Thursday, December 20, 2012

Athletes who get "REAL CLOSE"

Do you have a training partner?  Are you part of a group or Tri Club that trains together?  I know as part of the A-Train, there are many of us, and we get very familiar with each other.  There's always a few who get really close. Hell, we run together or ride together for hours.  We even shower together. Yes, its a public outdoor shower by the beach, but you get the idea. We get VERY CLOSE.

We have conversations we just can't have with regular people.  You know which conversations I'm talking about.  "Hey, my bike shorts, well they just aren't that comfortable, what should I do?"  "I'm allergic to that stuff, I get all red, you know, down there!"  My particular favorite (we'll keep the names out of this) was one morning after 3 hours in the saddle, I asked, how are you feeling?  The reply:  "Like I've been gang raped in the @$$."

When I ride with Beth, the Mistress of Bayshore,  there is never a ride, I don't slide up next to her bike, and say:  "Beth, I have to tell you... MY @$$ HURTS!"  You just can't say things like that to regular people.  Athletes have no problem talking about chaffing remedies, and find discussing penile numbness acceptable dinner table conversation.

We are proud of our bruises and scars.  You know you have at least one photo on your phone where you buttocks is purple and skinned.  Forget the photos, you gladly pulled your shorts down to show everyone, oblivious to the fact that you just mooned everyone, including the nice older couple in the parking lot.

As funny as all of this is, we really do get close.  We form friendships out on the road and in the gym.  We share towels, water bottles and protein drinks. People ask questions, like, are you two together, or dating?  Often the answer is no, we just work out and are together all the time.  Sometimes those same two people, actually do become a couple.  Then they start referring to each other as the "SO".  We even have one couple, two of the original members of the A-Train that are now shopping for baby furniture.  You never know!

We are there for each other, no matter what.  We're a team, we're a club, we are a family!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Remember the Lazy Little Bird

Have you ever heard of the story of the little bird that didn't have time to work out?  This lazy little bird decided he didn't have time to exercise, so when it started getting cold and all his friends flew south for the winter, he decided to it would be easier to just stay behind. He really didn't have time to fly south anyway.

Well the weather got colder, and colder and eventually the little bird came to the conclusion he may have made a mistake.  He started, flying south frantically, in a effort to get to warmer weather, but ran into a storm.  The fact was he was just too out of shape to make the trip.  He found himself falling out of the sky.  He landed in a field, in a snow bank.  He sat there freezing to death, and just when he thought it couldn't get any worse, and cow walked by and crapped on the little bird.  

Well this certainly is the end, he thought, but suddenly felt warmer.  As a matter of fact, he felt so good, he began to chirp a happy tune.  Just then a cat was walking along the fence, suddenly jumped to the sound of the chirping.  He dug through the snow and manure, found the little bird, cleaned him off and ate him!

  • Everyone who craps on you, isn't necessarily your enemy
  • Everyone who digs you out of the crap, isn't necessarily your friend
  • And finally... if your warm and happy in a pile of $%!# keep your mouth shut!
Oh yeah... Most importantly, DON'T SKIP YOUR WORKOUTS!
Yes, its that time of year that we are extremely busy.  We are running all over the place, and may feel we don't have the time to get that workout in today. Now, I'm not saying don't take a rest day.   We need those.  We also need some down time, to enjoy our friends and family.

It is still important to keep our workout schedule, even though we are in "off-season" mode, or don't have a race anytime soon.  Today's workouts do a few things.  They keep us in the rhythm of working out.  Getting up early, is a terrible shock to the system if you don't do it regularly, then suddenly January 2nd try to "hit it hard" again.  Our workouts this time of year should be FUN! Running or riding with friends reinvigorates us.  Keeps us motivated, and reinforces our good habits in the face of the pressure from others to slow down.

Our workouts may not be as intense or as long duration as we did a before the holidays, but keep the momentum going.  No one wants to be the lazy little bird.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Don't sweat the small stuff!

