Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gardening Wednesday

Got my gardening girl out to play in the dirt!

We sank all of these plants on Sunday afternoon, and planted the seeds too. Took about 4 hours.


SO AMPED about growing Ghost peppers this year! I hope I get a good crop.

These are supposed to be almost as hot as the ghost peppers

Ok, so these pictures are all out of order. whatevs.

Saturday we went to the State Farmers Market to pick out the rest of the plants for the garden. We finished up there around lunchtime, so we went to the restaurant at the market. I got a 4 veg plate that absolutely knocked my socks off. Seriously good, fresh, and country cooking. Fried green tomatoes, okra, oh man you name it. so good.

You try to raise a proper southern girl, then she goes and eats a biscuit with a fork. Parenting fail.

Kelley and I in the restaurant. Yes, I look like a triathlete again! The beard and all of that hair are gone.

my teenager in waiting


They had lots of old farm things at the market restaurant

Some of the peppers and tomatoes we got to finish out the garden


Thursday, April 17, 2014

20 Years Ago

20 years has been on my mind a lot lately. Specifically, what I was doing 20 years ago and how it doesn't feel like it's been 2 complete decades since I did all of that crap.

Today of all days is particularly special. 20 years ago today (4/17/1994) I was inducted into Phi Mu Alpha fraternity. We're a professional music fraternity, not just a generic greek social organization. So we all have a musical connection. My principal instrument was voice, but I also played piano and guitar back then (neither of them very well). It's very interesting to see how many different directions my pledge class has gone in the last 20 years.

My pledge class had 6 men and we pledged under 36 brothers. Now, the 6 of us are all over the place. I'm a software developer and can't believe I still sing in a church choir. One guy is a firefighter on the coast now, another is a Drill Seargent in the Marines (and very high ranking). One plays bass for a guitar phenom in Kentucky after retiring from the Army, and another teaches music at an English speaking school in Romania. And then there's Josh Day. He was the drummer for Sara Bareillis for the last 9 years, and also played on tour with Maroon 5 and has appeared on countless studio records. I'm very proud of all of my pledge brothers. But I swear it doesn't feel like it's been 20 years since we were all skinny freshmen at Appalachian State, music majors with a common and lifelong bond.

I'm still looking for some of the pictures from back then, but here's one from last year. The last of our gang finally got married, and we all sang one of our fraternity songs at his wedding.  Apparently, she had no idea that was coming and we really got her.

A serenade to a girl at evening
When I was a pledge, we had to wear special hats and get all of the brothers to sign them. And we had to make and carry pledge paddles. Then after initiation Nationals sent me the shingles that every brother had framed and hung on their college apartment walls. I found mine the other day, and got a few pics of it all. Then the kids found me and got in on the action. The hat still fits, but is a lot tighter than it used to be.

I still look cool


My pledge paddle was a piano with all of my pledge brothers names on it too

shingles, hat, pledge books, and paddle

silly Evil Genius try to play my paddle.
Again, it doesn't feel like 20 years. I still consider these other men to be my brothers. One of them is in Bigun's indian princess tribe with his youngest daughter. The mountain house that we just got rid of? Owned it with two other brothers. I know it is a lifelong bond, but I'm still surprised to see the 20th anniversary come around.

Once A Sinfonian, Always a Sinfonian. Long Live Sinfonia!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - spring edition

Muscadines are leafing out

Peas are sprouted and growing well
Spring is here! It's a great time to be a gardener.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bike Week Overload

So week 2 of Ironman training was kind of a bust. It was supposed to be a bike overload with around 120 to 200 miles, and I only ended up getting in about 65 miles. Only got in 1 ride longer than an hour. So that's about all of the riding I felt like doing. I have got to get out of this cycling funk. It is a mental shift that needs to occur.

Moving on, this is a run heavy week. I want to get in at least 30 miles, but closer to 50 would be even better. I have been looking forward to this one for a while now.  Monday got things started off right with 5 miles of speedwork (1 mile repeats). The rest of the milage should be slow and steady, zone 1 and zone 2 stuff.

