Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas 2011 in pictures

Well, a few words too.  I know you're already disappointed. 

Christmas eve we went to Kelley's dad's family in Biscoe NC.  Lots of fun, lots of people, seriously lots of food.

She loves a bald eagle.  What can you say?

Evil Genius fell in love with these earrings and had to give them to Kelley.

Santa Claus dropped off a load of toys for the good girls this year.  Thanks to a coal shortage, the bad girls and boys got Nickelback cd's.  We ended up with two very happy little girls and no Nickleback cd's.

Dad, his mother, my mother

Summer and Michael just got back from a European tour for 6 weeks.  Incredible trip.

These girls are ready to open presents

Bigun is terrified of this giant horse

Our family photo this year.  Appropriate for fridge placement

All the grandkids and great-grandkids.  Natalie, Morgan, Bigun, me, Grandma Flynn, Evil Genius, Kelley, Summer, and Michael
After the typical Christmas morning breakfast and Santa party, we headed back to Greenville to visit with my parents and brothers.  We found out that Summer is pregnant, and I am unbelievably happy about being an uncle again.  They are going to go nuts over the kid. 

Making biscuits with Grandma.  Nothing could be finer.

Grandmother Barnhill (86) and my Aunt Angie

Sombody got completely worn out after all that Christmasing.  Turns out, it was mommy.

Liz, Sarah, and Will.  Will is about to graduate high school, and Sarah is getting married October 20th.  That date sounds familiar....

There's an old family tradition about building a gingerbread house...
and promptly destroying it.  Mission accomplished.
We did the Barnhill Christmas the next morning.  We knew my cousin Sarah was engaged, but the first thing she said to me was "don't plan a race for October 20th, we've already booked the wedding venue".  That also happens to be the date for the Beach to Battleship, so I won't be doing another Iron distance race in 2012 after all.  Oh well, refocus. 

It was also revealed that my cousin Emily is pregnant!  She just got married in April, so it happened fast which is more of a blessing than a surprise.  By next Christmas we'll have two new babies and a new husband joining the Barnhill family Christmas.  This year my cousin Ben had to be with his in-laws so he couldn't make it with this year's only new baby.  I still haven't met his new son, so a return trip to Greenville is quickly in order.

After the Barnhill Christmas we headed down to Kelley's mom's house in Prosperity SC for the Blackwell Christmas.  We always have lots of fun on the lake.  This year the kids got these crazy blanket things with hoods on them.  EG's looks like a monster, and Bigun's looks like a monkey with her face as the monkey face.  I think that one's quite appropriate.

We are really glad to be back in Raleigh and have lots of unpacking and cleaning up to take care of.  I put on plenty of extra holiday weight that needs to come back off before the Charleston Marathon.  Also last night I got into the first yoga class at the new gym!  It felt so good to be back on that horse, and I really liked the instructor. 

Still to come:  a 2011 year in review and setting the 2012 goals!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Crazy Holiday Times

With the kids being gone for the last week, you might think it would be calm and peaceful around our household.  And you would be right!  Kelley and I have been running around getting stuff done.  I've been able to work in peace and quiet.  Still, they come home today and I am ready to see my girls again.

We ended up changing gyms.  The Gold's Gym I was going to before got bought out by another company, and their promotions/pricing was too good to pass up.  I have completely lost all motivation to do the yoga and strength training at home like I was doing before Ironman training.  I used to roll 5 days a week, hitting strength m/w/f and yoga t/th before work.  The Planet Fitness was so cheap because they didn't have group classes, or any other kind of amenities.  And $10/month made it worth giving up all of that stuff I never used anyway.  The new gym is Fitness Connection, they have 6 locations, some with pools, and all with group fitness classes.  So I'm going to start hitting the yoga and pilates classes there to make up for my home motivation loss.  And it's only $20/month, well worth it.  Of course, we signed up on Saturday and I haven't been there yet.  but really, it is going to happen.  someday.

Monday was Kelley's 40th birthday.  I give her a lot of crap about being older than me by more than 3 years, and she deserves it.  But she also deserves a chance at a nice birthday, which meant I had to keep my trap shut.  Our solution was to get together with some friends.  Friday night we went out to the Flying Saucer in downtown Raleigh with Joe, Gina, and Kayte.  I had a blast.  Kelley had a headache.  And being old, we called it a night about 10 pm.  Lots of fun with great friends is always a fun way to celebrate a birthday.  Our friend Robin also has the same birthday (Dec 19) and was supposed to meet us out there, but she never made it.

Saturday is completely a blur.  Neither one of us remember anything that actually happened on saturday.  But I know something did happen.  surely.

Sunday I got in my 12 mile long run with a pretty fast negative split.  I did the first 6 in 48 minutes, and the last 6 in 45, so it got 30 seconds per mile faster as the run went on.  Nice little split there.

Monday was Kelley's actual birthday so we went to her favorite restaurant Porter's, and got her favorite drink, a Cosmojito. It was lovely.  Afterwards we went to visit with her dad for a bit.

