Wednesday, January 4, 2017

I Need Monthly Challenge Ideas

I am a fan of challenging yourself, expanding your horizon, and pushing those limits.  I love adventure, new experiences, and doing something simply for the novelty of it.

Athletics is a MAJOR way I get to challenge my limits.  That initial challenge somewhat took over my life; triathlon, personal training, coaching, etc.  Monthly challenges are a way I get to try new things in so many other directions.  Some I incorporate into my normal life.  Others I don't.  That's the beauty of it.  You only live once, so why not experience everything you can in that time?!

In the past, I've done challenges to change my diet (paleo twice, vegetarian), financial savings, and reading every night.  As a result, I went vegetarian for 2 years and have been pescatarian for 1.5 years.  I have a plan to be debt free within 4 years, 4 years ahead of schedule.  I do still love to read, but it is tough to fit in. 

Most recently December 2016 was a peanut butter intervention.  I admittedly have been known to down an entire jar (2800+ calories) of all natural peanut butter before I realize what I've done.  That needed to stop.  I am now allowed one jar per week.  That challenge taught me that I did not need peanut butter as a snack.  There were other things I could eat and forced me to make those foods available. 

Looking ahead to 2017, I only have two challenges in mind. 

I will be meditating 5+ minutes per day in order to try and clear my mind of the anxiety of never ending to do list in my head. 

No Texting (only calling & email)
I am intrigued by how texting has changed how civilization communicates and therefore how we interact.  I want to go back to a time where you had to speak with someone verbally in order to interact.  

I am in need of suggestions for monthly challenges.  The only requirement is that it push a limit or force me to try something new.  Let the suggestions fly!!

January - Meditation (5+ min/day)
February - No texting (I can only call or email)
March - ??
April - ??
May - ??
June - ??
July - ??
August - ??
September - ??
October - ??
November - ??
December - ??


1.  Have you ever done a monthly challenge?  If so, what have you done?

2.  If you could try a new experience, what would it be?

3.  What would you change about your normal daily routine?


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Year of the Sports Bra

IM 70.3 NC

For those who know me, you already know this story.  

For those who don't, I can already hear you judging.  That's okay.  Trust me, I get it.  All I will say is that I am a triathlete and we will try ANYTHING. 

Here's the quick run down...

I wear a sports bra for WTC (Ironman branded) races.
WHY?! ask.
WTC has a rule that males need to wear a shirt for the bike and the run.
I have always known I run better with no shirt.
I wear a bra because it alleviates the affects of heat while satisfying WTC's shirt rule.
The bra (LG Powerbra) is rather comfortable!
Yes, I get looks and questions all the time.
Yes, I was self-conscious the first two times I did it.  After that, I embraced it.
I fully plan on continuing to wear it.  It's awesome!

Here's the run down story to the question I get at every race.

"Ok, I have to ask.  ...why the bra?"

IM 70.3 NC

Over the 2015-2016 winter, I set up my 2016 race schedule; three IM 70.3s (Eagleman, Timberman, and North Carolina) that would all have potentially hot conditions.  Knowing that my best performances have been in mild temperatures, I began looking for tactics to help with the inevitable race day heat.  As of late 2015, I exchanged my "No shirt if it's 50+ degreees" running rule for "You have to wear a shirt no matter what."  I began wearing a shirt on every run whether it was 30 degrees or 90.  That came with some not too enjoyable experiences, but all with the goal that I 'd be better on race day.  I also began cutting out the fan on trainer rides.  My monthly cost for Febreze and laundry quickly shot up.  All of this was in hopes of allowing me to deal better with the heat.

Then I began considering my race attire.  I have a variety of jerseys and I know which one provides the least heat impact, but I wanted to know if there was something better.  I began looking into the newer fabrics, into the sleeved jerseys, and others.  Some reviews argued that they weren't great to run in but were manageable.  I didn't want "manageable."  I wanted "great."  Looking at my inventory, I knew I could bike well in my Newington Bike jersey, but I much preferred running without a shirt altogether.  Unfortunately, WTC does not allow that.

WTC's rule states that a shirt must be worn at all times during the bike and run. 

