Sunday, July 29, 2007

Grinding It Out

Another week down! I must admit that I'm about ready to start racing again because race weeks, and the races themselves, are a lot easier than what I've been doing as of late. Today underscored this fact.

Three weeks of aggressive training have started to take their toll. Key workouts are starting to get a lot harder to hit spot on, and my "top end" just isn't there. Legs are fairly stiff and sore just about daily, but surprisingly, my motivation has never been higher. My head has been the only thing that has kept me in the game up to this point in time, because my body wanted to hit the sidelines about a week ago!

I'm taking a bit of a gamble and pushing harder than ever in hopes that the extra work, coupled with an aggressive taper/sharpening phase, will bring about an adaptation/level of fitness that I've yet to ever achieve; Lord knows that I'll need it come August 19th if I want to finish even remotely close to the likes of Lessing, Andersson and Co.

Yesterday's pace ride was off by about 1 mph but I forged ahead, finished the rest of the day's workload up and ate as much as possible so that I'd have a shot at laying down the week's final big session today: A 60 mile intensive endurance ride immediately followed by a 9 mile run.

Normally, I wouldn't make too much out of a session like this, as the distances aren't anything novel for me. What made the day so tough was the residual fatigue coupled with the heat and humidity we've been facing (a cool day, I know, for you Atlanta boys (Jason & Andy) if you're reading!). Thanks to my coaching workload, I didn't hit the road until 10:30 a.m., so I was subjected to a mid day sun for about 4 hours. Fun.

Surprisingly, I felt great on the bike, sitting upright throughout and easily mashing the 53 x 15 - 13 @ 21 - 24 mph for about 2 hours and 45 minutes. I felt as though I had a tail wind at my back the entire ride as the rollers seemed to offer little in the way of resistance. The legs were feeling very strong.

However... by the time I got back into my apartment, the thought of heading back out the door for an hour of running didn't seem all that appealing. As I stripped down and stepped on the scale, I realized that part of my reluctance stemmed from a slight case of dehydration; even with my best attempts (they weren't good enough in retrospect) I had still lost about 5 lbs. of water weight.

No Bueno.

I downed a glass of lemonade, mulled about for a few moments and then stepped back out into the heat, moving ahead like a zombie.

As I passed through the first couple of landmarks that I use for daily time checks when running (a good way to figure out how fatigued the body really is), it was evident that although I wasn't feeling so great, my legs were moving right along. So... there would be no excuses today. I had to just suck it up and deal with the fatigue as it set in.

And set in it did. As I ran through Annisquam Village and across the private beach that looks out towards the Ipswich Bay, I spent some time contrasting my state of dehydration-induced fatigue against the fun that the 100+ people lining the ocean's edge were having. Why was I out here punishing myself when I could be splashing about in the water while sipping a cool beverage? Ultimately, my reflections gave way to the fact that I still had about 30 minutes of running left to complete, and fatigue or no fatigue, there was only 1 way to get home, so I onward I pushed.

The last 15 minutes of today's suffer-fest were worse than any long course triathlon I've ever completed, although not quite as bad as my '06 Boston Marathon experience (I thought that the Grim Reaper would be paying me a premature visit that day!). I maintained my focus, chalking the session up as a "mental toughness" day and stepped back into my apartment once more, thankful to have the worst behind me.

All of this hard work really helps to keep things in perspective; the reality of the situation is this: The infrequent, fleeting moments of glory that one does experience on the athletic field are the end product of nothing more than a consistent, day-in-day-out commitment to hard-core training.

As one of my favorite marathon runners of all time, Australia's Rob de Castella once said, "Running well is a matter of having the patience to persevere when you are tired and not expecting instant results. The only secret is that it is consistent, often monotonous, boring, hard work. And it's tiring."

Right on Deek.

I'll try to keep that quote in mind next week as I cap the working phase of my current training cycle. Taper time (1 week away!) is sounding pretty good right about now.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

TDF Defaced Update

Update: Dean Phillips goes 23:31 at tonight's ECV TT, breaks Tyler Hamilton's old mark by 1 second!