Yesterday was quite interesting.  We went to the ballet to see the Nutcracker.  I love going to broadway shows, operas, and orchestra performances.  but I had never been to see a ballet before.  It was incredibly well done.  The dancers were great, orchestra was flawless, and Tchaikovsky's music came to life beautifully.  It was a lot of fun.  We even ran into some old friends from college while leaving.  And luckily one of Kelley's cousins is doing an internship with the ballet company this spring, so he was able to score us some great tickets, and we had dinner with him and his parents before the show.  Good times all around.

Once the kids get back here today the doors of insanity will fly open again and the Christmas whirlwind will begin. We're going out of town some, going to be here plenty, and have fun all the way around.  Have a great holiday if I don't get to post again before Sunday!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cute Christmas Program

Wednesday was Evil Genius's Christmas program with her K4 school program at the church.  It was amazingly adorable.  As cute as you would expect a group of 2, 3, and 4 years olds could get standing on stage and singing Christmas songs.  We have the pics to prove it:

One of her teachers was able to write down EG's version of the Christmas story.  Here's the account she gave:

An angel goes flap, flap to a shepherd and the shepherd says "AH!".  The angel says "Don't be scared!  I have good news!  Baby Jesus is born!"  Then a donkey takes Mary & Joseph to Bethlehem where baby Jesus was born.  Angels sang "Baby Jesus is coming today!"!  There is a star on top of the marriage carriage (stable).  All the sheep & all the camels & all the people came to see baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

ZOMG.  From the mouths of babes.  I've never heard of the manger referred to as a Marriage Carriage, but that's why EG has the G in her name.  That's kind of impressive.

Later on Wednesday they went to Kelley's dad's house to decorate gingerbread cookies.  They are really good.

EG looks drunk.  Still, she has mad skills.

I really wanted to see how he got up from that chair.

Finally, maybe, a pic of our Christmas tree this year.  EG got to put the star on top.

Yesterday the kids went to stay with Kelley's mom for about a week.  Gives us the freedom and time to do what needs to be done to finalize all of the holiday plans.  Yay! 

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Jolly Elf Pics!

Saturday Kelley had to stay home with the kids while I went out for the Jolly Elf 5k trail run where I crushed a PR.  So we had no pics, but today I got an email with the official race photos.  I never even saw the photographers out there so I didn't expect anything.  Feel free to critique my form.

This was at the end of lap 1 right before the first mile marker.  We ran along this ridge at the top of a hill above the field where the start/finish line was.  I crushed the first mile in 6:31, so I was feeling really good here, and looking at the clock on the field below which is why I didn't see the camera man.

On the field coming into the finish.  I like the one legged pirate look, but I think my left arm is coming too far across my body, and that's pulling my left foot too far into the center line.  Also kind of looks like my right foot is coming down too far in front of the center of gravity.  

There, that's more like it.  Only my right ankle seems kind of twisted.

Any way you look at it, I'll take a 21:58 5k and a PR anytime I can get it.  Great race!  

Big congratulations to Coach Marty Gaal and wife Bri on the birth of their son yesterday!  Marty still ran a 20:22 at the Jolly Elf, then Bri went into labor yesterday.  Maybe now that Marty is going to be sleep deprived I might actually have a chance at beating him this year.  Maybe he'll turn out to be human after all.

Also today I'm a guest writer over at Healthy Ashley!  I wrote a good post for her about planning out your 2012 season.  Give it a quick read.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Jolly Elf without pictures

Saturday I ran the Jolly Elf Trail Run and set a fantastic new 5k PR in 21:58 for a 7:04 pace.  It felt great to go sub-22 for the first time.  My original target was sub-20, but with it being a trail run, my first attempt to really go sub-20, and a large crowded race I had kind of low expectations.  The winner ran a flat 16:00, and my friend Jason came in fourth overall with a 17:30, both incredibly impressive.  According to the official results, I finished 72/599 overall, and 5/27 in the M35-39 age group.  I'll take it for that big of a crowd and that kind of race.

The course broke down into three sections.  We started from the middle of this giant field.  I tried to get as close as I could to the front, but there were too many smart-ass kids on the very front row.  Of course they got caught up in the mad sprint at the start, claimed they went out too fast, and ended up just being in my way.  Every time I heard somebody say they went too fast at the start I would sprint past them.  The first section went winding through some paved greenway and dirt trails, then came back around to the same field, only we ended up going up a huge hill to get to the next section.  The one mile marker was at the top of the hill, and I could see the finish line clock read 6:31 when I hit the marker.

I accidentally left the garmin at home, so I was totally running naked and just relying on my own pacing efforts to maintain.  But a 6:31 first mile was exactly where I wanted to be.  So that worked out pretty good.  They said before the race that the second section was all single track with roots and rocks and stairs to deal with.  So do any needed passing before getting into the single track.  Really the track was wide enough to still do some passing.  I didn't realize this until the people in front of me started running out of steam, and I continued to match their pace until I started getting passed.  I even got passed by one guy pushing a baby in a jogging stroller.  Who brings a baby to a trail race?  He ended up beating me by about 30 seconds.  I know I lost about a minute in the single track.  At least a minute.  I was still surprised by how quickly it seemed like the mile 2 marker came up.

