The Week of Awesome – The Conclusion

What a week it was:

- I put together a raffle to help with the fundraising, and some sponsors got on board. Then we got some sponsors, and people have started wanting to get in on this opportunity. Seriously, $10 for a chance at $650 worth of tri gear and Apple goodness?

- Then Jamie “Strong Like” Bull gave me his old bike trainer he replaced with the Super trainer 9000 or something like that (one of the Cycle Ops pro trainers). I got a nice ride in on it last night, but that’s getting ahead of myself.

So now you’re caught up on last week up through Saturday. We drove Saturday evening down to Hyannis for the Hyannis Marathon on Sunday. Rachelle went to race, I went to watch. Previously, I had thought watching would be more fun than racing when we’re doing a long race in the cold, snow, and rain of February. I was wrong. 5 hours of sitting around, even if you have occasional internet access, is not nearly the fun racing is. Several of our Wheelworks teammates participated, and did really well. Several of my blogging friends were there, but unfortunately it didn’t work out being able to meet up with them.

But we did accomplish what we set out to do, which was Rach finishing her 2nd marathon. She finished in 4:50, which is great considering how little she trained, and that this course was quite a bit harder than the first marathon she did. Oh, and did I mention this is PR by 10 minutes over her first race? So a heck of a race for my baby, and day of waiting around in the cold for me. Totally worth it though because we had fun, and she did great.

Then as I mentioned above, we came home and I got on the trainer. Not immediately though, because in my first attempt to do so, I realized I had taken a cleat off one of my bike shoes, and having just put my Keo Look pedals on, I sort of needed the cleats to be there. Sitting on the bike and not understanding why I couldn’t clip in was sort of humorous. Once I had that issues solved, Chasing legends was on the tube, and off I went. What a great movie for watching while riding. So inspirational. I did between an hour an 90 minutes (Next time I’ll use a watch instead of just guessing what time I started after), and really enjoyed it.

Note:
- The CEO of LIVESTRONG was kind enough to re-tweet about my raffle to his almost 1 MILLION followers on Twitter, but no one has bought a ticket yet. Hopefully that will change soon, only 15 more days left on the raffle.

The Week of Awesome: Day 6

(Note: The post with all of the raffle information is now on the linkbar above. Click on “Rev3 Raffle” to see details about all of the prizes. To donate, click on the “Team Fight Fundraising Page”. Every $10 donation counts as an entry.)

I rarely post on Saturdays. While I train 6 days a week right now, I think of the blog as a 5 day a week thing. But with The Week of Awesome rolling along still, I figured nows the time to “gut out” an extra post the way you gut out an extra workout in the heaviest weeks of training.

Last week, I ordered and received my copy of Chasing Legends. Last night when I got the mail, inside was another copy of Chasing Legends. After checking to make sure I hadn’t ordered a second copy accidentally (I have been guilty in the past of double clicking the “buy” button on web sites), I figured I’d reach out to the folks at Gripped Films to see what they wanted me to do with the extra copy. I told them I’d be happy to return it, but I also let them know about the raffle. Calling it a “lucky coincidence”, Chasing Legends producer Ken Bell said he would be more than happy to donate the DVD for the raffle.

I’ve only had a chance to watch about 20 minutes of my copy of Chasing Legends so far, but it’s both gorgeous and intense. Plus there’s a whole shload of extra footage on a second DVD included in the package that I can’t wait to get to. And it’s had Jens Voigt all over it, which makes it truly worthy of being included in The Week of Awesome.

So the prize package now includes the following, and has a retail value of almost $650:

$199 Apple Gift Card
H2O Audio Amphibx Fit Waterproof Armband
H2O Audio Flex waterproof earbuds

Stomach of Anger T Shirt
Rudy Project Helmet
XTERRA Volt Wetsuit
XTERRA Mesh Drawstring Backpack
Chasing Legends DVD set

Oh, I mentioned a bike trainer above, didn’t I? Jamie Bull got his new trainer in this week, so I’m going to pick up his old trainer at 1 PM. He’s been kind enough to hand it down to me, with the words “Now you have one less excuse not to rock it @ Cedar Point”. That message alone is enough to make me want to ride for hours!

