Saturday, February 26, 2011

Triathlon Workout

Since this blog is in theory about my plan to compete in the USAT Championships this summer I thought I should probably report on how I am training to reach this goal.

My primary triathlon coach is Craig Strong. Each week he sends me my weekly training program. I am racing at Lake Havasu on March 21 so Craig adjusts my training regimen as the race approaches.

It’s important not to overtrain and Craig’s workouts always call for a tapering off as the race day approaches.

My training so far this year is more arduous than it was a year ago. Two reasons for that.  First I am participating in the Masters swim program at the Evanston Y (Craig builds that into my program) three mornings a week – and I am pushing myself more than I have in the past. My times are coming down as a result. Now I can sustain workouts at 1:50 per hundred pace for an extended period.

The second addition to my training this year is that through the initiative of my chiropractor Tony Breitbach  (The Wellness Revolution) and Craig Strong there is now a computrainer set up above Tony’s offices and training sessions are held several mornings a week. I work out Wednesday and Friday mornings with a group “ride” managed by Alicia Riggs, who works with Craig.

Here is the workout for the week just ended:

Sunday – Basketball 7 to 9 PM with a group of old guys that I’ve been playing with for the last fifteen years. I guess we weren’t that old when we started.

Monday – Spin 7 am to 7:30; this is just an easy spin to stretch out the sore muscles from basketball the night before;

Monday – Strength Workout – 7:30 to 8 am with Nibra White, my personal trainer at the Y. Nibra varies the workout each week. We focus on core strength and balance.

Tuesday – 6 am to 7:15 am – Master Swim with Craig Strong at the Y. We usually swim about 2,000 yards in combinations of 50s, 100s and 200s and 400s.

Tuesday – 3 pm – one hour run on the treadmill; speed workout on slight incline;

Wednesday – 6 am to 7:15 am – computrainer workout led by Alicia; she mixes it up but everything she comes up with is tough. Lots of intensity. There are usually four or five us riding;

Wednesday – I was supposed to have a strength / stretching workout on my own, but I went to see Tony B. as my neck was stiff. He gave me some exercises to do to help stretch those muscles;

Thursday 6 am to 7:15 am – Masters swim with Joe Agnew;

Thursday 3 pm to 4 pm – Ran outside; after warming up, ran 12 minutes at 85% effort, cruised for 4 minutes and then ran another 12 minutes at 85%; Overall ran about 6 miles at a better than 8 minute pace, which pleased me. I want to be under an 8 minute pace for the Lake Havasu run.

Friday 6 am to 7:15 – Another computrainer workout; this time we did something I thought would be easy; after some warm up riding we did 10 seconds all out and then 20 seconds no pedaling and we repeated that ten times. Then we went 20 seconds all out and 30 seconds easy spin and we repeated that ten times. I was wrong. It wasn’t easy.

Saturday – normally on Saturdays I do a mini-triathlon workout. Masters swim – then a run and then I finish with a spin class with Heather. But today, Craig had me working on transitions. So I swam five minutes in the pool, then ran upstairs in the Y to the spin bike and rode for 15 minutes and then ran 10 minutes on the treadmill. And then I repeated that two more times. It is sort of pain-in-the-ass to have to jump in the pool three times, but it helps get my body used to switching gears from one sport to another.

Saturday Massage – and for my final workout of the week I treated myself to a massage with Arawa. She’s a great masseuse and also a spin instructor at the Y. I’m planning another massage after the Lake Havasu race.

And tomorrow I am going to sleep in. Not get up until 7 am or maybe even 7:30. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mary Bryan Cake

In the spring of 1962 my family took one of our motor-home vacations to Florida. On the way we stopped at the home of Harley and Willie Hurst. Harley had been in flight school in Arkansas with my dad during World War II.

They lived in North Carolina and had a daughter named Mary Bryan (she's the blonde girl on the tractor.) To my recollection we never met Mary Bryan again, but she remained forever in our memories because she made a super-delicious rich chocolate cake with fudge frosting and gave the recipe to my mom.

After that trip, for every birthday and special celebration or just for the hell of it, my mom made Mary Bryan cake. She made hundreds of them over the next four decades.

I loved that cake.

Mom’s 94 now and she doesn’t bake stuff anymore. They don’t allow stoves in her assisted-living facility. A couple of months ago I asked her about Mary Bryan and she said that she’d had a hard life. Badly injured in a car accident in her 20s,  she never quite recovered and died a few years back.  It was hard to accept - for me she would always be that little girl on the tractor.