Just after the mile 2 marker we ran across a parking lot where the only aide station was sitting.  I was the only person in my group of runners to take some gatorade.  I know you should be able to run for 22 minutes without having to take in water, but I did anyway, mostly out of habit I think.  The third section of the course was a repeat of the same loop we ran for the first mile.  Again it went by so fast it just seemed like a short course.  That's what I'm thinking as I make it through the turns.  This is a short course, I'm going to end up with an 18 minute finish time or something stupid like that because it's not actually 3.1 miles.  Just when I feel like I'm about to keel over dead or puke, I turn the corner and can see the field again.  So the finish line is right there.  The mile 3 marker is at the edge of the field.  I can see the clock, it says 21:45.  I have absolutely nothing left for a sprint to the finish, but I can't drop pace now.  Must. Push. Through.

I give it all I got and cross the line and I see 21:54 on the clock.  The official results put me at 21:58, so we'll go with that over my bloodshot eyesight.  I promptly try my best not to puke on the volunteer trying to tear the chip off of my foot or the girl that finished right behind me.  My abs were so shot I couldn't hold my upper body upright anymore.  Bent over and limping, I made my way out of the finishers chute and over to a water bottle table.  They had a ton of food, so after I could stand upright again I grabbed a bagel and a cup of coffee and milled around for a while looking for my friends.  I never did find them, so I trucked it on back home.  I knew Kelley also had a 20 mile run on the books for Saturday, so I didn't want to delay her start.

For the record, her 20 mile run saturday ended up being 2 minutes faster than the 19 mile run she did 2 weeks ago.  That's pretty cool.

Sunday I was supposed to hit a 20 miler as well, and I ended up cutting it short at 17.  It was still my longest run since Ironman, I held an 8:00 pace the whole time, but I was a little underfueled, sore from the 5k, and just really didn't feel like pushing out those last 3 miles.  I've got another 20 on the schedule in a few weeks, so we'll see what happens then.  Actually that's Christmas Day.  How am I going to run 20 miles on Christmas day? ah, deal with that later.

So, great 5k PR, didn't break 20, ran another 17 on sunday.  How was your weekend?  I also went ahead and registered for the Run for Young, another local 5k in downtown Raleigh.  This one is all roads that are pretty familiar to me, so I have much highers hopes at a sub-20 finish on attempt #2!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Four Things Thursday

1. You have to be able to laugh at everything.  The funniest thing that happened at Aunt Johnnie's funeral last week?  Kelley's cousin Margot.  I love Margot, always have.  They've got 4 kids, the youngest a set of twins.  She came up to me at the gravesite and said "I have to ask this, when I was pregnant with the twins people used to just walk up to me and start rubbing my belly the whole time they were talking to me.  Now that you've done an Ironman, do people just walk up to you and start rubbing your belly?"  And of course she was rubbing my belly the whole time we were talking.  No Margot, that doesn't happen very often.  But I'm ok if people do randomly start rubbing my belly.

2. Sunday night after running the fastest half marathon of the year and finishing the "run a half every month" challenge we got a "free" dinner at my favorite bar, the Flying Saucer.  We were out there drinking one night with friends over thanksgiving weekend when they lost my credit card after charging my tab.  Very strange.  I called the bank, ordered a new card, not a huge deal.  They offered the meal to keep customer loyalty, since they are an awesome bar.  I love the food there and they've got something like 93 beers on tap.  Hell it's a 4 page beer menu and a 1 page food menu.  My kind of place.  Kelley got dressed up, she was amazing.  I had 3 pints, a double bratwurst sandwich, and we split a dessert.  Incredible.  So glad they offered that.  They picked up the tab, but we still had to drop off the kids at Kelley's dad's house with zaxby's for their dinner ($10) and we left a tip with the only cash we had on hand, a $10 bill. So our free dinner still cost us $20.  But can you think of a better way to recover from a fast half?

3.  I'm getting really tired of losing people.  Monday was the funeral for Raymond Brown, and my mother went.  Raymond was my grandfather's best friend and golfing buddy.  I got to play golf with them a few times in high school, and that's some of the best time I ever got to spend with my grandfather.  After my grandfather died (13 years ago now, lung cancer) Raymond couldn't play a decent round of golf for two years while he was grieving.  I don't think I've seen Raymond since my grandfathers funeral, but I know he is going to be greatly missed.  It's still very sad.

Another loss hit yesterday.  When I first moved to Raleigh I lived with Kelley's dad and his wife Eleanor for the first 8 months or so, and of course I became much closer with them. During that time, Eleanor's dad was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gherig's Disease), and was moved to a special home in Raleigh from the family home a few hours west of here.  Yesterday he lost the fight and died in his sleep overnight.  My heart totally breaks for Eleanor, they were very close, even more so after he moved to Raleigh. This is not cool.

4. This upcoming Saturday is the first race of my 2012 season - the Jolly Elf trail run is a 5k mixed between paved and hard packed dirt trails at Bond Park in Cary, just a few miles from our house.  It will be my first attempt at going sub-20 minutes, but I have kind of low expectations for this one.  I'll try to keep them all under sub-7 minute miles, but breaking 20 takes a 6:25 average pace.  Don't know that I'm quite there yet.  And some parts of the trail in Bond Park can get narrow making it hard to pass people, so I could get caught in traffic.