This is the best way to finish off a bike week, with beer and veggie tacos

We also got the kids out to the art museum
 And in other stuff that happened this past week:

We had the Indian Princess meeting at our house this week

This is an incredibly fun group of girls & dads.

All of us piled up on the couch

Tomatoes!! I got the first row of toms in the ground. 10 plants total in the first bed next to the muscadines

Closer look at the tomatoes
We had a wonderful visit to Greenville over the weekend just to hang out with my parents some. Morgan's wedding is coming up, so that weekend is going to be nuts. Very busy. We hadn't been down there since Christmas, so a social call was overdue. Normally I try to see people and visit with friends while we're down, but this time we just sat around watching baseball and hanging out. So relaxing, so wonderful.

And I came back with a bunch of plants for the garden! Mom started 9 different varieties of tomatoes from seed this year, so I tried to get at least 1 of each. I ended up putting 10 plants in the ground after we got back Sunday; I truly could not wait any longer to get my hands in the dirt. I still have a handful of bell pepper plants to get in the ground, and we got some flowers to go in the front beds as well. The garden is really coming together this year!

And I can't wait until next weekend. We can finally put the seeds in the front bed, and go to the farmers market to get the rest of the plants I want. I'm going to try and make some more hot sauce too.  wooo doggie! yes.

Friday, April 11, 2014

5 pic friday

Bigun wanted a shot

Then of course Evil Genius had to get in on the action

in the pool recently

outside of the office

Inside of the office
How arrogant of me to put up 5 pics of myself just because it's Friday. I finally went back into triathlete mode this week, and gave the face, chest and legs a good shaving. So it's bye bye beard until next winter.

Funny thing though. After the Umstead 100 last weekend, I find myself trolling ultrasignup and looking around for trail ultramarathon races. That's an urge I haven't felt since the Pine Mountain 40 in 2012 left me scared of ultras. yea, scared. i said it. But with 2014 being the year of long and lean, an ultra or two makes sense.

Also I'm really struggling to find the motivation to put all of those hours on the bike again. Usually in the spring I can't wait to get rolling, but this spring has been so cold, then last week we got a couple of 90* days. No time at all when it's pleasant, spring days in the 70's. Everything seems very frustrating right now. I'm in week 2 of Ironman training, it's supposed to be a bike heavy week. motivation = gone.

Loving the pool and long swims, loving running long and on trails, but nothing on the bike. And you can't do ironmans without any bike training. Maybe having my legs shaved again will help fix my mindset.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Umstead 100 Volunteer

April 5 was the 20th running of the Umstead 100 ultramarathon. The race consisted of 8 laps of 12.5 miles each, totaling 100 miles of footrunning. This kind of thing is only for the truly insane, and should not be attempted by people.

However, volunteering at an event like this is pretty incredible.  You don't have to be an ultrarunner to work an aide station or take a lap pacing the competitors. it's still amazing.

This year's push to volunteer more led me back to Umstead to volunteer again. I wanted to do more than just pace this time, so I got signed up to work aide station #2 this year as well.

The volunteer work actually started earlier. Saturday morning we had a program with Bigun's Indian Princess tribe to fill and seal bags of food that are getting to Nicaragua. It was a great program, and I got to take Evil Genius this time too! She's always wanting to get in on that stuff. This program consisted of backbreaking work, we were sealing counting and hauling bags of food around. I figured the sore back and tired legs would come in handy later.


EG didn't want her picture taken

We had some other cool indian princess stuff to take care of in the afternoon, then about 5 pm I got over to Umstead. I checked in first at the headquarters, which was a parking nightmare, and made my way over to aide station #2. AS2 was quite a drive. The course is 12.5 miles, and the station is in mile 6, but getting in and out of the park isn't always easy on race day.

Not your average water stop
AS2 is not a typical water station that you'll see in most other races. They had 2 large grills going, piles of pizza, and snacks in stacks. It takes about 20 people at all times to work the thing. The runners have special needs bags packed and dropped off there at the start. There's about 6 folding tables of food there at all times. The runners come by here 8 times so it's a good setup. Some of the volunteers pull bags and bring the runners food while they sit, others keep the soup cups full and the trays stocked up. It's really a cool place to be.