Brings to mind that song by Alanis Morissette, "Isn't it Ironic?" ...

For more info. on Dean and his expert fitting services, see

TDF Defaced


I guess that any time big money enters the professional athletics equation, all bets are off as far as sportsmanship and ethics are concerned. Today was a sad day for the Tour de France and the world of cycling as a whole. First "Vino", then Moreni and today, the man in yellow: Rasmussen. Cycling's showcase event has once again been disrespected and disgraced.

If there's any humor to be found in the situation it is this: The win-at-all-cost attitude within Pro Cycling is eroding not only public interest in the sport, but the very sponsorship that the elite athletes/drug cheats are relying upon to make their living! Nothing like slitting your own throat in exchange for a brief moment of fleeting glory.

These days, I find myself more impressed by the results being turned in by local, hard working athletes like Dean Phillips (of the NE triathlon circuit/Fitwerx2 fame). His 23:40 (or was it 23:37 Dean???) on the 11.3 mile ECV TT course two weeks ago was simply off the charts. Factor his 3 kids, wife, house and brand new, 7 day-a-week business (read: 60+ hour work weeks and lots of stress) into the mix, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find a more inspiring performance.

So go ahead and continue hero-worshipping the phonies you're seeing on the TV screen; I'll marvel at the real athletes that we have right here in our own backyard.

For all the latest on this year's rendition of another ruined TDF, check out


Sunday, July 22, 2007

That's a Wrap!

What a week!

Between an influx of new clients, a heavy workload, and 20+ hours of training, I don't have much left in the tank. I'm glad that tomorrow is an "easy" day; a 6 mile jaunt in the a.m. + 1.5 mile ocean swim in the p.m. In between, I'll make some time for business related PR, race debriefings and general chit chat with my athletes. Life couldn't be better!

Training wise, this weekend required a bit of "tweakage." I had originally been planning to execute another intensive pace ride/resistance training session combo on Saturday, but just didn't have enough energy in the tank to "get r' done." Since my return to full time training, I had begun personally experimenting with a higher intensity approach to long course prep, bucking my standard training protocols and trying a more unorthodox weekly format out. It was simply too much to handle, and my system made this point very clear to me on Friday; my fatigue levels were at an all time high! A reality check for sure, and a welcome one at that, as I ended up reverting back to what works, and instantly felt right as rain.

Saturday's session featured a fairly intensive 81 mile spin with my brother Corey. Nothing too taxing, but I was getting fairly hungry by ride's end. The extensive saddle time was much needed, and a nice break from all of the time-trial specific cycling that I've been focusing so heavily upon. A quick lift in the p.m., some BBQ and then back to work writing up schedules until nearly 1 a.m.

Today's run was rather uneventful; a 16 mile jaunt around the "Cape." Legs were a bit underpowered, but this was to be expected thanks to the workload that I'm currently engaged in. All-in-all, it was a great week of training. Two more and I'll be more than ready to roll at Timberman.

As for the coaching business, I can't get over how much growth I've seen this year. I absolutely despise in-your-face advertisement, especially for services like mine, and prefer to let my athlete's results and simple net-working/word of mouth recommendations sell my services instead.

We had some great performances this weekend, most notably Maureen Bruno-Roy's overall win of the women's expert category at the 2007 US Mountain Biking National Championships which were held at Mt. Snow. The victory means that Mo will be going Pro! Her performance on Saturday would have placed her very high up in this year's Pro race, so the future is bright. On a side note, Mo's biggest supporter, husband Matt Roy, is ripping up the ultra-cycling scene, having recently won a major 12 hour event up in NY. Matt is prepping hard-core for the Maine solo-brevet record (border to border) on August 25th; Not bad for a guy who completely shattered his femur just over a year ago during thanks to a bad crash during a crit!

