April 18, 2022

I learned something about myself over the weekend: I’m carrying way too much of me around, and it’s caused me to feel lazy. Feeling lazy then equates into acting lazy. Not a good cycle to perpetuate. Then I heard the voice.

No, it wasn’t the words of the Gods who you normally worry about incurring that wrath of, that sit high atop The Thing. It was the voice of a man that I considered a father figure for many, many years. The father of one of my oldest and best friends, Mr. Esposito (I just called him “Mr. Espo”) was a man that could have been pulled right out of a Scorcese screenplay. With broad shoulders, a thick handebar mustache and an accent that came from more than 50 years living in The Bronx, Mr. Espo was 100% alpha dog – a man that had a masters degree in street smarts. He was a guy whose words were uttered with complete confidence and commanding authority, wrapped in a thick accent.

(I have a point – just give me a minute or two to get there…)

One afternoon when I was about 10 years old, I was walking home from little league practice when a kid from my class – let’s call him Chris – joined me. For some odd reason, he began to tease me relentlessly, saying things like “you look like Alfred E Newman” and “you look like Ralph Mouth” (both are negative references – and if you don’t know why, Google is your friend). Comments like these were thrown out there using a whiny voice that added to the insults. Even at that age, I had a hot temper – so I dropped my Louisville Slugger and my dirty baseball glove, and squared off with him. Here’s the problem: I wasn’t the greatest pugilist on the little island I called home, so we both gave each other a couple of cuts and bruises. After the dust had settled and both of us looked at each other with a bit more respect than we had 5 minutes earlier, I continued my slow walk home…dreading the heat I’d get from my mother. About three blocks from my house, a white Chevy van pulled up to the curb, with All-Tone Painting painted on the sides of it in gold lettering. The passenger’s side window rolled down, and the driver bellowed: “HEY KING KONG!”

The voice.

Mr. Espo.

(“King Kong” was the nickname he gave me when I moved across the street from him.)

“King Kong – get in the truck. We’ll ride home.” Still slightly bloodied, I quickly tossed my stuff into the van and hopped into the seat. When Mr. Espo told you to do something, you just did it. No questions.

Once the door shut, the following conversation occurred…more or less:

“OK King Kong – I saw the whole thing.”

“Saw what?”

“Come on – smarten’ up.”

Now, for the uninitiated, the term “smarten’ up” can mean several things….

  • If you did something wrong and got caught – “smarten’ up or I give ya abatz” (abatz is slang for the Italian word battere, which means a beating)
  • If you bet on the weekly football slips and picked the Jets to either win or cover the spread – “You better smarten’ up with those Jets, they can’t even cover their mouths when they cough, stupido.”
  • If you got caught sipping on a can of crappy beer (aka Piels or PBR) – “Hey! You better smarten’ up with that crappy beer, and go get some mints before you go home.”

There are plenty of other ways to use the phrase…but you get the idea. Now where was I? Oh yeah: Mr. Espo just told me to smarten’ up, and I was right in the middle of trying to figure out in what way he meant this extremely important phrase, when he did me the favor of clearing that right up for me….

“Look here, Kong: when some faccia bruta (a simple derogatory term that means “ugly face”, but we tossed it around to mean someone that was just a jerk) tries to pick a fight with ya, ya gotta remember one thing.”

“I know, I know, Mr. Espo. Try to work it out. Fightin’ is no good.”

“…..No. Hooks to the body. Knocks the wind out of ’em, and ya don’t mark up his face. So that way, no proof of the fight. Think, Kong. Think. Smarten’ up and use your head for something more than a hat rack.”

And here I thought I was about to get abatz right in the head for fighting. I don’t know if I won the fight that day – but I remember Mr. Espo making me laugh on the way home. That make the hell I caught that night from my mom a bit easier to handle.

That was the voice I heard over the weekend. Mr. Espo. Smarten’ the hell up. Smarten’ up and get your crap together. Go get some focus. Make a plan and get to work.

