Archive for April, 2011

Ok, the title is a bit dramatic.  It wasn’t that bad, but it was hard for a short period of time.

Coach Alex McDonald of Fast Forward Triathlon decided that we needed baseline Lactate Threshold (LT) and Max Heart Rate (HR) numbers in order to dial in my training zones. Lactate threshold is the point in exercise where your body produces more blood lactate than it can reabsorb.  Once this threshold is reached, an athlete can only continue at the same output level for minutes.  One goal of training is to raise the HR where LT occurs such that athletes can perform at higher watts output for a longer period of time.  We also measured my maximum power output, measured in Watts, to gather a baseline with the goal of increasing this number through specific training.

How many of you are using the (220 – Age = LT) method?  This is, at best, an approximation, but chances are very slim it will work well for you. Training LT requires a more precise measurement.  UNC Wellness Performance Center and The Meredith Human Performance Lab both do a great job with LT and VO2 Max testing.

I met Alex at UNC Wellness. Of course I failed to return the questionnaire in advance, thus it had to be quickly reviewed before we could start.  “Wait a minute – we have a problem – you are in a high risk category Todd!”  “My age?”   “Uhhh, yes.”  Thank goodness Dr. Alex was there to monitor the EKG of the elderly patient per hospital protocol.

After the chest was shaved, glue sprayed on, and pads applied, all of the EKG leads were hooked up.  I also had a blood pressure cuff remain on my arm through the testing.  We decided not also do the VO2 Max testing and therefore didn’t have the mask and headset to measure expired gases.

Alex dictated the testing protocol as my bike was set up on the CompuTrainer.  I controlled the watts of exertion through a thorough warm-up.  Then the technician took over and we began the test by slowly ramping up the watts as I maintained a constant cadence.  As the test proceeded, my finger was pricked and blood lactate measurements were taken every two minutes.  With each cycle the watts were increased up to a point of very hard effort when it was clear that I had crossed the LT  and Anaerobic Threshold (AT).  Alex also monitored the EKG with the goal of ensuring I didn’t croak.

Afterward, I had a brief cool down period and then we set up for the Max HR test.  This is very straight-forward – continue ramping it up until you can’t do it any longer.  Then stand up and go some more.  In my case, the plastic block placed under front wheel broke in half as I stood up and I damn near fell off the trainer.  Yes, I am a brute or a giant fattie.  The whole process took about an hour and Coach Alex let me use this in place of my trainer ride for the day.

The truth is that I was not so happy to see the results.  It is amazing how my body has changed in the last few years with age.  My Max HR is down several beats and so is my LT.  The good news, is that this is important to know and we can develop a specific plan such that I can hang on a bit longer an perhaps even get a bit faster along the way.

Related Blog: What Have I Done?

My Golgotha Within

Posted: April 23, 2011 in It's All Important Stuff

Spirituality sometimes refers to the inner path, enabling a person to discover the essence of their being; offering meaning in this temporary balancing act called life.

Being spiritual yields a connectedness to others, community, nature, the vast cosmos or that which is divine.  This inspires us and gives meaning to the shadows on the cave wall in front of us.

Sacrifice and suffering, my Golgotha within, is more than necessary to reaching the podium or some personal record in sport.  It is requisite for spiritual growth.  Sacrifice often takes the form of the endless choices we must make as humans and the suffering which endlessly smacks us as the results of our choices – or worse – the regret of paths not taken.

Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book “Something More”, states that, Change comes through Crisis, Chance or Choice.  We Choose to pursue this lifestyle.  With luck, we’ll avoid Crisis and hopefully Chance will be kind to us.

Make your choices count.

What Have I Done?

Posted: April 22, 2011 in It's All Important Stuff

I have to say that I am starting to feel good.  My bike speed and endurance have been improving and there are times when running is actually fun.  And, I have even dragged myself to the pool for several weeks straight.

But, oh my goodness, what have I done?  This burst of pseudo-fitness led to a decision to partner with Coach Alex McDonald, MD and Pro Triathlete of Fast Forward Triathlon

Alex is very good to work with.  He has taken time to understand my goals, my recent history of injury and recovery, and capabilities as an athlete (ok, more like limitations).  We have met and spoken several times this week and he is very detailed about my workouts and how I felt.  He quickly honed in on my weakest areas and we are focusing there as a priority.  (no laughing that was a serious statement – I do have some strength areas by comparison to my weak areas)

All that being said, Alex sets a high bar and is very focused on my achieving my goals.  Following my swim workout today, I literally had to recover for a bit by laying in the water and did not have the strength to pull myself out on the side of the pool.  I had to use the ladder. I hope he has not confused passion and desire with talent.

My goals are simple this year: I want to go faster in all three events.  Alex knows how to get me there and I will follow every word he writes for me.

I can only hope that my Geritol and Chocolate Milk make an effective recovery drink.

Are you living a life you never wanted? Perhaps you are just doing what you have to do in order to fund the things you like to do?  Maybe it is just easier to stay where you are?

When I was about 16, I used to hang out after school, or instead of school, in my friends basement smoking pot.  Through the haze, the song Day After Day by Alan Parsons became more than a mantra, it is now part of my DNA.

But day after day,
the show must go on.
And time slipped away,
before you could build any castles in Spain,
the chance had gone by.

This has driven me to not arrive at age fifty saying “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda.”  Because of this, and the early loss of my dad, life has had a sense of urgency and I absolutely HATE to waste time.  I don’t want any chances to slip by.

