Join the 99%! (It’s not what you think)

Due to a work trip, I spent about 4 hours in the Charlotte, NC airport this weekend. If you’ve never been, it’s pretty nice as airports go. Lots of good food choices, plenty of motorized walkways, and most importantly, a lot of comfortable seating. It was that seating that really got me to thinking. The recent 99% movement is mostly about basics: basic fairness of the economic system (or lack thereof some might say), basic medical care, and a basic standard of living. Whether you believe those folks wound up where they are through their own choices or because the deck was stacked against them from the get go, it really is about basics and having just a little comfort in your life. And when you put it in that light:

These people have rocking chairs...

 

And these people have rocking chairs...

 

even punk rockers have punk rocking chairs...

 

... shouldn't these people have rocking chairs in the NICU with their baby?

 

I know that I think so, and I bet you do too. And you can help me move towards that goal by joining the BecomingTimberman 99%. As of today, I have raised just over 1% towards my goal of being able to donate enough to cover 5 rocking chairs. With the raffle ending a month from today, now is the perfect time to donate and get in on a chance for some terrific prizes! I’m working hard to add even more to the prize collection, but I think we’ve got a great bundle going so far with more on the way. Please consider donating, and becoming one of the 99%.

PS. Please note, I understand the seriousness of the problems many people face, and I was just making an attempt at some wry humor. If you are offended, I apologize, and I hope you can see this for what it is, an honest attempt to bring focus onto the needs of these families.

PPS. I had a kick ass week of training last week, and this week is looking even stronger.

PPPS. I went to Minnesota and it is REALLY cold there. I’m glad I live in a place where it is 60 degrees and sunny right now. But I liked seeing the snow.

PPPPS. My legs are sore from training in January. Seriously, its January and my legs are sore. This is awesome!

PPPPPS. Did you see the new ad with Matthew Broderick making a play on his Ferris Bueller character? I was so hoping it was a teaser trailer for a sequel.

PPPPPPS. Are you still reading this? Really? The post is over. Go donate!

Miles are always easier when they aren’t yours

Last night, a friend of mine was talking about how he had a 1 mile time trial run today later that evening. This guy is a rock star amateur who runs faster than I can ever imagine running. He probably ran more miles last year than I have, ever. And yet here he was, fretting about a 1 mile run!

In my usual way, I tried to reassure him and make light of the situation, but later in the pool I was thinking (which is why I need my swimsense, too busy to count yards) that just because I know he’s a rock star and he has some inkling that he is (he was chosen for an elite amateur team this year) he still frets about his 1 mile runs. And as I ‘m thinking “So why does he worry about a single mile run?”, he’s so fast, and he doesn’t have to do that, a single mile is so easy for him.

But that’s when it hit me; it’s all that hard work he does to get to that point that makes him the rock star he is, even focusing on a single 1 mile run. It’s an attitude I can definitely stand to bring more of to my own training. There’s so much inspiration and motivation out there, I hope you’re finding yours today.

Notes:

- I’ll hopefully have some donation total updates for everyone tomorrow, but I do have a couple more big pieces of news for the raffle:

Jabra, who have recently launched a line of sport headphones (of which I am reviewing the bluetooth model), has donated a pair of their earphones as a raffle prize.

Coach Troy, who is the head of the coaching that I get is more well known for his other project, the Spinervals brand of cycling training DVDs. Coach Troy was kind enough to donate 4 DVDs and let me pick them out. I picked out 3 of their ”On the Road” series, including the rides on the Lake Placid and Wisconsin IM courses, and their Flexible Warrior 1.0 Yoga for triathletes.

The road back is so much harder…

Hello,

I don’t know who you are but I’d like to tell you something. Are you in good shape? If so, good for you. I’m going to direct this blog to you, because the folks who aren’t in shape who are reading, they already know what I’m talking about. Think of me as the Ghost of Christmas Future for non-fatties. (Yes, I can use the word “fattie”, just like as a blonde and someone with Polish heritage, I can make all the blonde and Polish jokes I want.)

So, you’re in good shape right now. How old are you? Are you in your 20s with great metabolism, a non-stop life on the go, and little thought of the future? Do you spend a lot of time are your desk climbing the corporate ladder, or at least trying to find the bottom rung? Be careful, before you know it you’ll be 30, with more responsibilities, less time, and more stress than your body was equipped to handle. Then what? Those Saturday afternoon touch football games with your buddies, or the PBR fueled Alley Cat ride on friday night wont be enough to get rid of the donuts you absentmindedly munched through the entire Wednesday morning meeting. And all those McDonalds bags in your backseat from breakfast stops on the way into work, those didn’t come to you empty.

