Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Stages of Change: Understanding Your Motivation

The following article really resonated with me; it was originally published on I often search for motivation to run, to lose weight, to exercise more often. Sometimes I get upset when I inevitably slide backwards into overeating and sloth. More recently, it has been happening less often and the relapses are less severe, so it seems I've turned some sort of metaphysical corner, hopefully with improvements yet to come.


People often expect to make changes in their lives quickly. "I'll go to the gym five times a week," they say, or "It's no big deal to cut out sugar." And then reality hits, the fatigue sets in and the cookies start calling from the cupboards. Whether it's starting a new exercise program, learning communication skills or a career transition, understanding how change works can help you find and maintain your motivation.

Six Stages of Change

According to University of Rhode Island researchers James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente, there are six stages of change: pre-contemplation is the mindset before you even think about making a change; contemplation is the stage in which you start to think about making a change; preparation is the stage during which you start to get ready for a change; action is when you are in the midst of changing; maintenance is remaining consistent with your new behaviors; and relapse (which people tend not to realize is one of the stages of change) is falling back on former behaviors.

Planning for Change

To best set yourself up for lasting change, there are several things for which you can plan. Gathering resources and information about the change you want to incur can put you on the path to success. Asking yourself what in your life will need to look different and what are the specific steps you need to reach your goal will help as well. Getting really detailed and breaking your goal into the smallest objectives possible is a great way to ensure being less overwhelmed with the process.

Stage Shifting

Once you figure out where you are in the stages of change, think about what you might need to transition from one stage to the other. Maybe you've been exercising with regularity, but the flu set you back two weeks so your new habit has suffered a setback. How will you get yourself back to your regimen? Taking a step back and an objective assessment of where you are can help you refocus on what you need to budge. It doesn't have to be a big thing that gets you going, because solid change usually comes from a gradual process.


It is completely normal to lapse into former behaviors. If you notice that you've slipped, instead of beating yourself up, consider relapse as an opportunity to examine what helped you succeed and what were your blockades. Coming up with a new plan to address obstacles, whether they are old or new, may give you the adjustment you need to dive back into your new behavior.


Rarely do people make it through changes without support. Look at the people, institutions and environments in which you interact and ask yourself which are helpful and which may be detrimental to you. Setting your sights on positive influences and asking for help will assist you in your new behaviors. No doubt, if you have the bug, you can do it alone; but why struggle when there are likely many people just like you with whom you can share the efforts of the challenge and the celebrations of success?"

How do YOU maintain consistency with your new behaviors?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Race Report: 2010 Bigfoot Sprint Triathlon, Lake Geneva, WI

On Sunday (06/27/2010), I participated in my first sprint distance triathlon (I did a sprint tri last year, but it had unusual swim and bike distances, so I'm counting this as my first). Also, the organization difference between the 2 events was night and day - RAMRacing, who also put on the Hot Chocolate 5K/15K (which my wife and I ran last year and will again this year), are totally professional and organized, complete opposite of the experience I had with Premier Event Management. The day dawned ominously, following a night of storms, with more to come throughout the morning. I slept snug as a bug in a rug in my tent at the on site campground - I was woefully unprepared to camp, but in September, when I camp for the Lake Carroll Tri, I will be ready!

Training (or lack thereof)
Due to a variety of factors (sloth, procrastination, injury, bike mechanical), I didn't really train consistently over the last 4 weeks. Week 1: 0 (arch pain), Week 2: Ran 3 times 12.18 miles, swam 1 time .38 miles, biked 1 time 7.71 miles. Week 3: Ran 1 time 3.63 miles, no swim, Rode 1 time 8.12 miles. Week 4 (generously dubbed the "Taper Week"): Ran 1 time 2.34 miles, rode 1 time 7.79 miles. Suffice it to say, I was not ready.

The Swim
This I feared the most. I've not swum in many years and struggled when I have, so, apart from the confidence I had in my wetsuit adding buoyancy, I had no idea if I could even finish. This was also my first mass start (last year we went in 4 at a time), and I'd heard many horror stories about elbows and near-drownings, etc., so I was a bit apprehensive. Regular readers will recall my thoughts on switching to the Clydesdale group, which the race organizers did for me, and it ended up being a good option on more ways than one. By being slotted into the Clydesdales, I got to start with the last wave of swimmers, so I didn't have to worry about being run over from behind. I started in the very back and then worked my way up through the slower swimmers (yes, there were slower swimmers, haha!). This made me swim slowly, which meant I conserved some of that initial nervous energy. Even though I probably could have swum the entire distance freestyle, I opted to breaststroke on occasion, both to rest and to sight on the buoys. My pre-race estimate: 25 minutes. My swim leg time: 20:05 - yes!

Bike Leg
I took off like a rocket, heedless of the wet pavement and passed lots of people in the first half mile or so. A hill at that point moved me up even more places (oddly enough, for a fat guy I'm decent on the hills). I went pretty fast until about mile 5 and then decided to ease up, mindful of the run to come. Around mile 10, however, I really started hammering it, knowing the last bit was downhill to the transition area. I am sure this is the reason I struggled on the run (!). My pre-race estimate: 45 minutes. My bike leg time: 40:12!

