I have some really, really big news to report. This past Saturday was the Annual Front Runners New York Awards Night -- the one big night of the year when we recognize all of the great running the club has done, all the the members' achievements, and everyone's huge successes. I'm so honored, and so, so happy to report that the club awarded me with Front Runner of the Year!!!
I couldn't believe it...I really didn't expect it at all. But I am so proud to be able to represent FRNY in this really meaningful way. So THANK YOU, to all of the Front Runners out there, who have all contributed to making the club my home. It's through the club that I started running five years ago. And it is because of the club that I've not only grown to love the sport, but have come to find a real family. You're the people who I train and race with, but more importantly, you're one who I share the best times of my life with. You inspire me, you make me proud, you make me happy, and you make me who I am.
Congratulations to the other nominees for Front Runner of the Year: John, Rachel K, Bernie, and Darin. You guys are amazing, both terrific athletes and wonderful people. You're all part of the reason why I love this club so much. Thank you for being you.
This award means especially much to me this year, as I'm beginning my tenure on the Front Runners Board as Men's Vice President. I'm excited about the opportunity to help lead the club to great things this year, and I'm really happy to be serving on the Board with the great people below. 2011 is going to be an awesome year. :-)
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The day after Awards Night, I joined seven other Front Runners at Ride Brooklyn for my first group Computrainer session. For those of you unfamiliar with Computrainers, it's basically like a course simulator. You hook up your own bike (in this case, I got to use my brand new Cervelo trike) to a trainer, which is hooked up to a computer system. The trainer applies more or less resistance on your back tire depending on where you are in a particular course. So it tightens automatically if you're going up a steep hills, and lets off the tension if you're going downhill. In a group Computrainer session, everyone watches the screen which shows the course's elevation profile, where they are on the course compared to the other bikers, and various metrics like the rider's MPH, % incline, watts expended and so forth.
With the utmost in love and admiration of Rachel, who organized and promoted the group Computrainer sessions, I absolutely hated the experience. I was miserable, miserable, miserable. And not only that, I felt utterly humiliated. And frustrated. It was just really bad.
I hated not being able to adjust the resistance on my own. Instead, every few miles there was a crazy 6% incline that lasted for miles and miles. And you're stuck with it. You just have to pedal until the damn thing is over. And the slower you pedal, the longer it takes. It's just miserable. And I don't know if my trainer was mis-calibrated or what, but it put SO MUCH resistance on my tire every time I went up a hill...I've ridden up plenty of hills before and none them were as hard as the ones the Computrainer had us do. (Incidentally, the course that we were riding was supposed to be the bike course from the Coeur d'Alene Triathlon in Idaho. That's one race that I'm NEVER going to do).
Worse yet was the fact that you just can't hide. The whole time, everyone is staring at a screen like the one below that tells them exactly where they are in relation to the other bikers.
So basically, everyone saw that I was in last place. And not only that, but I just got further and further and further behind. I wasn't even close to the 7th place person. Now, I know it's not a competition, and we're all among friends, and no one really cares about how slow you are... but it's so depressing when everyone in the room kicks your ass on the bike. By the time Dan finished the 25 mile course, I was still on mile 16, and I had pretty much had enough. I went to the bathroom just so I could get a few minutes off that damn bike. It was just so, so, so brutal.
I paid for six sessions on the Computrainer. And at the end of the first session, I was all but certain that I was going to sell my other five sessions to someone else. But now, after having a few days to think about it, I've decided to stick it through all six sessions. I can't even explain how miserable and humiliating the experience was. But I have to admit, it was probably the best bike workout I've ever had. Never before have I pushed myself quite so hard. Even if it takes the fear of public humiliation to get me moving, it did get me through those 6% inclines. But probably the thing I enjoyed the most about the workout was being able to train with a group of people who are awesome, who push me to do my best, and who are among my best friends. It was great sitting next to Rachel, who helped me trudge up those unrelenting hills. And Peter, Mike and Kyle have all seen me at my worst before too, when we spent a loooong 200 miles together this past year at Reach the Beach. I know I would never be able to do anything like this on my own. So I'm going to stick with it, and hopefully, in due course, I will learn to love it, or at least get a little better at it and not hate it so much.
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Here's a picture of the Lane 3 Boys at a recent Monday night swim workout. What a group of hotties. :-) Come swim with us at the Long Island City YMCA on Monday nights!
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I briefly mentioned before in my bitter melon post that I'm part of a potluck group. We get together about once a month and each bring a dish based on one or two theme ingredients. Last month, it was gourds (hence, the bitter melon). This month, it was legumes. I decided to make one of my favorite dishes, dry-fried Chinese long beans. Dry-frying the long beans -- sauteing them in a pan with nothing but some oil -- preserves the slightly leathery texture of the beans that distinguishes them from traditional green beans. Some restaurants cheat by deep-frying them, but then you just end up with greasy beans. The recipe is below.
Dry-Fried Chinese Long Beans
(All measurements are approximate and can be adjusted according to taste.)
2 pounds long beans, cut into 3" lengths (can be substituted with green beans, but it's not quite the same)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2" piece of ginger, minced
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions, minced
1 tablespoon chili-bean paste (made with fermented soy beans and chili peppers, available in Asian markets and pronounced "la dou ban jian" in Chinese)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp dried chili pepper flakes
ground white pepper
ground Sichuan peppercorns
In a wok or other big pot, heat on high until smoking. Add vegetable oil and heat until really hot. Add long beans and stir-fry for 4-6 minutes, until skins start to pucker. Add half of the minced ginger/garlic/scallion and continue stir-frying for 2 more minutes. Turn heat to medium, and add remaining ginger/garlic scallion and all other ingredients except salt. If pan is dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water (or, better yet, rice wine). Cover and cook for 4-6 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender. Adjust seasoning and add salt if desired.