The Holiday Insanity continues!  The pace on the roads quicken, people in the grocery stores move their carts around the aisles like they are on a two mile oval.  People often grumble and groan at check out lines.  There is a heightened level of stress all around.  What toy do I buy the kids?  What do I get for that special someone?  The commercials on TV make it seem, that if you don't get that perfect gift, you don't care enough.  Talk about pressure.

This holiday season (I'm using my radio voice from years gone by) why not try something completely different.  SMILE!  When something or somebody pisses you off, SMILE!  When someone is in the check out line behind you and has only one item or maybe two, let them in front of you.  If a family member is driving you insane, SMILE, look them in the eye, and say, "you know I love you".  You would be amazed at the response.

Instead of worrying about the physical gifts, focus on spending time together.  Its not the place, or the gift, its the time we have together that's so important.  Life is too f*(&!@# short to get wrapped up in minutiae.

Now I'm trying to remind myself to do this!  The other night at a restaurant, with family from out of town, we had a rather unpleasant experience.  Dinner took an inordinate amount of time, and the service was horrendous.  When my sister asked the waiter for a status, he was rather rude, and even raised his voice a tad.  Now having begun at 5:00 am as I normally do, and spending the better part of the day at the hospital, I was "stressed" and hungry.  Most of you who know me, know that is just not a good recipe for decorous behavior on my part.  I don't recall the exact words I used, but needless to say I wasn't exuding the Holiday spirit.  My aunt says, she thought he was going to cry, my uncle said I scared him.  I think that was an exaggeration, but afterward I did feel rather guilty.

So, from here on out, I'm going to make a truly conscious effort to SMILE in the face of stress.  To be nice, even when people are pissing me off.  To not sweat the small stuff!

Nothing helps beat stress quite like a high intensity workout, or maybe one of those long grueling bike rides.  Care to join me?

For those of you who have taken a spin class or two with me, you will recognize the song in this video.  When you feel beat up, and feel you can't get up anymore, get up and do it anyway!

Remember, don't sweat the small stuff!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Its beginning to feel a lot like ________

Thanksgiving, food, fun, football, followed by the furious follies of the faithful to the mall or other various retailers.  (Sorry I was practicing my alliteration  and couldn't come up with another F word, without well using the F word)  Did you know the stores are open, in some cases before the final football game of the day.  I mean, what has this world come to?  I was still working on my alcohol buzz and upcoming food coma, and people were shopping!  Its just wrong.

I started a new tradition for Black Friday, a couple of years ago and have had a few friends follow along.  I teach a special two hour spin class beginning at 5:45 am at the gym.  Its pretty intense ride.    During the class, I will dissect the traditional Thanksgiving meal, and let everyone know how long they will have to spin their legs in order to burn it off.  Yes, its kinda cruel. Now two hours on a spin bike really shouldn't be all that difficult, especially when I'm used to riding for hours on end, but it was pretty hard even for me.  I truly appreciate the friends that come to that ride, as they keep me going.  I may be sitting there looking out into the class, shouting my famous, "DON'T LET GO" and seeing a friendly face helps.  Sometimes, those faces are grimaces, with a half a smile.  Sometimes, I will say:  "That's the face I wanted to see" and smile back.

I did manage to get in some real training this weekend.  Saturday was High Intensity Intervals on the bike.  Five of us braved a chilly start to the day. Donning our cold weather gear and sunglasses we set out.  It was intense, but totally fun!  A new record was set, as Jamie told me she hated me before we even started.  I love it!  Usually that doesn't happen for at least an hour into a workout.  Over the next few weeks, I will introduce you to many of the A-Train crew, as I will be mentioning them often.  

Sunday, was a decent tempo run along Bayshore, followed by breakfast.  Have I mentioned I LOVE breakfast.  This is where the Holiday feelings started.  I noticed a few people wearing the most hideous sweaters.  I'm talking sweaters so ugly (how ugly were they____) I'm talking so ugly that you wouldn't wear it at a race start in sub-freezing temperatures even though you planned on taking it off and throwing it away within the first mile.