Run, run, as fast as you can
My legs felt okay off the bike, but about a 1/4 mile into the run, they were toast. I stopped to retie my shoes and catch my breath, and off I went again. Around Mile 2, I was mentally done, so I decided to walk for a bit, around a hundred yards or so, then ran again until just before Mile 3, where there was a drink station. From pre-walking the course the day before, I knew there was a long hill just before the finish. I walked the hundred yards to the base of the hill, started running, and then sprinted (or at least it felt like it) from Mile 3 to the finish. My pre-race estimate: 30 minutes. My run leg time: 29:58 - ooof!

Add in transition times of 4:22 (long run from swim finish to the transition area) and 2:05, and my total time was 1:36:39. If I hadn't walked, perhaps I could have finished a little higher, but c'est la vie. Overall results:
201st of 328 finishers, 4th of 14 Clydesdales (just off the podium!), while I would have placed 23rd of 30 had I been in the 40-44 Male division.

One of the coolest things about this race? After finishing, I walked over to a tent, where JMS Racing Services printed out a receipt showing me my unofficial results, including place overall, division, and a breakdown of the legs and transitions. Very cool stuff indeed. Here's an image of what I got (slightly wrinkled from sweat, rain, and the trip home):

If you're interested in seeing how my race went, go to Zumtri and enter bib #1014. It's a lot of fun to watch.

GoLite Mesh Cap Giveaway Winners!

The day has dawned, the rooster has crowed, the lots have been cast. Using, 3 winners have been chosen to wear the multisport crowns, graciously donated by GoLite, the amazing outdoor company whose products bow to noone.

The winners are (not in podium order):

Comment 18: Patrick of The Road: "I've re-tweeted this post" (pearls of wisdom);
Comment 33: Jeri from JerBear Shares: "I am a follower!" (Thanks!)
Comment 3: Chris from Sticky Fingerprints: "I am a follower!" (Thanks!)

(Two out three winners shared their secret: "Be a follower!")

I've emailed Patrick and Chris, but don't have Jeri's email address. Jeri, please send me your address so that I can get your hat out to you!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Restaurant Review: Flat Top Grill

(Image taken from

Flat Top Grill has 14 locations in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin - I've eaten at 2 of those, one in Lombard and one in downtown Chicago.

From their website:

"Flat Top Grill started in suburban Chicago in 1995 with a vision to bring fresh, Asian style cooking to the U.S. and expanded into a 14 unit restaurant group. Flat Top Grill’s create-your-own stir-fry restaurants combine the comforts of a full-service restaurant with an interactive dining experience that has helped the group become a preferred destination in the markets it serves across the Midwest.

Flat Top Grill captures Asian-inspired tastes and preferences throughout all food and drink offerings and presents them in a lively and fun atmosphere, with restaurants often found in hip, urban neighborhoods. Guests can enjoy multiple trips through “The Fresh Food Line” and create unique dishes—all for one value-oriented price.

In 2009, Stir Crazy Fresh Asian Grill combined with Flat Top Grill to form a new parent company, Flat Out Crazy Restaurant Group, LLC. With 28 restaurants in 8 states, and the capability of opening many new restaurants over the next three years in both urban and suburban settings across the country, Flat Out Crazy is a restaurant group with growth plans designed to develop both brands to national status.

Stir Crazy Fresh Asian Grill and Flat Top Grill will retain their names as well as their individual concepts. Flat Out Crazy Restaurant Group, LLC will run these two concepts independent of one another while at the same time continuing to look to each concept for best practices, people development, efficiencies and enhancements.In 2009, Stir Crazy Fresh Asian Grill combined with Flat Top Grill to form a new parent company, Flat Out Crazy Restaurant Group, LLC. With 28 restaurants in 8 states, and the capability of opening many new restaurants over the next three years in both urban and suburban settings across the country, Flat Out Crazy is a restaurant group with growth plans designed to develop both brands to national status.Flat Top Grill captures Asian-inspired tastes and preferences throughout all food and drink offerings and presents them in a lively and fun atmosphere, with restaurants often found in hip, urban neighborhoods. Guests can enjoy multiple trips through “The Fresh Food Line” and create unique dishes—all for one value-oriented price."

Basically, they are similar to many other restaurants where each person chooses their vegetables, rice, noodles, and meat, along with sauces and extras such as nuts or what have you, takes it all up to a cook, who then sautees/stir fries the whole shebang and the food is delivered to your table.

Pros: Flat Top Grill has a decent variety of vegetables, meats, sauces, and methods of altering the meal (making it a soup, lettuce wraps, bread on the side, etc.). The two restaurants I ate in were generally clean and decent-looking places to have a meal.

Cons: Slow and not inexpensive. The Loop location was CROWDED and there is no system to the food preparation - with a group of 12, I put in my food first, yet one other person in our group got her food first, and then the rest of us had to wait about 15 minutes. The Lombard location is slow as well, yet there was no crowd any of the 3 times I ate there. Mongolian BBQs/Flat Top Grills in general are a pretty fast group of food-preparers, so I'm not sure why this chain struggles with that.

