Wednesday, September 1, 2010

BoCo

The other day I received a text from Drew-bear, saying "blog, damnit." So,
here we go. I've been in Boulder for about a week. I'm settling in, and have been busying myself by getting back into base training and nursing my Achilles back to health. I've mostly been riding in the hills, swimming, and hiking. On a recent hike, I figured I would bring my camera along and give you guys the opportunity to see what Boulder looks like from above. More updates to come. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Film Review: "Dolan's Cadillac"

I could barely contain my excitement when I happened across a movie entitled "Dolan's Cadillac." All other priorities were relegated to ancillary responsibilities. A select group of courageous individuals braved the viewing session with me. Let's say up front that the movie sucked, but I loved it. My film review begins below.

The film is the cinematic adaptation of a short story penned by the famed author Stephen King. As I have found with the majority of other such King-inspired movies, this one is less than Oscar-worthy. I am nearly 100% sure it went straight to DVD, which is never good. The plot line is an incredibly simplistic, with no notable plot twists to speak of. Not to say it is predictable, but it is a basic revenge tale with little originality (so I suppose you could say it is predictable). The premise of the movie goes as such...

Recently-married teacher Elizabeth (Emmanuelle Vaugier) witnesses a multiple homicide committed by Sex-trafficking mafioso boss Jimmy Dolan (Christian Slater). While waiting to testify and send Dolan to prison, Elizabeth is murdered by the Boss's cronies. Her husband, played by Toby Mcguire-wannabe Wes Bentley, goes on a classic downward spiral, fueled by anger and desire for vengeance. Bentley does not quite accomplish the feat of conveying his emotions in a believable manner, giving a somewhat robotic performance not unlike Hayden Christianson in the most recent Star Wars movies (Episode 2 and 3). Slater, on the other hand, owns his role as the slimy crime lord.

The most exciting and most enjoyable scene of the movie occurs at about the midway point. A gang of Chinese mobsters try to whack Dolan by peppering his Custom Cadillac Escalade (the inspiration for the movie title) with machine-gun fire. However, the impenetrable fortress protects Dolan, allowing him to return fire, turning the tables on the bewildered thugs. While driving away from the scene, Dolan exclaims "Nobody shoots f***ing JD," a line which I loved.

The revenge plot created by Bentley's character, Robinson, is clever, and takes up the last 45 minutes so or the movie.

For all intents and purposes, the movie sucks. However, every time I heard the name Dolan uttered on screen, I let out a small cheer. If the movie were entitled anything but "Dolan's Cadillac," it would have been abysmal. However, due to the fact that the main character's name is Jimmy Dolan (my Dad's name), the movie's value increases significantly. Overall, I award "Dolan's Cadillac" with a rating of 5 out of 10. All this really means is that unless you know someone named Dolan (which if you are reading this you obviously do), or are under the influence of some sort of substance (which you should not be), then you should probably skip it.

You can basically watch the whole movie in this 3.5 minute "trailer:"

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bring me the Horizon

No, this is not in reference to the hardcore band (pictured here). Rather, it is the cliche metaphor for the future, the next phase, tomorrow, etc. On August 22nd, I will be moving to Boulder, Colorado. People keep asking me, "what are you going to do there." Well, my answer is an honest one "I am going to live my life." I am going to have the time of my life. Why Boulder? That's an easy one. The terrain and community make it one of the best places not only in the country, but in fact, in the world, to pursue an active, outdoor life style. And that, my friend, is exactly what I want to pursue.

Who knows what will or will not happen out there, but the potential for achieving incredible happiness and purpose in life is endless in a place like Boulder. It is paradise. Swimming, biking, running, hiking are all absolutely incredible. Why else would so many world-class athletes train there? I will be an incredibly small fish in a gigantic pond (ocean?), not even a blip on the radar screen, but that is fine. Perhaps my training endeavors will allow me to achieve my dream, and wiggle my way into the neo-pro ranks. If this is to happen, living and training in Boulder will be a huge factor. But even if that does not happen for me, the process is what I truly enjoy. There is no feeling quite like the one that you get after a six hour bike ride, or a long run on the trails. It's pure bliss, pure happiness (when you get over the exhaustion and soreness). Where better to feel this happiness than Boulder?

