Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Fast Weekend

Well technically I was pretty fast a couple of times, not that the weekend went by too fast (but don't they all?) this time. Saturday morning started early with the Little Uno. I think four times I've done the Big Duece? They hold a 2 mile and a 1 mile open water swim race at the same time. Getting ready for all three of my Ironmans I did the Big Duece. Last year getting ready for the 12 mile Swim Around Charleston I did the Big Duece. This year I'm trying to do the series of all three local OWS races, but taking the shorter distances each time.

I'm ready to get started!
Big crowd came out

Buoys out there

Me with KC and Kristen before the race
The two milers started at 8:00 sharp. 5 minutes later they let the one milers go. We had 135 people starting at the same time, I lined up on the front row towards the left side. I expected that would mean getting other people swimming on top of me, but for the most part I managed to get a clean start!

I didn't get much of a warmup done, so I might have started out too fast. This race has two right hand turns in there, and my biggest goal was to be consistent. Every time I looked up to sight at the next buoy it was straight in front of me. I felt like I maintained a consistent arm turnover speed and stroke form throughout the entire mile. In the last 1/3rd of the course I swam next to someone and kept running into them, so I had to turn on the afterburners a bit to leave him in the dust. That also told me that I could have increased my turnover rate earlier and wasn't really going as strong as I could have been.

This is typical for the middle part of most races where you are supposed to go fast. 1 mile open water swims we slow down some between the two turn buoys. In a 5k race the middle mile is usually the slowest. Mentally I haven't figured out how to detect that this is happening or prevent it.

When the finish line got in sight, I really started chasing down the guy in front of me. He also did a finish line sprint, so I couldn't catch him. See if you can tell how that played out in the end....

I did ok
My real goal was breaking 30 minutes. Only about 15% of the entire field did that. 41/137 and 20th male is pretty dang good. 32:53 is "acceptable". Being 2 seconds away from taking 4th place age group, and 90 seconds away from an award is not really acceptable. I can put 25 minute miles in the pool any day of the week. Why open water? you fickle mistress. 33 minutes should be a half-iron swim split (1.2 miles), not 1 mile even. FWIW, Billy Su won my age group, he coaches our Masters team sometimes and was the overall winner of this race last year.

Actually maybe 20 people from the Raleigh Area Masters team competed in this race! The best part about the whole thing was getting to hang out with my friends by the lake. So many cool people. At first, I beat myself up a bit because I was the only person on the team who didn't take home an award. We won overall, master, and age group awards. People that were slower than me won awards. After I got home and looked up the categorical results I didn't feel so bad. Some of their age groups only had 2 or 3 people in there. I can't beat myself up over being 90 seconds short.

Me, KC, Kristen

Some RAM swimmers: Emily, Kristen, me, Chris, Sarah

I left disappointed. that was misguided.
Sunday my marathon training plan called for a 5k race time. Driving home from the lake I decided I was only going to beat myself up about not getting an AG award until I could start beating myself up about having a slow 5k time. Short memories are good for something.

Typically a 5k time trial that doesn't involve an actual race gets done on the treadmill. I do half a mile as a warmup, then use the distance counter to measure my 5k. So at 0.5 miles, I ramp the speed up to an 8.6 and hold on for dear life. When the counter hits 3.6 miles time trial is over and the last 0.4 is a cool down. If I don't have to break the speed that puts the 5k in 21:50, and I've only done it maybe 3 times before?  I attempted that speed several weeks ago and could barely make it half a mile.

But this Sunday, for some reason, everything felt good. So good, in fact, that I actually bumped up the speed to a 9.0 for the last quarter mile! Now I get to claim a new treadmill 5k PR of 21:48. I might not have mentioned it lately, but I am really enjoying this marathon training plan from PR Racer. I expected it to take longer for my speed to come back after all of that long, slow Umstead 100 training. But apparently this nice base phase has things right back in place!

So overall, that weekend had a nice fast open water swim race and a 5k PR with an asterisk. Pretty dang good times! I'll take what I can get.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Holiday Birthdays

Having a birthday that falls right next to a holiday isn't always fun. I've barely accepted turning 40 last year. But We all ended up having a good time! Since starting this new job doesn't afford me much time off for the near future, I was very glad to get a 4 day weekend. The office was closed on Tuesday as well as July 4th.