Recommended for a place where everyone can have food done their way. If you're not in a hurry, this is a decent place to try a variety of sauces/combinations, especially if you get the all-you-can-eat option.

Flat Top Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 25, 2010

Intense Debate

Inspired by Frayed Laces, I'm trying out a new feature on the blog, Intense Debate. According to the developers, "Comment threading makes reading comments manageable and returns the value of insightful comments to your site. Not only will your readers be more likely to comment, but they'll be more likely to return to leave multiple comments as the debate gets going. Comment notification emails alert your readers when someone has responded to their comment and makes responding a piece of cake with our Reply By Email feature."

It looks pretty cool - help me out by commenting thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the new feature. One negative that I can see is that we may not be able to log in to the comments using our Google IDs, but it shouldn't present a problem to most of you, because as Bloggers, you already have an OpenId account.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tour de France?

Anybody excited about the Tour de France? I'm not and unsure why. Maybe all the convicted drug users competing in early season races after completing their suspensions? Cancellara's "motor"? The fact that Comcast has pulled Versus from our cable lineup unless we pay an additional fee? Bitter old curmudgeon? Probably.

The fact is, I'm not really high on professional cycling right now. As Patrick pointed out in an earlier post on The Road, even amateurs are doping to win. Cycling needs to do something and do it fast, because the Lance effect isn't going to last forever and when it's gone, many (most?) of the fans will be gone as well. My sugestion would be to ban for life any rider who irrefutably has used drugs to win (Floyd Landis? Alejandro Valverde?) and strip them of at least the tainted win. As you can see from this Wiki article, it's not recent and it's not just a rider here and there.

So bring on the theatrics and pretend injuries, the lousy refereeing, and crazy vuvuzelas (which I secretly like!) - I'm following the World Cup (especially with the USA moving on to the next round). GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Health and fitness: Stretching is good for your arteries

From back in 2009, a pretty interesting article about the connection between flexibility and arteriosclerosis: Health and fitness: Stretching is good for your arteries -;

From the study abstract:

"Flexibility is one of the components of physical fitness as well as cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength and endurance. Flexibility has long been considered a major component in the preventive treatment of musculotendinous strains. The present study investigated a new aspect of flexibility. Using a cross-sectional study design, we tested the hypothesis that a less flexible body would have arterial stiffening. These findings suggest that flexibility may be a predictor of arterial stiffening, independent of other components of fitness."

Here's the link for the study:

So, with a grain of salt, because of the words "independent of other components of fitness," this seems like yet another good reason to stretch!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book Review: Jefferson Bass novels

Wow, great series of novels, written by Jefferson Bass (who are actually Jon Jefferson and Dr. Bill Bass writing together - check out their website at Anybody who is interested in forensic science must pick up these books. They are easy to read, gripping, and educational to boot!

Dr. Bass is the founder (1971) of the University of Tennessee's Anthropology Research Facility, better known to most as the Body Farm. This facility is the birthplace for much of the forensic science we enjoy so much in television shows such as CSI or NCIS, amongst others. The Body Farm plays a starring role in the books, as does Dr. Bill Brockton, who I am guessing is based, in a not so thinly veiled portrait, on Dr. Bass himself. He entangles himself in a variety of mysteries, ably assisted by his beautiful graduate assistant, Miranda Lovelady.

Pick up Carved in Bone, Flesh and Bone, The Devil's Bones, Bones of Betrayal, and The Bone Thief at your local bookstore or library.

Next up? I'm going to find their two non-fiction books: Death's Acre and Beyond the Body Farm.

From the website:

General Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I visit the Anthropological Research Facility (Body Farm)?

We do not offer tours to our research facility. If we honored all requests for tours, we would be unable to conduct any research. Also, having too many visitors would compromise the research we do conduct.

2. What is Forensic Anthropology?

Forensic Anthropology is the recovery and examination of human skeletal remains for the medical-legal community. This can include excavation, the creation of a biological profile, or trauma analysis, but does not include trace evidence recovery, DNA testing, Ballistic analysis, or autopsies. For more information see

3. How can I donate my body to your program?

Please see the tab “Body Donation” for information, directions and forms on how to donate. All other inquiries can be directed towards

4. Are there job openings at the Anthropological Research Facility?

Most of our positions are for University of Tennessee graduate students in anthropology. Please check the university’s human resource page for any other positions available.

5. I would like to conduct research at your facility. How do I go about getting permission to do so?

Please contact Dr. Lee Meadows Jantz, for any research requests.

6. What is the difference between the FAC Body Donation Program and a medical school donation program?

We use the body/remains for research and teaching. We do not return the remains to the family after a period of time. We do not embalm the body. Medical schools typically embalm a body for teaching anatomy to medical students. After use, the body may be cremated, and at the request of the family the remains are returned.

7. I like the idea of donating my body, but cannot decide what I want to do. Can I make a monetary donation?

Yes, we gladly accept financial donations and they are a tremendous help to our program. If you wish to do this, please contact us so that we may direct any of these donations into the FAC.