Sunday is the first 20 mile run in training for the Charleston Marathon.  Should be fun, it will be the first time since Ironman that I've gone longer than the 13.1.  Hope I'm recovered enough.

Monday, December 5, 2011

December's Half

I got to have a little fun on friday.  Mile repeats kind of fun.  Actually mile repeats suck; I prefer short intervals over that mess.  But it got the job done, my speedwork was in for the week.  I also had a great conference call and got some good work milestones hit.  Friday was great.  And when "great" is the low point of the weekend you're doing something right.

Saturday was college football's conference championships and the FCS playoff second round games.  It was a scheduled rest day, and it still didn't feel right not going out for a long bike ride.  But I took my rest as prescribed, and enjoyed as much football as the kids would allow.  The biggest disappointment had to be Appalachian State losing to the University of Maine in the playoffs.  But watching Clemson beat up Virginia Tech like they did earlier this season was priceless!  And the Wisconsin win over Michigan State was absolutely incredible!  You just know the guy who ran into the kicker has got to be suicidal today.  I mean, here's what he gets to tell his grandkids now:

Grandkids, did you guys know I got to play in the first ever Big Ten Championship game?  We were playing against Wisconsin, down by 5 with about a minute 45 left in the game.  Our defense plays it stiff, and the Badgers have to punt.  It's a nice kick, but my buddy Steve (or whoever that was) fields it clean and makes a beautiful return before getting pushed out of bounds at the three yard line!  Plenty close and plenty of time for us to score the winning touchdown.

But you know what I did?  I ran into the kicker.  The penalty gave the Badgers a first down, and they took a knee enough times to run out the clock so we lost the game.  The next day they took away my belt and shoelaces, and that's why I only wear loafers today.

OMG.  As much as I enjoy a Wisconsin victory, I feel so bad for that guy.  Also as much as I like watching LSU play and didn't think anybody could hang with them at all this year, it was nice to see Georgia put up a fight for the first half.  I was pulling for the Dawgs hard in that one, but LSU just turned it up in the second half and made the victory look easy.  Just like Clemson did.  Number 5 Va Tech is tough, nobody roughs them up like that.  But the Tiger offense was working, and the defense was on point.  That was a beautiful game for Tiger fans.

Speaking of "DO WORK, SON", I got December's half marathon knocked out on sunday.  More than just knocked out, I crushed it. First we actually got up in time to go to church.  The kids went to the children's part of the service, but didn't go downstairs with the other kids.  What happens when you unleash an Evil Genius in the sanctuary?  She turns into a Holy Terror.  At least she was a quiet Holy Terror.  It certainly could have been worse.  But between the constant movement, crying, jumping, and destruction the service turned into more "babysitting in the third pew" than worship.  Needless to say, I was a bit tense.

Came home, had some lunch, and the weekend long run is only scheduled for 12 miles on sunday.  I thought it seemed like as good a time as any to get December's half out of the way.  And with plenty of built up tension I wanted it to be fast.  So I had a plan.  After lunch settled I got all of my stuff together and went to the gym.  They always look at me funny when I come in there with more than one water bottle, I don't know why.

I warmed up on the bike for just a few minutes.  Then found the closest available treadmill to the Panthers game on the TV.  I got on a few minutes before halftime.  Since I was already warm, I put the speed directly up to an 8.0.  Then, I just left it there.  That's a flat 7:30 pace.

At the beginning of the year when I started getting faster, I set this as a super secret goal.  I did lots of tempo runs of 3-6 miles at an 8.0 speed with the hopes of increasing my long run pace up that high.  In July's half I almost got there, but backed out after 11.5 miles.  This time my plan was solid and I nailed it.

The first few miles went by like clockwork.  I didn't even break a sweat in mile 1.  I took Gu's at 5k, 10k, and 10 miles, all without slowing down at all.  Turns out, two water bottles wasn't really enough (one had Accelerade) because the 10 mile gel was really dry.  I could tell I was already dehydrated.

But the first 8 miles or so was completely effortless.  When I started running dry about mile 8.7, I knew it was going to be a tough finish.  Mile 10 I took the last gel, mile 12 I finished off the accelerade and by mile 13.0 I was dry.  So of course then I sped up for the last 0.1 sprint to the finish, and completed my half in 1:37:54.  Breaking 1:38 is insane, I did not expect to ever be that fast.  That's 10 minutes faster than my race PR in Myrtle Beach this year!  Totally bananas. 

So I'm finishing my half marathon every month challenge with the fastest one to date.  It was a great challenge, and if you think you can stay in shape for the whole year then you should try doing it for 2012. 

I can't wait to read some race reports from big marathons this weekend, be it CIM or Las Vegas!  Hope you raced well.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

November Totals

Guess what November had?  Ironman and the resulting recovery.

Swim: 5460 yards, 2 swims
Bike: 188 miles, 7 rides
Run: 89.3 miles, 13 runs
Strength: 1 workout
Yoga: none

It's worth noting that 3840 yards of the swim, 112 miles of the bike, and 26.2 miles of the running came in the Ironman race.  Compare those numbers to the 14,000 yard swim 400 mile bike and 105 mile run averages over the last few months and it seems pitiful.  Now that I'm back in Marathon training I really need to get on the regular schedule for strength and yoga work.

