Monday, September 28, 2009

Lithuanian Cyclist: Diana Ziliutė

While watching the 2009 Women's World Championship last week, I noticed that a Lithuanian woman seemed relatively high up in the results, though I didn't get to see her ride. Apparently Diana Ziliutė has been a force in women's cycling over the last 10 years or so. She finished the 2009 World Championship Time Trial in 16th, and in the road race in 5th place overall. Not bad! There is a short wiki page about her here.

Gear Review: Nike+ Sensor

Bought a new sensor to replace my initial one which was running low on batteries. Completely frustrating several days as I tried to figure out how to get the new runs sent over to the Nike+ website. I looked through the forums, tried every suggestion, but then just reset my IPod Nano in a fit of pique. Doing so erased my long run from Sunday of 6.3 miles, which is a real bummer. I appreciate the Nike+ system and it really is a great motivator, but there are SO many technical flaws that it just drives me crazy! If I could find another system I would, but the others, such as Garmin, are so expensive that I haven't been able to do it. Oh well.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lithuanian Cyclist: Tomas Vaitkus

Discovered another Lithuanian cyclist, Tomas Vaitkus (Tomas the Tank Engine), through Bruyneel's book, We Might as Well Win, reviewed elsewhere on this blog. No time to read the review? It's a definite must-read. Here's the link to the Wikipedia write-up on Vaitkus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomas_Vaitkus.

Quote: @johannbruyneel on learning to win from losing

"I don't think you can become a winner, or figure out how to turn loss into victory, through some snazzy ten-step program full of catch phrases and bullet points. I think you have to immerse yourself in life, in the race, in the stories, in the experiences of triumph and failure. I think you have to absorb it, not memorize it. And I think we all have such chances in our lives; every day we deal with the elements of success and failure. Every day we bump into people who can help us or hinder us. Every day we are given a choice to attack or follow."
-- from We Might As Well Win

Book Review: We Might As Well Win

What a nice surprise. I picked this up expecting Lance, Lance, and more Lance, but this is a really well-written book, much more autobiographical than expected, and with a really large cast of supporting characters. Johann Bruyneel's (@johannbruyneel) We Might As Well Win (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008) is the non-linear story of the 8 Tour De France victories that Bruyneel coached (7 with @lancearmstrong and 1 with Alberto Contador), along with a short history of his career as a rider, including his most memorable moments (fall off a cliff lately?). Inspirational without being pedantic, informational, interesting. This is a definite must-read.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Triathlon Training: Focus on the Run


(Cool image from Triathlon of Scotland)
With my 10K North Face endurance Challenge coming up in a month a a half, I have decided to focus more on my run training. Mentally, this will give me the freedom not to feel bad if I haven't biked or swum in a while. Also, it should prepare me for the race as well. My primary goal is to finish the race well, then surpass my current 10K personal record of just under an hour, and, if all goes perfectly, run the 10K in 45:00. Over the winter, I'll add the other two disciplines, as well as some core and weight training. Next spring, I hope to be in the best shape of my life (at least as a base) and then maintain and build from there.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Book Review: Year of Living Strenuously

Kind of an interesting book. I thought it would be more motivational, but it ended up being a meditation on exercise, its value, and why we do it, but no answer at the end. Bill McKibben's book Long Distance: A Year of Living Strenuously (2000, NY Simon & Schuster), is approximately one year in which McKibben hires a coach and attempts to turn himself into a cross country ski racer. Along the way, he deals with how his training affects his family, whether it's worth becoming an endurance athlete, and the slow death of his father.
On trying on his new identity as an athlete: "I realized that mainly I'd discovered what a solid thing an identity is."
On the death of his father: ...what a gift it was that he gave us, this understanding that you could be a man his way, full of love and kindness and good humor and hard work. But not full of yourself."
I realize that my current journey is similar to what McKibben wrote about in his book. If I can, through fitness, find myself, find my identity, I can be a better man, full of all those good things, but not of myself.
Definitely recommended.

Get me outta this body!

