Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Give me a blankie !

...now I feel like Linus in Charlie Brown's Christmas, give me a blankie !!!

In a very "Have a painful Christmas Day" the sadists, sorry I mean leadership at Crossfit have designated tomorrow as "Angie"

100 pull-ups
100 push-ups
100 sit-ups
100 squats.

Anyone else noticed yet that Angie, Eva, Cindy were all major hurricanes, it should come as no surprise searching through the archives that there is a "Fran" and "Isabel" too.

On the road, I'm on the road again.....

A quick one as I wait for a confirmation email from Dell before I can hit the road. After the recent monster workouts, Eva apparently being one of the most brutal in the archive according to the Crossfit comments today seemed a little anti-climatic.

5-5-5-5-5 on Squats.

So did a hardish warm up of stretches, crunches (going easier than yesterday) pushups, pull-ups and dips it was onto the squat cage.

Start relatively easy with sets of 12-10-8 increasing weight, then rack the plates on until I'm at near my max for 5-6 reps.

Five sets with 2 mins rest between.

Done. But with a sense as I drove home of "Was that it ?", and feeling like I should go jump a tall building or run a half marathon.

But now its CHRISTMAS, and I'm off to go see the munchkin. Please spare a thought and a prayer for those less fortunate in this Holiday Season.

Y'all be good :-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I did Cindy....

...15 times in 20 minutes. And she kicked my arse !.

OK, so Cindy is a WOD (Workout of the day), which consists of:
5 pull ups
10 push-ups
15 squats

Repeat the circuit as many times as possible in 20 minutes. So 15 gives, :

75 pull ups
150 push ups
225 squats

In 20 minutes. By the end I was a heap of hurt lying in a pool of my own sweat. Admittedly I managed the first three sets as full pull-ups, then the next sets went to the assisted pull-up machine, first 2 sets each of 20lb, 30lb, 40lb, 50lb, and the rest at 60. THe last 3 sets of push-ups were from my knees rather than toes, my shoulders were simply giving out.

Yesterday was a very welcome rest day, I learned from last weeks over enthusiasm and did nothing :-)

Today was "Eva" - after reading it last night I was quaking, but anticipating and committing to it.

Repeat 5 times timed.
800 yd run
30 kettle bell swings
30 pull-ups

Total
2.5 miles run
150 kettle bell swings
150 pull-ups

Dammit, what is it with the **&&**!! pull-ups !.

First set 20 pull-ups, then 10 on the assist.

Total time 50 minutes. Slow, but again I completed the workout and I'm just starting out with this, things will improve. As one of the trainers pointed out today, that I'm doing something few people could manage even dropping the weights down, so that's comforting.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

One foot in front of the other. Repeat.

Today found me back on familiar territory of running, which after yesterdays “Filthy” was most welcome – 4 x 800m with rest between until heart rate comes down to normal. Cool - long intervals :-)

The path by my lake (in picture) has a trail that I've measured before. From the fork in the path to the first bench is approx 200 yards apart. Yeah it was cold, but nothing a good warm up can't take care of.

I'm still a little leary of my calf muscle having torn it in September and still bitterly remember the ridiculous amount of time it took to heal and the number of times I thought it was healed and then pushed too hard to set it back.

The first interval I hit out, going hard but not all out

4:45 – hmm, that's a bit slow, that's a 9:30 mile, it sure felt faster. 3 minutes to rest and off I set again

4:50 – at least I'm consistent. Another 3 minutes rest, and my calf is feeling tight

4:51 – damn, this was getting ugly really fast, I could barely feel my legs after yesterday and had difficulty in turning over

5:10 for the last set, yeah, the rails came off, physically I wasn't hurting, I was breathing hard and the last 400 going absolutely all out, but there really was nothing left in the tank.

A good cool down run and head home for warmth and food, and to sodding well measure that course more accurately. Onto MapmyRun and switch to satellite so I can see the two ends and measure it – 260 meters, making each '800' yds actually 1100. Which equates to a 7:30 average pace, much more respectable, and I'm happy with that knowing how fried not only my legs, but my entire body, especially my glutes and obliques, where the initial movements for running fire from. I'll be interested to do this as a test in 3 months to see how much stronger I am, but also by which time I will be three months back into regular running after my layoff.

The soundtrack today was just a thing of pefection :-

INXS – Kick

The Jam – Going Underground

The Tossers – Come Dancing - vids not on youtube, but imagine a drunken lurching acoustic Irish folk/punk song..difficult to run to actually.

Big Town Playboys – Shake your hips - no youtube, shame.

Kid Rock – American Badass

John Lee Hooker – Big legs, tight skirt

Aerosmith – Pink (got clicked forward halfway through just wasn't working for this workout)

Joe Satriani – Flying in a Blue Dream

Flogging Molly - Drunken Lullabies

Stevie Ray Vaughn – Superstitious

INXS – Devil Inside

Black Sabbath – Die Young - Oh yeah, it just drives along, perfect as I was making the final push on this one

As a side note I forgot to write what amused me on Tuesdays muscle buster. At the start of my first set Guns N Roses “You're Crazy” (aka You're ****ing crazy) came on...how appropriate.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Filthy, filthy, filthy...

Very filthy, very, very, very filthy. Before this week I thought I was fit, and compared to most I guess I was (am?), I was wrong. Very wrong. I can see how far I can go, and how much further I can put myself, this is going to be a great journey.

Being the cretin that I am yesterday was a day off, as Crossfit is 3 days on, 1 day off, so muggins here shot out at lunch for a 45 min ride. Even though its my ‘easy’ route it still involves quite a few hills, one or two of which can be challenging. It took me nearly the whole ride wondering why the steeper or longer hills seemed so hard, my breathing was OK, and my quads weren’t sore or burning up but I just seemed to have no power at all….doh – the 75 hip extensions yesterday, plus all the Gordo core workout – when you ride, the beginning of the power for your stroke comes from your hip abductors/glutes – precisely what I beat the crap out of the day before.

But hey, I HTFU’d and enjoyed it anyway. Fast forward to last night and today’s WOD (Workout of the Day) was posted..at first it was disbelief followed by “This is going to be ugly” followed by cool, this will be so hard that it will make me strong !

A lot of that positive attitude was reading the Men's Health interview with Lance Armstrong about his come back and another small insight into what makes him tick. Unfortunately the article is not online yet, but a very edited version is on NY Times, looking at the shape he is in I would not want to bet against him next July. The other was Jason Statham's original article, how many times have we gone to the gym and not put in 100% thinking something is better than nothing, then have the same thing happen the next time, this article changes your thinking. Since I first read it I've committed to each and every workout even if I'm having a bad day, no skipping that last rep, no cutting sets short, and no half arsed efforts.

Similar warm up to Tuesday – 5 mins rowing, then 3 sets of 10 reps of overhead squat, incline twisting sit-up, push up, side planks, dip, plank+10crunches

Then THIS is the ‘Filthy Fifty’ as I did it

50 24“ Box jumps

50Jumping pull-ups (stand on boxes so bar is easily reached then jump and finish a pull up)

50 Kettlebell swings – my gym doesn’t have 36lb, only 20. This was the only one I could do straight

50 knee to elbows (hang from bar, curl lower body until knee to elbow)

50 45lb push to press (stand bar at shoulder, ¼ squat and drive bar overhead, lock elbows)

50 Back extension

50 Wall ball shots (20lb medicine ball, squat and then drive upwards throwing ball up wall, catch repeat)

50 walking lunges

50 Burpees

400 yard run

Row to cool down

Not counting the cardio or planks, that’s 530 reps in 43 minutes. Most things if I had to stop I could get motivated and get back on quickly in 5-15 seconds, in nearly every case I hit at least 30 reps before the first stop. But the burpees…which use almost every muscle in the body was 5 sets of ten, with a minute, maybe 2 minutes between the last couple, I didn’t realize how much they use the abs/core. One of the older citizens of the gym came over at one point as he thought I needed help getting up..I just looked at him because I wasn’t sure that I didn’t need help.

