Sunday, February 28, 2010

I am easily inspired...

Rachelle, like all of us, sometimes has problems with motivation. The difference between her and I is the root cause. I get frustrated when the pounds don't go down, she gets frustrated when her times don't go down (Im just happy to have times to begin with!). Of course, I think this is universal among distance athletes. Rach has always been extraordinarily patient with me, but she balances that out by being incredibly impatient with herself.

Usually this represents itself in pouting, eating some chocolate, and then going back out the next day and working   twice as hard until the times do come down. Lately she's been feeling a bit frustrated; I put a lot of it on how hard we've been training and races are still a long ways away. I've felt some of it too, but she's ultra competitive. 

We read a lot of sports magazines here in the Berry house... Runners World, Bicycling, and Triathlete magazines just to name a few. One of the things that's drawn Rach's attention of late in Triathlete is the idea of a winter (Mountain biking, XC skiing, and running) triathlon. I think it's because when you're trying something for the first time, you can only get better, and she was looking for a little bit of a quick win.

Fast forward to this morning, and I'm standing on the side of a man-made cross country ski track as Rach takes a lesson. Just standing there watching her take this one lesson made me want to be out there doing it  too. It wasn't peer pressure; she'd tried to talk me into it all week. I had skis briefly as a teen, but didn't get a chance to do much with them other than goof around before I outgrew the boots. So I'm sure that's part of it. And the fact that my wife makes almost everything fun is probably part too.

But mostly, I'm just easily inspired.

For example, as a kid I was picked on a lot. I know everyone feels picked on, but I was tall, skinny, and too smart for my own good; a lethal combination. So when I saw Karate Kid in theatres, I said "maybe karate will help me too", and a few weeks later I was taking classes. (The trailer for the Karate Kid remake looks awesome, I saw it today during a commercial break while watching Mr. Miyagi teaching Daniel-son learn "paint the fence"). 

So you can imagine how much inspiration I've gotten just these past couple of weeks watching the Olympics. Aside from hockey and curling, which I've played and loved for a while, there are boundless tales of triumph and endurance that serve to remind me of the joy I get from competing. Seeing these athletes reach these heights, hearing about how much time and effort they've put into their training; just makes me want to work that much harder myself.

Today is the last day of what is at best a marginally or minimally successful month. I'll know in the morning what the final tally is, but I'm certainly falling short of my 10 pound goal. Hopefully, I can take all of this inspiration and harness it into a wildly successful March.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Making it all fit

Sometimes I find it difficult to fit in the exercise I need to make myself more fit. Whether it is to simply supplement my healthier diet in an effort to lose weight, or getting in the miles of biking, running, or swimming to prepare for the racing season; sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day.

I'm not what you would call a detail oriented person. I'm an idea guy. So when I first started doing triathlons, I thought "Ok, so I'll ride more, and I'll start swimming and eventually learn to run". And that's basically how I approached my first season. My times generally improved throughout the summer, and I felt better at the end of each race than I did the previous, even if it wasn't quite showing up in the standings. 

When Rach and I decided to do Timberman, that approach had to change. For one thing, I don't know squat about preparing for a true endurance event. Yes, I'd walked a couple half marathons, and done some 10ks, but even the sprint triathlons are done within a couple hours time. Timberman is an all day event, one that will take everything out of me, and if I'm not prepared properly, will be an abject failure. Plus, the distances we're training take enough time that you can't just tuck them in after work, or in the hour between dinner and prime time TV.

I have an acquaintance who is the CEO of a small to medium company, doesn't seem to neglect his wife and kids, and yet still manages to get in all the training he needs; and for longer distance races than I am talking about accomplishing. His energy level seems boundless, and he swears none of it comes in the form of amphetamines. He's often done with training in the morning before I've even started, and somehow finds time to be inspirational to others in basically every part of his life. Color me jealous. 

Anyways, to get in the workouts we need, especially during winter months, Rach and I have had to be creative and flexible. The BU FitRec competition pool is constantly busy, especially in the hours after work. The only openings seem to be when the pool opens at 6 am and in the last hours before closing. The Masters swim class fills the competition pool at opening, but the diving well is opened to use as swim lanes during that period. The diving well lanes usually don't fill immediately, so Rach and I can share a lane, which works fine for us. The problem of course is getting ourselves out of bed every day at 5:30, especially during severe cold, snow, or rain. We've been having some trouble with this lately, even though the worst storms are behind us.