So now you’re approaching your forties and you have kids or pets or both, and you barely want to get off the couch when you get home, and pizza or takeout is almost always the easiest answer for dinner. That metabolism that got you through benders in college and late night partying while you started your career; thats long gone, pal. Now what? I’ll tell you what, you’re going to wake up in the morning and see a “fattie”. And you’re going to not like it. At some point, maybe not the first time you see the fattie in the mirror (denial is a powerful thing), you’ll want to make changes. You’ll want to start getting back together with the saturday morning football guys, and all your alley cat buds are now racing cyclocross, which looks like the best excuse to drink beer you’ve ever seen.

That’s when you’re going to find out how hard the road back is. Changing just one routine is hard, think about how hard it is to basically change your whole life in order to get back to where you were before. It will take way more discipline than you ever imagined to get back to even close to where you were. I’ve been working on it for 4 years now, and while Ive lost around 50 pounds, I still have a lot of work ahead of me.

With that said, the road back, just like the ride home after a bunch of hill repeats (which is where I came up with all this), is a challenge you can and will overcome. Be confident, expect speedbumps, and know that it won’t all come off in a day.

Or right now, while you’re still fit, you can do the right things (eat healthy most of the time, and do something athletic more often than Saturdays) and maybe you will never have to go down that road.

Because the road back is so much harder…

PS. Here’s a little fun to go with today’s serious message. It’s STANLEY TIME!

His snout is all terrier, but those ears are totally chihuahua

Look at all those spots coming in!

I can be bought (New blog, 2012 fundraising raffle, win an iPad 2!)

First off, welcome to the new site. You’ll clearly notice a ton of changes (new blog host, new theme, new layout, sponsor links, etc.) but the blog feeds and subscriptions should still work fine. If you’re a friend through Google Friend Connect, that service is being replaced by Google+ so I didn’t install that feature on the blog, but I’m hoping those people will still be able to find me. I don’t usually go begging for comments, but please let me know what you think of the new theme, if everything is working for you, if the new colors give you seizures, etc.

The raffle: The response to last years raffle was so strong, I definitely had to go that route again this year.  Of course, I’m working on bringing in some great prizes, and the rules will work the same as last year. For every $5 you donate, you get an entry into the raffle. At the end of the raffle, I’ll put all the entries in a spreadsheet and pick numbers using random.org to select the winners. This year there will be several prizes given away in addition to the grand prize. The last date to donate to be qualified for any of these prizes is 2/29/12.

The prizes: I’ve still got a lot coming in, but here’s a taste of what I have so far:

- peeled snacks fruit picks variety pack

- Yurbuds sports headphones and a Yurbuds can coozie (for your post workout refreshments)

- Polar prize pack: Men’s FT40 Heart Rate Monitor, hat, t-shirt, drawstring bag, and stickers

- Justin Beiber autographed photo (personally obtained at CES 2012)

- and several more things I’m just waiting on from the mail in order to announce.

And if Justin Beibers autograph isnt enough, when we reach the amount needed to donate the 5th chair, I’m giving away an iPad 2 with anyone who has made a minimum of a $5 donation to that point being eligible. I’ll use the same process as listed above. I’ll be giving away additional smaller prizes each time we hit the amount needed to donate a chair, even before the raffle ends.

How to donate: Anytime you want to donate, just click on the “Donate” link in the menu bar, which takes you to my page on the Eleonore Rocks team store. This page lets you “buy me” for various dollar amounts ranging between $5 and $450. Each week I get an email from the folks that run the foundation with a list of who has donated and how much, and I’ll give a weekly update of the donation totals to date.

I chose this charity for a lot of reasons (I get to race with a team, I’ve secretly always wanted a pink and purple blog and racing kit, the charity is based in Ohio, and it helps little tiny babies), but the most important thing to know is this is a charity with extremely low overhead, operated by volunteers, so every dollar other than what it takes to keep the website up, and send some mail goes right towards caring for families of newborns in crisis.

PS. My training is going awesome. “Dr. Pain” had me out Saturday for 20 miles in the wind and rain. Having the plan to follow and a coach to support it has really been quite helpful

PPS. Seriously, I’m raffling off a Justin Beiber autograph. One of you folks is going to make your Tween girl very happy!