At the end I needed to sit down and quickly, Mr Pukey wasn’t quite visiting, but he was walking up the path if I didn’t stop moving, by halfway through the workout I could hear the blood in my ears, and flowing through my veins, a hammering in my head. It took a few to get my life back together again, and I could feel the workout in EVERY muscle in my body, but its workouts like this that push you beyond the edge that really provide the gains.

I want my Jason Statham six pack !


And I'm going to get it. And quickly ! :-)


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's going to be a slow death....

Eagerly this morning (I know, I know, I’m sick) I logged into Crossfit to see today’s workout – the score on the door was as I planned the workout

Repeat as a circuit for 20 minutes, no rest:

400m run
15 L-pull-ups (a pull up but with your legs out in front of you parallel to the floor)
15 hip extensions

I'm going to have to change this a little, I think I can manage one set of pull-ups to 15 with good form, but have never tried L-pull-ups, so I"m going to attack it as hard as I can with normal pull-ups until my arms give out then move to an assisted pull-up. But the paperwork did say that the first month or so you will have to modify weights and/or reps, the important thing being to complete the workout having worked hard.

That's the pre-workout view, I'm stoked.

-------------------------

OK, so views afterward, this is the warm up :-

Row 5 mins
Warm-up (10-15 reps each except for the stretch) repeat x3
Samson Stretch
Overhead squat
Push-ups
Sit-up
Dip

Then managed 5 complete circuits in 23:10. To give an idea of how bad the fall off was I completed the fourth set at 18:05 (including say 30 seconds doing hanging knee to chest while waiting for the hip/back extension machine). But figured as I had started the fifth set then I was damn well going to complete the circuit. By this point the legs were very wobbly, I was drenched in sweat, breathing hard and stood in front of the pull up bars for a good 10-15 seconds until I had got my life together enough to get on them. The first two sets went well, clipping along at a good pace and hustling between the treadmill, bars and extension, by the third the spirit was there, but the body was beginning to give out, the fourth was ugly and the fifth was mental drive alone.

Afterward, completely shattered, sat up against a wall for a good five minutes before getting on the rowing machine to cool down.

So total workout:

30 incline sit-ups
30 push-ups
30 dips
30 overhead squats
1.25 mile run @ 7 minute/mile pace
75 pull-ups
75 back/hip extensions

On paper it just doesn't seem too different to what I did on Monday:

Clean and press
Weighted hanging knee to chest
Weighted 24" step ups
Wide grip pull-ups
Raised pushups (standard push up but with tips of toes on a swiss ball)
Dips

All 10 reps, 3 circuits with 2 minutes rest.

The key to why Crossfit today was much harder is that rest , ie. there wasn't any, so the tiredness between circuits just multiplied exponentially, unbelievably even. Also the total number of reps is much higher at 270 vs 180.

Brutal, destroy your world brutal. Can't wait for the next one. Unfortunately it is a 3 days on, 1 day off schedule and I joined up the day before a rest day. But, the weather is warming up for tomorrow so I see a play on my MTB before work tomorrow :-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Death becomes me :-)

“God will only give you as much pain as you can physically handle. The problem is that he thinks you can handle a heck of a lot of pain, usually followed by death”.

In life sometimes we look for new challenges. With the changes and studying on the professional side of my life, I have also felt the need to switch up and find a workout plan that will push me to my limits. I have worked out hard, consistently on an almost daily basis for nearly 18 months now so have built a good base of fitness both in strength and cardio, but on the strength side have become a little jaded to the same exercises week in/week out, most of which are conventional weight lifting standards (not that there is anything wrong with that). As such I have been looking for something that will really push me every workout.

Reading a couple of articles from Jason Statham in Men's Health started to change my thinking about how I wanted to approach this side of my fitness, the first in terms of attitude, and then the second which was an in depth look at one week of his training. This was fine, but finding how to keep that progress evolving without hiring his trainer was going to be tough, and as they stated this workout was designed specifically for him. In the meantime MH also published Daniel Craig's workout from Quantum of Solace, designed to make him leaner for this movie than his first. After a few weeks of that, yes its a killer, each day there will body parts that closely resemble rubber man. My first day of doing the legs day I made the mistake of running to the gym, running back home was 'interesting' to say the least.

Purely by chance at the same time a friend sent a link about Crossfit, at the same time I saw a couple of people doing these strange circuits, never doing the same workout twice, it took a few days to realize I was looking at Crossfit.

I've read up on it quite a bit, comparing it with P90X which a number of triathletes are swearing by. For the last week I have been looking at the daily workouts and thinking “Ouch” but thinking more and more I WANT TO DO THIS !!!. It's exactly what I'm looking for, hard, extreme sets designed to push you through barriers.

So trigger pulled, signed up for an account and let's get this going !!


* Yeah, so I mentioned Daniel Craig and Quantum of Solace, so I just had to insert a gratuitous picture of an Aston Martin ;-)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Cold enough to freeze the balls on a brass monkey

A photography blog for today, how I spent yesterday afternoon at Lake Fairfax in Reston at the final race of the Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross series. Great racing but my gosh it was COLD !!.










Thursday, December 04, 2008

It ain't over until the fat lady has ******* you over ! :-)

What I listen to in the morning can easily shape my day, this morning once again was the Rocky Horror Show, Tim Curry is an absolute genius and as for Richard O"Brien (Riff Raff) for writing and envisioning the whole thing...

So my unconventional, conventionists...it always amuses me that the most frequent search term for finding this blog is "makka pakka knitting pattern", from an old post I made, now given my description of the character, why on earth is he the most popular, not iggle piggle or upsy daisy ?

Something a little different this morning, I've been using the "Genius" function on iTunes to build my playlists for working out recently and have to say I'm quite impressed. What it does is builds relationships between songs in yours and other people's libraries, allowing me to pick a song and it will then build me a playlist with however many songs I want in it, it doesn't necessarily stay in the same genre or style but will transition smoothly across them.

I tend to pick something upbeat for running for it to key off, and for weight lifting from the nose bleed end of my musical listening spectrum. This one was for lifting, keyed off Psychosocial by Slipknot, now its out of order as when I downloaded it to the shuffle I'd re-shuffled again, great for weightlifting, the constant change ups throughout the workout broke up the monotony of 4 sets of each eaxercise :-)

This was a fun exercise as I had never seen a great many of these videos...

Du Hast - Rammstein
Hand that Feeds - NIN - the one I have on the iPod is from the NIN remix site, so is just Reznor and a piano, somehow more powerful much like Johnny Cash's take on NIN's "Hurt"
Enjoy the Silence - Lacuna Coil - yes its a Depeche Mode cover
Man in the Box - Alice in Chains - on the live CD I have his guitar is sound of the apocaplypse, always surprises me how much Jerry Cantrell (guitarist) sang on AiC songs..
Rearranged - Limp Bizkit - yeah a strange one for those that know me, but have always has a soft spot for Mr Durst and the boys..
Lithium - Evanescence - their usual drab and dreary, low budget video ;-)
Not Big - Lily Allen - she's much maligned, but I always loved Squeeze and Beautiful South for their very British way of taking a happy sounding song and putting a nice sense of cynicism, irony and bitterness in the words, she's the same, sharp as a tack and quite a spitfire
Remember - Disturbed
Before I Forget - Slipknot - probably one of their more 'commercial' songs, and the only video without their stage masks, hey I did say this was a nosebleed selection.
Heaven's a Lie - Lacuna Coil
Mustang Sally - Buddy Guy - no blues player ever gets as wild as Buddy, or as soulful in the blink of an eye. Tours every spring, go see a 70+ old guy behaving like a 16 year old with ADD...

