We make holes in teeth!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ranting Lunatic Post Warning

A few things to babble about today but I don't feel like typing the whole way on the train so not sure how much I'll get through. I'm going to start with Coach G again since biking is more important than the other stuff.


"Cool. I assumed a 5 minute rest interval would be a good choice. Since you're time-limited, how long do you warm up before the work begins? I find I can't get much accomplished on the trainer w/o at least a 10 minute warmup, and I usually do 20, particularly for high-rpm, intense stuff."

Warm up has been a battle over the years but last year I finally, finally, finally understood the value of it. I'm sure you know that already. But for the other guys out there - Steve, Jake, Walter - who may race this year let me say that warming up before a race was 1 of the 3 main reasons I made such big progress towards the end of the season. If everyone in the field warmed up properly I believe there's no way I come in top 10 at Ringwood. That's how important I think it is and most of the guys I see out there don't warm up enough.

To answer your question, it depends. On the 3x20 days I warm up 15 minutes. On the tempo days it's only 10, but the first 10-30 minutes of those tempo rides are on the lower end of tempo so it's sort of an integrated warm up where I slowly press up based on how I feel. On high end days it's 20 minutes and even that doesn't seem like enough as usually the first few intervals are sometimes really tough. But it's hard to set aside 45 minutes to really warm up properly on those beastly days.

I might say that being able to jump into the 20 minute block after 15 minutes of warm up might suggest I'm not going right up at threshold. But I will also tend to start at a bit of a lower cadence at the start, say 85-87 and try and drift up to 90/91. I know now from experience that "toughing it out" and warming up at full speed is a sure way to toast your legs and crush motivation.

On to other things. Damn, it turns out I have too much to talk about today and not enough time. There are at least 2 more things I wanted to get in but may not have the thumb-cycles to bang it out. So instead I'll go with this one.

I have a saddle sore the size of Saturn right now. I woke up this morning with rings and moons and NASA satellites around my butt, it's that bad. This must be the first one in about 6 months so that's good. Incidentally, this may correspond with my getting back on the trainer regularly. Or it may have to do with wearing the diaper-shorts on the trainer Tuesday. If you've ever had diaper shorts you know what I mean. They're not really called anything different they just have a chamois that could buffer your head against the windshield in a high-speed car accident. Thick, soft, and not ergonomically sensical at all. I think I may opt out of my diaper shorts on the trainer for a while and see if things get better.

In reading the environment book I came across some good stuff yesterday. You may have heard the assessment that we as a world are losing 40,000 species a year, or that in 50 years we will have wiped out 50% of all currently existing species. It's an interesting number, this 40,000, especially when you look at the data to support it. The man who made this claim does have field experience and is a trained scientist, like Batman. I'm going to now present some of his data.

On average this is how many extinction events he observes every year:


The most extinction events ever witnessed by this man in one year:


Extrapolating from this, here is how many we should assume:


Solid science. Actual data and models suggest that in the next 50 years we will lose .7% of all existing species. This is a number much higher than what "should" be dying out. But it's significantly lower than Greenpeace, WWI, or the Sierra Club would have you believe.

The point here is that man does infringe upon nature and that it is a problem that needs to be addressed. But it is not a "holocaust" as some institutions claim.

The more I read this book and the more I follow the election process the more I see govermnent and politics as a white elephant of a burden to society. People wonder why this or that world event takes place and nobody cares. I'm starting to understand why. This is because so much of what you read and what you are told is bullshit. In the end it seems that almost everyone who gets 1 minute of Andy Warhol's fame becomes a politician. They cannot hold any sense of morals and somehow feel the need to lie and push an agenda. People seem to convince themselves this is done for the "common good" so that they can sleep at night. I see it in all walks of life, from the top of the country down to a personal level. I wonder if it is possible for man to exist and not lie in order to reach some personal aim that they have deemed more important than being honest.