My plan was to work the aide station until after dark. The pacer pool had me scheduled to pick up a runner at 8 pm. I told the pacer coordinator that I was going to be out at AS2, so I would find someone who needed some help getting back home and run in with them. After dark everyone was looking pretty good, so I found Tim wearing a christianrunners.org shirt and asked if he wanted any company.  Turns out he was on lap 6 already and was going to get a pacer out of the pool anyway for his last 2 laps, so I jumped in.

Now I came into the day with a plan. Work the aide station for a couple of hours, then pace somebody for a lap. Maybe a lap and a half if I did end up running back to headquarters. But there was really no need for me to run more than 18 miles.

Turns out, Tim was a really cool dude. We both have daughters, work as software developers, and sing first tenor in the church choir. Trail people will talk the whole time we're running. it was around 8:30 pm when I started running with this guy.  By the time we started out for Lap #7 I grabbed this.


I was trying to cover up the headlamp so the pic wouldn't completely wash out. This was closer to 10 pm? maybe? We were trying to keep each lap around 3 hours. I was just trying to keep him moving forward the whole time, help deal with any injuries or carry (mule) any of his stuff. Since I was keeping him distracted mentally and still running at a pretty good pace he wanted me to keep running for his final lap as well. With about 2 miles left in lap 7 I actually agreed to it. I know what it feels like to run 18 miles, and when I had over 18 miles in the bag, I still felt pretty fresh. Plus I figured his last lap would have a fair amount of walking and recovering as well so I could hang. I really felt like I had the entire last lap in my legs still.

But you know, I didn't really plan on running 31 miles. I'm going to call this an accidental 50k.

Tim's hope was to get in under 22 hours, but the real goal was just to break 24. So around 4:15 am we hit that finish line. I've never been happier for someone else to finish a race. I got my 31 in, which was totally unexpected, and made a new friend in the process.

Me and Tim back in the headquarters

Proud of the belt buckle
I don't know what his official finish time is yet but it's 22:something and he got the sub-24 belt buckle. That's pretty incredible.

Afterwards, I was really not looking forward to hoofing it back to AS2 just so I could drive home. They didn't have a supply truck going out there again for several hours, so I was going to hang out outside in the cold (40*) and wait for either a car to thumb a ride with or a non-finisher to run with. Luckily I ran into Walt, who needed directions to get out of the park and back to AS2 to pick up some of his stuff. Well I was the man for the job. I got a ride back to my car, and helped him load up his coolers & stuff. That all worked out really well and around 6:30 am I pulled into my driveway.

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Of course, this really makes me want to run more trail ultras. The environments are incredible. In this case, running through the woods at night has a serious cool factor. The aide stations are totally different and completely well stocked with some amazing food. I had tons of pizza, a hot dog, pancakes, french toast, boiled eggs, m&m's, trail mix, it's all just incredible. The people that do these insane things are some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.

The flip side of that coin is that I was in no way actually prepared to run 31 miles. And I am waaay too old to be staying out until 6:30 am. So I'm going to be paying for this one for a few days. But I do like my chances of hitting 100 miles on the month now.

Go find an ultra! Volunteer if you don't want to run one.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

March is gone and Ironman training is here!

March was a recovery and toss-away month. The plan was to swim more to start training up for the 5 mile OWS race and recover everything else.

Swim: 28,100 m, 9 swims
Bike: 105 miles, 6 rides
Run: 70.2 miles, 7 runs, 1 marathon
Strength: 14 times
Yoga: 18 times

That is actually a much higher swim mileage than I was expecting. I'm still not enjoying the bike, but I am starting to ride again pretty regularly.  And I am going to run more. 70 miles is pretty good, but I really want to be over 100 miles per month this year.

Mostly I am just absolutely loving the water right now! And the yoga mat.  Yoga is going really well. It's getting consistent, and I'm working on a headstand that is just about there. Yoga is the kind of practice that pays dividends in every other sport that I'm trying to tackle, so that's really good.

