Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter Inning

The Indian Princess people do the big winter event indoors, so they call it an inning instead of an outing.  I thought that was cute.  They filled the Dorton Arena with fun activities and we let the kids run wild.  So much fun!
Bigun wanted a rainbow painted over her entire face.  They used a marker, I still haven't gotten it to wash off.

Bigun and Grace going up the hill slide

Fun with a lemon head

Evil Genius and I going up the hill slide

She was so scared to come back down.

Waiting in line for the Wizzer

The Wizzer would spin us around really fast
EG and I on the Wizzer.  Fun ride!

EG climbing her way up

The whole arena packed with rides

We ended up with an extra ticket so Bigun brought a friend of hers.  Afterwards we all went out for pizza and back home for a nap.  Everyone (including me) was completely exhausted.  Evil Genius was totally fried, she could barely eat the pizza. And to think they were actually riding a mechanical bull earlier.

Sunday it marked 10 days since my last run, so I was getting anxious about getting a few miles in.  I ran 5 miles in about 41 minutes which is pretty decent.  I was surprised at how fast my muscular endurance went away.  Those 5 miles felt like harder work than it normally does.  The foot felt ok during the run, but then about an hour later the inflammation wonkiness started coming back.  Not fun.  But it really wasn't that bad.  I'm going to take it kind of easy for another week just to play it safe.  It felt good and strange to be back out there, like I couldn't really find my form easily.  I know if I have some patience here it will come back so that's what I'm trying to do.

You will not believe what Evil Genius did on sunday.  It requires its own post.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Young and Old

It happened again.  I got tagged by KDub and JoyRuN with an "11 things about me" meme.  And since I rarely get tired of talking about myself I'll throw it out there.  I still think that the last "10 things about me" post is one of the funniest things I've ever written so I doubt I can top that one.  So you should really be prepared for disappointment now.  Here are the rules:

1. Post these rules
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer
5. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people!

11 Random things about myself: (I'm going young and old with these, so nothing random about right now.  all stuff when I was younger and people that are older than me)

1. Freshman year of high school I was on the wrestling team for three days trying to compete in the 120 lb weigh class.  I was already almost six feet tall.  That is anorexic kind of skinny.  Not a good look at all, and I was really self conscious about it.

2. I also ran the mile on the track team that year.  I ran in every meet, one time I beat one other kid.  Every other meet (like 8 of 9 meets) I finished dead last, usually by a lot.  My times ranged from 5:55 to 6:10, not bad by most standards.  But my team also had a Feduric on there, and she won the state championship in the mile 6 years in a row (from 7th through 12th grade) with average times around 4:15.  And I wonder sometimes where my competetive nature comes from?

3. Sophomore year I didn't feel like getting my butt kicked in the mile anymore, so I threw shotput and discus instead.  Because anorexia runs rampant through the shotput community.  WTF?  I was throwing around 17 feet before the offensive lineman put out his 40 foot throws.  I don't know why I thought I belonged in there, but again I competed in every meet.  That was my last year on the track team (spring 1991), and the last time I tried to play sports at all until I found triathlon in 2008.
A crop from the team photo sophomore year track.  Bushy head, skinny, with a mullet.  oy.

4.  I graduated high school in 1993 at 6 feet tall and only 135 lbs.  Mom still complains that I used to eat an entire box of cereal every night before bed. And I still couldn't put on weight.  Oh the metabolism of teenagers. 

5. A few weeks ago I advised someone that naturalized social and leadership skills would only develop properly when you were in an appropriate comfort zone.  I never really felt accepted on any athletic team, and didn't have any kind of star qualities.  I found my comfort zone in music, specifically chorus.  And that's when I started to shine.  Senior year I was the president of my school's Concert Choir, and my chorus teacher is retiring this year.  I was the first student to make the SC Honors All-State choir all three years I was eligible to audition.  I was accepted into every choir I auditioned for, and usually put into leadership roles like President, Jr Conductor, or Lead Choreographer.  I even had one of the lead roles in Bye Bye Birdie the only year we did a school play.