In December I entered Zoetrope’s Flash Factory contest to write a story based on a photo prompt. The photo they supplied was of a 4th of July celebration, probably from the 60s. There were a bunch of people in the picture and one of them reminded me of Mary Bryan. So I wrote a story called “Mary Bryan Cake.”

The story has nothing to do with my family or actual events. Or the real Mary Bryan. It was just published (along with all of the other Flash Factory winners) in the Foundling Review.

You can find the story here: Mary Bryan Cake

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sibling Week

It used to be "Sisters Weekend."  My three sisters would congregate at Carol's home in Phoenix for a winter getaway. A fews year back they decided to include me and the spouses and it became "Sibling Weekend."  And now with some of the sisters and spouses retired, we have extended it to a week. Two feet of snow will do that.

Six of us grew up in Canandaigua, NY and graduated from Canandaigua Academy in 1965 (3), 1966 (1), 1969 (1) and 1970 (1). 

Tom and Don, who married sisters Kendra and Carol, were born in the same hospital about twelve hours apart on February 7 and 8, 19xx. That gave us a good excuse to enjoy several birthday drinks and desserts.

 It wasn't all play however. I had to spend hours supervising Al (Christine's husband) as he re-assembled my tri-bike which I had shipped out to Phoenix for my race next month. (And I would have actually ridden the bike after he finished assembling it, but I forgot my bike shoes.) 

 We did lots of hiking in the mountains around Carol and Tom's house. Some of the guys played golf. I got a chance to run outside in the mountain preserve.

It was great to run without cold-weather gear (even though on my last run somehow I managed to trip on a rock and fall on my face and scrape up my hand.) 

We even went to a couple of matinee movies - "The Fighter" and "The King's Speech."

And next year we are going to spend the week at our timeshare in Kauai.

Our Great Hosts: Tom & Carol

Kendra & Suzanne

Al & Christine

Monday, February 7, 2011


Okay I know I’m a little late reporting on the blizzard put I was tired from all that shoveling.

For me the most amazing aspect of the storm that hit Chicago and vicinity last Tuesday night was the amazing accuracy of the weather prediction. Three days before the storm hit, I started reading internet headlines about the massive storm that was going to “paralyze” Chicago.

I scoffed at those scare headlines. Chicago doesn’t get paralyzed by weather. We’re not one of those wimpy places like London (where they cancelled my daughter’s flight days before Christmas because of a few inches of snow) or New York, which takes a holiday whenever the sidewalks get wet.

I wouldn’t have had any concerns about the storm because bad weather is not really that awful if you don’t actually have to go outside and normally I don’t have to go outside if I don’t want to. But we were scheduled to fly to Phoenix on Wednesday morning so I was hoping that the weather forecast had been a little hyperbolic.

But it hadn't.

Fortunately I had prepared for the storm. I sent daughter Nicole out early in the day for provisions – frozen pizzas and extra beer and wine (just in case we really did get snowed in for a few days) and then we all stayed inside and watched.

It was an impressive storm. High winds, thunder and lightning. My snow shoveling plan was to shovel frequently because it's easier to shove six inches out of the driveway four times than to try and shovel two feet all at once. It was a great plan, but it’s really hard to shovel snow in a hurricane so I gave up and waited for the storm to pass.

I got up early on Wednesday morning and rescheduled our flight which had been cancelled and then prepared to shovel out the driveway, sidewalks and patio (so the animals could get out of the house). The problem with my plan was that it was still snowing and blowing.

I waited until 8 am and then, sensing that the storm was letting up, I began to shovel. We had about two feet in the driveway, but at least it was not wet snow. I figured it would take maybe an hour to finish the driveway. But it didn’t actually stop snowing for another hour, and by the time it stopped completely the parts of the driveway that I had shoveled first had another four to six inches of fresh snow so I had to go back and reshovel.

I finished the driveway in about three hours but the sidewalk and patio took much longer than I anticipated. There was a three foot drift on a section of the sidewalk which I hadn’t counted on. Finally at 12:40 I hung up my shovel and retired for the day.

Now we are in Phoenix and while the weather has been unseasonably cold, I am not complaining.

Very proud of this driveway

Too tired to actually clear the patio - Sammy the dog wasn't too impressed

Sidewalk - sort of obvious I guess