Saturday, October 17th 2015

You ever have one of those days where you felt unbeatable?  Well that’s how my morning felt today.  I set a goal for myself of a four hour Brick workout.  I’ve been on a role this week, by simply sticking with and seeing through my daily workout plan each day.  Today was the big test to see whether I can keep momentum going – because four hours is a decent chuck of change to spend breaking a sweat.  
The Brick workout began at my gym, with an hour on the stationary bike.  My plan today was very specific, which allowed me to really focus on the task at hand and limit the basic distractions (like “boy I would rather be asleep still” or “I’d much rather be playing NHL 16 on my Playstation”).  I stuck to my plan, keeping the bike above 15mph with 70 revolutions per minute.  After an hour, I had clipped off 16.2 miles.  My legs felt a bit wobbly, so it was difficult to transition to running – but I figured that running outside in the brisk air and playing the part of a tourist would help keep me moving as the clock kept chugging along.
Three hours flew by.  Let me show you why:

I began by running in Central Park.  Check it out – the marathon route banners have been hung! 

Then I ran down Broadway.  Letterman’s studio looks different….

I ran down Broadway to 23rd street and the Flatiron Building.  To all of you tourists coming to NYC, check out Eataly on 23rd!  Yum.

Kept heading south – ran into a NYC street fair! If you are in town and you see one….score some zeppoles!!!!

Kept heading south, through NYU and Washington Square Park…

Into SoHo, past one of my old hangouts, The Bitter End….

As I got closer to battery city, the tower looms over the skyline…..


Got to Cuty Hall and headed over the Brooklyn Bridge.  Then I turned around and headed back into Manhattan….


Got to Wall Street.  Trinity Church is amazing – on 9/11, while disaster rained all around it, not a single pane of glass was shattered on this little edifice.


Across the street from the exchange is where Heorge Washington was sworn in as our first President….

South of the exchange is Delmonico’s – one of the oldest steakhouses in the city.  Check it out if you find yourself playing the part of the tourist one day….


Before heading up the West Side Highway, I paid my respects at the 9/11 memorial.  That was an emotional few minutes for me, as I lost a few friends and associates that day.  If you are a tourist, you should stop by the pools – but please be respectful.


I headed back along the west side highway and called it a day.  

Lesson Learned: have a plan.  Make it detailed.  And then keep your promise to yourself by carrying that plan out, to the letter.


So it’s been about 5 weeks since I finished my 500 Miles for SMA effort in California, and I have to admit: I am still not 100%.

I trained for about 18 months in order to be as prepared as I could to crank out the daily mileage I needed in order to get myself from the Presidio in San Francisco to the front gates of Disneyland.  Each morning, I would wake up, as John Gutfriend (former head of Solomon Brothers) “…ready to bite the ass off a bear”.  (I have no idea where the heck he got that saying from – but once I heard that saying, I have always wanted to use that quote in a blog post…and now I have.)  I would swim, bike, run, and lift weights with a singularity of purpose: I built up my body to break it down over the course of 18 days in August.  After working so hard to prepare for a multi-day endurance run, it felt good to have the work I put in result in accomplishing my goal.  However, I was so focused on this singular goal that I really did not think about how I would keep my momentum going once I arrived home in New York City after Labor Day weekend.

One week went by without running a single mile.  Without a visit to the gym, and my bike gathering dust in the basement of my apartment building.  That Sunday afternoon, I realized that I hadn’t broken a decent sweat in a week -and what’s more, I did not feel the urge to do anything about this situation.  Upon realizing that my focus was non-existent, all I kept saying to myself was “Manache!”(which is Italian for either “oh hell!”or “damn!”).

Week two comes along.  OK, I need to start getting back into a routine.  I have marathons coming up in October and November.  As much as I tried to motivate myself, the pilot light was still out.  Manache!

So here comes week three.  OK, NOW I need to start developing my routine again.  Once or twice, I actually got up early, got changed into workout clothes….and then proceeded to throw on Netflix.  Manache!!!

