Thursday, April 16, 2015

GladSoles

Recently I have picked up something new and fantastic. Gladsoles is a small company based in New Jersey. Handmade sandals that really are as comfortable as going barefoot. They are basically a Vibram sole with laces. I got a pair of the Hybrid models, perfect for trails and walking the city too.

My soles are quite glad
These are handmade. I had to trace my feet and email in the drawings so they could cut my sandals exactly for me. I absolutely love these sandals. They are incredibly comfortable. They are made for barefoot running but I'm not able to do much running right now. I'll wear them when I'm kicking around town or hiking with the kids.

I also got into their ambassador program! So there's a badge on the left with a link to their site, and you can use code CJ at checkout to get 10% off. Seriously proud to rep these guys, it's a surprisingly wonderful product.

Full disclosure: I did pay for my sandals, not a gift in exchange for the review. They really are that good.

Monday, April 13, 2015

What a Whirlwind!

This weekend was epic! I had a lot of fun and a lot of stress. By the time it was all said and done I was ready to crash hard.

Thursday afternoon my buddy Joe came to the office to pick me up and we headed down to my parents house in SC. It was a nice easy trip, we got there about 9 pm. Friday we all headed down to Augusta GA for a fun day at the Masters golf tournament! Joe had never been before, so it was a real treat.

No cameras inside Augusta National so this was the only pic we got
We had a blast! It was such a fun day. Warm but not blistering hot, plenty of shady spots to sit and hang out, watching the golfers play through. We saw Tiger pull an amazing birdie on #11, got to enjoy the Amen corner for a while, and ate lunch on the 15th fairway where we caught Ernie Els. We ended up on #6 green and saw the Phil Mickelson/Rory Macelroy group play through. Eventually we made our way back to the gift shop. Joe mentioned that he wanted to get a shirt because he liked the one I had on. When I mentioned that I bought that one when I was there in 2000, he thought it held up well for a shirt that was 15 years old. So after I realized that shirt was 15 years old, I went ahead and bought myself another shirt too.

Then we got back on the road to Raleigh and made it home about midnight. Another late one, but totally worth it. This was a bro-trip for the ages. Great road trip, Joe's a great friend.

Needless to say I slept in Saturday morning. I picked up my plants for the garden from Mom while I was down there, she has quite the nice array that she started from seed this year. I got tomatoes, bell peppers, jalepeno peppers, and basil. The kids got out there and we had so much fun getting our hands in the dirt! Got all of those planted, found some zucchini and squash seeds leftover from last year. Both raised beds are now full, but I have no idea if those seeds from last year will actually germinate.

Full spring garden!

Ella loves planting day

Toms Peppers and Basil Oh My!

Front yard garden in full effect

Me and my girl getting happy
Our last frost date isn't until April 15 but I chose to plant early instead of letting the plants just sit outside for another week. Getting the garden planted is another one of my favorite days of the year! And this year I ended up with more plants than I could use, plus some others I brought back specifically for my buddy Tom.

Saturday night was the stressful part. Now that we've had some employee turnover at the office, I had to do my first software deployment. We start these things saturday night at 10 pm, and we only did 2 of these last year so this was an amazing amount of work that got published. Doing the deployment wasn't too bad, it was a pretty stable release. It was kind of nerve wrecking though because I had no clue what I was doing and it's a pretty large system. We finally finished up about 1:15 AM! Argh, another late night. At least I didn't have anything to do on Sunday.

OH WAIT. Actually I had to be at the church about an hour early for a mic check. I had to sing a solo with the choir in the service! As if that wasn't stressful enough, the air conditioner was broken so the sanctuary was going to be really hot. Sunday was also the day of the Rock & Roll Raleigh Marathon (which I was not participating in) so getting to the church was a challenge since the church is very close to the course on Hillsborough street.

When the time came, I stepped up to the mic and sang cleanly. Hit the right pitches, didn't flub the words, and it came out pretty cool. Wouldn't say I really crushed it but I sounded pretty good up there. And it was a lot of fun.

