Politics and Why I Don’t Want To Play

I received the email below and because of it, I am stepping away from the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I am not doing this lightly and I am not doing it out “political spite”. There are two very troubling messages in this email that have driven me to this decision.

First, “the reality is that we are in serious danger of losing a once-in-a-generation chance to achieve real health care reform” is not a true statement, unless you define “real health care reform” as “single-payer health care”. There are many ways to reform health care without moving to single-payer. Just because I don’t think the Government is capable of fixing the problems in health care does not mean that I am making the issue political.


Just the other day I heard a story about a man named Ruben, who has been fighting cancer off and on for 11 years. This year, he lost his job. His cancer, which had been stable, became active again and he has had to go back on treatment. His doctor prescribed two new chemotherapy drugs to combat the cancer. But last week, Ruben had to tell his pharmacist, “No, don’t fill that prescription. I can’t afford it.”

was a troubling story for me. However, my expectation would be that the end of the story would be “thanks to the generous contributions of individuals and corporations, LAF was able to help Ruben.” This is why I give to charities, because the charities are far more effective at helping people than the Government could ever be.

I am sure that many people will write me off as a right wing nut and while it is true my political views are on the opposite side of the aisle from where the “Health Care Reform Bill” is being pushed. It is not true that my motivation for being opposed is to simply defeat the President and his party. I believe if the health care reform bill is passed, it will result in a much shorter life expectancy for Cancer patients. When government bureaucrats are applying cost/benefit analysis to treatments, how may Cancer patients will be asked to “just take the pain pills.”? Not to mention the overly burdensome taxes that will end up leaving me with less money available to donate to worthy charities.

Dear Steve,

Last night, President Obama stood before the nation and delivered his State of the Union address. We were delighted to see him deliver a clear message to Congress saying, “I will not walk away from these Americans and neither should the people in this chamber…Let’s get it done.”

Despite those strong words, the reality is that we are in serious danger of losing a once-in-a-generation chance to achieve real health care reform. The situation couldn’t be more urgent, and we need your help to send a strong message to Congress: Do not give up on health care reform. Will you join us and send your elected officials a clear message to keep up the fight?


You could not write fiction more dramatic than what we have seen over the last week. On January 18, one state elected a Senator and we are being told that may reset the entire healthcare reform effort. We must be clear in saying to our elected officials: You must not give up. We are counting on you.

Just the other day I heard a story about a man named Ruben, who has been fighting cancer off and on for 11 years. This year, he lost his job. His cancer, which had been stable, became active again and he has had to go back on treatment. His doctor prescribed two new chemotherapy drugs to combat the cancer. But last week, Ruben had to tell his pharmacist, “No, don’t fill that prescription. I can’t afford it.”

Unfortunately, Ruben is not alone. We all hear these stories far too often or have our own version to share. That is why it is more important than ever that we send a strong message to Washington: Forget politics and remember Ruben.


It only takes a moment to share this message with your elected officials, to tell them, as the President said last night: “Don’t walk away. Not now. Finish the job for the American people.”

As someone who has been touched by cancer, you know firsthand how critical it is to have dependable, quality health care. It can be the difference between life and death. Let’s not let this once-in-a-generation opportunity pass us by.



Doug Ulman and the LIVESTRONG Action Team

P.S. Please forward this message on to your friends and family

How Triathlon Training Could Be So Much Easier

I don’t like to talk about my job too much but I am going to make an exception today because it is relevant to training for a weekend warrior like me. I am an first-line manager in Information Technology in the Health Care Industry, which basically means that I am on call 24×7. For the last 6 months or so, it hasn’t been an issue. Until last Wednesday, that is. We had a major issue arise and I ended up working from 6:30 am Wednesday to 8:00 am Thursday. I went home and got to sleep for 5 hours, then I woke up and worked from 2:00 pm until shortly after midnight Thursday Night/Friday Morning. Friday I started my day working at 7:00 am and wrapped up about 6:00 pm. Today (Saturday) I worked from 9:00 to noon, and then from 6:00 pm until about 9:00 pm. My only workout since Wednesday morning was today when I snuck in an 800m swim and a 6 mile run at Lifetime Fitness.

