Friday, March 6, 2015

Saltstick Winner!

After using a random number generator to select one of the 6 comments to win, we have a winner of the bottle of SaltStick!

Congratulations Abby, I'll get your bottle headed your way. And if you haven't read Back at Square Zero before, Abby is a runner and school teacher in the Charleston SC area. Check it out!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

One Cold Month

February is in the books! It was a crazy month. I had a big DNF at the Frozen Heart 50k, the kids missed 8 days of school for snow, and I think I busted something in my hip. Here's the final tally:

Swim: 17,950 yards, 6 practices
Bike: 23 miles, 2 rides
Run: 84 miles, 9 runs, 1 DNF, 2 runs after the 15th
Strength: 7 times
Yoga: 13 times

Swimming went great until the city closed down pools for snow on the roads (which is the right call). I've been doing more cycling lately to try and vary my cross training and strengthen the quads some. Lots of squats, lots of core and lower back work. I was also hitting the arms/shoulders/chest pretty hard to since the pools were closed. Hopefully this will make me a stronger swimmer!

This hip thing. I've been avoiding addressing it for a while now. After the DNF in Maryland, I went for an easy 5 miles on the treadmill the following thursday. Now giving 4 days of recovery after an 8 mile run in the snow normally wouldn't be required. But by friday, I could barely stand up. It feels like the problem is either in the hip flexor tendon or the muscle directly beside that tendon. Not a bone problem, definitely not an IT Band problem. There are some deep glute muscles (piriformis anyone?) that may be involved. So the best response to the problem is to take a few weeks off from running, get in some regular yoga, and up the strength training game to specifically work abs, glutes, lower back, adductors, abbductors, and squats. I'm also using the time to bike more and swim more. If this is an overuse pain, the likely cause is that I'm not balancing the leg muscles used in biking. and, you know, crystal meth junkies losing their teeth is also an overuse problem. hopefully this hip thing will go away soon.

The snow days continue getting me into trouble. I have added some other races to the schedule. And as scary as it is to add more marathons to the year while nursing hip pain, I have picked another race to get Maryland knocked off of the list. The Potomac River Marathon is on the MD side of DC, so I get to visit lots of family and friends while I'm in the area for the weekend. That's going to be a blast, and it looks like a really fun November marathon. I'm also diving in to the Belmead Trail Fest, finally stretching my trail legs to the 50 mile distance in Virginia in October. This should be pretty amazing, it's a 10 mile loop we run 5 times.

Swimming races have also been in the registration docket. Locally, I signed up for the Jordan Lake Open Water Challenge and the Big Deuce again this year, for 2.4 and 2 miles respectively. These are lead up races to the big dog, the 12 mile Swim Around Charleston. This will be my first time swimming longer than 10k. It is an epic achievement, and there may be some other swimmers from my team coming down to swim it as well.

I can't wait. Since I'm not running right now, and likely will only run sporadically through the summer, I'll be swimming a lot. My goal is to get up to 5 team practices every week (that's about 15,000 yards every week) which would be really high volume. I want to put in the work to get faster in the water. This will also help prepare me for the fall marathons by staying in incredible shape throughout the summer.

The snow days had other casualties too. Kelley decided we needed to play around my hair since I actually have some now. I think the result came out really well, and it's going to be a nice fresh look for spring!

insane. It's crazy hair! Actually the name is called the Messy Slickback. And I'm so glad this snow has finally melted.

Tomorrow I'm going to find a winner for my SaltStick giveaway! get in there.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Another Snowy Wednesday

Front Yard

Back yard

This was taken at MIDNIGHT! So much light reflective from the snow.

Front steps at midnight! no flash.

The big dump of snow

Not as deep as they were predicting

Still enough to weigh down the trees

Got my biggest girl leaning out of the front window!

Dry creek bed turned into a trickling mountain stream

Tree down!

All across the road
So about 4:30 AM this huge pine tree fell down across the road, and this is the one time when living on a very huge busy road actually pays off. It knocked out power to our house of course, downed power lines are no joke. Kelley called 911 and the power company, and watched as some pickup truck driving down the street did drive straight into the tree (nobody was hurt). By 6 am the city of Raleigh was out there with chainsaws and had the tree cut up like it is here, then by 9:30 am our power was back on and around noon more city cops came back and cleared those logs out of the right hand lane of traffic.  I still need to get out there and cut up some more of the trunk, but man they were right on the spot. That was so nice. And it's one more reason I love living in Raleigh!

Monday, March 2, 2015

SaltStick Giveaway!