March 31 was officially the first day of Ironman training. I'm taking a different approach this year. The last few plans I've done were 39 weeks, this time it's only 23 weeks. The primary format breaks down into four week segments. Every week I'm going to overload one sport, then a recovery week. So base 1 is starting with a swim week, where I'm going to swim as much as I can. Then week 2 will be a bike week, where I'm going to try and get 150 to 200 miles. Then a run week, where I shoot for 30 to 50 miles. Then a recovery week, where all of the workouts are short and easy. And that's base 1.

According to the "Your Best Triathlon" Joe Friel book, I loaded up my spreadsheet with his 4 week plans for a base 1, 2, and 3, then a build 1 and 2 phases (that include a half iron test), then a 3 week taper. So my failsafe is to go back to Joe's strong workout plan if I don't feel like this overload method is going to work. But I really hated having to spend so much time on the bike last year, and I feel like only having one heavy bike week out of every four will be a good way to balance that. And it should give me enough time between heavy run weeks to increase that mileage into the 50 to 70 mile weeks without injury problems. Doing that single 50 mile week before the Myrtle Beach marathon led to a huge PR, so I want more of that luck.

This actually started on Sunday. We all got out to the pool in Pullen Park. The kids played in the kiddie pool while I got some laps in. I decided to do 20 x 200 for a 4000m set. Every 5th 200 I did an IM just to help me keep count. That gave me something to look forward to. I could split the intermediate 200's any way I wanted to. some pull, some kick, some stroke work, sometimes just on 20 seconds rest. It was a great workout and a fantastic way to kick off Ironman training before the official date. I also ran 7 miles before church that day too.

Kelley got some video of one of my 200 IM's, it came out really cool, I thought. But it's kind of long.


The coolest part about the videos is that I can see where my stroke got flawed. Some of that is just because 200 IM's will fucking wear you down. they are kind of insane. But I could see when my elbows were high enough and when they weren't, and when my arms crossed the center line and I went to one side of the lane, etc. Very cool to get this kind of feedback.

Then Monday night I hit the RAM practice for 3000, and Tuesday also hit RAM practice for 3100. That gave me 10,100 meters over 3 days. That's what I mean by a volume overload. I'm also going to RAM practice Thursday night and Saturday morning.  so it's a really heavy swim week.

The concept for this overload principle was totally stolen from Jason over at Cook Train Eat Race. I also steal recipes from him quite regularly. Thanks brother!

What has me really excited to swim so much?? Well on Saturday I got to volunteer at a swim meet! I have wanted to volunteer more this year, and this kicked off volunteer season with a bang. Adult swim meets are so much fun! I had no idea.

As a triathlete, I tend to stick to the open water stuff. I still have no desire to start off of the blocks. The short fast stuff still seems futile to me, and most of the people that I was timing were much faster than me. But the Dixie Zone 2014 Masters meet really changed my opinions about swim meets. The environment is electric. You see amazing people there from all over the country. I saw 300 lb dudes that were significantly faster than me, and 71 year old dudes that were significantly faster than me. And plenty of younger and thinner people that were also significantly faster than me. I'm not suggesting I would finish last in every event if I swam there, just that the people that did show up to swim were very impressive.

I was a timer at the meet. They had electric timing mats in the water, and 2 timers at every lane. I also got to socialize plenty with my fellow teammates. Some people I hadn't seen in a while were there, so that was great. And as it turns out, a former co-worker from IBM was there and is on the team! I had no idea. So Michael and I got to hang out all day, and that was fantastic.

Swimmers on the block! My friend Jen is in the middle there. and you can barely see me on the left. the head in the crowd with the beard.

timers waiting for the next set of heats

Starters and meet officials.

hospitality area
Swim meets rule!! So much fun. So what was now supposed to be separate posts explaining the ironman training plan, the swim meet, march's totals, and the epic 10k swim days have now, finally, come to a close. Hope you enjoyed the ride. That's how busy I've been. insane!!