We make holes in teeth!

Friday, August 31, 2007

I'm a Photographer!

In the ever present struggle to be less fat I have adopted the (presumably) Buddhist approach of chewing my food slowly and taking time to eat all my meals. I admit I choose to call this a Buddhist approach because it sounds cooler than just saying that I'm taking my time eating. But in some ways it is actually more than that.

I started this week on a tip I read on the board in a thread about weight loss. After I did, it immediately struck me that both Nat and I eat far too fast. Our excuse would be that we have a kid, but the reality is that we probably ate like this before Julia. Now that I'm slowing down I watch Nat (and my mother on Wednesday) more or less slaughter their food. It's amazing what slowing down will do.

They say it's better for your digestion and it raises your metabolism but for me the results need to be more tangible, and they are. First of all I enjoy my food significantly more when I take time to taste it. It's amazing how we associate food with how full it makes us as much as how it tastes. The second effect is that I'm just as full, or more full, with less food.

Another side effect is that it changes meals from an all-encompassing experience to a more integrated experience. Without realizing it, I believe many of us totally focus on finishing the food and block out our surroundings. Putting down your fork and slowly chewing, and tasting, your food makes the whole experience more enjoyable, more integrated with life.

My peanut butter and jelly sandwich took almost an hour to eat yesterday at lunch. That sounds excessive and maybe it is, but I just took a bite and slowly ate it instead of consuming it as fast as I could. The inordinate amount of time was due to the fact I was doing my normal thing at work and eating a sandwich on the side as opposed to stopping my life to eradicate a sandwich. My experience does not jive entirely with the article linked above. When I focus on my food entirely, it has a much shorter shelf life.

Now, I know many people do something once and proclaim themselves that entity through and through, men in particular. We buy a camera and say we're photographers. A lot of us have been groomed by the fast pace of the Internet, where ADD rules the roost. The irony (or paradox?) isn't lost on me. After less than a week I've jumped on some new (to me) fad and all of the sudden I'm a Buddhist Eater, a notion diametrically opposed to the whole ADD nation? But then did that ADD Nation Syndrome lead to my doing that?

I know, I know, next week I'll be into Shinto Bug Ingestion but for now this is my newest approach in an effort to drop pounds. So far so good, though the weekend isn't here yet. This morning I was 190 which is good, since I've dropped the excessive weight from last week's foray.
Aside from slow eating I do plan on riding my bike this weekend. Plans are for a 3 day tour of the Labor Day weekend, all off-road if that's possible, or desirable. It's looking like Sunday will be a loop of Chimney Rock with Chris and then possibly a second loop after that. I'm considering some high-end stuff tomorrow on the road bike or a hard 2 hours at LM. Monday will be dictated by the other 2 days. That could end up being my big mileage day instead.

Next week I'm going to offset the days a bit. I'm going to ride Wed/Thu then something light Saturday and the Chain Stretcher on Sunday. I'm going to try and be a bit more fresh for this one. The course is supposed to be more rugged so I'm looking forward to it.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Biking Lent

With the 24 hour race (6 hour race?) in the rear view mirror my focus now becomes, what's for dinner? Oh wait, no that's not right. Something else out there I'm pretty sure. More races, sex, drugs, rock n roll. You know, the whole 9 yards. We also have the home stretch. The final nail in the 2007 bike season coffin (and right now my season looks a whole hell of a lot like a coffin full of the corpses of my race results) is the All-A-Muchy 50k.

That race is 6 weeks away and more than likely that's going to be it for me. In between there are plenty of other races to choose from but right now I'm leaning towards picking up 2 more of the H2H races. They're short enough that explosions and cramps really shouldn't be an issue. Of course with my luck it will be 105 degrees and by the end of my next race I'll be delusional, thinking I'm the King of France.

In the meantime I plan on hitting the bike pretty hard. I'm pretty pissed off with my 2007 season so I'm going to try to go out with a bang, even if that bang is a total supernova and I destroy all my bikes with a sledgehammer in an adrenaline rage. The upside is that pushing myself hard might result in a good showing in one of these final races. The downside? I really can't see one. Seriously if I blow a gasket it just brings me to the beer that much faster.

Speaking of which, I'm giving up beer through the end of the season. And wine. And any form of hard alcohol. I will on occasion lather rubbing alcohol into my skin closest to my liver but any more than that is off limits. Figure this is sort of my 6 week Biking Lent. Maybe it'll straighten my ass out and salvage a most astoundingly mediocre season thus far.