What is strange is that on the big iPod (iPersevere) I use in the car I predominantly listen to jazz...currently John Coltrane and Grant Green. Of the latter, very few videos exist of him, but here with another great influence of mine Kenny Burrel, both were that bluesy swing and Barney Kessel I remember seeing just before he died in a small pub in Nottingham. Looking at the guitars and era, each one of those guitars is probably worth the heavier side of $35k these days...

"I don't want no dissension, just dynamic tension - in just seven days I can make you a man"
- Dr Frankenfurter

Friday, November 28, 2008

shutdown -r

This has been so long since I have written, a period of change would be the best way to put things - its time to reboot.

I liked having this blog and writing on it, and I've missed the ability to go back and reflect on things I had written in the past. In many ways this blog is fairly selfish, as its my way of jotting down thoughts to please only myself, if other people took something from it then great. There are a few blogs I made a year or so again that I want to revisit as my life, and as a person I have changed and learned more over the last year. But to reflect, when I opened this blog back up I was at the start of a journey to change life and become healthy. Nearly a year on I have a attained a level of fitness that I don't think I have ever had, along with strength, for someone who was the skinny little runt at school only good for middle distance running still surprises me looking in the mirror.

Professionally it has been a year of at times confusing change, it seemed for much of the year I was trying to find a balance or a place in the organization(s). A more recent change into more of a project management role found a home where I could contribute to the company which was a nice feeling. More recently I came to understand that I had stagnated professionally, repeating the past and not seeming to be moving forward. Watching Randy Pauch's "Last Lecture" proved motivating, life changing and inspiring. I enjoy the project management as I have done many times in the past, but my last formal training was 12 years ago (in Hamburg and Paris - life is tough sometimes) Since then PMI has become the dominant methodology for IT and Software development. I want our next project to be the best we can possibly do, and the best that I can do in managing it. So its back to school for me, learning from home towards a PMP certification (Project Management Professional). Its not a task to undertake lightly requiring a great deal of commitment in time and learning, but it feels fantastic to be learning something new, that can contribute greatly to the company.

A year ago I thought I ate well, that my diet was good, now I know better. My meals and choice in what I eat has changed drastically, even when I'm not using the meal plans generated by Men's Health's Personal Trainer it has become second nature to buy and continue down that path. Though I do try and build in one 'cheat meal' every week or two weeks, which stops any minor temptations of feeling deprived - so I still like my Shepherd's Pie and occasional Delia excursions ;-)

One of the biggest changes fitness and health wise has been a sense of consistency, I'm paraphrasing Gordo Byrn who says "What you do in a workout is less important than consistency in working out", I've missed very few workouts.

Key to me has been doing weights, from the past weights were a way to supplement the cardio workouts. I believed, as most people do that you lose weight through cardio and build strength with weights. What I have come to understand is that weight sessions burn more calories, both during and for 24 hours after than almost any cardio workout. As such those sessions have become key and I look forward to those sessions. The strength has paid off, from my running, particularly the core workouts, and cycling - last year I could hang with people, this year holding pace on the flats has become easy, once the roads go upwards the increased power and lighter weight (175 versus 195+) allows me to pick people off at will, hey cycling is dog eat dog even on 'friendly' rides.

Taking Tuesday nights through the spring and the summer to leave work a little earlier and get out to ride with others for a change did wonders for my mental state, working from home can sometimes make you one dimensional with very little direct human contact, the rides were refreshing, on roads that I don't normally ride, good company, great weather and soup for the soul.

Moving house last year, at first, even though I still lived on a lake, the 2 mile loop wore fairly quickly, but the discovery of 15 miles of trails, with three trail heads within 2 miles of my front door opened up a whole new playground to run and mountain bike in. More challenging topographically and also technically they kept my motivation levels high throughout the year, getting out of the door regardless of the weather was always motivating.

The progress in running is a wonder, from the beginning of the year finally overcoming the limitations of my old injuries, and never quite being able to break the run/walk circle, through to now being able to click out 6-10 mile runs with ease, when and where I want.

A more recent addition to my training article has been Yoga, which I must confessed I always have sniffed at derisively. iTunes to the rescue with "Yogamazing" and Chas, funny little fellow, but have to love his 20 minute sessions, from relaxation to challenging, they've increased my flexibility but also my balance paying dividends in running and also my form when lifting (the podcasts are free on iTunes)

I've experimented with different weight training plans over the last year, each time gaining strength and each month developing further. I'm just approaching the end of 2 weeks of a 4 week commitment to what I'd describe as a celebrity workout, in this case from getting him in shape for Quantum of Solace. This is pretty ironic, as seeing him in Casino Royale was what inspired me to become committed to getting fit in the first place. This time around he's less bulky, but more ripped, a new target to aim for ! - now if only Aston Martin will let me play with a DBS for a few weeks, heck, I would even slum it in a Vantage ;-). The workout though, oh dear gosh its brutal and can be found , add in some ab/core work Mon/Wed/Fri and you have a week of brutal hell, the first week the body parts I was working on were numb by the end, not hurting, just couldn't feel them - awesome, "That which doesn't kill me only makes me stronger". Once a month I throw in the "300" workout as a test, the first time I did it I truly thought I was going to die...

So I'll sign off for now, and make the promise to myself to update this a little more regularly...picture is from yesterday's meetup.com Turkey Trot ride, only the three intrepid souls showed up, waking up to a thick frost made me think the ride would be character building, but by the end it was almost balmy, a great way to start off Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Steppin' Razor

In Daniel Coyle's book “Lance Armstrong's War” he has a description of how athlete's get to and maintain peak performance, he called it stepping out onto a razor's edge, that you will train as hard as your body will allow walking out onto a knife edge where even a tiny bit more will have you crashing off into a pit of oblivion.

I reached that point at the end of July, I knew I was training hard, but thought I was within my limits. Though my volume sounds high, there was planned recovery into it and I had spent many months building towards that, 3 weeks building in volume and then a very easy recovery week, not doing hard workouts back to back etc.

The mistake I made was that when you go through periods of high stress or anxiety you need to scale back training as it affects your ability to recover between workouts diminishes drastically, maintaining the same volume is almost like doubling the time or intensity that you have been training, a huge jump.

What did it feel like ? It was horrible, inability to sleep, getting out and not being able to come up to pace, not feeling strong running or cycling, but feeling weak. Eventually I just blew entirely, mentally I just didn't want to train, it became a chore that I just didn't want to do. It was cycling first, my favorite discipline, but the thought of getting dressed and having to ride 15 minutes just to get out of civilization, or spending 2 hours out just didn't appeal. Then came the injuries, little niggles, a soleus (calf) muscle that would pull every two to three runs forcing me to rest for a few days and be unable to run, pain after lifting weights in my shoulders even though I wasn't increasing the weights, my body was telling me to stop.

So much of August I just lifted weights, going out on the mountain bike occasionally and just doing short sessions rather than the monster ones I had been doing, just going as fast as I felt.

Finally this last week my mojo has returned, I'm looking forward to working out, instead of seeing my bike in the garage and not wanting to ride it, seeing it as an object, I now look at it differently, it calls to me, the lines looking fast at a standstill. Its also felt good to ride, almost as if I have to hold myself back, I want to ride faster, harder, to push myself to feel out the limits of both myself and the bike, feeling at one when riding not two separate entities any more but as one.

Even now in my mind I am thinking of early tomorrow morning, which route I am going to take, for how long, how the early morning air will feel, the road spinning past underneath me, in my mind feeling the turn at the top of the hill on Wildcat Road – after climbing steadily for a mile, it both makes a sharp turn and kicks up, forcing me to get out of the saddle and just muscle it round, the bike rocking, feeling each turn of my legs on the pedals jump the bike forward.

Yeah, I'm back.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rubber Ball

Reading the news over the last couple of days about Gary Glitter bouncing all over Asia like a rubber ball, I am not sure whether to be amused or disgusted.

