Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Happy Almost Thanksgiving

Well I have been extremely delinquent here for a long time. Almost two years, in fact. I've been trying to figure out why that is and I've reached some important conclusions.

The first and most important is that I've spent the last couple years trying to figure out what I want to be doing with all my time that isn't spent at work. For the last five years or so, I've claimed that one of my ambitions is to be more involved in comedy and to put up lots of good stuff. I've put up some, sure, but not enough to make the strides I'd like to make creatively.

Maybe the next logical thought is what that even has to do with my athletic endeavors. I ask myself that frequently because I know the two can coexist and I've written about that struggle. But I've really only written about it from one angle, which is the logistics of it all. I have historically been very bad at waking up in the morning to work out, which leaves me with the evenings. Unfortunately, all of anything I would be doing in comedy happens in the evening, as well. The truth I've been forced to confront in the last two months is that I can't do both well if I only have the evenings to make that happen. I can either be really good at running or put a lot of time into improv/sketch/storytelling, but I can't do both well.

Over the course of the year, I've taken almost the entire improv curriculum at The People's Improv Theater. It has enhanced my life in ways I didn't even know were possible. I've become a better improviser and performer and also gotten the courage to get up onstage to tell a story in front of hundreds of strangers. I've also met another outstanding group of people (in addition to The Chupacabra Conspiracy) with whom I've been able to perform and collaborate.

Spending time learning and performing with both groups over the past year has forced me to confront the deeper truth that there's more risk for me in pursuing my comedy than there is in pursuing running and triathlon.

Running and triathlon are a part of who I am. Although I can exist without doing them regularly, I feel less myself without them. I have a lower baseline happiness when I don't make time for running, in particular. What I love about running and what I've always loved about it is that I generally know what I'm getting myself into. I'll be happy with my results as long as I show up and do the work. My race results might not be quite what I want them to be if I haven't done the right workouts, but there's at least a level of satisfaction but just getting out there and getting in some miles.

The same is not quite true with comedy, and probably many other creative endeavors. It's not enough to show up and put in the time. I run for myself. I make comedy to evoke an emotional reaction from other people.

EDIT: I started this a couple weeks ago, but can't bear to see it go unpublished for too long, like so many other posts I start. So I'm leaving the heading outdated, as is. Stick with me. I'll figure out how to make it all work.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Moses Zone

Yesterday, my friend Moses posted on my Facebook wall asking a few questions about what will be his first triathlon. He has a list of criteria that he'd like the race to meet and asked if I had any input.

I sure do!

Let's first establish our criteria:
  • Location: the event should be in NYC, NJ, or PA. We're looking to generally stay local.
  • Distances:
    • Swim: ~1/4 mile
    • Bike: 25+ miles
    • Run: 10+ miles (I think? This wasn't specified and could be in kilometers)
  • Price: ~$100
It won't be hard to find a triathlon that is relatively local. If I do a search on Trifind (the website Moses has been using) and narrow it down to all triathlons in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania for the remainder of the year, I get 94 events! To narrow it down further, I'm only going to include those that are within about 100 miles of NYC.

This is where it starts to get tricky. Moses is looking for the swim of a sprint triathlon, bike of an Olympic, and run of almost a half iron race (unless he means 10 kilometers, in which case it's an Olympic distance run, as well). Below, I list the distances for the most common types of triathlon:

I've established a designated Moses Zone because these are the distances I think he should consider for his first race. Generally, I recommend that everyone start with a sprint tri in order to let themselves gauge how they feel about the experience before committing to a long, arduous training plan that they might not be inclined to follow for long. However, I know Moses has a high baseline level of fitness. Moses could definitely pull off an Olympic distance triathlon for his first.

It gets even trickier here. Although Moses has the ability to train for and race an Olympic distance triathlon in not too much time, the price of Olympic distance races tends to be higher than $100.

Moses hasn't given me a specific time frame in which to work, but I'm going to eliminate any triathlon in the month of August. At least a month of training should be a prerequisite here.

We're not going to be able to meet all of Moses's criteria, but we can come close. If I apply the logic set above, I'm now looking for an Olympic distance triathlon within roughly 100 miles of NYC that occurs no earlier than September 1. This yields 8 results on Trifind and my natural next step is to create a spreadsheet with relevant data because I love spreadsheets and data.

