Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bike, Run, Swim

The past week I had some "motto workouts" this is what we called them in the Marine Corps, when a workout was tough, but also motivated you at the same time. On Friday, I biked up Signal Mountain and rode in a downpour with a friend for about 3 hours. On Saturday, I ran in the rain for an hour and half and on Monday I swam 2.8 miles (200 links)! I was pumped on Monday because not only did I finish it, but I finished strong.

Thursday is my last day at work so Friday I plan on doing a really long workout.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Commuting Stories

I think most all of my friends like my crazy commuting stories. This morning it wasn't much fun, with road construction left half-completed as I walked in the office this morning I was completely covered in asphalt smut.

On to a funnier story, please read this post on the woman who commutes to Wal-Mart. Wallie World management didn't let her take her bike into the store, because she didn't buy it there, so she naturally just took off her clothes since she didn't buy them there either!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Training with my Ears

Don't worry, keep reading and the title will make sense.

Training has been going good. It's weird, triathletes are such a rare breed of people, and then amongst us we are seriously different people. I just heard of one guy who was training for a 16:59:59 finish (17 hour time limit for an Ironman) please compare this to my friend Chad who has to bring an extra water bottle on his Tuesday and Thursday rides to wash his mouth out, because he rides until he pukes.

Ironically, both of these people inspire me, obviously for different reasons. Friends came in-town for the weekend so I did my long workout on Friday. I found this ultra-steep pitch, where I almost fell over going up, it was awesome! I later find out people rock climb up this section of Lookout Mountain.

Yesterday was nasty in all aspects. Around 3:30, when I usually start getting ready to escape the office Chattanooga received 2 inches of rain in about 15 minutes, with 25 mph winds to boot. Strangely enough, as I looked out of my office window, I actually wanted to be out there in it. I know this is perhaps really strange to some of you, and yet to another crows maybe you can relate. I just stared out the window and couldn't help myself in finding the similarities of the weather and my life. So after a couple of minutes of this, I actually shot some emails out to my two hard-core cycling buddies, wanting to get out in the hail storm and mix it up, I promised PBR afterwards to entice them. No response from one, and the other response was "hell yea." When it was actually time to go my "hell yea" buddy was just kidding and wanted to skip the cycling and go straight to the PBR.

So by the time I got out there the storm was pretty much gone, but raining nevertheless. My friend Chad told me about "the big ring workout" where you just stay in your hardest gear for about an hour and half and try to just slam your heart-rate into over-drive. The only rule to this workout is you can't get out of the saddle.

So I'm cruising along, my heart rate isn't even close to where it should be but it's accelerating into the 40 minute mark, when this long straight incline hit. I immediately threw my head down into my aero-bars and started to grind it out. Literally, my face was where my forearms go in my aero-bars. Then the "oh crap" moment happened. My mind was telling my legs to push down, but evidently their was a short in this circuit as my legs weren't moving. I had seen how this movie ends, and it usually ends with somebody getting a concussion from falling over. I had about a solid 1 second to thing about it, so I jerked my head up pushing my arms up, thinking this will be enough to get to the top. As soon as I jerked my head up it felt like God himself reached into my inner-ear ripping my eardrums out. Seriously, I looked down at the street to see if my eardrums were laying out there.

The wire to my headphones had got stuck in my aero-bars and when I raised my head up, my headphones were stationary. I hurt...really, really bad. So after a couple of questionable steep turns on slick roads I headed back and went for a walk with my dog, daughter and wife.

This morning I went for another training ride with my ears and all.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Big News

Sorry for not blogging much lately, I have been doing a lot of training and have a lot of side projects going on. It is because of these reasons I have not been blogging. Not because I don't have enough material to blog about. In fact, I have some pretty big things to talk about.

I'll leave out all of the gory details that shouldn't be blogged about, but I decided to take a new route in my life, and just sold my company and my last day will be July 31.