Now it’s time to get in last nights run. I was a bit under the weather in the evening so I had to push the run to this AM. It’s cold out, but sunny and not too windy so it’s the perfect day to get a run in outdoors. Plus, outdoor runs register with earndit.com on my garmin, so I’m squeeking closer to earning my first workout reward.

Notes:

- Thanks so much to all who contributed yesterday. We’re now over 10% to my primary fundraising goal for Team Fight. I appreciate you all very much, and I’ll do more to thank you all at the end of the raffle. We still have a long way to go, so if you know anyone who can donate, or if you’d be willing to pass along the word, that would be.. well, AWESOME!

The Week of Awesome: Day 5 (win some awesome prizes!)

So, it’s been an awesome week (actually The Week of Awesome) and it’s about to get even more awesome.

I wanted to find a reason to have you all get involved in my fundraising for Team Fight. I mean people are constantly asking for money, and most times all we get is the good feeling of helping someone out. Sure, that’s great and all, but wouldn’t it be nice to get something else for your willingness to help? I looked into what I could come up with, and I got the idea of a raffle. So I reached out to some friends of the site who came up big in helping me put together some prizes.

The boys at Stomach of Anger took a simple statement made in the heat of battle at last years Tour de France and turned it into a really cool shirt company. They were kind enough to offer up one of their sweet Tshirts (winners choice) for free.

Andy Shleck immortalized

Then XTERRA Wetsuits got in on the act. They had already given me a couple mesh wetsuit bags during the Chubsmas Challenge and they stepped up again by providing a code for a free Volt wetsuit. Really, thats a heck of a nice prize.

This Volt wasn’t made by Chevy

Next, the folks at H2O Audio wanted to help out, and they came in a big way donating an Amphibx Fit waterproof armband and a pair of Flex waterproof sport earbuds.

Because safety is important, I bought a Rudy Project Kontact+ helmet (Size Large) to include as a prize.

Helmet not pictured actual size

But after looking at the great stuff provided by the vendors, I really needed to have some skin in the game so to speak. So just in time for the announcement of the new iPad, I’m including an Apple gift card worth $199. You can put it towards a new iPad, or buy yourself a shiny new iPhone.

Each donation of $10 before March 15th will count as an entry into the raffle, so if you donate $50, that’s 5 entries. Simply click on my Team Fight fundraising link (also at the top of the page) and submit a donation. I’ll take every donation and enter it into a spreadsheet and use a random number generator to pick the winners. I’ll video the whole process in the interest of full disclosure. I hope you’ll seriously consider giving; because I’ll appreciate it, the kids will appreciate it,  and these prizes are sweet! Just make sure when you donate, that you choose to be recognized so I can add you to the list.

Prize Pack – Retail value ~$600

$199 Apple Gift Card
H2O Audio Amphibx Fit Waterproof Armband
H2O Audio Flex waterproof earbuds

Stomach of Anger T Shirt
Rudy Project Helmet
XTERRA Volt Wetsuit
XTERRA Mesh Drawstring Backpack

The Week of Awesome – Day 4 (It’s STILL awesome)

The Week of Awesome continues, and let me just say; it really is awesome. I’m cramming a lot into todays post because tomorrows post is special and important. It relates to my efforts for Team Fight, and it gives you my readers a new and fun reason to help.

Yesterday, I had a “food episode”. Lunch was significantly more calories than it should have been, and I wound up with an upset stomach that lasted most of the day. When I got home I rested. Rather than beating myself up over the poor food choice, I just worked myself out over it. I waited until my stomach settled and hit the gym around 8:30. I did my scheduled workout on the track, which went surprisingly well again considering how I’d felt all day. I used my Garmin 305 to capture my run, and I’m using the C25K plan on my Android so I have a plan to follow.

Then it was off to the pool for my first swim in quite a while, almost a month actually. I wasn’t surprised that I felt slow and fat, but I pushed through anyways, because it’s time to start swimming with regularity. I did 100 yds kick and 100 yds pull as a warm-up and then turned on my Swimsense for as much freestyle as I could get in the half hour before the pool closed. I wound up doing 600 yards, broken out as such:

2×50
1×100
2×50
1×100
2×100

My average time per 100 was 2:39 which is pretty darn good for a month off at the pool. I rested some between intervals, so it’s just a matter of building my stamina back up so I can do it all in one effort. That won’t be a problem, and I’ll be swimming miles in no time. Plus, the Swimsense captured my workout accurately, so the entire trip to the gym was a success.

