Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gear: Nike + Sportband

Got my wife interested in using the Nike + system, so we bought her a sensor; she'll borrow my Nathan shoe pocket and iPod Nano, which got me thinking that this would give me a good opportunity to try out the Sportband for myself. I'll work on buying it in the next several days and then will try it out this weekend at the Chicago Hot Chocolate 5K.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book Review: Paul McMullen's Amazing Pace

Just finished reading Amazing pace : the story of Olympic champion Michael Phelps from Sydney to Athens to Beijing, by Paul McMullen (Emmaus, Pa. : Rodale, c2006).  It's a good read, pretty thorough overview of a time period in Michael Phelps' life, with just a never-ending listing of races, racers, meets, world records, etc. For someone like me that doesn't really know the history of swimming, it was almost too much, probably not the best first book on the subject. The other negative is that McMullen recounts all this history in a very detached, deadpan way, with emotional and charged moments presented no differently than a reounting of a typical brunch between practices. I wouldn't recommend this as a first read to learn about swimming and Michael Phelps, but it is definitely recommended as an exhaustively researched book that goes into the minutiae of this particular athletee, sport, and time period.

10 Commandments for Swimming Parents (but good for any sport!)

by Rose Snyder, Managing Director Coaching Division, USOC
Former Director of Club Services, USA Swimming
(adapted from Ed Clendaniel's 10 Commandments for Little League Parents)

I. Thou shalt not impose thy ambitions on thy child.

Remember that swimming is your child's activity. Improvements and progress occur at different rates for each individual. Don't judge your child's progress based on the performance of other athletes and don't push him based on what you think he should be doing. The nice thing about swimming is every person can strive to do his personal best and benefit from the process of competitive swimming.

II. Thou shalt be supportive no matter what.

There is only one question to ask your child after a practice or a competition - "Did you have fun?" If meets and practices are not fun, your child should not be forced to participate.

III. Thou shalt not coach thy child.

You are involved in one of the few youth sports programs that offers professional coaching. Do not undermine the professional coach by trying to coach your child on the side. Your job is to provide love and support. The coach is responsible for the technical part of the job. You should not offer advice on technique or race strategy. Never pay your child for a performance. This will only serve to confuse your child concerning the reasons to strive for excellence and weaken the swimmer/coach bond.

IV. Thou shalt only have positive things to say at a swimming meet.

You should be encouraging and never criticize your child or the coach. Both of them know when mistakes have been made. Remember "yelling at" is not the same as "cheering for".

V. Thou shalt acknowledge thy child's fears.

New experiences can be stressful situations. It is totally appropriate for your child to be scared. Don't yell or belittle, just assure your child that the coach would not have suggested the event or meet if your child was not ready. Remember your job is to love and support your child through all of the swimming experience.

VI. Thou shalt not criticize the officials.

Please don't criticize those who are doing the best they can in purely voluntary positions.

VII. Honor thy child's coach.

The bond between coach and swimmer is special. It contributes to your child's success as well as fun. Do not criticize the coach in the presence of your child.

VIII. Thou shalt be loyal and supportive of thy team

It is not wise for parents to take swimmers and to jump from team to team. The water isn't necessarily bluer in another team's pool. Every team has its own internal problems, even teams that build champions. Children who switch from team to team find that it can be a difficult emotional experience. Often swimmers who do switch teams don't do better than they did before they sought the bluer water.

IX. Thy child shalt have goals besides winning.

Most successful swimmers have learned to focus on the process and not the outcome. Giving an honest effort regardless of what the outcome is, is much more important than winning. One Olympian said, "My goal was to set a world record. Well, I did that, but someone else did it too, just a little faster than I did. I achieved my goal and I lost. Does this make me a failure? No, in fact I am very proud of that swim." What a tremendous outlook to carry on through life.

X. Thou shalt not expect thy child to become an Olympian.

There are 250,000 athletes in USA Swimming. There are only 52 spots available for the Olympic Team every four years. Your child's odds of becoming an Olympian are about .0002%.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Book Review: Greg Garrett's "Cycling"

Not really a book about cycling, Greg Garrett's Cycling (NY: Kensington, 2003) is a novel about a womanizing loner who is grappling with his inability to cope with his family's death while he was still young. It's a well-written novel, but the main character never became sympathetic to me, so it was difficult to feel sorry for him or to hope that he would, somehow, compose himself and treat others around him in a decent manner. Theoretically, his growth is supposed to occur during his time on the bike, but the cycling scenes are a repetitive telling of wind, road surface, and chasing dogs. While these faults initially made me want to stop reading, enough interest was inherent to keep me reading through the end. Recommended as a novel relating to unsympathetic people finding themselves at long last, but not for anyone who thought it was about cycling.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Race Sponshorship: Kona Endurance

On a whim, I applied for race sponsorship with Kona Endurance. The sponsorship includes a sponsor jersey and use of the supplement. Even though I'm a middle-of-the-pack fat guy, my times are improving and, as I'm on the race course longer than many, there is more exposure for the sponsor. Immediately after filling out the form, I was sent to another webpage which stated that athletes who purchased the product woulld be "seeded" higher in the selection process for sponsorship. So, as I've not bought any nor do I plan to do so, my sponsorship chances are slim. Not that they weren't before, but... It's an interesting way to sell more product, I'll give them that.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New affiliate: - Outdoor Gear and Apparel for Active Women

Just added the banner to the top of the column - click on the link to shop at and I get a percentage of the sale! I also added the AvantLink button over in the sidebar - click on it and start making money on your website today.