 

No soup for SOPA

Lot’s of sites are blacked out today including everything from WordPress, which in a way makes me glad I haven’t transitioned. See, a blackout of my content today would be against my will, and no matter who does it, I don’t want it happening. (I’ve since been informed that the WordPress blackout was an opt-in, which is a much better process). I support the general idea of the blackout to educate those who wouldn’t pay attention otherwise (teens, less internet or politically savvy folks), and I support specifically sites whose whole purpose is to provide information about someone else’s content in joining the boycott (Read the statement at GamingNexus on why the site is joining the blackout). But I don’t want to be censored on the one platform I have, even if it’s by the people who provide my service.

I know I’m not the original intended target of either SOPA or PIPA, but I know I could be affected just as much as anyone else. I pay for all of my online music (except that streamed freely via Pandora or Grooveshark), I don’t pirate movies or video games, and I generally am a law abiding internet citizen.

Except when I do this:

I prefer the term fixation to the term obsession

See, I don’t know who originally made this picture, or if the artist even legally had rights to use the Star Wars logo or the likenesses of the Star Wars characters. I don’t even know if the link I found this picture at is the original owner. The effort to track down the owner of this picture and provide their copyright information would far outweigh the value of including it in a post. And that’s the rub of SOPA. See, under SOPA, if say LucasFilm said “Hey Blogger.com, you have a bunch of people violating our copyrights, shut down”, it’s potential that the entire Blogger site could be shut down.

Now as Blogger is owned by Google, they could probably fight the shut down order, and maybe even win. But what about the person who is the user of the service. We’re down for the whole time that the fight goes on. And what if this shutdown happens to twitter, or just say twitpic, a service that maybe can’t afford to fight a lawsuit. Either they take the cost of the shutdown and try to work out an agreement with the IP holder, or they take the cost in both users lost and effort, by removing the images. 
But here’s what really sucks: Right now, most internet copyright law is only applied if you’re either A. Trying to make money off someone elses work (ie. If I sold T-shirts with the above image on it on my site), or B. Claiming it as your own (anyone who knows me knows I could never make anything this cool). I’m not trying to steal money or credit from anyone, I just love Star Wars and reference it whenever I can because it’s had a big influence on my life. Sometimes that’s best done visually. And under SOPA or PIPA, I could get shut down, or even get Blogger shut down just by doing what this. No one in the world thinks I’m responsible for creating Star Wars or the above image, but by not citing it (or for that matter not having any way to cite it because I have no idea who created it), I could cause a heap of trouble under the new law. And that’s just ridiculous.
So please, look for ways to reach out to your legislators to help work against SOPA/PIPA. Because information used in a non-profiteering or credit claiming way should continue to be treated as “fair use” even if it technically violates the antiquated copyright laws, until such laws are changed. And support content creators who use Creative Commons licensing, which gives you an easy way to find who to cite, and you can use to your hearts content (no limited-use clause) without fear of repercussion.
PS. I know this was way off topic for me, but I think it’s an important one.
PPS. If this Pippa wants to target me, I’m good with that.
Oops. I did it again
PPPS. Dr Pain, as I’m affectionately calling my coach, tried to make my quads explode with hill repeats yesterday. The hill wasn’t that steep but it’s 2 minutes of climbing, and into a gusting headwind that was hitting 20 MPH at points. 

Lost Vegas: the gadgets and fun of CES

Each year I go to CES with the thought that this will be the year I eat healthy, exercise every day (beyond the 4-6 miles of walking each day that come with going to the show), win a ton of money, and make a bunch of new industry contacts. Every year, I come home disappointed that I failed at least one of those goals. Usually, it isn’t the money one, so I’m often not too disappointed. This year, luck wasn’t with me on the casino show floor, but I had some pretty good results against the rest of my goals.

First, let’s get into the fun stuff: There were all sorts of great new things to see at CES this year, along with a bunch of stuff that had been previously announced that I finally got a chance to get a hands on look at. The device I went into the show most excited to see was the Garmin 910XT. The top of the line all-in-one multi-sport training watch that people have been clamoring for is finally shipping. My first attempt to get a feel for the new device was at a small event on Monday evening and was thwarted by a dead battery, but I got a chance on the show floor to spend at least a couple minutes exploring the interface of this new summit of triathlon technology. It’s at least 10% lighter than my 305, and easily far more advanced. With the ability to track indoor swims, improved open water swim GPS tracking, and a redesigned interface that allows increased user customization, it really has basically everything you’d want in a training device. The reps on the floor said they’d get me a sample to review, which hopefully will allow me to put this thing through it’s paces.
This picture of the 910XT is much better than the one I took on the show floor