8. How much longer will you be accepting body donations?

We do not anticipate a time where we will not be accepting body donations.

9. Do you provide any payment to my family when I donate my body? Do I get paid for donating my body?

We do not provide any payment to you or the family.

10. I am trying to make arrangements for a family member to donate to your program?

If you are a representative to the family (POA, next-of-kin, or funeral home) you will need to contact the Anthropology Department directly in order to make arrangements for a donation (865-974-4408). There are separate forms for donation of deceased individuals.

More info on the Anthropology Research Facility -- watch the video:

Monday, June 21, 2010

GoLite #Giveaway!

About a month ago, I was given some GoLite items to review (see earlier post). I must have done something right, because I’ve gotten the green light from Outside PR to give away not one, not two, but three GoLite Mesh Caps! That’s right, three people will win one of these amazing caps. They are ultra-light, super-comfortable, flattering like all-get-out, and can be worn for running or cycling under the helmet (unless you’re a tri-gangsta like Patrick and turn the brim sideways).

To enter:

  1. Be a follower or become a follower.
  2. Tell me why you deserve this fantastic prize.
  3. Retweet/Link this contest.
This contest will run through Monday, June 28th, at 5:00 PM CST – the winners will be chosen using and posted on Tuesday, June 29th.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

No Power, no LSD

Rough storm last night, big winds and heavy rains. 4 power lines went down in a hissing, sparking, burning mess behind our neighbors garage. The explosion guaranteed we'd lose power for sure. Luckily, apart from no electricity, there was no further damage. However, the lack of sleep made me lazy this morning so no long run. That's okay, I'll say it's part of my taper. :)

Thanks to Andriana from Run4May, we have Via coffee that we can make on our gas stove - Yeah!

Good luck to all who are racing - w/o power, probably won't get my blog reading in this weekend, but I will be back on Monday.

In some good news, look for a GoLite cap giveaway Monday - 3 lucky winners!

Friday, June 18, 2010

To Clydesdale or not...

(Photo by Sonya Etchison/

With the Bigfoot Triathlon coming up in a few weeks, I started thinking more about race strategy. No, I'm not expecting to compete seriously or place, but I do want it to be as pleasant an experience as possible.

Since I weighed 208 pounds 2 weeks ago, I can still probably qualify as a Clydesdale, should I want to change my registration. Since I'm not racing to win, it doesn't really matter the division I'm in, or does it?

My thought is that the Clydesdale division, which starts separately from the age-groupers, might be less crowded and therefore, more mellow, especially during the swim. Since I haven't really done any swim training, I know that I will struggle on the first leg and it might be easier if there are less people around.

What are your thoughts? To Clydesdale or not...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Anti-Inflammatory Foods Diet, Part II

Wow, much more of a response to the initial post than I ever would have expected! Very cool to hear everyone’s thoughts. Jon (from SwiCycloRun) and Don both mentioned the similarities to the Paleo Diet, which I was unaware of. Jeff (Dangle the Carrot), AngieB (Barefoot-AngieB), Andriana (Run4May), Patrick (The Road) all were aghast that coffee was mentioned. Jon and Mandy (Caratunk Girl) would miss grapefruit, as would KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) and Kim (Somewhere in the Sun) amongst other things. Lack of Diary was the deal-breaker for Emz (If I can’t convince you—I’ll at least confuse you) Constantin (Highball Blog) asked about fitness effects and Barbie (Trying a Tri) sounded like she was thinking about trying it herself.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, heck, I don’t even play one on TV). I am not an advocate of the Paleo Diet, the Anti-Inflammatory Foods Diet or any diet referenced before or after this moment in my life. I’m not trained as a nutritionist. I don’t know Dr. Weill or his work, but he as gotten millions to think about diet and health, so kudos to him for that. This was a list of foods suggested to me by my doctor in response to my goals and the results of my bloodwork. As with most “diets,” this may or may not work for anyone else, and you should consult a nutritionist or doctor to make sure it is safe for you.

That being said, of course I have my own opinion. As mentioned above, this list was created in response to my dual goals of losing weight and reducing my cholesterol. This all has to do with my health and nothing to do with fitness. Prior to meeting with this doctor, I had stopped eating red meat and severely curtailed my bread (pasta, bread) intake to basically nothing, adding red rice yeast as a natural statin. In the 30 days of this, I dropped 8 pounds and my total cholesterol went down 50 points. It seems to be working.

Fitness: When I started this, I was battling pre-plantar fasciitis, plantar fasciitis, or some such ailment in my foot, so I’m not sure if this is helping. Pretty much every study I’ve ever read has stated that there is a direct correlation between losing excess weight and improving fitness and performance. The few runs I’ve gotten in since the pain in my arch went away have been uniformly pleasant and relatively easy, so I’m guessing the weight loss has helped.

Oranges/Grapefruits: Since I’m using red rice yeast to help lower my cholesterol, I need to eliminate these, as well as other citrus, to limit any action between the citrus and the naturally-occuring statins in the red rice yeast.