When church was out I finally had everything done. Tom came by to pick up his plants and we got to hang out for a while. I got to play with the kids outside some. Sunday at the Masters proved to be a lot of fun to watch - the whole tourney was great and I was seriously impressed with Speith. He seems like a real class act. I took a deep breath. This weekend that had pro golf, 11 hours in the car, gardening, working late, and a solo with the choir was finally all wrapped up. Any one of these crazy things would make for a noteworthy weekend. Packing them all in like that was insane and so much fun.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Descriptive Wednesday

You can also see how much I've changed since Mark put the angel in!

Got to hang out downtown for a while before my appt.

My boy Mark doing work on my arm

First mark drew and added a cross in a stained glass window on my bicep


Mark filling in the half sleeve - top of the shoulder hurts!

background clouds

half sleeve

slightly bloody but you can see the sunburst too

Good view of the full half sleeve.
My boy Mark VanNess at VanNess & Fellows put the angel on my arm a couple of years ago. It takes about 6 months to get an appointment with this guy, but he does amazing tattoo work. We decided to finish out this half sleeve since he did the angel I didn't want anyone else to mess around in there. He put in a sun bursting through the clouds on  top of the shoulder, sun rays shining through clouds around the angel, and the cross in a stained glass window.

I love it. Absolutely love it. I can still pick one more image to go on the inside of the upper arm if I want to dig into the sweet meat there, but that part really hurts. This was done the thursday before the Umstead 100, so I knew I would have a few weeks out of the pool to recover from that. Next week I can swim again, and I'll be poolside with some sweet new ink!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Total March Madness

We're watching the NCAA national championship game right now, and it's a real nail biter. Turns out, most of March was pretty tight too!

Swim: 25,550 yards, 9 swims
Bike: 40 miles, 3 rides
Run: 41 miles, 2 runs
Strength: 7 times, some long
Yoga: 13 times

I only ran twice in March, an easy 3 miler in the middle of the month and the 38 miles of pacing in the Umstead 100. Did another easy 3 on Sunday and my hip has been killing me since then. Got to go see a doc about that one. What kind of doc do you go to for a hip flexor problem?

March also included a week in Disney, and I got a new tattoo inked in on the 26th. Which really makes the 25k I put in the pool that much more impressive! I did that in only 18 days available to swim! boo freaking ya. It is swim season and I'm loving that. We're going to see a lot of swimming through the summer, partially dependent on the hip issue, partly just because I freaking love it and I can swim that often now that my masters team has noon practices.


In my non-swim time I hit the weight room pretty good. I'm seriously sore tonight. Saturday I lifted and actually squatted 225 for the first time in years! And I've been really working on my swim muscles, that could be why I've been hitting some faster splits lately. Curling with a 60 lb bar, hitting the triceps and lats hard too. March is the time when the swimsuit body is built. Summertime showing off is built in the spring. it's cutting season.

And naturally that brings us to the Monday Morning Naked Weight. I still (shockingly) haven't lost all of the Disney weight yet. I have dipped under threshold (175 lbs) a few times since then but nowhere close to the 171's I was seeing before. This week it's time to get serious and get back into the 160's. Last Monday came in at 180.2, but that was after the buffet at the Umstead 100. This week was 177.4, so close and much more manageable. Bodyfat was also down to 18.6%. I'm hopeful about getting back into some low numbers this week.

Also, I've finished signing up for my races this year including a surprise addition. This is the first year for the official Raleigh Beer Mile, and I've wanted to do a beer mile for years! Can't wait for this race. It's at a local microbrewpub, so we get to chug Natty Greene's beer. Also, I picked the WC-50 as my qualifying 50 mile ultramarathon this year. It's in Charlotte at the national whitewater center, all trails, lots of single track. And as if that wasn't enough, I've been asked to join a husband and wife team as their swimmer for a relay team in Ironman Raleigh! I will jump at the chance to swim in Jordan Lake.

This past weekend was Easter, and we had some good family time. The kids had easter egg hunts, but I didn't get enough pictures. The best picture I got was a family portrait of us in front of the flowered cross at church on Sunday morning.