Then of course, the Holiday music has begun.  Its November 25th and I'm already tired of it.  I mean really, I'm at the point I want to see the little drummer boy on a milk carton!  

Yes, its beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.  We have a lot to do over the holiday season together.  Family, friends and let's train hard but have some fun, and not forget to stop and sniff the super glue.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

HAPPY THANKSGIVING... pass the f*&^%$# mashed potatoes please! OOPS, sorry.  I got carried away.  It has come to my attention, that although many of you have enjoyed my blog about my feelings, that I may have lost a little of my offensive edge.

Yes, this week I talked about being thankful for the people in my life, yada, yada, yada... today is NOT that day.  As a matter of fact, if you are easily offended, you may want to move on right now.  Just sayin'.

First off, I had the unfortunate task of going to the grocery store yesterday, as I was trying to walk out with my cart.  This lovely child playing with his electronic device and wandering away from his father, who was equally oblivious, was heading in my direction. I stopped dead in my tracks being as courteous as possible.  The child then walked straight into my cart, and bellowed as if I was pouring lemon juice on an open cut.  The father then gave me a look!  Yes, I do understand why some species eat their young. And so it begins, the Holiday season.

Then of course there is Thanksgiving dinner.  Ever sit at the table, and Aunt whoever, brought her special casserole.  You stare at it intently, you can tell it has about seven different ingredients, but they are all yellow now.  That means, six of them gave up!  Then of course, there is the nephew or niece or little cousin, who's parents call him a "fussy eater".  Fussy eater is a euphemism for BIG PAIN IN THE ASS!  Can you say: "More wine please."

Then of course, there is the inquisition.  Why aren't you married?  Why aren't you dating again?  Did you know, so and so, your high school sweetheart, just got divorced, I know you haven't seen her in years, but you should call her.  You know, you're not getting any younger!  You're problem is you're always on your bicycle or running, you know, that can't be good for you.

Did I say:  "More wine please"

Okay, for those of you I haven't offended yet, this should do the trick.  There is one of the worse movies ever made that has become a cult classic this time of year.  Here is a clip.  I swear, its a real movie.

Happy Turkey Day,  oops HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone!
"More wine please"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What are you THANKFUL for?

Its that time of year where we get together, we eat together, we drink together, we laugh together.  We spend time with friends and family we haven't seen for months or even years.  We eat things we shy away from all year long.  We may imbibe a little, or perhaps a lot.  No matter what your Holiday weekend plans include, make sure you remember to be thankful for the people in your life!

I'm grateful for many things.  I'm grateful for my God given abilities to get outside, to swim, to bike and to run.  Yes I said run, this year, I have actually come to enjoy running.

Most important, I'm thankful for the people in my life.  This has been a turbulent year for me as most of you know.  Its been enlightening as well.  You really find out who your true friends are when you're down.  I'm not going to go down the list and name names.  Two reasons, one, there is just too many awesome people to name and two, I will end up excluding someone in error.

I'm thankful for everyone that wakes up at 5:00 am to come to one of my spin classes.  I'm grateful  to everyone that shows up before dawn for a bike ride, and listens to me bark out instructions and routes.  For everyone that runs with me, and makes me accountable by waking up with me during the week.  For everyone that pounds on my door, drags me out for a run, and listens to me breathe like a freight train.

As most of you know, my mother has been sick for some time, and this week she ended up in the hospital.  Having all of the emotions associated with having the health of a parent failing, something else happened that was pure accident.

Waiting in line at the hospital for information I was playing with my phone, I accidentally "checked in" and it said I was in the emergency room.  While the phone was now in my back pocket, something quite amazing, and very humbling happened.