Dairy: Difficult, yes, but I once gave up dairy and almost immediately lost a bunch of weight and felt much better than I had in years. Dairy is not a natural thing for humans to ingest and, while most people tolerate it fairly well and it tastes delicious, it’s definitely an extra.

Coffee: Love coffee, but I don’t interact with it strongly, unless I just drink way too much. I’m still thinking about this one, but switching to green tea wouldn’t be a real hardship.

Alcohol: A glass of wine with dinner seems innocuous enough, and there are plenty of studies that show moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial. That being said, it packs quite a caloric wallop, so, if I need to lose more weight, it’s gone. Otherwise, it will remain a glass of wine, a loaf of bread (oops, not) and thou (actually, my wife, not thou, but thanks for the interest).

So, overall it’s not really anything I need, and mostly not things I’ll miss. My main goals is to reduce, then eliminate the amount of processed food I eat. That means more salad and vegetables, more whole fruit, no meat, more beans, no dairy, no breads, no alcohol, no coffee. My motivation? Completely and utterly my family (little Phil Liggett/Paul Sherwyn for ya). I have young children (and another on the way), so I want to be around and healthy for as long as it is physically possible. If the side benefits include being a faster runner, more efficient cyclist, and improving my swim (who am I kidding, I’ll never be a good swimmer!), then I’ll be happy.

Thanks for the responses, the comments, the opinions. It’s great we’re chatting. Take what you want from this. Plan your diet carefully, consult a doctor or nutritionist to make sure what you are trying is right for you, and go out and be healthy and happy. Or, don’t.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Anti-Inflammatory Foods Diet

(Pyramid Image taken from Dr. Andrew Weil's website)

So as part of my healthier lifestyle (getting rid of red meat and breads as initial steps), my doctor also wants me to eat less inflammatory foods. I've got no problems with any of the suggestions, some will be harder to pass up than others, but they are all doable.

In no particular order of importance:
  1. Refined sugar (raw honey and agave nectar are okay)
  2. Dairy (NO cow, she said)
  3. Wheat/gluten (already working on it)
  4. Peanuts (plenty of other nuts to choose from, and peanuts are not actually nuts anyway)
  5. Oranges/Grapefruit (bummer, but okay and I know grapefruit and statins don't mix)
  6. Alcohol (what?!)
  7. Coffee (again, what?!)
So, the Anti-Inflammatory Foods Diet - eminently doable.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Last week, EMZ posted her responses to a survey on her blog IF I CAN'T CONVINCE YOU - - I'LL AT LEAST CONFUSE YOU at, then suggested we do the same. So, for my entertainment, and hopefully yours, I humbly present the world’s longest personal survey:

(Let others know a little lot more about yourself, repost this as your name followed by “ology.”)

Q. What is your salad dressing of choice?
A. Blue cheese (for now – my doc says no more dairy, still trying to decide if I will listen to her)

Q. What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
A. Any Mongolian/flat-top grill where everyone chooses what they want

Q. What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
A. Jane’s in Chicago (where I proposed to my wife)

Q. On average, what size tip do you leave at a restaurant?
A. 20%

Q. What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick off of?
A. pizza, burritos, there’s probably a few more

Q. What marathon would you run if you could run ANY one you wanted?
A. Everest Marathon

Q. What are your pizza toppings of choice?
A. Alfredo sauce, pepperoni, and green peppers

Q. What do you like to put on your toast?
A. Butter

Q. What is your favorite type of gum?
A. Gatorade (do they still make it? I don’t eat gum often)


Q. Number of contacts in your cell phone?
A: 113 but I think it’s time for a clean-up

Q. Number of contacts in your email address book?
A. Same as above

Q. What is your wallpaper on your computer?
A. None on my office laptop, my kids’ photo on my home laptop, our family on our desktop

Q. How many televisions are in your house?
A. 2


Q. Are you right-handed or left-handed?
A. Right

Q. What’s your best feature?
A. My wrists

Q. Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
A. Wisdom teeth, frontal lobe (at least it feels like it on some days)

Q. Which of your five senses do you think is keenest?
A. None, as my wife will attest, I’m not particularly sensitive

Q. When was the last time you had a cavity?
A. Five years ago?

Q. What is the heaviest item you lifted last?
A. A wheelbarrow of wet mulch

Q. Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
A. No


Q. If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
A. Sure, imagine the party you could plan!

Q. Is love for real?
A. Absolutely.

Q. If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
A. Studmuffin

Q. What color do you think looks best on you?
A. Blue or green

Q. Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake?
A. Constantly
Q. Have you ever saved someone’s life?
A. Talked a woman out of suicide once

Q. Has someone ever saved yours?
A. No, but there have been times it’s been close


Q. Would you walk naked for a half mile down a public street for $100,000?
A. I might get paid more to keep my clothes on.

Q. Would you allow one of your little fingers to be cut off for $200,000
A. Yes, who is offering?

Q. Would you never blog again for $50,000?
A. Yes, it would be the only way to make money off my blog.

Q. Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?
A. I love hot sauce!