Aunt Johnnie's funeral was yesterday, and it was pretty tough.  She was like a second mother to most of us, always there when you needed someone or had something to celebrate.  It made us realize how much we have to be thankful for, and how to find something to be thankful for in every situation, because that's how she lived.  It also made me realize how long it has been since we've been down to SC to visit with Kelley's side of the family down there.  All of her male cousins suddenly got old!  Gray hair everywhere.  The twins are 2 years old now, we hadn't seen them since they were only about 4 months old.  It's been too long.  Johnnie is the first person to pass on in my parents generation on either mine or Kelley's family.  I know it's only going to get harder. 

This is Bigun's last week of school before track out, and she is very excited.  Tomorrow is a half day, then she's out of school until the new year.  I've got the marathon training schedule loaded up into my spreadsheet, so I've got lots of running to take care of.  This weekend's long run is only 12 miles, I might stretch that to 13.1 and go ahead and knock down December's "half marathon every month" goal.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cute Kid Pics

We've got Aunt Johnnie's funeral today, so I need to post something bright to cheer myself up.  Enter cute pics of the kids:

Evil Genius with her BFF Tristan

The girls made bead necklaces at Bigun's Indian Princess tribe meeting last night, so of course EG had to get one of her own.

Bigun insisted on being entirely covered in leaves after they were raked into a big pile.

That face!  Who couldn't fall in love with that face!

Mommy enjoyed laying in the leaf pile checking out the clouds too.

Monday night I ran fast for the first time since Ironman.  I thought three weeks would be enough recovery, I might have been wrong.  I ran 5 miles in 36:06 for a 7:13 pace.  That included a warm up half a mile of walking and slow jog, most of it was under 7 minutes.  Yesterday and today are both rest days because my lungs feel like they are on fire.  I have a band of soreness just below the man-boobs that encircles the body.  I'm not sure how running fast made my back muscles sore, but I must have done something different.  Breathing feels almost as labored as it did the day after Ironman, which is the strangest, most unexpected soreness yet.  I'll try and get to the pool tomorrow then get an easy run in friday before resuming regular marathon training.

I ran some numbers through the McMillan pace calculator, and it turns out I was in pretty good shape for most of my pacing.  My long runs and easy runs were right on target with an 8:00 pace, but my tempo runs were too slow and my speedwork intervals were too fast.  It feels good to have some algorithmic backing behind making the pace adjustments.  There are plenty of 5k's going on here in December, I'm having a tough time picking one.  I still think a sub-20 minute 5k is going to come in January, but who knows.  Might happen sooner.

Have a great hump day!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving, it's what's for dinner

First, thank you for the kind words and prayers from my last post and on facebook.  Kelley's aunt passed yesterday about 2:30 am in the hospital with her husband and sons by her side.  She had an acute Leukemia that spread into her lungs and labored her breathing too much.  The funeral will be on Wednesday in Fayetteville.

Here's a picture of Aunt Johnnie with our niece Kaileigh from one of the kids birthday parties last year.  She will be greatly missed.

Thanksgiving turned out really nice.  Kelley's mom and Gene were staying with us, and her sister and Kaileigh came up to visit as well.  We also had our good friend Kayte and another friend of hers come over as well.  Andrea turned out to be really sweet, we ended up spending the whole weekend with them.  Kaileigh stayed with us through the weekend as well which is also always pleasant.  The worst part was that we didn't get any pictures!

The dinner was fantastic.  Turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pie, more pie, sangria, and more pie.  Way too much food for the 8 of us.  That's usually the way thanksgiving goes.  We made sure to have that much food just in case any other family wanted to get out of the hospital or if Johnnie wasn't feeling up to having visitors that day.  Turns out she was, so the rest of the family stayed with her.

Friday we did not participate in any black friday madness.  We did get caught up in some of the traffic however, going to meet Kayte and Andrea and the kids for lunch at an Olive Garden.  Then Friday night we had Kaileigh babysitting all four kids while we went out downtown to hit the bars!  It was embarrassingly fun. (that means I'm sure I made a total ass out of myself but can't really remember what I did.  But I'm sure it was wrong)

Saturday was a whole lot of recovery (read: hangover).  I did make it out to scout a trail that goes around a lake that was recommended by another friend.  The biggest surprise here was that I was actually able to find the lake, and a parking area in the state park, and the trail itself.  I am directionally challenged.  There are 2 miles of paved trail and about 6 miles of unpaved trail around this lake, so this looks really cool.  I found a better parking lot while I was out there, and this trail was as advertised.  Mostly flat with enough hills to really crush my abs if I take them too fast.  I only ran one loop, but I certainly took it too fast.  Kelley ran 19 miles on saturday so she had the garmin, but I am really looking forward to hitting this lake again.  I think the loop is 2.1 miles (need garmin confirmation) and the unpaved can go for quite a while.  Longtime readers will remember how much I used to enjoy running around the lake at Furman when we lived in SC, it was a 1.1 mile loop with a 2.3 mile trail option.  I think we may have found a winning replacement here.

