Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sh!t Like a Champion (part II)

More on Drum and Bugle Corps here:

It's a long read, but fills you in on the details of the activity. I did it for six years and that experience is a large part of me.

As for my last post, it seems that I'm condoning maximum effort every time you hop on the bike, jump in the pool or lace up your running shoes; that's not the case. Physical effort is part of it yes, but the emphasis was meant to be more on the amount of mental effort you put into things.

Ex: you can recover like a Champion. It's more about being in the moment, focus and mental discipline than it is about going as hard as you can until you keel over. One of my favorite instructors used to say "Job at hand" frequently. Pay attention to what you're doing; brush your teeth like a champion while you're at it.

Some exciting developments on the job front: I met with my background investigator on Tuesday and he asked me all kinds of embarassing questions. He recorded the interview, which was a little nerve-wracking.

So my background investigation has started and those of you on my list of references should expect to be contacted. The good news is that he already spoke to my boss from the lifeguard service and he spoke very highly of me: "Eric's a great guy and we'd love to have him join us (the permanent lifeguard staff)". Cool.

As for training...

Just when you think you're getting fast, some guy comes along and shows you what fast really is.

I was doing hill repeats up Torrey Pines hill today and got passed by a guy in a local cycling shop team kit. I jumped on his wheel and stayed in my HR zone...then his phone rang; he answered it, chatting comfortably while I pegged zone 4...d'oh! We get to the top, both turn around and I stop at the bottom to fill my water bottle. I round the guardrail to head back up the hill...and he's doing one leg drills....UP TORREY PINES!!!

Friggn' insane.

I smiled as I passed him: "That looks like it hurts." He chuckled and we went our separate ways.

Honestly; who does that?


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sh!t Like a Champion

If you're not familiar with the above logo, here's the wikipedia explanation of The Concord Blue Devils and Drum Corps International.

I spent 6 years from age 16-22 traveling and performing with two groups that participated in DCI. During my last two years with the Blue Devils before I "aged out" (members cannot be more than 21 years old) we were fortunate enough to win World Championships both years; in 1996 we tied with another group (total B.S. if you ask me) and in 1997 we won it outright.

The cool part is that I have some sweet 'bling and bragging rights for the rest of my life. Seriously, we were treated like rockstars when we went to Japan (all expenses paid!) and other former 'corps members speak with a little awe in their voice when they ask you what years you marched "Dude, you guys were awesome that year." Me: "Thanks. I really appreciate that." It makes all the hard work we put in to rehearsals worth it.

...and rehearse we did; up to 12 hours a day. Auditions in November (yes, you had to try out and yes, it was nerve wracking), Sunday rehearsals starting in January, monthly "camps" that lasted Friday at 5PM until Sunday at 5 PM. Memorial Day Weekend we rehearsed from Friday all the way to Monday; starting in June, we'd practice from 10 AM to 10PM and then jump on buses and travel all over the country performing for crowds of over 20,000 people. The year World Championships came to the Rose Bowl, the front side of the stands sold out. This is a huge deal for lots of people all over the world...chances are you've never heard of it.

Which brings me to the 'post title: "Sh!t Like a Champion". I believe it started in 1994
(before I began marching with the Blue Devils and while I was still marching with the now-defunct "Velvet Knights"... an entire BOOK worth of stories by itself).

One of the instructors was in the middle of motivating the members and, reportedly since I wasn't around yet, was explaining that you will approach rehearsals the same way you approach mundane tasks in your daily life.

The Point: if you want to be a World Champion, everything you do must be done "all the way". No half-measures, no going through the motions. Everything you do in life, do it like a World Champion would do it. In short, Sh!t Like a Chamion.

The members (remember we're talking about 14-21 year-olds) latched on to it and it became a 'corps mantra such that it was in regular use when I joined in 1995 (they would go on to win the World Championships in 1994; their first since 1986).

It's a pretty silly saying, but think about it in a broader context. Everything you do from the moment you wake up to the minute you go to bed should be done to the best of your ability. If it's worth doing, why half-ass it? Why slack through that 3rd interval just because there's 2 more?

Seriously, when I'm beat down and don't feel like hitting a workout, I ask myself what would "so and so" do? would he (or she) bag this workout? No way....and so I won't either.