Even in an injury-riddled racing season, filled with disappointing results, I cannot fathom the idea of giving up. So I'm going to Boulder. Why the hell not? I love Rochester, and I will miss it dearly. I will miss my friends so much. But it's time for an adventure. Let's go have some fun and chase some dreams. I can feel that thin mountain air already. I can see the mountains. Let's do it. Bring me the Horizon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-altitude:Boulder Sprint Triathlon Race Report

My Dad and I arrived in Colorado on Thursday, June 17, with the goals of scouting the area, job hunting, and getting in a huge training week with our friends at Endurance Corner (Gordo Byrn and company). To kick off our big week, we decided to hop into the Boulder Sprint Tri (formerly 5430 Sprint) for a fun, quality workout. I will spoil the suspense and tell you up front that I did well, considering the conditions. I have lived the past 23 years at 465 ft above sea level. Boulder Reservoir just happens to sit at 5430 (hence the name of the triathlon--- 5430 Sprint Tri). So, needless to say, my body did not adapt to the altitude in the two days preceding the race. Additionally, my beautiful, super sleek, aero Tri-Bike, race wheels, and Rudy Project Aero Helmet did not make the trip out West. As a result, my bike time was considerably slower than it would have been, for the same effort. However, the goal of this session was not to set the world on fire, but rather experience the joy and (more so) the pain of racing.

The swim, which has recently emerged as a strength for me, went very well. I hopped onto the feet of a breakaway group of three in my wave, and came out feeling perfectly fine. The bike felt fine, but the flat, fast course had me lusting for an Aero-Rig, fully equipped with super-fast gear. All in all, not a bad ride. The run was surely a terrible experience. That was where I felt the altitude and the growing heat of the day. I just tried to keep the pace under control so I could breathe sufficiently in the thin air. Unfortunately, this controlled pace was way slower than my usual race speed, and even this pace was barely sustainable. I made it sure I made it to the finish successfully.

The overall result was not pretty, but considering I was racing against some very fast, experience, geared-up, and altitude acclimated Colorado natives, I was happy with it. I took away second place in my age group, as well.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Double-Duty Race Report: Bears and Rain

As promised, I will work through some hardcore race reporting.

May 23: Black Bear Olympic Distance Triathlon, Lehighton, Pennsylvania
Team Dolan (a.k.a The Dolan Fedeartion) descended on a remote location in the Poconos region of Pennsylvania for our season opener. I was not sure how this race was going to go, in fact I was really not too stoked. My training leading up to the event had been a bit of a wash, having been disrupted by a nagging Achilles issue (injury), senior week (party), the consequences of senior week (fatigue, illness), graduation (whirlwind), and post-graduation depression. But, the race was going to start regardless of my fitness, so I had to proceed as normal.
It's always exciting when you go for your warm-up before the race, and you feel horrible. You can not breathe, your legs feel like they have inexplicably expanded by about 30 pounds (each), and you develop a great desire to wear arm-floaties, because you have totally forgotten how to swim.
Miraculously, when that gun goes off, this feeling almost always goes away. I hammered the swim with a pack of 5 or 6 gentlemen, and emerged from the water a full minute faster than I have ever covered the distance before. Sweet, right? Yes. Wicked fast T1 and onto the bike. Now, I know that I had been told that it would be a hilly bike ride. I was not lied to. This course was essentially all hills. I was unable to get into a rhythm, but I slogged my way up, and spun my way down. I rode a 1:09 split for 40k (last year I rode consistently in the 58-59 minute range on flat or rolling courses). But my strong swim-bike performance brought me second into T2, under a minute behind the leader (pleasant surprise). I grabbed the running shoes and took off like a shot. I felt great for the first few minutes, and kept telling myself that I could win this race. However, after a few minutes of this, my legs quit on me. The wheels fell off, as they say, and I had to drastically revise my goal from going for the win to simply getting to the finish line. 5th place overall. Slow run. Positive experience and good opener? Yes.