This is funny in light of the fact so many people believe in god and feel that god is guiding their actions. If there is a god, and I have no idea if there is or not, how can this god entity be anything but disgusted at the collection of nearly 6 billion liars that this world has become? Or is this part of the process? Is this god reading my blog and thinking, "Well looks like human being #435,123,456,997,000,001 learned a lesson this week. But what's all this me-in-vain shit going on?"

Yes, this turned into a rant. My train broke down and now I'm in Secaucus waiting for another train to pick up a few thousand stranded passengers. So it goes.

We had layoffs yesterday further destabilizing the already unstable work environment. I think we lost roughly 2 out of every 7 people in the department. Not a morale booster but these things never are. I'm not going to say much more than that. I honestly had absolutely no idea if I was going to get called in or not. Job security is at an all-time low. Like the broken down train, so it goes.

I had a Brooklyn Chocolate Stout last night and it was good. In the 4/3 scheme I have now Wednesday or Thursday are OK for beer. Those days give enough time for recovery from Tuesday's morning ride without compromising Saturday morning's ride. It was 1 big beer though, and that was plenty. I figured I deserved it since I hit 185 yesterday. When we sat down for dinner Julia said out of nowhere, "" Like Homer Simpson, don't mind if I do!

I made some homemade trail mix yesterday which was your standard nuts and raisins and chocolate chips but I cut it with Kashi O's cereal to bump up the carbs and the volume. The biggest downer about trail mix is that you can take 200 calories in a small handful and not even realize it until your bathroom scale says 245 a few months later. As the day wore on, however, I worried that it might be too good but...

Alas that wasn't the case as the scale said 184 today. Look out 181 here I come. I hope.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Throwing Down is Better Than Up

Let's get the ball rolling with some Coach G comments:


"Sounds like you are throwing down pretty hard. Good stuff. Questions: How long is your rest interval? What gearing for work/rest? You mentioned 92 rpm as slightly high- is 90 rpm your target cadence? Keep eating that fruit."

I am throwing down very hard especially compared to what I've done in the past. I commented to Walter, I think I'm finally understanding what they mean when they say, "You have to train in order to be able to train." I thought I understood last year but now I know I didn't. Having done some races undoubtedly helped that.

My rest interval is 4 minutes because I want to pare a few minutes off the workout to make sure I catch the train in time. In theory the workout calls for 5 minute rests. Now that I have the 4:30 am groove a little down I will likely go back to 5 next week.

The trainer bike is a mountain bike so my gearing is mountain specific. But the trainer also has resistance, so it basically comes down to this (roughly):

Work: big ring front, small ring rear, less 1. Resistance at 3. Say 44x14 at R3.
Rest: big ring front, small ring rear, less 2. Resistance at 1. Say 44x15 at R1.

I am targeting cadence this offseason more because I now see the value of really setting yourself into a certain cadence. I think this has helped me in those tempo rides because now my legs want to do 90. I've also seen that because I've been trying to keep the cadence higher I tend to slowly creep towards 100 and not realize it. Now I need to spend more time in the woods to see how well that all translates.

I was surprised at the 92 because it was the 3rd interval and with these I tend to hover in the 87-90 realm. So when I saw 92-94 with a few minutes to go I was happy with that. The last 2 minutes were tough so maybe I was really suffering from cadence creep at that point and paying for the higher power output.

Here's an odd thing. I felt really good all day Tuesday. Monday I was starting to get dog tired by the middle of the day but Tuesday I never hit the energy lull that usually comes on the last day of the block. And considering I was tired Monday, I expected it to be bad Tuesday. I started to fade a hair around 3:00 but some Brazil nuts and a pear helped a bit.

This morning marks my return to pre-vacation weight. That's a big milestone this early in the game. I've gone a bit militant with my eating habits but the reality is that yesterday I ate the following foods (among other things): egg, ham, avocado, meatballs, Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, peanut butter, ice cream, almond butter, potato pancake, and a chicken thigh with skin.
My point is two-fold. Eating doesn't have to be boring and tasteless. There are plenty of healthy foods that are good for you. But moderation is huge. One egg is 75 calories. A small slice of ham is 50. The chicken thigh is small, I eat 1-2 almonds at a time, and so on. Mingled in there I also had a mango, pear, tangerine, apple, asparagus, broccoli, and carrots. Mix it all up and it's not so bad.