Oh, and i got a package this week. I have been trying to wind down my personal spending as much as possible prior to some more important events this spring and to pay for some race entries. But I just couldn’t wait anymore to buy Chasing Legends, a movie about the 2009 Tour de France, where the camera crew followed the HTC-Columbia team for the entire race.

Now was the right time to buy it because I learned that in just a short bit of time I’ll be getting a trainer. Jamie Bull, a former Wheelworks Teammate (who like the awesome Caratunk Girl is now a member of Team Trakkers), has offered me his current trainer when he upgrades in a few weeks. Jamie has a terrific post on his terrific blog about making giving back a higher priority this season. It turns out I’ll be a recipient of some of that giving back, with only a request that I “pay it forward”. You can be sure that I will. I love my hand me down rollers, and I’ll love my hand me down trainer equally I’m sure.

(As an aside, I am reminded my “Readers Who Write” page is woefully out of date. I promise to fix that this weekend. If you read, and want on my blog list, just leave me a comment. Thanks)

Finally for today, I found a site I want to share with any athletes out there. Earndit.com is a site that rewards you for exercising. You sign up for free, and register your training devices and social networks. Then, every time you check in at your gym with foursquare you earn points. Every time you upload a workout from Garmin (or Nike+, or fitbit), you earn points (unless like me, you do a run with the watch set as a bike, then you need customer support to help you get your points). Earn enough points, and you get free stuff, like gift certificates for clothing, shoes, or custom made energy bars. Frankly, it’s another AWESOME motivator for getting to the gym.

Notes:

- Im totally going to have a great weigh in tomorrow at Weight Watchers, but tomorrows post is too important to wait for that announcement, so I’ll post in the morning and update the post with notes later in the day following my weigh in.

The Week of Awesome – Day 3

So, you didn’t know this was The Week of Awesome? How in the world didn’t you know that? Oh, probably because I didn’t decide it was The Week of Awesome until this morning. Why did I decide this was The Week of Awesome? Here’s why:

1. Last night was a total trap night: Starving after work, Hockey game I wanted to watch, and it was cold out. At other times, this would be a day I would succumb to poor eating and being lazy. Not last night; i ate a healthy dinner, then after the game did a STRONG 35 minutes on the bike. 9.3 miles, and hit the highest resistance I ever have on the stationary bike for almost 2 minutes.
2. I have been eating healthy, within points, and tracking all of my points.
3. I am working on a SUPER TOP SECRET surprise for the Friday blog that I think will be very exciting.
4. I have been incredibly productive in all areas of my life this week.

The tipping point that made this The Week of Awesome happened last night. I was tasked with finding a speaker for Wheelworks Multisport annual Tri Night, our social/fundraiser to benefit CYCLE Kids. We’ve had a series of terrific speakers at our events, and I had to make sure to keep pace, and even see if I could raise the bar; which I think I did.

The speaker for Wheelworks Multisport Tri Night 2011 will be Professional Triathlete Cait Snow. Rach and I met her at America’s Hometown Thanksgiving 5k 2 years ago, and have followed her career since. She had an absolutely phenomenal 2010 season, including 8th female Pro at the Ironman World Championship, which will give her plenty to talk about along with balancing two pro triathletes training and racing schedules (her husband is pro Tim Snow) along with real life and training in cold New England winters.

What’s nice is that it was super easy. Cait is really nice, and was willing to consider it right away, with very little no begging required at all.

It’s definitely The Week of Awesome.

Good morning!

Hello there all you lovely people!

It’s Tuesday, but feels like Monday because of the President’s Day holiday. I freely admit I didn’t do anything patriotic or in memoriam of the greatness of our greatest presidents. In fact, the only thoughts I had about the day involved trying to decide which nearly-irrelevant holiday provides the better mattress sales; President’s Day or Patriots’ Day. I would have included Armistice Day, except that’s become so irrelevant, they don’t even do mattress sales on that day.

I was tired when I woke up this morning, as I didn’t sleep great, but seeing a morning of bright sunshine was a great way to get going in the morning. More and more we’re seeing sunny days as Boston slowly emerges from the doldrums of winter. Even the couple inches of snow we got the other night was comprised of big fluffy flakes that are actually pretty to see falling through the morning sky.