June 6- Pittsford Triathlon, Pittsford, NY
I approached this one as a glorified, heavily-caffeinated training day. Pittsford is a somewhat silly race, but it is close, and a good opportunity to get in a hard effort. The pool swim (300 yd) is a formality, and doesn't do much for me, but the bike (15ish miles) and run (somewhere between 5k and 3.5 miles) are nice. Anyhow, I arrived at the race site and it was teeming rain and under 60 degrees, so that was sweet. The cold, rainy conditions at Black Bear had apparently followed me North, and had deteriorated even more. As I emerged from the pool, and powered past everyone on the bike, the rain drove so hard that it stung my bare arms like you wouldn't believe. I made sure to finish the damn race as fast as possible. I took the win by seven minutes and quickly changed my clothes. First win of the season.

Much bigger things on the horizon. Stay tuned.

Explanations; recaps; shenanigans

I guess it's time for my monthly blog post, eh? We have a lot to cover. First of all, let's discuss my racing thus far. I know that I professed to have a lot of race reports forthcoming, but not too many have appeared, based on my extensive tentative race schedule that I had planned for this year. Well, here we go...
My early season (March) cycling races consisted of a lot of pain, a lot of frigid temperatures, and no notable results. However, by the time March turned to April, I was starting to feel very strong. A successful debut in the Collegiate A-Division yielded a huge training benefit, and I approached the Tour of the Battenkill race (April 10) with great optimism. Unfortunately, on the first dirt descent (15 miles in), an (explitive) individual on my left drifted from the middle of the road right into me, leaving me with the not-so-enviable choice of going into the ditch on the side, or try to dodge him by going left. I tried the latter, but was unable to get my front wheel around his rear. Crashing is always interesting; it always happens in slow motion, and there's always a moment just before you hit the ground where you consciously say to yourself "oh shit." And then it's CRASH, BANG, BODIES EVERYWHERE! I came out mostly unscathed, with my bike intact, and a sore hand that managed to NOT break upon impact.

In light of this incident, I have decided to curtail the road racing for a little while. Crashing is a part of the sport; it happens to everyone. It is a risk we all take, and we are fully aware of. You cross your fingers, rub the buddha statue's belly, and make sacrifices to the spaghetti monster and hope it doesn't happen too often. But sometimes in spite of your appeals to Morgan Freeman (God), you end up lying in the road, hoping that you will be able to go straight home without stopping at the hospital first, explaining to a not-so-gentle nurse why you have a massive chunk of your hip missing.


Triathlon is my number one athletic priority. The biggest challenge for me has always been getting to the start-line healthy, and therefore I don't see road racing as a risk I can take right now. A broken collarbone in June or July will truly ruin a triathlon season if you live in the Northeast, and have a 3 month season. Bike racing is an incredible rush, crazy fun, terrifying, dangerous, and a great workout. For now, I'm on hiatus, though, and the Cat 2 upgrade will have to wait. I would have a long way to go anyway.

Thus, I am all-in for Tris this summer. Race reports for the first three races of the summer will follow soon.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Graduation

Do all stories begin with the beginning and work their way to the end? The beginning and the end in this case are similar (sort of). The story begins and ends with a stoic smile; a conscious effort to remain steady, to walk into the unknown with courage and confidence. Eyes forward, keep moving. Walking into college; walking out. They feel very similar.

Tomorrow I will realize my dream of becoming a college graduate. I will walk across the stage, I will move my tassel from one side to the other, and thus join the ranks of the University of Rochester Alumni. The Dean has told us yesterday that "You will leave here as a better person," or something like that. I am not even going to call him out on the terrible cliché because sometimes an over-simplistic approach to truth-telling is the best idea. Maybe this exit shares some emotions with the last exit and subsequent entrance (i.e. high school), but emotions are where it ends. I am not the same person I was then. I am better.

This was not always easy. In fact, I came close to rock bottom. And it is with these statements that I had better return to the beginning. When I arrived at my first school, I had plenty of confidence. And why not? I had visited the school three times, stayed overnight, met lots of people, met the XC/Track coach multiple times, etc. It felt like the right place. But the lesson to take away from this is that you can never truly be sure about something like that. The fact of the matter is that it was not the right place. For the first time in my life I had trouble relating to the people. I developed little or no love for the school, for the area, and was quickly reduced to a machine, going through the motions of my life. Running, which had been my rock and my anchor, was removed from me by injuries, asthma attacks, and race performances that can be described as subpar at best. A stress fracture at the end of freshman year crushed me mentally and physically. I was not sad at all to leave for the summer after that year, and I should have paid more attention.