Saw 185 today. Hopefully I can keep this up and make a full court press on the 170s by the end of February. 181 is the new short-term goal because I haven't been there since grade school.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hill 875

At the end of the day yesterday I reread my blog entry and it struck me how scattered and superficial it seemed. Scattered is understandable, since Monday is often a gibberish amalgamation of thoughts. Yet it almost read like a Post article where the point is little more than to throw out as many items in the hopes that you'll buy the paper again tomorrow. I guess this has something to do with my being tired on Monday morning or maybe it signifies a lack of ability to focus. I'll try not to let it happen too much.

I used the word amalgamation up there when I could have said collection instead. Sometimes I wonder if my vocabulary is dwindling but then I remind myself that words are meant to convey thoughts to the reader and not to make me feel like I'm a Smarty Pants (tm). I'm not sure amalgamation conveys any meaning that collection doesn't. Is there art in writing? Without question. But this blog isn't an artistic venture so much as it's a fucking blog about a guy who likes to ride his bike. To that end, I eschew the big words with the exception of eschew. I chew. Is chew? Alan Chu?

This has been in the back of my mind since I saw a link in a blog which determines the reading skill needed to understand your blog. The blog that linked it was remedial-3rd grade as was mine. He also tested a blog we both read which is a scientific-based bike blog and it came up the same. In all probability every blog would rate the same. I imagine the New York Times would as well. But I wasn't interested enough to link to a Times piece, not that the Times is a particularly intellectual newspaper or anything. But I bet they don't end sentences with the expression "or anything" or, for that matter, dangling participles. Such a barbarian attitude is unheard of.

Is there a point in using words that readers may or may not easily understand just so you can feel good about knowing big words? Or does it make more sense to always cut it down to the most straightforward language for the sake of communication? The answer seems obvious but at the same time don't we then negate words as an art form if we use them as efficiently as possible to convey thoughts only?

I have no point.

It's Tuesday morning and my legs are pounded out like a slab of meat that has been hammered for a solid hour. Today was the 4th day of the block and now I'm off until Saturday morning. After my first full week of this 4 day full-on period I think this is a good setup for me. I had no issue waking up this morning. Knowing I have a 3 day break following this block makes it mentally easier.

I did 3 sets of 20 minutes at threshold again today which adds up to 7 hours of pretty goddamn high quality work. Stick that sentence in your Vocabulator and see what it says. Anyway, the first set was OK and after the first 5 minutes I was in a groove enough to get through. The second set was tougher and at the halfway point my legs weren't thrilled. But I find the 10-15 minute mark is the real critical time in these 20 minute sets. You can always tack on the last 5 minutes and get through it. After that it was 1 more set until Saturday. If I had another day to tack on it would have been mentally taxing. But while the 3rd set was tough, with 10 to go I was feeling good, cranking out a slightly higher 92 rpm cadence than usual. With the end in sight I was able to pound it home.

So my legs are wasted but I'm totally coherent. On the train in I was able to digest 9 pages of the environment book which is way more than usual. For reference the pages are huge and footnoted. So I'm constantly flipping from the text to the footnotes to read. There are almost 2700 footnotes in this thing. That's why it takes so damn long to read 10 pages. Today was a really interesting piece about pesticides and how un-harmful they are to you. As a reference, you're more likely to get cancer from lettuce than the most common man-made pesticide.

On the trainer I watched a Military Channel show about Hill 875 in Vietnam. The absurd fact at the end: After a 4 day bloodbath and finally taking the hill, they just abandoned it.

By tonight, I suspect I'm going to be sleepwalking through life.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Scattered Monday

A lot of random thoughts on Monday so I doubt this will have any flow at all.

Change. I may have a potential change coming up soon. Good stuff. And no, it won't keep me off the bike. Right now that's all I'm going to say.