Also in the news... Sabra Hawkes, a member of the US Paralympic Team, was out in Chula Vista training at the Olympic Training Center. For those of you not in the know, Sabra just crushed both the 100 and 200 meter US records at the US Paralympic Track & Field Championships a couple of weeks ago. She's actively prepping for the 2007 Pan Am Games, which will be held in Brazil later in August. Very exciting!

Liam O'Connell continues to roll down in Texas. Though in full fledged training mode and running/riding on tired legs, he still managed to place 2nd at today's Webster Duathlon. Nice work Liam!

So that's a wrap. Time for a shower, a few snacks and some reading.

P.M. Swim tomorrow at Good Harbor Beach if anyone lives close by and is interested. Shoot me an email and I'll fill you in on the specifics.


Friday, July 20, 2007

CRM checks in!

Corey Ricci-Munn, cycling phenom and Craft-USAs marketing genius, checks in and throws down!
Saturday, July 21st, D-Day of sorts. Nervous, you bet. What could I possibly be referring to? A pace ride with the big bro. You may think it’s easy to suck on someone’s wheel for 1.5 hours, averaging 25 mph+, well guess again.

As the emotional support rider hiding 1” of the back of Janda’s Michelin rear tire it’s my job to say nothing and just go along for the ride. But what he doesn’t know is that I’m watching his position, cadence and line. Not that I’m an expert, but I have a unique perspective of things back there and maybe, just maybe, I can shed a little insight on the day after we back off the throttle. In any regard, it’s a win win situation. He gets the support he needs on these important sessions, I get to turn the legs over a bit after a drawn out week.

Well, next week in the hills of western Mass, it will be my turn to issue the 31-year-old a little payback. Problem is he can climb pretty darn well. Looks like I’ll have to start tapering soon!

So Much To Do, So Little Time!

Another big weekend coming up! As usual, I'll be glued to my computer for the vast majority of today, continuing to pump out schedule after schedule. My client load seems to be growing exponentially, thanks in large part to the success that everyone is experiencing and the fact that we do things a little differently around here! Although I am in fact running a business, making money has never been my priority; it's simply been an afterthought and byproduct of all that I put into my one man operation. I love my work and place more value in establishing meaningful relationships with my athletes and working hard to ensure that they succeed athletically than worrying about the bottom line. Yes, I stay up too late, stay on the phone too long, and do tend to get a little over zealous when it comes to email correspondence, but working with people on the athletic front is my passion and a dream come true, so it's all good in my book!

My biggest concern these days is the fact that I'm simply pressed for time. It's getting harder and harder to fit everything in on a daily basis. The competitive season is in full swing, my athletes are competing all over the map, and I'm trying to do the same! If things continue to progress at their current rate I just don't see how I'll be able to continue teaching for much longer. Although I have a great time working with the middle and high school age kids on the PE/Health front, my true passion lies in working with athletes. At 31, I know that I have a very long coaching career ahead of me, and my ultimate dream would be to ascend to the "Big Leagues/World Class" ranks as a professional coach and be able to actually accompany my athletes around the globe to events such as the Olympics, the IronMan World Championship, and perhaps even "The Tour."

So back to work I go. Another day of grinding it out and another day closer to my ultimate dream.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Where Did All of the Tracks Go?!?!

Sometimes the hardest part of a workout is simply finding a place to execute it! Today was no exception...

Trying to lay down an interval set in a pool full of kids and old ladies, well that's one thing; They have a tendency to move out of your lane pretty quickly, especially when you have a set of paddles on your hands and are moving towards them in a somewhat aggressive manner! Road work on the TT course, I can deal with that as well; Dodging a few cars in the opposite lane only heightens the excitement of a hard interval or tempo set. Spending 45 minutes driving around trying to find an open track: Now that makes me feel like going "postal!"