Since I sold my portion of the company my tv in my office has switched channels from cnbc to versus to watch the Tour de France. To which, I'm stoked about.

My wife, daughter and I have some very INTERESTING vacations in the pipeline. Hopefully, they will come to fruition.

I have really been forced to take a step back in my life and figure out what is important to me. What do I want people to remember me by? What is my purpose in life?

You'll never know until you try! You'll never get to WOW unless you are at least willing to aspire to it.

--Tom Peters

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Random thoughts and Readings

Sorry for the random post, or lack there of, but I have been extremely busy with other projects. Nevertheless, training is huming along. I took a new route yesterday, from downtown out to my in-laws that live in Lakesite. For you non-Chattanoogan's it's about 20+ miles one way. Nothing major, but it was a fun ride and I absolutely love going on new routes.

I'm also excited about this weekend. On Saturday, I will be doing a VERY long training routine, and then on Sunday, I will further hone my photography skills at the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon.

This morning a friend of mine told me about this blog. Jennifer Pharr is attempting to break the women's Appalachian Trail record. The best part about it - she is doing it in honor of Meredith Emerson- who was killed while hiking in the North Georgia mountains. Her first post is absolutely awesome!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Amazon Swimmer Interview by Tim Ferriss

Swimming the Amazon: 3,274 Miles on the World’s Deadliest River

Topics: Interviews, Physical Performance, Travel

martin strel amazon

February 8–Inahuaya, Peru

The more dangerous the trip gets, the more momentary we all become. Songs sound better, foods taste better, and seventy-cent-a-bottle cane whiskey is fun to drink.

Last year on April 8th, Slovenian marathon swimmer Martin Strel became the first man to swim the entire length of the Amazon River from headwaters in Peru to the Brazilian port city of Belém: 3,274 miles. It took him 66 days with a support crew of near twenty people following him in a boat for protection.

He’d already conquered the Danube, the Mississippi, and the Yangtze. In 1997, he became the first to swim non-stop from Africa to Europe, and he did it in 29 hours, 36 minutes, and 57 seconds… without a wetsuit. WTF? Seven swimmers had attempted it before and all had failed.

The Amazon was different. As the “Fish Man,” as the locals called him, reached the finish line at Belém, he had to be helped to his feet and ushered into a wheelchair amidst a cheering crowd. His blood pressure was at heart-attack levels and his entire body was full of subcutaneous larvae. But he lived to tell the tale.

I recently caught up with Martin about how he trained for and accomplished this feat… Don’t miss the excerpt at the end, which I included specifically for those of you — like me — who don’t quite fit in with the masses.

1) What were the biggest challenges you faced on the Amazon swim?

The biggest challenges were:

–Dealing with pirates; trying to not come into their hands.
We tried to go through their territories unnoticed, and use local people and their knowledge to help us.

–Piranhas, snakes, spiders, candirú, bull shark or other animals which make unpredictable attack; you have to be ready all the time if any piranha attack you. We had some buckets of blood ready in case of emergency, to distract the piranha and get them away from me if necessary. We saw a deadly bushmaster snake, but luckily I didn’t step on it. If I had stepped on it I would have been dead in less than an hour.

–Malaria, dengue and other unknown infections I could easily get in such a water/jungle environment. It looks like I have an “iron” body and very good immune system.

–Floating debris; I tried not to touch any of the debris floating downstream as it might carry a snake, spider, red ants or any other poisonous animals

–Peeing; I didn’t pee into the water straight as this attracts a very dangerous fish called the candirú, which lodges up human orifices with a razor-like spike and then sucks your blood. I was peeing all the time through the wetsuit.

2) How do you train for preparation?

Yearly I do 400 training sessions in the pool, ocean and rivers, 100 cross country ski sessions, 75 hiking and 75 gymnastic sessions. I train from 3 to 5 hours a day. Beside physical training I also do mental training in the forest around the fire or along the river banks. I try to get the energy from river flow and then turn it into my desire. It works pretty well if you are able to make it happen.