But for those going "Who he?", he's a 1970's glam rocker, famous in the US for a song called "Rock and Roll Part 2", yup if you live in the US and have a pulse you have heard, quite probably heard it frequently..



In more recent years he has been convicted of child pornography (UK), then fled to Spain after serving all of 2 months, from there Cuba until they kicked him out, then it was Cambodia until finally setting up home in a kiddie fiddler village in Vietnam.

The British press being what they are chased him down in each place and publicized his presence, forcing the Vietnam Authorities to take action who then jailed him for 27 months.

Upon release the Vietnamese attempted to deport him back to the UK, but in Bangkok he refused to board the connecting flight, upon being denied entry to Thailand he instead flew to Hong Kong, and now they've denied him entry either. The reason he doesn't want to go back to the UK is that he will be placed on the sex offenders register, and the Home Office has publicly stated they will deny him future travel out of the UK.

I'm good with all that, but perhaps lets just send him to a country ending in "stan", they have ways of dealing with the likes of him that are quite efficient.

Now, seeing that video, or reading anything about this piece of filth, how about getting the playing of his song at EVERY US sporting event stopped - think about it, if they play it down at the stadium, or on a televised game, he gets royalties..so teams of any type contribute to his ability to travel. Contact your sports team, commentary team, club, school, wherever and make the request...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ten Jew Berry Mud !

So I have some grunt work I'm working on outsourcing at the moment. Copy content from 6,000 landing pages to a new container, horribly laborious, repetitive stuff that I just couldn't find a home for.

So I've put it on an outsourcing site we sometimes use. Naturally, and I don't know why I'm surprised, within two hours I'm facing a feeding frenzy from the Indian sub continent.

So at the moment my life resembles this old Internet classic between a hotel front desk and a guest..

Hotel: Morny, ruin sorbees.
Guest: Sorry, I thought I dialed room-service.
Hotel: Rye! Ruin sorbees ... morny! Jewish to odor sunteen??
Guest: Uh ... yes ... I'd like some bacon and eggs.
Hotel: Ow July den?
Guest: What??
Hotel: Ow July den ... pry, boy, pooch?
Guest: Oh, the eggs! How do I like them? Sorry, scrambled please.
Hotel: Ow July dee baychem ... crease?
Guest: Crisp will be fine.
Hotel: Hokay. An San tos?
Guest: What?
Hotel: San tos. July San tos?
Guest: I don't think so.
Hotel: No? Judo one toes?
Guest: I feel really bad about this, but I don't know what 'judo
onetoes' means.
Hotel: Toes! Toes! ... Why djew Don Juan toes? Ow bow singlishmopping
we bother?
Guest: English muffin!! I've got it! You were saying 'Toast.'
Fine.Yes, an English muffin will be fine.
Hotel: We bother?
Guest: No, just put the bother on the side.
Hotel: Wad?
Guest: I mean butter ... just put it on the side.
Hotel: Copy?
Guest: Sorry?
Hotel: Copy ... tea ... mill?
Guest: Yes. Coffee please, and that's all.
Hotel: One Minnie. *** strangle ache, creasebaychem, tossy singlish
mopping we bother honey sigh, and copy... rye?
Guest: Whatever you say.
Hotel: Ten jew berry mud.
Guest: You're welcome.

Friday, August 08, 2008

“everything louder than everything else”

As Mike (Bubbleman) thoughtfully points out, this blog has been woefully neglected of late. Yes, the shoes are long past being mourned, a combination of new work responsibilities and some tough decisions leading to me pulling out of doing Savageman have conspired to leave a very uncreative or talkative frame of mind.

However, a couple of weeks ago I happened to visit DC 101’s website and simply because it was there entered one of their competitions. To be honest I’d forgotten about it, but on Tuesday my phone rang, and I’d won two tickets for the show. Game on !.

I guess I have spoiled myself in that I have been fortunate to see an awful lot of bands, so if I hadn’t won the tickets I probably wouldn’t have been too interested in this show, which given how great it was would have been a shame.

Judas Priest headlining, with Heaven and Hell, Motorhead and Testament. I had to go and look up Heaven and Hell, ahh, it’s the Ronnie James Dio era Black Sabbath, cool.

We missed Testament, sometimes it is inconvenient having a day job. But on arriving Motorhead had just started their set, audible rather clearly out in the parking lot. After going in and walking up the bank that shields the neighbours from some of the volume, cresting the hill gave the impact of just how loud they were. My tickets were way down near the front, a quick mental jog calculating just how loud they were going to be when we got to the seats, ooooh.

I was right, they were incredibly loud, Lemmy from Motorhead once said that if they moved in next to you, your lawn would die. I think there’s going to be a lot of dead grass around Nissan Pavilion this morning. I’ve always had a soft spot for Lemmy and the boys, fashion or changes in music never really interested him, he just carries on making Motorhead albums, one after another in his own inimitable and uncompromising style. On being asked how he felt as somehow over the years being accepted into a member of the rock establishment he replied “Yes it is IS amusing - and kind of disgusting! The only reason I was "accepted" is that I wouldn't die!”

A great set though, all the expected old chestnuts, and Mickey Dee and Phil Campbell on top form. (and definitely significantly louder than both other bands, who weren’t exactly slouches in the volume department).

Heaven and Hell I had mixed feelings about, though I liked the music way back in the day and still have Neon Nights/Die Young on my workout iPod mix, I’ve just come to think of Dio as being a little bit of a joke, an individual who takes himself and his position in rock history a little too seriously.

Their stage set when revealed looked a little hokey, but what the hell it was daylight, once it darkened up and the lights became effective it should look pretty cool. But they were great, starting with Mob Rules this was a band who had come to play hard, not just show up and roll through some old hits. I also take back what I said about Dio, he truly does have one of the most incredible and powerful voices in rock music. What’s not to like about a pair of 12’ gargoyles that shoot smoke and fire ?

Judas Priest, what on earth can you say about them, an immense back catalog, uncompromising, they know what they do and they do it very, very well. Just how many leather coats can Rob Halford change into, and does his voice never stop ?

A brutal set, great lighting, great stage show and another band that didn’t just phone it in.

Of course by this point in the evening, the antics of some of those who came to party hard and overdid it a little had become quite amusing as well, the trio that kept invading the front area, headbanging their little cotton socks off. Then getting tossed back whence they came by security, finally came unglued, passing out and security tossing them for good after one of their number truly tossed his cookies in a quite impressive style during a bout of over enthusiastic headbanging.

It also seems, if you’ve seen “The Decline of Western Civilization” or “Heavy Metal Parking Lot”, the uniform for metal heads has changed from the long hair and rampant mullets, its seems all self respecting metalheads have a shaved bonce and goatee these days.

But I still liked Motorhead, I should be able to hear again by the end of the weekend ! ;-)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Goodbye old friends...

On Saturday I bade farewell to a couple of friends that have seen me through some hard times and an incredible period of growth. I knew the end had been coming about a month ago and had planned for this day.

When the day dawned I looked at them and knew it would be the day, but really hadn't given much thought, they were after all just running shoes, yet another pair of dozens that I have worn out over the year, at the end of the run they would be consigned to the trash.

As I ran my planned 10 miles, as usual my long runs covering the trails near my house I began to think about it. The pair before this took me from being more out of shape that I really thought I was up to 'fit'. I had reached my target goal weight back in March at about the time I got this pair, this pair have taken me from 'fit' to what ?...until I realized I've come to think of myself now as an athlete rather than someone who works out, a slow and insidious process. Though I have made bounds in the weight room and on the bike, it is running that has given me the most pride.

I've not sweated it, the frustrations of last year simply were shed, just focusing in the first three months of this year on simple 40-60 minute runs, forgetting about the pace and just building a base with an interval session per week.

The last three months though have seen my long runs stretch from 5-6 miles to 13-15, with a 10 mile now feeling fairly easy, my tempo runs have slowly increased in speed, and intervals, I have moved beyond my self imposed mental limits and am able to push myself further and faster than before.