You'd think that Gloucester, a city renowned for it's track & field/cross-country programs, would have an outdoor track that would reflect the success that our esteemed running programs have achieved over the years. Not so. The potholes, speed bumps and puddles that you encounter along the 400 yard circuit (yes, it's a short track to boot) are a sign of the times. Our city is struggling financially. However, when compared to the Kenyan training facilities, which usually consist of nothing more than a dirt road strewn with cattle and ruts, I'll gladly take what we have right here in town, if I can actually get on the damn track that is!

It's always a crap-shoot when you plan a workout at Newell Stadium. You can count on people walking in lanes 1-3 (sometimes with dogs!) and 4 or 5 kids riding their bikes around the track, but today, it was obvious that my planned interval set would have to be executed elsewhere.

I arrived at the track to find Pee-Wee football camp in full swing. Great. 8 - 12 years olds and gear covering just about every inch of the stadium. Football players and coaches are oblivious to just about every other sport known to man (baseball and basketball being the exceptions) and feel entitled to do whatever they they damn well please. I've had my fair share of run ins with their kind over the years, but just wasn't in the mood for an argument today. So... instead of having to resort to drop kicking a few of the players and/or coaches through the field goal posts, it was off to Gordon College, and hopefully a clear track.

20 minutes later and still no luck. The Gordon College track is a brand new, 400 meter, Olympic quality facility. The infield boasts a beautiful artificial turf. The place really motivates you to work. However... today the place was in full-fledged soccer camp mode. Both infield and track were covered with kids and gear.

My mood continued to darken.

Last resort was the Hamilton-Wenham track, another 15 minutes away. Upon my arrival, I was somewhat relieved to only find a small MS/HS conditioning program occurring on 50 meters of the back stretch. This I could deal with, even if it meant running part of each lap on the grass or outside lane.

After laying down a 2 mile warm up run on the roads, some stretching and stride outs, I commenced the workout's main segment: A 4 mile descending interval set that consisted of 1 x 2 mile, 1 x 1 mile and 2 x 1/2 mile. Thanks to the forced break that I recently experienced and the fact that I haven't been on the track in nearly 3 months, I wasn't expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised with my current level of fitness. I cruised through the set, dropping splits of 10:38, 5:08, and 2 x 2:30 for each respective interval. Factor in the humidity (my asthma starts kicking in), the tight recovery between intervals, and my current intensive training workload, and I was pleasantly surprised with my current degree of aerobic power.

Today really underscored the need for more interval work, and I'd like to get this set down to the point where I can float through the 2 mile in about 10:15 - 10:20 (roughly pace/velocity at Lactate Threshold), the 1 mile in 4:50 (roughly open 8k race pace) and the 1/2 set in closer to 2:20 (5k race pace). By season's end, I should be there. In the mean time however, I'm just happy to be in position to push again! About 3 or 4 weeks ago, I wasn't even sure that I'd ever be able to gear up to race again, so I'm enjoying every session, no matter how hard, and never taking anything for granted.

Okay, time for some scheduling before I have to hit the road for a 2 hour spin this evening!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pushing the Envelope

Well, I'm back at it again, training full tilt and pushing the envelope day in, day out. It's been a hectic few weeks... My coaching business has really taken off over the course of the past couple of years, and since most of my athletes are currently smack dab in the middle of their competitive seasons, many a day is spent either on the phone, in front of the computer, training, eating or sleeping. I wouldn't have it any other way! I'm living the life that I've always wanted and couldn't be happier.

I'm psyched to be back to a normal routine. For those of you not in the know, I had been dealing with internal bleeding for well over a month leading up to Eagleman 70.3. Nothing too severe, but a cause for concern and unneeded stress. I decided to wait until after I had completed my first 2 races of the '07 season to have the necessary testing done to determine the cause of the blood loss and bring closure to the issue. Doing so meant pulling out of the innagural Patriot Half Iron Triathlon, but I'd been rolling the dice long enough and couldn't risk my health any longer.

