Friday, November 05, 2010

What if...

The Fed actually got out of the way?

I don't get to the floor too much these days...don't talk to many of my old friends on the floor. I occasionally drop a note to Sharon at CNBC. Here's my take on the past few days.

So much to talk about. I think the past 2 days highlight the difference between the "markets" and "main street". The "markets" love QE...whether it's 2,3,4...or whatever. Turn the machines on and trade away. Remember what we've been talking about for years, everything in this market is a trade, and particularly a currency trade. What's my mantra...How strong is the dollar, really? What good is a 10% increase in equity prices if commodity prices increase 20% and the value of the dollar decreases 10%...the numbers just don't add up. The question, for me, is whether or not the people in this country begin to wake up and realize that these portfolio increases are merely an illusion of wealth...and I think they might be.
So yesterday we get QE2..even though it seems everyone knew it was coming, we STILL screamed higher. I have a hard time believing investors saw the announcement and called their portfolio managers and told them to buy. But boy, when the machines start going, look out!
Today, we get a GREAT jobs number(relatively, of course...we've still got a LONG way to go). This is good news, real good that should really move the markets higher. But the "markets/machines" don't seem to like good news. Good news means maybe the presses will stop. Maybe the dollar won't continue it's forced march off the cliff...Uh Oh, the machines say, strong dollar, stop buying's rather simplistic, I realize, but it's what happens. I'd like to think we all want the presses to stop printing...I certainly do. I want a strong dollar. I want good news. But I don't think the Fed will stop...unless they're forced to. Until that time comes...I'll keep buying metals and commodities...because if equities keep going and silver and agricultural products and oil will go higher, in my opinion. I actually would LOVE to lose money on my gold and silver positions...It means the dollar is stronger and the Fed is under control. But I don't see it.
I hear yet another political mouthpiece talking about how we don't have inflation as measured by the CPI. Let's exclude Gold and Silver...I don't think they act simply as a hedge against inflation anymore...I think there is an underlying concern in the soundness of currencies...and Gold and Silver have always been real currencies, and so there is even more reason to own them. But the CPI is a joke...because it doesn't ever measure the things we actually need in order to survive (I think health care should be another thing to consider in real inflation). Like I've said before...I don't care if I can get khakis at the Gap on milk and gas are not getting cheaper...when those things go lower, then I'll really worry about deflation.
Hope all is soon
Have a great weekend

Monday, October 25, 2010

What's up, Doc?

16 on Saturday went pretty well. Probably ran a bit too fast (no idea what my pace was during the run, the Garmin has not been behaving of late, so I've been kickin' it old school wearing a stopwatch...yeah, that's right, a stopwatch). The way I see it, if I can't run 16 at 6:55-7 minute pace, I'm likely not going to be able to run 26.2 at 7:15. I was secretly hoping my achilles had miraculously recovered...what the hell was I thinking?
The "creak" showed up yesterday. If you're not sure what I mean, Google "achilles tendonitis creaking" and see what you get. By all indications, the creak is not a good thing. And so, today, at 2:30 PM, I'm heading to see a legit Sports MD. Enough self-diagnosis via Google searches. In a few hours I'll know what's up. No matter what, I'll be relieved. If I get to run, I'll be happy...though a bit nervous about the possibilities, and a bit bummed I'm not at 100%. If I don't run, I'll be pretty bummed...but at least I know I'll be heading on the road to recovery and (hopefully) an injury free year in 2011.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Same Old Song and Dance

One of these days, I'll learn.
Last year, 3 weeks before the Zof, I ran the Newport Liberty Half Marathon. Ran fast, PR'd, got myself an auto qualifier for the NYC Marathon...and proceeded to bring about some calf/knee/ankle issues which lead to a DNF on the long course at the Zof.
2 months ago, I ran a 25K Trail Race as part of my prep for the marathon. Ran fast, came in second place, felt really good about myself...and brought about some calf/knee/ankle issues which lead to a 2 week setback in my marathon prep.
2 weeks ago, I ran a 25K as my final race prep for the marathon. Ran fast, came in 3rd place now you can figure out where this is heading.
This time, it's my left achilles...a new one for me. And I think it's the worst setback I've had since I've been running. I ran 4 miles yesterday, pain free, after 3 days of rest. It might have been the best 4 mile run I've ever had, because of all the anxiety I had about lacing up my sneakers and heading out the door. The thing is, 4 miles is not 26.2...hell, at this point, my 6 mile run planned for tomorrow is making me nervous. And that's the problem with this particular injury so close to the race...I'm not really sure how it's going to go in the next few weeks.
If I can't run 16 by next weekend, I'm going to bail...I'm not going to risk a rupture or walking for 5 hours through the 5 boroughs. If I do run...I'm throwing sub 3 hours out the door. My 25K last weekend put me right where I needed to be to get there...until the achilles decided to flare up (I think the hardest part about holding back will be watching everyone run away from me at the start...I got a GREAT start spot thanks to my qualifying time, in the first corral, second wave, which means I won't have to try and run through the crowds or stand around for an extra hour before the start) here's the new goal...get to the start, pain free. Run without pain...and let the rest sort itself out as we go along.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Getting ahead of myself

If there were one golden rule about marathon preparation it might be this...The hardest part about training for the marathon is getting to the starting line. My wife learned the lesson (the hard way) when we first met and she was training for the Anchorage Marathon in 2005. She was fit and strong and motivated. She ran too fast, too far, too soon. She hurt herself. She was never able to get to the starting line.

