Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I'm back!!

Holy Smoke has it been a busy summer!

My last post was about my favorite month....July, as it is Tour de France Month. Good times. My pick won. Contrador from the soon to be defunct Team Discovery. (lance's old team)

Since then Andrea and I took the kids to Hampton Beach for a week, spent tons of time doing fun things with them. Trips to lakes for over nights, hiking, mtn biking, museums, movies, 6 Flags amusement name it. Summer is for kids and having fun. Sure, I made Alex mow the lawn every week but he was shrewed enough to negotiate a suitable rate for the work. Guess the days were parents could say " 'Cuz I said so!" may be gone.

Now it's September...Ooops! October!! My word time does rush on by.

Kids are back in school. Alex is enjoying having joined the local YMCA swim team. 3 nights a week he goes in for a terrific beating at the hands of unmerciful swim coaches. He loves it! He must get that sicko gene from his dad. But it is a fine line between getting enough rest, homework done, downtime as well as swimming. My very wise brother said once, and I'll never forget it, "You can't push your kids, it's got to be fun or they won't want to do it later in life." I really WANT to be the dad that Alex, or Audrey, wants to go to Moabe mtn biking or compete in a team triathlon I will never push. Someday I may get rewarded that they love it as much as I do and ask me to be a part of it.

Audrey is becoming a budding artist by taking formal painting classes and she is getting back into horse riding again. She Mtn bikes fire roads now but someday I hope to bring her on some easy trails. Heck, she's only 7! ;-)

Andrea literally JUST drove away to Valley Forge PA for a conference for Interior Design and Window Treatment stuff. So I'm a single Dad this weekend. Andrea said she knows I will more 'fully appreciate' my penis by the time she gets back. I looked at her like...What!? But she clarified and said you will be SO Glad you are not a Mom when this is over. Come On...How hard can this stuff be dealing with kids all day? (tongue and cheek for sure)

She/We had the weekend from hell this weekend. She had a huge job that was needing to be installed by Tuesday afternoon with her leaving today, Wednesday. It hadn't been started by Thursday. Yikes! Add to this when certain panels were made Friday it was discovered that the hems and linings were never uniform. Anyone that knows Andrea..."if it ain't perfect, it Ain't going up on someones wall". Saturday I did a 108 mile ride with our cycling group with 11200 vertical feet of climbing. Andrea did the 50 mile ride, so Saturday was shot for production and repair. Sunday she and I altered hems and linings until 9 PM from a start time of 11 am. Monday, she her sister and mother stayed working until 1 AM Tuesday morning and got the whole job done for install at 1 pm Tuesday! Trust me when I say THAT was one intense and slamming work room. Customer loved it and now Andrea and company will head to the conference for a well deserved rest and relax time amongst their peers.

I am taking the kids to the White Mtns for some great camping this weekend. I have another adult coming who is a buddy of mine and maybe my Niece, Erin will show. Should be great and a real mellow trip. Little cooking, little camp fie nights, (with a big fire) a few beers, and some hiking and it will be things to talk about later. The kids love it up there.

Other news. John Robison's book is a smashing success! He has gone into his 4th printing of Look Me In The Eye and it's only been on sale 1 week!! PLEASE check out his amazing blog and story at Buy this book. If you know or have someone with Autism or Asbergers syndrome this will give you hope. If not, it is just a great, funny read about a truly amazing, gifted and diverse human being. To my family: DO NOT BUY this book as I have 11 copies for John to sign and this gets me out of Xmas presents early and easy. ;-)

Lots of stuff happening at the office but that will be another post. Suffice to say that I'm an intense person, I have my own theories that are anti-establishment (but will prove to be me on that) and some in the Dietetic/medical community seem to be threatened by that. You know what I say...Screw 'em! Fight on to the last man! ;-)

Till next time

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

July! It's Tour De France Month!!

I never sleep during July. Why? Because I spend my evenings catching up on that day's Tour happenings from 8PM to 11PM. Even though Armstrong retired it still is an amazing spectacle. I hope Levi Leipheimer does well as he is the only bona fide American with a shot at the overall but I have to say my dark horse is this young kid from Spain. Alberto Contrador. He on Paris-Nice this year and has a real belly full of fire. He was attacking the favorites with gusto and never giving in. If he does as well in all the TT's and continues to NOT have a bad day in the Mtns he could actually beat all the favorites. Not bad for 24 years old!!

In the vain of the Tour month I will post last night's ride. Not too long but man was it hilly. Almost 4000 feet of climbing and most of it very steep. Great for a power rider like myself. Doug McKeaon was there. Great guy and great climber. He had been injured so had not been climbing for a few weeks. He still managed to either blow by me on the steady climbs or almost catch me on the steeps. How depressing!! ;-)

The data is from George's Garmin as mine just came back from the Garmin Dr's yesterday afternoon. (Don't ask!)

I've been busy

As any parent with young children knows, Summers are not easy. Between helping my wife with her business, Dr's office, clients in the gym and entertaining the kids so they have good memories of the summer I got WAAAAYYYYYY behind on checking the blog. I'm back though.

The last blog post I started was back on June 27th! How embarrasing. Hey, at least I got it up on the blog finally.

Have had a few good rides others not so good. Last Saturday Jim Sullivan beat me for 63 miles up and down the hills of Montgomery and Huntington. I deserved it. I ALWAYS beat him up when he is hung over so when I showed up over tired and a little too much of 'the dog that bit me' in my recent past I knew it was going to hurt.

Hampton Beach in two weeks! Family can't wait. Should 'be an adventure' as Andrea says.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Some interesting thoughts on weight loss

Those of you who have been reading my blog know that John Robison has motivated me to put fingers to keyboard. Heck, if he can write a book...anyone can! Just kidding John. ;-)

Well one theme that we try to get across to patients and clients alike when it comes to weight loss is how the brain is involved. There are a myriad number of hormones involved in your brain for appetite control and emotional states. What we see though is that when it comes to behavior, these hormones are a factor, but not the end all be all to what the outcome is in our relationship with food.

One of the Dr's and my central themes is the acronym H.A.L.T. What this stands for is Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. These are the primary emotional states for why people eat. Let's break them down.

Hungry is the only reason you should eat. I recognize that people may have mechanisms that do not enable to tell if they are hungry. Or, worse yet, they are hungry all the time. In the clinical environment we discuss with the patient what is actually going on in their life and in the 'moment' to discern if they really are 'hungry all the time'. Invariably, they are not. It just seems to be this way because they never tied the behavior/action of eating to the overall emotional state or the momentary stresses in their life. Hunger is one of the most governable issues with food. Simply put...Plan for success NOT for failure, yet this is exactly the opposite of what most people in our society do when it comes to food. Picture this:

1)Get up late for work.

2)Race out the door and maybe get a coffee sipped down and a Bagel? Donut? Nothing?

3)No Snack

4)Lunch time, since you were late you didn't BRING anything so now you are at the mercy of your stomach and where the other co-workers may order out from. You eat too much.

5)No after lunch mid-afternoon snack. If you ate light at lunch you are already hungry. If you ate heavy you get sleepy and fatigued from too many calories and poor food choices and won't eat until later in the evening.

6) Dinner at 6-7 PM or 8-9 PM. Very hungry because lunch was at Noon. Eat a standard 'too big' dinner. Sleep horribly due to food sitting in gut. Despite what the literature says, the majority of calories, many of them coming from refined carbohydrates are stored for future use since there is no stimulus to utilize them in the evening. Wake up unrested and somewhat late.

7) Repeat cycle!

THIS is a plan for failure.

Anger represents a group of emotions. Frustration, Irritability, Fear and Anger can all be grouped together. In response to emotions that usually well-up from perceived situations of helplessness it is common as humans that we look to things that help us 'feel' better. Food can stimulate hormones that do, in the short term, make us feel better. Anyone that has been incredibly stressed out and then had a nice rich sampling of chocolate truffles or Lindt chocolate understands what I'm talking about.

Lonely is another term that does not just represent the physical proximity of someone. I explain it to patients and clients that "Lonely" can also be rephrased as disconnected, bored, or under-stimulated. To most it would not be hard to understand that the our relationships can add a significant amount of value to our lives. From them we can feel connected to something bigger then just ourselves. For whatever number of reasons I have seen in both my clients and patients a large number of people that are very dissatisfied with their primary relationships, if they even have one. I am tickling a Pandora's box here as I have also come to the conclusion that the most significant relationship that these people have trouble with is the one with themselves. We don't have enough to go into this particular aspect, for sure. Suffice to say without being good with yourself any other relationship is a distraction from that fact. Those that eat from 'loneliness' often have issues with being alone, and finding things to engage in that bring their mind to a place where food is not central. Even work functions as a distractor or connection point that can alter a persons desire to eat. I do not want everyone to be a workaholic to not eat, but the facts still remain that many can make it through most of their day not fixated on food. The people that I have worked with that eat from 'loneliness' as a general trend do not become involved in extra-curricular activities, watch a lot of television, read a little if at all, and have no social group to belong to. Any of the above would, at the least, distract from he 'food/ soothe' mechanism and at best potentially 'solve' the concept of loneliness for them.