For the past several weeks I've been using SaltStick to fuel up anything longer than an hour, and I've mentioned that several times on here. Their marketing people contacted me and sent me a couple of bottles, and I got to say I absolutely love it. This stuff comes in pill form so it's easy to take, no need to mix a powder with water like the Gu powder I was using in my last Ironman cycle. I take 1 pill every 30 minutes and can stick to plain water for the entire workout, with other things to get some calories in me.

And the really cool thing is that they sent me two bottles of the product, one to use and one to give away! Leave me a comment at the bottom of this post to be entered, and I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner! Give SaltStick a follow on Twitter and Facebook would be great too.

These caps are great. They actually replace electrolytes at the same rate (quantity) that your body loses during heavy sweating. These have given me consistent energy when the run gets long. I feel like it even keeps hunger at bay too, which is kind of strange. Nutritionally, they have everything you need to replace during hard exercise; there is a great balance of minerals and nutrients.

Do you ever try popping capsules on the run? What are you fueling with now?

Friday, February 27, 2015

On Losing and Losses

Something good happened on Monday. My MMNW came in at 174.8 lbs and 17.5% bodyfat. That's down nicely from last Mondays 175.4 and 19.3%. This means I didn't totally post-DNF eat my way into oblivion. This is also the first official MMNW under my typical plateau weight of 175. With all of the snow and the taper for the race on Saturday, the workouts were pretty slight last week. 4 snow days, the kids were only in school on Monday, it gets hectic, snowed in, and stir crazy.

So naturally, this week, the kids went to school on Monday. Then we got lots of snow and they have been home for the rest of the week. I'm again having really light workouts, going stir crazy. The weight has continued to drop, thursday was a low point at 171.8 lbs. I feel great, light and healthy.

Also something bad happened on Monday. Late last week we got word that Kelley's dad's oldest sister had passed away. He's got a huge family as the youngest of 8 kids. This sister was 21 when he was born, she was really a mother figure for him. Kelley and I are still very close with that entire side of the family, so while this was not really a surprise (she was 90), it is a very sad loss. This Monday the funeral was held in Biscoe NC. I'm getting very tired of putting on that black suit.

This makes three major losses for us recently; on different sides of the family. First it was Kelley's stepdad just before thanksgiving, our first parent to pass away. Then my grandmother passed away about two weeks ago, our last grandparent to pass away. Now out of 8 kids, Mickey and one sister are the only two that are left. They say these things come in threes, and I really hope this is the end of it. I really hadn't planned to miss any more work thanks to the other bereavement leaves, but Mickey asked me to sing at the funeral and I'm not going to pass up that chance. We ended up getting to see some people that couldn't make it to the big family Christmas last year so that was nice too.

Also on Monday night, Evil Genius and I had an Indian Princess meeting at BounceU, an inflatable fun house. We had a blast playing around on all of the fun games! And that's a better picture to end with than funeral news.

Those boxing gloves were huge!

The other thing that I've had plenty of time to do with all of this snow is register for races. Most of them were open - there was actually 1 marathon that was already sold out and 1 ultra that doesn't open registration until March 1st, but I went ahead and signed up for the rest of my year. I'm going back to Maryland to run the Potomac River Marathon in November. I'm also going back into the water. My swim season now has the Jordan Lake Open Water Challenge 2.4 mile race, and the Big Deuce 2 mile open water race for the 4th time. Every year on that one I say I'm going to drop back to the 1 mile race but still keep signing up for the 2. Those are both leading to the big dog, the 12 mile Swim Around Charleston! This is a bucket list kind of marathon swim that has a 6 hour cutoff. I am incredibly excited to step up to such a stiff challenge. My brother Michael is going to kayak for me, it's going to be amazing.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snowy Wednesday

The Peachoid is getting painted! looks like it's wearing a hat

Ella drew up the sweetest valentine ever made. Melts my heart.

Snowy front yard!

Evil Genius needs hot chocolate with sprinkles after playing in snow like that.

They even got to sled in the front yard

Notice how the ice ends exactly where my car sits in the driveway

Front yard got it too

These never get old. and when it snows like that, really come in handy.
After missing 4 days of school last week, they went back in on Monday and then have been out again 2 days this week! crazy. We're all having so much fun playing around in our winter playland.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My heart was frozen

Turns out, everyone is human. My first attempt to knock Maryland off of my 50 state list resulted in a DNF, my first time pulling out of a race voluntarily. Turns out, the Frozen Heart 50k was an amazing event where everything conspired against me.

Southern Maryland is incredibly beautiful. Seriously, it looks like a freaking postcard. I left work at noon on Friday and drove up, temps were in the teens and there was solid snow everywhere above the VA state line. I got to cross the Potomac River on the Price Bridge, so I didn't have to go all the way into DC. That makes the drive only about 4 hours northeast of Raleigh. The bridge had some traffic stalled for about 10 minutes, so that let me see something amazing!