For the 4th, we took in a fantastic shindig with Kelley's dad and mom both, at the NC State golf course country club. It was such a blast! They have a great view of downtown from the clubhouse, so we got to watch the big fireworks from there plus enjoy a nice buffet. And since I had a great swim practice I was ready to take that buffet.

Evil Genius, Neena, Kelley, and Mickey

Ella's face painting

EG was super patriotic

Got my sweetheart on the driving range

Got the clubhouse in the background
We all had so much fun hanging out! Kelley got some good candid shots that I had to steal from her phone. And something terrifying.....

The selfie game is strong with this one. too strong.....

Too strong! She's too pretty!

Kelley caught me juggling! So neat.

My birthday was only a few days later. I don't like to make a big deal about my birthday. 40 still sucks, so I guess 41 isn't any better. No new pains, though, so that was nice. I worked, had lunch with my buddy Eli whom I hadn't seen in several months, so that was fantastic. Came home to some birthday love from the family and we checked out a new wing place for dinner. Wings Over Raleigh was really good, but not spicy enough for me.

Overall it was a good birthday. Ella gave me a blu-ray of the new Star Wars movie, so we got the wings to go and ate while we watched. It was wonderful to have my family around me for a peaceful evening. And that's about all of the birthday stuff that I care about.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

My official pics from the 2016 3 Little Pigs triathlon showed up on Facebook about 2 weeks after the event. So cool!

Running out of T2

Chilling with my homies post race


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Now Ella Got Old

The good thing about summertime birthdays is that we all hit around the same time. My sweet elderchild turned 11 recently. She's about to start middle school, and that's completely terrifying. But the full teenage stress hasn't hit yet so she can still be seen in public with us. We're in a bit of a sweet spot, not sure how long that's going to last.

Opening presents

Kelley, Mickey, and Neena

She was actually happy with that one

This spry preteen is a whirlwind of activity. She never stops moving. She is getting quite good at basketball and is looking forward to playing for the church team in the fall. She's also starting to swim some but we're still trying to find the right team. She is becoming so independant it's getting harder for us to keep up with her anymore.

Ella got a canopy too

Now she never leaves
Happy birthday little girl!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Half the year is GONE

2016 is really flying by. I'm kind of glad, it's been a really rough year overall, which makes days like my last post really special. We learn to roll with the punches and appreciate the days we don't get punched. June was a real motherfucker in particular. With all of the new job stress on top of this heat wave I'm not mad to see July.

Swim: 30,000 yards, 11 swims, 1 race
Bike: 14 miles, all in the 1 race
Run: 66.1 miles, 11 runs, 1 race
Strength: 9 times
Yoga: 4 times

Ha! the only bike ride for the month (and probably the last ride for the year) was during my last triathlon. I have to admit it feels REALLY good to be at that 30k barrier in swimming. Didn't expect to hit that nice round number so exactly, but whatever. it's pretty cool.

In the month of June, I stopped Project 225 where I was weightlifting as a priority, and transitioned back onto a marathon training plan. Project 225 was great, and a lot of fun. But ultimately it did not do what I wanted it to do for my body. Marathon training only giving me 66 miles is pretty pitiful, but the plan didn't start until the month was a third over. So that's about right. And the beginning of a training plan doesn't have really long runs anyway; I only had 1 run of 10 miles.

So this was truly a month of transition. Even spring gave way to summer on the calendar.

Other June Stuff:
The kids have been out of school all month, and they have been having a blast. Ella's not nervous about starting middle school, but I bet she's in for a nice transition.
Ella wore that cape everywhere. People loved it.

EG was nervous about being in the angry birds slingshot
The final construction step for this bathroom finally came in. The shower doors were installed. Only took about 5 weeks (they said 2) for it to get ordered, built, and installed.
I didn't write up a Fathers day post, but we did have a lot of fun for Fathers day. I'm very grateful for my family even if I can't always express it properly. It was nice to get some of that love back to me.