Within a few minutes, my phone started vibrating non-stop.  Between Facebook, updates, text messages, calls and voice mails my phone literally didn't stop.  I was in the ER sitting with my Dad waiting for my Mom to come back from a test.  When I looked at the phone, my first reaction was, "oh $#!% I didn't mean to post that!"  I tried to delete the post, but that wasn't possible.  I was able to text back to a few people what was going on, but I was reluctant to post something about my mother, because we hadn't told the whole family what was going on.  The posts continued, so I finally posted that it was my mom in the hospital not me.  This literally happened in a span of 10 - 15 minutes.  The outpouring of support and encouragement really got to me.

For every one I am privileged to call a friend... 

BUDDY - My Best Friend

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Inspiration is defined as the stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity!

What inspires you to act?  What inspires any of us to do anything, that we do?  To wake up before dawn to go for a run or ride.  To jump in the pool long before the sun comes up, and do lap after lap.  To wrap our various joints and extremities up in neoprene or compression bandages to ease the pain of running or riding. To plunge our bodies into tubs of ice after a long hard workout.  

IRONMAN Florida, Panama City, FL    Saturday November 3, 2012
Jamie Takes the Top Bunk

Being at a race for me is difficult.  I'm sure many of you know the feeling, but this one was tough.  I had planned on being here and racing this one last year, but life can get in the way at times.  We got there, Friday afternoon and met up with most of our friends who were racing.  Talk about ENERGY!  Everyone was wired.  We shared hugs and photos, checked out the expo, and then attended the volunteer's meeting.  After getting our assignments, we walked back to our room.  Actually a condo.  There were five of us staying in a one bedroom condo.  Laura cooked an awesome pasta dinner, and I broke open a bottle of wine.  Rick was racing, so no wine for him.  Its was an early bedtime for all of us.  Brad, took the couch, and Jamie and I were in the hallway bunk beds.  We felt like little kids, knowing we had to get up early but it was difficult falling asleep.

4:30 am comes quickly, especially when you mean to set the alarm for 5:30 am.  Ooops, well, no one really wanted to sleep anyway.  That wasn't my fault.  I downed a protein drink, followed by coffee, and Laura's awesome pumpkin bread.  Hey, I wasn't racing.  As we headed to the elevator I could barely contain myself.  Walking the half mile to the start area we were practically speed walking.  We got our  volunteer t-shirts and reported in.  Our captains told us to come back after the swim start to get ready for Transition One.  So we went to the beach.  Did I mention the energy? My heart was going a mile a minute, and I wasn't getting in the water.  So many swim caps, so many wet suits.  I saw Carola, who I could tell was more than ready to go.  It was hard to find everyone in the mass of people.  We did find Anne and Marai, both were anxious but ready.  Anxious may be an understatement.  I gave Anne a hug, and I don't think she wanted to let go.  I grabbed her shoulders, looked right in her eyes and reassured her that she was going to do great!  The swim start is violent, and terrifying, its raw energy and emotion.  Its an awesome spectacle.

Transition is frenetic, call it, organized chaos.  You can feel the athletes emotions, partly relieved they survived the swim, and now trying to stay calm as they embark on 112 mile ride.  But they are also trying to hurry and get out as fast as they can.

Jamie & Yvonne Von Vlerken
Rinny Carfrae
As a spectator, you breathe a bit.... but the excitement is still there.  After a bit of rest, we head back to find a spot to see our friends hit transition two.  We are screaming and clapping for all the athletes, and get totally crazed when we see one of our crew.   We watch the last of our friends come in off the bike.  The professional woman are finishing, we listen to Yvonne Von Vlerken interviewed, then I see my heart throb, Mirinda "Rinny" Carfrae coming in to the finish shoot!  I yell and scream for her, she gives me a high-five, I still haven't washed that hand.  (OK I have, but needless to say I was excited)

The sun is going down, and now the hard part.  All of our friends are out on the marathon course.  We head out along the course to give some moral support and cheer on everyone.  We try to track everyone on the live website.  We get a good idea of where everyone is on the course.  After some more high-fives and hugs, we head to the finish area, where the A-Train has a tent.  Laying on the grass for a few minutes I actually feel guilty.  We don't dare say it, but we are tired from volunteering and spectating.  Our friends are out on the course, THEY are tired!