When I signed up for New York, I knew the kind of work I needed to put in. I knew the kind of miles I needed to put in (with the help of good friend Jen Van Allen at Runners World Magazine). I knew I needed to take it easy and build up my strength. Running is not riding...the work doesn't compare. The miles are harder, it's as simple as that.

So here I am, 11 weeks out from New York...and I'm dealing with an injury. I ran too far, too fast. I was feeling great after my trip to Jackson Hole. When I got home, I was super motivated...I found a 25K trail race in North Jersey, I gave it a shot. It would be the longest run I've ever was on trails...I wouldn't take it easy. I ran fairly well, I felt great. I came in second place, "losing" by 15 seconds after leading from the start.

I felt pretty good the next few days. Good enough to get a solid 3 days in, a little over 20 miles in those 3 days, with a solid 6 mile run at 6:40 pace...way faster than my prescribed marathon pace workouts. I felt a little sore, a little tight in my right knee and calf, but nothing too alarming. Then it was 4 days of rest thanks to a great trip to Southport, NC, for a friends wedding.

Back home this week, 7 miles on Tuesday morning. The pain crept in around mile 4...and kept building. I kept running, thinking it wasn't a big deal. I finished the 7 miles at 7:06 pace, again faster than my prescribed 7:31 easy pace. I stretched a bit, started work and didn't think too much of it. A few hours later, I was having a hard time walking up the stairs. My calf hurt...and my knee...and my ankle. Everything went to crap.

Today, after a day off, I ran a little over 4 miles. The first 2 were with Luna..nice and easy, probably 8:35 pace. God, she's a great easy run partner. I ran the next 2 miles at 7:45 felt so slow, but it's what I need to do now. I had to focus on how I was running...I think my natural gait is the reason my right leg is giving me so many problems. So now I'm injured, trying to sort thru it and thinking about how I run. Not the ideal situation with 11 weeks to go. But it's all good. I'll sort it out. A cycling friend had a guaranteed fix to my injury. Just stop running and ride. Not a chance. I'll always be a cyclist. But I'm a runner now as well.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Letting go

A week ago, I was on my way off the Grand Teton. 10 years ago, when I was a lot stronger and a lot more confident, I made my first attempt on the Grand. Some poor route finding on my part led to a tired and shaken partner, and a failed attempt.

10 years later, things have certainly changed...Confidence and the "inner monologue" I've become known for have been replaced by an occasionally crippling combination of fear, contentment, and self contempt. It might be easy to chalk it up to what happens to most of us in the years between 26 and 36. We get "real" jobs, we get married, we buy houses...we have bills to pay, money to make and save and wonder how we should spend...we have children. When I was 26, I was certain that none of those changes would alter my path...I was convinced I could pull it all off. I would find a job that would give me some freedom to do what I want. I would marry a woman who loved me and wanted to share my life and not be defined by our jobs. I would buy a house I could afford, and I wouldn't get sucked into the endless cycle of lust and consumption which is unfortunately so prevalent all around us, particularly here in the suburban oasis of Westfield, NJ. I would be fortunate enough to have a lovely, healthy child...and I would raise her to love the things I love, but I would give her the ability to choose whichever path she decides is best. The thing is...I read these words and I look at where I'm at...and I think I've pulled it all off. But in many ways I'm a shell of my former self. And it's all my fault.

My wife might not admit it (or maybe she will), but I'm sure she misses the man she first met in Princeton in early 2005. Before you read more into that than I intend, let me explain. I'm fairly certain my wife will admit that I'm a very, very good father and husband. I cherish my girls...but I'm giving them the short end of the stick.

In the winter/spring of 2005, I was strong. Physically and mentally I was stronger than I'd ever been. I was soloing moderate ice climbs in the Catskills, climbing strong at the Gunks...I was punishing myself physically, putting myself thru sessions that would have me at my limit, and pushing it a little further each time. Of course, my physical presence would be reasonable at best in the places I wanted to measure myself...The Whites, the Daks, the Rockies and Alaska. I would spend days in those places with men (and women) who would humble me and teach me the meaning of strength. But in my little corner of the world...I felt strong.

That strong man was the one who met Kira that night at Triumph...the one who was so sure of himself. The one who knew in short order that he was with the girl he would marry. The one who decided to pack his bags and move to Philadelphia...and then decided to move his Philly girl to Jersey. The one who decided to get married in New Paltz. The one who climbed in Alaska (guided, of course, which is like cheating when your guide is Kevin Mahoney...but hell, I was in Alaska). The one who suffered in Quebec to climb La Pomme D'Or. The one who could hang because he was willing to fight like hell to hang on...that man, up until a week ago...had been slowly disappearing from anyone willing to look. My family could see it. My friend and mentor could see it. And I know my wife could see it.