This is my general process when I'm looking for my next triathlon. Hopefully Moses will find it helpful. One way or the other, I have a lot of confidence that he'll pick the one that's right for him.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Moth StorySlam: A First - Part 1

I have a little time before I'm meeting Dr. Sassypantsmagoo for a run, so I thought I would start on one of the posts I meant to write a few months ago.

I am a huge fan of The Moth, which is a storytelling show and podcast. I believe I have listened to every story that's available on the website. The one thing I wasn't able to do for a very long time was get tickets to a live Moth show of any kind. For a long time (although I think they've remedied this now), the tickets would go on sale about a week before the event, but I was never sure exactly when and they sell out almost instantly.

One serendipitous morning, my friend Vicky managed to check the site at the perfect time and tickets were still available. We made an immediate decision to go (there's not a lot of time for ruminating) and I bought a ticket for each of us. The event was a StorySlam and the site listed the evening's topic as "Bosses." A StorySlam is essentially an open mic where anyone can submit to tell a story that relates to the evening's topic. The only real "rule" aside from relating to the topic (and even that is somewhat flexible) is that the story must be true and it must be your own. Over the course of the evening, ten storytellers are chosen to perform onstage.

For the week before the show, I racked my brain trying to think of a story I wanted to tell. I thought of a few I could tell, but none that I felt like I needed to. It's a hard feeling to articulate, but after lots of thought, I resigned myself to the idea that I was going to pass up the opportunity to tell a story. Rather than force a story that would seem (to me, anyway) contrived, I wanted to wait until I had something true to say. I wanted to tell a story with not just factual, but also emotional truth because that is the crux of storytelling as a performance genre.

The Monday of the show arrived and I could barely contain myself during the workday. Since I didn't intend to submit, I decided that this would be a good opportunity to commute to the show by running. Kill two birds with one stone and all. My timing could have been better, but I arrived about 15 minutes before the show started and had an absolute bear of a time getting my ticket. Fortunately, Vicky had gotten there on time and was saving us seats.

When I got to my seat, I found a slip of paper on it that said "Tell us about a time when you took charge," which I thought was just another way of interpreting the theme of "bosses." Suddenly, I thought of a story I wanted to tell. I scribbled it onto the slip of paper and brought it to the front. Unbeknownst to me in the moment, I actually dropped it in the wrong container but got some help from the person standing at the front with the submissions. Crisis averted.

Ophira Eisenberg was the show host. I'm a fan of her stories, but she's even better in person. She explained the format of the show and also how many people had submitted. I imagined lots of people would submit to tell a story and that the odds that I would actually be chosen were slim to none. I was completely wrong and shocked to learn that only nineteen people had submitted. Nineteen! My odds of being chosen were slightly higher than 50%!

All the storytellers aren't chosen at once. Each person goes up, tells their story, and then chooses the next person. From the minute I put my name into the pot, I knew I was going up. It was just a hunch. One by one, stories were told and I had a small heart attack every time a name was called that wasn't mine.

As the ninth person's story came to a close, there was a split second when I thought maybe it wasn't my day and I wouldn't go up after all. But he (she? I don't even remember) stuck their hand in the bag and pulled out a slip of paper and I heard Ophira Eisenberg read my name. I turned to Vicky and made a less than family-friendly exclamation before heading up to the stage. Keep in mind, I was still in my running clothes.

I did not expect this post to drag out to multiple parts, but here we are. To be continued!

Monday, July 27, 2015

July (Almost August) 2015 Catchup

This is shaping up to be my worst year for blog posts. I've been meaning to catch up for some time, because there were four or five times over the last few months that I wanted to write and just never sat down to do it. Call it laziness or a funk, but I've been terribly remiss with regard to blogging.

I was inspired to post something tonight because I spent the last few hours of it watching livestream of the Ironman Lake Placid finish line. It's something I highly recommend doing if you're looking for some big ol' feels.