Yes they wore easter bunny ears to church
April is going to be fantastic! I am very optimistic about spring coming and the work I get to do in the next few weeks. Bring it on!

Final: Duke wins! Love seeing an ACC team win a national championship. It might even be a good night to ride over to Durham, but there could be rioting around campus. Sometimes those Cameron Crazies can really be nuts.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Umstead 2015

It's my favorite day of the year. The week leading up to the 2015 Umstead 100 Endurance Run was sunny and in the high 60's/low 70's with some spotty rain so surely it was setup for a good race day? Yes, actually, yes it was. But the day of the race was set to be sunny with a high of 41* and overnight low of 27*. So this was going to be a chilly piece of awesome.  I was scheduled to pace 3 friends for 4 laps of 12.5 miles each, which begs the question - was I actually prepared to run 50 miles?

Headquarters at Camp Lapihio

I took it easy saturday morning, and packed a bag with lots of layers to add on if they were needed. Made my way into Umstead State Park around 2:30 pm. The first friend I was going to pace was Paul. Paul's wife sits in the next cubicle from me at work, so as much as I already knew about Paul we had never met before. Hanging out around the headquarters were plenty of other people cheering on the runners and eagerly waiting for family members to Laura .... On Your Left, Please! What an unexpected treat! We had never met before either but have been online friends for a few years. Her kids were out and about too, little scamps.

She's tiny! and really fast.
Hanging out in this environment is absolutely infectious. These people are idiots. Anybody who would actually consider running 100 miles obviously has a screw loose. And when you get there, and see them all shuffling along in agonizing pain, you really want to join in. Seriously, if you get to go spectate one of these things get out there.


These runners complete 8 laps of 12.5 miles each, making 100 miles. After they complete the first half of the race they can pick up pacers for the last 50 miles. This is where I like to volunteer. This is my comfort zone. Before race day I had made arrangements with Paul for 2 laps, then Master Man for 1 lap around midnight, then pick up Tammy around 4 am for my last lap. I actually saw Tammy and Master Man first in the headquarters before Paul finished his lap 4. Great to finally meet Tom, he's a professor at my alma mater Appalachian State so I was amped to run with him for a while.

Paul and I before running
Finally around 3:30 pm Paul finished his lap 4 and I knew I had him for laps 5 & 6. At this point what happened was considered running, but we walked every uphill and it took until about 10 pm to finish those 25 miles. Trail ultras aren't about running fast. it's about not giving up, ignoring the pain & fatigue, and pressing forward anyway. The miles seemed to fly by to me as we talked about training, work, friends, family, anything is fair game when you're on the trails. We got to see the sun go down in the forest, and I convinced him to run with the headlights off for a while just to fully appreciate the city lights and the moon over the woods at night. it's incredibly beautiful and very few people get to see that.

The race used a new timing system this year. There is one aide station halfway around the loop (well, 6.8 miles in) that had a timing mat, and the start/finish line had the other mat. Every time one of my athletes crossed a timing mat I got a text message.

When Paul and I finished his lap 6 around 10 pm, Tammy was in the headquarters after finishing her lap 5. Turns out, Tom crossed the mat at the aide station for his lap 6 and DNF'd, so there was no midnight lap for me. Turns out that was ok, Tammy was early. Her lap 6 took just over 4 hours so I just hung out in the headquarters and ate until then.

So at ultra marathons (if you've never done one) they really dole out the spread. Umstead 100 puts out some of the best food around. There are grills at both aid stations with a steady supply of burgers, dogs, chicken, this year they even had brisket. Inside the kitchen had spaghetti until around 2 am when they busted out the pancakes and french toast, as you really should do around 2 am. Running 100 miles you have to take in plenty of calories, and turn those calories into energy at a remarkably fast rate. Ultra fare is widely varied, but I do love the food at this one.

About 2:15 am Tammy and I took off for her lap 7. I had to really add on the extra layers to stay warm, Tammy did too.