This leads to working out late at night usually starting around 9 PM, in the last hour before the pool closes. While this is usually a good time in terms of lane availability, working out late often leads to sleeplessness for some people (like Rach) because of the increased adrenaline. Thankfully, being a big guy, I'm usually wiped out after a hard late night workout, so those tend to be nights I can sleep easily. On the occasions I can't, I tend to wind up staying up until about 12:45 am. Staying up that late isn't terribly conducive to getting up early the next morning, but I find I can function pretty well following the times this has occured.

The times I really have issues is when I go for a late night bike, which I've done as late as 10 PM, because the gym itself doesn't close until 11. While this is an ideal time for finding open bikes (our gym until recently suffered from having far too few exercise cycles), it's a terrible time to get your heart going hard. I've been up well past 2 on nights like that, and it's really tough to get up and swim before dawn on 3 hours sleep.

I guess what I'm getting at is that you have to be willing to make working out a priority, and doing your best to follow a schedule that allows you to maximize your time in that particular activity (as opposed to waiting for a swim lane or unused bike), while still making the rest of your life work. I'm committed to working out 6 days a week, but I'm committed to watching some olympic events live as opposed to TiVo. 

This where dedication comes in. In the end, it's about being as flexible as you need to be to do the work you have to do without giving up the life you want to live outside the sport.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I don't have a cohesive theme for today, but I have some odds n' ends::

  • After the food debacle of Sunday I had a nice reinforcement tonight. Rach took today off, and I wanted to watch the Canada/Russia hockey game. I told myself I'd work out after... and I did. I planned on doing an hour, but with a long swim in the morning and my foot still not 100%, I stopped after 30 minutes. But it was a solid 30 minutes, up near 80% of max heart rate for about half the ride.
  • I apologize if the blog ever sounds like I'm trying to be more poignant than I probably should for a blog about being less fat and doing triathlons. I can't promise it will stop, but I'll do my best to contain it. I've always been a writer, I like date movies, sappy music, and happy endings. sue me. ;)
  • We're less than 6 months from Timberman, and I have yet to run at full stride for more than 1/4 mile at a time. I can shuffle/jog for quite a while, but to get a time I can respect, I'll need to get going on the running. Hopefully next week I can start on that.
  • I finished paying off the honeymoon last friday. So from July 5th-12th, this blog will go from workout diary to travelogue. We're going to London and Paris. I hope to see a bunch of landmarks, visit wine country, and ideally ride bike at a couple of places where they hold Tour de France stages. Of course, I'll still be working out, especially just over a month from Timberman. But we'll have to be a bit more creative, and very vigilant so we don't go overboard on french cuisine or british pub food.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Falling off the wagon and into the kiddie pool

Did any of you hear a really loud thud on Sunday around 6PM Eastern time? That was the thud of me coming back to earth after almost two months of steady progress.

Normally, when I decide to have a bit of a food binge/bender, I usually like to blame this guy:
You can tell just by the jumpsuit this guy is a douche

But this time, I'm going to blame this guy:

Giving children nightmares, one game at a time

You see Sunday night, just a few hours after I posed for the picture by the river showing off my svelte? trim? somewhat less expansive physique, BU Women's hockey had their last home game of the regular season. Afterwards, I was invited to join the team for the post game meal. A buffet, no less. Pastas, meatballs, fried chicken; the works. And let's just say I got my monies worth. 

Oh, and did I mention this was actually my second dinner? Immediately prior to the game, an annual chili cook-off between the various on campus eateries. Not a huge chili fan, I figured it would be easy for me to show restraint. And I did a fairly good job, sampling the chili in small servings, and only getting seconds of the turkey chili. I even had a can of Pepsi thinking that my dinner points would be low enough that I could afford 3 points of sugary carbonated goodness.

In reality it just meant I was already pretty full when I got my plate and got in line for the buffet. 

And that's not all: Rachelle brought out leftover pizza from the locker room, not knowing about the buffet. So of course, I had some of that too.

