Monday, December 28, 2009

Very Random Thoughts...

Have you ever been in the shower had soap all over your body but still felt dirty?

Life would be a lot different without cars.

Maybe one day I'll get another tattoo. But only on my back and have my brother do the art work.

Don't you love that feeling you get after 1-3 beers. That warm fuzzy feeling you get where you can still comprehend reality but you don't care too. Where you are standing on a tight rope of perception and idealism?

Doesn't it feel good to be in love? Really really good?

Doesn't it feel good to type sometimes, not knowing who is going to read what you wrote? Ah the mystery in it.

Have you ever just wanted to drive over other cars, through cars, and around cars but something kept you from doing the unthinkable?

Have you ever been so cold you were hot?

Ugh dog walking makes me think a lot. Too cold for an ipod....

Have you ever been so scared of something but then hit fear right in the face and jumped in with two feet?

Do you challenge yourself enough?

I love all dogs but I LOVE certain dogs.

Why does time slow down when you want it to speed up and vice versa?

Are endurance athletes crazy obsessed or is everyone else?

Have you ever wanted to listen to someone but not respond?

I'm writing this is non-paragraph form for no apparent reason.

Love, cycling, reading, dogs, dogs, dogs, dreaming.

We hear people but we rarely listen.

Time to cycle. Time to cycle. Time to cycle.

I'm my mothers therapy when I'm hope. I sit and listen when she does stuff but sometimes don't respond. Makes me laugh :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Craving an update...

I know it's been a while since I've written. I hope my 8 followers do not take it personally but sometimes I need to recharge, refuel, and renovate my inner reasoning. There is a side of me that wants to write and update my blog consistently but then I start to fringe and vilify the rationale behind a daily blog. Daily, weekly, monthly? I tend to be an extroverted person. I say and tell things how they are and wear my heart on my shoulder. But, there is this small side to myself that represses, and awaits a chance to write here. Sometimes It's OK to keep ideas and feelings inside but only if you are able to control those sensations.

I have no real end to this segment :)

I spent this past weekend at Maija's house in New Jersey. It was a lazy weekend (except training) but I had a great time like always. We got hit with a bad snow storm and had some fun playing with the dogs in the snow.

I have always acted as a calm assertive leader around dogs but I'm beginning to become a bit of a sap for Frito & Cooper. I ironically enough never have spent serious time 24+ hours with the same dogs. There were specific traits I had not learned about our fury four legged friends. Maija and her dogs taught me a good strong leader does not need to run the show 24/7. During specific times during the day it is important to establish yourself as the pack leader. Other times are meant for the "pack" to enjoy each others company.

I think my Dad needs a dog. While it's no business of mine I wish they would look past the notion that it's Bonnie's house. (Bonnie the cat)

Humans tend to place superficial roles to animals instead of maybe realizing that all animals can and will get along with the right type of leadership. Of course this will come a bit easier when it is the same type of animal, but who's afraid of a little challenge? My parents seem to think this is Bonnie's house and not "our" house. All animals have this instinct to either lead or follow. We all play a role in natures game. Which one do you see yourself as? Maybe a little of both?
How have dogs impacted your life? Emotionally? Physically?

I might not get a chance to post again until after the new year. The coming days are going to be filled with training, walking 10+ dogs a day (not in a row), eating, sleeping, and repeating. It's good money so that is the most complaining I'll do. After the new year I'll be headed back to Jersey where I hope to find employment, train my butt off for the coming race season, and get into a Police Academy. Hopefully in that order!

Be well, and have a happy and healthy New Year.
A

Monday, December 14, 2009

Back on Long Island

Got back to Long Island today. I'll be here walking dogs for some extra money during the Holiday season. I'm still on the hunt for a part-time job while I go through the whole Police application process. It's not as easy as I thought because I need to find a job that has a varied schedule or will be humble because I'll constantly need to take days off so I can travel for different portions of the process. Most Police application processes are the same. The only difference is the order in which they complete the affair. The majority of Police applications consist of a written and physical exam, oral board interview, polygraph exam, medial review, and interview with the Chief of Police. WOW! It's a long and stressful process but definitely worth it in the long run. Well, that is if law enforcement is the career path you are interested in.

Yesterday I took the City of Wilmington (Delaware) physical fitness test. Like the other tests I have taken in the past it consisted of push-ups, sit-ups, and a 1.5 mile run. The run didn't go as well as I had planned. My back was getting tight after going through the mile in 5:50. The past few weeks I've been training hard on the bike. My coach Mike has been giving me some intense workouts so I couldn't expect to run fast than 9:00. I ended up running 9:10 but I was all alone. The next guy was about two minutes behind me. I was a bit surprised to see people walking during the run. It seemed as if they gave up way too easily.