The dino pants really make the layers complete.
Mostly I asked her about how she finishes so many of these dang things. Tammy's trying to grand slam this year. She got into the Western States, which is the hardest lottery in ultra running. She's also doing Leadville 100, Wasatch 100, and Vermont 100 this year, so Umstead is really just a warmup hundred to test the fitness.

As I type that, it sounds completely insane.

Yep, it really is completely insane.

Finally the sun came up and we turned off the headlights and finished the lap around 6:45 am. Taking 5 hours to run 12.5 miles isn't going to break any speed records, but we had a blast. I always have fun hanging out with Tammy, she's a great friend to have.

6:48 AM, finished my 38 miles and I'm hungry.
For the record, Tammy finished in 29 hours, 14 minutes. Paul had a knee problem pull him from the race after only 7 laps, but 87.5 miles still gives him a personal distance record. With the weather getting colder many more people dropped out of the race than normal. It was 21* when I left the park at 7 am. They ended up with over 100 finishers and about 30 that DNF'd over 50 miles. You have to take what the trail gives you, and this time it was dishing out cold.

I think my 2016 big goal is going to be finishing the Umstead 100. It's time for me to step up to the big game. This was my third time pacing. Time to join the idiots and race this thing.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Favorite Day

What is your favorite day of the year? Top 5? They could be very obvious, that's acceptable. Your birthday. Christmas day. Thanksgiving day with all of that turkey and football, yes. absolutely.  Here's my top 5 favorite days of the year.

1. The first day of College Football - it's usually right around labor day. A lot of the games are blowouts. I don't care. Real football is back and I love it.

2. Umstead 100 Day - it's coming up this weekend! The Umstead 100 mile footrace through Umstead State Park. Once again I am in the pacer pool, and seriously looking forward to it. The competitors run 8 laps at 12.5 miles each to make 100 miles. This year I'm on the hook to pace 4 laps with 3 different friends. First up is a co-workers husband for 2 laps, then a professor from my alma mater and my old blogger friend Tammie. I can't wait! and yes, that means I'm supposed to run 50 miles.

3. Any day I cross a marathon finish line. To be more specific, I would have to say the Myrtle Beach Marathon day every year. Even if I'm not running the marathon that year, there are always plenty of friends down there turning in solid results.

4. Baseball's opening day - by the time it rolls around winter is over and I'm ready for some spring and bike rides.

5. The day I accomplish my big goal for any given year - if it's 300 days of yoga or running 1200 miles that always rocks.


I'm looking forward to the Umstead 100 this weekend! One of my favorite days of the year. Goal is 50 miles, let's see how that goes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Disney Weigh-in

Ah, the reported MMNW post vacation. It's always a disaster. So I had low expectations.

The day we left for Disney I hit the low for the week at 171.8 lbs and 16.7% body fat. That pretty much rocks, as Friday's usually do.  Of course, I didn't weigh in while we were out of town.

But, coming back to the scale showed quite the different tale. 178.2 lbs and 20.3% bodyfat on 3/16. Yep, added a solid 7 lbs. This week wasn't much better, coming in at 177.2 and 19.7% on 3/23. So it's not coming off quickly. I did a fruit fast and got down to 174.8 last week, it did feel good to get down below the threshold weight of 175. But that vacation weight needs to be released and never come back. I'm sick of it!

I did enjoy lots of clean eating and lots of fruit last week as well. It felt really good to get back into some solid workouts. It felt really good to get back into the water! Regular swim practice was fun, and you know I had a special outfit for St Patrick's Day!

it's a green speedo
Got in some good swims and then on Thursday night we took the kids to a play. The local community theatre was putting on a production of The Velveteen Rabbit, and it was delightful. Afterwards the kids had to get a few pictures with their favorite cast members.

With the Velveteen Rabbit

Evil Genius with the Little Steve
I did run an easy 3 miles without any hip problems. Afterward, i would say there was some discomfort there, so I decided not to run again until this weekend. I'm not too worried about it though. I have also been hitting the weights regularly and *sheepish grin* hitting the stationary bike at the gym again. It's one thing to ride, it's another to actually enjoy it. I got about an hour and a half on there saturday, after an hour of solid weightlifting.