I was so not fatigued by the 24 hour race effort that I was out Monday doing 20 minute threshold intervals and then Tuesday doing 5 minute high-end sprints. At the end of each of those 5 minute jobbies I was really pounding away to squeeze every last bit of love I have for biking out of me. I'm coiling up that Supernova Spring real tight for the imminent blast. This morning was more threshold work, a walk in the park compared to a few of the high-end runs I was doing yesterday. That's like saying getting kicked in the balls is better than getting kicked in the balls and then getting kicked in the balls again.

My morning workouts are now almost completely in the dark. I have lights but that just tells my where the road is, not how fast I'm going or how much time I have left until I can stop pedaling and keel over to die. The GPS has a backlight which stays on for 5-10 seconds. But hitting the button is an effort in trying not to crash when you're trying to hold your pace at 24-27 mph. The threshold stuff is easier because I know roughly how far my 20 minute loop is. I don't have a good 5 minute loop yet.

Eventually I'll move these workouts indoors and onto the Trainer of Doom. But I'm going to hold out against that for as long as I can. Right now I'm feeling that I can hit these L5 sessions a lot harder than I was able to earlier in the season. I suppose that suggests it might do more good this time, or it might suggest that riding outside is mentally easier than the basement. Or it might suggest something else which I haven't considered like insanity or that I have a case of the shingles. I'm not a scientist I just ride my bike.

I have some feedback to catch up with.


"Question is are you having fun? It seems like it is hard to achieve that balance trying to maintain a strict training regimen. if that metric works out, can you post a review in the training links on mtbnj? *For the curious reader, Dr. Joe married both Nat/myself and then Terren/Cheryl later the same year.* sound like a real swinging group, polygamous and polyamorous..."

Fun. What is fun but state of mind? My new philosophy is that I will turn my biking experience into such a sordidly painful affair that the 23 hours a day off the bike will be pure bliss, an almost Eden-like state.

As a semi-serious and less incoherent response, but only slightly, I offer you the following answer: Brooklyn Chocolate Stout. Could I have done a 4th lap Saturday? Yes. Would I have had fun? No. Did I do a 4th lap and did I have fun? No and yes. So there ya go. At least I'm learning along the way.

But to also answer your question further, fun is why I'm hitting the bike like Mike Tyson hit, well, probably every woman he was with. Waking up at 4:45 and farting around the neighborhood at 15-17 mph is useless. I get virtually no training benefit from it and I don't enjoy it. So my new approach is to hit it like an accountant hits calculator keys and shorten the session. Let me tell you there's not much more of a sublime existence than panting so hard after an end sprint that you feel like vomiting while the sun rises to your left. That's what life is all about, not sleeping in. It also works if the sun is on your right.

Hope that was intensely helpful.


"what is your HPP? we are considering homeschooling our kids for a spell, but that is due to a lack of faith in the educational system, not really hippie parenting..."

We let the kid sleep in our bed and go to sleep when she wants. Fighting her to sleep was so counterproductive we all just got irritated. So now we're all happy and under-slept. I don't think we'll do home school because we don't want to raise a freak with no friends. Plus hippies are too lazy to do stuff like that.


"glad you had a good experience with them norm. john and frank are fantastic guys to deal with which is why i switched shops. having people you trust working on your bike is very important."

I really only trust myself but even that guy is a fucking wag sometimes. John and Frank were indeed good guys and I'm glad they were there to bail me out so I could ride an overly impressive 3 laps!!! I'm willing to bet you partied longer on Saturday than I rode. I am the king of the castle!!!!


"why does jake get to be the wizard? i'm the one who made the call - NO FAIR, I call foul! glad it worked out. Steve, AKA the deity"

I don't know man you guys need to work out who is who. I just ride my bike or at least talk a whole fuck load about it. If I rode as much as I talked I'd be cracking Maurice by this point. Instead I'm eating Fred's girlfriend's cookies. I like cookies. C is for Cookie.


"Norm, all I can say is that you have such a way with words. If you weren't the proverbial computer tech would make an excellent writer. I also want to say that Natalie should be nominated for an academy supporting actress in this case.... Or at the very least the Peoples Choice for most awesome wife!"

Yeah after today's entry you might not agree as much. Further, I have no idiotic reply to you today. Yeah I know I need to call you back. I suck at that stuff. Sorry I wasn't able to bring home a victory for the team George. It was goddamn hot and fat guys sweat a lot in the heat.