Finally, as week four began, I was able to shake off the cobwebs and run a few miles.  Each time I went out there, I would find myself shutting down in the middle of my workout.  For example: on Wednesday, the plan was to to warm up with a mile, then do 4 hill repeats up Cat Hill in Central Park.  Then recover with a slow waddle around the lower loop and call it a morning.  I got 2 repeats into my workout without any focus whatsoever on what I was going, when I stood at the top of the hill and exclaimed aloud “…MANACHE!!!”….and then I packed it in and headed home to my Netflix.  I was disappointed at my lack of focus and the way I simply quit mid way though a workout – but at least I actually got off the couch and into my Brooks.

I refer to Mondays as “The Great Reset Day”.  Why?  Because whenever my planned weekly routine went south mid week, I always tell myself “OK – starting NEXT WEEK, you’re going to adhere to the plan and cut out all distractions.  Buckle down.” I told myself this numerous times coming into this week.  Last weekend, I prepared a schedule and nutrition plan, created a calendar that included all scheduled workouts for the next four weeks, and swore to myself that this week would be different.  This would be the week that I lit the pilot light and got some momentum going.  So far, I am five for five: I’ve gotten up early five days in the row and I’ve gotten a serious workout in each morning.  The result has been a change in my mindset from the post-event hangover to a much more positive, energetic athlete.

I”m tired of starting over.  It’s time for me to stop giving up on my workouts and get back to grinding each day.  If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there are 86,400 seconds in a day, and how you choose to use them is critical.  You can sit on the couch and watch Netflix – but if that’s your choice, you cannot expect optimal performance on race day.  Your other option is simple: make a plan.  Make it thorough.  Promise yourself that you are going to stick to it, come hell or high water.  Then…keep your promise.

My Unicorn…

This is a big weekend in endurance sports.

We start on Saturday, with the Ironman World Championships in Kona.  2.4 mile swim, 112 on the bike…and then a marathon.  The gun goes off at 7am.  All athletes have until 9:20am to hit the first transition area (otherwise called “T1”) – miss that cutoff by a single second, and your day is over.  Then the athletes hop on their bikes and crank out 112 miles out in the open Hawaiian sun, fighting the fierce Kona winds (which are known to knock grown men off their bikes).  All athletes needs to hit the second transition area (“T2”) by 5:30pm.  Again: miss the cutoff time by a single second, and your day is through.  Once you make it through T2, you throw on your running shoes and begin your 26.2 run.  By now your arms and back are tired from the swim, and your legs are burning from the bike.  You also become aware of the final countdown: you have to cross the finish before midnight.  140.6 miles.  1,800 athletes, all of them absolute BEASTS.

Now here’s something cool that the athletes in Kona do that I wish other races around the world would embrace: there is a tradition that the male and female winners at Kona return to the finish line for the final hour of the event in order to cheer on the final athletes as they fulfill their dreams.  The athletes that finish in the last hour may have their medal draped over their necks by the champion.  Here’s another incredible fact about Kona: as the sun goes down and the night begins, the crowds don’t lessen.  They get bigger.  They get louder.  The final hour is magical.

This is my unicorn.  To cross the finish at Kona and have those magic words yelled over the loudspeaker: “Joseph Kolinsky, you are an Ironman!” by the announcer has been a dream of mine since I began following the sport in the late 1980’s.  I’d watch this incredible race every year on ABC’s Wide World of Sports (and for those of you who have never heard that iconic theme song for this show, go and google it – trust me, it’;s worth the keystrokes), and see the level of pain the athletes were willing to go through in order to complete this event.  I was absolutely blown away.  I’ve been a fan ever since.

On Sunday, the Chicago Marathon takes place.  Over 40,000 will run this one.  The course is flat and fast, and extremely fun.  I ran this one a couple of times, and it was 5 hours of bliss.

These events serve as an ongoing reminder: impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men.  You can do anything you put your mind to.  It doesn’t need to be a triathlon or a marathon – just choose a goal and work at it until to achieve it.  And if someone tells you that what you are shooting for is impossible, just tell them “…maybe for you it is.  Not for me.”