As I ran, I thought about this progress, along the narrow trails, meadows, then single track between trees, and fern lined valleys, the almost arid hill top with the wild flowers and the wide stream crossing. I first ran these trails in this pair of shoes, wondering at the time if I would ever break that barrier and be able to go longer. These shoes have been out in the heat, the rain and were invariably covered in mud, living on their newspaper just inside the front door, not fit to come any further into the house.

I thought of the breakthrough runs, the first time I had broken 10 miles in more years than I can remember, that run going for 12 miles in the drizzling rain. I thought of the shorter run after one of our many storms this spring, with the enormous tree which had been brought down, the trunk taller than me as I clambered over it. The runs in the heat where walking through the water to cross the stream the cool chill being welcome.

On this day I didn't avoid the mud bogs or puddles, but simply went through them, a tribute to these friends at my feet, enjoying the feeling of being in the woods, long ago shutting off my iPod to listen to the birds and rustle of leaves and undergrowth, punctuated by the regular rhythm of my footfalls.

About half a mile from the finish, instead of crossing the wooden bridge I stepped into the small stream, letting the water wash away the mud from the shoes in a subconscious burial practice, a ritual cleansing before death.

When I got home I looked at them in my trunk and couldn't bear to throw them out just yet, so for now they are carefully tucked away in the back of my closet, thinking that taking them to Deep Creek in September would be a much more fitting tribute, to a race that would not have been possible without the training that I did the last 4 months.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Le Tour Baby !

Finally my thumb is healing, a torn ulnar ligament, just very special. SO its been a case of train hard in any way I could and just not stress about what I couldn't do – though I am absolutely sure that a week of doing no upper body weights has atrophied every muscle that I've spent the last 6 months wresting from my body.

But its all been good, some good runs, the monster leg only workouts will pay dividends down the line, and the spin classes were actually good fun, though some of the music I could spend the rest of my life not hearing again.

Yesterday was the first day I was able to ride my bike outside, setting the trainer up in the garage/driveway was getting old very quickly. So 3 ½ hours outside on a mainly flat course with a few good climbs halfway round off River Road, I'd missed that feel, the responsiveness of my bike to small inputs from shifts of weight, the acceleration if I put pressure into the pedals, the hum of the tires on the road, all of it. I'm also surprised at my fitness, I had expected to lose a little, particularly closer to the end of the ride, but I was going faster, floating up the hills almost without effort. The last 5-6 rollers I started to attack, flying up them before the lactic acid could make my legs burst – Thursday's horribly hilly ride that I lead could be fun !

It has given me cause for thought though of the progress and the journey since the beginning of the year. From working on simple consistency, to work out 6 days per week but 30-45 minutes each, to today's twice per day sessions. Each step of the way, each plateau and each frustration has taught me more about myself. Equally every breakthrough workout where I have gone further, faster or lifted more than before being its own small triumph.

The process itself has also taught me the value of the mental side of training and how it has its parallels in life, the times when I have had bad workouts have tended not to be about my body failing or not being able to manage, but were simply that my mind gave out before my body and I defeated myself. The quotation about “If you think you cannot do something, then you are probably right” has never been truer. While obviously if you try to double your weights or run twice as far as you have ever done then thats asking for trouble, but those incremental gains each build strength, fitness and a sense of achievement, each step forward is a step that you don't take backwards.

I've also discovered that my limits are mostly preconceived, that we have a tendency to do just enough to get better, but the best workouts are where I have pushed myself absolutely to my limits, and discovered that those limits are beyond what I thought I could achieve; the sprint intervals where I have done more repeats and then pushed the last couple so hard that I end up on my knees, my lungs almost turned inside out, or the hill climbs where I attack the hill so hard I sure think my legs are about to explode and tear off, but that I can hold that effort..then the feeling of the lactic acid flushing out of my muscles as I spin the pedals over, each ride better and stronger than the last.

In life itself we set ourselves limits, a comfort zone of what we are comfortable with, what if we pushed at those limits and find out if they really are limits, or just some pre-conceived notion ?

Finally its Le Tour !!!. Three weeks of wall to wall cycling, a beautiful race, brutal full of heroic unbelievable feats by 180 of the fittest human beings on the planet. A shame that Astana were excluded, but a race that is wide open with maybe 8 or 9 riders potentially with the goods to win La Grand Boucle. Its also nice to see two new American teams represent, Garmin-Chipotle and Team Columbia. With some of the new rules this year it should be a closer, tighter affair with more of an emphasis on attacking riding with no time bonuses for wins, and a time trail and mountain stage both in the opening week just to shake things up. As I watch the last 20 miles of stage 1 the peloton is getting a little stressed and strung out, somewhat nervous as riders are beginning to hit the floor while they chase down 8 riders who got away earlier today.

The modern internet age makes it amazing in the data available to a fan, over on Bicycling David Millar writes a great column, as does Will Frischkorn, fascinating to get into the minds of the folks actually competing, the hopes, desires, failures, pain and broken dreams available in their own words.

OK, stage done, time to go for a run in the rain :-)

Friday, June 20, 2008

A loss ? Or an opportunity ?

It’s always hard to restart a blog after a break, trying to find something of interest to myself, let alone anyone else. There has been a lot that has happened the last few weeks that I’ll come back around to, but I was reminded today to focus on what I can do, rather than what I can’t.

In retrospect last Friday (I think) I must have compressed a nerve in my wrist while lifting, I seem to recall a little pain at the base of my thumb whenever I moved it. Then I changed my handlebar position a little, and lifted the brake hoods up a bit, total change probably ¼-3/8 ” difference at most. However, just riding it up and down the street a couple of times was perhaps not the best test when I went out and rode for 4 ½ hours the next day.

By Saturday evening I had a severe pain at the base of my thumb and whenever I moved it, I figured it was just something I had pulled and it would go away, so I promptly compound and ignore the problem all week by swimming, lifting and continuing to ride, until yesterday when I finally noticed it was getting worse and had spread to my wrist, and across the base of my palm to the other side as if it were carpal tunnel.

So now I need to wear a brace for a week or two and to rest it as much as possible, My initial thoughts this morning were “Waaahhh !!!” and a pity party, invite one.

But as I have thought about it, it just means I change my focus next week, I can still ride the bike on the trainer, so that’s covered. I can still run, so I can do a heavy running week, which I have new shoes for – it is rather cool to realize I’m on my third pair of running shoes for the year, having completely worn out the first two pairs.

I can still do all the core exercises and workouts, and have more time to do them, and I can do some intense lower body weight workouts too instead of just squats/leg presses.

So ‘losing’ one thing means that I have the opportunity to gain in several other areas. I've watched a few people on a triathlon mailing list I used to subscribe to actively find reasons, or excuses not to train, which given the choice of sport just seems bizarre to me. While I look forward to racing in September immensely, it is and has been the journey and the training that gives me everything I could possibly want or need from the sport, the race itself is just the icing on the cake. As always the metaphor of life being a journey not a destination rings true again.

Now once more I am stoked for the coming weeks training. One door truly does open when another one shuts.

Plus this weekend is a trip to a nice sandy beach tomorrow, so I will finally be able to try some barefoot running.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

This is highly illogical Captain

OK, so life has caught up with me the last couple of months, between work, training, eating, sleeping and pooping (tm – HTFU) there really hasn’t been much time. Though there are a few things from the last month that I want to write about. But in the meantime, a couple of examples of my lack of logical thought process and general stupidity.

I had pack my things to head to the gym, not to lift weights, but to go swimming. I’m dressed in a t-shirt and the shorts that I will go swimming in, so why am I soooo piddled off that it is lightly raining ?. The whole 10 yards to my car, I’m unhappy and annoyed that it is raining, it took me most of the drive to get that realization…ermmm…I’m about to get straight into a pool, in these clothes. Dumb ass.