Normally, I'd have gone ballistic for doing the food equivalent of waking up in Vegas in an off-the-strip hotel with a hooker named Candi and no memory of the night before. Instead I decided that sometimes these things happen, and that while clearly they can't happen often, to be completely disciplined in all situations is to be in moderation in none.

Wow, that sounded deep. Clearly, that doesn't happen often, so I'll rephrase for those who aren't used to me waxing poetic: What I meant was that I get 35 extra points a week, and I intend to use them, just ideally not all at once in the future (and definitely not use double that amount in a 3 hour period). 

Anyways, going from 319 on Sunday morning to 324 Monday wasn't a lot of fun and certainly not the way i wanted to kick off the last week of February. And even though I wasn't going to beat myself up over it, I intended to make sure that weight was gone pronto. We were scheduled for a long swim, but having missed the morning workout we went right after work. Of course, the pool was full at that hour. To workout together Rach and I would have been 3 to a lane with someone else. Not exactly the ideal situation, especially for the people who have to wait for me to finish a lap while circle swimming. 

So instead of waiting indefinitely for a swim lane, or perhaps scrapping our workout entirely, and Rachelle feeling a bit unmotivated lately, we decided to play. The recreation pool and lazy river were open, so we acted like kids and just enjoyed our time in the water. Doing the longest handstands, playing chase, holding our breath, etc. In the lazy river we swam against the current for a few laps, and that may actually have been harder than the 2100 yards we had planned. 

It's now Tuesday morning, and I am almost back to the 319 I started at on Sunday. More importantly I was reminded that playing is just as important as working hard, and hopefully that will stay with me a lot longer than those pounds did.

PS. I completely forgot the most ironic part of this post. Drawings are held among the fans in attendance at each game, and after attending most of the games, and being one of about 150 fans on average per game, I had never won anything. Until Sunday night, when I won 2 free hot dogs from Spike's Junkyard Dogs. As a penance for all of the eating I did Sunday, I am giving the 2 gift certificates away to the first person who emails me or comments and says they want them. Spike's has really good dogs, and locations in MA, RI, and CT. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Seeing is believing

When I first started this blog, I made one mistake. I forgot to take a picture of myself. I wasn't really thinking at that point about how much I was willing to share what I look like. 

Here I am with a family friend in 1992 at my high school graduation party, I weighed maybe 160

You see, when I got fat, I never really spent much time thinking about it (because I was spending too much time thinking about double cheeseburgers). It happened over years, slowly, from the time following probably my sophomore year of college (summer of 1994) through that day in August of 2006. 

This is me in 1996 with my oldest niece, you can see the added weight starting to show in my face.

That means it took 12 years to pack on 220 pounds. So the fact that it's taken only 4 years to drop almost 70 pounds is on track to take about the same amount of time. Obviously, I'll have to speed that up, so I'm in the low 200's well before I turn 40 (which is just a little over 4 years away now)

Between travel, 2 family Christmas meals, cold weather and icy roads to limit workouts; I knew December would be a tough time to lose weight. I got serious about the next phase of weight loss and triathlon training on New Years Day, the day of the Lowell 1st Run. The race offered free race photos, which is a rarity. As I came in last by a good stretch, the photographer had actually stopped taking pictures before I finished. However, after doing some digging, I managed to find a shot of me. 

I'm finishing the first loop here at 337 lbs on 1/1/2010

It's now not quite two months later, and the weather today was nice enough for a stroll around the neighborhood. I used this as an opportunity snap some a photo to mark my progress.

Me at 319 pounds with the Charles River and Cambridge, MA in the background on 2/21/2010

So while I'm going to have to fight hard to hit my goal of 10 pounds lost this month, progress is definitely being made. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Small victory

Last night, Wheelworks Multisport had a new member social to bring together fresh recruits like Rach and myself with others both new and returning to the team. It was in our neighborhood at a bar I've been wanting to visit. I've met some of the officers and returning members at previous in the past, along with the friend who suggested I look at Wheelworks as a possible team. Overall, the event was a lot of fun, and we got to know a few people, including a guy I'm connected to on Daily Mile (a nice, easy tool for tracking workouts), but had never met in person before. 