The endurance sports metaphor for life is one that I like to use. So much of endurance sport racing is simply dealing with and tuning out pain. It sucks to go bang out a set of repeat 800s on the track. FTP tests on the bike only work if you literally give it everything. Repeat 100s in the pool involve working as hard as you can, without being able to breathe. I can take pain, I can suck it up. And that is precisely what I tried to do at the beginning of sophomore year. But the first few weeks worked out similarly: asthma, injury, disappointment, homesickness, numbness. I was not happy. I needed out. The rest of the semester involved the same mindset: head down, eyes forward, get through it. However, this time there was light at the end of the tunnel: I would not be returning. I had gotten accepted to the University of Rochester as a transfer for spring semester '08. I was going home. I was not a broken man, but I was down. I had gone into college with a vision of the greatness that I would achieve. Sometimes things do not work out.

Although the administration made the transfer process an incredible headache, the issues were worked out. I arrived on campus at U of R, and I felt at home. My roommate was the most antisocial person I have ever met, but my best friend in the world was living in the building right next door. I cannot stress enough how easy it was to become integrated into his group of friends. This group of people has since evolved from being "Trevor's friends," to "my family." Within a matter of weeks, I was more comfortable, at ease, and happy than I was in a year and a half at school number one.

Although I decided to retire from NCAA running, I knew that I needed to be a part of a team. I met a nice kid named Drew Scoles, and another goofball named Owen Laurion, and soon after I was racing bikes with them. I would take this new-found bike fitness into the summer, and use it to throw down monster bike splits which carried me to the podium in every triathlon I raced that year. Sometimes surprises come along that remind you that persistence, creativity, and flexibility pay off.

The past two years (junior/senior years) I have been lucky to build upon the foundation I laid that first semester here. I moved into a 6-person suite with my buddies, and have continued riding bikes with those goofy bastards that we call the "YJs." When I was at my first school, I would talk to many of my peers from high school, and would be confused when they said "I love my school." Well, after spending five semesters at UR, I can truly say "I love my school." The vision I had of what would come to pass in college was drastically different from what actually transpired. But maybe that is okay. It worked out this way. We roll on, like we always do.

So now we have reached the end. They told me it would be the "best four years of my life." Was it? I have no idea. It started off pretty tough. But would I change it? Probably not. That is not an option anyway, so I have banished the thought from my mind. I never gave up. I went to a very low place, and I never once allowed myself to believe that I would not be able to keep going, to keep fighting, to see myself rally, and end up on top. I could have lost myself. But I did not. College is supposed to teach you things. Well, it sure as hell did that. It taught me the most important thing ever. Now it's over. I am truly sad to go.

The next phase of my life begins now. What does that entail. Well, I'm not 100% sure. But I will talk into it with my head high. I'm ready. I CAN.

Thank yous are in order here:
Thank you Mom and Dad. You were here every single step of the way. You are the best parents anybody could ever ask for. I would not have made it without you. I'm going to keep plugging away, guys. All I want to do is make you proud. I love you.

Thank you Terv, Brendy, Mikey-balls, Shervy, and Steph: The one thing I was looking for when I came to UR was some stability, because that was absolutely rocked when I was at the old school. You guys provided just that. Thank you for putting up with my antics and for all the indoor rides that stunk up the suite. Thank you for the clownery, the love, and the memories. You are my family. I love you all so much. You are the reason that this all worked out so wonderfully for me.

Thank you Drew, Owen, and Ronan: I needed to be part of a team, and you provided me with just that. I have had so much fun with you guys. Thank you for believing in me. I believe in you. Sting sting, attack attack! YJs forever. Also, thanks for the nickname. Always remember that the big ring is not just more teeth, it is a state of mind! Push that 11!

Everyone else: Obviously I can't name the names of everybody who has been there for me over the past few years. Don't be offended if you did not make it in. All of my Webster friends, my rocks, thank you for being here always. Thank you for everyone else who touched my life here at U of R. It has been beautiful.

NEVER. GIVE. UP. If you are not chasing your dreams, then what the hell is the point of being here?

I love you all.