The other is more on brain not being engaged. After breakfast, I put the empty raspberry container, yogurt and banana skin in the dishwasher, and the dishes in the fridge. It took me until this afternoon to figure it out, despite being in the fridge this morning for my smoothie ingredients, and then again for lunch – the dishes never even beginning to register in my mind.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Driving up standards

Its been a while, a lot of work, training, camping and all round frivolity. Which means, I haven't given the blog more than two shakes of a lambs tail in thought.

But THIS, this is a pure image of beauty, a perfect example of the complete and utter waste that the UK Labour Government under Blair and then Brown place on style over substance. This pair really have never stood for anything other than spin as they have lumbered from one disaster to another, all the while believing that they have managed to pull the wool over everyone's eyes.

At top left is the new logo for the "Office of Government Commerce" - quite what was wrong the The Treasury as a name is beyond me, but the buffoons have never been too spectacular at making decisions that have any foundation of sense about them. As logos go its not bad, san serif font, clean understated design which should appeal to all. IT is supposed to symbolize “improving value for money by driving up standards and capability in procurement”. Naturally lots of mouse mats, pens etc etc were produced bearing the new logo.

OK, now rotate it 90 degrees to the right, as in the picture here. I'm not sure how a snowman having a wank symbolizes an improvement in Government value for money and driving up standards. Though wait, with this Government it probably is an increase in quality compared to how they usually spend their work day. Jerk away boys.

It cost $30,000 to design.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Gotta keep moving forward

Work has had a best abs contest for the last three months, which was originally set up as certain people were crying as they felt excluded from the “Biggest Loser” contest (funnily enough none of them submitted abs photos either).

It originally gave me the motivation to up the abs and core parts of my workout, which I have stuck to religiously, in fact expanding it as the benefits became clear. I also focused on the abs workouts almost as a training session in their own right, concentrated on each crunch, or swiss ball exercise on every rep. What I have found is that by targeting both abs and core (planks, hyperextensions, bird dogs) it has paid incredible dividends in my running and cycling, the strength training and not slacking off on leg exercises also come into play, but I can feel the muscles in my lower back and abs kick in as I run and ride. I have more power and endurance across the board, with gains exceeding what I would have had if I only trained in the sports themselves.

Initially I was a little disappointed in the photos, and not having a fully visible six pack, which had been my mental target at the beginning of January, until I went back and looked at my training diary, when the first picture was taken I weighed 183, on January 25th. The second was taken this morning at 175 pounds. So in two months as I look at the pictures I have lost pounds and become much more defined.

I’m lifting 30% more weight across the board in that time frame, and am now able to keep up with weight increases through consistency and mental focus while working out.

For the first time in my entire life I can look at a picture and be comfortable with what I see, I have always been either way too skinny, or too heavy in my eyes with my weight varying over the last 7 years from 140-210 (the latter in January 2007).

Exercise, workouts and what I eat have changed over the last year from a chore that I ‘have’ to do, on some days more a chore than others, to now have become an integral part of my lifestyle. If I don’t work out I am like a rabid rat terrier on crack.

If I can change my body this month in two months...roll on the next two months (though the two Birthday cakes that have sat in my freezer for the last month now have a very short life expectancy !!).

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ol' Winny was right

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

Though I have still been training diligently, I’ve stepped back a lot of the longer stuff once I realized at the beginning of the month that Great Floridian just wasn’t on the cards this year financially, and that I need to dedicate those resources elsewhere. It was quite a blow mentally and emotionally, but I’ve come to realize after making the decision that it was the right one in terms of priorities.

Which brings in the quote above from Winston above. Someone always says to me that God will provide, which recently has been not something I really want to hear. But recent events show both that and the quotation to be true.

My company is a little nepotistic, in that my CEO’s youngest daughter is in High School, and was organizing an auction for her Synagogue, she asked one of her other sister’s who happens to be one of my colleagues if she knew of anyone who could donate things to be auctioned, so I ended up being asked if I would donate one of my photographs. I selected a frame and a few different pictures for her to choose from and took them to lunch with my CEO so he could pass them on. He was impressed by the pictures, as it was one of those hidden skills that even though you might work with someone there are often talents or skills you never learn about the other person.

Fast forward a month, and our company wants to stop using a stock photo agency, as after using it for 7 years our clients have seen almost every picture available and have been asking for something new. So my CEO asked if I would be interested in shooting for them, after doing some research on pricing and launching a bid through elance we agreed a price per image, and he supplied me with 50 categories. I spent the last week putting things together (this is for a Business eNewsletter so its things like calculators, clocks, light bulbs, tax forms, pens etc) and Sunday shooting a few of the images.

I supplied proofs through Picasa, and the response from those involved in the project has been incredibly enthusiastic, with them choosing 20-30 pictures. Further conversations have revealed that this is not just a one off project, but will be something ongoing almost indefinitely as new images will always be required. Which will make quite a lot of extra money each month.

M was right, keep on giving to life and God will provide.

But to training, Mike (bubbleman) wrote on his blog of his overtraining hole, which I had diagnosed upon him telling me how he had spent the previous week. Whilst I am not overtrained per se, I think I have killed my legs. Today’s run they just weren’t turning over and I felt stiff each stride, taking 20 minutes to get moving, but they still felt dead, but only a few more days until submitting a photo for the company best abs contest.

It took me a little while though to figure out why they felt dead…duh. One and a half hour run Sunday, followed by weights with extra emphasis on thighs, single leg reverse squats, Bulgarian split squats and step ups. Then last night I did a trainer session on the bike, 5 mins warm up, 8 minutes single leg pedaling and then a main set each minute changing to a harder gear until I could not complete a full minute. Then spin easy for two minutes, before changing back to that harder gear and coming back down the gears each minute. The legs were a bit wobbly even after a 5 minute spin cool down. That’s a lot of leg work in 48 hours. So cut the run to 35 mins easy today, and won’t push as hard on leg exercises doing weights tonight.

Tomorrow I really want to get out and ride outside, maybe an hour and a half before work, just a ‘smell the roses’ ride, I feel the need, I can taste the morning air.

One very cool little episode while I was running was seeing a Heron right next to the bank, eying up the water. Then he submerged his head for a few seconds and lunged, coming up with a fish in his mouth. I was only maybe two yards away, sadly without a camera, but it wouldn’t have worked out as he was behind some tree branches. Nonchalantly he twisted the fish around, gulped it down and took off. Who needs the Discovery Channel when you have a backyard lake ?

* - Images are from the photo shoot.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Breakthrough

I haven't really been recording my run times/logging miles as sessions usually include a 10-15 minute warm up which skews any pacing of effort. I know my long runs (10-14 miles) are ranging in the 8:30-9 minute per mile mark, which I'm happy with as it is a deliberate effort to go as easily as possible.

Yesterday I warmed up by running up to the post office, so my run could be two laps around the lake, which is almost on the dot 2 miles. Total time was 29:27, giving 7:30 miles, which I am ecstatic about as I wasn't going all out, just pushing a little harder than I would normally. So I am not going to make any Kenyan quake with fear, but given last year even working out and running 3 times per week I ran into problem after problem even breaking through running longer than 90 seconds run/30 seconds walk, anything over five minutes straight and shins, calves or knees would scream in agony.

The last six months have really seen incredible gains in all areas of my fitness, at 190 lbs (December) I thought I could only stand to lose another couple of pounds, maybe 5 at most. The lesson learned is when you look in the mirror at your waste and think there's 5 pounds there, there's also at least another 5 pounds stored elsewhere. 175 pounds now has me within a smidgen of where I want to be. The top two abs of the six pack are clear and defined, now for the bottom two. Though unless I am running in the woods, no one is ever likely to see them - If an ab falls in the woods, does it make a sound ?

Now just to piss Guv'ner off, and to amuse bubbleman, here's my playlist from lifting weights today (on the iPod shuffle, on random).

