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.

Welcome to the new outlet for my crazy ideas and thoughts!

Who is Matt DuFresne and why is his blog labeled 'Ruminations of a Crazy Man' ?

Anyone that writes about themselves could probably spend days creating a form of memoir, at least I hope they can find enough interesting thoughts and stories to create such a work. Instead of doing that I will list some of the defining things that have created the person, and his thoughts, that writes today.

I was an OK student that never REALLY applied myself. When I DID apply myself I got A's. I was the consummate 'clutch' tester. Do absolutely zilch all semester, have a D- average and then speculate what I would need to 'pull it out'. I can remember senior year history with Miss Brewer. Similar scenario, needed to pass to graduate, A+ on the final. To those young people that read my blog...this is not something I'm proud of. It shows to me what a waste I put my intellect to during the years that could have really set my life up and on a different path. How many of us look back and think of what could have been? Regrets? Only sometimes, but I have had one interesting ride to this point on the path I did take, that's for sure.

I was a Bodybuilder...fairly good too. In hind site I realize I was making up for some....deficiencies (yeah, that's it) in my personality and self esteem. Thankfully I grew through this. Painfully and forcibly but I never would have evolved had I not been forced to give up this lifestyle. I learned that when some bad things happen they have unexpectedly positive outcomes that otherwise may not have come about.

I owned a Fitness Center. Gold's Gym of Springfield Mass. A natural progression from the Bodybuilder lifestyle I suppose. It was fun at times, but also a lot of work. I learned a great deal about people, both as a manager/ leader and business owner. I also learned a great deal about business. It serves me to this day.

I am a husband. I call it Husband 2.0. (like the sci fi channel show Jake 2.0, which incidentally, isn't very good) I was not so good at being a husband in the first decade but in defense of ALL marriages....Where was the manual on people and relationships that was to guide us? I'm working on being much better in the second. I've learned a lot through the very patient and wise teachings of my wife, some of whose lessons come in on bricks and some on kisses, and learning the skill of not taking everything personally. Time will tell how I do....

I am a two lovely and incredibly precocious children Alexander and Audrey. Ages 10 and 7 respectively. Man do they give their parents a run for their money!! Like the above, I am learning to be a better father and be, AND REMAIN, more connected to my kids lives and be a part of their growth. It's over and done too damn quick.

I am a Personal Trainer. Again, another extension of the bodybuilding lifestyle? I don't really know for sure but it probably helped. I have always been fascinated with how the body works and adapts. It also comes easy to me. Having been training clients for the better part of 20 years I have a varied clientele of eclectic and affluent business people and their spouses. I enjoy training people and learning not only about their exercise and health lifestyle but about how they think and why they have become what and who they are. The key to health lies within a person's mind and spirit not their body. At least this is what I have learned.

I am an Exercise Specialist at a medical weight loss facility. I work within a medical practice dispensing exercise and lifestyle information to an overweight population. These may be either medical management (those that may only need some education and medicine to get the ball rolling) or pre and post operative surgical patients. It is a great new direction for the skills I have built over the past 20 years. I can now utilize what I have learned about how people think and react to help counsel them toward a different way of viewing their health and responsibility for it. Probably the best thing about this is I get to work with one of my very best friends. Dr. Keroack, Chris to those of us that know him in a social respect, is one of those crazily smart people. Like, Encyclopedia Britannica smart, but for medicine. If he reads it, he knows it. Cool to just actually be around. Add to this that he just a generally nice guy, wants to help people, has a beautiful family and struggles with many of the same things I do as a person......What's not to like? It certainly is an amazing opportunity he has given me and I enjoy every minute of it. After all, in referencing my above school motivation...I never did get even my bachelors degree. I'm over it now as I have decided to not go back. I know how smart I am and my friends do as well. Including my friend, and boss, Dr. K., and all my clients, some of which I have maintained for over 10 years. I recognize some may look to letters after my name and make an opinion of me that is less then favourable. To each his own.

I am a triathlete. This is the sport I have dedicated myself to since bodybuilding. I have yet to 'burn away' the competitive spirit. This may be a part of my self esteem or other defect in my personality but it's also just damn fun. I have sworn off any more Iron man Tris' until my kids can either train with me or have lives of their own and no longer 'need' Mom and Dad as much. IE teenagers. (see I am a father above) An amazing friend of mine, Kim F. has said that competing is a low energy level if referring it to a Buddhist spirituality concept. I can see this. But I also think that the motivations and intention one goes into competition is equally important. I compete on one level to win...but mostly to challenge myself both physically and mentally. I have had some of my best insites after a grueling ride or run. I have been at my most peaceful when swimming a mile in a mountain lake with the morning mist just beginning to role off it's surface. It may be lower energy, this competing thing, but it help reach higher energy at other times. At least that's today's rationalization!! ;)

I have been labelled by one of my elder sisters (I come from a family of 5 children of which I am the baby) compassionately disconnected. I enjoy company but don't need it. This is a fine trait for me with respect to my own entertainment, but dangerous for me in maintaining and fostering relationships. I work on this. I could travel the world alone and never have a true home, and be content with a book more then not. But this is not to say I am a loner. I have done these things like traveling the world and immersing in reading and research. Now, as I enter a new phase of my life I find myself wanting these same things, but now I want my wife and children involved, I want to have them expierience the same joy and wonder at what I see and feel. I'll take it as a sign of growth and maturity. This being said, my wife no longer needs to 'expierince and see the things I enjoy' when camping. She did it once, and I dought I will get her to do it again without a 35 foot deluxe camper and or ultra clean cabin. Hey, can't win 'em all.

I have evolved (de-evolved by my mother's view. Love you to Mom!) from a staunch right wing republican capitalist to the party 'Of the People, For the People, By the People'. Wouldn't that be amazing? A governement that actually listened to it's voters rather then it's lobbyists. A world view that worked unwaveringly to habitat and species preservation. That worked tirelessly to restore the earth to it's former glory. Here's a concept. Get the children of parents out of harms way in Iraq and spend the $186 BILLION on not needing oil anymore as a fuel source. For major hostilities being over Mr. Bush...why are we still involved with this longer then World War II lasted? Someday things will change and we will stand united more for what is right then what we want. I just hope the earth, and it's inhabitants, last until then.

So generally...very generally, this is who I am. I will give thoughts and opinions on health, politics and interesting facts that I come across. I think a lot, too much probably, but I would like to see and hear if anyone thinks like I do. Maybe I'm not a 'crazy man', maybe I'm just like you, but we just never talked.