Time for some family dinner!

A

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Customer Service with a FROWN?

I was not going to post until the end of the weekend but I had to let off a little steam after Maija and I had a recent trip to a local running store called Sneaker Factory. We walked into the store and noticed the woman helping another gentleman. I'm an observant person and right away I started listening to her tone and energy with the man she was helping. Her responses were quick, jumpy, and at most she gave off a sense that it was a privilege for people to be shopping here.

After a while Maija had to chase the woman down to try on a pair of shoes. "I'd like to try on a pair of these" Maija said to the woman. "Oh well your going to have to order those" the woman responded. Then the woman went on to tell Maija what she "needed" not what she "might" want to try. Maija preceded to try on the pair of shoes and ran around the store for a bit to get a feel for them. The woman was gone before we knew it and when she returned it didn't seem sensible to ask Maija how they felt or if she wanted to try anything else on.

Next it was my turn. Although I do not consider myself a runner anymore I always like to try on different racing flats to see the new innovations companies have come out with. I wanted to try on the Luna Racers. They reminded me of the Nike Mayfly's. Remember those shoes you could wear for 100k and then they fell apart?
I was not interested in buying them but their luminous neon green grabbed my attention and started pulling me in saying "Put me on your feet spaceman". The woman said to me "They are like running barefoot". "Oh? So they are similar to the Nike Free's?" I retorted. "NO, they are not". Boom done end of conversation. At this point her voice had gotten loud and obnoxious. I didn't even care to try on the shoes at this point but I kept staring at the green shoe on the display case and it's gravitational force was too much to bear. Was I actually in a running store or was I in line at a food store on Long Island?

Endurance sports (to me) are about community not about making sales. I can't think about a time where I've been in a cycling or running shop and had a bad customer service experience. This woman had no intention of growing a rapport with any of her customers. While this might seem acceptable in the majority of retail shops, small running and cycling store should want to embrace every customer they come in contact with.

When Maija was checking out at the register she told the woman she used to run for their team. The woman responded by saying "So?". WOW! She is lucky I was flipping through a magazine across the store. This woman should not be working at a running store, with little kids, dogs, or any contact with anything living because she obviously has no perception of how to deal or handle a humble conversation.

After the shop Maija and I headed over to the local dog park where we let the dogs run loose for a while. Unfortunately we didn't have the best experience because there was an unsafe dog with an unstable owner. I'm not going to get into details today about this because I don't want the whole post to be negative.

Lastly we headed over to Liberty Cycle because I could not for the life of me get my old cycling pedals off. They have been on numerous bikes and needed to be changed. I rode one morning with the Liberty Cycle group ride and saw some of the most beautiful scenery. Greg the owner is a nice guy. It would be nice to join their cycling club but I do not have an extra $60 to join right now. If I get some extra money I think I'll join even if I'm racing for a different team. They are a great group of guys and I like to support local area shops.

Wish me luck in my Police Physical Test tomorrow!

A

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Coffee, Dog, Cats, & Life

I had a tough workout yesterday on the trainer. I think it was more mentally tough than physically. The workout was only 2 X 20 minutes @ 225 Watts. 225 is well below my threshold in season. I don't produce the most amount of watts unless going uphill because I only weigh 135. But my Watts per KG is not too bad. My goal by the time April rolls around is to have my Threshold / Tempo watts around 300. I never realized the benefits a power meter can have for my training until I started using one. While there is never one standard way to train for anything it's nice when you can use a technological tool in order to establish a guideline. I know it's only December but 225 should feel easy and yesterday it felt like a chore. Ironically enough I'm realizing it's a lot harder psychologically than physically.

Once the pain starts setting in it's good to try and accept it rather than rebel.