This isn't where I blame it on my wife or my family or my obligations...because those "chains" that I'm wearing...the links aren't forged by my wife or daughter or the "burdens" of marriage...the chains are built with the fear that creeps in with every damn blog post I read about the failures of the Obama administration and the end of the United States. They're built with the fear that whatever money we have isn't enough...that we need more. The fear that every decision needs to be the right one, the perfect one. The fear that I don't have everything figured out. The fear that I need to be here all the time. The fear that something might happen when I walk out the door.

The chains aren't too heavy that I can't manage to hang with almost anyone on any given day here in Westfield...I'm good enough to be one of the strongest on the local ride...I ran fast enough to automatically qualify for the NYC Marathon...I can walk into the garage and probably do 15 pullups. By most accounts, I'm in pretty good shape...until I think about the places I really want to be measured.

A week ago...I finally took measure. I was measured by my wife...who told me I needed to get my ass out the door and find what I've been missing.
I was measured by Jeff Brandner...who, at 10 years my senior, continues to teach me lessons in strength and determination that I've never learned from anyone else. Jeff has always put me in my place, but he's NEVER done it in a way to embarrass or belittle me...he's always sought to remind me what I'm capable of...and continues to set the bar very, very high.
I was measured by just over 6 hours and 7000 feet of work to get to the summit of the Grand. I was measured by the easiest route to the top. I was measured by the knowledge that someone had died a week earlier on the very same spot I stood...and I almost let the fear tell me it was OK to turn around and fail.

I was measured by my emotions as I approached the summit...and the tears that were unleashed at the top. I was measured by my ability to admit what it meant to me to finally stand at the summit of the Grand. 10 years of life have passed. 10 years of glorious life...the start of a wonderful marriage to a remarkable girl, and the birth of a beautiful girl. These are the things that are worth holding onto, worth fighting for.
We get one crack at this chance to spend our days as we wish. I want to celebrate the chance...and let go of anything that won't let me do it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Rumor has it that New York is not one of the "easier" marathons. And it's little secret that the difficulties are largely thanks to the "hilly" nature of the course. Of course, it's not really the hills of the 5 boroughs that get you, but the bridges...I think there's 5 of them (that would make sense, eh?), and most runners will tell you they hurt.

So...any training for NY should obviously incorporate some hills...or more than some, really. Fortunately for me, there are a lot of little loops I can run from the house here in Westfield that will get me into some ups and downs. There is a cemetery here in Westfield called the Fairview Cemetery. It is a lovely, and solemn place, marked by rolling hills and open spaces. I've never set foot on the grounds until this morning, when after a great 3 miles with Kira I took the turn while she kicked on down Broad Street for home (lest anyone think we left Abigail home alone, rest easy...Luna was there. I'm kidding, of course. Kira's sister Emma is with us for the week...she's been great to spend time with and is an awesome aunt/nanny/great girl to have around)

I tried to be respectful of where I was...said a little prayer and made sure to stay on the pavement. No spitting (not that I'm really a spitter), no bad thoughts, no stress, no tension...just making my way up and down...4 different routes to the top, each about a quarter mile or so. There were no cars, no lights, no stops or crosswalks. I saw a fawn bouncing along the top of one of the hills and had fun running along. And 2 miles later, I was out on Broad Street heading home.

I know the bridges are longer...and there's a lot of work ahead. But every morning where training feels less like work and more like time well spent is a blessing.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Trying Something New

I am a pathetic "blogger". I love to write, but I never do. I had a list of "contacts" that would automatically receive my posts...but I never really asked any of them if they really wanted to listen to what I have to say (particularly when I start railing against the "markets", or the mainstream media (MSM)).

So I'm going to try something different, something new. I'm just going to write...about whatever I want to. And I'm not going to act as though anyone really wants to hear what I have to say. Maybe someone will read, maybe nobody will. Maybe this will make me feel better, maybe it won't. I do know this...I've come across a number of blogs in the past year that have really inspired me. I've read about riding and running. About climbing (and falling). I've read about homesteading, broken/dysfunctional/manipulated markets and inspiring homebuilders. I've ranted and raved, but I don't think I've done a very good job of getting my point across. So maybe this might help me find a better way.

Not coincidentally, this new approach coincides with the start of my 16 week training program for the New York City Marathon. Our good friend, Jen Van Allen, has been kind enough to lend a hand with some guidance for the marathon. I've got a number in my head I want to get across the line in...but talk is cheap, so I'll keep it in there. I told Jen I'd give some feedback on the training plan, and I hope to be able to use this site as a way to collect my thoughts during the next 16 weeks of training. Today will likely be a rest day after 4 straight days of running and riding. Rule #1...Easy/Rest Days need to be just that...nice and easy. The only way we go faster is building up what we break down, and the primary way to do that is with rest. Take it easy...