The problem I have with events like this of course is that they're held at a bar with a majority of the athletes in the kind of shape that can afford a few drinks and some salty, calorie laden snacks. I wasn't the only one there not in perfect shape, and I knew the added challenge of being around (and competing with) far more fit athletes. 

I did my best to be smart, limiting myself to one beer, and a light one at that. Further, I ordered dinner in order to stop myself from spending all night snacking on the appetizers. While I still snacked, I definitely ate a smarter meal than anyone else in attendance (no one else ordered dinner). I suppose they don't have to worry as much as I do about smarter eating. 

This reminds me about a common piece of weight loss information I completely disagree with: "instead of 3 big meals, eat 6 smalls meals". It's a plan designed to ensure you always feel "full", so you're less likely to binge. While this may work for some, I think those who have issues with portion control are the ones with the biggest issues figuring out what "full" means, and this will turn just into all day snacking with a net of more calories consumed. To me, snacking is a part of the process, but limiting it to once or twice a day to a very small subset of your total calories/points. Further, snacking has to be planned, with specific item(s) planned to eat. Otherwise, it's just extra calories.

I was up from yesterday morning, but only 1 pound. I'm sitting at 319 today, and I'm sure some of that will be gone tomorrow as the salt goes away. I'm still looking to hit 317 this weekend, and then I'll still have a week to get the next 5 pounds off to meet my 10 pound goal for the month. I have a 5 pound cushion from last month, but I don't want to rely on that.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

With a little help from my friends

My wife and I moved to Boston this past July. I'm pretty outgoing, and she goes where I go. But between planning for our wedding last September, both of our work schedules, training, and her school; we really don't know very many people outside of work. That's the primary reason we joined the triathlon team (although the training and sponsorships didn't hurt).

Thankfully I made some terrific friends during my time in Columbus. One of those, Bengi, is a former co-worker and one of my very best friends. Bengi, along with my friends Chuck and Dan, have been sources of support and inspiration to me for years. In fact, Bengi was kind enough to unknowingly supply the inspiration for today's post.

Bengi has gotten into distance running. She started last season by following a progression from walking to running, and then did a few 5k's while working on her goal of finishing a half marathon. Not only did she finish, but she threw a 2:32 in her first half mary last fall. I can run that far that fast too... in my dreams. Anyways, she's starting to ramp up for this season and because she looks to me as a font of knowledge, she asked me the following question:

"What do you eat in the morning before you workout? and after?"

Now that I think about it, she might look to me as a font of knowledge regarding just food. Not that she'd be wrong, but maybe I need to have a talk with Bengi about why she asked me this.

Anyways, it's my very amateur opinion that what you eat before you work out is important, but not nearly so much as what you eat AND drink after.

Of course it's important to eat properly before you workout. The question of what's proper depends on what you can tolerate having in your stomach during a workout. We're all different in this respect. I usually have a nice sized bowl of shredded mini-wheats about half an hour before my morning workouts. It's full of carbs, and has enough fiber to make me feel full without eating too much, and a little sugar to wake me up.

I only learned how important eating after my workout was when I started swimming long distances in the morning. As usual I learned the hard way. The first few times I swam long distance in the morning, I'd get to work, sit down at my desk; and eat my entire lunch before the rest of the office finished their morning coffees.

Now, I plan ahead. I pack something to eat right after the workout so I'm not starving before I pull into the parking lot. Usually its a Clif Bar, or sometimes a fiber bar. Fiber bars are pretty filling, and usually contain about 100 fewer calories than the typical nutrition bar.

Most importantly though, is to replenish fluids lost during the workout. Not only does better hydration lead to better workouts, but a nice big glass of water can help you feel fuller without extra calories.

I know there are a lot of different theories on how to eat, and research says a lot of different things. This is just what works for me. I'd love to know what hints any of you may have, and I'm sure so would Bengi!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Whining is the workout du jour

Yesterday, Boston got a snow storm that made getting around pretty tough. And we had a house guest for the night who went through travel hell, so we put our life on hold to make sure he got in ok. This meant no working out yesterday, and with Olympic hockey on, I wasn't horribly upset considering I ate pretty well yesterday.