Book Review: @lancearmstrong 's "It's Not About the Bike"

Just finished reading It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, (Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins, NY: Berkley Books, 2001) and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have no idea why Armstrong captivates me so much. I think a big part of it is, that while he is somewhat superhuman on his own, he goes out of his way to identify all the members of his team that contribute to this overall success. He is also openly honest about what a jerk he can be to others around him, blaming it on his immaturity and general lack of experience (he raced professionally from 15 years on). This book is brutally beautiful in his unflinching journey through awareness of his cancer and subsequent treatment. As a father, I could totally relate both to his mother's fears for his life and his own attempt (successful) to become a father. Definitely a recommended read.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Race: 2009 Men's Health Chicago Urbanathlon 10-17-2009

I ran Leg 1 of the Chicago Urbanathlon today, really enjoyed it. Great organization, positive vibes, huge attendance, this is definitely an event worth attending, either as a spectator or as a competitor. The location on the Chicago lakefront is just outstanding, with views of the skyline as well as the boats in the harbor. Except for the weather, this was just fun, fun, fun! My leg involved a 4 mile run through Grant Park and then over to Navy Pier, where we stutter-stepped through 4 sets of tires as well as climbing over some HUGE tractor tires! Handing off to my teammate at Transition 1 was a welcome relief. He ran 4 miles down the lakefront; his obstacles were a set of monkey bars and marine hurdles. Leg 3 was a 4 mile run with a stair climb in the Soldier Field stands, then finished with a taxi hurdle and then a climb over an 8 foot wall. Very cool. Will probably do it again next year.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Book Review: Bill Mason's "Confessions of a master jewel thief"

Who amongst us hasn't dreamed of wooing Grace Kelly as we cat burgle our way through the rich and famous, a la Cary Grant in "It Takes a Thief?" I sure did. From the cover of the book, Bill Mason promises to tell a similar tale in Confessions of a master jewel thief (New York : Villard Books, c2003). Unfortunately, while Mason does steal from some wealthy and well-known folks, his life never rises above the tawdry, as he drunkenly consorts with mafiosi and drug dealers. Mason wasn't in it for the money, as he clearly shows by never aiming higher than his lower-class roots. Even though he eventually is divorced by his long-suffering wife and hooks up with a socialite heiress, nothing changes. Frankly, I wish he had been in it for the money. The epilogue of the book is a complete letdown, as Mason finally feels remorse, not just for stealing from people, but for the emotional and psychological harm he's done. Sounds like a whitewash to me, but what do I know? Still a worthwhile read.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Review: Sarah Reinertsen's "In A Single Bound"

I must admit, Sarah Reinertsen has bugged me since the first time I saw her on The Amazing Race. She seemed really whiny and unwilling to take on personal responsibility for failures, instead preferring to find fault with others. I picked up her book, In a single bound : losing my leg, finding myself, and training for life / Sarah Reinertsen with Alan Goldsher. CT : GPP Life, c2009) hoping to overcome that initial negative impression. It was not to be, however. Reinertsen seems very arrogant without much reason. As I've read in other sports biographies, the author seems to just want attention, using the poor, poor pitiful me slant to explain why they have achieved a certain notoriety. Reinertsen often seems to be successful in spite of her disability, even though it is the disability itself that has given her all the opportunities she has had. The entire book is about her in a positive light, with little in the way of others, except negatively. While somewhat interesting, Reinertsen has not done enough to warrant a full length autobiography. Had she made her success a team effort, this book probably would have been more interesting. Can't really recommend this one.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Triathlon Training: Run

Closer to 4 miles, was supposed to be an 8miler. Terrible, horrible, no good run; like the 3 Stooges exercising. In the 1st mile, whacked myself on the head with a branch ducking under a tree, after 2 miles the pain in my right shin made me turn around. Then, while trying to pause the workout to remove a burr from my shoe, the iPod erased my workout. All in all, very frustrating, but still happy I got out there.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Triathlon Training: Run

Starting 3rd week of my running training plan and I feel great! The new plan is as follows: Tuesday, 3-4 mile tempo run; Thursday, speed work at track with 1 mile warm up and 1 mile cool down; Sunday, long run (9.5, 6.3, and 6.3 so far). It's a good system for me and I'm feeling stronger and faster overall. This Friday I plan on adding swimming; I'll see if I can swim at the Y and then get home, dressed and ready for work in a timely manner. If it works, then eventually, I'll go Monday, Wednesday, Friday mornings swim to go with my run plan.

Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports -

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