Tired as an eating stimulus is understandable. If you are very tired it IS a fact that we, as adults, do not sleep while we are chewing. Even babies and small children actually stop chewing mid bite when they fall truly asleep. We have all seen the baby in our family fall asleep during dinner in the high chair. Guarantee that when their head is down they are not still chewing. So it is with adults, except we actually allow food in our mouth and the action of chewing to keep our minds somewhat alert. Clients and patients with sleep apnea use this 'skill' to cope with their problematic issues keeping their eyes open. Couple this with a lowered waking metabolism from the sleep apnea itself and you have a recipe that aids in weight gain.

So what should we do?

The bullet answers. You may not like them, but I will use another quote we use in the Dr's office all the time. "Continuing to do what you do everyday and expecting something different to occur is a form of insanity." Basically, open up to just the ideas that I will give and think of how your life could be different and enhanced by changing. We can all come up with reasons why we CAN NOT change because of our circumstances but often this doesn't help us get to our goals.

Hunger: Plan in advance and don your bullet proof vest. Instead of jetting out the door without food and starting the cycle all over again. Change it!

The night before pack in a cooler your great lunch and a few snacks. Now you are not at the mercy of co-workers and raging hunger while at work. Get up a few minutes earlier and make a healthy satisfying breakfast that will hold you over. Many are not hungry in the morning but on review we find it is because of the big dinner still digesting from the night before. Eating a good breakfast is the first step in changing the cycle.

Eat a dinner that is on par with what you plan to do for the rest of the night. If you are going to watch TV and chill then eat lite. I often recommend no or very low carbs in the evening for patients that cannot get out and do something. Ideally we would do the Buddhist skill of 'walking a thousand steps before we retire.' Remember though, the lighter you get the less time it will remain in your belly and satisfy you. Shut the tv off earlier and get to bed!

Angry is an emotion not a REAL reason to eat. Connecting your emotional state to why you eat is key. If you are going to eat think for 5 minutes about WHY. Sometimes you may eat that something anyway but others you may just 'let it go' and find something else to get you through. Having good food available like we mentioned above helps greatly in the process.

Lonely is not something we can usually fix immediately but it helps to practice skills that eventually may help to get you less 'lonely'. Get involved with people and groups. Sports groups or recreations that involve your body and other people are great for distractions AND get you out there. TV has been studied to make kids forage for food. Why would we think we, as adults, would be different? Books on the other hand make our brains work differently and even though we are on the coach or in bed we are not eating. Sounds like a better distraction to me. If our relationships that we do have are not fulfilling then that brings up other issues. Many people get involved with the wrong people for the wrong reasons. This would be defined as a decision with life altering potential. Never easy but often necessary for any type of true future happiness. In the meantime, recognize how this relationship is making you sabotage your physical health and adopt a new 'skill' to avoid the soothing mechanism you have learned and used up until now.

Tired is the easiest fix. Simply, get a good amount and quality of rest/sleep. Sleep needs to be done to get all the hormones and metabolic benefits. We repair and clear our minds when we sleep. Get your sleep! As we get older our bodies sleep hormones start to decline. It is a fallacy that we 'need' less sleep as we get older. We only have less hormonal stimulation that allows us to get it. Sometimes poor sleep is self imposed. many people want more and more 'things.' That's fine, but if it is making you work 2 jobs and only get 3-4 hours of sleep a night, YOU, your decisions and wants are causing your own pain and weight gain. At the very least, contributing to it. Re-evaluate and get your rest. In the end you maybe happier about it. Target goal. 7-9 hours nightly. If you were able to get the occasional nap in on the weekends your body would only thank you.

In the end, HALT no more and you will have worked around many of the weight issues surrounding the modern age. Remember, it is relatively easy to change the human is very difficult to change the human mind. These ideas may offend or seem impossible to implement because of your life but doing what you are doing now will only get more of the same. Change something.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I'm going to heaven...

What a weekend. Thank goodness I needed a break from hard training. Did a very small ride with ANdrea at the crack of dawn on Saturday and ran on Sunday. Nope, no 100 mile ride reports this weekend.

After the run I did some e-mails for work and then put together my mother 'n laws trike. Yes, that's a three wheeled bike. She just had a total knee replacement and a regular bike is not for her right now. Wow, I started at 1 pm and just finished somewhere around 8:50 PM. They do not make those things easy to put together!!!

My son, Alexander helped. (?) Has anyone every had help from a 10 year old. They get so distracted so quickly that I'm talking to him and then I swear I see the smoke from him jetting out of the building!! ;-)

Everyone told me to come in and finish tomorrow... but it was a matter of pride. I couldn't have John Robison rib me on Wednesday that I was a mechanical failure for not putting a stupid bike together. I can hear it now. John: "Yeah, I put one of those things together for someone, it took me about 30 minutes." Yeah, whatever! ;-)

Wife says I'm going to heaven for getting it done and out of her shop. I have no idea, but I do know I'm going to bed!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Idea

AS many of you who know who read my blog I am friends with John Robison , Famous locally for great cars and car work but soon to be famous world wide by his debut book Look Me In The Eye.

Well as his is his nature and ability John has set my life down a new direction. His visionary ability and way of breaking things down concisely always amazes me. In our 1 hour appointment the other day he basically told me to write a book about fitness. I have always thought of writing a book but have never been really gravitated to the fitness model even though it is what I know and do. Heck, with all the fitness trash books coming out every month and year I figure why wade into that?

As I said John refocused my mind rather quickly;

1) Every year new books on fitness HAVE to come out to be the latest and greatest why can't yours be the one?

2) I know everything that these other 'trainers' and celebrity trainers know, and maybe even more, but the difference is that they wrote something and got it noticed by a publisher.

3) With a quality product John would have no issue giving it an introduction to a publisher that may have interest in the topic.

4) 20+ years of training experience, have owned a large fitness center, been Mr America and Mr Universe, transformed into a triathlete physique (well, sort of), and now working in a clinical environment with pre and post operative barriatric surgery patients as well as medically managed weight loss patients....I think I have some insights on why people are overweight, and how to fix the issue.

5) Once a book is published and marketed well the next is relatively easy to get out there. He mentioned a trainer that wrote the '12 minute workout' having made millions and other books from him getting published quickly even by other publishers.

OK John, it makes sense. I will begin an outline today about my thoughts on fitness and compartmentalizing it into bite sized pieces that everyone could handle.

So how are these for titles? Feel free to drop one in if you have an idea.

The New You Lifestyle Plan: Simple changes and programs that can bring your health and fitness to a whole new level

The Fitness Lifestyle Made Easy: How to get amazing new body with simple life changes.

These are only ideas I just came up with while writing this. Don't over think them. I'm just looking at what sells and what people seem to gravitate to.

The other he had was for me to begin using this blog not only as a way of voicing crazy ideas and cycling posts but to develop a base for this book. In that respect, will offer to answer questions anyone has about fitness and their personal fitness regimen through the blog. You can ask with your name or anonymously. I will still get an answer back.

So now the blog is not only a crazy posting repository for my cycling adventures and triathlon races but a place to get your answers right from Matty on fitness, health, overcoming illness....all that stuff. So fire those questions away!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tuesday Night A ride - Let the good times roll

For a few years, when I finally made the A ride ability level, I always posted to the other club members a soliloquy about what it means to me to be an A rider, and the mental games I played with myself. Every year, as the rides began, I would wonder if 'this year, I had what it took', 'Did I do the work necessary in the off season to not make a fool of myself on opening day', 'Was last year a fluke and I'm really NOT an A rider'. All these things, and more, would go through my head just before the season started. I would work myself into panic until the rubber started to roll.

I try to give readers some feel for what riders and racers are going through as they train. The posts are long because each part of a ride has it's own flavor, set of tactics, and different circumstances that may arise. Which riders show up, weather, your personal status - including mental, nutritional, and recovery, and lastly, the terrain to be covered in the ride. Some riders are good at everything, Some are great at a certain discipline like hills or time -trialing. Others are just trying to hold on and not get 'dropped' or LFD. (Left for Dead) These are terms that basically mean becoming separated from the group by a large enough margin that the group as a collective can no longer wait for you. Like Spock said in some Star Trek movie, "The good of the many outweighs the good of the few or the one."

This particular Tuesday the weather was mild, the group was small, and my legs were tired. I had done the horrible rain ride Saturday (See post "Is that All You Got!") and followed it up for a leg buster on Sunday with a few Tri guys. Ended that I beat them up for 78 miles. Kind of felt bad. (Not really) All that fun had left my legs looking for some time off. Yeah, So I'm at the Tuesday Night A ride for what purpose!? This is the antithesis of some time off. On this ride you either "Fly or Die" as my buddy Jim says. Well the group was small so instead of 15 guys that can/will try to crush you there really was only 4 hard core A riders, 2 A- rider and a B rider. Phil was the sole B rider. He has been attempting to jump up a level and try the A rides. Today I knew we would stay more steady and the group was small so I goaded him into to trying the A ride one more time. Can you see where this is leading? I'll shorten this story about Phil first so we can move on to the blow by blow aspects of the Ride itself.