"Even though you were not totally pleased with the outcome Norm, there were positives to take away. Like you said, you rode longer in the wicked heat, and you cramped less on the trails. x'perience laddy, aye. In 24 hour events you can never predict what is going to happen. Given the unusual circumstances of the oppressive heat and torrential downpours, I'd say that it could have been worse for you out there. So 3 laps is really not that bad at all. You have heart, and determination Norm, balanced with enough smarts not to put yourself in a really bad position. That is known as racecraft and the more you compete, the more you will learn and streamline that craft. Good job man, and thank you for representing p9 SportsGroup. Good job to Sean and Kirt, and the rest from mtbnj as well! Actually, good job to everyone who participated. That is one tough event and imo just to compete takes a lot of tenacity and determination."

There are always things to take away. This time, other than the dirt on my bikes, I took away the immortal words of Kenny Rogers: "You gotta know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run." So I knew when to walk away, and I did. God I hated Kenny Rogers as a kid. Do you know that both Sean and Kirt and taller than me?


"Thanks for the kudos Norm! I really appreciate it. It works both ways though, you know. You have been a great representation for the team, I especially value your dedication, commitment and methodical approach to cycling, thank you. Believe me, I know how tough it can be when you are limited in experience and are amongst the big boys. I have had my share of being in the "Deep End" when I was racing motorcycles. But you tough it out and eventually you come to feel a bit more comfortable as time goes on. You are faring well my friend."

I'm absolutely sure Kenny Rogers had more than one memorable song but for the life of me I can't remember a single one. All I keep coming back to is The Gambler. Eventually, The Gambler will do something worthwhile.

OK folks, eat slower to be less fat. And stay away from the cookies too.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Recap

Like I said to Sean Sunday morning, they didn't ask me to be on the team based on my results. The best I can do is go out there and hope to entertain with my race reports. So it goes. Let's see what I can do.

It's now Tuesday morning and most of the race reports have come in. I'm just sitting down to write this thing. Yesterday was a family day to make up for the lost weekend. I'm not hungover from the race, since I rolled for a mere 4 hours and 51 minutes of it. Pretty paltry total, at least in the scheme of most 24 hour races. But things are what they are, and the race went more or less as planned but with some unforeseen fluctuations of circumstance.

I didn't have a race strategy all week. It wasn't until Friday that I finally figured it out. My aim was to have 2 big rides. One would start on Saturday at noon and the other would start Sunday morning sometime. Saturday I would go as long as I could continuously ride. Then I would eat, shower, go to bed, and wake up early Sunday for ride #2. Sunday I would just ride as much as I could again. So that was the plan.

I had thrown out any notions of total laps. On Friday I rode the first mile of the course and it was wet and greasy. Sean confirmed it wasn't any better for the other 9.5 miles. So going for 10 laps was out of the question. I was just going to ride, that was that. I wanted to get a huge ride in Saturday and a decent ride in Sunday. Other than that, whatever. On top of this was the heat, expected to be 96 degrees with a heat index of 100+ or something.

Looking back, that was my mistake. On Tuesday, the high was 59 degrees. So in my mind it simply could not possibly be that hot. I never really acknowledged it was going to be brutally hot and I never adjusted my approach because of it. I just planned to ride, and whatever heat we were going to get would start to fade shortly into the race. Stupid, I know. But hindsight, you know.

I took it relatively easy on the first lap, getting off whenever there was a glut of people in a rock garden. I found myself trying to direct traffic a few times, suggesting people clip out because it wasn't worth the effort. At some point I passed Sean with his one crank. For a while I was going back and forth with one of Kirt's friends, his name was Pat. He warned me the descent down Ice Cream was tough but I failed to listen (or was possibly too tentative) and lost it on a wet root and of course landed on my left shoulder, going on 2 weeks injured now. I may have cracked my tooth at this point but I'm not sure if it happened then or not. Anyway, I kept it at a good pace for lap 1 and felt fine back at the pit. I pulled a 1:32 keeping it toned down and I felt fine. I drank 32 ounces of water and filled up my bottle. Woody said he never felt so lousy on a bike ride before so he was going to pass on lap #2.

The climb on lap 2 wasn't too bad but I felt a little more drained than on lap 1. That was a hint of the heat but I wasn't listening so well. I felt fine, kept a steady pace that wasn't too fast, and did my thing. In all I cleaned more on lap 2 than the first lap just because there were fewer people out on the course. When I did have to walk, I was able to walk briskly up the hills and never had to stand there and catch my breath. I was still moving efficiently and I said to myself that 7 laps was certainly reasonable.

At some point on lap 2 I dropped a level though. Things started to get more difficult and I found myself putting a lot more effort in to clean that same hills and rock gardens. Passing the aid station, I saw a guy being treated for heat exhaustion. It may have been shortly after that when I regretted not stopping for a little water at that point. I started to get the chills slightly which meant I was overheating. I was overheating because I wasn't able to sweat enough to cool down, which was due to my being dehydrated. The strange thing about this lap was that nobody was passing me. Only 1 person on a 4 man team went by the whole lap. I wasn't going that fast at all. I think it was just so brutally hot out there people were just taking it easy.