The finish shoot and finish line are where dreams come true.  All sorts of emotions now.  Watching people come to the line, is amazing.  You see people running, limping, crying.  I see a couple hit the shoot together, running to the line they are holding hands and as they cross together, he wraps his arms around her and they kiss.  Others are barely making it, with obvious pain in their faces.

The lovely yellow volunteer shirts come in very handy now.  We get behind the finish line hoping to catch our friends coming in.  I see Kat coming in, she has had an amazing race.  I grab a medal, put it around her neck and my arms around her holding her up.  She's exhausted, emotional and completely spent.  It took her about 5 minutes before she even realized it was me.  I had promised her I would find her at the finish line.  I also was able to catch Jan, and Summer as they came across the line.  As all of our friends come across the line, its very emotional.  We have trained with everyone, and seeing them come across the line is just awesome.

Sunday morning, we lined up with 1400 others and registered for IRONMAN FL 2013.  It was very emotional being a volunteer, and being with our A-Train family members.  As the next 50 weeks unfold, there will be plenty more emotions.

There will be a lot of blood, sweat and tears!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Yes I have Feelings

Feelings, by definition, are an emotional state or reaction.  Iron, is a metal, an element, hard, unmovable, certainly not emotional even in a metaphorical sense.

This new blog, is not a training log.  There are plenty of those around.  Most of you know where to find me any given morning or evening for a run, ride, swim or strength training session.  This blog is to highlight the feelings and emotions that come from all of the training.  

Interestingly, someone yesterday mentioned how I have the drive to do an Ironman.  Someone else asked me the all encompassing question, WHY?

My only answer is my Uncle Pat, or "Paddy" as he was affectionately called.  Pasquale Amedure, was an amazing coach who touched the lives of thousands of people over the years.  He was a baseball coach and athletic director at colleges that don't show up on ESPN.  Schools like Kingsborough Community College, and Long Island University.  Uncle Paddy, was the uncle who would tighten his stomach and say:  "punch me, come on, hit me".  He was a tough guy among his players, and his nephews.  He was a big teddy bear with his nieces.  But he was a grizzly bear when it came to his family.  Uncle Paddy, was the one you called when you got in trouble, because no matter what, he was on your side.  He would also know before I knew if I was in trouble.  Teachers at Brooklyn Tech, called him, not my father when I was cutting class or otherwise sidestepping the rules.  This was usually met with a real Brooklyn style verbal dress down or a slap across the head, followed by the way to fix the problem. I remember getting pulled over in Dyker Heights Brooklyn, by a police officer for going too fast.  The officer looked at my drivers license, handed it back to me and said:  "I'm not writing you a ticket, but I am telling your Uncle!"  I would have prefered the ticket.

Uncle Paddy passed away in 1995 very unexpectedly.  At his memorial service, hundreds of people showed up from all over the country including several major league baseball players.  More than one told me stories about how Uncle Paddy had pushed them, helped them, gotten them out of trouble and made them better men.

I'm about the same size and build as he.  I've been told I look like him in certain photographs.  My father says I act like him, and have his "temperament".  I can only TRI to live up to such lofty expectations.

Uncle Paddy taught me to dive for that live drive even if I knew it was out of reach.  He told me that you play to the end no matter what the score, to run through the finish line no matter what the clock says, and to never, ever quit!

Over the next 51 weeks of training for IRONMAN Florida, there will be great times and dark times ahead. I wish Uncle Paddy was still around to coach me.  However, I do hear his voice in my head in every race I have ever done.

There will be all sorts of feelings and emotions that I will have. I will do my best to share them with you.