A few days prior to the show, I saw on twitter that reigning Ironman World Champion Craig “Crowie” Alexander was headed to Las Vegas for CES. He didn’t mention what he would be representing, and it turns out that he had joined Jabra, an audio device company, as a spokesman for their new Jabra SPORT headphone line. They specialize in bluetooth/wireless, but also have a couple of nice looking corded earbuds as well. Crowie was on a treadmill for much of the event, getting in almost a full marathon training run while demonstrating how well the product stayed in place for folks on the run. The best part of course was that he stopped to talk to myself and another triathlete for about 20 minutes. A great conversation where I mostly listened (and if you know me, that’s saying something). Topics included the WTC point system to qualify for Kona (doesn’t like it, and thinks the previous winners get too big an advantage), his race schedule (he’s doing 6 races this year including Abu Dhabi in just a couple months), and Lance Armstrong racing Kona in 2012. Crowie says Lance is definitely racing, unless he’s in jail. Lances people reached out to Crowies people to get tips. Crowie said they never talked but his advice would have been “don’t come!” and thinks Armstrong would bring a lot of attention to the sport if he did line up in Hawaii. Meeting him was definitely one of the highlights of my trip, plus I got to see him ride the mechanical bull!
You get the hat if you ride the bull… I didn’t ride the bull

Along with the expected of CES, there were also the unexpected, particularly a couple of fitness tech devices that caught my eye. One of these was the Basis, a new device that uses 5 sensors to provide a more accurate reading of your activities throughout the day, and what stress and other daily effects can have on your body. Starting with the 3D accellerometer, but then adding skin tempreature, galvonic skin sensors, heart rate, and a couple of others allow the device to give a more complete picture of not just what you’re doing but how you’re doing with what looks like ti will be a pretty snappy web interface. They’re still a ways from being available, but at $199, it’s likely to give the fitbit a run for it’s money.

There is so much to talk about in each of the “extreme sport camera” and headphone spaces, I’m going to devote blogs to those over the next couple days. I’ll try to space them out so that everyone isn’t bored to death with new tech geekery. Because I know you’re all really here to read about me and how I’m doing.
On that point, I’m doing great! Training has been going well, and I lost 2 pounds in Las Vegas (it was that and the $300 I lost in vegas that prompted the title of the blog). Oh, and I’ll have more info about my Team Eleonore Rocks fundraising this week too.

Breaking News: Ben Berry to race for Team Eleonore Rocks in 2012

Las Vegas, NV 1/12/12

Today we are happy announce that Ben Berry has accepted the opportunity to race for Team Eleonore Rocks in 2012. In an official statement issued by his press agent dog, Stanley, Mr. Berry was quoted as saying “I was more than pleased to learn of Eleonore Rocks interest in my racing for them. It has been a long time goal of mine to wear the Maglia Rosa at the Giro d’Italia, so in order to prepare for that eventuality, racing the 2012 season in a partially pink kit really appealled to me. Plus, as member of the CAHL Kings rec league hockey team will tell you, purple jerseys are slimming, and I need all the slimming I can get.” Ben further stated “When Andy Potts heard I’d decided to join the team, he did the copy cat thing and agreed to help the program again this year, though he wasn’t man enough to go all the way and race in a pink kit.” Mr. Berry’s statement looked to go on for pages and pages, but Stanley edited them for brevity chewed them to shreds, leaving only the final paragraph intact. “In closing, I want to thank the Eleonore Rocks staff for putting faith in me to race on their behalf and be the kind of competitor that can proudly represent their cause on and off the course. I’m going to give 100% to training and helping them help little tiny future triathletes and their families in a time of great need.”

The Eleonore Rocks Triathlon team is sponsored by the following companies whose donations assist in making the procress of training and racing easier so that athletes can focus their efforts on fundraising and preparing for racing:

All3sports.com
Rudy Project
Kestrel Bikes
INFINIT Nutrition
CEP Socks
K-Swiss
FuelBelt
Speedfill
BlueSeventy
ISM Saddles
Headsweats
Tribike Transport

(In all seriousness, Eleonore Rocks Foundation is a terrific charity, working on the front lines to help families whose newborns are experiencing serious health conditions. None of the money I raise on behalf of Eleonore Rocks will go to offset race fees or anything else. Every dollar goes directly to the charity, and will help fund the purchase of rocking chairs for Neo-natal Intensive Care Units, or to directly assist in helping these families. As I’ve also changed my Ulman Cancer Fund/Team Fight fundraising to go towards the Half Full Triathlon, a new Rev3 race where all race fees are donated to Ulman Cancer Fund, not $1 of the money I raise this year will go towards anything but the benefit of the people these charities help fight. I’ll begin my fundraising in ernest as soon as I have all the details. I have some great things planned to meet my goals for the season, so please stay tuned over the next couple weeks.)