Sunday we headed down to Asheboro for a Maness family thanksgiving with Kelley's dad's side of the family.  Finally, there were some pictures taken but not by us.  And I don't have copies yet.  It was also a blast.  Turkey, ham, more food than 30 people could possibly eat.

Hope your holiday was that much fun!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks for the influence!

This year for Thanksgiving I'm reminded of the people who were big influences on my life when I was younger.  I have a large family, my parents are both alive and still married.  I still have both grandmothers and lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins that I'm very close to.  Those influences are obvious.  I learned how to be a man of integrity by watching my father in his business dealings, and how to treat other people by watching my mother selflessly celebrating others' accomplishments or milestones with joy.

I also became very close with a handful of teachers in high school and college, all music teachers.  The point of this post is to thank them now, because one of them passed away suddenly over the weekend.  It is very sad, and I'm still kind of in shock.

My high school chorus teacher is incredibly fun.  She was the only teacher we regularly addressed by her first name, Jane.  Her first year teaching at the high school was my freshman year, so I started there 3 days before she did.  Over the years I ended up abandoning my locker and using a cubby in a cabinet in the chorus room instead, just so I'd have a good excuse to go in there between every class.  I was president of the Concert Choir my senior year and led rehearsals when she was absent; wielding even more power than the student teacher who became my accompanist.  I got to know her kids, now she has grandchildren, went to her house a lot, and we used to lead trips out of town with the chorus.  We always had a blast, and I learned how to have fun and enjoy living in the moment with her.  She's going to retire at the end of the school year, and it is well deserved.

Lindsay O'Rear was the minister of music at my church growing up.  He is an incredible musician, retired several years ago, and still keeps a garden at the church with my mother.  His kids are a few years older than me, but we stay in touch too on facebook.  He taught me how to determine what's really important and how to hold it with reverence.  He knew all of the "don't sweat the small stuff" theories 20 years before the books came out.  Again the church choirs used to travel every summer, we used to get into trouble and he would bail us out.  Church trips were always so much fun.

Michael Rice was my voice teacher at the Fine Arts Center, a magnet school I went to senior year for voice lessons and an AP Music Theory class.  That's when I decided to be a music major in college.  Mr. Rice is still the most incredible pianist I've ever seen, and we became quite close as friends during and after that year.  He was the accompanist for the Greenville Chorale for 13 years, so he was always getting tickets to events at the Peace Center for things like the Greenville Symphony or traveling Broadway musicals.  Sometimes they were box seats, sometimes I'd bring a date, sometimes it was just me and him or a handful of other students.  One time we even went to Atlanta to see The Secret Garden, just the two of us.  That was a really special memory.  Sometimes when I would come home from college on the weekends I would sneak in to watch his last class for the day and visit some after school.  When I was pledging my fraternity I found out that he also pledged the same fraternity when he was at Furman.  He always smiled and had a graceful joy that was infectious.  You just had to like the guy, there was no other option.  He traveled by himself most of the summer, and learned the language for wherever he was going to travel to before he got there.  His favorite word in any language (also my favorite word) is the swedish word for strawberry.  Google it if you need too.  I'll pronounce it for you if you ask me in person.  He gave me optimism and the habit of being open minded, and my love for languages.  I still have "learn to speak" cd's in my car for italian, german, and french thanks to him.  Michael Rice died suddenly on Saturday, he was only 58 years old. 


On another sad note; one of Kelley's aunts has been fighting leukemia since april and is about to lose the battle.  She knows that she only has a few days left, but is still quite lucid and able to sit up and talk to you.  We went to visit her in the hospital monday night and she was laughing and telling stories, then watching DWTS.  Cancer is such a strange thing.  Your body makes it, and it will attack and destroy everything else inside the body but it can leave the mind totally intact like that.  She's one of Kelley's mom's sisters, and we are all very close.  They are the only other branch of the family that lives in NC, and being closer to them is a big reason we wanted to move here from Greenville in the first place. 

I do a lot of races to support cancer charities, and most of my family that we've lost has been to cancer.  It's the biggest reason I try to maintain and promote a healthy lifestyle.  If you treat your body right, maintain a healthy weight, and exercise regularly the body has no reason to produce cancer.  Losing someone else that I care about this much to a disease that I hate this much is difficult to put it mildly. 

When I finished the Ironman, Kelley's mom was watching the live feed from the internet.  She had Aunt Johnnie on the phone for the feed.  So from her hospital bed, Johnnie heard the guy call out "John Flynn you are an ironman" and was proud of something I did.  You can't buy that kind of support.  And now I feel like there's nothing else I can do for her.  It's going to be a tough holiday season this year.

Speaking of weight and a healthy lifestyle, I've put on all of the pre-ironman weight again.  10 lbs in 2 weeks have come right back.  Looks like I'm going to have to start watching my intake again pretty soon.  A racing weight isn't supposed to be maintained after the race is over, so I'm ok. But I do want to stay around 175 lbs, that is maintainable.  Race weight was closer to 165.  I blame the halloween candy and chicken wings that I have been enjoying liberally. 