-Jeffrey Dolan. May 15, 2010.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The unknown

There is a reason I hate my light training days. I know that rest and recovery is one of the most important aspects of training. But even still, days off? I hate them with a passion. My off days or light days often leave me sitting around, checking facebook 25 times per hour, staring at my email screen hoping someone will send me something, and binging on chocolate (Easter candy abounds in our suite right now, and my stomach hurts). I know I should be doing homework. But then again, it's easy to say that I'll do it later. It is outlandishly boring for me to sit around. Sportscenter loops and repeats the same highlights every hour, and the only person I know who tweets every 5 minutes is my buddy Brendan Housler. I don't know if it's because of the lack of endorphins, or due to the fact that easy days usually find me tired and/or injured, but I find myself lost in my thoughts, and I cannot look at things like I can when I feel the positive energy that results from a day of hard training. Reflection is reflection, though, nonetheless, and is important. Today, as I sit here, I'm slightly injured (achilles issues-- wrong pedals? Too much float? Worn out cleats? Too much gear mashing? Too much bike mileage? Too much run mileage? Worn out running shoes? Saddle too high? I don't know, but it's frustrating), slightly tired, and reflecting on my current situation and near and long term future.

I have five and a half weeks until I graduate from University. How do I feel about this? Well, I am not really sure. When I set out on this journey four years ago, I had an idea of what would come to pass during my college career, and the fact of the matter is that very little of that vision has been realized. The way it ended up working out was different, yet it has been beautiful. It worked out this way for a reason, I suppose, and it's brought me to this place here. Once I got to U of R, things have been wonderful, and I am truly thankful for my time here. I'm happy where I am here, yet lately I've been feeling a bit stale. I can tell, deep down, that it is time to leave, to move on to something new. I love this place, but I am getting sick of it. I had this feeling four years ago as I was finishing up high school. I did move on to a new place after high school, to have new adventures, and it was an awful experience, so I'm apprehensive about doing that again. However, I know that it is time to try it again.

Everyone I talk to asks me the question about my plans for next year, etc. The fact of the matter is that I have no long term plans or goals, per say. I have no idea what I want to do for a career. All I know is that I want to pursue things I am passionate about. Many of you know that I want to be a professional triathlete. I know how hard this will be to achieve. The fact of the matter is that I am not fast. Chris McCormack? That guy is fast. These guys who are racing as juniors? They are fast. Lance Armstrong is fast. I am not a guy who raced fast when he was 16, I am not a freak of nature. For all intents and purposes, the Lance-types out there are freaks of nature. They are phenoms. They are the type that started racing, and immediately started kicking people's asses. Terenzo Bozzone broke the course record at Wildflower by 6 minutes at age 20. Indeed, I often do find myself wishing I had this level of talent. Maybe I don't, but that's not something I can change. Everything I have accomplished has been the result of a huge amount of hard work. I am a work-ethic athlete. I know that although most of the top athletes are these sorts of freakish athletes, hard work yields results. This is what I believe, and I believe that if I chase my dreams with enough persistence, I will be able to get there some day.

Even this is easier said than done, however. If you are not one of these top guys getting a lot of sponsor money, you have to train whilst working a job. This is not conducive to recovery, but it has to happen, regardless. In order to pull this off successfully, you have to be very smart about your training. A seasoned professional coach can help with this, but of course if you are barely staying afloat and keeping the lights on, it's tough to afford one of those. It's a tough situation to be in: triathlon is a sport where money can buy you speed; it can buy you coaching plans, it can buy you super-fast equipment; it can buy you entry fees into big races. It would be awesome if someone came out of the woodwork and said "hey, I'll coach you, don't worry about money," or "hey, ride this bike for me and go super-fast," but unfortunately that's not how things work.

It is my hope that if I put enough heart and effort into this dream of mine, I will be able to achieve my goals. I know they are lofty, but I truly believe I can do it. I have shown glimpses of potential. However, I have been injured so many times, it's been difficult to truly get anywhere. I have not given up yet, and I don't plan to. Most people would have thrown the towel in a long time ago. But not me. I still have my belief in myself, and my faith in persistence. I hold a fundamental belief that work ethic and persistence can lead to results. I will keep plugging away, making mistakes, learning from them, and rising again. The fact of the matter is that I am truly happy when I am working toward my goals. It gives me structure, balance, confidence, and a sense of purpose. It's my life.