I finished off lap 2 without much trouble and decided to take a longer break after this lap. When I sat down to figure out how much water I was short, I couldn't add up the numbers properly. Every time I did it I came up with a different total. So I sat down with a quart of ice water and rested. It was about this time Sean came in and threw in the towel for the day. He was toast. His one-legged first lap had drained him big time and he was cramping on lap 2, so when Steve asked him what he needed his reply was something to the effect of, "New legs, new arms, lungs, etc etc."

After a while I sat down again to figure out my water situation and came to the conclusion that I was close to a gallon short on how much I was supposed to be drinking. Sean looked at my notebook and started laughing at me because it was so incomprehensible to read. Eventually I figured it out. I had done sweat rate tests in the past and needed to maintain about 55 ounces an hour. After my long rest I was at a total of 144 ounces when I should have been over 220. After about 45 minutes I went out for lap 3.

This time the fire road climb was hard. I immediately wondered if it was a good idea to go out so soon. But I sure as hell wasn't going to lug myself up that half mile of hell then go right back down. So I kept at it and did the slow and steady thing. I was fine for the most part and did my best to encourage the people I met out there. Even though I was slogging along at a less than stellar pace, I was passing a decent number of people. Each time I would pass someone who was obviously not having the time of their life, I would do my best to encourage them and suggest they take their time and be safe.

I was having a tough time drinking anything and I knew it was only a matter of time before my body just shut down and refused to go anymore. I finally got to one hill I cleaned easily the first 2 laps and had to walk it. That's when I admitted to myself that I wasn't having fun anymore. So I dialed it back even more and just made as much conversation as I could along the way.

At the aid station I found Kirt. I knew he was cramping before I even asked. Woody had long since dropped me so I decided to stick with Kirt and help him get out of there. The reality is that it's a considerably easier to pull through the shit when you have someone with you and as much as he appreciated my help having him to talk to was a great lift to me as well. So we trudged our way out of the woods and shot the breeze along the way.

When I got back to camp I was done. I didn't have enough left for a 4th lap and Sean had called in and gotten a weather report which said major storms were on the horizon. I may have been able to rest up for an hour and do a 4th lap, but I wasn't thrilled with riding in the rain and it ran exactly counter to what my ride plan was. I specifically said to myself I wasn't going to add another single lap at any point just for the sake of riding one more lap. So I threw in the towel, ate some solid food, and hit the showers.

So that was day 1, in the books. A few adult beverages and a nice camp fire littered in with some good conversation and the night was a wrap.

Overnight saw the opening of the skies worthy of Biblical description. It probably downpoured for 5 of the 7 hours I laid in my tent. Of those 7 hours I may have slept for 4 of them. I woke up for good at 5:00 when a branch fell down and slammed my tent platform. That actually woke all of us up for the day and just before 6:00 we went down to the canteen for some coffee and breakfast and then to check the results board.

I guess it shouldn't have been a surprise but the results were at a considerably lower pace than the previous year's. Both solo and team numbers were off pace. With the heat and rain the weather obviously wasn't playing along. And the course was a bit longer and tougher than the previous 2 years. So those 3 things in combination meant a lack of posted laps this year.

I decided not to go out again for 2 main reasons. The first was that I didn't feel terribly good. That in itself wouldn't have been a big deal especially in a race like this. The second was that the conditions were bad enough that I would never ride in them if there wasn't a race going on. I wasn't going for a podium or a personal record or a goal and I wasn't on a team, so I had no compelling reason to press for 1 or 2 more.

It wasn't an amazing showing by any means but when I look back I'm pretty satisfied with the single ride on Saturday. I was able to ride longer in the heat than ever previously and I only caught 2 tiny cramps during that 3rd lap. Neither of them were so bad to stop me in my tracks and it wasn't until later in camp that I had the single worst cramp of my life. After reading some of the other reports I think I help up really well in the heat.

So from here on in I'm going to just crank out the season as best I can. At this point I just use Saturday as a training ride and go forward with some of the shorter races and see how the rest of the year goes. I'm pretty sure I'm going to close the season again with the All-A-Muchy 50k on the first Saturday in October. So from here until then it's a matter of nailing down the most efficient training plan I can and hoping I don't totally toast myself in the process. This year hasn't gone nearly as well as I had hoped so hopefully I can cash in on some of these training efforts with a good run or 2 at some of the H2H races as well as the 50k. This year has been a learning process to say the least. This past weekend is just another lesson in the books.

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