Phil is a tall guy with a good bike and can ride 3 times per week for several hours. All of this should make it painfully hard but doable for Phil to hang on the A ride if he plays his cards right. This Tuesday was probably not the one I should have goaded him on. We were going to do hills AND long mileage...but at a steadier pace. Phil kept falling off the back on each hill. This is actually VERY normal for a new person trying out the A ride. You may not know the route, you certainly do not know when the other riders normally start pressing their efforts and it would be only normal to be somewhat 'off the back'. Let's just say I spent oh, about 3-4 years there. Since I goaded Phil I was more or less responsible to make sure he knew the turns and had a bit of either help or motivation to keep it going. He was pretty blown after the first series of climbs and we were within 10 miles of the start. Uh Oh, We got 40-50 mile to go like this. He fell back more and more and on a final circle up where the riders wait for the last I asked him some questions about his training. Seems he rode hard Sunday for 6000 feet of climbing. Slow or fast THAT will have an effect on a rider of a lower ability and volume of training. I also found out he trained relatively hard every day. Another red flag. Phil let me off the hook and told me not to worry if he came off again and to go. I counselled him to take a 'spin' day as to recover some ability back. He was definitely not riding as well as he usually did and I think he was over trained. When athletes always go hard without recovery bouts and enough rest the max ability keep coming down. So even thought that athlete is going as hard as they can their top end and power level is getting lower. A good recovery week and conditioning and Phill should be back to full power. We started our ride in earnest now as we would no longer wait for Phil at the tops of the climbs. Hanging back with Phil had made me miss climbing Echo Hill with the other A riders so I was a bit bummed. This is one of MY hills. I've made peace with it and it has understanding with me. It lets me climb it in the big ring when most riders do not. I, in turn, enjoy the pain it brings and respect its leg wrenching ability. From the top of my favorite missed climb we were really ready to ride.

We swooped down into the center of Monson at a a quality 35+ from the descent off Echo Hill. From here we went up 32 toward Wales Rd. This is a great climb and the start/finish of the Monson Rd Race. It's steep but not real steep. Of course THAT would have been easy. Instead we took the left hand fork off of Wales Rd to Munn Rd. When looking up from Wales you are already on a steep pitch. Seeing Munn Rd all you see is pavement going vertical. Ouch. The good news is it comes at you in sections that you just have to gut over. Each section is bad but you are just feeling it when you reach the top of each steep. The problem is that when you climb with the group you need to ride at the best climbers ability. I am NOT the best climber by any means. Instead I just suffer and breath like a diesel locomotive and hope for it to be over as soon as possible. Sometimes I feel great and can out last climbing faster then I normally do and others times I just 'blow up.' Chris Adeletti paced us up and he has a very efficient and smooth pedalling cadence. He rides his easiest gear but spins fast enough to stay in front. I have been practicing but Chris A can be too fast for me some times. I was breathing hard but finally we hit the plateau that signalled circle up. We were at a turn and we needed to get our last 2 riders up with us. Chris Shickler is a new member but an avid biker. He pushed the pace on the first climb. I wanted to go with him but I had to stay with Phil then. He had less starch in his legs for this climb. It isn't as long but it is steeper. George Fetcko is the other A- rider. He is making big leaps and bounds with his riding. Just having joined the club last year and STARTED with the A riders....that's saying something. Wow! We found him doing a weekly ride to Boston AND BACK (?) on one of the weekend days. Like, All in one day! He was wearing baggy shorts and his phone on his belt. Well he doesn't wear those clothes and he certainly rides like he means it. Big progression in this last year. He was bringing up the rear on the climbs.

After collecting Chris S and George we headed up a stair step climb that is about 4-5 miles long. I call it Partridge Hollow Rd. It brings you back up to Rt 19 in Wales. Chris A pushed the pace most of the climb and Jim was right on my wheel. Royce was fourth wheel as he was feeling less then perfect. Royce is very strong and is a winning the mountain bike series so far this year. Everyone has an off day. Royce was with me when I exploded on the hills of the Berkshires. Thankfully he got me back home that day. Eventually Jim and I took over from Chris and we brought the group into the circle up area. A small wait later and Chris S and George pulled in breathing hard. I asked Chris A if he was working hard on those two climbs. He assured me he was if not at, close to red lined. Thank God! I was at the max too but Chris looked like it was a walk in the park for him. You know the rule. It works in interviews as well as bike riding. "Never let'em see you sweat." Well, I was sweating AND breathing like a locomotive. No guess work there. I would have to trust Chris that he wasn't setting me up for later. Now if it was Mike Norton...I wouldn't believe a word. '"I'm tired" means he is going to spank you later and "I feel great!" means 'I'm bluffing and want you to take it easy so I can recover from the weekends races.'

The next series of hills were not too hard and could be classifies as roller. But at 30 miles and legs tiring they get to you. We made a quick right on to Rt 19 and then a quick left by the lake. This road would take us out to 190 by Ashford Ct. Our pulls were getting longer and the effect of rolling terrain on the miles was stacking up. I was trying to warn Chris S what was coming. I yelled to him what was ahead and how the road ended. It ended in a nice steep chop that could almost be classified a climb. When you come around a corner and over a small knoll you are faced with one wicked site for a climb. I had just came off the front a few riders ago so I was more or less tail gunning. I watched as Chris S almost sat up. I have to admit it is a daunting site but knowing whats coming helps. This psuedo climb has two levels. The first is a steep chop for about 300 or so meters. Long enough to make you work. If you know the hill you have information that the grade softens considerably before it goes up again and to the right. Collectively it is a hard hill but segmented it is doable. I began pulling out from the pace line in the back as the first hill started. I moved up a rider or two and watched as all the riders clicked down into their small front rings. NOW! was the time to hit it through this first chop. Fly or Die baby.

I rode the first hill in my big ring (55) and 21 gear in back which opened up a good gap on the rest. When I finally got to the false flat I dropped down into my small ring and just buried myself to make the next hill. Sit, stand, sit stand and keep on pedalling at red line max. Finally the hill top was there and I was able to drop into the big ring again and motor. Now my worry is that Jim, the Giant Slayer would track down Quadzilla (My new nick name I guess from another member of the club). If Jim hooks up with Chris they could catch me. 2 strong beats 1 strong most times. Thankfully I held them off but I noticed that Jim WAS the next rider into the circle up area. I yelled over to him and Chris A to not call me a 'fat boy' anymore. We all cracked up. I got some KOM mojo deposited into my account. (King Of the Mountain is prestigious but it all has do do with so many variables it only lasts until the next ride, sometimes only the next hill)

We ambled up 190 toward Stafford Springs and home. This is a rolling section of easy hills and fast downhills. Royce went in front for miles at 30+ MPH with help from the terrain. Eventually we headed in from the backside of Greystone Mtn. Nice rolling uphill again. Joy. We averaged about 21-23 MPH through the rollers but eventually we came to one of the two final choppers before the descent. Chris A put in a nice hard press on the run up to the chopper. Instead of 6 we were now 4. I came around on the actual chopper in my big ring and went for the top. Chris A had had enough of the 'fat boy' getting KOM's and motored by me again. He crested a few feet in front. Even if it was an inch he got the KOM. Jim was next just behind or with me and Royce soon after.

Down hill all the way to the next chopper. At least you can somewhat recover. Jim did a lions pull to the base of the chopper and I stayed in the Big Ring again and just stood to the top. This is NOT a tough hill but it always seems at the end of the Tuesday A ride it feels like Everest! We all circled up and waited for George and Chris who were actually only 2 circles behind.

Down the Greystone brakes of course. We had a near miss with mother nature in the form of a well fed Whitetail Doe. She was just about to cross the road right in front of me when she turned, thank God again, back the way she came. At 40 MPH it would have killed her, seriously banged me up and totally trashed my bike not to mention leave me stranded 10 miles from my car.

I grabbed the town line at the base of the descent. Royce was going for it..or at least lining up, but I was behind both him and Jim who was leading it out. Having a 55X12 has it's advantages. Not often is it going to get beat by a 53X12. I saw Royce line up and before he could engage to sprint I was by him and over the line. Norton rides a 55X11...he does the same thing to me.

We motored up Allen St for home and started a nice pace line that almost got run over by a car. (Nightly occurrence) Chris A did a monster pull to get us back up to the riders in front. From there, George and Royce did some nice 30 MPH pulls. We stayed together until someone hit a piece of metal that sounded ominously like a tire going flat. Jim, Royce and I brought it home with me going by Royce for an uncontested sprint. It never counts when its uncontested so we shifted down and had congratulations for a good ride all around. I have met a lot of riders and other clubs over the years but there is something about these people in
the cyclonauts that is great. They will kick your butt when you need it but they are all generally the nicest people around. Yeah, we are odd in our own way. (See above essay containing words of pain and suffering being enjoyable) Other then getting my wife's ability up to A ride status and having HER on the ride, I can think of no other people I would rather ride with and spend a Tuesday evening suffering. 'Cuz when it's all said and done, we all understand what HAS been done that night and are off to our caves for a good nights rest.

It was tough and my 3rd hard ride in a row but very satisfying. NOW I can go and noodle on Thursday and feel good about a light spin. It's always a good time when the rubber is rolling well.

