Monday, November 6, 2017

Hurricane Championship Swim

This might be the first year that I've been able to successfully complete all three of the local races in the Triangle Open Water Swim Series. Last year I did the first two and the 3rd one was cancelled thanks to Hurricane Matthew. This year it was game on. Sunday, 10/15/2017 for 1.2 miles of open water fun at New Hope Overlook boat ramp in Jordan Lake.

Foggy day!

FS Series getting it setup

Can't even see the first buoy

Ready to swim
The FS Series organizers asked at the beginning if anyone could sing the national anthem, I think they were having trouble streaming the copy they usually play. I stepped up to sing with no warning, no warmup, and no practice! At least the second half of the song sounded pretty good. For a singer, performing the national anthem in front of this many veterans, there's no such thing as a good performance. You either do it right or screw it up. I think I did it right, it's an honor when you do it right.

Eventually we did start swimming at 8 am. It was really foggy outside, but the fog burned off pretty quickly after we started swimming. You couldn't see much further than the next buoy, but at least there was some direction in there. And the water was like glass. No kind of current or chop at all.

There was an unexpected sand bar out there, so they positioned the return buoys in a little bit and suggested we keep them on the left. The 2.4 milers had to go back out for a second loop, and when I kept those buoys on my left, once I looked up to see a couple of those 2.4 mile swimmers heading directly at me! Surprise!

I finished in 34:54, good enough to place 52/101 overall, 31/53 men, and 2/6 in the 40-44 age group! I'll take an age group award any way I can get one.

The finish line when I was done

the non-selfie version

happy to have that bread

RAM swimmers

With my AG award!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hello October!

And goodbye. Wow that month really flew by. Why is it that the really hot months seem to last forever, but the comfortable favorites fly by in the blink of an eye? This October was no exception. I was finally able to run again consistently, the kids went back to school, everything really fell in line.

Swim: 26,400y 8 swims 1 race
Bike: 36.9 miles, 3 rides
Run: 49.1 miles, 9 runs
Strength: 5 times
Yoga: 7 times

That's a pretty solid month! It just went by too fast. I mean, my running wasn't fast. Still waiting on the endurance and speed to come back. But I did get out on my favorite running route to the state capital building and back last weekend. The endurance certainly was not there, but it felt so good to suffer again. I also got back into the older routine with my morning workouts. No more joint pain means yoga is back on the mat!

I had one swim race in October that I haven't written about yet. It was awesome and I took 2nd place in my age group. Also coming up this weekend I have a 10k running race, the City of Oaks. Last year I did the full marathon there, and it was my last full marathon but I still don't want to admit that I've gone a whole year without marathoning.

surprised with the new sunglasses

in desperate need of a haircut & beard trim

with my age group award at the swim race

Kelley got a picture printed on wood so it's suitable for outdoor display

Got the fountain setup into permanent placement

Beginnings of a patio

We got grass to grow!

There was a Diwali celebration at work

Got to meet my newest cousin, only 4 weeks old

Family lunch at a cracker barrel

Halloween! The kids did their own costumes this year
See? the month went by so fast I only got 11 pictures. For Halloween, Lena was a zombie Amelia Earhart, and Ella was some video game character I can't pronounce from Undertale.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Up In September

Yay October is my favorite month and it's finally here again!! Hockey is coming back. College Football is in full mid-season form. Even tonight my NC State wolfpack is about to upset Louisville here in Raleigh in one of the best ACC games of the season! September had some really cool shit, here's how it went down.

Swim: 12,300 yards, 4 swims
Bike: 19.9 miles, 2 rides
Run: 14 miles, 4 runs!
Strength: 3 times
Yoga: 2 times

First thing to notice - no 0's! I got something done in all activities last month. Those easy 4 runs give me 47.1 miles of running on the year. I had some long stretches with nothing - 11 days and 6 days based around drugs and vacations. But really now that the arthritis is under control with medication I can begin losing some weight (hard) and getting back to a regular level of activity (easy). I'm going to start off just running twice a week. I did have a 4 miler in there - longest run since early March. The weather started to cool down a bit in September and it felt so good to get back out there again.