I began looking at simple run singlets that I could cut short in order to limit the amount of fabric I had on me.  Somewhere in that venture, an idea took the smallest of roots and began to grow.  Of course at first, I laughed.  No way would I actually do that.  Would I?  I didn't even know who to ask about it.  Who could I talk to without it sounding crazy?  I asked my coach who was on board for giving it a try.  I also asked a fellow coach who was my previous coach.  She was ALL ABOUT IT!  Not only that, she swore that male pros used to wear their significant other's sports bra in races before, but it fell out of "trend." 

And the ball began to roll.

Trust me when I say that it was quite weird for me at first.  I am a heterosexual male who is voluntarily considering wearing a bra in public for everyone to see.  Oh, and it's not for Halloween!  But before I even considered buying one, I needed to make sure that WTC/IM would allow it.  The head referee at IM 70.3 Timberman had joked about it once, but I needed to know he was serious. 

I contacted WTC/IM and inquired about the details of the "no shirt" rule; what is the technical side of the rule and could a sports bra suffice as a shirt?  The Global Rules Director provided the following insight.

I had a green light from WTC/IM to give this a try.

I asked some close female friends for their recommendation on sports bras.  That got some interesting responses, but altogether they were supportive (while laughing).  In the end, I went with the brand I trust, Louis Garneau.  They make the jersey that I love, so I trusted them to make a bra I could handle.  I opted for the LG Powerbra. 

I tested it on two long runs under a dark colored shirt.  Those went fine.  The two hardest moments were the first time I wore it in a half marathon and the first time I wore it in a triathlon.  I am by no means immune to social norms and embarrassment.  I strongly considered leaving my throw away shirt on for that first half marathon.  What would people say?  What would they not say but think?  Is there another option I hadn't considered and am going to make a fool out of myself?  Why don't I just wait until race day at Eagleman and wear it then?!

*Sigh*  Off came the shirt before the start.  If I didn't do it then, I may never have.

After that race started the questions.  "Were you the guy with the bra?"  Yeah, that was me.  "Okay, I have to ask, why the bra?"  When I explained it, the spectators agreed that it made sense and the women even chimed in saying that they love wearing just their bra; it's great for the heat and to store ice in.  Great!!

I found the bra served another purpose as well - Motivation.  I did not want to be caught as a male wearing a bra while not looking fast.  Haha

Fast forward to IM 70.3 Eagleman.  In race mode, I found that I had zero qualms about what people thought.  In fact, I had some fun with it as I heard comments.  My favorite was from a volunteer in transition.

(*Running through transition with no shirt and the bra in my hand*)
VOLUNTEER:  Woah!!  Go back, you have to have a shirt.
ME:  (holding up the bra)  I have it right here.
VOLUNTEER:  Okay, but get it on quick.
(* I put on the bra while running through the exit chute *)
VOLUNTEER (to another):  Is that... a bra?
ME:  (yelling back)  Yes it is!
VOLUNTEER:  (*visibly and audibly laughing*)

On course, the bra was great!  Eagleman was super hot (90s heat wave) and I my run felt apart.  I ran aid station to aid station just trying to make it without walking in between.  At every station, I drank water, gatorade, and stuffed ice into the bra.  Those women were right - the bra was so useful!  Post-race, I found I had the 4th fastest run in my AG, a stat I have never been close to.  The bra was a staple right there and then!  I still pulled it off shortly after crossing the finish line though.

It was comfortable, useful, and let me run my own race the way I want to.
Enough said!!
IM 70.3 NC

Ahead to IM 70.3 Timberman.  This race didn't go as well, but the bra proved itself to be quite helpful in keeping me cool.  And the Betty girls who were cheering gave me a good laugh.

BETTY GIRL:  (quietly to the others) Here comes that guy in a bra again.

I just waved.

Finally, IM 70.3 NC.  At this point, the bra had become my habit and I was not phased by the idea of wearing it at all.  I actually wore it post-race for awhile because I was too tired to attempt the removal and wanted to use it as a place to store my gels, medal, etc.  The embarrassment was gone.  The other guys in the food tent didn't even ask about it.

Hey, how'd your race go?
Do you like those shoes?  I'm looking at something new.
What'd you think of that wind on the bike?  Brutal, right?!
Did you see the prom aid station?!  I was looking all over for a limo!