Then I woke up this morning and got on the scale; and I was down another pound.

This proves that the single most powerful workout is whining. Yesterday, I whined about only having lost a pound so far this month, and lo and behold I'm down again today. Sure it could be that I ate healthy, drank plenty of water and had the picture of a healthy day (sans exercise). Or yes, it could be that my body was just in need of a rest day after so many days of working out. Maybe it was Fatty's link to my blog, getting me all worked up worrying about how to entertain all the new readers.

But I still think it was the complaining.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It seems working out isn't enough

(Note: I want to thank Fat Cyclist for his kind words and link today. Dear Fatty readers, I hope you will mingle with my current readers (all wonderful 6 of them) and enjoy your visit. Please come back now and then, and I'd love to hear from you. Thanks!)

Through the first half of this month, I've lost exactly 1 pound. 

Yep, all this exercise, and I've lost the equivalent of 2 double quarter pounders (with cheese of course) from my waistline. A little frustrating to say the least. But I know I can and will do better. And while I've promised myself no excuses about when I fail to make the progress I want, but I figure this one time won't hurt:
  1. Yesterday the wife and I went to a Japanese steakhouse for a late valentines day dinner. I tried to commit to portion control, but it's an insult to the chef if you don't clean your plate and eat your wifes leftovers. Even the bean spouts. (I'm willing to lie to make jokes, but no one eats anyone else's bean spouts).
  2. We had a house guest visiting Boston for the first time and we had to take her to Mike's Pastry
  3. We live within 10 miles of Bostons North End (aka Italian food district). It's basically the equivalent of someone coming to your house once a year with 5 pounds of spaghetti and a shotgun. You're going to eat one or the other, so I choose the pasta.
  4. My wife loves baking. I kid you not that there is a 2 layer funfetti cake with sprinkles sitting on my counter at home right now. This type of thing is a regular occurance at our house. I think baked goods multiply asexually in our kitchen when we're not around.
  5. I love sandwiches. And you've ever been to Boston, you know there's a 3:1 people to sandwich shop ratio here. 
This list could go on and on, but in the end; it's still all about me and my will power. I hadn't really gotten away from the changes that were working so well for me, but I have 12 days to get to my 10 pound goal. I want to make it! 

Today, I packed a peanut butter sandwich and a couple fiber bars. While this is the taste equivalent of watching ice dancing instead of hockey, it's the kind of choice I need to make every day.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Doing it, just to prove I can

Saturday's swim really re-energized my desire to work out and amplified my desire to prove to myself that I could swim the full 1.2 miles under the time limit for Timberman. 

Because of President's Day, I had the day off from work. The pool didn't open until 11:30 today, so I figured this was the perfect day to sleep in, and then really give my all at the pool. And boy, did I.

Saturday I did 1700 yards in 48 minutes. Today, I did 2100 in 58 minutes. Again I wasted about a minute with my iPod and time checks. So not only did I go the full distance, I did it at a slightly faster pace than I did the mile on Saturday.

This is really exciting because know I'm moving this goal from a dream to a reality.

Following a plan has been a big part of the success. Most days I know exactly what I'm supposed to do when I hit the gym; that workout goal is tied to my ability to finish Timberman, so I have to do the work. Today was a rare day that I got to pick whatever I wanted to do, and do it.  

There was no plan for it, no push from Rachelle. No big dinner last night to work off, no competition tomorrow. Just me and my desire to prove I could. Because no matter the plan, no matter the encouragement, it has to be me, every day, deciding that this is not what I do, but who I am. And that I do it to prove I can.

To me.

A couple side notes:
  • I picked up a couple bike tools today at a local shop that is sadly going out of business. Unlike many towns, Boston has so much competition for bike sales that there's no way they can all keep up. It still stinks losing a local store though. Remember, a couple dollars cheaper for a part or tool from a website is often made up for in the cost of shipping; and you can't replace the know how and customer service you get from a local store. I've learned a ton from local shops both back in Columbus and especially here in Boston. Often, if you do a lot of work yourself but have something quick you can't quite finish, they'll throw it up on a rack and finish it up for your free of charge. No website is gonna do that for you.
  • A kind thanks to those who have commented as well as those who have shared this site with others. Your well wishes mean a lot, and help with motivation to hit the gym after a long days work.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The whole echilada... erm, cannoli

Today, I ate a cannoli. 