A long time ago back in 2001 when I was in boot camp for the Army there was a quote that a Drill Sergent said to me during a long road march. While many might have heard this quote it has always stuck with me when the going gets tough. He said to me "Your mind will give out before your body does." There have been many times I wanted to cut a workout short or even not train for the day. In the end all the times I made it through those tough days running or on the bike I still felt a sense of accomplishment. There will always be days where you are sore, tired, or stressed out. The most simple cure is a small dose of exercise. This does not mean you have to hop on a bicycle, run, or even swim. Maybe you have a dog. A quick game of hide-and-go-seek with your pup can take your mind off the present. This is something I regularly do with my girlfriends doggies. I'll keep them downstairs and then find a good hiding spot. Once I'm good and ready I'll call them up and try to act as silent as possible. Frito the "hunter" usually sniffs me out first. It doesn't take much to get the mind off of the stress you might be having. While this example or others may only be a temporary fix, it's sometimes does more good than harm.
On Sunday I'll be taking the City of Wilmington's Police Physical Fitness Test in Delaware. I think if I run under 8:30 for the 1.5 mile I'll be considered in the 99th percentile. It's funny but I never thought I would be worried about running 8:30 for a mile and a half. For the Delaware State Police test I went out way too hard. 35 seconds for the first 200! On Sunday I'll try a lot harder to run a more consistent pace. For an in shape cyclist and an out of shape runner 8:30 shouldn't be too difficult. You might be wondering why I'm looking to work in Delaware. Well, there are not many Police Departments hiring. I can't find one department in New Jersey that has openings. I already took the NYPD test so I'm still waiting to hear back from them. The whole police application is a long and stressful process that can take anywhere from 6 months to a year. Wilmington PD is looking to hire by February and have an academy start date of March. Lets hope I get picked! Ultimately I still need to think about where I want to start my law enforcement career but sometimes you have to start somewhere out of your element.

There are the physical standards for the TEST.

If I don't write until Sunday enjoy the weekend!

A

Oh and here is a video to make you laugh!
video

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cold Days = Indoor Training

The month of December and it's cold air has finally hit the Northeast. For an endurance athlete/competitive cyclist this means a lot of lonely days either on an indoor trainer, fighting the cold outside, or cross training. Since my coach has me doing specific workouts with a variety of intensity changes I succumb to indoor trainer riding because I can in more ways than one "zone out". I either put on some slightly motivating movie, or throw my ipod on and get the work done for the day. As an endurance athlete for a bunch of years now I've made revelations about my training. Some are quite accurate while others are definitely questionable.

When I was running track and cross country throughout college I used to always be on the brink of over-training, burnout, or injury. This happened because I always believed more is better. Being the stubborn "Long Islander" I am, I would shut out others who opposed the idea and think of them as lazy, or unmotivated. Especially people on my team. There were always those runners who would do the minimum of the day's training. If our coach said go out for a 30 minute recovery run many would do just 30 minutes and call it a day. I on other hand and a few select others would always go above and beyond the desired duration because we somehow thought:

1) We were invincible

2) We were better, stronger, faster

3) Smarter?

The list goes on and on. Those who I always ran high mileage with were either a lot faster than me or slower. Personally I always felt as if I need to prove something to myself, and others but in a negative manner. My running races speak for themselves. I consistently ran workouts as hard and as fast as I could thinking this type of program would make me have a "breakthrough", maybe even qualify for certain races.

I remember during my Freshmen or Sophomore year in college I had to go on a two week leave for the Army. We had to do some medical and field training. Anyway, it was the middle of the indoor track season and I was trying to run faster than 2:38 for the 1,000meter run. When I felt for two weeks all I could think about was how much fitness I was going to loose because I would not be able to train. During those two weeks I almost didn't run a step because we were so busy. I got back to the campus on a Thursday night and left the next day for a track meet. The first day I ran 2:40 for the 1k but on the next day I ran 2:35! I new PR with two weeks off?

The point I'm trying to make out of all this is that everyone is different. Some people need to run or train for very long durations at a time while others can get away with 50% less. So whether you are an endurance athlete or just someone looking to do exercise make a plan, schedule, and training regiment which works for YOU. Ironically enough others will follow your plan because they either think you have knowledge (which you may or may not) or because they haven't yet learned or figured out a plan for themselves. In the mist of training there will always be those who follow. This is not a negative form of training, just a means to getting in a workout. During college I would always follow (to a certain degree) the training plans of those runners who were faster than me. I would run 60-70-80-90 or even 100 mile weeks with no intention or direction. Then when I would get to a race and run no where near my own potential I would gloat on those runners who made it look so darn easy. The one single most important lesson I have learned from endurance sports is that our body and mind constantly need to be challenged. Movement has been the single most important aspect of who I am today. But ironically enough rest needs to remain an unremitting portion of our existence as athletes.