It is that kind of schedule that makes training for anything, let alone a triathlon difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I actually love what I do even when the schedule goes crazy like it did this week. I really only missed one scheduled workout, but my work could easily cause me to miss many more. I think I could make training easier by getting someone to pay me to train. If anyone has found a way to do that, please let me know. Especially if you are overweight and slow.

The Curse of Television

The weekend of training went fairly well. I managed to get an 800m swim and 5 mile treadmill run in on Saturday and a six mile run. Then I stayed up late and watched the Season Premier of 24 even though I had planned on getting a swim in this morning. My alarm went off and I chose to add 2 hours for the extra rest instead of forcing out a swim and being too tired to work.

Of course tonight I will be staying up to watch night 2 of the 24 Premier. The difference is that I am going to force myself out of be tomorrow to get my 4 mile run in. We will see how that works tomorrow morning.

A Breathrough?

I have changed my workout routine up a little bit. I purchased a foot pod for my Garmin 305 Forerunner. Now I track my running workouts on the treadmill using my garmin in addition to the outdoor workouts. The big difference is calibration. The garmin says I am covering more distance than the treadmill and if I had to guess, I’d say the treadmill is closer to correct. However, I am going to use the Garmin for tracking purposes because of the consistency, being able to compare pace and time and having more workout detail available. I will have to adjust my pace accordingly, but right now running feels really good.

Today was a swimming workout. Swimming has become increasingly frustrating until today when I think I maybe had a minor breakthrough. I started my workout with a 100 breaststroke to loosen up then I put on the fins for 300 freestyle and 400 drills. During the 300 free I was working on widening my pull and getting a good bend in my elbow. I noticed my lap times were quicker than normal but really didn’t pay attention to that. After the 400m of drills, I took off the fins and did 400m of freestyle. To my surprise my times were 15 seconds per 100 better than normal. The “correction” of my arm position seems to have made some sort of difference. I finished off my workout with 8 – 25m sprints starting every 1 minute. This gave me about 30 seconds rest between intervals. Finally 100m of easy breast stroke and 100m easy free finished out my workout. Judging by the soreness in my upper body, I did something right and maybe will improve from the plateau I was on. Only time will tell.

2010 Race Schedule

I have set my goals, now I just have implement the plans to achieve them. I have my training plan mapped out, although I may need to tweak it some. For January and Feburary, I am focusing on Swimming and Running which are my two weakest Triathlon Disciplines. A lot of the Running fitness will carry over into Cycling. March will be the time I start working on the cycling. So this is my Race Plan if all goes well.

2/21/10 – Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon
This race is a test of my off season fitness. I am swimming around 2 miles a week and want to see how fast I can go for 10 minutes. Last year I did 17 lengths (425 m), hoping I can improve that to 18+. The bike is a new game this year, because the rules have changed to allow the tension to be set anywhere instead of being preset. It will become a race of who can spin at the highest rpm for the longest. For the run, I have a goal of equalling last year’s 2.5 mile effort. 8:00 minute miles for 20 minutes is a pretty good clip for me anything above and beyond that is bonus. I have already signed up for this race.

4/10/10 – Martian Half-Marathon
This race is to test how prepared I am for a half-marathon. My goal is 2:15. I did the First half of the Free Press Marathon in 2:33 with a bathroom break. I am thinking I can run 10 minute miles for a half marathon. I have come very close to this in training.

5/29/10 – Island Lake Sprint Triathlon
I am doing this race with a friend who will be doing his first triathlon. This will be a rehearsal for my next event. Just started thinking about my time goals, let’s see. 800m swim, lets say 25 minutes. 12.4 mile bike, I am gonna go with 45 minutes, and a 30 minute 5k would put me at 1:40, so we can add some fudge for transition and put the goal time at 1:45.