6. Those leadership roles also gave me a lot of confidence and popularity. I did a lot of countywide and statewide music programs.  My advise to single people?  Confidence is all you really need to be attractive to others.  Most people dated a handful of others in high school.  I loved dating, and I like to think I was pretty good at it.  I took over 200 different girls on dates back then.  Greenville county had 14 high schools, I dated girls from 12 of them as well as from 3 other neighboring counties.  Over 90% of these girls I met through a music program so we always had something in common.  I found there was such a small percentage of people at my own school that I liked, it was easier to find the same small percentage at other schools and just keep dating than to tolerate other people I didn't like.

7. Finally senior year one girl snared me into a serious relationship.  We actually stayed together for about 3 months and broke up after prom because she was valedictorian at her school and wasn't interested in going to Appalachian State like I was.  So really she was too smart to stay with me.  As much as I would love to reconnect with her on facebook or something, she's married with a couple of kids now and I haven't heard from her for almost 20 years.  Still, you never forget that first love.
Before my senior prom

Before a 70's theme event.  Yes we did 70's stuff the way you young people do 90's stuff today.  It makes me feel old.

8.  I never put on the freshman 15 at college.  I may have found beer and lost my virginity, took five years to graduate, and changed majors once, but I never did gain much weight.  Graduated in 1998 with a degree in radio and tv production at 6' 1" tall and 145 lbs.  I only looked borderline anorexic then, with a BMI of 19.1, and anything below 18.5 is considered underweight. So I was right on the border of unhealthy and could do absolutely nothing to gain weight.
I tried to gain weight by adding hair.

9. The internet was just starting to gain popularity my senior year of college.  We had email the whole time, which was kind of rare then.  But I found a web site for the Dukes of Hazzard tv show, and that was the only site I read in college.  once.  Yes, I am that old.

10.  Proof that North Carolina women are smarter than South Carolina women:  I was only unattached for about 4 months in college.  It was hard freshman year going from being king of the social castle to, well, being a freshman.  Nobody dates a freshman.  At the start of my sophomore year I started dating this crazy chick for about a year and half.  So around new year's eve my third year in college I got rid of her and was blissfully dating again until April of that year (1996) when I met Kelley.  Of course I wouldn't trade my sweet boo for any youthful freedom in the world, but damn.  If I had known those would be my only 4 months of dating freedom I wouldn't have wasted any time grieving the loss of the crazy chick.  Now I refer to those four months as "the fun times".  Maybe that's just proof that NC women are more manipulative than SC women?  I want to eat dinner tonight so we'll go with smarter.

11.  Five months after I graduated college we got married.  I was up to 180 lbs at that point.  It was not a muscular 180 like I am today, but a flabby 180.  So at 23, all of the metabolism powers I had dried up and blew away and I finally started gaining weight.  Really skinny arms and legs, no shoulders, but a giant belly.  That was 1998.  I really think that 23 was waaaaaay too young to get married.  but that's another post.  The older I get the more I have to fight genetics and keep my weight in check now.  It seems odd to be body conscious now, but I deal with getting old the best way I can.  Stay active, know the difference between healthy and unhealthy, and make smart choices today.

11 random questions from the two people that tagged me:

1. Favorite vacation of all time (Karen)?  Kelley and I drove in circles one weekend.  Literally, we left Greenville on friday afternoon and went to Atlanta for dinner that night.  Saturday drove up to Chatanooga TN and visited the Tennessee Aquarium, then on to Knoxville for saturday night.  Sunday we drove across the mountains to Asheville and saw the Biltmore House before heading home to Greenville.  A wonderful circle indeed.

2. Favorite Running workout (Joy)?  Treadmill intervals.  I can ladder the speed and hold a consistent duration.  My absolute fav is to use half mile sets, where I run 0.3 miles fast and recover for 0.2 miles slow jog or walking.  Increase the speed by 0.2 mph each set, start with half a mile warm up and half a mile cool down and you end up with a 4-5 mile total workout where you ran 0.3 miles at a blazing fast speed.  My fastest is a 10.5 mph on the treadmill.

