feet are fused together. As you get older the bones actually separate to allow for greater flexibility and movement (at which point he started moving the skeleton foot, for reasons I'm still unclear about but assume that it was to demonstrate to me that feet can move).

Every once in awhile, he said, there will be a set of bones that remain fused together. That is what we call a coalition. You, my friend, have not one but two sets of bones on your right foot that are fused together. It is what we call a double tarsal coalition. This is very very rare. Neither of us have ever seen one. And what it is doing is pulling your right foot outward, severely limiting your flexibility. Which explains why you are always spraining your ankle.

Ah, I said comprehendingly, if that's even a word. So, will I still be able to run?

Doctor two spoke up this time. Honestly, it's amazing that you've been able to run at all like you do. So considering the fact that you've managed to run for this long, yes, you will still be able to run.

So apparently, just below the ankle of my right foot, the bones are fused together. They're coalished, if you will. And because of this, my right foot tends to pull itself outwards. And my ankles have become weak. And my knees have become misaligned. And my hips are out of place. And I get a ton of calf injuries. And I get a fair bit of achilles injuries. Which is exactly where I find myself right now - with calf and achilles injuries. And that is the exact reason why I'm going to physical therapy. So that once and for all, I can battle my double tarsal coalition. And believe me, I shall triumph in this battle. I shall win. One day, not too far from today, I shall stand tall on strong ankles with good balance and I will be the victor, the conqueror of my congenital defectiveness. I shall prevail.

Oh yes, I shall prevail.

April 05, 2006

The Twelve Minute Push

Morning Workout
BIKE (on the trainer)
1 Hour 15 Minutes
Heart Rate Zone: 4 x 12 minutes at Steady State Threshold (Zone 4)

Random Comments: It was raining again but, believe me you, I made sure the window was opened during my workout this morning. Lord knows I didn't want to risk odoriferous asphyxiation like last week's disaster (see Whatchoo Talkin Bout Willis for the gruesome details). As usual, the first 12-minute push was painful and dreadful in a fun way that only the triathlete or cyclist can truly understand. As for the next three 12-minute sessions, well they were painful too, if not a bit less dreadful. Think of it like this... Picture somebody came up to you and twisted your arm behind your back, jolting it up just short of snapping the darn thing right out of its socket. You feel that wince of pain, don't you? That was my first set. Now, let's imagine that person just kept your arm locked behind your back for, say, 45 minutes straight. Sure it would hurt, but eventually it wouldn't be as dreadful as that first jolt of pain-induced nausea. You'd either get used to the pain or your body would become numb to it. Which really is probably the best way to sum up my workout this morning. But apparently this pain is making me a stronger person. So maybe one day I'll be able to beat you in a race. With one arm tied behind my back. Just short of snapping out of its socket.

April 04, 2006

I Got It! I Got It!......I Don't Got It.

Morning Workout
30 minutes that flew by so darn quickly. Am I really starting to enjoy this?! Please tell me I'm not enjoying this. I can't possibly be enjoying this.

3200 yards
Main Set: 4 x 400 yards off 20 seconds rest

Random Comments: Something happened halfway through my swim, somewhere around the one mile mark of the workout. Here's what happened: I started going faster and the swim got easier. Yep, faster and easier all at once. That's good, I think. That's what's supposed to happen, right? I don't even know how it happened or what it was that caused it to happen, but it did. Apparently I got locked into some kind of groove somehow. I'm not saying I was flying through the water like Sir Phelps. No no, not even close. But apparently I was moving fast relative to my normal piddly puttering. Suddenly I "got it," whatever the hell that means. And each 400 yard repeat was easier and faster than the previous. In fact, my last 400 yard set was 15 seconds faster than my first. Fifteen seconds, I tell you! That's like twelve days in dog-swim minutes. I swim again tomorrow morning. I'm curious to find out if I still "have it." I'm scared I've already "lost it." In which case I'm really going to have to start "looking for it" until I "find it" again.

April 03, 2006

The Three Hundred Fifty Dollar Man

Morning Workout
1 hour 30 minutes
Heart Rate Zone: Aerobic (Zone 1)

Random Comments: If we listen to my heart rate monitor, which we won't, my heart rate hit 222 beats per minute this morning, which it didn't, my cadence was somewhere in the 143 revolutions per minute range, which is ridiculous, and my average speed was 42 miles per hour, which is so very from the truth it makes one wonder why I paid three hundred and fifty dollars for this crappy piece of machinery in the first place. Then again, I'm sure we all know that I can't live without it.

April 02, 2006

A Safari In My Mind

Morning Workout
5 hours 15 minutes (just a periwinkle short of 80 miles)
Heart Rate Zone: Aerobic (Zone 1), Lactate Threshold (Zone 2) and places beyond.