The two final 2016 nails in the sports bra coffin came after.  I placed 6th overall with the 6th fastest run of the day. BOOM!  And that allowed me to earn my slot to the 2017 WC in Chattanooga, TN.

IM 70.3 NC Awards (I'm in the middle)

At the end of the day, we are triathletes.  We were the first group to put pointed bars on our bikes so that we could bend forward out of the wind to save a few minutes.  We were the first to wear helmets that look like sperm on our head because it promised us faster times.  We nit pick every ounce of weight on our bikes despite the 10 pounds of water and gels we tape to it.  We argue over whether 23 or 25c tires are faster.  And we wear anything that is advertised as a faster material or equipment.

So why should a guy wearing a sports bra surprise ANYONE?!?

Fun Fact...  
The last time I raced at Beach 2 Battleship (now IMNC), I was the only guy in a pink kit.  My spectators told me I was super easy to pick out.  This year, there were at least half a dozen guys in pink. 

The next time I race there, I may not be the only guy in a bra!


1.  Guys, would you consider wearing a sports bra if it meant you'd be faster?

2.  Ladies, how much do you love your sports bra when you run?  

3.  Would you laugh if you saw a guy wearing a sports bra in a race?
If anyone has ever seen another guy wearing a sports bra in a race, I want to know!!  


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

RECIPE: Cinnamon Toast Chick Peas


I admit that I had serious doubts about this recipe.  It was posted by a friend of mine who said that it tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  I immediately called BS, but thought it was worth a try.  I will tell you that it's not perfect, but it's 95% there.  Incredible!!

So if you are looking for something sweet and crunchy, but want to stay healthy.  Here you go!

1 15.5oz. can of Chick Peas
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
Cinnamon to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Drain & rinse the chickpeas.  Then dry them on a paper towel.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the chick peas out in a single layer.  Bake for 45 min or until crispy.

While the chick peas are still warm, toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, honey, and cinnamon.  Spread them back out on the sheet and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until caramelized.


After making this recipe, I immediately had comments from friends about what they add for seasonings.  They number of combinations are endless!

It was the next morning that the magic really happened.  If a recipe was able to follow through on a promise to taste like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I had to take one more step and eat it just like you would the cereal.

And magic it was!!  YUM!!



Friday, March 25, 2016

Freakin' A Friday!! 020 - Commit Me!

When did this happen to you last??
...'cause I know it did!

We are endurance athletes!

What does that mean?; one of two things.  We either have a lot of time we spend with a select few training buddies (whom we get REAL close with on many different topics) or we spend a lot of time in our own self-conscious.  Either way...

We have a lot of time to think!

Sometimes those thoughts are totally normal; mental notes of things on the To Do List.

Sometimes they are funny; remembering a joke someone said awhile back and it feels new all over again.

And sometimes I think I'd be forced to meet with a psychiatrist if the things going through my head were projected outward. 

Here are a few of my favorite more recent lines of thought during various workouts.


I was doing a swim workout that had multiple 500 and 1000s in it.  I am bad at counting laps!  As a competitive swimmer, I used to have a friend be an unofficial counter for me during the 200 Breastroke.  Yes, I would lose count going from 1 to 4.  Anyways, I've found a variety of interesting ways to keep count - or more like keeping my interest in counting without my mind wandering off.

On this day, I decided that I could count each lap of my 500/1000s only using the word "Fifty."  Here's what I came up with for 20 laps of the pool.

1 - Fifty (it's a 50, easy)
2 - Fifty Fifty (two 50s = 50 beyond 50 = 100)
3 - Fifty ("one 50" = 150)
4 - Fifty Fifty (50 beyond "one 50" = 200)
5 - Fifty Fifty ("two 50s" = 250)
6 - Fifty Fifty Fifty (50 beyond "two 50s" = 300)
7 - Fifty Fifty Fifty (50 short of "one 50" before half way = 350)
8 - Fifty Fifty Fifty (two 50s short of half way = 400)
9 - Fifty Fifty (one 50 short of half way = 450)
10 - Fifty (half way = 500)
11 - Fifty Fifty (one 50 beyond half way = 550)
12 - Fifty Fifty Fifty (two 50s beyond half way = 600)
13 - Fifty Fifty (one 50 [150] beyond half way = 650)
14 - Fifty Fifty Fifty (two 50s [250] and a 50 to go = 700)
15 - Fifty Fifty (half way beyond half way = 750)
16 - Fifty Fifty Fifty (one 50 [150] and a fifty to go = 800)
17 - Fifty (one 50 [150] left)
18 - Fifty Fifty (two 50s left)
19 - Fifty (one 50 to go)
20 - Fifty Fifty (There's about a 50% chance I counted that correctly!)


