Thursday, March 31, 2011

Help! Save me your empty wrappers!

The organizers of Vineman, the triathlon I'm targeting this year, have recently announced a contest: the competitor who brings the most empty energy bar wrappers to the start line will win back their entry fee.

The wrappers will go to Terracycle, who have a unique way of recycling these otherwise un-recyclable bits of trash -- and they'll also donate two cents to charity for each and every wrapper returned.


I might not be able to win the race itself, or even my age group, but I'll be damned if I can't win this contest. I will not, however, be able to do it alone.

I need your help!

And your friends' help!

And your family's help!

I need to collect as many granola, energy and protein bar wrappers* as I can between now and the end of July. 

Last year's winner amassed over 1,300. To equal that feat, I'm going to need to get my hands on more than 80 wrappers every week! It's doable, but again, I'm going to need your help. If you or one of your friends picks up Clif bar at the sporting goods store, don't chuck the wrapper - save it for me! If your family likes to eat granola bars for dessert every evening, grab those empty wrappers and set them aside. Know a guy at work who lives primarily on meal replacement bars? Ask him to save you his garbage!

Don't live in San Francisco? Collect as many as you can and then stick 'em into a San Francisco-bound envelope -- I'll definitely cover the postage. I'm going to need every wrapper I can get!

So do me (and the world!) a favor - help me recycle these wrappers, donate to charity, and win back some money by forwarding me your garbage. It's win-win-win!

* - Note: apparently only silver-lined wrappers count. Fortunately, this includes a whole lot of granola bars and protein bars, including most Clif products, Power bar products, Chewy and Nature Valley bars, and many more. If it's silver inside, save it for me!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The (F)AD Scale Addendum

I got a few good comments on my last post - some here on the blog and some via email - and would like to circle back quickly to amend what I wrote before based on what some folks have said. From an email I received:
With respect to measures and dimensions of an athlete/athleticism – I think attitude (“driver” behind motivation and drive) and aptitude, ability or one’s potential, be it natural or requiring hard work (achieved by +ve attitude) are paramount and result in a level of fitness the individual wants to achieve – I believe these two apply to all facets of life!
 I couldn't agree more. My original dimensions, drive and ability, have been abstracted just a bit more to apply to the much more broader field of, well... just about anything anyone would want (or not want) to do. Attitude is the parent of drive and Aptitude is a better measure of what I was calling ability or potential ability. And that's totally right - if you abstract it like that, you can apply this to just about anything. Music. Sports. Writing. Ordering food. Crossword puzzles. Yoga.

Unfortunately for Brian, I still don't exactly know where a 350-pound offensive tackle fits on the scale. Something tells me they, like competitive eaters, are probably exceptions to the rule.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The (F)AD Scale of Athleticism

What is an athlete? How do you rate athleticism? They (we?) come in many shapes and sizes - from professional football players, collegiate competitors, local-circuit cyclists, amateur triathletes. But what actually makes an athlete an athlete? I think there are two (or three) main variables. Find out more in today's rambling episode of, "Things Andrew thinks about while he's out for a long run."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


As I was writing my last blog post, I was thinking to myself, "I probably shouldn't mention how well running's going these days, because every time I do that, I get hurt." It's true. It happens every time.

Saturday morning's run was painless. I felt fine on Saturday afternoon. Sunday, I wake up with that old, familiar ache along the arch of my right foot, just in front of my ankle. Alarm bells.

I started icing on Sunday and was still stepping gingerly and with some pain on Monday. I was scheduled to run this morning, but didn't. Posterior tibial tendonitis is back.

I'm so frustrated I could break something.

Now I'm trying to get appointments with foot specialists and sports therapists, and trying to decide what this means as far as training goes. Do I try running again in a day or two? Do I take a week off? Two? Six?

Recurring injuries like this are so discouraging. Mentally, I just can't deal with this flaring up every time I start running with any consistency.

Update (11:55 AM) - From my understanding, the crux of the issue isn't purely overuse or worn-out running shoes. After a few rounds of X-rays and MRI's in the fall, my podiatrist identified an 'accessory navicular' in my foot. This is a small bone that most people have, but apparently mine is in some way larger or more obtrusive than normal.

The posterior tibial tendon stretches from the calf down the inside of the ankle and along the arch of the foot - right over this accessory bone. The theory that was floated in September was that the bone is actually protruding into the tendon and creating a hot spot there. As long as that bone's rubbing against the tendon there, I don't know if I'll ever be able to run without this kind of irritation. Surgery?

Friday, March 11, 2011

In Sickness and in Health

Hi, blog. It's been a while. Too long, I'd say. Some days, I feel like a lot has happened since I last wrote. Other days, not so much.

At some point, the weather went from warm and sunny to cold and rainy, and around that point, I stopped forcing myself out of bed and into the elements. Sucking wind at the back of an SF2G paceline in six layers at 6:45 in the morning just wasn't fun enough. I wrestled with myself for a few days, and eventually convinced myself to wander down to the ol' spin studio and sign back up.

Interval workouts, especially spin classes, make for manageable time commitments - a huge plus, especially when you factor in just how crazy my work schedule has been throughout the quarter. Now I have a few weeks of consistent intervals under my belt. Three to five hours a week of high-intensity sweating on a stationary bike isn't going to win me any triathlons, but it has provided the jump-start that my fitness (and my motivation) really needed.

I've also been running a bunch, and - knock on wood - it is going surprisingly well. I started running 5Ks every other day and slowly increased the mileage over the course of four or five weeks. Now I'm averaging about 8K per run and 32K per week. For those of you who aren't keeping track, that's more than I ran in any one week at any point during my six-month Ironman training program.

Now comes the hard part; I have a hard time holding back when I have good running legs, and that always leads to injury. I definitely feel like I could take the mileage up a few more notches - and perhaps start incorporating some longer 9-12 mile runs - but I have to throttle back and build up in smaller increments.

This morning, I decided to knock some dust off my trusty TT bike by joining the SF2G ride down to Mountain View. It went well - well, better than expected, anyway. Like I said, three spin classes per week won't get me through any big races, but I am definitely stronger after three or four weeks with M2 than I was back in early February. I should also mention: I forgot how fun it is to ride that bike. It just feels so fast. And it's so comfortable.

It's almost not even worth mentioning at this point, but I came down with something fairly nasty last Wednesday and it almost knocked me off my feet. I kept myself moving - I managed a couple runs and a pair of spin sessions, despite the misery of illness - and came out of it without losing a whole lot of fitness. If I missed a beat, my body hasn't noticed yet. Good stuff.

What's on tap for March? I have a "rest week" next week, but at some point, I've got to start putting longer hours in on the bike. So hopefully by the end of March and into April, I'm able to start doing that. We'll see how it goes!