That's a happy family
We finished off the month last weekend with a family hike in Umstead state park. It was my first time back to the park since the Umstead 100 and I don't think I stopped smiling the entire time we were there. The day was kind of hot, but not as bad as most of the rest of the month. Mostly it was fantastic just to get the kids active and in the woods!

Taking down some single track

Why did EG have to sit in my lap? adorable but hot
Finally, I did get some decent time riding around with the top down in the car. Topless June was really too hot to drive most days, a black interior was a bad idea. But there are these:

6/6, why so cloudy?

6/18, I kept it short

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Really Good Day

I never do "day in the life of" posts because I'm actually very boring day over day. But yesterday was quite special in a normal day kind of way. Walk you through it.

6:40 am
Woke up feeling refreshed and a few minutes before the alarm clock went off. Breakfast was oatmeal with raisins and a banana, delish! Got in my first workout of pushups (40) and some planking, followed by about 30 minutes of yoga. The time on the mat was particularly calming and felt great, and I haven't been on the yoga mat very much lately so this was much appreciated.

8:20 am
Made my way into the office. The commute is only about 6 minutes now, and that is quite nice. I am starting to get settled in at this new job, and I've been assigned a special project that is really fun. My new coworkers are really smart, and this system is very complex. I have been feeling like it's too complex for me to fully understand, but trying to have patience in learning the new system. That's not easy. This is week 3 of the new job, and I'm still waiting on that first paycheck to come in, which is equally frustrating. Finally starting to make some progress on the new project was a nice confidence boost.

The Oval, right behind my office building on the NC State Centennial Campus - BEAUTIFUL

11:15 am
We regularly have a meeting scheduled from 11:30 to 1pm on Wednesdays which directly conflicts with my noon swim practice. I hate this meeting anyway. Today it got cancelled! Yay! I can actually make the Wednesday swim practice! But I have no gear.

11:30 am
go to swim practice. Swing by the house first to pick up my gear and some extra food - love that short commute! It really does make a huge difference. We got 3200 yards in the pool in an hour and 15 minutes with some hard 100's that I absolutely crushed. Felt great to be in the water, so glad I was able to make practice.

1:30 pm
Back to the office, eating at the desk. Realized I brought a lunch that was fit for a non-workout day. Right after I finish that, someone tells me there is catering leftovers in the main break room, so I grab an extra sandwich from there to finish things off, and a brownie. I get a text about a bill pay, and Kelley tells me that both paychecks came in today! I get paid every week and it took a few weeks for the system to catch up. Ah, getting paid on the 29th of the month is a real relief when you have to make a mortgage payment and the first health insurance payment on the new plan (not withheld) so we paid all of the bills. amazing.

Then I cleared a huge milestone on my new project. For my fellow nerds, I was able to use a console app to authenticate TFS online, execute a query and process the work items returned individually. This is very challenging, and finally getting the result set I was expecting was a serious win!

4 pm
Work held a social hour in the big Centennial room on the first floor. This meant free beer and catering for all employees, and apparently they do this once a month. My boss found us all down there and told me how excited he was about my project and that he left a LexisNexis pint glass on my desk because all of the cool kids had one. I'm cool now. And finally full. Nothing better than free food (and beer!) after a nice hard swim practice. I went home after the social hour and got to hang with the fam for a bit.

6:30 pm
Choir practice started and was wonderful. I don't talk much about singing or church on here, but that is how I worship best. I love my church and the family feeling we have in the choir, usually about 20 - 30 people singing. Practice ran a bit long tonight, then we end up hanging out talking for a while after practice.  Here's a video Kelley took from the service a few weeks ago where I got to lead a song of worship.

8:20 pm
Hitting the gym for my last workout of the day. Like I mentioned earlier, I am on a marathon training plan again and I had to get in my 6 miles with a 25 minute tempo section in there. I went into the gym feeling grateful for exactly how well everything had gone so far. There was no way I had the energy or stamina to pull off a good run after all of that. But since it was the day where good things happen, I nailed it. Hit my tempo time, felt good the whole way. It's too hot to run outside anymore here in NC, so I'm on the treadmill all the time again. Baseline was at a 7.5 speed (8 minute miles), and for the tempo 25 minutes I took it up to a 7.8 mph (7:38 pace) until it was time to cool down.