Training Log: May 12th & 13th 2016

Wednesday was big for me.  Yesterday was a big step backward,  The knee barked again – and I listened by taking a rest day.  I need to get back into a groove after a bit of a slump, and that’s exactly what will happen.  By the time I found myself in front of the boob tube watching The Avengers for the 28th time, I was big-time sore and it took a bit of effort to get my lazy copious backside off the couch.  The fact that I fit in am AM and PM session was HUGE for me – because that’s the habit I need to form in order for me to have the best chance at becoming an Ironman this year.  Most of the Ironmen I have spoken to have been willing to share their training plans and ideas with me readily – they seem to simply love speaking about the sport.  So I’ve developed what I think is a fair estimate of the average number of hours they log in a normal training week.  The number scared me a little:  30.  So – I need to form solid habits, I need to do it quick, and they need to include two-a-days during the week.


Since yesterday felt like a success, I need to build on that and begin to develop the two-a-day habit.

  1. 4am Run: shooting for at least 6 miles this morning.  Easy pace.  Slower than yesterday.  I beat myself up yesterday, and I cannot do that to myself every single day – I’ll break down.  And that would suck.
  2. 5am Swim:  I need to work on my form, so I need to go find some wisdom.  My gym and my triathlon team offer weekly sessions at my gym’s pool, so I need to start showing up to them.  However – before I do – I need to build a simple base.  Once I can crank out 250 yards in the pool (5 complete laps) without stopping for a breather, I’ll be ready to join the other tadpoles in the class setting without worrying about looking like an utter fartknocker.  So this morning’s session will require me to log 1000 yards (20 laps) in a 10 x 100 format.  This should take somewhere around 30 minutes.  The Ironman swim is 2.4 miles (4,224 yards) in less than 2 hours and twenty minutes.  for my little 25 yard pool, a complete Ironman swim would be 169 laps.  169.  Crap.  Based on the math, I have approximately 54 seconds to complete each lap (50 yards) in order to give myself a small cushion of time as a buffer to get my butt out of the water and into T1 (the transition area where triathlete go from the swim to the bike).  To say I have work to do is a SEVERE understatement.  This should be fun!
  3. 6:30am Cross Training: This is a class that apparently combines endurance and strength.  I’ve gotten over the hump in my first classroom setting within the gym – now it’s time to see whether I can keep up with the Jones’ in a class that doesn’t involve me peddling a bike like a rapid lunatic for 45 minutes.  My legs will be a bit tired from the run and I should be feeling it all over from the swim (now that I know I need to become the Ironman equivalent of Aquaman, I’m going to be so focused on lap speed that I bet I’ll go harder than I ever have before in the pool), so this class should SUCK.  And as Tolstoy once said, “one must embraceth the suckatude.”
  4. 6:30pm Spin Class: On the way home from work, I’m going to shoot for 17 miles over the course of 45 minutes on the bike.  My speed has increased – so I am psyched about that.

In addition, I get to visit my doctor today.  Oy joy.

Training Results:


Training Log: May 8th 2016

Sundays are normally considered a recovery day.  However, I am training for my first Ironman and right now I am really worried about creating a base.  I need repetition to breed some confidence, and the only way that’s going to happen is if I put myself through the steps of a triathlon as often as I can.  I am betting that I’ll still be achy from Saturday’s workout – so this one should really test my current level of preparedness.


  1. RUN – I’ll start the day with a 90 minute run.  Looking to rack up at least 8 miles.  Any more is money in the bank.  I need to get to the gym by 7am.
  2. SWIM – Stage 2 of the morning is a one hour swim session from 7 to 8am. I’m looking to piece together 100yd repeats, and I’d like to see how many yards I can rack up in 60 minutes.  In an Ironman, you have 2 hours and 20 minutes to swim 4,400 yards.  So I really need to nail at least 2,000 yards at this point in order to feel a little confident.
  3. STRENGTH – After the swim, my shoulders, back and arms will be tired.  So at 8am, I’ll transition to some strength training.  The goal here is NOT to release my inner Ronnie Coleman – shooting for low weight and high reps instead of trying to primarily build muscle mass.  The goal here is to further fatigue my arms and back – really burn them out – before hopping on the bike.
  4. BIKE – 45 minutes  of spin class.  Rack up at least 16.5 miles.  Case closed. The goal here is to just stay focused on getting through the distance feeling as crappy as I am sure I’ll feel by this point.
  5. YOGA – That’s right – yoga.  Again.  Another Yoga For People That Cannot Touch Their Toes With a Ruler class for me.  By the end of this process, you guys will just refer to me as the Bronx Dali Frackin’ Lama.  Namaste, dammit.