And not just any cannoli. a Chocolate mousse cannoli dipped in chocolate chips from the world famous Mike's Pastry.

Why am I telling you this? 

Because whenever I eat something like that, something way out of the range of my normal dietary constraints, it means something big went down in terms of exercise that day.

And today that thing was swimming a mile. And not just any mile, but a continuous mile with but a short break to catch my runaway iPod as the h2oAudio case slipped off my waistband and attempt to test its 12 foot depth rating. Thankfully I caught it before it got close. 

This swim is significant not because I swam a mile, though it is a first for me to swim that far in a single session (actually 1800 yards including warmup). 

There is some significance to the fact that this swim was continuous. I haven't really talked about last triathlon season very much, but in my training last season I rarely swam more than 400 or 500 yards a day, and it was even more rarely a continuous swim. I've been building my distance over the past several weeks, with swims this week of 1200 and 1400 yards. 

What makes this truly significant was the time to complete the distance: 48 minutes. Now, I know that doesn't sound fast. Because it isn't a very fast mile. But that time means something, even as as slow as it is.

It means that I can already swim fast enough to finish the swim leg of Timberman under the 1:20 time limit.

A mile is 1760 yards long. The Ironman swim is 1.2 miles long. To finish the race under the time limit, I would have 30 minutes to swim an additional 400 yards. That's almost 8 minutes per 100 yards. My pace for todays swim was about 2:40 seconds per 100 yards.

The best part of the swim is that I wasn't completely baked, as I have been after some training swims. I am definitely gaining strength and endurance.

Back to the beginning of this story; the Cannoli. It was really sweet. But it tasted even sweeter because I knew I'd earned it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Unless you're Best Buy, social media is really just socializing...

Note: So this post is about somewhat about "social media" and blogging, but not really about my blogging, so I think it's just on the good side of that line I drew.

Yesterday, I felt famous. I got an email from Fat Cyclist.

This means in just the past few weeks, I've corresponded with two of my favorite bicycle/lifestyle writers; fatty and bikesnobnyc. Since I started the blog, I've also had twitter conversations with professional triathletes Matty Reed (@boomboomreed) and Mirinda Carfrae (@miridacarfrae).

I follow Reed and Carfrae (and a bunch of other professional and amateur triathletes) because their workload shows me I could always be doing more than I am, and so I definitely shouldn't be looking at another hour on the bike or in the pool as some kind of hassle. I get motivation and insight from reading about their training, and I use the opportunity provided by their taking part in the social networking experience to ask questions about training, racing, or anything else related to the sport I want to learn more about.

Triathletes have generally gotten a bad reputation regarding their personal interaction skills. Triathlon is a very solo sport, even when you're part of a team. You have to be able to internalize a lot when you spend 3 straight hours on a bike. And you have to take your training seriously if you're going to participate in a sporting event that when done properly and quickly still takes many hours to complete.

To me this adds even more value to the presence of top level triathletes in the social networking sphere. It shows the personality of these folks in ways that a short biopic during the Kona broadcast ever could. Seeing the fun that they have with our sport will hopefully encourage budding triathletes to reject the image of the triathlete as a lone wolf jerk. (aka join a tri club, ffs.)

"Fatty" and the snob I read because they flat out LOVE something that I love: cycling. Though they now both get some financial benefit from their blogs (Fatty gets some free stuff and helps cancer research; the snob now has a column in Bicycling magazine), they started writing because they love riding bikes, and they wanted to share that love with others. Even if the snob does it in nearly the snarkiest way anyone could possibly think of.

There are a lot of folks who put all the emphasis of "social media" on the monetization aspect. While that's important if you're a company, and maybe even if you're an athlete looking for ways to improve marketability; it's not where the real value comes from. The connections we all make, the conversations we generate grow both our knowledge and our sports. The fact that it grows businesses is a secondary benefit to anyone involved in a sport.