Q. Would you give up watching television for a year for $25,000?
A. In a heartbeat!


Q: What is in your left pocket
A. Nothing, I’m just happy to see you. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

Q: Is Napoleon Dynamite actually a good movie?
A: Maybe not, never been able to sit through it, but the problem may lie with me.

Q: Do you have hardwood or carpet in your house?
A: Both, but I don’t like hardwood floors.

Q: Do you sit or stand in the shower?
A: Stand, but occasionally sit and let the hot water beat down

Q: Could you live with roommates?
A: I’ve got a wife, 3 kids (+1 on the way) 2 dogs, and a cat

Q: How many pairs of flip flops do you own?
A: 1

Q: Where were you born?
A: Los Angeles, CA

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: I don’t want to grow up

Q: Who is number 1 on your top 8
A: Top 8 what?


Q: Friend you talked to?
A: My bud Jerry

Q: Last person you called?
A: My wife

Q: Person you hugged?
A: My son for his nap

Q: Person you kissed?
A: My son when he woke up

Q: Number?
A: 8675309

Q: Color?
A: blue

Q: Season?
A: Summer!


Q: Missing someone?
A: Nope, they’re all here

Q: Mood?
A: Mellow, I’m teleworking while filling this out (oops, should I put that in?)

Q: Listening to?
A: Neighbors in the compound kvetching (it’s our vacation place, borrowed from my wife’s aunt, so mostly old folks)

Q: Watching?
A. Being watched (dogs)

Q: Worrying about?
A: Not a thing


Q: First place you went this morning?
A: Walk with the dogs around the neighnorhood

Q: What can you not wait to do?
A: Get back home tonight (vacation’s over)

Q: What’s the last movie you saw?
A: Notting Hill

Q: Do you smile often?
A: Yes, 3 young children = constant amusement

Q: Are you a friendly person?
A: Depends who you ask

Q: Now that the survey's done what are you going to do?
A: Get back to work

Let others know a little more about yourself, repost this as your name followed by “ology.”

Monday, June 14, 2010

Heart Smart Diabetes Kitchen Cookbook Giveaway Winner!

Last week, I was able to giveaway a copy of the Heart-Smart Diabetes Kitchen Cookbook, with a deadline for entries of yesterday at 5:00 PM. Using,, a winner was chosen, which was Kim, writer of the blog Somewhere in the Sun. If you're not a follower yet, head over to her blog and check it out, she writes about all kinds of stuff, including running and scuba diving!

Kim, send me your address and I'll get the cookbook and calendar out to you!

Don't forget Patrick at The Road [A Multi-Sport Blog] has a granola/breakfast cookie giveaway - enter at!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Starbucks giveaway swag!

Came home from vacation and look what's waiting for me in the mail! I won the Starbucks giveaway on Andriana's blog, Run4May. If you aren't following her yet, you should. She's got so much going on and writes wonderfully about her new life and her training. Thanks Andriana!

There are still a few days left to enter for a chance to win the cookbook and calendar pictured above - just go to the post on how to enter.

Sharpen your pencils, because to win the above from Pat at The Road [A Multi-Sport Blog], you are creating a haiku for your entry. (I shouldn't publicize this, because I REALLY want to win). For all the details, go here.

Midwest Multisport Life VLog 1: Union Pier, MI

(Videography by Teo, son extraordinaire - that's him counting down at the end of the video)

Possibly Probably The worst ever video blog debut ever. But...I promise I'll get better!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thank you Chicago Blackhawks! 2010 Stanley Cup Champions!

Project 278 + 216: Update

So roughly 30 days ago, I got the results of my blood work and things weren't looking too good (see earlier post). I gave up red meat, stopped eating bread products (pasta being a big culprit), and tried to refrain from having refined sugar, though I'm having a hard time avoiding dark chocolate. Red rice yeast was my choice of supplement to help reduce the cholesterol. I also wanted to continue working out and losing weight. That was a struggle as first I had a back spasm and then intense arch pain - both are past now and I'm moving forward.

Monday I went to a new doctor, had my blood drawn and weighed myself. 30 days ago I had a total cholesterol level of 278 and weighed 216 pounds. Now, 30 days later, my total cholesterol has dropped to 221 and I'm down to 208 pounds, both well ahead of my goal of dropping 2.5 points, 1 pound per week. I'm really hoping that I can keep this up and that, one year from now, the photo above will be a distant memory of how things were.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gear Review: Xterra Vortex 3 John (Sleeveless)

(Add 30 or so pounds and this basically is what I look like in the wetsuit.)

Double celebration today: first Open Water Swim of the season (and first in a LONG time) and first swim in my Xterra Vortex 3 John, which I purchased last fall and never tried out until today. I got the size Large and, at 6', 208 lbs, this was a bit of a squeeze, but comfortable once on.

They say that a good wetsuit can do the swim for you and, while that might not be entirely true, I definitely felt the additional buoyancy. Plus, Lake Michigan was around 58 degrees Fahrenheit this morning and I didn't feel even the slightest chill with the wetsuit on. I also wore a swim cap, hate them hate them hate them, which kept my head warm as well. So just the feet and arms a bit chilled, but no problems as I swam for a bit.