I also got back in the pool last night!  RAM practice felt good, I took it kind of easy without really trying to push the speed or endurance too far.  My ankles really hurt doing a flutter kick.  I guess Ironman really knocks all the joints loose.  The pools are all closed for Thanksgiving, so I can't swim again until next tuesday, so the ankles should feel better by then.  They haven't bothered me while running or biking.  You wouldn't expect to find an ankle problem in the pool.

Enjoy the thanksgiving holiday!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Over the Peak

Training plans, especially long course plans for an event like Ironman, are designed to allow your fitness to peak.  Hopefully you will peak at the right time and have a speedy and pleasant race.  There is always the chance you can peak too early and run Ironman through an injury or over fatigued or over-trained.  I feel like I peaked at the right time and pulled together the best race possible for the day.

What I didn't expect was that the peak is actually the top of something.  That means you have to come down the other side.

Two weeks post ironman I think I'm feeling "recovered", whatever that is supposed to be.  Tuesday I can finally get back in the pool after waiting 2 weeks for the tattoo to heal.  Last week I did not work out Wednesday Thursday or Friday to rest up more.  Saturday I got in a slow 3.5 miles and Sunday was a slow 12 miles.  In Ironman training "slow" or "easy" meant an 8:00 per mile pace.  This weekend it was more like an 8:40 pace.  Here's my take on it:

  • My heart rate did not rise very high and I never got really out of breath, so my aerobic capacity is still pretty high.  
  • I was still able to cover 12 miles at a steady pace without stopping so I still have some muscular endurance
  • My legs and right knee did feel less than great.  Not bad, just not great.
  • The lower part of my neck and upper back muscles started to fatigue after about 10 miles.  This could be a form breakdown, and I likely need to go visit the chiropractor.
  • Today my muscles are very sore.  I need to drink more water.
I need to accept the fact that I am on a downhill slide called the offseason, but I didn't really lose much "fitness".  The speed will come back so I can put up a sub-3:30 marathon time in the new year.  Next weekend's long run is 19 miles according to the marathon training plan.  We'll have to see how close I can actually come to that when the time arrives.  We'll also have to wait and see how close I can come to knocking those 19 miles down at 8 minutes each.  I think I'm ready to go back to regular training working out 5 or 6 days a week, but I know I still have to be conservative for another week or so.  This is not the week to try and regain all of the ironman speed and endurance, I have to focus on just getting the body back to feeling good at regular training intervals (not trying to make gains).

Great Weekend!

The family had a fantastic weekend.  On Friday Bigun received a special recognition award for Kindness.  It was so sweet!

The cute thing about this picture is that Evil Genius is also holding up two imaginary certificates.  Adorable!  That's Bigun's BFF in the middle.  Too cute!

Later on that day Bigun had her first sleepover with friends.  We made up couchbed and got them all snugged in watching movies.

Saturday morning I made pancakes for the lot of them and we all got to play outside.  It was 70+ degrees and sunny all day saturday and sunday, very unusual for this time of year in NC.  Everyone had a really good time, including Kelley and myself!

One final picture to share.  Thursday night we all went up to a local shopping center that was having a Christmas festival thing.  I guess they want us to get primed for Black Friday, but it sure did put the girls into the holiday spirit!  Just listening to the pure innocence that is your kids singing Christmas carols really warms the heart.  We got a family pic with santa:

I don't know why blogger refuses to maintain picture orientation, but EG sang him this version of the carol:

Smack you around?  that's why we call her EG. Santa indicated that he would have to have words with Grandad about that one, but he still laughed.

Big congratulations to all the marathoners this weekend, you know who you are!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Great Recovery

Well the second week of recovery post-ironman is getting rough.  All these aches and pains are starting to show up.  I know that's a healing process, but that doesn't make it pleasant.  I'm still eating like the world is about to run out of food, and the weight is starting to come back on.  That's not really a bad thing, as I'm still well within a safe range.  But I did burn through an entire bag of halloween candy from Costco by myself in maybe a week.  That's rarely good.

Swim/bike/run/strength/stretch is my stress relief.  I can't get back in the pool until next Tuesday thanks to the new ink.   Biking and running are still incredibly uncomfortable, but I'm doing them some anyway.  Not much, and not fast.  Habitually, you get used to the twice a day workouts.  I used to work out two or three times a day long before Ironman training because I enjoyed it and that was how I chose to spend my free time.  I know I need to take it easy the rest of this week at least.  But I have some big deadlines coming up, and the holidays are just around the corner.  It's all unrelieved stress at this point.  And all I can do is rest more.

Today is the Great American Smokeout!  If you or someone you know needs and wants to stop smoking then today is a great day to make that plan.  I put them down in December of 2007 thanks to my Grandfather and changed my life forever.  Do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The future is yellow

First, some pictures from Ironman that didn't get included in the original post:

This is me with Colleen, the Iron Diva! We got to meetup Friday, it was epic! I met so many new blog friends there.

I just dropped off my bike and transition bags. It was sunny but cool, so the jeans/black shirt was perfect. Yay Kenneth Cole!

So many transition bags!

That's me with Wes and Andy Murtha. Murtha trains with Wes all the time, I really enjoyed getting to know him.

Yes my eyes are closed dang it, but Wes got a great shot of Kelley and I just hanging out checking out the Gulf. Fun times.