3) What’s more important: physical or mental power?

On my swims I’d say mental power. It is true it does not work with great physical training but I do strongly believe that there are many other good swimmers who could swim as I do, but they do not have their mind ready. And this is mental strength where I am really good. I could not do such great swim 20 years ago when I was much younger, now I can do it. And the reason is I am now mentally matured.

4) What do you eat and drink while swimming and recovering?

I eat regular food from soups, pastas, carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables to meat. I do not eat much meat because it is too heavy for me to swim afterward. Besides this I also consume a lot of liquid. Mainly I drink energy drink from Gatorade, Enervit and Spring Of Life. I do not drink “energetic bombs” like Red Bull. And I do drink wine and/or beer every day, even while swimming. This gives me a special power and relaxation I could not live without.

5) Did you ever come close to giving up on the Amazon swim?

Yes, there were moments I was thinking of going home. First one was right at the beginning when our main escort boat got stuck into the mud and I was far away on the river alone with the small navigating boat. A logistical problem.

There were also hundreds of daily organizational/logistical problems from the beginning and lots dangerous places on the river that I could drown. And i was afraid to continue. I was asking myself if I chose too big challenge this time, and if I might never make it and lose my life.

But at the same time, I got the positive, bright answer: NO. I want to conquer all these obstacles and stay alive. I wanted to show the world how important is to keep this place of the world clean and undestroyed, and at the same time achive the my mission that has never been done.

6) What goes through your mind when you are on a long swim?

While I am swimming long distances I am rolling very interesting different films and stories in my head in order to forget about swimming and pains that I have in my body. Basically I am like a robot and if someone suddenly “wakes me up,” I usually get angry, because I fall out of my concentration. This “robot stage” is an ability of high-level concentration, which works like hypnosis. So I could say that if you want to forget your pains and action you have to know how to put yourself into hypnotism.
This hypnotized stage could last up to one hour on my swims and I can repeat several times a day. I needed many years to train/teach myself how to do it. I could not do this when I was younger.

Otherwise, I think about everything. It’s difficult to just swim. I talk with myself and animals around me for many hours, play guitar in my mind, talk to God, talk with my wife. I believe when I was talking to my wife in the middle of the Amazon, she knew, thousands of miles away in Slovenia.

7) What is life like after completing a big swim? How do you get motivated to do it again?

My feelings are dreamlike. I worked hard, trained hard, and dreamed that someday, I would swim in the great Amazon river. Now my dream has come true. I feel that my mission in life is fulfilled, and should I pass away tomorrow, I am satisfied.
If there is another project I am going to take on, it will have to be an absolute new challenge for me. I have done the greatest rivers on earth. The only way you can devote yourself completely is to challenge yourself to do something unbeaten.

Excerpt from The Man Who Swam the Amazon, written by Matthew Mohlke, who was a river guide on the Amazon trip:

So, why do we follow Martin down the Mississippi, the Danube, the Amazon, or the Yangtze? The answer is simple:

An expedition is 95 percent misery and 5 percent ecstasy. After three weeks of constant motion in a land far way from home, something strange occurs in the sould of a man. He gets broken. The first symptom is a tired or sick feeling, maybe even some fear and a little helplessness. Loneliness. Then something slowly changes within. The old attachments start to fade and he becomes completely present. He forgets about all the crap that keeps him up at night back home. None of it matters anymore.

The same man who may be the shy, passive, no-balls type back home in the office or factory can evolve into a [person] who can share a table with the toughest of hombres and throw back beers with unswerving eyes, enjoying every minute of it.

After going home and dealing with all the meaningless details of electricity bills, lawn mowing, mortgage payments, and an unfulfilling job, a period of depression inevitably occurs. Those people back home can’t understand why he’d leave his cozy existence behind again for three more months to jump at the next opportunity to subject himself to such misery and danger.

But they just don’t get it.