I was at a social function a few weeks ago and met a friend of a friend who slipped into casual conversation that she was set to do Lake Placid in a short three weeks. Prior to this, we had chatted a bit about riding and triathlon in general, but it took some time for her to mention the Ironman. She revealed that she was anxious about it because she had attempted the same race in 2013 but hadn't made the bike cutoff. She was very apprehensive about even talking about it much. I had some relevant insight, as someone who has found myself in the same exquisitely agonizing situation (well-documented, in a four part post that starts here). We commiserated about it for awhile, and eventually parted ways. She said she wasn't completely sure she was going to do it while I did my best to encourage it.

It wasn't my day, so I won't make this its own epic saga (although maybe she'll do a guest post about it...). Suffice it to say, she started and finished like a champ and she is an Ironwoman. I am very glad she overcame her fear of the distance and was able to power through all the tough times that come with a daylong race.

I'm liking this guest post idea more and more, so I'm going to try to make that happen. As for me, I would like to post about a few things that have happened since we last touched base:

  • I told a story at the Moth StorySlam just about a week after my last post. It was (perhaps not shockingly) about running and Hurricane Sandy.
  • I finished the New Jersey Marathon at the end of April and ran it just about the time I anticipated.
  • Brooklyn Half
  • Queens 10K (maybe)
  • Challenge Atlantic City half iron tri
  • Party With Purpose - 5K in Hoboken
  • Tomorrow is Day 1 of serious marathon training
Now that I've broken the ice, hopefully these posts will come easier. Congrats to M (kept at least partially anonymous for now) and to all the Lake Placid (and other Ironman races that happened today) finishers. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

I'm Still Alive!

Which, based on the number of times I've posted this year, may come as a surprise. I had a decent January when it came to training, but a very rocky February and March due to some good reasons and some bad reasons. But those are over and done, so let's move forward.

A few noteworthy things have happened since I last posted. I signed up for a half iron distance triathlon on June 28, and I'm really excited about it. It's been a long time since I trained for/did a tri and I forgot how much I enjoy it. With that in mind, I was very excited to go on my first ride of the season two weeks ago. It was a group ride that was sent to me by my friend Bern. It was good to get out on the road, but also entirely too cold for a very long ride so we didn't do much more than 17 miles. The other good news is that it sounds like the group will go out for a ride every couple of weeks. Hopefully gone are the days when I spend an entire season doing training rides by myself!

I also signed up for the Chicago Marathon lottery. I think it would be really fun to do Chicago, since I've spent a little time there for work now. It closes April 21, so I imagine decisions will be made soon after. If I end up doing that, I'll have to miss the Staten Island Half for the first time in 6 years. That's okay, though. Sometimes it's good to change up the routine.

Finally, I'm really proud to say that I've run 50 miles per week for the last three. That's more than I've done in the past but I think it's sustainable for awhile as long as I listen to my body and rest if it's necessary. One thing is for sure, the fact that I've managed it has given me a huge confidence boost about my ability to stick to a training routine. I was beginning to wonder if I'd lost it.

Hopefully this means more posts for me. Happy Easter, everyone!

I set a trail on Friday and the view from the West Side Highway was lovely, even if I didn't capture it very well.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Happy 2015!

Checking in. It's been a really super long time since I posted anything so I figured I'd get started again.

January is off to a slower start than I'd anticipated, but that's okay. I'm starting to find my groove. I don't remember if I posted on this last year or not, but Amortya convinced me to sign up for the New Jersey Marathon a full year in advance. So that's what I'm training for. I also signed up to try for 2015 in 2015. I'm behind, but confident that I'll gain momentum as the year continues. I forgot how much I dislike running in the cold.

Also, also, I'm not drinking until the marathon. It's been a little while since I decided to do my personal version of Prohibition, but I'm convinced it's going to be very helpful. So far, I'm right about that.

Lastly (maybe?), I got a new pair of Vibrams. It has literally been years since I ran in Vibrams but I really did like it when I used to wear them. So far, the transition has not been difficult. The only issue I've encountered is a couple of troublesome blisters on my left foot. As of now, I'm only using the Vibrams at the gym and don't anticipate running much more than 6 or 7 miles in them on a given day. I anticipate wearing them outside, though, once the weather gets better.

As usual, I'll try to post more often for the same reason I always liked posting: it keeps me honest.