We did some other cool stuff in September too:

Finished some skirting and landscaping around the deck

Hardscaping is done. Time to plant some grass

New woodworking store opened in Cary, I picked up a new sander

Ella and I took my first boat out to Lake Raleigh for some fun paddling time

We had a blast

On vacation in Beaufort, NC

They had to fight off the pirate with water cannons

Outside the watercraft center

Some of the planking we did in boatbuilding class

On the pier in Emerald Isle

this is not a strip club. really.

Loading stuff into Neena's warehouse

I'm ready for work

Our new concrete fountain

Yeti for the yard

With my favorite landscaper
Since the kids are out of school for the entire month of September and March, we take our family vacations then. This time since I couldn't schedule a marathon for the vacation, I signed up for a boatbuilding class at one of our state museums! It was amazing. The teacher demonstrated all of the mistakes I made in my first 2 boats and how to avoid them. I learned so much, and still have to write a more complete recap on my woodworking blog. Beaufort NC is a wonderful coastal town, but it is quite expensive there so we didn't stay long. The next weekend we went down to Kelley's mom's lakehouse. She moved to Raleigh a couple of years ago, but still has a full lake house with 6 storage buildings on the property filled with retail store merchandise for a store she recently closed down. We have an auction guy lined up to help us sell off of this stuff, so we took several truckloads from the house to the warehouse for him to sell. It made a nice dent in getting the house cleaned up, but there is still a long way to go there. On the way back, we stopped by Bethune Concrete and picked up a bunch of concrete statues for the yard. We really just stopped for the fountain, and bought 6 other pieces as well.

The boatbuilding class was the same weekend I was supposed to be in Portland, OR for the Boring marathon. I knew the fall schedule was hosed, but it was kind of tough to know I was missing out on a race. Then last weekend was the Yeti 100/50 and I had to skip it. Next up is the Javelina Jundred where I'm going to skip running the 100k there, but my cousin Ryan is still going to run it. I signed up to run the 10k at the hometown City of Oaks marathon. Running the full last year was my last marathon. So this is going to be a bit bittersweet but it will feel good to train with a purpose and get back out there again.

Friday, September 15, 2017


Well I saw the Rheumatologist. She was incredible, and understood my pain, how it was affecting me as an athlete and my emotional state, and sincerely wanted to help. That's not something I've seen too often. The first appointment was Wednesday and I went in considerable pain. Joint pain in my hands, fingers, wrists, elbows & shoulders. Lower back pain, the act of standing or sitting really hurt. Of course there was the ever present foot pain as well.

After a very thorough exam she had it narrowed down to "up to four kinds of arthritis" and needed some more information to narrow it down. So I had some blood drawn and had to go for some xrays on Friday. She sent me away with some samples of a prescription strength aleve & a stomach protector that should help the arm pain.

For starters, it worked! The arm pain kind of eased up, at least most of it did. Still had some pretty good stiffness in my hands though, but overall the pain was about 70% better. The foot pain eased up a bit too. So I tried to run on Sunday, and ended up getting in 4 miles. The first mile was actually comfortable. The rest weren't bad, at least not as bad as it's been the last few times I ran. So with a single 4 mile run this is now my highest running month since March. Mentally and emotionally it felt so good to get some miles in, albeit slow miles, and feel pretty good at the end without limping for the rest of the week.

Monday I went and got in an entire swim practice. And it was a doozy, a 4000 yard IM practice. The joint pain has been so bad I haven't made it through an entire practice in weeks, that's what finally broke the straw to convince me to make this appointment.

Tuesday I went back for the follow up appointment. The blood tests did not have any markers to indicate Rheumatoid Arthritis, and the xrays did not show any Ankylosing Spondynitis, one of the other scary possibilities. There was something funky in the lower lumbar area, so I do still need to get one more xray there. But my hips were totally clear.

I do have osteoarthritis in my hands - hence the remaining stiffness. Blood tests also showed a pretty bad vitamin D deficiency. So now I have to take prescription strength aleve & zantac twice a day, and a pharmaceutical grade vitamin D and chondroiten once a day. Also, temporarily, adding a foot wrap so I can start running regularly again.