My Garmin GPS is still under repair so no chart today. Maybe next week it will be back.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

"Is that all you got!"

So Andrea went out for a great ride this morning with a few friends. Nice weather, nice ride, great time. She rode into the driveway just as my cohorts began to arrive. We had a 54 mile ride planned in the rolling hills of Northern Ct.

Off we went at a good pace that would supply fitness work but not wreck our muscles. (I am planning on cashing n the old Father's Day chip and going for another ride in the early am) It was all going great and fun was being had by all. 'All' consisting of George Fetcko, Joe Rodrigues and myself. Joe and I had planned on reversing last Thursday's ride to see how a certain road ridden in the 'down' fashion would ride in the 'up' direction.

I figure we were coming up on just before half way when we got to this particular road and stretch of climbing. The clouds were black. I mean B.L.A.C.K. Yes, we knew there was a 30-40% chance of thundershowers later in the day, but it was only noonish. I hardly call that 'later in the day'. Well it started to spit some rain. The it started to rain. Then it started to pour. Then is became a deluge of biblical proportions. I remind you that this road rides in an upwardly direction for almost 8 miles. When this deluge begins we have a large part of 8 miles of road water racing down at us. No visibility, the rain just hurts, we are soaked and the temp drops from mid eighties to mid fifties in minutes. Yeah, loads of fun. :-(

On a particularly steep section I get fed up with the incredible amount of rain and thunder above us. I begin to climb standing on the pedals. (it helps sometimes on steep sections) I turn my helmeted head toward the heavens and shout out. "Is that all you got!? Come on! We can take it! That all!? You got nothing!?" Joe, being raised roman catholic and Portuguese, immediately backed off from me on his bike. I think he figured if God was going to strike me he didn't need to be right next to me when it happened. No sooner did I sit back down and get back to the work of getting up the damn river of a hill when a bright flash lights up the forest, milliseconds later an earsplitting crack shatters the air around us. Hmmm, that was timed rather well. I think I'll shut up now. I look over my shoulder to see my fellow riders still up and pedaling. Would have really put a crimp in the ride had one of them been struck. Right? I don't know what WAS hit but it was right on top of us. OK God, you made your point.

Finally, when we reach the sky. Yeah, it's always like that. We start the last part of the ride with me day reaming about the shouts to the heavens and the lightening flash. Out of the blue my mind grabs onto something else...Damn! Here I am yelling at God and he's been pissing into the wide open sunroof of my car! I turn my eyes to the sky and shake my head but keep quiet. This ride is just not any fun anymore. How many time can the darn window buttons and seats get wet before I have to bring the car to John Robison for overhaul. Ugh, That'll cost a lot.

Finally, on the last hill...downhill, to my house I take the front. More to not have to get spray back from the riders wheels in front of me then to do work. It' s fast and fun despite the wet roads. We came down Granville Gorge Rt 57 at 37+ MPH and not really even trying for 5 miles. 'A beautiful thing' as George says. It lightens my mood and I even begin making little deals and homage prayers to God if he has kindly spared my car from the rain. Crazier things have happened. I've seen it pour on the other side of my street and our driveway stay drive. With these thunderstorms you never know where the line will be. I had hope at least. As I got closer the wet road was not drying up. It was becoming apparent that our area, and house, more then likely had been poured on. I was ready to face the music and begin drying out my car and hoping for the best.

We pulled into the driveway and I rode up next to my car. I let out a 'whooppeee!' as I noticed the sunroof was closed. Divine providence HAD stepped in and had my wife close my roof. A great ending to a wild and wet ride. Who says miracles still don't happen. It's all in how you look at it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Drama Mama list and other ramblings

Uggh! Drama Mama List! What the heck is this? I remember reading John Robison's blog and seeing these weird revelations about himself and wondering where they came from. Actually, more importantly, Why?

Then, out of the blue I get 'tagged' to reveal 10 obscure things you would never want to know about me. This, I thought, was going to be easy. Then I thought, and thought, and thought, finding myself having an amazingly hard time figuring this out.

Then I got to worrying that I'm just a pretty boring and one dimensional person. This brought on a panic attack about how insignificant I am in the universe and meaningless my life is and...

Nah, that's all just crap.

1) I hate to exercise alone, but will do it so the next time I exercise WITH someone I, A: won't suffer to bad and B: won't make a fool of myself in said exercise.

2) Near The Top of My List Pet Peeve: Authors who write great books....and then take WAAAAAAYYYYYY to long writing the next one. This is especially irksome from series writers. Look, Great writers write great stories that people really enjoy. Great Readers, like myself, read tomb-like books in days, if not hours. Waiting 2 long years for the hard cover and soft cover sales cycles is just intolerable!!!!!!!! Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series is going on it's 12th tomb BUT THAT WAS 3 years ago, if not more!!! Yikes! Note to all author's who write series material. Have the next book IN THE HOPPER when the first book publishes....your fan base will love you. David here this?

3) I, like John Robison, can be a prodigious eater. For 5'7" and 178 lbs I can really pack it in. Since doing triathlons and cycling I have cut way back as to off load weight so I can ride better. A typical breakfast 'back in the day' would be: 3 eggs over medium, 2 slices wheat bread, double order of hash browns (but only if they are real potatoes, those fake ones will kill you! ;-) ) Double order of bacon, crispy, regular order of pancakes or french toast AND the meat that came with it. (remember, regular order...they always come with a meat. So that's 3 bacon orders) Orange juice and coffee. Back in high school ,when the guys and I would be out late, this would be a very normal late day meal at say 1 AM. Since I NEVER worried about cholesterol or real health I would sometimes hit IHOP (the place that delivered this meal) twice in one day. Same order! My brother can verify this as he See's me eat at camp. I'm the garbage scow when his youngest son isn't around. When he is I feel bad as the elder uncle taking food from his nephew. ;-)

4) I like to cook and really want to learn how to do it better. Compared to my sister in law. I will be always the failure. (not because she thinks so but because she is so damn good. I think she thinks in tastes, colors and foods.) But it's fun to think of getting better. I'm addicted to the show Top Chefs. (is that two things?)

5) I never thought my job would take me from t-shirts and athletic shorts to cuff links and dress slacks but here we are.

6) Bodybuilders body build because they are insecure. I was no exception. Bodybuilders can evolve to be less insecure. What you need is a really great 'stressor' in your life to make you forget about what you were insecure for. Of these I've had a few.

7) Once, while a student in Mrs. Mahaney's 3rd grade class, Green Meadows Elementary school, I sat in front of the class and answered any question thrown at me about solar system info. I answered them all. Ok, so it wasn't that hard, they were only in third grade for pete's sake.

8) In kindergarten I rhymed a word with 'bucket' in a shout-out...except I actually said a phrase....whups! I guess the kindergarten teacher and assistant had all they could do to keep straight faces and keep on going. (The teacher assumed we would call it a 'pail', oh well)

9) Someday I want to write a book about all the many variations of why people become obese and how to get control of your health life again. (any authors want to help me out? I also have an amazing Dr. who will also attach his name.) This would delve into the psychological and spiritual as well as physical.

10) Last but not least. The experiment I would love to do, but would REALLY never REALLY want to do: Go back to my old life as a bodybuilder, taking as many drugs as humanly possible, and see how long it would take to get back into Mr.Universe shape......and back again to 178 lbs of triathlete. With optimum drugs and life I think I could get back to a large percentage of this shape in 5 months and it would take nearly a year to get back to my now shape. Trust me, this is actually NOT a fantasy just conjecture. I would NEVER want to do this. I now know drugs are bad and I would HATE to not be fast. Ughh, I shiver in horror at the thought.

10 things you didn't want or need to know about me.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Start of a busy summer! Catching Up #2

Wow It feels like I haven't posted in weeks but it's only been 11 days!! (That was kind of a joke) Lots has happened since Memorial day. Kids are finishing school. Many rides and runs. A race that Andrea and I participated in. Planning summer events for kids and printing the money to pay for them all..... What's not to love!

Andrea and I have come to the conclusion that idle kids make for stressed out parents and kids that are bored and constantly acting out to get attention. With that mind set we are "shipping them off to camp'! OK, well not really shipping them off....that costs too much. (Kidding again!! I couldn't live without my kids around..'course ask me in 2-4 years again if I feel this way! For now, I love hanging with these two) Instead we are doing reasonable camps that are day long and involve their interests. Alex really wants to get more involved in competitive swimming. Yeah! His Mom and grandfather are now discussing Suffield Academy so the more he gets involved with the better. With his flipper feet I can imagine him kicking my ass in a swim VERY shortly. He also wants to do two Lego camps at Westfield Stat College. This kid is the Lego king and buys, with his own hard earned money, all the big Lego kits. These camps teach engineering and design using legos. Now if we can only 'touch' the right person to get him into to the closed out classes we will be all set. In the true ideal of 'it's who you know, not what you know' we have an angle we are trying to exploit.

Audrey wants to do some YMCA day camps and get back to horse riding. She loves animals and is always involved. Andrea thinks that being a vet is in her future. Always fun to see if our bets come out.