If I seem sprightly (huh?) or in keen spirits (did I just return from a trip to Ireland with that lingo?), it’s in part because I had 3 days away from work that included cleaning my house, my car, a visit from my friend John and his son Owen, and spending 2 straight days with my gorgeous and wonderful wife.

Oh, and I almost forgot; eating well, and hitting the gym. I enjoyed my last weekend of having 2 days off from exercise, and then ripped it up on Monday with a 60 minute brick workout. A short but strong 30 minute bike with increasing resistance followed by my first time running in quite a while, and it went surprisingly well. Not fast, but I was able to do exactly what I planned to do how I planned to do it. Over the next two months I’ll be building speed and endurance pointing towards being able to run the entire 5k at the NE Season Opener.

Notes:

- I’m working on something special for the blog in relationship to the fundraiser I’m doing. I don’t want to give away anything yet, but I think it’s exciting and I hope readers will as well.

- I’ve also got something cooking for Wheelworks Multisport Tri Night; I’ve been charged with finding a speaker, and I’m close to wrapping this up already in a big way.

- Rach is tapering this week, so it’s going to fall strictly on me to push myself to the gym each day. I’m excited to go swimming, so staying motivated should be easy.

I never want to look back and think ‘what if’. You only get one chance at life and the most important thing is for me to know that I have given it everything, fulfilled my potential and been the best that I can be.                                                     – Chrissie Wellington 

 I can say honestly and clearly that I have never been 100% committed to losing weight. Not once, not ever. Not even when I lost all the weight a few years back. I’ve said again and again I am committed to this one thing, and have never truly given it 100%. Even in weeks when I lost 5 pounds, I still took it easy some days, giving myself a pass when I didn’t own up to letdowns or mistakes.

One of the most helpful things is knowing I’m not doing it alone; I have Weight Watchers, I have Rachelle, and I have you. Whether the You is someone I know (John Young, K, Wheelerworksers, etc) or someone I don’t, it doesn’t really matter. You’re here and that helps me to be reminded I’m not in this alone. There’s someone to report to, someone to lean on, and someone celebrate with.

I missed my meeting on Friday; I was working pretty hard to be able to enjoy the long weekend. But I could have made time and gone. I might not have lost any weight, and maybe that’s why I didn’t make it a priority. It’s something I have to do, because even facing up to failure is a way to succeed.

When I think about what Chrissie said above, I think I don’t want to be sitting here 4 years or even 2 years from now and have to say I didn’t commit, I didn’t fulfill my potential to be healthier, to be stronger, to be faster. Because as I’m doing that very thing right, it sucks.

Bachelor weekend starts of right & my Xterra wetsuit is haunting me

It’s the last weekend of the regular season for NCAA women’s hockey, and it takes the BU Terriers to Maine. Orono, Maine to be precise, a long bus ride from Boston, for a pair of games against U Maine. The games are tonight and tomorrow, and to ensure on-time arrival, the team leaves for Maine on Thursday. This leaves me a bachelor for almost 3 full days.

Rather than spend this weekend hunkered down in the house eating junk food and playing games (which part of me really wants to do), I’m going to do my darndest to get outside, and barring that at least spend a good amount of time in the gym. Unlike the past two weekends, I vow to not eat like crap and gain weight that I then have to fight twice as hard to get off later in the week.

Last night, after a long phone battle with T-Mobile that i can proudly say I won, saving Rachelle and I over $200, I wound up getting home too late to enjoy the gorgeous 60 degree day on the back of my bicycle. So after a dinner of moderate portions, I went over to FitRec and put in 95 minutes on the bike.

What I love about the bike is that I somehow find a way to push through being hot and tired and sore. Being on the bike, even one that isn’t going anywhere is a form of exercise I enjoy, or at least don’t mind. I wound up doing 23 miles, and feeling pretty good. I pushed myself a little bit at times, but it was mostly about starting to lay in a better base, averaging 15 MPH for the most part with a pedal cadence of slightly less than 90.

I’ve basically been giving myself 2 days off from working out, each week, Friday and Saturday, and reinforcing that with less than healthy food choices. While I didn’t get through the Morning of Temptation unscathed; I still have 5 more meals to make good choices at before Rach gets back. Plus, I’m going to keep myself busy cleaning the car and the house, and making time to do some writing for the gaming site that I am seriously behind on.