Football. I watched the end of both games yesterday and when it came down to it, both star QBs couldn't get it done. I grew up a Cowboys fan but don't care these days. But when they're on the TV in front of me, I'm drawn to root for them. Once again, the 4 best teams in football fail to make both championship games but on the NFC side of the ball you have a classic old-school football match-up. In New England I think you're going to see a slaughter. If I told you Friday that only 1 Manning would win this week...

Obama. Up until this point I've been an Obama lean. But with Clinton issue about Iraq and former president Bill calling Obama's view a "fairy tale" I think Obama really screwed the pooch on this one. The Obama camp retaliated and said it was a racist remark. What a joke. Perhaps Clinton's comment was bullshit, inaccurate, stupid. Who knows. But racist? Not remotely. Now when confronted with this Obama had every chance to take the high road and what did he do? Nothing. He let it linger. Basically they want every advantage they can get, so the candidate that we were led to believe wasn't going to play bullshit politics is doing exactly that. What's more, if Obama is elected are we going to have him playing the victim of racism every time some politician disagrees with him? This potentially does as much to polarize politics as anything all the other candidate do. Disappointing.

Fios. We had Fios installed yesterday, a process which took about 4 hours, 2 of which I was on the bike. We now have phone, cable, and internet through them and we should save something like $40 a month or so. It went about as smoothly as you could possibly expect. When I left for my ride he said I was going to take 6 hours. When I got back there was Peyton Manning choking away the game in crystal clarity and he was about done. The DVR receiver seems a bit flakey but I think that's the price of being in the post-beta rollout of this stuff.

The next few are bike. Skip ahead to beer if you want.

Bike. Saturday I had a really strong 2 hour ride of 36+ miles. When I was done my legs felt like they had done a race. Yesterday I did another 2 hours but without the same juice, just over 34 miles. When I was done I felt almost too good, but then when I walked down to the basement my legs were trashed. This morning I got up at 4:30 and banged out 3 sets of 20 minutes at threshold.

Yes, 4:30. My thinking is this. Well, I already explained my rationale for doing 4 days on, 3 off. So today and tomorrow the plan is to wake up 15 minutes earlier and stay on the bike 5-10 minutes longer at the end to make those Mon/Tue sessions close to 90 minutes. It makes those mornings a hair more hectic but it also allows me to "sleep in" until 6:00 an extra day during the week. So I lose 30 total minutes of sleep on those 2 days but I gain an hour of sleep on Friday.

So far, my 3 workouts have been really strong. Today's workout was better than last Monday's workout, which was the 4th day of a set. Today was day 3. But in those 3 days I've done 5.5 hours of quality work. The idea is to not waste much time and right now I'm not.

Beer. There is none. With the heavy bike load I find beer useless. When I'm tired and in need of rest and nutrition, beer simply doesn't taste good. The further in shape I get the less appealing it seems to me. I used to make Sunday evening my beer day. But that doesn't work anymore because it's smack dab in the middle of my block. You just can't get up at 4:30 if you have a few beers the night before. And I'm not talking about 12 beers. Just 3 wipes me out now.

Food. My daily goal is 8 total fruits and veggies. Ideally I want 4 and 4 but whatever. I also try to spread them out through the day as best I can. I find that if i reach the goal of 8, I simply don't eat as much of the higher calorie food. Basically if you're hungry and it's late afternoon, hey eat some carrots. If you're still hungry hit the almond butter.

Feedback. I've got at least 4 comments still to get on here, some from Steve, Jake, George, and Terren. Terren's needs a little more research but there was a lot of info that popped up on Google criticizing Freakonomics and the correlation between abortion and criminal statistics. But much of this also seemed to lead back to 1 source, though there were some mentions that the author of Freakonomics may have offered a mea culpa for that assertion. Still, those are all shit on the wall at this point and I certainly need to read more about it. The one thing that becomes obvious as I get older is that nothing is ever so simple.

Fin. That's all folks.

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