On a long, easy run, my mind tends to wander more than any structured run.  On this particular day, I was half way through my run when I imagined myself running past my dad's house; the house I grew up in and my grand & great-grandfather built.  In my mind, the house looked just as it had before, but my dad had sold the house;  I must have been back to visit friends.

As I run down the street, I stopped on the side of the road to take in the memories of my childhood.  As I stood there, a couple came out of the house.  They saw me and asked if they could help at all.  I told them that I had grown up in the house.  "You must have been here when they built it" they told me.  No, that was a generation before me. 

The conversation immediately went into details about the house.
  • The house was built in the mid to late 1960s.
  • The porch was an addition, originally intended as a garage.
  • The trees were planted when the house was built, but half of them torn down later.

Turns out, this couple was not those that my dad sold the house to.  That couple had turned around and sold the house quickly to the current residents with very misleading information.  They were told the house was built in the late 1980s and they paid a significant amount more than it may have sold for otherwise. 

Before I left, I gave them my dad's number so that they could get more accurate information.  They were incredibly thankful and I headed back out to finish my run.

As I made it back home (to my real apartment), I was amazed at the amount of info I recalled about the house. 


Have you ever wanted to redesign your room, apartment, house, or office?  One of my favorite stations (when I'm somewhere that has cable), is HGTV.

While on my bike, all of my thoughts came to mind.
  • My bed takes up a lot of space in my room. A futon would make more sense.
  • I could use that extra space for workout gear and storing my bikes.
  • When I moved in to my apartment, I loved the idea of using part of my long closet as a reading nook.  I should try that out.
  • If I find the closet comfortable for reading, I bet I could sleep in there - save a LOT of room!
  • If I sleep in the closet, I could get an oversized chair to read in.
  • My desk has always felt insufficient for studying and projects.  I'd like to have a corner desk.
  • I've always wanted to have a large white board - or better yet a large glass panel just like college study sessions on windows.
I spent a good portion of that ride rethinking how I would rearrange my room.  After I got off the bike, I followed up with a few items.
  • I measured the closet width.  27.2" wide.
  • I found a company that makes 26.5" wide beds.  Surprisingly cheap too.
  • I checked craigslist for futons and an oversized chair (I'm a craigslist addict!)
  • I started designing a corner standing desk.  I might be able to get my dad to help me build one to my specifications.

This is what goes through my head!  And that's just scratching the surface.  Go ahead - commit me!!

Freakin' Hilarious!!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

RACE REPORT: 2016 Colchester Half Marathon

The 24th Annual
"Tough as Nails"
Colchester Half Marathon

When you find a good quality race, it is hard to say "no."

That is so incredibly true of this race!  Welcome to year #4 of my attendance of this race.  Why do I race here so consistently?
  • It's hard to find a half marathon in February!  It's cold here in the northeast!  
  • 40 minutes from home.
  • $14 for a half marathon??  Yes and Thank You!
  • This is up there for the best post-race food!  I would pay more than $14 for the meal alone.
  • The race director is AMAZING towards each and every racer.

If you're interested, here are my previous race reports.

Ok!  Here we go.  What happened at the Colchester Half Marathon in 2016?!

The race starts at 10am.  Gotta' love early season races that are restricted by sunlight!  So I was up at 5:30a as usual, waited to have breakfast until 7a (2 eggs, banana, applesauce, toast), and headed to the race about 8:15a.

The race is centered at Bacon Academy High School in Colchester, CT and the parking lot looks like this as soon as you get there.  It is packed!!  And I typically arrive early for races, but I tend to get one of the last parking spots at this one.

Bacon Academy High! 

Inside, it is a swarming mass of runners chatting, getting ready, and all around shaking the nerves out.  Upstairs, downstairs - all runners!