I opted for the Vortex 3 John, as I don't really like to be confined by sleeves, but at some point I'll probably do a swim that will require a full suit. At that point, I will definitely consider another Xterra Wetsuit, as this John is extremely comfortable, seems well-made, and the prices are really good as well. Xterra no longer makes the Vortex series, but the new intro line, the Volt, is reputed to be very similar and the prices are good as well. Xterra has a 3 year warranty, 30 day money back guarantee, correct size guarantee and, if you aren't sure you want to buy yet, a rental program.

Xterra often has sales on their website and if you follow them on Twitter, you can occasionally get free shipping or another discount as well. Their Facebook page is fun as well, with photos of people wearing their wetsuits at a variety of events.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

HYSO Race thru the Sun Kids 1 Mile Fun Run 6/6/10

On Sunday, our kids ran a 1 mile fun run out in Huntley, IL, about 45 minutes from home. We had to get them up early, around 5:15, which was both exciting and difficult for them. Since we hadn't picked up their race packets on Saturday, we got there around 6:30 and then waited around until 9:15, when the kids' race started.

Even though the race was called Run thru the Sun, the sun came and went, and it was cool, cloudy, and windy. As usual, everyone took off WAY too fast and again, as they disappeared around a corner and out of sight, a slight lump appeared in my throat. It will be a sad day when they walk out of my life and start their own. Hopefully between now and then I'll be a good enough father that they will want to return, bringing their loved ones and children to meet me. Funny thing to think about during a Fun Run, no?

We were supposed to go to a waterpark, Stingray Bay, after the race, but it didn't work out, due to the cool conditions. We bribed them by promising them a dinner out at their favorite restaurant, but we actually ended up going to their favorite Great-Aunt's for a pizza dinner, which they enjoyed even more.

If you get a chance, head over to their blog, Kids Try Gear, to read their race report.

Video of the Start:

Check out my kids' reviews at their blog, Kids Try Gear!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Kids Try Gear: HYSO Run thru the Sun Kids 1 Mile Fun Run 6/6/10

Tazer (9): We had to get up at about 5:30 AM, then we got into our car and drove for 45 minutes to get to the race and packet pick-up. After that we had to wait close to two hours and forty-five minutes for our race to start. During the race, the wind made it a lot harder to run. The race course was flat, curvy, and a little hilly. The after-race refreshments were good, though I would have liked a bagel as one of the refreshments :). We left the race vicinity when the award ceremony was going on. It was cold, cloudy, and windy - I wish there had been more sun!

Guy-guy (7): This was my third one mile race! My mom and dad woke me up at five fifteen. We ate breakfast - sandwiches with scrambled eggs - then we drove fort five minutes to Huntley. We picked up our race packets, then we waited for two hours and during those two hours we got to see some runners run the 5K and then we also got to watch the 10K runners. Finally it was time for our race. I think I went a little too fast starting out. It almost felt like I was going to run out of breath but I turned the corner and there was the finish line. I sprinted as fast as I could. It felt so good to finish the race. After the race, there was oranges, bananas, and water. We were going to go to a Water Park after the race (that people could go to if they were in the races), but we didn't go. When we got in the car, my mom said she thought it had to be 67 degrees Fahrenheit to go. It was only 65 degrees, so even if we had gone, we couldn't have gone in anyways. Racing is FUN!

Video of the Start:

Heart Smart Diabetes Kitchen Cookbook Giveaway

I recently received a Heart Smart Diabetes Kitchen Cookbook to review, courtesy of CanolaInfo. They also gave me another copy plus a calendar, to give away on the blog (see photo above). The calendar, being for 2010, is half a year out of date, but the food photos and recipe cards are great on their own! For entry to the giveaway, do one or more of the following:
  1. Become a follower or let me know you are one already.
  2. Go to the review, and leave a comment.
  3. Tweet this contest using @kovasp and @canolainfo.
  4. Link to this contest on your blog.
  5. Every Friday during the summer CanolaInfo will be giving away a copy of their cookbook, “The Heart-Smart Diabetes Kitchen,” from their Twitter account. Follow @CanolaInfo to win!
  6. Be creative about sharing this blog or the cookbook review and leave a comment.
One entry per item above. Winner will be chosen using on Sunday, June 20th, at 5:00 PM, CST and announced on Monday, June 21st. Good luck!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Plantar Fasciitis?

About a week and a half ago, I experienced sudden sharp pain in my left arch. Since then, I've been resting, icing, and stretching, and the pain is gone. Research was inconclusive, but my self-diagnosis is that I probably had plantar fasciitis. Symptoms typically include heel pain, but a small percentage of sufferers feel it in the arch, as I did. Treatment suggestions ranged from taking 2-3 days off from running to several months. I was pain-free in a week, so maybe it's not plantar fasciitis?

From the Mayo Clinic website:

"Plantar fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis) is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, which runs across the bottom of your foot — connecting your heel bone to your toes.

Plantar fasciitis causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with your very first steps in the morning. Once your foot limbers up, the pain of plantar fasciitis normally decreases, but it may return after long periods of standing or after getting up from a seated position."
© 1998-2010 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).