Review: H20 Audio Amphibx Fit waterproof armband

One thing that I can say for sure about Boston is that you almost never know what the weather will be like from one day to the next. So a few weeks ago, when I got offered a chance to review the H2O Audio Amphibx Fit, I asked the fine people there to send one ASAP, as we were expecting heavy rains and some additional heavy snows. Being that this is a waterproof armband, I thought those conditions would be ideal for testing the Amphibx Fit.

Unfortunately, the weather chose not to cooperate, and it hasn’t rained or snowed once, in any real quantity since I got the Amphibx Fit. It actually rained one day while I was at work but it was over before I could get the armband on. So, I went with the next best option:

Has anyone seen my facial scrub?

I filled the sink, put my Google Nexus One in the Fit, closed the case, plugged in the headphones and dropped it in the sink. One hour later, I returned to discover that not only does the Fit float pretty well, it also kept my Nexus One completely dry. While I’m a big sweaty guy, the amount I sweated during workouts did present as big an issue as an hour in the sink could have.

 And it then did the same for my G2, and my wife’s iPod Touch. Being waterproof is really all the Fit has in common with the other Amphibx arm bands or other waterproof cases. It’s a complete redesign of the Amphibx line, and because of this has an entirely different fit and feel.
That’s one meaty arm

The Amphibx Fit lives up to the second part of it’s name as it actually fits me as a larger guy. Finding iPod or Android phone arm bands that fit a larger guy like me hasn’t exactly been easy, but the Fit does it. It’s been comfortable for a couple runs, though I do occasionally feel the plastic from the hinge attached to the device insertion point digging into my arm. A smaller person not stretching the elastic band to it’s max definitely wont have that problem, which I tested by wearing it on my forearm.

Inserting a device into the Amphibx Fit
Most of today’s larger cell phones or MP3 players have touch screens and I was really impressed that  all 3 devices with different sizes and depths responded naturally to contact with the screen through the arm band. I didn’t notice any delays or problems in using my devices through the band. I will say i did not try using the touch screens underwater. It’s still not an ideal device for swimming, though with the armband extension, it may work well if worn around the waist. 
In conclusion, I was pretty well impressed. I tested the 3 things the Amphibx Fit claims to be (an armband, waterproof, and fits multiple devices) and it passed all 3. It would have been nice to see it ship with the waist extension belt, but that’s really all I can say against the Fit.  
I give the Amphibx Fit 4.0 out of 5 trees.

PS. For some additional fun, take a look at the video below on an Amphibx Fit being tested in someones washing machine.

This is what it’s all about

There’s a saying “Pain is just weakness leaving the body”. I disagree. Sweat is weakness leaving the body. Pain is the sign that you haven’t been sweating enough. I know I don’t look happy in this picture, but I am. I don’t know how well you can see it, but I’m soaked. And I’m focusing on getting the camera to work right. For some reason when I take self portraits without Rachelle in them, I forget to smile.

Last night, Rach and I went out to dinner, because evidently one Valentine’s Day dinner isn’t enough. We went to Panera, which is healthy enough, but followed it up with some Cold Stone Creamery. Dessert doesn’t really fit in the plan, especially following Rice Crispie treats dipped in strawberry sauce the night before.

So I went home, relaxed for a bit, the changed my clothes and hit the gym. The last hour of the night at the gym is always the best time to find an open stationary bike, as there aren’t very many and they’re usually full. I found one, and hopped on. Here was the workout.

3 minute intervals @ 90 RPM
Starting with difficulty 3, and increasing by 2 for the first 15
3 minute intervals @ 95 RPM
Difficulty 5, 7, and 9
6 minutes at difficulty 7
3 minutes at difficulty 5
18 minutes at difficulty 7

I had to stop at 51 minutes because the gym was closing, but when I got done I had racked up 14 miles and 600 calories burnt. Probably didn’t work off the ice cream, but a fine workout none the less, and a good sign for my willpower. That even on a holiday where splurging, chocolate, and relaxing with the one you love is encouraged, I got to the gym and kicked ass.

Notes:

- Tomorrow, my H2O Audio Amphibx Fit review will run. I went in depth on this one for realsies

- It was 50 yesterday, it will be 25 today, and 60 on Friday. Someone needs to get this straightened out.