Spit it out - Slipknot
Monkey Business – Skid Row
Heaven’s A Lie – Lacuna Coil
Eruption/You Really Got Me – Van Halen
Fire Woman – The Cult
Shyboy – Dave Lee Roth
Sweet Sacrifice - Evanescence
Poison (Live 2006) – Alice Cooper
She Sells Sanctuary – The Cult
Looks that Kill (Live) – Motley Crue
Round and Round - Ratt
Eyes of a stranger - Queensryche

Two pints of lager and a packet of cheese and onion crisps please John.

Broadsheet sent this to me, its absolutely priceless. Guv'ner is the only one here who will really get it, but what the hey.

Though I love, even adore Indian food, especially the really hot bum burning varieties, my introduction to the food was much the same as most Brits. Pubs closed at 11, so with a skinful of lager there were two choices if more consumption of alcohol was desired - the "Nightclub" where watered down drinks and large men wearing dickie bows (Bouncers - *) would harass you or the curry house. The latter was the usual destination.

Many toilet rolls were put in the fridge overnight for the impending festivities the following morning, usually to no avail..a case of futility.

I think I shall break out Madhur Jaffrey's book and cook up a right hot Vindaloo this weekend :-)




* Called dickie bows as they were wrapped around dickheads.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hey Sparky...

This just amuses me, not because it was a member of Law Enforcement, but his attempts to get back up..



A quiet weekend as befits an easter holiday, with the biggest event being the discovery that I have another 20 or so baby guppies again, at least I think there are 20 or so. a) they are tiny and b) they won't hold still. So half an hour has already been spent this morning rounding them up and getting them into the little breeder floaty thing so they can be fed separately several times a day, but I've just noticed a couple of recalcitrant little buggers hiding underneath the driftwood, so I see several more attempts to get 'em rustled.

A great ride on Saturday though, just a quick two hours. At least after riding 3/4 hours the last few weekends, two suddenly seems like a quick ride, all hills. Uphill both ways it seems and always into a headwind, but the feeling was awesome, this week being a rest week, ie. much reduced training hours so my legs were due for a harder session.

Run and weights scheduled for today, and the weather could not be better, blue skies, decent temperatures and the view from my window being of green shoots, flowering pussy willow, and the geese beginning to nest, spring appears to have arrived. Of course being in the DC area, this means a couple of weeks of patchy good/bad weather and then the rains arrive for April and May.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

That dastardly aquanet curse

In a few recent blogs, hair metal has come under a little fire, with an equal riposte, but one of the bands castigated in that era was Whitesnake…

Now I’ve always been a Whitesnake fan, almost from day one (1978 or so), in a career spanning 30 years now they only made 2 metal albums, all the rest have been far more bluesy affairs.

To give a little history, Whitesnake is one person, the singer David Coverdale. They were originally formed from the ashes of the final version of Deep Purple (prior to their $$ reformation in the 80s), with Coverdale doing a solo album (Northwinds) and then “David Coverdale’s Whitesnake, very bluesy, very British affairs (think early Bad Company or Free), this set up the next few years – Trouble, Lovehunter, Ready and Willing, Come and Get It, Saints and Sinners and finally the transition album – Slide it In.

From the titles, yeah, its definitely cock rock, but there were also some gems of ballads and soulful blues numbers too, Coverdale once quoting “It’s a shame people don’t know me for the songs I’m proudest of, and I’m only known for the fondle my nipples songs”

After hair metal he released a few solo albums which were much more introspective affairs before renewing Whitesnake in the early 2000s, I’ve seen them twice since then, probably the strongest line up he’s ever had, capable of delivering the metal tunes with flash and aplomb, but also capable of holding back on the older numbers as well.

As a piece of trivia, not one of the musicians on those hair metal videos actually played on the 1987 album, he had to fire the band as a result of being broke, so the only thing any of them played was the guitar solo on “Here I go Again” (on the US release only).

For those that don’t believe me, below are a couple of early videos, including the first version of “Fool For your Loving” (“Here I go Again” was also a case of covering themselves). Both show what a truly great and soulful voice that Coverdale posseses…oh and “Here I go again” from 2004 (his voice is a bit rough..but its at the end of a 2 hour show..)







Oh, and don't even get me started on Thin Lizzy ;-)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Just for the Guv'ner....

...I present the cheesiest of 80s hair metal songs, but with a touch of culture...



Fair warms the cockles of your heart, almost as good as the bluegrass covers of Van Halen - I kid not - "Strummin' with the Devil"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pregnant Catholics and Bambi

Oooh what a fun day. After the training last week I had started to plan for this week, clearing my decks of the minutiae that has been taking up way too much of my time and dealing with higher value activities (I quote). I was a man with a plan this morning, selfish to the point of rabid with my time, pushing my CEO off until it was a non prime calling time to have a meeting, then weights, lunch and admin/support before getting back on it.

It was also very cool to get back to doing what I enjoy most. Of course the arrival outside at 5pm of a couple of gentlemen with leaf blowers enforced a rapid re-think and getting some stuff lined up for tomorrow before taking a quick break. Which, by the way, when I returned from said break Jose and Jesus were busy blowing all the leaves back into the nooks and crannies that they had originally removed them from…Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot !!!!????

So anyway, back to my ‘break’. I’d lifted weights, had run and biked yesterday, but still wanted to do a little more, plus there is $250 on the line end of the months for the “Best Abs” company competition, and scarlett wants a new camera.

One of the few redeeming qualities about Comcast is that they do have a very good “On Demand” section, a quick perusal of exercise tv finding a men’s core/plyometrics/cardio workout of 24 minutes. Cool. Of course me, being me, the gentleman says to use a 5 lb ball, or 5lb or less dumbbell, so I picked up a 10 lb dumbbell – yeah, I did regret that by the end.

Only one problem, I obviously have the sense of rhythm of a pregnant catholic, and the grace of Bambi trying to walk on ice..both while on crack.

Thank the lords the blinds were shut else I think the whole neighborhood would have had the amusement value. Heck I’m have a certain grace when running, having worked long and hard on my style and efficiency, same on a bike, this however…oh my, its amazing I neither fell over nor broke anything (other than my dignity).

But hey, it did the trick, low impact and a change from just biking/running. I still feel a complete and utter wazzock though.

Monday, March 10, 2008

"I told you I was ill"

I did it again, trained myself into a hole ;-).

No real worries, just a touch over trained, but at least these days I have the good sense to just take total rest instead of scaling back. Almost now right as rain, and raring to go again.

As for the title of this blog, well though its appropriate for what I just wrote, its not the reason for the post, it is the epitaph on Spike Milligan’s grave stone, though the church insisted he had it written in Irish, so “Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite”

“Who he ?” you are probably saying ?

He and his erstwhile partners in crime came back into my consciousness via a recent conversation about British comedy, and Monty Python in particular. Whilst the latter were groundbreaking in tv, they were preceded in Britain many years earlier, and heavily influenced by a radio show that came well before them “The Goons”, starring Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, and Michael Bentine.

It was the first of the truly anarchic British comedies, that completely broke the mould, there was not necessarily a punchline to a sketch, and the more bizarre the situation or humour, the funnier they were.

Peter Sellers obviously went onto great fame in the Pink Panther movies (originally designed to be a vehicle for David Niven), and Dr Strangelove, sadly he was taken too young. Spike, well he stayed Spike, scripting nonsense, and writing nonsense books, but invariably funny, influencing again a great many people including John Lennon and Douglas Adams.

Wonderful people, and worth checking out a little. Here’s the video of their last show (btw the “Charles” whose letter is read out would be Prince Charles). The drink being poured during the first song is making fun that when they originally recorded the show no alcohol was allowed in BBC studios, so they drank milk with brandy in it.

Lastly a slice of pure, and utter silliness. As a child I used to sing it incessantly...for hours

Nick Rhodes Fan Club

Guv'ner has been let out of her private hell just long enough to spew vicious (though well deserved) slings and arrows at the music of the 80s on "Burt Reynolds' Moustache", mosey on over and take a look.