I'm not 100% sure where I will end up next year. I am hoping to end up with some friends to help share the cost of living, and to have some workout buddies. There are many pros and cons to all the cities at which I am looking. Looking forward to the great unknown is a scary prospect. But that's what life is, right? A big unknown? I know it's easy to get down in the dumps when you are tired and your achilles hurts. But I realize that I just need to back off the training a little bit (it's okay because I had a huge week last week), maybe get some A.R.T., and I'll be back at it in no time, working toward the dream. Life is an adventure.

Bring it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My first bike race

In anticipation of the impending bike racing season, I figured I would share my story about my first ever bike race.

There is nothing pleasant about this moment. That infernal beeping noise wrenches me from my peaceful slumber. I can hear my three buddies unleashing various muffled curses as we struggle to gain full consciousness.
“I do not think it is natural for anybody to be up this early,” I say, half jokingly, half seriously. This draws a few snickers from the guys, who are still mostly preoccupied with their own internal battles, wrestling with the question of “why the hell do I have to get up at this ungodly hour?” It is still pitch black outside.
With a Herculean effort, I finally muster the strength to get spring into action. This is a big day, after all. It is my initiation day; my first bike race. I will be thrown right into it, with no clue what I am doing; baptized by fire.
As we exit the hotel, it becomes clear that “baptism by fire” is perhaps not the best expression to describe this situation. Scandinavian mythology describes hell as an oppressively cold place (as opposed to the more familiar ‘hot as hell’ sentiments we are used to hearing). Wheeling my bike to the car, I attempt to come to terms with what I am seeing. There is snow everywhere: on the ground, yes, but on the roads as well, and still falling from the sky. It is freezing cold, and an angry wind bites at my face. In short, Pittsburg, PA has been transformed into a scene from Norwegian hell.
The questions that had been circulating in my head begin to get louder, but one screams over all the others: “how the hell am I supposed to race my bike in the snow?” “Are we even going to have this race today?” Previously I had been apprehensive about the prospect of the competition, and learning an unfamiliar discipline on the fly. Now, I find myself even more terrified of the possibility of a crash on these treacherous roads. My teammates reassure me that “they will not have us race if it is unsafe,” quelling my anxieties (sort of).
Upon our arrival at the race site, we hear that the races have been delayed for a few hours, in hopes that the snow will melt. There might be no snow, but the roads still will be slick. This minor delay just gives me some more time to chew on my nervousness.
How did I get here? I had been a competitive runner for over five years, and had even run at the collegiate level for several seasons. I had experienced small degrees of success and improvement, but these were often few and far between, punctuated by frustrating injuries that inhibited the consistent training indispensible for true development. I had decided to dabble in bike racing as an outlet for my energies and my love for endurance sports. I had often turned to the bike for cross-training when rehabilitating running injuries, but I had never raced on the bike. Yet, here I am now, watching the snow melt, waiting to represent the University of Rochester Cycling Team in the men’s D race (for beginners).
I get a hold of myself as I begin warming up for my race. I pack on layer after layer of clothing, and I struggle mightily to pin my race numbers on my jacket (which will cause significant overheating later, not to mention the fact that it is probably the least aerodynamic garment ever designed). I grab my beautiful white bike (which will soon be covered in road spray and grime), and head toward the start line. I get some last-minute advice from my teammates: “Stay near the front, but not at the front.”
As the race starts, all of the advice goes out of the window. I immediately drop to the back of the pack (like an idiot). In a running race (what I was used to), it is best to start out at a controlled pace, and work your way up as the race goes along. I immediately learn cycling lesson number one: you have to go hard at the beginning, or you will be left behind.
As I struggle at the back of the pack, the course takes a right turn, and immediately shoots up a fantastically steep hill. Those in front take off, and, sure enough, I am left behind. I probably should have listened. Now I must enter damage-control mode. First step: get to the top of this hill. This is not exactly an easy task, due to the fact that I have no understanding of the gearing on my bike, and I am stuck in a gigantic gear. I grind my way upwards at a comically low cadence, barely staying upright on my bike, resembling some sort of Loony Toons character. Perhaps lesson one of cycling should be “understand how your bike works.” This sounds like a necessary pre-requisite to racing.
I ride the rest of the race alone. I am absolutely sure that I am in dead last (actually, I finished about mid-pack). It is a truly miserable experience. A cold rain begins to fall from dark clouds, soaking me as I attempt to haul my body over the climbs while badly overheating due to the exorbitant number of layers I have on. After what feels like all day (even though in reality it only lasted slightly over one hour), I cross the finish line feeling wet, tired, and shell-shocked.
I spend the next several hours waiting for my teammates to race in their respective races. I huddle in the car for warmth, my exercise-induced body heat having worn off. It may be the coldest I have ever been. Three layers of shirts, a sweatshirt, a winter coat, and a warm hat do nothing to quell the chattering of my teeth. This is not the sort of glamorous introduction to the sport of bike racing that I might have hoped for.
However, as I sit here, I am not thinking negatively. Perhaps it is due to my running background. I am used to taking on challenges, and pushing my body to extremes. Accomplishing goals and making improvements makes it all worth it in the end. As I reflect on the mistakes I made during the race, it builds up a great sensation inside of me. It is not one of embarrassment or anger, and I do not dwell on the failure. Rather, one question begins to permeate my consciousness: when is the next race? I am going to be a lot better next time out. I think this is the start of something great.