9:30 pm
Made it home tired and satisfied. Icing on the cake, June 30 is the next price increase for 2 of the marathons on my 12 in 8 months list. After paying all of the bills, we still had enough left over to go ahead and register for both of them. So I'll be going back for my 3rd Tobacco Road marathon in March, and my first time tackling the City of Oaks marathon will be in November. Both are local, here in Raleigh so the logistics are easy.

11:30 pm
back to bed.

See? that's a totally normal day. I went to work, had some solid workouts, got to spend some time with Kelley and the kids in between, and capped it off with registering for 2 marathons. It just so happened that everything went right in some very incredible ways.

Since about mid-May when I found out my last job contract was not going to be extended, it has been kind of high stress around here. I was glad to finally be done with that place, and it only took a week to get this Lexis job lined up. But the transition into Lexis has been incredibly frustrating. I know the zen theories about suffering (everybody has both good days and bad, in the end they number about the same) but to string a bunch of bad days together like we had then was really tough. Being unexpectedly unemployed for over a week while I waited on a background check to clear threw a lot of money stuff up in the air. It was a valley for sure. Then stuff started to go right again. I got into the payroll system. The complex software started to roll up. Today was a real peak. it makes me humble and grateful.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Why No Tri?

At the end of 2007, I registered for my first race, a sprint triathlon, before I actually stopped smoking. Triathlon has been my motivator and primary focus (after family and work) since that first race in 2008. I learned how to ride a road bike, then got stronger at riding a road bike, then really enjoyed riding a road bike. By 2010 we had moved from SC to Raleigh and I was riding in the big gear a lot more. And racing a lot more often. In 2013 I rode over 4000 miles, then really burned out on the bike. I still stuck it out for one more Ironman in 2014. Last year only had 1 sprint triathlon, and this year was only the 3 Little Pigs last weekend.

Overall, the last 8 years of triathlons has been very fulfilling. I loved the discipline and confidence that goes into a training plan, and I wouldn't trade my ironman experiences for anything in the world. I have put a lot into triathlon in those years, and I have certainly gotten a lot back.

Also acceptable:
If triathlon was easy they would call it your mom
My favorite mexican triathlon: Eat tacos, drink tequila, fuck

For me, the multisport lifestyle has turned into more of just a healthy lifestyle. I've lost weight (and gained some of it back, who are we kidding), and gotten older. Actually I'm still trying to come to terms with being an "over 40" athlete even though I turn 41 next week. I'm going to leave triathlon for the younger people. I don't have the desire to pump out 2 a days anymore. Not sure I have the energy for the 5:15 alarm clock so I can ride for 90 minutes before working a full day only to finish it off with a Masters swim practice or easy 10 mile run. 5 bikes, 5 runs, 3 swims every week plus some strength training and yoga to prevent injuries and add some speed? I've had enough of that for one lifetime.

What I am really enjoying right now is single sport swimming or running races. Still leaning towards the longer runs and shorter swims, but I might have to switch that up some. My speed is starting to come back in the pool, I've got 2 more open water races this year.

You'd think after training for the Umstead 100 this year my running legs would be burned out, but that's actually not the case. I do think the marathon is my sweet spot, so I'm starting to train for some marathons and 50k's this fall. More specifically, I'm trying to setup to run 12 marathons in 8 months between October 2016 and May 2017, since by May it's too hot to run marathons here in the south. The grand finale of this streak should be a Mainly Marathon streak - 3 marathons in 3 states on 3 consecutive days covering Penn, New Jersey, and New York on May 1-3. You would think training and running these 12 marathons would be the hardest part, but actually the logistics behind it all is proving to be a challenge. I know how to pace long runs and how to recover quickly now. I don't know where the registration fees, hotel fees, travel time off work, and family involvement is coming from.

So that's the big reveal - the new and really tough marathon maniacs streak. I'm going to take it one race at a time, both to see how many of these I can get registered for to beat those price increases and then actually finish. I have all of the races picked out so let's see if I can raise the cash! And get the miles in. First up on the calendar is the New River trail 50k with Kelley's cousin Ryan. Already on a training plan for it and haven't even registered yet.