Yep, I think it's finally time when I can try getting some beginner miles on the roads again. And it couldn't come at a better time (autumn). So it takes 6 pills a day and an ace wrap, but I can finally get back on the road and finish a swim practice.

**disclaimer - I know these memes have nothing to do with the theme of this post, but I find them hilarious and think posts without pictures can be boring.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

End of Summer

August didn't suck! I mean, it did, it was still August, but it didn't feel as bad as the last few years. I think the hottest it got was around 105-108*, not the endless days of 116* like last summer.

Swim: 37,677, 11 swims, 1 race
Bike: 35.2 miles, 3 rides
Run: 3 miles, 2 runs
Strength: 1
Yoga: 0

The only race was the ePostal 5k swim in the long course pool. I got in some nice time in the water, no real complaints there. Of course it could be more, 20 practices would be great. But my joints won't hold up for that. Getting some time on the bike was especially nice. I even got to brick a few of those, finishing bike time with a 2 mile treadmill run once, and a single mile on the 'mill another time. Way more activity than the last few months, but still pitiful numbers. and painful.

This joint pain is absurd. It started in my thumbs, then both hands, then wrists, now it's my elbows. Most of August had the left elbow flaring up first, but then in the last week the right elbow really stepped up to champion the cause even sending pain shooting up to the right shoulder after swimming. It gets bad after doing landscaping or construction work, and there was plenty going on there. I've had enough. Chances are, this is the same pain problem that is in my foot and keeping my running shoes dusty. So tomorrow I'm going to see a rheumatologist. The chiropractor, acupuncture (ok that was fantastic but didn't last), orthopedist, and physical therapy did nothing to help. This needs to get fixed. The Arthritis & Rheumatology center treats the group of about 100 chronic conditions known as arthritis, so hopefully they can figure out which one of those I have and give me a treatment. I want hope.

Instead, I've got landscaping! And family fun. And another boat. On to the photos:

added a poorly formed set of stairs

This isn't even stairs. It's a box that's supposed to be a single stair, but isn't. clearly.

Quicksilver! New boat under construction

Quicksilver under fiberglass

Durham Bulls game with the whole family!

This path is starting to shape up. Those hostas need to get moved.

same path from the other direction

Quicksilver comes together and gets some paint

Boatbuilder added a seat in the back half
Quicksilver is a one sheet boat - means that it only took 1 sheet of plywood to build her. It actually took a bit more than that, but the concept of a one sheet is pretty popular. Lots more about her on my woodworking blog.

Landscaping around the deck is progressing slowly but surely. I screwed up the height of those stairs on both sides of the deck, so they have to be redone. The gravel path leading up to the brick & stairs there is about done now. So you get to see the progression.

Path is taking shape, before adding gravel (in the wheelbarrow)

Kelley redid the bed on that side of the tree, adding mulch & plants plus a massive cleanout

Gravel path is down, but loose

watching the eclipse with coworkers

My view of the eclipse through the glasses

Quicksilver finished and ready to water test

It fits inside of the truck bed!

It floats! Leaked pretty bad, but it floats

It even held me out of the water, but barely

sitting a bit low. I'm 20 lbs over the rated capacity for this boat.

Evil Genius decided to grow a beard

then we had to shave it off together

Got to watch the big fight in an incredible outdoor party on a projector

added a little buddha in the new bed

starting to add plants around the path

Got this side of the deck hardscaped and planted. Still need grass seed.

Enticing way to get to the deck. We did add lariope to the right of the path and replace that mulch. It looks finished.

added some hardy banana plants on the road side of the fence
Overall we got a lot done in August! There was some decent athlete work, some pretty good yard work, and some fun family time. The eclipse was cooler than I really expected, we did get to see it very well from Raleigh. The McGregor/Mayweather fight was amazing, we had a blast at the party watching on a 10' outdoor screen while drinking heavily. The baseball game was a blast too, my company gave out some tickets. I built another boat, and I actually applied a topical glue to that gravel to form a solid path. Should have used more of that glue, the path actually broke up a bit so now I have to find another product.

September brings the glory. Football is back, it feels like fall again, hockey will be here soon. As long as it all isn't ruined by a hurricane! Stay away Irma! I'm watching this one.