Andrea and I are exercising nd staying in shape but racing is hard to get in. Ashland Olympic Tri is this weekend and we are skipping. It's just too much money and more importantly, Time, to devote to a thing for us. We WILL exercise and ride long or swim, but when you add in being gone at 5 AM, babysitting, and driving back it ends up being the day is shot and it costs way more then just 'race fees'. add into that that we want to hang with our kids too it just makes it hard. Soon they won't be this age and we will miss it. We don't need to spend all of our weekends racing and having babysitters raise our kids. So not this weekend. There will be other races and we are both pretty pumped up to do FIRM Man in September so we will keep our eyes focused on that prize. THAT is a great weeknd at the beach for the kids as Mom and Dad suffer on the course.

In other news my friend John Robison is quickly breaking the light speed barrier to becoming a certifiable famous person. He is blowing off workouts and eating cake whenever he gets an offer to read an excerpt from his book. Sorry John, but the buck stops HERE and NOW. You will show up for a Wednesday and Thursdays workout. distracting him with cake unless I get some too. Interestingly enough my own family has been reading John's, Kim's and my blog and been thinking that potentially a child of theirs has/had signs of Autism/Aspbergers. I hope that some time they chime in on these blogs and share their experiences. The advice they got way back then (early to mid '80's) was interesting but all we had to go on it seems. This person now is a has n noticeable distinction of autism or Aspbergers now so I am wondering if some traits can be transient and not stick based on severity. I surely do not know the answers but am interested to here others ideas. Could autism be somewhat transient. Aspbergers be so mild that at a very young age you are diagnosable as Aspbergers but not as an adult?

I love my time in the Dr's office helping the obese or overweight population learn the fundamentals of change. It's all in the head. Bottom line. I know this sounds simple but it is the MOST true thing I could say. When the brain leads in a way that is focused and determined the result is a forgone conclusion. So it is with large amounts of weight loss. I often say to Andrea that if I had MY consciousness transferred into another body I could create amazing change in days. Why, simply from utilizing what I know and actually DOING every thing that will move the body in the correct direction. Everything counts. Everything. If I was bed ridden from being too overweight I would begin exercise with arm movements and a prudent caloric intake ('conducting' is what it's called) until I lost enough to get up. From there it would be full steam ahead. Constantly I here all the reasons why these people 'can't' get it done. Invariably it is a list of excuses, denial, irresponsibility..... When they do 'get it' it is amazing what happens. My job is to honor their present state of mind but not too much, and let them know in a kind way that "if it is to be it is up to me".....(meaning 'them') It's all decisions,behaviors, habits and choices that create the end result. My job is to give them some technical advice as well as hold them accountable to a level of commitment just above where they are at now. It's a blast! When even 1 person moves the right way it makes up for the ones that don't and keeps the hope running eternal that all can get it. (and we know that all of them can...if they want ;-) )

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Catching up

You ever notice that Holiday weekends do more to tire us out and get us 'behind' in our work then help us rest? At least this is how it works for me. I always find myself 'doing or going' someplace at a frenetic pace.

This past memorial day weekend found our family headed to the Squam Lake region of NH for a family wedding. It was a weekend affair with rehearsal dinner on Friday (which HAPPENED to be my birthday!) Wedding Saturday and brunch Sunday. It was a great time. Alex and I got in a little Kayaking and I got a petite swim in. (The lake was DAMN cold out past the wake buoy) The company was great and the food terrific. My niece and new husband are off to Europe to hostel it to many countries. I hope they enjoy it.

Saturday afternoon some electrical part and/or alternator crapped the bed in my Expedition. (I know, I's a gas guzzler! If I could do my buying decision over now that I am green I would! For now, I'm stuck with the darn thing) The battery light came on which basically means the battery is not charging. Holderness NH (basically 1 step away from the back of beyond) on a holiday weekend. I was not getting it fixed. So...I bought a walmart battery and swapped the dead one out. The one that was in it previously went dead as soon as I tried to drive to the motel at night. The lights basically sucked the charge right out of it in 5 minutes. So the 'new Walmart battery went in and we drove back Sunday. It looked god that we would make it back but we made the fatal mistake of using the AC and moving the windows. The AC itself doesn't draw much but the fan runs on battery power. The windows just suck the life right out of it. Wham!

So here I am in Westminster Vt (THE back of Beyond!!) on 91S. My roadside assistance won't get me a new battery, tow me beyond 10 miles, or give me a high amp charge to refill the battery. (I also found out that batteries from the store typically come with a half charge as they assume your alternator works and will fully charge it over time) We are dead in the water in Westminster at a small garden shop/convenience store. A very pleasant looking couple came buy and Andrea asked for directions and locations for garages because the woman 'looked local'. Things happen for a reason. This woman was originally from Amherst Ma and knew exactly where we were from. A short conversation later and her husband brought me to a garage while she stayed with my wife and children. amazingly nice! I swapped in my SECOND new battery and we were off promising to 'pay it forward.' I have no idea what we would have done had they not helped us. I will looking to help someone in need to 'pay it forward'.

We eventually got home and parked the truck. I still need to get it to FORD and have them diagnose it and fix. That's probably Monday.

Ever since we got home and made it through the actual Monday holiday I have felt like I have been running and jumping to catch up. I suppose the whole issue with the truck didn't help. Thankfully, there are nice people like those that helped us, and my blessed children, who could have been off their rocker through this all, were very patient and looked at it like a neat adventure. Thanks for small miracles.

Slowly we will be back to normal on a regular schedule. Well, I'm back! Now I'm waiting to get Al Gore's new book on what went wrong with American politics. Can't wait. I hope he runs. He has my vote. The politics shooting gallery is NOW open!! ;-)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

We got one in!! And just before the rain came back

It was a ride of many firsts today.

1) It was Andy's first ride around Barkhamsted this year. Only a plus that it was 'the hard way.'
2) It was the first time using our new Garmin tool. Very cool. Hit the link above to get Andy's data. Calories burned, mileage we rode, elevation chart... It's a doosey of a ride from this direction!
3) It was our first ride together this year DOING our Barkhamsted loop. We usually would ride this once a week last year. I missed that and was happy we got to do it today together.

I was lamenting the rain ala the previous post when I looked outside and saw a blue sky!! Holy crap! I hit the computer, posted a ride to our Cycling/Triathlon groups site and started making calls. Baby sitter was on stand-by so we were set.

Alan Grant showed up and Theirry came as well so the four of us headed off for 'the loop'.

We warmed up until Westfield rd and we all actually took it easy going at our own steadypace. We were seperated but not by too much.

Water St went well and we headed toward East Hartland up Hartland Rd. I stayed with Andy for most of the climb and worked to catch up to Alan and Theirry who were up the rd. I was using this ride as a strength ride rather then a conditioning workout. I used the big ring up this climb and was able to catch both Alan and Theirry before the top but my thighs were burning. Ouch!

Bob Johnson, a friend mentioned in other posts has a saying with me. "It ain't a hill if you can do it in your big ring." That would be a theme as the ride progressed between Alan and I.

I rode with Andy down the next hill while Theirry and Alan got the jump on us and were Gone down the 3 mile descent. Andy and I went across the bottom and headed for the climb. Alan was no where in site and theirry was already up and going around the first corner. This is stiff little climb of about a mile with a couple of slow turns. You think you are at the top and it goes around the bend and keeps going up. We both got inot a groove, Andy and I and we took off after them. I got Theirry on one of the last steeper sections before the last turn. As I passed I hit the gas by clicking to a harder gear and standing up. I was now racing for Alan but I knew I was running out of climb. I got to the last, the real last corner where it flattens out and Alan was just getting there. Damn, missed him.

I yelled to Alan to turn and we would sweep down for Andrea. I had no idea how she was doing on the climb and thought maybe we would have to go down quit a bit to get her. We turned and headed down and before we hit the full turn she rounded the corner. Wow! Seems Andy had hit the gas a well. Later she said she didn't mind that climb. Climbs are always easier when you know the climb and have 'made you peace with it' or at least come to some mutual understanding. She climbed this one really well and especially for the first ride of the year on it.

We rode out to Riverton and along the scenic farmington river through People's Forrest. At this point I was already teasing Alan that I KNEW the stiff chopper over the bridge was 'not' a hill, and the veritable 'climb' to the Savoy Dam was also 'not' a hill. Code words translated as "Ride it in your big ring you over grown giant!" Alan stands roughly 6'5" or 6". His bike looks like something out of Monster Garage and I swear I can look bewteen his legs instead of over his shoulder to see what's in front of him. I'm 5'7" when stretching up. Needless to say we make a great Mutt and Jeff.

Alan did the first one after the bridge and attempted the second. But the big guy dropped off the big ring mid way up. I know the climb and just by accident, on a ride with Bob Johnson, did I discover that I could ride it in MY big ring. Now I have to every time. (It's a guy thing)

We regrouped on the dam. For anyone that lives out in western CT or Ma. This is a really great site. The Savoy dam on rt 318. Beautiful lakes on either side for the Barkhamsted Resevoir. I promised my wife today that we would one day swim across the lower lake at some point this year. It looks too beautiful not to.

Now I had been toying with wether to see how strong my legs were today. I mentioned to Alan I thought that maybe, just maybe, Rt 219 up from the dam was 'not' a hill. Alan thought a moment and considered the climb in his head. "I think you may be right. I could see it."