In my early twenties I began racing bikes.  Greg LeMond became my idol.  I closely followed his career and his advanced training methods.  I even went to one of his training camps.

Much like now, I took it very seriously.  With a new wife and daughter, trying to fit racing into my life was very difficult.  I resisted, so very strongly, the societal demands to be an “adult.”

Then Greg goes off and wins the 1983 World Road Championship.  For me the celebration ended when VeloNews arrived (yeah, in the mail) and the headline over his image was “Building Castles In Spain.”  I realized right there that I was not ever going to be a great bike racer.   Perhaps it was time to become an adult.  I succumbed – I changed – I let a valuable piece of me go – I should on myself.

Fast forward: College > Job > Mortgage > Kids > Irregular Riding > High School Reunions > Promotions > Stock Options > Lifestyle > STUCK!  More than two decades passed before I blew it up.

My oldest son just turned 18 (see his story here).  His life is full of measureless opportunity.  He has the brains, talent and drive to be practically anything he wishes.  I have refused to reinforce that he has to choose between job (work) and happiness (play).  Society will do this for him.  When he asks me what I think he should do I tell him to learn to live with little such that way he can do whatever he chooses.  Or, I say “be a poet.”   Just don’t should on yourself.


The Cary Duathlon was probably my best race ever. Typically my mind rages through a disaster movie of thoughts powered with ADD-rocket fuel.  This was hugely different, I was totally in the moment.

I am not completely sure why, but I had a very relaxed and focused mind.  At the start the usual nerves were just not there.  As a result, the race seemed to pass very quickly and yet my mind worked through each section patiently and carefully.  This is my first real feeling of a true racing mind and I liked it.

It was sort of like I had a heads up display of perceived effort, current terrain, the upcoming course,  and where the competition was on course.  At the same time, I knew exactly where I could to lose or gain time.  With each section and sub-section I made real time adjustments.

Maybe it is somewhat like my Mac.  All other applications were closed, leaving maximum memory and CPU cycles for a singular task.


Related Blog Posts:

Whatever The Mind Expects It Will Find
Take A Deep Breath And Let It Go
On Being Fearless

Interesting Related Videos With Stacey Richardson:

Mental Preparation For Triathlon Racing Part I
Mental Preparation For Triathlon Racing Part II

I Love Me, Too

Posted: April 7, 2011 in It's All Important Stuff

So many friends and acquaintances seem to be experiencing challenges in their relationships.  Some just aren’t as happy as they feel they should be or have ended a relationship and feel rudderless as to how to continue.  For some, that perfect person just does not exist, so it seems reasonable to settle.

This has made me ponder for many years – is focusing on endurance sport bad for relationships?

My conclusion is fairly simple, yet sort of complicated.  So, please bear with me.

I think that triathlon is a result of, not the cause of the issues.  So many people I know are paying more attention to their health and happiness.  Instinctively we know that we need to be in a different place and focusing on an event or training is something concrete against which we can take action.  This is absolutely great to do so.

Also, I firmly believe that you cannot love someone else unless you love yourself.  That which you are not willing to give yourself, you cannot unconditionally give to others.  For some, multisport training is a way of taking situational and emotional control.  This is a way for us to feel better about ourselves.

So I say, do it, train and race and be the best you can be, but give yourself and your relationships an emotional check up.  Do you love yourself?  Can you give unconditional love?

The tag line for my blog is “I Love Me, Too.”   Which speaks to my arrogance a bit, but it is also a daily reminder to myself and to you to give ourselves a break from time to time.


Related Entries:

This Took Me 50 Years To Learn

Set Someone Up For Success

Ask For What You Want

Whatever The Mind Expects, It Will Find

Heal Yesterday And Manifest Tomorrow



Fifteen years ago, on his third birthday, Nathan received his first real drum kit.  He walked into the “music” room, attired in his red “footed jammies”, crawled up on the throne and began bashing away.  From day one it sounded like music.  He was soon a regular with his old man’s band.

With most kids you introduce them to many ideas and hope something sticks, while they quickly abandon one after another.  A few special kids take your ideas and blend it with their own creativity – sometimes with their tongue firmly lodged in their cheek while they think about it – and set their own direction.  Nathan has done this his entire life.

He wanted to play soccer at five.  He worked very hard at his sport for years, becoming one of the best goalkeepers in the area.  At 17 he reckoned that his likelihood for a scholarship to a college of his choice were much greater with academics.  So the kid quits soccer, scores in the top 1% on his SAT and will be graduating from high school near the top of his class.  Oh, and he will begin college as a sophomore, having tested out of 30 college credits.  This turned out to be an amazing and prescient decision.

At 12 Nathan wanted to learn to play guitar.  He quickly absorbed what I could show him.  But he has taken it so much further on his own.  The student is now the teacher.  It is a good thing that he thinks he can’t sing, because he does still need me a bit.  My absolute favorite evening is learning a new song with him or perfecting an old one.  Nathan truly gets music.  He feels it, learns from it and has developed his very own style.

Nathan’s entire life is so full of promise.  He is calculating the odds of his band making it big.  He knows it’s a long shot as he compares it to the best college choice for pursing his career in Exogenetics.  With this, he plans to help cure diseases like Multiple Sclerosis.  He wants to kick MS’s ass to honor his grandfather whom he never met.  If his grandfather were here …

This week he legally became a man.  However, he has comported himself as a man for a long time.  He has made his own decisions, and done a damn fine job with it.

If you get the chance you should check out The Garland Mason Band.  These guys are seriously talented.  You will see a handsome young man behind the drums.  I, however, will always see a three year old in red jammies.