Stories

Here is the story I promised you that I wrote about my buddy Michael and his musical endeavors. Enjoy...

Raucous background music emanates from the overhead speakers and permeates the airwaves as I navigate my way through the sea of people, hoping to find a spot near the stage. It is not exactly elevator music, but it certainly sets the mood. Other spectators meander here and there, most of them wearing black t-shirts graced with the name of their favorite band, and many of them sporting interesting tattoos or piercings; the unofficial uniform of the “alternative” crowd.
I settle in as the band takes the stage, launching into an aggressive, driven breakdown, setting the crowd of onlookers into whirlwind of motion. Some jump, some flail their fists, some push and shove; others nod their head. Feeding on this energy, the band’s vocalist enters from stage left, letting out a loud scream that excites the crowd even more. As the song continues, the singer alternates between piercing screams and melodic tones, a fascinating duality that keeps the listener guessing. As the band members drive on, banging their heads, and as the mosh pit grows, my eyes remain focused on the band’s bassist, a powerfully-built, light-skinned black guy. His name is Michael Harold. He is 19 years old, and from Webster, NY. Seeing him in the context is very strange for me.
“A couple of years ago he was just the quiet kid who wore shorts to school every single day,” says long-time friend Ryan Simpson, 21, also of Webster.
“Mike is really in a metal band? Wow, I would not have expected that,” says Trevor Miller, 22, a fellow Webster resident.
I will admit that when news first reached me of Michael’s participation in a metal band, I was surprised as well. Having run with him for two years of high school on the cross country and track teams, I got to know him quite well. Michael is one of the most easy-going, polite, gentle, and relaxed individuals I have ever met. As a result, it is almost ironic to see him drawn to a genre of music stereotypically associated with anger, hate, and violence.
He is quick to disassociate himself and his band from such negativity. He considers his band, called 31Goings, to be “driven by passion rather than anger.” He acknowledges that many individuals who are drawn to metal music have suffered pain in the past and use the music as an emotional outlet. “There are a lot of bands that sing about violence and bring in violent crowds. I’m not into the throwing and punching the air that triggers a social stigma against the genre, but I'm not against it. I have mixed emotions on it, but I also feel like it would be arrogant to have people moving to my music and then stand still on stage as though I am better than them in some way.”
Anger is not the driving force behind the sound of 31Goings. To risk sounding completely cliché, they do it for the love of music. As Michael puts it, “we are all classically trained and motivated by music for the sake of music and I think that gives us what is, in my opinion, a more original sound.”
How does one go from playing classical music to playing metal music? For Michael, it was a gradual process. He admits that “previously I was guilty of all the stereotyping that metal and screamo is stupid music being an orchestra member (a cellist).” However, after being introduced to his now-favorite musical genre, he gained an appreciation for the technical nature that characterizes many metal songs. He also enjoys the greater demands of playing with 31Goings over playing with an orchestra. As he puts it, “we are responsible to write the music, book and promote the shows, and then perform the music with constant motion and aggressive stage presence all the while not missing notes. Not to put anyone down, but I enjoy this challenge more than sitting among 50 people, sitting still, playing music that someone else wrote.” Although he does not play classical music too often anymore, he does gain inspiration from classical songs, and his classical training has better prepared him to tackle the complicated riffs demanded by the high-octane attack 31Goings delivers in every song.
As for the apparent mismatch between his personality and his favorite music, he does admit that it might surprise some people. However, he enjoys the incredible energy of the music he plays and listens to. Using a running metaphor to explain it to me, (a fellow runner), he likens it to the energy released during the final kick at the end of race. There is power in the music that has the ability to inspire, although some simply write it off as music for delinquents and social deviants. I assure you, Michael Harold, and most of those who listen to his band and other bands like it are far from these.
As I stand watching Michael rock out on the stage with his buddies, his fingers dancing across the strings, banging his head in unison with the other band members, I can not help but smile. He is not just some angry kid who wants to be in a band to express his inner anguish; he is simply a passionate, driven young man, inspired to create intricate, technical music, and share it with the world. The crowd moves, a churning sea of energy; the band drives on. I just watch my buddy. I am proud of him.