Okay, I KNOW Bob Johnson can do it. So realistically I KNOW I can do it to but I have no idea if I can go at a steady pace to warrant climbing in my big chain ring. If I'm going 2 MPH and about to tip over it kind of defeats the purpose of doing it right? I can see it now..."Yeah, it took me an hour to climb that darn hill...but I did it in my Big Ring!" Nah.

Well I started the hill in the big ring and quickly distanced myself from Theirry. I was over the first stiff chopper and on the steady part of the climb. I was in my 55X23 and feeling smooth. I stoof and went to my 21 and kept powering up. I sat and didn't drop gear. When I hit the plateau I went to my 19. I finally hit the top still in my 55X19 and some distance from the second place Alan. Theirry came in next afollwed shortly by Andy.

We raced down 219 to 20 and saw a huge thunderhead. Racing to beat the storm we wnt over Day Rd by the old Charter Oak tree. This is another amazing site. This oak tree is over 400 years old and has branches that have dipped down and become rooted themselves. I'm always thankful for the amazing sites that riding has afforded me.

Theirry flatted on 189 and we went a bit up the road and changed it. The sky was BLACK above us. Damn, I jsut cleaned my bike!! Not again! Andrea used her awesome powers and made sure we didn't get rained on. "Nope." she said. "It's going over us not on us." She was right!

We finally headed down Loomis St to 57 and home. hopefully the link will open for you all but if not we got about 58 miles and almost 5000 feet of climbing. A great ride at a good sub 4 hour clip. Not too shabby for a rain day ride.

Waiting for the rain to stop

So toady isn't really much of a meaningful post. Just the weekend wet weather blues. Andy and I (My wife's name is Andrea, hence, Andy for short, for those that may have been wondering. ;) ) are definitely tied to our exercise. I suppose things could be worse. I deal daily with those that addictions or ties to lifestyle habits that are very destructive. I have even taken exercise and athletic pursuits to destructive levels myself.

Bodybuilding is certainly not the healthiest of sports. (I have trouble considering it a sport as it is so subjective...probably should be labelled a 'syndrome' for all the psych issues surrounding it. That could be a whole other post) Between the drugs required to become super naturally huge, the drugs required to get unbelievably 'cut', a term for potentially harmful low levels of body fat, and the precontest necessities that produce the final 'look' can literally kill you as help you win. Thankfully I was 'retired' by 23 from THAT life.

I definitely use my passion for exercise; running, cycling and swimming as a mood stabilizer. Andy and I both do. When I competed for Ironman it was not a good scene here at home. Thankfully, I have an amazing wife and she 'corrected' certain attitudes and behaviors that was creating a downward spiral. Lesson learned: Even the good stuff ,taken to far, can take time away from family and the "Important" stuff.

Andy and I both now really work to help each other find time to exercise and include the kids and each other in as often as possible. Often times, if I get home from work early we will run to the schools with the kids as they ride their bikes. We'll throw the frisbee or Whamo! for a bit and then head back. For us it's important that the kids see exercise and together recreation time as an important feature in daily life.

Alex is at a friends house and slept over last night. Andy , Audrey and I stayed home and watched Sixth Sense. This second time seeing it I could watch without freaking out. The first time I was watching through my fingers in the theater! Puttering around the house, posting silly blogs and constantly checking the weather is what today consists of.

We are heading away to Squam Lake on Thursday evening (sorry John, no workout that day!) for my nieces wedding. We will come back on Monday afternoon so it will be a nice respite for the family. BUT that means the bike will be home and no riding for a whole long while. My goal between now and Thursday is to basically crush myself on the bike so the 5 days off is actually a well needed rest. So I wait, and wait and wait for the darn rain to stop. I may have to just gut it out and risk some wetness.

Do any of you out there get 'nudgy' or irritable when you don't exercise? I know the competitive silliness that men have may seem stupid to most woman that read the blog. I'm better, trust me. But to some extent I think it is hardwired into us to try to win. I recognize that this could be a huge over generalization like so many 'experts' write about men being the providers and fighters and woman being the nurturers....I can see it on physical and hormonal levels ,but I can also point to just the opposite. I have seen circumstances where men make fine nurturers and woman can be as ever so competitive and goal oriented as men. Nature, Nurture...who knows.

I just want to get a ride in today!!! Can someone stop the rain please. Besides, I just got a new bike GPS unit to give all sorts of geek data on our rides and runs. It's just like the universe to delay my gratification on using the thing.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Corporate collusions for what ails us?

I am a conspiracy theorist.

I admit it. I see them everywhere and am disgusted and frightened for where our society is headed.

On the blog Look Me In The Eye a post was put up that led to these thoughts. It may be that the 'intentions' of corporate heads do not have an actual pre-meditated 'collusion' with other industries, political organization, or associations BUT....I cannot be the sartest person in the world and the only one to see how one corporate or industry behavior helps another.
So now we are left with the idea that social responsibility is turned on it's head for the sake of profit.
an example may be
Food industries working to make better tasting, less nutritious foods that are more addicting all at prices that asure profits to shareholders.
HMmmmmm....doesn't this play into drug companies desire to sell more drugs to patients? Obesity has seen more medicines enter the mainstream society then ever before.
Diabetes MedsHypertension medsDepression medsSleep aid medsPain relief meds
are just a few of the STAPLES that I deal with in the Dr's office I work at. All of these, surely most, could be alleviated by being at an optimmal BMI.
So now we see a correlation but no one is juming up and down to radically change the system.
How about mandating that food needs to be healthy for starters. We COULD all do without ring dings and coke a cola.
Imagine the uproar!! But within a generation no one would miss it.

I also admit that my mutual funds invest in lord only knows what and I am part of the problem as are many of us. I SHOULD invest in socially responsible funds ONLY. But I admit to investing also in funds that return and return well. Deciding to stand on the side line and shout is still a decision to not help the cuase. I think we all start by changing where our money goes and invested. Anyone with me???

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thoughts on what may ail us.

I was with John Robison today as we had lunch at Panera and discussed topics related to what may be ailing us as a global population. John wrote the soon to be relaeased international bestseller book Look Me In The Eye. His blog is located at He was discussing how in writing th book about his life growing up with Aspberger's, a mild form of high functioning autism, he has learned that more and more families are having children with any multitude of illnesses. Autism, Allergys, asthma, CF....The list goes on.

We had the added good fortune of pulling into our discussion a rather good looking (I'm shallow, sue me) mother of triplets. She was studying microbiology and couldn't resist involving into our conversation. (rumour has it that I speak somewhat loudly)My thoughts are 3 fold as I expressed them to John. 1) data recording: Manyt things didn't have a name never mind being recorded and added to a data base over time. Look at Asperger's which just got recognized in the '90's. Many people may have had illneses that are are now diagnosable but it was never recorded. 2) Medical life extension: To use John's thought on Peanut allergy which I have spent many nights thinking about. (My son is anaphalaxis for peanuts) What would have happened to a child with a peanut allergy to peanuts in say the 1820's? They would have had a taste at some point and died. Allergens? Histamine response? They knew nothing of this then. Certainly no benedryl or epi pins available. Death. In this scenario, the gene expression for this maalady does not get passed on. In modern times thes illnesses are able to be passed on based on medicine better understanding of how the body works and availabale drugs. I am very happy about this where my son is concerned but it still shows that now, "weaker gene sets" are now growing into the gene pool. As the woman that conversed with us said, we can only hope that at some point medicine WILL be able to program viruses to resequence DNA and wipe out many diseases and conditions. It IS on the horizon. I can only hope. 3) Environment. By this I mean both the biosphere thast our planet population is poisoning as well as the horrid food supply that we consume. Day after day of consuming McDonalds, Hostess Twinkies, and processed foods WILL kill you in the end. Maybe not quickly as our bodies are amazingly adaptable organisms...but it will weaken over time making you susceptable to conditions. What about the correlation of under arm deoderant and breast cancer in woman. How men are also expieriencing more breast cancer as they shave their underarms?... Thanks for the tip on that one Polly. How about the correlation to midwest coal fired electric generation lants affecting asthma in the north east. and the devestation to the Great North Woods of New England from acid rain. When we destroy our planet we destroy ourselves.

John , great thoughts! AND it also proves my point that people more in tune with their appearance and well being, search out good food. AKA...the great looking mother of triplets that was studying microbiology for being a nurse. Defense rests!! ;) see John's blog for the story.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tuesday A ride: Hard and Hilly

Wow, am I ever wasted!! It was a hard ride but easy at the same time. It was not race pace but it was still pretty exhausting. It was the last of the A rides from my house as I now need to begin getting used to a later time. In June I will be spending Tuesdays working at the Dr’s office counseling and caring for the barriatric patients that come thought eh office. Ruth’s ride will be where I can get to by 5:30 PM. 3:30 PM was certainly nice but it’s over. L

I had outlined a Barkhamsted loop which is my staple for my hilly rides. Bob Johnson opted for a different ride….. When will I LEARN???? J

Jim Sullivan, Joe Korzenecki, I and Bob J went out and headed for General Knox Rd. This is a stair step climb of a bout a mile that goes from an easy 2-4 % grade at times to near 11%. We all settled into a rhythm and it began t set the score for the day. Bob, Me, Jim and Joe. Bob would launch at the last bit of the hill to the very top and separate from me…just to show he could…..AND he CAN. Ouch! I would try to at least make him work. Jim would usually come up after, and then followed by Joe.