6/6/10 – Racing for Recovery Half-Ironman Triathlon
This is the big event of the summer and my first attempt at the 70.3 distance. Obviously the first goal is to finish. If I have to put a time goal on it, I would base it on a 1 hour swim (3:15 per 100), 3.5 hour bike ride (16 mph) and 2.5 hour run (11:23 per mile). That would put me at 7 hours on the dot, so I am going to make that my goal because I think each of the individual times are more that achievable.

9/11/10 – Tawas Triathlon Festival Half-Iron
This event will be my second 70.3. The goals for this one would be to finish and beat previous HIM Time. Hopefully I can take the lessons learned from the first and apply it to this one.

10/17/10 – Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon
This will be the second open marathon of my life. My primary goal is to beat last year’s time of 5:45. The secondary goal is to be under 5 hours.

11/27/10 – Canton, MI Turkey Trot 5K
No goals for this one, this is just the new Thanksgiving Day family tradition. My wife walks and I run with my soon to be 11 year old daughter. Last year with finished with an exact time tie of 28:06. Ideally we will improve this time, but really I just want to enjoy the run with her while it is still harder for her than it is for me. It will not be long before she is slowing down for the old guy.

Two More Days Down

Yesterday I swam, my intention was to simply swim 2000 meters straight and not use my fins. Well with as little stopping at the turns as possible anyway. I did the full 2000 and it was pretty uneventful until the 1800m mark. I thought I would try to breath every third stroke for a 100. I made it 75 yards and had to switch back to every 2 to finish the 100. The surprising thing to me is that I was still 15 seconds faster for that 100 than the rest. I know that in order to get faster, I am going to have to speed up my cadence.

This morning I was following the training plan and ran 5 miles plus .29 miles cooldown. I ran 2 miles at 5.5 miles per hour, 1 mile at 6 mph and 2 miles at 5.5 mph. The only thing that was of concern this morning was my heart rate pattern. 5.5 mph is my “easy” pace yet those last 2 miles my heart rate stayed in high zone 3 low zone 4, when it should have been zone 2 or low zone 3. Could be an indication that I have overdone it this week. Tomorrow is a scheduled rest day and I am thinking that I may actually take the rest.

2 Workouts of the Routine Are Complete

Started Monday with the normal 3:45 wakeup, get dressed and head to the gym. Monday was a swimming day and probably the area I need the most work. I swam 1600m in which I did 6 – 100 m intervals attempting to breathe every 3rd stroke. I do end up swimming quicker when I breathe every 3rd stroke, I think because I increase my cadence. However, my body seems to think I am sprinting and I end up getting short on breath around the 75 m mark of the interval. I have come a long way in terms of my swimming endurance, but I still have a long way to go.

Today I reluctantly got out of bed at 3:45 and had a brief argument with myself about going to the gym. Eventually I won and ended up going to the gym. After a warmup, I did 4 intervals of 4 minutes at 7.5 mph (8:00/mile) with 4 minutes of rest at 5.5 mph. During the 3rd interval, I had another argument with myself about whether or not I was going to do the 4th interval. Again I won and I did the 4th interval. I ran a total of 4.51 miles in 45 minutes on a day when the training plan called for 4 miles.

Tomorrow the training plan is empty, but I do not want to get out of the routine of getting up at 3:45, so I will probably do an easy pace swim to help recover from today’s intervals.

2010 Plans

Now it is time to start looking forward to 2010 and begin making plans. If all goes well, here are my:

Goals for 2010

  • Martian Half-Marathon 4-10
    • Finish
    • Goal Time 2:15 (Made the Half in the 2009 Detroit Marathon in 2:33)
  • Racing for Recovery Half-Ironman 6-6
    • Finish
    • Goal Time: 7:00
  • Tawas Triathlon Festival Half-Ironman 9-10
    • Finish
    • Goal Time: 7:00
  • Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon 10-17

    • Finish
    • Goal Time: 5:00 (45 minute improvement)

Now the question is how do I accomplish this. The road I intend to take starts Tuesday Jan 5th. I will begin executing a Half-Marathon Training Plan that I found on the GoUltraSports web site. This is what I will work to until March 9th except I plan to either swim and/or bike on 2 of the 3 off days. On March 9th, I am switching over to an Ironman Training Plan by Gale Bernhardt that I found in her book Training Plans for Multisport Athletes. I am using an Ironman Training Plan because the plan is time based and I am slow, so I don’t believe I get sufficient distance volume by executing to a Half IM plan.