I can't name all of the bloggers on here because there are so many. I'm really going to enjoy following this whole crew from now on though. Lots of really neat people in here! I think I've got everyone here added into my blogroll on the left.

What I didn't mention about Ironman in the race report

I really believe I can do better. This time was my first Ironman, I put together a strategy and executed it, and that's all I could ask for. 13:06 is a great finishing time, and I'm very proud of my accomplishment. Most of my friends were surprised that the tattoo was so small; they expected me to get the M-Dot on my chest and belly, a foot wide, and with a picture of my face inked inside of the dot. You know, just in case anyone who saw me shirtless forgot who the iron man was. These people know me too well.

But I could have gone harder. I wanted to run faster the entire marathon. I wanted to pick a bike course with less wind and more rolling hills. I think I can break 12 hours overall, and I think I can break 4 hours in the Ironman marathon. This means I will have to try again. Not sure when or where yet, but I seriously doubt that this will be my only 140.6 attempt. If I went under 4 hours on the run, and near 6 hours on the bike (under or over), that leaves 2 hours for the swim and transitions to break 12 overall. My transition times were over 26 minutes this time, typically they are no more than about 4 minutes total. There has to be a happy medium somewhere.

The first week of post-Ironman recovery is going really well. I ran 3 miles on Wednesday just to work the kinks out of the legs. Then Friday I did a short brick - 15 mile bike 5k run just because I wanted to. Sunday I really wanted to get in a 12 mile long run but after 9, well, the legs decided they wanted another week of rest before doing anything like that.

All of this free time is strange and unexpected. I didn't think I would miss the twice a day workouts. Now I feel like I should do something else besides just eat all of the remaining Halloween candy. Like something with my career. Technology changes so fast that it can be hard to keep up with, and I've enjoyed being in my little bubble the last several years. Modernizing my skillset would take about as much time as ironman training but is a helluva lot more boring. At least I'll have the time to research what I want to do next.

Oh yea,

Today is the 13th wedding anniversary for Kelley and I. We got married in a small town in SC back in 1998, and it rained the whole day. Now 13 years and two kids later we get to celebrate by having leftovers for dinner before I take Bigun to an Indian Princess meeting. Getting old is really quite thrilling, I know (hey - we just did that week's vacation on the Gulf of Mexico remember?). You don't stay married this long without having ups and downs for sure, but I'm really glad that today is here and it is happy and peaceful. I could never ask for anything more than what she provides as a spouse, mother, supporter and friend. I love you always my dear!

Next Goals

Over the winter we're going to be doing lots of running. I'm going to keep on swimming tuesday and thursday nights for cross training, but the focus is going to be on fast running.

We only have three races on the schedule right now, but they are kind of key to the next goal. Kelley and I are both going to try and qualify for the Marathon Maniacs! This insane asylum has strict qualification criteria, and you have to really enjoy running full marathons to want to qualify. I really hate that Ironman was the only full marathon I got to run this year, so I'm making up for it next year. The criteria we're using to get in is three marathons inside of 90 days:

Charleston Marathon 1/14/12
Myrtle Beach Marathon 2/18/12
Tobacco Road Marathon 3/18/12

Full marathons in January, February, and March will really test my recovery skills. On one of those I will try to break 3:30 and see how I feel. They each have pace groups to get to that time, so I should be able to keep up. 3:30 finish time is an 8:00 pace, and that's what all of my Ironman long runs have been at so it seems totally do-able.

Kelley's marathon PR is 5:56 from 2009, so she's going to be trying to break 5 hours in there. I'm predicting that she'll break 4:30 because she's awesome like that.

We're also trying to recruit friends to join us out there just to make it more fun. If you can make it to one of those races please come on down and let us know where to meetup with you. I'll also be glad to help coach anyone to meet a time goal at any of these if you want to do that. Kelley is well into her training plan already and is feeling confident about a PR in Charleston.

My brother Michael is currently on another european tour, but he lives in Charleston. I always enjoy running when I go down to visit with him, so the Charleston Marathon (and even the TryCharleston 70.3) seemed like a great choice to get back to 26.2. Kelley's first marathon was the Myrtle Beach full in 2009, and we found a great hotel to stay at down there - it's cheap, has a good breakfast, and is walking distance to the start/finish line. And it shares a parking lot with a Mellow Mushroom pizzaria. Not that we would take advantage of that or anything ;)

I ran Tobacco Road full back in 2010. Seems like a really long time ago, but that's where I set my pre-Ironman PR at 4:31. We get to recover at home, so that has a lot of appeal. It will be a nice local mostly trail marathon and a great way to finish out the qualification process. I really enjoyed this race last year.

Along the way I'm sure there will be a few half marathons and 5k's. I'm still going to try and break 20 minutes in the 5k, and break 1:40 in the half. I might even be able to get under 1:30 in the half, if I can find enough to run in. There are no half's around Raleigh in December! So strange and disappointing.

I'm thinking about starting with this 5k because it benefits Girls on the Run and doesn't start until 10 am. And it's only a few miles from the house. Last years winner clocked a 15:48, so there's no chance of a high overall placement, I can just get out there and run my race and set my time.

Hope you guys had a great week! Come join us at one of these marathons. seriously.