So my work ethic makes a little more sense to those of you who know me well.

Rain, heat, wind, cold, dark, it didn't matter, you kept going and kept practicing and rehearsing. Illness, injury; none of it mattered except being the best 'corps on the field and hearing them call out your name as World Champions. Winners got to re-perform their show as a "Victory Concert" after awards; a musical version of a victory lap. Imagine 60+ brass players standing less than 10' feet away from you playing their asses-off; I guarantee it's the loudest thing you'll ever hear that's not amplified.

There's a 'blurb on the Wikipedia page about an infamous show where the lights went out over the entire city at one of Blue Devils' shows in 1999...they kept playing even in the dark (shows are performed at night). That should give you an idea of the dedication and professionalism you learn as a part of the Blue Devils legacy.

Winning is awesome. Go Sh!t Like a Champion.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Getting the Itch

Right around this point in the season, I start getting that racing itch. I know I shouldn't be racing at this point in the season, but I'm feeling fit and really want to get out and see what I've got.

Climbing San Juan Trail on New Year's. Big thanks to Steph for the pic.
This past week was all about recovery and testing. I was interested about what kind of improvements I'd see, if any, after switching to a 3-week meso-cycle for my Base 2. I was happy with the results: 30 seconds off my 1k time trial in the pool, over a minute faster combined on my 2x Soledad repeats and 30 seconds off my 5k time trial and the track; I'm stoked to see the times I've been putting down ...and it's only January!

Reality check: James' "easy running pace"coming off his foot injury is only slightly slower than my tempo pace. Man, that guy's fast!

Holly and I had a serious Pizookie craving, but neither of us felt like actually going to BJ's and paying their ridiculous prices. A little inspiration and a trip to the grocery store and we had our own ghetto Pizookie.

What are you gonna do with a cookie this big?

...put ice cream on it!

Totally fulfilled our craving. So good and we got 4x the dessert for what it would have cost at the restaurant. If you're not familiar with Pizookie, I recommend you check out BJ's Restaurant web page. Basically a warm cookie in the shape of a pizza with ice cream on it; Pizza + cookie = Pizookie. Get it?

So training is moving on (Base 3 if you're down with Friel) and I've got some HUGE weeks on tap. It's going to be tough, but It'll be worth it when I start toeing the line in March.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Highs and Lows

This past week was killer in the training department. I put down my biggest volume week in the 7 years I've been racing and training for tri's. I have no doubt the work I did this past week will pay off huge later in the season. Sweet.

I felt pretty hammered by Thursday, but sucked it up and finished the week off strong. Saturday I hit a big ride with Luke. Check out his 'blog for the report: windy and COLD. The ride totaled 5.5 hours, with me going solo for the last 2. All things considered, it was a great fitness check and a great indicator of how Vision Quest could go. Though I was shelled from the work during the week, I still rode pretty close to my goal pace for VQ and stayed in zones 1-3 the entire time. Encouraging for sure.

On the way home, I stopped off at Eric H's house and picked up a light set from him that he didn't want to take with him when he moves back East. Two digital HID set ups for $25. I've been needing a helmt mount set. Thanks, man.
Speaking of sweet deals, my MP3 player quit on me and the manufacturer says it;s out of warranty and they don't repair them. Jerks. Last week I saw this 4 gig player at Target for 70 bucks. Sold.

...and Costco had Garmin's for cheap. Good thing since Holly lost her Polar HRM (my old cheapo) and she's stepping into the world of HR training. Now if her Small chest strap would show up, she could actually USE the thing. C'mon Garmin. Get yer shit together...

I tried out my polarized lenses on Saturday: friggin' sweet! No more blinding glare when transitioning from shade to sun or vice versa. Even with the sun in my face late in the day, I could still clearly see trail details. Great stuff for courses with lots of tree cover like Xterra REAL or Tahoe. No more slowing down 'cause I can't see.

Holly's patient's keep bringing food for the staff. She brings the extras home for me so I can taste the goodness. I think she's trying to slow me down so she can catch me...
She swam he first official swim workout Monday and she's still 3 seconds faster per 100 than I am. Damn swimmers...
Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats on a layer of chocolate. So good with a glass of milk!
I'm sure I burned it off during my trainer session this morning. At least I hope I did.