My intent is to use the Martian Half Marathon on 4/10 as a training race. If I can get under 2:15, I think I will be set up very well for an under 7 hour Half IM. I am thinking 7 hours for the HIM based on a 1:00 swim, 3:30 bike and 2:30 run. I think I can do 1:00 on the swim after doing 28 minutes on a 1000m swim in the Sprint Tri. I won’t have much if any open water practice before June, but I will have much better swim fitness than I did for the Sprint Tri. A 3:30 bike is a 16 mph average and have no problem maintaining that pace on my road bike. I have been reviewing my old rides on Garmin Connect and I have a similar ride on my road bike that included a 10 minute stop at a store to restock water and food. The 2:30 run is based on the first half the Free Press Marathon. If I can keep the transitions fairly quick, 7 hours is a very real possibility.

The Racing for Recovery Half Ironman on June 6th is an important race to me because it takes place in my hometown of Monroe, MI. I also completed my first and only outdoor triathlon in the Racing for Recovery Sprint Triathlon in 2009. After the R4R HIM, I have 8 days scheduled off before starting the same Ironman training plan to prepare for the Tawas Half Ironman on 9/11. Following Tawas, I will have about 4 weeks to prepare for the Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon.

I do have some limitations that could impact these goals. First is the nature of my job. I am a manager who is on call 24×7 and never know when I might have to work outside of my normal hours. This may mean I have to miss my workout because I am working or because I have too little sleep to work out on. The other limitation is that during the week, I only have the early morning before I go to work available to work out. On the weekend I am fairly flexible until Soccer Season starts. Since I am an Assistant Coach on my daughter’s team, I have to work around the Soccer Schedule. This year it may mean I am running home from the game. I also will not miss Church to train so that does place a limit on what I can do on Sundays.

I am starting the year at 229 pounds, which is up 15 pounds from what I was on Thanksgiving Day, but down 30 pounds from where I was this time in 2009. I hope that I can drop at least the 15 by the R4R HIM. I will still be a Clydesdale but I think 215 will be a decent place to race from. Ultimately, my goal weight is around 200-205 which isn’t bad for a 6′ 3″ former football player who was at 280 in 2003. I played high school football at 185 and was quite skinny. I don’t think I could ever get that small and if I did I would be concerned about how much muscle I would have to give up to get there.

I am looking forward to giving 2010 a strong effort. I just have to remember that I can only control what I can control, the rest is just stuff I have to work with/around.

Starting 2010 Right

I was awakened by my pager at 7:15 on New Year’s Day. Fortunately I could do what I needed to do from home, However I really could not do anything else until the issue was resolved. At about 11:30 I received word that everything was clear and I could stand down. It was 23 degrees outside and a light snow was falling so what better thing could I do than go for a run. It is funny that running would not have occurred to me 18 months ago and running outside in 23 degree weather wouldn’t have been a consideration last winter. Yesterday I not only did it, but I enjoyed it.

The first step was gearing up. I put on a double layer of running tights, a long sleeved compression shirt, a long sleeved tech fabric shirt, a cycling windbreaker and a skull cap. The colors didn’t necessarily match but at this point warmth was more important.

I also did a first, I left my iPod at home. I only strapped on my Garmin and carried my Blackberry in case something happened at work again. I tried to plan my route based on safety because the roads were somewhat narrowed by the ice and snow on the shoulders I usually run on. I was nice because it was a very quiet day other than the few cars and the neighborhood dogs.

I did discover I really like running outside in the cold. I might even be willing to go 10 degrees colder. The only problem is that it takes every piece of clothing I have for cold weather. Which means I have to do laundry after every outdoor run. Then again, I work dark to dark this time of year so I don’t have time to run outside during the week anyway.

Happy New Year to everyone.

You can see the GPS Tracking of my run here.