Thankfully, both the Mooseman International and Eagleman 70.3 Triathlons went extremely well. I had been preparing, very intensely, since last December for Eagleman, and the sub 4 hour performance I pulled off on June 10th, though somewhat unexpected this early in the season, was a much needed morale boost. Going sub 4 was my primary objective for the 2007 Tri season, and with this performance under my belt, I decided to pull the pin on training for a couple of weeks in the hopes that medical testing and a little R&R would take care of the problems that I'd been experiencing.

At 8:30 a.m. on July 3rd, I rolled into the endoscopy unit at Beverly Hospital for a 10:30 appointment with the very talented and knowledgable Dr. Martin Hahn. At 31, a colonoscopy seemed a little premature, but if having this procedure done meant getting back to full time training sooner than later, I was all for it.

First off, I would HIGHLY encourage anyone who is the least bit worried about having a colonoscopy to take my advice: Relax! Although it is invasive in every sense of the word, the procedure itself is a piece of cake; No pain, very little in the way of embarrassment/awkwardness, and a great form of preventative medicine. This simple procedure has the potential to save your life, so seek help if you're ever dealing with a similar GI tract problem, and don't be afraid if you hit the big 5-0 and are "suppossed" to get it done - trust me.

Although I was in a drug induced state and don't remember everything that occurred in the "scope room" during the course of the procedure, Dr. Hahn informed me that he had found and removed the source of my little bleeding problem: 2 polyps, 1 of which was rather inflamed and potentially problematic. I walked out of the hospital 1 hour later fully dazed, but excited about the fact that I at least had some closure on the issue. Now I just had to wait 1 week for the biopsy results to come back.

During this period I followed Dr. Hahn's orders and trained very lightly, focusing primarily upon swimming and shorter (albeit intense) rides. I avoided running altogether for 5 days as the polyp removal sites in my large intestine were a bit sore and noticeable, especially when I did anything that jarred my insides.

Exactly one week after the procedure I received word from Dr. Hahn's office that the larger of the 2 polyps was in fact the source of the bleeding, and was a benign, "inflammatory" polyp, which usually appear after a bout of colitis or intestinal damage. Might all of those long sessions and marathons coupled with slight dehydration have caused this issue to present itself? Perhaps, but the good news is that I was clear to resume operations!

Flash forward one more week (today) and I'm happy to report that my legs are once again tired, I'm eating everything that isn't nailed down, and am itching to get right back out there tomorrow morning and hit it hard again.

I've never been one to take all that I have in my life for granted, but it's amazing how a little scare will change your perspective and allow you to truly reconnect with the people and things that you care most about in life.

It's good to be back!

New Beginnings...

One of my up-and-coming athletes, Liam O'Connell, turned me onto Blogspot, so here I am! For old blog posts, check out my "other" blog @

For those of you who don't know me, here's a quick snapshot:

I was born and raised and continue to proudly reside in the country's oldest seaport: Gloucester, Massachusetts. I've been going full throttle since the day I was born at the stroke of midnight on November, 30th, 1975 and have no plans to slow down anytime soon.

As a kid growing up in Gloucester, whether it was track & field, youth football, baseball, pit-jumping, mountain biking, scuba diving, BB gun fights, evading police capture or just general hell raising, I at all times loved mixing things up and maintaining a close knit relationship with excitement. I've never been able to handle stagnation and to this day find life much more enjoyable when I'm taking risks and operating outside of my comfort zone.

A competitive runner since the age of 8, I have at all times felt a deep need to prove myself time and time again by pushing my limits as an athlete. I guess that it's no surprise that I stumbled onto the sport of triathlon nearly 12 years ago and have never looked back since.

I've had my fair share of success as an athlete over the course of the last 25 years, but firmly believe that learning from the many mistakes, shortcomings and failures that I have experienced along the way, is the primary reason that I'm where I am today as a coach, athlete and human being.

Maintaining a blog provides me with the opportunity to add a personal element to the somewhat impersonal business of coaching athletes via the Internet and phone lines! My goal is to convey the true emotions, struggles, good times and hard work that I experience on a daily basis both as an athlete and coach.

Stay tuned, as I'll be updating this blog frequently...