Feeling really sorry for myself. This huge gut, looking like I swallowed a beer barrel, appears here to stay. I realize that I've just started this journey, that it takes time to overcome 14 years of poor behavior, but I need to see something changing here. While I enjoy that I can run further, faster, it's the mirror that continues mocking me. I'm as vain as the next person, probably more, so it hurts to be this beast. I'm giving it a couple more months, then I need to seriously think about hiring a coach. Problem is, where do I get the money for it? Obviously it would be a worthwhile investment, but personal trainers are expensive, and our budget is lean enough as it is. First, I need to get motivated to exercise, completely overhaul my eating (overeating!) and then really look deep inside and decide if I can do this myself.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Book Review: Ten Points

Ten Points, by Bill Strickland (2007, NY: Hyperion) is one of the most disturbing books I have read in a long time. His graphic descriptions of abuse suffered at the hands of his father are horrific and at times made me want to put the book down and be done with it. However, the writing was powerful and pulled me in, as Strickland toggled between present and past, chronicling his attempts to understand himself, his father, and his relationship with his wife and daughter through riding and racing his bicycle. This is definitely not a book to pick up if one is hoping for a feel-good ending, or if one thinks it will inspire getting out to cycle. However, if you like reading about cycling and the author’s journey is of interest, it is highly recommended!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Affiliate: Wetsuit Wearhouse!

Just added the Wetsuit Wearhouse link over in the sidebar. Visit their site to find wetsuits for all your needs. They even have a decent selection of kids' wetsuits!

Gear Review: Nike Lunartrainer +

2 runs under my belt, and I can say that I am already getting used to running in my new Nike Lunartrainer+ shoes. In the store and on my first run, I really wasn’t sure I even liked them, but it turns out they are pretty comfortable after all. First off, they are incredibly light, almost too light, as I was worried there wasn’t enough cushioning for my 200+ lb frame. It’s my understanding that these shoes (and the new Lunarglide+) are the culmination of Nike’s research into barefoot running. Nike being a shoe company, needs to sell shoes, not barefoot running, so it seems to me that they have succeeded in accomplishing their goal. Barefoot running sounds good, but after cosseting my feet for 43 years, probably not wise to go out and hammer 3 miles without some protection. So give these shoes a chance – they look outrageous in a really fantastic way, are incredibly light, and give you enough cushioning while still allowing the feet to feel what’s underfoot. I’m thinking that these will become my speed work shoes, which I hope to start this Thursday, as a matter of fact.

There is no Fitness Fairy

Even though I have always known better, a part of me thought (hoped) that if I bought the right gear, wore the right clothes, read the right magazines, and occasionally, when I felt like it, actually used all the above to go out and exercise, I would slowly become more fit. Some part of that is true. Sunday, as I got out of the pool, after doing 40 laps of my in-laws 50’ pool, my father-in-law punctured my self-satisfied bubble by jokingly asking, “So, you’re about 7 months, right?” OUCH.

There is no shortcut, no easy way, no Fitness Fairy. Just long, hard, committed efforts to eat right, exercise consistently, today, tomorrow, and every day as long as I am able.

I went for a run this morning, the first of many steps in changing this couch potato to a fit human being, healthier father to my children and, hopefully, a better person to my wife and all I come in contact with. Wish me luck.

Book Review: Tattoo Machine

Lately I’ve been thinking about getting some more tattoos, and I ran across Jeff Johnson’s new book, Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My life in Ink, (2009, NY: Spiegel & Grau) - pretty fascinating stuff from someone who seems to have been around the block a few times. The craziness that is the tattoo world is explored in a personal way by the author and the pace, for the most part, is lively and interesting. This book really makes me want to check out my local tattoo parlors, especially the bathrooms (Johnson says that a dirty bathroom is probably indicative of deeper problems). Definitely a recommended read!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Book Review: Heft on Wheels


Yesterday I finished reading Mike Magnuson's Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180 (2004, NY: Harmony Books) and it's both a great read and maddening at the same time! Overall it's very well written, moving from past to present, with glimpses of the past. It really strikes home with me as I work towards regaining my fitness, reading about this 255 pound smoker and heavy drinker use cycling to get fit and lean (trading one obsession for another). Unfortunately, the story is marred at times by some heavy-handed self pity, which really break up the flow, but it doesn't detract enough to stop it from being a good read. Recommended.

Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports - Patagonia.com

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