I was reading Outside Magazine the other day and came across an interesting article about some influential people of 2009. Individuals who might have came from money or not but decided to give back some of their time to others. One person specifically named Brad Ludden, 28, who is a Pro Kayaker, started and organization called First Descents. After his Aunt was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 he started this organization to aid in the second chapter in a survivors recovery. This is also known as the "emotional cure". Ludden took them on some fast exhilarating kayaking adventures to restore the courage they had lost from their illness. Even after a traumatic life experience there are ways to realize we are not as fragile as we may seem. Let loose once in a while. Go into a field and scream as loud as you can, or sprint down the street with all your might (watch out for cars), meet and talk to a stranger... Do something to exert built up energy inside of you in a positive manner that will challenge your daily routine. This could even mean driving a different way to work than you usually go.

With the Holiday's not too far away lets not forget those family members and friends who we care about most in our lives.

Enjoy the day!

A

Monday, December 7, 2009

1st Post into the Indifferent Conundrum

It's taken me a while to start an ongoing narrative. I feel I'm doing my part in terms of technology. I have a blackberry, I have a Facebook infatuation, I use a macbook pro, and I have a powertap on my bicycle. For those who are not cycling inclined a powertap is a bicycle computer that measures the amount of torque you are putting onto the spokes. Then a wireless sensor picks up the RPM and with these two output numbers voila a watt is produced and the computer screen reads the amount of power you are putting out at a given time. It looks something like this:


Anyway getting back to my story. So I've always felt as if I have been connected to the world but there must have been a piece of the puzzle missing because I didn't have a blog. I suppose there are a million and one reasons to start writing a blog. I'm not about to pontificate and try to justify my reasons at this poist. Even getting a powertap at times seems overkill in terms of training technology but this realization and the technological benefits for training surpass my stubbornness.

Now back up to speed. I have recently decided to become a Police Officer or State Trooper. I'm not sure which one yet because it all decides upon location, where I get an offer, ETC...Last Friday I drove from my girlfriend's house in NJ to take the Delaware State written and physical fitness test. The written part was not as difficult as I had imagined. The questions ranged from different police situations, memorization, and what they call a "Life Questionnaire". This part of the test is suppose to gauge your motivation, dedication, and integrity. They are the same type of questions human resource people ask you when your going for a corporate job. If it was up to me I would get rid of these exams. I would base entrance into the academy from a resume and past experiences. Then once they get to the academy I'm sure the officers there will easily be able to weed out the unmotivated and weak minded.


The physical fitness test was a bit too easy. Since I have started my competitive cycling career I haven't had much desire to run. Sure on some warm fall days it's great to get out there for a run and enjoy the scenery at a much slower pace, but I just love the bike way too much. The test consisted of doing as many sit ups then push ups you could complete in one minute or less respectively. I did 61 situps and 51 pushups. After about a 60 second break they were already yelling for us to line up on the track for the 1.5 mile run. I could barely life my arms! The 1.5 mile run was held at the University of Delaware's indoor track. It was hot and the air was dry but I managed to run around 9 minutes. I went out way too fast but still lapped everyone in the group at least 3 times. Hopefully the instructors took a mental note of who I was.

After taking a Police Exam your score is put on the eligibility list where you are picked based on the score you received. I'm not the best test taker so fortunately many Police Departments are combining your exam score, physical fitness score, and oral interview score.

While I had to take an entrance exam for the Military it was not the deciding factor if you were going to become a solider or not. After you passed a lengthy medical exam you were shipped off to basic training. Within the first three weeks the people who couldn't hack the drill sergeants mocking remarks were sent home, back into civilian life.

My main goal once I do become a Police Officer is to get into a specialized Police unit; K9, SWAT, or Narcotics. Currently I've applied to the NYPD, Delaware State Police, Connecticut Police Department, and on Tuesday I'll be going to an orientation for the City of Wilmington Police Department. I'll keep everyone updated.

Aside from pursing my professional career my training is going well for next season. My coach has me doing a lot of base training right now so I'm strong once April rolls around. My first goal of the season is to place well at Tour of the Battenkill. I had a horrible crash their last year so you could say I'm looking for a bit of closure! My crash was recorded on a tiny camera he had on his bike during the race. It even made it to bicycling.com! Check out the CRASH.

I'm also going to be racing on a new team based out of NYC. The actual name and sponsors have not been announced yet so I'll keep you posted.

I'm spending the rest of this week with my girlfriend Maija at her place in NJ before I head home to the Island. Over the Xmas break I'll be walking dogs for some extra cash, and training my butt off. I'm hoping by then I'll have a better picture or at least a narrowed view of which department I want to work for. But, then again this process can take anywhere from six months to a year.

A