So, ultimately, I don't know what the pain was. I think I could have run and or biked starting Thursday, but I've elected to wait a few more days. This weekend I hope to start swimming again and we are going to Michigan for a short vacation starting Monday, so hopefully I can swim there as well. Tuesday morning I will do my first run since the pain began and now disappeared, hoping for good results.

Really disappointed in how my body is acting lately. The consistent exercise was working, I was feeling better and more fit. Then, several weeks ago, the back spasm, followed by this arch pain. Maybe too much, too soon? I'm really hoping to get back on track -- the Bigfoot Sprint Triathlon is June 27th, so time is of the essence. Definitely not where I thought I'd be at this stage of my training.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Gargoyles Striker Review + 15% Off!

Recently, I was afforded the possibility of trying out the Gargoyles Eyewear Striker performance sunglasses, courtesy of Gargoyles Eyewear. Above see what came to me in the mail -the sticker now is on my treadmill with other great product stickers!.

From the website:

"Gargoyles Eyewear Technology

In 1979, Dennis Burns, founder of Gargoyles, revolutionized an entire industry with the invention of the Toric lens. Dennis noticed that flat sunglass lenses left the eyes more exposed to the elements and contemporary curved lenses were causing visual distortion and stress on the eyes. This innovation became the basis of a brand and an industry.

His solution was the Toric Curve Lens. A shape that allowed light to transmit directly to the eye. No refraction, no distortion. By the early 80’s, the Toric lens became the technology foundation for the Gargoyles Performance Eyewear collection. Precision-molded and hand-finished, the design provided 210° of wraparound protection.

UV and Lens Protection

All Gargoyles lenses guard your eyes from 100% UVA, UVB and UVC light (Ultra Violet Radiation). Our lenses are coated with a NASA derived scratch-resistant and anti-fog coating, which offer 30% more protection than conventional lens coatings.

Why Green

The Gargoyles trademark Green Lens provides the wearer with a unique balance of target and background brightness. Designed for the Field of Play, the Gargoyles Green Lens helps you locate and track objects in motion against a variety of outdoor backgrounds including Earth, sky and water.

Our green field of play lens has a transmission which is tailored to accommodate playing field sports and outdoor activities where tracking objects in motion is critical. The Green Lens controls low-level blue light while the middle range of light is selectively manipulated to provide optimum visual stimulation and distinctive object illumination.

Clarity - Light - Time - Distance"

The skinny on the glasses:

• Lightweight flexible Nylon frame material
• Pin Stop Hinge
• 8 Base EVS Lenses
• Shatter-resistant ballistic defense lenses
• Soft rubber temple tip inserts
• Polarized styles available
• 100% UV Protection

I wore these glasses for just about everything I could think of: from running, cycling, gardening, wandering, and hanging out, to a wedding. So light and comfortable, felt like an integral part of me. With a bike helmet on, the glasses were comfortable both under and over the straps, since the arms are slender and lie flat on the temples. The clarity of the optics is amazing, with the impression that there is nothing in front of your eyes, except everything is clearer and sharper. For someone with a face as wide as mine, these are really comfortable, no pinching, and, to me, flattering. Judge for yourself:

(All right, so even if I'm not that attractive, the glasses are amazing!)
The Striker model is part of the Instinct Collection, made to be distinctive with a balance of both form and function. Other collections include Classic, Stat, Function, Protective, and Optical. They also have very cool black or white t-shirts with cool Gargoyles graphics.

These glasses are HIGHLY recommended! Please run out and get yourself a pair or, if you want to take advantage of the 15% off I mentioned, head over to and enter “pursuit” (all lower case) in the discount code box.

Check out Gargoyles Eyewear at, follow on Twitter at, or “like” them at Gargoyles Eyewear is supporting the Special Operations Warrior Foundation – more info:

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Gargoyles Eyewear. I did not pay for the item, receive payment, or agree to give it a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

Have a product you'd like reviewed? Contact me at

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Running with the Buffaloes

Boy, if there is ever a book that can make you feel completely inadequate as a runner, this is it. Running with the buffaloes: A seaon inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and the University of Colorado's men's cross country team (Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, 2003). The slow guys on this team run sub 5 minute miles for miles on end.

Apart from that, Lear does a good job getting into the heads and lives of the Buffalo runners for one cross country season. While not completely fleshed out, each team member (and their peripheral friends, family, and team mates) is followed, interviewed, and presented as a member of the team. It's pretty fascinating stuff and, not to give anything away, how the team deals with tragedy as individuals and together is quite compelling.

Recommended book, especially if you want a quick glimpse into what it takes (and what the athletes get) at the elite college level.

The book has a Facebook page:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hitting for the Cycle, Family-Style

(Image copyright Dawn Nakashima 2010, taken from

With a wedding last week, a birthday party yesterday, and a funeral today, if we could just get a baby born this week I would posit that we have hit for the cycle, family-wise.

Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports -

REI: Gear for the Great Outdoors

UnderArmour - I WILL

Outdoor DIVAS - Adventure Gear for Active Women