The Potomac River

My bucket list has a bullet point to see a bald eagle flying in the wild. Well, sure enough, one flew up from the left side of the bridge, then over the bridge, and down to the water on the right. This bird was huge! It picked up a huge fish out of the water next, then started flying towards my car. The talons went in, and then you barely saw a ripple in the water before this thing pulled out a 2 foot fish. The river was about half frozen over, so the eagle set the fish down on the ice, then pinned it down with its claws and started eating. That was freaking incredible. I got a couple of pics of the dinner from my phone that had to be cropped down to show the bird.

The beak is dipped down into the dinner
Then after about 10 minutes of watching that, I knew my trip was made. No matter what else happened it was already memorable.

Welcome to Maryland!
I had never been to this part of Maryland before, it is very rural. I saw "share the road with tractors" signs, and a horse and buggy. With all of that snow on the ground, it looked like postcards I've seen from New England or something. Absolutely beautiful.

Lots of farmland

So pristine!
After I got checked into the hotel I hit up a nearby Target for some last minute supplies. They just pile up the snow into 12' high mountains in there! I was fascinated. I made the trip by myself, but Ella would have freaked out seeing that bald eagle and these mountains of snow. I'm so looking forward to her being old enough to take these trips with me (she has to be able to stay by herself while I'm running or run with me so it's going to be a few more years) but I was really missing my girl the whole time.

May be annoying if you're used to it, but I think that's really cool.
Race day came with the same optimism. I made it out to the state park with no trouble on the roads. The course goes through the parking lot, so the car became the default drop bag. I got my packet and layered up!

My aide station

Finish line aide station

The lake we were running around

Ready to run! Let's get this party started so I can finally get warm.

The view coming down into the finish line

Got my game face on. Ready to rock.
It was 18* at the start, which makes this the coldest race I've ever done. To prep for that, I had my trail shoes, 2 pairs of socks, and gaitors to keep the snow from falling into my shoes. 2 pairs of pants, 3 shirts, arm warmers, 2 pairs of gloves, and 2 head wraps. Some of it was thermal stuff designed for warmth. And I did, actually, end up staying warm the whole time.

We hit the starting line and took off. First into some single track, then it came around into a field and across a dam. The entire forest floor was covered in a foot of snow.



The frozen lake we ran around

Single track trail. Plenty of elevation change in there.

I was glad there was no active rain or snow falling. First trail race in months without active rain. But that snow caused a little condition called sliding. Every. single. footstrike. was hit and slide. It was literally 2 steps forward, slide 1 foot back. I fell a bunch of times. To call it tough running wouldn't do it justice.  This trail was brutal.

That's single track alright.

Still happy? must have been early.

Keep the lake on my left.
In the pre-race instructions they neglected to tell us what the course markings were. There wasn't anything obvious like arrow signs with the race logo on it either. Eventually I saw orange flags, yellow flags, and white blazes on the trees. So naturally I missed a turn. They said there was an aide station somewhere in mile 4, so when the Garmin said mile 6 I figured I had missed something.

Also, and this is more common in small races like this, I couldn't see anyone running in front of me or behind me. yet I was not alone. Suddenly as I'm running along I hear the distinct howl of a wolf. There is no mistaking that sound, I promise. It was definitely in the distance so I don't think it was howling at me, but I was certainly lost alone in the woods in the foreign land of southern maryland. And we call that motivation.

Postholing to show how deep the snow was.

Tight single track through a really cool cluster of trees

That white ring around my face is frozen sweat. I'm done.
The course was 3 loops of 10.5 miles each. I kept the lake on my left and eventually circled back around to the parking lot. When I hit the line my Garmin said 8 miles in 1:50 so there was no need to even go back out for the other 2 laps. I normally run 8 miles in closer to 1 hour than 2, so that shows you how difficult the course was.

I talked to the race director at the finish line, apparently lots of people missed that turn. In fact, out of about 135 starters, they only had 29 finishers for the 50k. Another 20 people went out for the second loop before bailing.

Sad face for the DNF

Back in the car for the final stats
I hopped back in the car and drove back to Raleigh, leaving before 10 am. Around 10 am, it started snowing again there and continued for some time. So it's a good thing I left when I did. Trail conditions could have hidden dangers, it really wasn't safe to run on a course like that. And it wouldn't have been safe to drive the 4 hours back to Raleigh in the middle of a snowstorm. So I'm glad I bailed when I did. I'm glad I went up there for the event. This just wasn't my day to get that state checked off of my list. I will try again later on this year. I guess that's what happens when I try to run a trail race without a beard! ha!