30 minutes
Heart Rate Zone: Recovery (Zone nil) + Aerobic (Zone 1)

Random Comments: For the first time in just short of ever, I drank and ate the amounts I was supposed to on the bike ride. I locked in my nutrition, as we like to say in the business. The good news about this news is that I finished the ride with a fair bit of energy left and a fair bit of my mental capacity still in place, as opposed to my usual incoherent, maniacal, overly-pained and pretty darn angry state of post-ride being. The bad news is that I peed a river - or, more likely, an ocean - during the ride. I think I had to stop and pee four times in the five hours - and that doesn't count the bladder pains I was experiencing during the last half hour when all I could focus on was the privacy of my own white porcelain bowl. It was a wierd feeling to finish an 80 mile ride and not end up a pile of rubbage on the wayside. A wierd feeling indeed. And the run? Whoooeee, it felt good. My legs had that oh so fresh feeling that would've had me bounding about like a gazelle or a dikdik or a kob or, at the very least, a beisa oryx, if it weren't for the concern about the achilles. So, alas, though I felt wonderful, I guess you can say I was more bonobo-like than anything else.

Don't you feel like you're on the Discovery Channel?

April 01, 2006

Whatchoo Talkin' 'Bout Willis?!

Morning Workout
BIKE (on le trainer)
1 hour 22 minutes 34 seconds
Heart Rate Zone: 4 x 12 minutes at Steady State Threshold (Zone Quatro, not to be confused with the Schick Quattro, or the Audi Quattro, for that matter), three minutes of rest in between each 12 minute set.

Random Comments: That first 12 minute spin was tu-ough. My legs just weren't strong enough this morning. I pedaled and pedaled but they conked out before I could even get my heart rate to the SST zone I needed to be in. Fortunately, it's always the first set that's the toughest. The other three were much easier. Of course, maybe that's just because it was another great episode of this week's Lost that I was watching on the TiVo.
Star Spotting Of The Day: Paul Haggis, writer of such popular fanfare as Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Diff'rent Strokes and The Love Boat (you didn't know about those last two, didja?)

Location: Peet's Coffee in Santa Monica

What He Was Doing
: Sitting outside reading the paper and drinking a cup of something that looked peculiarly like coffee, but you never know with somebody who is named after a dish of an animals heart and lungs boiled and served up in stomach lining. For all I know, he was probably drinking sheep's blood.

(Editor's Note: Truth be told, I would've never recognized this shiney-headed lad, but a starstruck friend pointed him out as she tried to still her beating heart)

It goes without saying that there are various, oftentimes outrageously offensive odors that emanate from a gymnasium. What with all those people sweating in unison and emiting bodily fluids in a closed, poorly ventilated location, there really is no way to avoid it unless you draped one of those pine scented, rearview mirror hanging air fresheners around everybody's face as soon as they walked in the door. And that's just not a good way to do business.

Having frequented the gym so often, I'm almost used to the smells. Granted, I stay away from the men's downstairs locker room as much as possible for reasons I can't go into without causing rumblings of nausea. But overall the gym's odor is not that bad, exceptin' for maybe a person or two. There's this one guy, for instance, who is there every single day. And every day he wears the same soiled and dirty tank top and the same exact torn and frayed biking shorts. He smells horrendous. He pedals away on the stationary bike and, I'm tellin' you, you can sense this guy from the racquetball courts down the hall. The thing is, I bet that he doesn't even know he smells. He's so used to his tremendously foul odor, he no longer realizes that he leaves a wake of death and destruction behind him wherever he goes.

And therein lies my point, nobody really knows how bad they smell. Granted you might get a special whiff every now and then that embarrasses you. But, trust me, by the time you get that whiff it's too late - you've already been whiffed by a whole assortment of offended people for quite some time. As for me, I don't think I smell when I sweat. If I do, it probably resembles the sweet scent of sugar and roses.

That all changed this morning.

Since it was raining, I decided to do my bike workout on the trainer in the living room. And since it was raining, of course I kept the windows shut so the place wouldn't get drenched. It was around 45 minutes into my 80 minute ride that the smell breached the fortress of my clogged sinuses. Whats that smell, I wondered. I looked around the room for a rotted animal that may have crept in and died in the middle of the night. After all, if you're looking for a nice place to die, my living room is as good as any other location. But, alas, I found nothing. I kept pedaling but it hit me again. That smell. And this time it got even stronger. As I turned my head around to search the room one more time, my nose graced the vicinity of my armpit. I could feel the individual hairs in my nose become singed one by one. I nearly collapsed right off the bike. I smelled horrendous - and that's putting it mildly. With this odor, I could barely live with myself. But I'm training for an Ironman - Lord knows I didn't want to stop my bike workout. So I kept plugging on. Yet the more I pedaled, the more the buckets of sweat came out and the more I stank it up. It was a battle of the will, and the will was losing.

I stared at the window, willing for it to rise open, but I hadn't gotten to that point in my telepathy course yet. I closed my eyes and visualized me wearing a gas mask. But suddenly the mask sprung a leak. I did everything in my power to keep my workout going without dying from self-odoriferous asphyxiation. Hell, I breathed out of my mouth but the odor was so strong I could smell it from my taste buds.

Finally the workout was over. Miraculously I survived. I jumped off the bike and took off my shirt so quickly I nearly took off an arm in the process. But, frankly, the loss of an arm is a small price to pay in escaping this malodorous monster that was stalking me from within.

I've now showered and I'm back to being as fresh and pure as a baby's powdered pre-poop tushy. And as I sit here and type this, I suddenly wonder if that skanky tank top, moldy bike short wearing fella isn't sitting on some couch somewhere writing the exact same thing about me.