Whenever I hear the 80s and Duran Duran in particular, the Alcatraz song below springs instantly to mind..



"Lets take a plane and go somewhere exotic
To play with a non-descript song
We'll shoot all the crotch shots for 12 year old hopefuls
To make you a real man my son

Some cheap kid from Birmingham
Blessed with an accent
That pours like the darkest brown ale
Just one more puppet, piss elegant marionette
He's just a fast buck for sale"

About sums up the whole decade doesn't it ? Also nice to see a fledgling Steve Vai on guitar, before he became the high lord of widdly widdly

The other video, that has recently seen the light of day again was made by my friedn Paul Fillingham for a show that I believe was on Channel 4, it was some kind of public broadcast attempt where people could send in videos and the best would be shown on prime time, this one was a classic, the "Nick Rhodes Fan Club"

Tag you're it...

Gosh darn it, I’ve been tagged.. Okay so I was tagged a while ago by Kona Shelley but have been too busy to write and I'm supposed to tag 7 others..more on that later. I have to list 7 random or weird factoids about myself.

1. I eat pizza with a knife and fork.
2. I have dedicated my life to attempting to fart the National Anthem (that would be God Save the Queen to you lot, those notes in the US anthem are just too hard). Mr Methane is my hero
3. My mountain bike is a single speed - ie. ONE gear
4. My favorite meal is a plain roast chicken with roast potatoes (crisp on the outside, fluffy inside)
5. I love riding/running in the rain..
6. In the last ten years I have broken over 20 bones (it amazes me that I can walk and talk at the same time without falling over, it amazes my friends even more so)
7. I can play the guitar standing on my head

OK, I’m not going to send or tag 7 bloggers, but list a few people here who I would like to see the answers from. Most of y’all don’t have blogs here, but you should, instead of writing on that silly myspace thingy. So either blog it, or put it in the comments …

Guv’ner
Broadsheet
Bubbleman
Michelle

Monday, February 25, 2008

Pass me the fork please

Some rides just etch themselves in memory, yesterday being one of those. The weather was sunny, but a little crisp. This had me bemoaning the fact that I cannot find my other bootie to cover my shoes, with holes in the bottom for hot weather it made for a certain amount of tingling towards the end. Especially dumb moment coming when nearly home as it occurs to me that the tape I had wrapped around my pump could have been put to better use covering those holes...doh !

It was really the first ‘spring’ ride, trees are in bud, as can be seen in one of the pictures some crops are in the ground and calves are being born, the start of the re-birth of life after the winter hibernation.

The ride itself was 3 hours through west Montgomery County, from Gaithersburg up to Damascus then down through Laytonsville, Brookeville (which was the US Capitol for the Day once) and Olney before hooking back. The countryside reminds me of why I love this area, as can be seen all country roads allowing me to just roam, alone with nature and the solitude of my thoughts, my only company for much of the ride being the whir of my tires on the hardtop.

The treat on the way home was the line of Rolls Royce and Bentley cars outside Dave’s Bistro, absolutely gorgeous, I loved the juxtaposition of the boots on the running board of the oldest, the Smart car at one end, and not picture the Ferrari F430 parked the other end.

So 3 hours in the saddle, then topped off by throwing off my helmet and lacing on my shoes for a 1 hour run. Much like the swim it was encouraging to be able to complete that level of workout with no issues. It also topped off my longest week yet of 12 hours training. This week is a recovery week of around 7 hours training to allow my body to recover and rebuild from the increasing efforts of the last three weeks, and prepare for the next three week build.

The body is a remarkable machine :-)

More ride pictures here

Friday, February 22, 2008

Barren Tundra

Despite training and work (and eating) filling almost every waking hour of life, there is also a huge void. In life, sometimes things you hope to always be there disappear, much like a mojo. When it was there, it was not just a case of taking that comfort and support, but went both ways, proving that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

I’ve noticed the effect across the board, in that though I am motivated to work out, it takes a good 15-20 minutes to truly get my head into the workout, and that I usually procrastinate starting the workout itself. Maybe its just that it takes that long to get fully warmed up and the intensity finally blocks out the ability to focus on everything else, much like an alcoholic and booze.

But the void is always there, creating a vacuum where its presence used to be, the presence of that gap almost comforting in a crisp round the edges way as if acknowledging the existence of something that was pure and good in its place. Truly though nothing could or should replace it, so that gap in my life shall stay where it is, a constant reminder and a chill for something valued almost above anything else that has chosen a different path.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Grunt, strain, grunt.

I always feel a little awkward in a gym, as there are the farms of treadmills/ellipticals, then two sections of weight machines. But up at the back are the free weights and racks, the grunters gym. That’s where I need to be as I only ever use free weights, all my training calls for it. But that’s where all the big meaty guys are, and I’m just a little 180lb needle necked triathlete. When I first went there you could see the looks out of the corners of their eyes, or some outright stares, sizing you up, measuring muscles, whether you are fit to enter their domain.

What. Ever. I’m there to work out, currently on a maximal strength month (4 body parts per day, different parts each work-out, 5 sets to failure in 4-6 reps), one more week of this and back to circuits, but lifting 20-30 lbs heavier than I was 6 weeks ago. So I head there, iPod already switched on and cranked and basically ignore them, though I guess much like the wilds of Africa I get acknowledged now, as they are used to my presence in their midst. There are a group of 4-6 hispanic guys always there, they pack around a pair of stations and monopolize them for 1/2 hour at a time, one finally looks at my triathlon t-shirt and asks "you do those things", I unplug my headphones and go "huh" so he repeats it, yeah says myself, look of amazement on his face and much talking between them and then the looks changed afterwards. I haven't the heart to tell them that all my t-shirts are sprint or International short distance tri's not the monster Ironman they see on tv each year. ;-)

It doesn’t bother me as I know I am in great shape for what I do, but some stations face the mirror, each time I think I look ripped there is some ape with muscles fit to burst standing beside or behind me. Oh well.

Entertainment last night was this geeky, puny little guy walking in, square black framed glasses, grubby sweats and t-shirt that has seen better days, you could almost see the bristling, until he hopped to the pull up bar and proceeded to nail out 50 wide grip pull-ups. Wanders off to the free weights and does lateral shoulder raises with 30 pound plates then comes back without rest and peels off another 50 pull ups, perfect form and almost without effort. Eyes were popping out of heads, he was still repeating this when I headed for the pool…:-)

The pool was very encouraging, its only my third time swimming, or rather swimming to train in years. The first two I just focused on swimming drill after swimming drill, trying to re-develop my balance and feel for the water, which will come back with time, when I learnt how to swim freestyle properly (and more efficiently) it took a month. But last night I decided to aim for 2,000 yards, just swimming easily, as a l.s.d. - long slow distance – I do one workout per week in each sport like this to build aerobic endurance). Even though my form was going to the dogs after 1500 yards, if I concentrated I could hold it together and the yards kept ticking off. Total time was a shade under 60 minutes, which I know is slow, but will improve rapidly with more swimming. Even so that would scale up to a swim time of 1:54 for the 2.4 miles of the Ironman, well under the 2:30 cutoff. I would like to go under 1:30, which I think is possible, but we’ll see how my l.s.d. times come down with more drills and anaerobic sets.

Adding things up, given I’m still 8 months away from the race based on l.s.d. times (other sessions are much faster) would be

Swim (2.4 miles) – 1:54
Bike (112 miles) – 7:00
Run (26.2 miles) – 4:46

Total 13:40.

I would actually be happy with that. Though I know both in my head and heart that those times will come down. Lets see what the projection is at the end of March.

Weather still looking decidedly dodgy, snow forecast overnight changing to sleet and freezing rain tomorrow morning, which is supposed to keep going until Saturday morning. Dang it. So the pic above, that could well be how I spend my Saturday morning :-(