Registration and bib pick up are completely volunteer.  This race would not go on without the incredible help of volunteers year in and year out.  Thank you!!!  If I didn't love this race so much, I would volunteer in a heartbeat!

The HEAT crew pre-race

I chatted with some friends, hit the long bathroom line a couple times, changed into thermal shorts because of the temperature drop, and then headed out to warm up; about 10 minutes.  It's nice to run down and back up the final hill just to get it in your head that "Hey, you just ran this earlier today.  You got this.  RUN!"

I immediately knew that my double layer mittens would be too much.  But with 4 minutes to race start (and this race is ON TIME!), I quickly asked a volunteer if she could hold them for me.  Instead, we stuffed them under a finish line cone.  Great idea!!  But trust me, I had multiple thoughts of "I wonder if they'll be there when I get back."  They were.

Kristen & I pre-race.  ...about to CRUSH IT!
Okay!  I'm ready.  Ready as I'll ever be.  I said good luck to all my friends, found my way to the front, and prepped myself.  I had a new friend running this year too - Pete.  Pete is 14 years old and has done a 1:18.  My hope was simply not to let him crush me too bad.  Man has he flourished!!  Great kid too, but MAN can he fly!

Up to the start line.  Rick, the race director, thanked the runners, the volunteers, and the weather gods.  And without much ceremony, sent us on our way!

Picture thanks to JS Photography
I'm in the blue with the party hat (it's a tradition with my birthday) and Pete is in the green.  Gotta' keep him in sights!!

Race Nerves

I will admit that on my way to the race, I had some butterfly's in my stomach.  It's the first race of the year, I've done very little high speed running, my longest "tempo" may have been 20 minutes, and I have no idea what to expect for time or performance.  Here's how I deal with that.
  • I don't run with any usable metric.  I run with total ascent so that I am forced to go by feel.
  • I set process goals.  For this race, it was negative split and feel strong in the back half.
  • I remember that I paid $14 for this race.  My financial side can't get bent out of shape about that!
  • I wear a birthday hat.  Yes, Tuesday was my birthday, but it's just FUN.  I love cracking jokes mid-race.  That's my way of lightening the mood.

So in those first 5 miles, I was worried.  I was!

Can I hold this effort?
Am I going to burn out?
Should I pull back?
How am I going to feel at mile 10 when I need to REALLY push??

That whole time, I cracked jokes - some out loud and others in my head.  And eventually my body and mind came around.

Around mile 5-6, something clicked.  I had control of the effort level, I felt the gauge on my gas tank, and my body screamed at me "We got this!"  From that point on, I was in control; not a single internal question from there to the finish.

And I don't know why, but I love this course.  It would be gorgeous with some foliage, but it's still great in the dead of winter.

The course is mostly paved roads, but there are some dirt roads we use.  At times they can be frozen over, slushy, etc.  This year, they were PERFECT!  And the farms are great to look at!  Again, in the summer, this would be even better.

A part of me just wants to come back and run this course in June for the scenery!

Rick and Andy at mile 4/5

Did I mention Rick, the race director?!  AMAZING!!  Rick makes this race so much fun for every racer!

Rick on the final hill

Without fail, he is out at mile 4-5 cheering us on and giving high-fives.  And then he stands on that last hill welcoming every single runner to the finish line.  He got there just after I finished (after he was done at mile 4/5) and was on that hill still when I left to drive home.

Thank you Rick!!
Such an amazing race and atmosphere!

And last, but certainly not least, we have the post-race food!!

We're at a high school, so they get to use the cafeteria and every year, they do not disappoint.
  • Lasagna
  • Soup
  • Veggies
  • Salad
  • Bread
  • Brownies the size of your fist
  • Ice cream
  • Drinks
  • Pizza

Eat your fill!!

I will be back in 2017 for yet another running of the hills!


1.  What race do you do every year?  And why?
The Colchester Half Marathon is one because it's cheap, has great food, is the first of the year in the northeast, and never disappoints.  Rev3 Quassy is another, but this year I am actually skipping it.  *gasp*

2.  What is your first race of the year?  What is kicking off your season?


Friday, March 11, 2016

Freakin' A Friday!! 019 - SOLD OUT!