We finished General Knox Rd, labeled this because history says that it was part of the path traveled BY General Knox on his march to deliver the cannons to Boston during the revolutionary war. Legend has it that a cannon from the march is lost somewhere in the woods. I doubt anyone could tell it apart from an iron deposit at this point. We took a left and headed up Rt 23 to Blandford center. It is UP. We actually kept a tame pace and everyone was civil…until the final chopper. Bob launched into it and I followed which set up a gap the Joe and Jim. It hurt…but it was cool. I know Bob has to hurt to get rid of me and in MY twisted mind that makes it kind of worth the pain.

We got onto Chester Rd and headed for Rt 20. Once there we watered up at some rusty pipe sticking out from the side of a mountain. (Don’t ask, I worry now I have some type of poisoning but the more….worldly… of our crew said it was safe….Uhuh) From here we headed for Middle field Rd and began the three and a half mile climb to Skyline Trail Rd. Just say UP with small reprieves mixed in. Bob was in front…surprised? Then Jim, then Me, then Joe. Jim found his rhythm sooner then I did and had the advantage that he had done this hill before. I had not except for DOWN it about 5 years before. Note to self: DOWN is not UP…Big difference. As the hill progressed I was able to get it together and slowly reel Jim in. I was also watching Bob ahead and seeing how he was dealing with each section. When you ride with someone enough you get to now what they do in comparison to what you know you can do. I know that Bob can stand and ‘jam’ a hill or chopper (short steep hill) about as long as I can. So as I clawed my way up to Jim I was actually watching Bob knowing that sections would get easier. I punched around Jim and told him good work. He was right on my wheel and then dropped off just a bit. What an amazing climb in fitness these past two weeks. As I have said before…very soon I will be thanking HIM for the wheel and the tow to the top of the climb. WE eventually caught up with Bob on Skyline and waited to regroup. We had dodged the rain thus far and we held out hope for the rest of the ride.

On Skyline Bob and I played games. On Sunday we had joked that it “isn’t a hill if you can ride it in your Big Ring”. Bob comes by us on this steep but short chopper saying this very phrase while riding his big ring!!! Damn, Here I am spinning and taking it easy in my small chain ring! Damn! I slow, on a hill, and put it to my big ring. How childish, right? I’m a 41 year old man on a pedal bike riding a ton of miles…..I AM a child at heart!!! Well let me tell you that was not a deposit into the ‘smart rider’ account. It hurt to start from almost a stop, on a chopper that hard, and drop it into the big ring and catch up to Bob. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! But I loved it! J I didn’t quite catch him but I stayed with him and he knew I was there so it made it worth it.

We screamed down the 4-6 miles from Skyline down into Huntington. From here we meandered over to Carrington Rd and Headed for Montgomery. Joe peeled off as he had had enough but Jim and Bob wanted to really do it up and come back wrecked. I was up for anything and sure as heck wasn’t going to be the whiner and say I had enough. We climbed Montgomery Rd, another hill I have only done down in the last 5 years. (See note to self above) It was epic and hard. Again Jim and I battled it out for second place. I think Jim started out in front and I caught him but he was able to get back to me after I passed or stayed with me. Whatever, he worked hard and we came up to Bob together.

We screamed down the many mile descent toward Wyben, a small suburb of Westfield. At this point, on level roads, I heard Mike Norton’s voice. “End rides hard like they were a race.” Knowing this was the real last good straight and level area I amped it up between 27 and 30 MPH in areas. Bob kept it up and then Jim did as well. We all worked hard at the end to take it in like racers.

We dropped Bob off on the road to his house and Jim and I ran out of luck. It poured! I mean it poured hard! Rain was so hard it was difficult to see with glasses on. I had to bit an ear piece and hold them in my mouth for 2-3 miles while I road home. The bike needs some TLC after getting so wet but I learned an epic new ride and got in about 60 miles with 5000+ feet of climbing. I had to race to meet my wife for dinner where I had too many glasses of wine, but the food and company was outstanding. The end to a perfect workout and day, great ride with great friends, great meal with great family and some outstanding red vintages. Who could ask for more?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Somtimes I wonder if they even know what they say!

"Now is not the time to signal retreat and surrender. How could this Congress walk away from our men and women in uniform," said Rep. Jerry Lewis (news, bio, voting record), R-Calif.

I took this comment off a Yahoo! new article. Stuff like this really pisses me off! No secret that I am a devote Anti- Bush person. (Not that the democrats or anyone else for that matter are fielding anyone better) But this type of moronic statement concerning the funding of the war effort in Iraq is just plain stupid.

Hey Jerry...How about A) It isn't our country so we wouldn't be defeated. B) They are in the midst of a civil it's not our war. C) The only people that would be surrendering would be the Iraqi's which apparently is the way they like their societies...constant unrest unless a malevolent dictator keeps them in check. D) And lastly, who is 'walking away from our troops". In fact wouldn't we be packing them up and bringing them home where they would be safe and with their families?

How much you want to bet that dear old Jerry has no kids of his own serving in Iraqi right now. I also bet that MOST of congress doesn't have kids serving in combat.

Most Americans forget that we got into this war on information that was false. Most of congress, and certainly our president, forgets that those troops have names and are someones daughter, son , father or spouse. In the Immortal words of Pete Seiger....Bring'em Home, Bring'em Home.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


I know wading through a science article is never a person's first choice for relaxing reading. (unless your me and a few others) but I just LOVE omega's and you should too!!! ;)

Riding and Riding Hard - athletic post

This past weekend I was able to get out for some great rides. It's always tricky balancing family and fun. Although I am the first to tell patients and clients that taking time for themselves is important...ruining your family to get that time is not a good trade.

Andrea was able to get out Saturday for a nice 70 mile from our house to No Ho (Northampton Ma). It makes my heart swell with pride as I see her get stronger and enjoy herself more athletically. Of course she holds herself to a high standard and one she usually reaches. I hung with the kids and did errands through the AM and had Mrs Murphy's stop during our running around. (Damn best donut shop this side of the Mississippi!).

In the afternoon I was able to meet Andrea in No Ho, swap truck and kids for bike, and ride the 26 miles back to our house with our fried Jim Sullivan. Jim got a late start to this year of riding because work has been so crazy for him. Never to do things in half measure, Jim just beats himself until he either dies or gets back in shape. To date, he has always been able to pull it back. I rode Jim back hard from No Ho as he already had 70 miles in an I was fresh. He finished the day with 90+ miles and the last 25 miles were no joke. He loves that stuff! I needed to go hard to bring my legs back up to speed. I had not ridden since Tuesday and stale legs going into Sunday's up coming leg breaker would be bad.

Sunday brought a ride for both Andrea and I (very unusual as we have Alex who is 10 and Audrey who is 7) as the kids both ad things to do. Andrea rode with a friend and we opted to head into the Berkshire hills and climb. A good core group consisted of a 55+ year old who climbs and pulls like he is 21!! Bob Johnson (So if you are old and out of shape there is your reason it is no excuse to GET IT DONE) ;) Steve Lombardo - great rider and climber when riding consistently, Jim Sullivan from above , Joe Crooks, Joe Rodrigues and myself. I only wish I had the GPS scan of what we did. (can't justify the expense!! and THAT is unusual for me!)

We started up 112 into Worthington. At least 8 miles up but the grade isn't too bad until the final chopper to the rest point. From this climb I knew I was riding well. Jim says I haven't ever ridden this well, and I think he's right. Combination of better stress control, scientific training, and plenty of rest all have contributed I think. On the final chop people blew up and only Bob Johnson and I stood and jammed to the rest point. Good sign for things to come.

We proceeded to Rt 9 in Cummington via Ireland Street and by the Cummington Fair Grounds. Nothing too ridiculous but still consistently going up. These kind of hills just wear you out over time.

We came out onto Rt 9 and headed toward Goshen and back to the 'flat' sections of the ride and toward home. There is one final hill on Rt 9 before the 8 mile descent that has always been my nemesis. It's not too long but hard enough. It bakes you in the sun and you can see the other riders going away from you as the road goes up and around a corner. Writing of it makes my stomach turn. Trust me I have been up much harder hills but, until today (foreshadowing for those that don't know) I have never had a 'good' day on this hill. Being unlucky I had to take it into the hill, meaning I was first in line. I rode conservative and held a steady 10-12 MPH in my second easiest gear...

Never a wise move to go in hard, from the front. You never know if the person behind you is fresh and feeling fine. As the sun comes up tomorrow, if they are still fresh, they WILL make you hurt by coming around you hard while you are blowing up from your efforts. Make no mistake about it people. Competitive riding and racing on bikes is a strategic war played out on two wheels. To the victor goes the accolades and spoils...but only those that risk it all can win. Every ride that is meant to be tough, each one of us risks 'bonking' and running out of energy.