If only I had a Power Tap...
Some much needed recovery and testing this week.

Monday, January 5, 2009

31 Degrees...

...on the pool deck this morning. The coach put ice in with the kick boards and pull buoys just to be funny. I giggled.

So yeah, after hating on Master's for a few years for various reasons (some lame, some not so lame) I bit the bullet and rolled my happy ass out of bed and into the pool for 6 AM Master's today for the first time in THREE YEARS.

Here's why:
-my schedule is such that I have no other time to swim and there is no 6 AM lap swim--bastards. -my personal best swim (25:53) came in 2005 after swimming Master's 3 days a week.

If you watch a triathlon, there is typically a small front swim pack followed by the main field with some stragglers in between. Furthermore, Xterra allows drafting (could you imagine if they didn't?) and I'm confident I can ride with the pointy end of my age group if I could get out of the water fast enough and get on someone's wheel.

I'm not swimming fast enough to make that happen.

So...paradigm shift! Get out of the water in a good enough spot that I can capitalize on my strong riding. Dropping 2-4 minutes off my 1500 meter swim time means I'm with the front pack A) not breaking water by myself ( I get left in "no man's land" a lot) B) I've got fast wheels to latch onto during the ride. The time I drop in the water translates to more time gained on the bike since I've got clear trails and fast wheels to follow.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still working my ass off on the running track and in the hills...the swimming is just going really well right now.

So I had a good time at Master's swim, so what?


Jim's probably screaming at his computer by now: "I TOLD YOU SO!" ; )

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year 2009

I rang the new year in right with a White Russian; making good use of Holly's White Elephant gift. Thanks, babe!

We're such wimps, we watched the East Coast feed of the ball dropping in Times Square and passed out by 10 PM. Party animals.
A few weeks ago, I got the idea for a New Year's epic ride. I'm sure lots of people do something similar, but I got the idea from the Inland Inferno Triathlon Club, who do a huge "Resolution Ride" every year near Mt Baldy. The original route was supposed to be The Gabrielino Trial that I solo back packed in 2005, but the recent storms made trail conditions unpredictable. The second option I came up with was the San Juan Super Loop created by Doug Andrews, but reports of trail conditions on Holy Jim canceled that one as well. Late Wednesday night, a core group of Ryan, Eric H, Steph, Dan and myself agreed on San Juan at 9AM. Justin and Allison arriving at the trail head pleasantly surprised me...and then there were 7.
Ryan, Steph and Allison at the start, Justin in the background. A little chilly in the canyon as always. San Juan never disappoints for technicality or awesome views. Ryan climbing up to the "strip show" where most of us peeled off a layer or more.
Steph...apologies for the digital zoom. Meh.

Dan. Gettin' it done all day. Nice.

Allison rode strong all day as well despite admitting to "not feeling so hot" the night before.This looked better with the naked eye. *shrug*Justin managed to twist a link in his chain (something I'd never seen in 7 years of racing) and while we stopped to fix it, Luke rides up. He said he'd decided to ride at the last minute once he woke up. Once he got out front, we never saw him again though it's an out and back trail. Huh? Some miscommunication near the top and I wound up riding solo to Blue Jay.

Serious storm damage up there; downed trees all over the place requiring several hike-a-bikes to traverse the blockages. Blue Jay was also closed due to "Hazardous conditions"; I.E. more downed trees. I looked for Luke (no luck) and waited for Ryan to show up (also no luck) and figured Luke snuck by me somehow and Ryan must have made a wrong turn and headed back down. I began my descent, plagued by drive train issues the rest of the day (the new one is at the shop when I go back to work on Monday. Woot!).

We regrouped at Cocktail Rock (still no Luke, but Ryan made it back OK) and headed back down the trail. Another great ride on SJT despite the miscues. We said our "goodbyes" to Eric H. (moving East for work) and went our separate ways.

The calf and hip both continue to improve, though the lack of intensity and MTB riding in my training showed clearly today as technical spots got the best of me and my heart rate soared. More MTB riding in the next mesocycle for sure.

Happy New Year! Make it a great one!