Has this ever happened to you??

You've spent a lot of time (maybe hours, weeks, months, or even years!) putting together your race calendar for the upcoming season.

You crossed checked reviews on the race, hotel prices, your vacation days with HR, coordinated the race timings, and maybe even joined a group to train together.

Then when it comes time to sign up for the race, you see these dreaded words...

It is in this moment that you begin to review the 7 stages of grief.

Step 1: Shock

You immediately (internally or out loud) shout "WHAT?!"  Somehow the meaning didn't sink in as you read it twice, three, times.

Step 2:  Denial

You quickly refresh the page, close down and reopen the browser, restart your computer, or even call a friend to have them check it for you on their computer.

Step 3: Anger

At this point it's someone else's fault.  This completely ruined your season and the whole reasoning behind your other race choices, which of course you can't get out of now.  Everything is wrong!  Why didn't the race company inform you?  You get emails from them all the time!  Someone should have alerted you!  You would have signed up if you had only known!!

Step 4: Bargaining

Okay...  So maybe there's someone I can contact; wiggle a way in.  I'll just email EVERYONE.

Step 5: Guilt

You've proven to yourself that it's true.  Now it's time to beat yourself up over waiting that extra day, week, or month to fork over the entry fee. 

Step 6: Depression

Forget today's workout.  I'm just going to eat ice cream and watch a movie! Or five.

Step 7:  Acceptance

Beaten, battered, and bruised, you found your way back to your desk, pull up the race calendar spreadsheet (because you're obviously a type A), gave into reality and decided to head back to the drawing board in order to reconfigure the year.  With this recent catastrophe fresh in your mind, you quickly sign up for anything and everything left on your list!!


This happened to me recently with the new IM 70.3 North Carolina.  I didn't expect it to fill up as quick as it did.  I raced it as Beach 2 Battleship in 2012 and expected registration to be about the same.  I was wrong!  Sad day.  But onward we move!

Freakin' A!!!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Freakin' A Friday!! 018 - STOP!

Has this happened to you?!

Technology is great!  As triathletes, we use so many forms of new designs, electronics, and gadgets.  Heck, we could be called the 'Sport of Gadgets.'  But every so often it's the gadget that ruins the workout.  Just when we thought we had it all going for us, BAM!  Nothing you can do.

Here's one of my pet peeves - Treadmills.

If you've followed me for awhile, you know that I dislike treadmills altogether.  I've run in just about any weather there is in the north east in order to avoid treadmills.  Well, surprise!  I've been using the treadmill more than the outdoors so far this winter.  I know!  Crazy!!  And we're having an incredibly mild winter.  It's all for the sake of heat and mental training.  But anyways...  One thing I really dislike on cardio equipment is the time limitation.  As endurance athletes, we are the unfortunate exception when it comes to most gym workouts.

Who says my workout can only be 60 minutes?!

When I first joined a gym back in 2010, the treadmills used to stop on me after 20 minutes.  Dead Stop!  I ran straight into the display of so many treadmills at that gym!  I no longer go there.  I "put them down" if you know what I mean.

Fast forward to today...  Now that I WORK at a gym, I have made sure that all cardio equipment is set for an unlimited length of time for workouts.  They will not stop on you until you tell it to or your self-selected program does.  

However, the gym that I frequent for my own workouts doesn't feel the same. 

Running on a treadmill at most gyms
is like Treadmill Russian Roulette.
You never know which one is going to be loaded.

I have learned of two at this gym that are programmed not to stop at 60 minutes.  If my run has me going longer, I preferentially chose one of those two; even if it means I'm getting onto a treadmill right next to someone else and there are a long string of open ones down the aisle.  Sorry buddy - it's your lucky day!

I had to learn this the hard way though.  And what do you do??  Some will restart quickly and you can keep going.  Some have shut down for multiple minutes forcing me to jump onto the treadmill next to it.  Some stop suddently!  Thankfully these ones go into a Cool Down mode so it's a slower process.  Either way, it's annoying!

When I have a 75 minute, 90 minutes, or 2 hour run, I don't want to have to stop part way in just because of the technology being limiting!  I've already kept myself from taking a bathroom break! 

Just let me RUN!

Freakin' A!!!