Back to the hill. I rode in front for the first third of the hill. I flicked my right elbow and moved slightly to the left. This is the signal for the rider just behind to take over the pacing of the group. No one came around. HMmmm. This is unusual AND irritating. Not that any of my compatriots did this to irritate on purpose but, damn, I was getting a little tired. OK, they want to play those games I'm going to really crank it. I used the irritation to let it out and kick that hill's ass! I stood up and clicked to a harder gear. I pulled away slowly. I clicked to an even harder gear and pulled away some more. I clicked to a still harder gear and went as long as I could. Here I am in my 39X 17, a gear I could normally NEVER ride on that hill, and standing away from the other climbers. What the?.... I felt the legs blowing so I sat back down and shifted back to my 39X21 gear in one swift click and put my head down and pedalled hard. Can you say ouch!? I did this for as long as I could. Up and down the gears as I stood and sat alternately. I knew they would come get me, but I was going to make them suffer for it.

I made the top with Bob Johnson and Joe Rod who clawed back up to me just before the top. Bob said he was working hard to get there. That he COULD kick my butt is not my worry. I'm not a climber per se. I can climb when the stars and gravity wells are properly aligned, but my strength is in my snap power and all around ability. I was having a good day and THAT hill no longer has power over me. Peace has been made!

Knowing the hills were behind us, I now made a commitment to ride the 'big ring' (front big chain ring in the front gears) the rest of the way. 30 miles left and not one not in the BR. Bob Johnson took us on a shortcut that was as he said, "relatively flat". Yeah, thanks Bob. We added 6+ miles of short steep climbing to our ride and I still managed in the heavier gears. Thanks all the cycling powers that be that it was 'my day'. I finished with a hearty 76 miles, tons of vertical feet and one heck of a workout.

Tuesday my legs were a bit log like from the Sunday ride but I held on tight and made it through. I have to remember to ride conservative some times to get those recovery miles in. Jim Sullivan rode Tuesday as did Bob J and Joe Rod. We all were a bit spent. Jim is making his characteristic climb into fitness as we speak. It is inspiring to see him bounce back. I can not say enough about what he has taught me about biking and the psychology. In another 2-3 weeks it will be a different Jim Sullivan on rides, ones who's wheel I will look for and thank for having.

An easy ride is on tap for tonight with a 3 mile run right after. Tri season is almost upon us and we need to pull it together. HMmmm, does that mean I have to add in swimming? ;)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Weight Loss Recipe

If you have read my intro post you know that my chosen career path is to help people become more aware, and control, their health. With this is weight management. I work for a Dr. as an exercise specialist, counseling people on how to re-engineer their bodies to be more healthy.

I will tell you, basically, what I tell them, regardless of what amount of weight these people are that come in to see me. Many patients are seeking 'the cure' to their problems. Maybe that cure is a quick trip to the surgeon for lap banding or by-pass surgery. Although it is serious stuff, being cut open, many people are very cavalier about going for surgery.

Basically I let them know that each human body responds to generally the same recipe for weight loss. Yes, there may be some tweaks that need to be made based on thyroid function, diabetes, or other health issues. But generally, we are all human and all respond, physically, about the same. The formula is, in it's simplest form, energy in vs. energy out. To some extent I try to get patients and clients to begin the process of accepting where they are and their role in how they got to the 'now'.

I explain that life "Is not fair".

Most of us understand this well in regards to our regular life. Things happen and there is no rhyme or reason and certainly no sense of fairness to them. But it is always fascinating that patients and clients seem to desire some amount of equability and fairness in body dynamics. If I had a nickle for every time a patient said, "But my roommate can eat what ever she wants! It's just not fair!" I explain right up front that it ISN'T fair and that some will never have a weight problem and others may only have to change their habits very little to drop 50 lbs and be their ideal body weight. Many are not so lucky. The sooner a person understands this they can accept and begin working on a plan that will help them move toward their goal.

The next step is to help the patient or client understand that there is no 'condition' or physical ailment that creates their weight. This is true almost 100% of the time. Instead it is their psychology that has allowed them to gain the extra weight. More specifically, the psychology behind the habits and choices these people make on a regular basis as they conduct their lives.

When psychology comes in line with the 'habits of doing', truly cataclysmic changes occur. This can work both in a positive way as well as negative. When someone is depressed, fatigued and uncaring, and their food choices and habits reflect this...massive weight gain and health deterioration is almost inevitable. When the psychology of self improvement and responsibility are backed with the habits of doing..people melt away and unveil a life worth living, and one they could hardly have imagined before. Sometimes, but not often, we can work on the habits first and hope the psychology comes later. It is possible to DO changes that will make an end point a forgone conclusion but it is extremely difficult to get maintenance of these changes with out the psychological component in place.

So as I counsel patients and clients toward their goals of a more healthier lifestyle and weight, I find, continually, that it is between the ears that most of the work needs to be done. If more people understood that they can achieve what their brain and heart truly wants, and took responsibility for their habits and choices, weight would never be an issue.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Choice or Victim?

So I was driving to the hospital where I work this afternoon and come to an intersection with a pan handler at the corner.

He was in a wheel chair and missing his left leg from the knee down. He had a descent jacket on, descent jeans and right shoe. He even had sense enough to be wearing a safety vest like those worn by highway workers. (Maybe he stays until after dark) His sign read: Victim of Hit + Run, Lost leg, God Bless. He was obviously looking for donations.

First let me say that I do feel for this person and missing a leg doesn't make life any easier. But these scenarios get me wondering about the nature of people and what they expect of the rest of us past what we as society already help with. (Whether that is enough for the various populations that receive aid is a topic for another day)

My state of Massachusetts is the , or one of, the most liberal and giving of all stated in way of health benefits to the needy. Our welfare is truly that and Mass Health and Health Net basically cover everyone that needs any type of medical coverage.

Did this person have a job before his unfortunate accident?
Does he have a prosthetic? I cannot believe that Mass Health wouldn't give him at least a basic prosthetic after an accident. HMmmm, why isn't it on?
Does he accept welfare?
Does he pay taxes on his donation receipts?

OK, I know these seem silly but I could no way think of myself , because of having only one leg, becoming a pan handler, as I can see myself becoming a heroin addict.

What decisions and thoughts go through a person's head to disengage from life and do nothing?

Is it laziness?
Is he truly' disabled'? Gee, so that guy with one leg that passed me in IRONMAN...what was his excuse?

So I feel compassion I suppose to a point. I must confess to not giving a hand out.

A Friend had a similar scene but this sign on a 'whole' person was "Will work for food". Again, he was pan handling. My friend is a very successful landscape person, owning his multi million dollar business for several years now. He came up along the island in a work truck as he was on a crew of his that day and told the man to jump in, He could work the day, get fed a hot meal and payed for his effort. If he wanted he could come back to work the next day.

The response, "F*CK You!" and he spit at him and walked up the island away from my friends truck and crew. Hmmmmm, do you blame me for being a cynic? I know it isn't always the case but a few usually ruin it for the many. I know I'm not giving today.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

3 amigos in the hills of Barkhamsted

Tuesday 2 friends of mine went for a training ride in the hills around Barkhamsted reservoir. Let me first distinguish between levels of rides by their label. There is:

A ride: this denotes getting on your bike alone or with friends and riding your bike at social paces. Talking, seeing the sights, and the occasional stop along the way for coffee, beer (yes, we do do that some times) or ice cream. Anyone can ride and enjoy the camaraderie and scenery.

A Training Ride: This references training so there is an underlying purpose to it. 'To Train and thus get better from it". These rides can be broken into several categories...
Training easy which gives the body more rest then work and is generally not damaging.
Tempo training which basically means a brisk pace is held and it starts to really hurt after a bit.
Hammer fest which basically describes itself. An all out leg ripper that leaves you pretty tired, dazed and more confused then you already are.

A race: this is again what it sounds like, A ride that is done while competing for position against someone else, yourself, or the clock.

Bob Johnson, Joe Rodrigues and myself went out for a training ride that began in "tempo training' and soon felt like it was heading for 'hammer fest'.

We climbed and rode over 53 miles and over more then 4000 feet of climbing...most of it done at what we could handle. Joe and I at least, as we were constantly chasing a very light and spry old man called Bob Johnson. The hills around the reservoir are fantastic as they are great for their length and pitch. Not too steep, but steep enough to give one hell of a workout if you do them hard enough.

I had a good day and was an entirely different person at the end of this ride compared to the last time we three went out. Then I rode back barely keeping from falling over I was so bonked and shattered. Yesterday I worked over Joe and dear old Bob on the last chopper coming into the finish with a pretty sweet jump attack from behind. Bob was working pretty hard to claw back up to me. I'll take that ride to the bank!

It never ceases to amaze me how consistent training creates consistent change. In January I couldn't have ridden 20 miles with out just blowing up and calling for a ride to pick me up. (A cyclists must shameful ride finish if not from bike mechanical failure) Now I am riding back to back rides of 70 plus miles, and hard as well. In a few more weeks 100 mile rides will be an every weekend ability with a 70 miler on the other day 'just for fun'. Amazing.

Well, my legs are pretty tired and I still need to go for a 'light' jog this evening. Better get it done and early to bed.