Today I am trying to mix things up a bit.  It will work my endurance by the simple fact that I’ll need to work for a prolonged period of time.  However, this test gets harder by forcing myself to try new exercises that should work muscle groups that ordinarily don’t get stressed during my regular routines.


  1. RUN – I felt strong this morning.  the pace was slow but steady, and a little soggy.  The highlight: high-fiving a cameraman for one of those morning shows shot in Times Square.
  2. SWIM – 20 laps.  1,000 yards.  slow as all hell.  If I don’t pick this up, I’ll never make it to the bike portion of the Ironman.  And swimming is normally a strong suit for me – so I hopped out of the pool royally pissed off.
  3. STRENGTH – I transitioned to the weight room and did 4 sets of my normal
  4. full body routine.  By the time I finished I was completely burnt out.
  5. BIKE – the bike portion of my morning was cut short with a stabbing pain that developed on the inside part of my right knee.  that freaked me out a bit – because my bad knee is my left knee.  Wonderful…..
  6. YOGA -I scratched yoga class today.  why? because there’s some pain in my knee and I’m starting to worry about it.  The doc will check it out Thursday – so that will suck….

I did some research – and I found that Caesar used to require his legionnaires to enjoy wine before battle.  Better late than never – now where the hell is my corkscrew?

Training Log: May 7th 2016

Saturdays are tough workout days.  It’s usually long run day, so I have tried to pack on the workload that will build overall endurance and also round out demands on each core muscle group.  By the end of this long day, I should need a damn nap.


  1. RUN – I start the day with a long, relaxed run.  Out the door at 6am, and arrive at the gym just before 8am.
  2. BIKE – Stage 2 of the morning is a 45 minute spin class. This class on Saturday mornings is usually a lot of fun.  Great music.
  3. STRENGTH – After biking, I’ll take some time and work on core strength.  Gotta release the inner Thor.

Today is basically me getting into a core form of training routine.  Most days, running, biking and strength training will be a part of morning – so I need to build a base.


  1. RUN – that was fun.  very relaxed  8 miler got me down Broadway to union square and back.  the blah weather sucks, but jamming with a homeless dude to Stevie Wonder made up for it.
  2. BIKE – spin class.  45 minutes – 17.4 miles crushed.  Felt good afterward.
  3. STRENGTH – The Woo Dude was not around, so this workout was uneventful.  I just realized who the Woo Dude from the other day looked like…..he was the spitting image of Andrew Dice Clay’s character from that movie Casual Sex.  The Vin Man.


Swim –  0 yds

Bike – 55 miles 

Run – 17 miles

Strength Training – 1 hour

Cross Training (Classes) – 1 hour

Yoga (yes- yoga.  That’s not a damn typo) – 0

Training Log: May 6th 2016

Fridays are normally a more low-key of the week, as the weekend training schedule is usually pretty demanding.


  1. RUN – Heading outside tomorrow morning EARLY.  Looking to be out the door at 4am.  Going to shoot for a 10 miler this morning, and I should be at my gym at 6am to change out of my sweaty clothes and into stuff to ride in.  4am in Manhattan is pretty interesting….
  2. BIKE – 6:15am Spin Class.  The goal here is to clip off at least 17 miles in the 45 minute class.  This can be done by holding a pace somewhere between 21-22mph.
  3. CROSS TRAINING – At 5:30pm, I’m heading to a cardio Sculpt class.  THIS should be funny, because I don’t play well with others.  And….well…..yesterday may carry over a bit and I’ll WOOOOOOOOO for no reason whatsoever.