For companies; Twitter, Facebook, et al. are just parts of marketing strategies that will be replaced when the next big thing comes along. But for athletes and fans, these new ways of meeting and sharing will have a longer, far more lasting and important value than selling a few more bike frames.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Well, that lasted one day

Rachelle woke this morning to her phone alarm set for 5:30, and hearing the sounds of the BU grounds people fighting off "snowmageddon", she turned off the alarm and went back to sleep assuming the weather was enough to keep us from the gym. Because I didn't hear the alarm, I didn't wake to check. When light streamed in through the curtains at 7:30, I woke up to realize I wouldn't be getting in an early morning swim today.

With that, I took the frosty cold lemons I was given, and made them into a core workout, right there in our bedroom. Ok, maybe that's not the way that saying works, but close enough. I did reps of several different types of crunches, enough to get my heart rate up and get going for the day. We'll still hit the gym, and ideally the pool tonight. 

The worst part, of course, is that "snowmageddon" didn't really come last night. The BU groundskeepers were just shoveling the light dusting off sidewalk to prevent falls and more importantly, lawsuits.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It feels good to be right

Yesterday I challenged myself to get my rear out of bed and get to the pool or gym every morning for the rest of the week. Not because my training has been lacking, or because I'm behind schedule. Rather it's because my mood has been suffering due to the prolonged cold weather and windy days we've been having.

So this morning we got up and hit the pool. 1400 yards later I was tired and HAPPY. I took that energy to work and had a good start to my day. I followed it up with a couple diet dews and I'm still in tip top mental form (as tip top as I get anyways). 

So it feels good to know I was right about making this change, but mostly I just feel good because I did it!

A big storm has been predicted for today here in Boston, as many as 8 inches of snow has been forecast.My morning mood boost couldnt have come at a better time.

So now that I've discovered this key to my better winter mood, I challenge you: What can you do to make yourself feel better and fight off the winter blues? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The winter doldrums and some notes...

Like many people living in northern climes, my mood is sometimes affected by the seasons. Winter in particular gets to me. I like snow, though not as much as Rach (she actually asked me earlier this year if I would move to Alaska!), and after a while the cold begins to wear on me. One thing I've noticed is that it's sunnier in winter here on the east coast than it is in the Midwest. I think that has helped lessen and delay the onset of the winter blues until now.

One of the benefits of triathlon training is that I've really experienced the endorphin "high" that comes from exercise of late. Earlier on in training it would take me above even my normal perky self; now it helps me keep an even keel. When we train first thing in the morning, it can really make a difference in my day. Of course lately, it's been tough to drag my butt out of bed, even to swim, which I love.

So the challenge to myself is for the rest of this week to get up early and get in my morning workout.

Now some notes:

  • Not content to mock the just the cycling world while raising $ for cancer, Fat Cyclist is now doing an Ironman. His recently betrothed, "The Runner" just got him through a marathon. I can only imagine what it will take for him to complete another marathon; this one after a 2 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride. Kudos to him and to Timex for pushing him to do it. I'm sure he'll succeed.
  • We STILL don't have "The 2010 Berry Family Triathlon Schedule" done, but I do have a few key dates:
    • 5/9 - New England Season Opener Sprint Tri - Hopkinton MA.
    • 6/12 - Hyannis Sprint I -  Hyannis, MA
    • 8/22 - Timberman 70.3 - Gilford, NH
  •  My side has stopped hurting. This is significantly good news, because it lets me get back to being a little more aggressive in the pool. I'll still take it easier this next couple workouts as a precaution.
  • My heel has not stopped hurting. While this is bad news, it finally led Rach to lift her "I'm not your athletic trainer" rule in order to evaluate my foot. It appears to be a Achilles heal and/or Plantar Fasciitis  injury. The good news is that this can be treated through ice and stretching. The bad news is that I haven't seriously started run training yet, so it needs to get better FAST!
  • Rachelle and I have scheduled our honeymoon for July 5 - 12. We're going to London and Paris. We talked about it and feel this gives us over a month to recover and finish preparing for Timberman. Plus, we'll use training as an excuse to cycle or walk whenever possible on the trip. Definitely taking the good shoes with us.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday at the pool... some progress and some fun

If you haven't read my previous post on my current injuries, he's a quick synopsis:

  • My left foot hurts - specifically the rear of the heel/Achilles tendon 
  • My left side hurts - specifically on my ribs
I've been taking it easy to make sure these minor injuries don't become major ones. The heel injury has meant no running, while the side injury meant several days away from the pool.