PS – Vegas is awesome. I’m super sore, tired, and I’m ready to get home to Rachelle and Stanley, but I’ve met great people, had fun, and I have a whole bunch of new stuff lined up for the blog for the next few months.

Week 1 endeth, Vegas awaits

I’m about 15 hours from touching down in Las Vegas, and I’m nearly ready. A little packing, a little sleeping, and I’m on my way. It’s bound to be an exciting and fun week, and I’ve actually got appointments this year specifically for the blog. Bloggers aren’t invited as press this year, but because I’m going as press for the gaming site, I was able to schedule a couple appointments and another meeting or two for the blog. I even bought business cards. Kinda funny, but it will help me to talk to folks about the cycling/tri/sports/health technology that will be on display. I can’t wait for it to start, but I also know it will be over faster than I’ll want it to.

While I’m looking forward to Vegas, this past week has been quite the interesting experience. My first week of coaching included the following:
- 4 rides totalling 52 miles
- 3 walk/runs totalling 6 mi, including 2 VO2 test runs (5 x 1:00 uphill runs)
- 1k yards swimming, which should have been 2k, but the pool was closed

It was a really great week of starting to train again, but hopefully the memory of how hard I had to work to get started again will stick with me when next off season roles around. My legs are pretty tired from back to back days of 17 mile rides. But I really did enjoy the work. Sadly, with the conference schedule and already planning for the sore feet I get each year for all the walking, I won’t be doing quite as much next week, just riding each day unless it turns out the Excalibur pool is open (they say it is, and that it’s heated) and worth doing laps in.

Word from the team I applied for is that they’re going through the applications now, which is exciting. Plus, I sent it a good part of my planned race schedule for next year into my coach to get her input. I can’t wait to start sharing all this exciting news with everyone.

New Year, New Plans, New & Old Challenges, New Successes

Happy New Year everyone, unless you’re Chinese then Happy whatever day it is for you! Rach and I kept it low key, just chilling out at home with Stanley. For the past couple years we’d spent New Years Day running a 10k, and then walking off the Massachusetts cold in a local mall. This year, I started my training with Coach Colleen with a 12 mile bike in the gorgeous 68 degree sunshine of North Carolina.

Of course, that weather wasn’t to last as it’s dropped 15 degrees each of the past two days as I’ve begun implementing my new training plan. The first couple of weeks are pretty light, as Coach gets an idea of what I can handle it, and to account for my week in Vegas, which results in me having very tired feet every day, so I’ll be biking every day and hopefully getting in a swim or two if I can find an indoor pool. 
It isn’t all easy stuff these first couple of weeks though; one of the first challenges she gave me was a VO2 run today, 5 x 1:00; uphill. Let me just say that it might not sound like much but to me that was a huge challenge. I made it through, but I totally forgot to put on my HRM, so I volunteered to do it again. Gotta make sure she’s got everything it takes to turn me into a lean(er), mean (ok, still pretty nice) triathlon machine. I got through todays run, but boy that 5th minute was a challenge. She’s going to roll it in sometime after I get back 
The next challenge was that family drama reared its head again today making this afternoon pretty awful, and Rach needed time out of the house, which meant a trip for coffee that ended up at McDonalds. We drove away with just Rachelle’s coffee and had a healthy lunch at Subway.
Dinner has been a real challenge for me lately; I get through breakfast and lunch just fine, but then have trouble keeping myself under control. Tonight, a correctly portioned healthy sandwich topped off my awesome day so well that I have points for a snack, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to avoid it. I’m drinking more water as well.
I’ve got a couple of swims coming up this week, and I’m pretty excited to get back in the pool and start working. Coach is a masters swim coach, so I know eventually I’m going to get some hard core pool punishment. I can’t wait! I even was able to tell her that she could double the distance of my first swim workouts. We seem to get along very well, which has just added to my excitement about the coming season and preparing for it.
Oh, and I’ve lost 2.2 pounds since Friday, which I’m thrilled about considering I’m still giving myself a little leeway on the food while my body adjusts to the workouts. Next week will be a real challenge, but with all the walking for the show and riding for the training, I ought to have no problems. 
To say I’m very excited for the coming year is understating it by about a factor of 100, and that’s even with no news on the team selection yet.