This morning’s workout is all about endurance.  I need to develop this routine so that knocking out double-digit mileage does not tax my system to the point where I am fried for the rest of the day.  This week I am treating myself like a lab rat, trying to find out how I react to levels of  physical stress.


  1. RUN –OK, so I called an audible while under the awning of my apartment building this morning.  At 5am I decided to hit the gym and mix up some stretching, ab work and sprint intervals instead of slogging through an extremely rainy early morning.  I completed 30 minutes of interval training on the DREADMILL, with 2 minutes sprinting and one minute of recovery.  Began at a 10min pace and actually pushed VERY hard at the end, getting the pace to be sub 7 minutes for the last minute.  I felt awesome at the end.
  2. BIKE – After the interval training, I changed into some fresh workout gear and hopped on the bike.  The class worked on sprints here as well, getting rpms up over 95+ at times, with decent resistance.  So by the end, I logged over 17 miles in 45 minutes…the morning overall made me feel exhausted but accomplished.
  3. CROSS TRAINING – So I took an hour’s worth of cross training classes this evening.  First was a Cardio Sculpt class – which was 45 minutes that left me wading in a pool of sweat, following by an Ab Lab class  – only 15 minutes long…but I felt cranky by the end of it.  Ab exercises are not my forte….

Totals to Date:

Swim –  ___ yds

Bike – 38 miles

Run – 9 miles

Strength Training – 1 hour

Cross Training (Classes) – 2 hours

Yoga (yes- yoga.  That’s not a damn typo) – ___ hours

My Inferno.

I’ve probably said this before – but I’m not very creative, so I’ll repeat myself: I have a strange way of dealing with stuff that I suck at.  I wasn’t very comfortable with speaking in front of a group – so I took stand-up comedy lessons in a club here in Manhattan.  I got heckled by drunken strangers that I knew I would never again see in my life, and confronting this fear allowed me to get over it.  So now I have another fear: I’m afraid of failing to finish Ironman this year.


It’s a realistic fear.  It’s a fear that comes as a result of trying to walk the walk after talking the talk to my daughter.  For a while now, I’ve tried to instill in my kid the basic concept that if your dreams don’t scare you, then they are not big enough.


I keep telling her this….but I think it’s also important to show her that I can back up my words with deeds.  That supports the other concept that I’ve tried to drill into her head over the years – to quote Ovid:”Facta Non Verba”.  Put simply – Deeds, Not Words.  (Or, to put it as Batman once did – It’s what we do that defines us.)



I used to dream HUGE as a kid.  I’m betting that all of us did, didn’t we?  Well becoming an Ironman has been a dream of mine since I first learned about it in high school.  I used to watch ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and I remember some buddies of mine at Fordham Prep telling me that a person had to be a little nuts to try something like that.  Terms like “those dudes need checkups from the neck – up”, to “their elevators definitely don’t go to the top floor”, to the ever-so-colorful “the cheese fell off their crackers a long time ago, dude” were normally how I heard triathletes described when I was a teen.  When I transitioned to college and joined the school’s crew team, I remember one guy on our varisty men’s squad was a triathlete – and this was when the sport of triathlon was not nearly as mainstream as it is today.  This dude wasn’t muscular.  He wasn’t really tall.  He was not the best varsity oarsman as it came to rowing technique.  But there was one thing his dude had in spades, and that was endurance.  He simply never got tired.  When everyone else appeared to be on the verge of burning out, he would get stronger.  I looked at him as if he were a human power plant.  That was how I wanted to be.  We discussed the sport of triathlon, and it further fueled my fire to give it a shot.


But…as the song goes….life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.


As the years went by, the dream of becoming an Ironman stayed with me, but I never actually did anything to pursue it.  Then my kiddo came along, and my entire way of thinking was flipped on its butt overnight.  While its always been my goal to allow my daughter to be her own person and let her figure out for herself what she likes and dislikes, it is a proven fact that kids observe and absorb their parents’ actions and preferences.  That simple fact made me begin focusing on how I spend my time.  I needed to show her that it’s important to have a goal, and then work like hell to achieve it.  And that, quite simply, is how I found the  sport of endurance running.