I went to bed early last night, got 9 hours sleep, and it seemed to make a big difference. My side felt closer to right for the first time in days, so I decided to give the pool a try.

Saturday mornings at the BU pool means lots of kids. Lots of kids. Lessons for little ones of all ages start as soon as the pool opens and go until noon. While their lessons are in the recreational pool, it makes for a cramped locker room, with the dads drying and dressing all the little ones. It also makes for a fun locker room, with all the kids excitedly telling their fathers how class went, and running around talking to their friends from class.

I decided to do a nice easy swim; 500 yards, with 200 of that as a warm-up. After the warm-up I decided to do the 300 as a single workout, or a 1 x 300. I started nice and slow, and by the time I got to 300, I felt pretty good, so I decided I'd keep going until I got tired, adding 100 yards at a time, and to make up for not going 100%, I did it all as a single swim. It wasn't until I got to 550 that I started to feel it a little bit, and decided I'd end at 600.

While I've done races with longer swims, I've never done 600 yards continuously without a stop. My stamina is definitely improving. Granted it was about 5-10 seconds slower per 25 yards, but it was certainly progress; from both a fitness and injury perspective.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

An ounce of prevention is worth 322 pounds of OUCH!

Excuse the delay between posts, work has been hectic, training has been about the same, and on top of that I got a new video game.

Preventing injury is a topic that you hear a lot about, and there are ways (ice, ibuprofen, a gradual increase in both intensity and duration of workout) to help limit exposure to injury opportunities. Unfortunately, there's simply no way to prevent injuries. Sooner or later, they're gonna get ya.

I've been fortunate through my 3 years of road races and first tri season; my most serious injury was road rash in my parents driveway after 28 miles on the bike. I slid on sand pulling into the driveway at the end of my ride. Growing up that driveway was stone and gravel, so I'm thankful they paved in a few years ago. One of those big rocks we used to have there could have been very painful.

That's not to say I haven't dealt with my share of injuries. Most of them have been the mild annoying kind that don't stop you from competing, but they stop you from training and competing at your best. In particular I've had sore knees, rolled ankles, tweaked neck, tweaked back, etc.

But one of the issues I've been dealing with almost chronically (it comes and goes) is heel pain. It comes from my hard strides walking, but I get a lot of pain in the bottom and rear of my heels. In particular in my left foot. The worst part is that it hurts worst when I stretch it, so any time I move my foot in a way that stretches the foot, it causes pain.

So, now Im trying to prevent further injury by taking a day off. I want to make sure I don't aggravate it on the bike or running, because the longer this sticks around the harder it is to train.

Hopefully, I'll feel good tomorrow morning so I can make up for not being in the gym tonight.


  • Got our official notice today that we'll be riding for Wheelworks Multisport in 2010. I'm stoked and can't wait to participate in team races.
  • When I asked about comments the other day, I had no idea that the comments weren't working prior to that. I've started getting feedback, so if you're interested in responding, I'd still love to read it
  • I know I've been teasing this for a while now, but we're going to finalize on our race schedule for 2010 any day now. 

Monday, February 1, 2010

Survey Says?

I'm trying to keep the blogging about blogging thing to a minimum, but I recently had an experience that made me curious enough to cross that line again. 

I recently built a home PC specifically for the purpose of playing video games. The store that sold me the parts sent me a survey asking the usual questions; how were they doing and how could they do better.

It got me thinking, that while I'm doing all this writing for me, I'm also sharing it with all of you. I think of the reviews as a service to the people considering a purchase of any of the products I use. I hope they are useful. While the site doesn't have a ton of readers yet, I'd like to point out that you can comment on anything you read with your opinion, thoughts or questions.

I'd love to hear them, and especially I'd like to know if you're getting anything out of this so far. I know it's providing a ton of value to me, but if there are things that you'd like to read about, or even things you disagree with, let me know. 

Unless you're my mom or my wife that is; I get plenty of your comments elsewhere ;)