P.S.- The website for 31Goings is http://www.myspace.com/31Goings
Even if you do not like their style of music, please support them... they are chasing their dreams just like I am.

P.P.S- Mom and Dad: You will not like the music. :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Updates

Well, let's see. You've all waited with bated breath for the next blog post from Dolanosaurus. I'm sure you've been wondering what sorts of exciting endeavors I've been involved in as of late. Well, here's a general rule of thumb: if something really exciting happens to me, I will definitely be blogging about it. Right now, however, I shall hold by my current party line of "nothing ever happens on my block."

Well, actually what happened here was... I got sick this week. Quite sick... probably a bad virus or something (hoping to be better soon). It dropped me to about a 30% functioning level. I am up to about 70% now, so we're going in the right direction. I am still taking it easy to make sure I don't relapse, which means I'm on the shelf in terms of training for at least one or two more day. Now, most of you who know me realize that training is what I do for a hobby, and what I do for fun, and what I spend my time doing. So on easy days, I have a lot of time to sit around. That's very boring to me. Video games don't hold my attention. My homework is essentially all caught up on. I can only check facebook and email so many times. Anyhow... I remembered the blog.

Training was going well, until the illness. Should be back to it this weekend. One month until we start racing! My fitness at this point is decent... definitely way better than it was at this time last year. Nobody is ever sharp in March, for a reason. If I were feeling amazing and putting out gigantic numbers at this point I would be worried. With Giros and Collegiate races scheduled every weekend in March, the fitness always kicks up pretty quickly.

I'm feeling great in the pool. Running is going well... trying to build the mileage here. Still spending some time in the weight room (love the weight room because you actually see fast results).

Now, I will leave you with some random thoughts:
For my English class (Feature Writing), we had an assignment recently: Write a feature story (such as for a magazine) about a performer. I wrote mine about my buddy Michael Harold, a longtime teammate of mine on the XC and Track teams in high school who plays the bass in a band called 31Goings. I rarely like things that I write, but I'm pretty proud of this one. Perhaps I'll post it on the blog. Even if you do not like their style of music, please support them.

I heard rumors that Lady Gaga is actually incredibly talented and a fantastic musician besides being really strange. Here is a video of her before she got famous.. it's interesting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNq1jSqakIQ&feature=related

I'm still coming to grips with the fact that "Jersey Shore" is over. I could be taking my sick time to catch up on missed episodes. But NO... it's over. Damn. I realize that this was the stupidest show ever. Offensive to many, mind-numbingly dumb, yet it was one of the most truly entertaining things I have ever seen. I have never experienced such an amazing level of absurdity. Wow. So good.

Madden '04 is the best game ever. Never gets old. Except, it is a little bit strange playing a game with Jerry Rice still in it, and where Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson suck. Anyhow, I picked up an old Gamecube copy for $.01. How about that?
That being said, as I already mentioned, video games cannot hold my attention for very long, so here I am blogging about nothing of consequence.

The most underrated song by Eminem is "Run Rabbit Run."

I will post again when I actually have something to say.

Monday, January 4, 2010

"Off-Season" Training

I obtained a nice little video camera for Christmas. I'm going to use it to document my training and racing adventures over the season here.

Here is a video of my snowshoe session today, in tough conditions (subzero windchill). Enjoy!