After taking up marathoning in 2005, I stayed with it and began to up the ante a little bit over time in an ongoing attempt to demonstrate to Mini Me that, if you continue to work hard at something and do not quit, you can accomplish things that you never thought were possible.   2012 saw me try a marathon a month to raise money for the Dream Team Project.  In 2014, I tried a multi-day event (the inaugural Dopey Challenge).  In 2015…well I got a little nuts and did a long distance run from San Francisco to Anaheim to benefit Do Away With SMA (www.doawaywithsma.org).  That last one did a real number on me, as I returned home to New York City after Labor Day Weekend rather burnt out.  The past few months have gone by in a haze of unfocused training and lackluster effort.  Well that changes right now.


I’ve decided that 2016 will be the year that I chase after that goal that I’ve had hidden inside me for 30 years: The Ironman.  My original goal was to run the Vineman in Sonoma on July 30th – but I don’t believe I will be ready in time.  So, I am announcing that it’s my intention to compete in Ironman Maryland on October 1st.   I’m going to compete in this event as part of a larger 2016 effort, in order to raise awareness and donations for Do Away With SMA – a charity that helps fight Spinal Muscular Atrophy.


Since this event takes a TON of training, I’m going to use this blog to be my daily training log.  And, since this training should make me stronger (and maybe even a little faster), I might as well take advantage of the juice that my hard work should zap into my body, right?  Glad you agree.  So I’ve put together a series of races that I’m going to attempt on the heels of the Ironman that I have lovingly named after Dante’s masterpiece….


My 2016 Inferno:

October 1st: IRONMAN Maryland

October 9th:  Chicago Marathon

October 16th:  The Nationwide Childrens Hospital Columbus Marathon

October 30th: The Marine Corps Marathon

November 6th: The TCS New York City Marathon

November 19th: The New York City 60k

…and, since there are nine rings of Hell within Dante’s work, my 7th ring will be attempting to run at least 2,016 miles in 2016 (which means that I’ll need to average 8.36 miles a day from today through December 31st to hit that number), the eighth will be to log enough miles on the bike to cover the distance from Central Park to Disneyland (which is 2,793 miles –  meaning that I’ll need to average 11.60 miles per day starting today and going through December 31st), and my final goal will be to earn my Coaching Certifications from bother the Road Runners Club of America (“RRCA”) and Ironman U.


I have a game plan.  I just need to execute it.  And whether I am successful or if I choke miserably, I hope you’ll follow me on my quest.




Rollin’Old School…

This past weekend, I decided to mix the old with the new in a number of ways.  Let’s face it: we all have music from the 70’s that we love, and we all have some current music that finds its way onto our IPrecious.  Right?  So this weekend I made a playlist that mixed old rock with new stuff as the musical score for my workouts.  Why?  Because I was going to mix the new exercises I’ve been doing with some old school routines, resulting in a weekend of calorie-rockin’ workouts.




On Saturday, I did a BRICK workout, which begins with cycling and then a quick transition to a run.  For me, that’s one of the newer workouts on my list, as I am a newbie to triathlons (plus, BRICK workouts are tough – and tough workouts take effort – and sweating results in a bad hair day for this dude).  The combination jacks up your metabolism and challenges you as an athlete.  I went home after finishing my run feeling rather awesome.


Sunday, it was time to roll old school with my workout.  I started by hitting the gym at 7am and I immediately hit the pool.  I think everyone has a “natural environment”, and mine is the water.  Ever since I was a little kid, I loved swimming.  I could spend all day in Long Island Sound or the pool at the New York Athletic Club, and return home tired yet happy.  So at 7am, I plopped into the pool at the gym and cranked out some laps.  After my laps were done, I dried off and headed to….the rowing machine.


The ergometer – or “erg”, as rowers call it – is a fantastic way of burning calories and having fun.  When I was in college, I was a member of the Iona College Crew Team…and we spent a TON of hours on the ergs, making our legs and lungs burn.  The hard work paid off – our team was awesome.  So I decided to test myself with a 2500 meter race.  OK – so I’m not as fast as I was over 20 years ago, but the exercise brought back wonderful memories….and from now on I’m scheduling an erg test for myself weekly.  A small nugget to look forward to in weeks to come.


While Lord knows I’m no coach, I can make this recommendation: if you want to kick-start your workout routine and you’re looking for something new and interesting to throw into the mix….go old school.


June 30th – WHWL (What Have We Learned?)

Today I was reminded of the strength of the human spirit. I ran the New York Road Runners Achilles Hope & Possibility 5 mile race in Central Park…and it truly is my annual reminder that a person can accomplish any goal as long as you never give up hope. I try to run this race every year – and I never shoot for a PR (a Personal Record). Why? Because I’d rather go slower and legnthen the amount of time that I am surrounded by this incredible athletes.

I cheered a female wheelchair athlete on as she slowly made her way up Cat Hill. You could see that the hill was giving her all she could handle – yet she fought back and continued to edge her way to the top. Many runners, myself included, yelled constant cheers of support as she traded blows with the hill. There was grin from ear to ear plastered on her face while she was locked in battle – you could tell that she actually embraced the challenge. Eventually, she dealt the hill a knockout blow, and reached the top. The cheers she received from everyone around her were INCREDIBLE. It was one of those moments where you realize just how strong people can be on the inside.

I ran alongside a gentleman that was the recipient of a heart transplant. I ran with Marines that were wounded in Iraq. I ran with a man that used two crutches to get himself around the 5 mile course.

So what have I learned today? I was once again reminded that there are two types of people out there: those who say I can’t, and those who say I CAN. When you surround yourself with people – even total strangers – that embody the I CAN mentality, it makes you a better person.

Now I need to embody that I CAN attitude more effectively. Being around those courageous athletes gave me the mental kick in the rear-end that I needed.


June 28th – What Have We Learned?

So what have we learned today? I, for one, have learned the following:

I figured out what separates humans from all other animals and mammals on earth. It’s NOT opposable thumbs. It’s air conditioning.

I learned that, in running, there is a gadget for everything. I found a sock that keeps your toes bent at an incline while you sleep, so that you wake up without much pain from plantar fasciitis. It looks like something made in the labs within the Imagination Pavilion at Epcot by Dr. Nigel Channing.

I discovered that I should not be allowed to associate with other humans in a decaffinated state.

My dog is smarter than me. At least she knows to stretch before doing anything remotely active. I, on the other hand, I will only be able to touch my toes if someone does me the favor of chopping them off and handing then to me. I am an inflexible tool.

Tomorrow: the Pride Run in Central Park.

It’s a Numbers Game

After running the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend and logging 42.4 total miles, I slacked off for six weeks. There was no excuse that holds water. I was simply lazy. I lost my mojo.


1/14 – 1/20: 8.08 miles

1/21 – 1/27: 1.74 (seriously? Why even bother mentioning it???)

1/28 – 2/3: 7.84 miles

2/4 – 2/10: 25.72 (finally – a week that I am not 100% embarrassed about)

2/11 – 2/17: 9.56 miles

2/18 – 2/24: 12.99 miles

2/25: 1.63 miles

3/1: 7.21 miles (now we’re talking)


3/3: 3.4 miles (ran the Coogan’s 5k and paced at 9:26. I’ll take it…)


So – I’m falling behind and as of today, I need to run an average of 10k each day from now until the end of the year. That’s one full loop of Central Park. Oy.


But…there are signs that I’m beginning to come around. I just hope to build momentum.


As far as my diet is concerned, I have not improved. I am a rudderless ship. Portion size has decreased – so that’s a good thing. I hardly ever have soda any more – another good point. But my diet is not measured and dialed in the way I need it to be. And I have been way too lazy about it. I need something to kick me in the ass and get me lazer focused on what to do regarding calorie intake and proper food selection when I go out. I know this. BUT: this is ME we are talking about.