3. Do you track your dietary intake (Joy)?  Not anymore.  When I was losing weight to get fast last year I used training peaks to track everything, intake and workouts, and I absolutely love that software.  Read my How I Got Fast Part 1 post for all the details.

4. What were you doing around this time 10 years ago (Karen)?  In 2002 I was in my crazy weightlifting phase.  I was reading Muscle & Fitness magazine, training like a bodybuilder and trying to add as much mass as possible.  Really I was trying to take the rapid weight gain I found after we got married and turn it into something positive.  I got over 200 lbs that year by chugging whey protien and creatine like they were going out of style.  I was working for a consulting firm as the head of their software development department in my first professional management role (and I sucked at it).  I got up to about 215 lbs, got laid off in 2003 and the rest is history.
I was very excited to get my first convertible in 2002, no matter how it looked.

5. What's your favorite cheat meal (Joy)?  Five guys cheeseburger and fries.  I know it's loaded, but I don't care.  It's my reward meal after a big race or a comfort meal when I'm feeling blue.  A close second is the cajun chicken sandwich, fries and a corn dog from the Cook Out here in Raleigh.  So good, cheap, and I do that one about once a week.

6.  What was your favorite memory of 2011 (Karen)?  The ironman trip.  Not just the race, or the finish line, but the whole thing was so special to me.

7.  Have you ever been hospitalized and how were your nurses (Joy, she's a nurse)?  In 2003 I had sinus surgery and a double vericocele removal surgery for male pattern infertility treatment.  The nurses were great both times.  Before the fertility surgery I remember calmly laying on the operating table and seeing how big the room was and was surprised at how many nurses there were for the operation.  The bad part was that the nurses were all really hot (come on, you've had that fantasy too), so here I was getting a little chub on when they were about to operate on my sack!  awkward!

8.  Do you prefer to train alone or in groups (Karen)?  Alone, for sure.  It's just about timing.  I'm not ready to workout until I'm ready to workout, so meeting someone else is usually impossible.  Setting a specific time to meetup is useless, I'm going to be late.  And I hate trying to match speeds with other people.  Either they can't hang with me or I get dropped from the group ride.

9.  What's a more appealing look, designer clothes or fit, workout clothes (Joy)?  I love 'em all.  If spandex makes your ass look good hop on that bike.  My favorite part about a race is usually finding a hot chick running in a sports bra and bun huggers and just hanging behind her for a few miles.  Casual office wear can be really attractive as well. But the clothes don't make the woman.  Being nice, funny, and confident is what really makes you attractive.

10. What's your resting heart rate (Joy)?  I don't really know, but the doctors usually tell me it's around 68?  It's really unfair to compare resting heart rates or thighs with non-runners, so I try to avoid it.

11. What accomplishment makes you the most proud (Karen)?  Last week Evil Genius was talking to Kelley about having her boyfriend over (she's only 4) while he stays with his dad for a week at a time.  Normally we only get to see him when he's at his mom's. As Kelley was explaining this to her, she asked if we could have him over at least while his dad was out "to run, or bike, or even to swim"?  My work here is done.  She thinks every dad trains like I do.  She thinks regular exercise is a part of how normal people live their lives.  She will never know the fat chain smoking dad she used to have.  I have affected her expectation of normal, and set her up for a healthy, confident, active lifestyle.  That is my biggest accomplishment to date. You were expecting Ironman, weren't you?

Tag 11 more people and generate 11 questions for them?  I don't think 11 people actually still read this, so I can't do it.  I would love for Sophie and Caratunk Girl to give it a whirl.  But I can't come up with 11 questions either, so steal the questions I answered.  I know "total cop-out" isn't usually my style, but I've got to get back to work today.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Week?

Anytime I think I'm having a rough year, I'm going to remind myself about Joe Paterno.  He went from having the most stable job in the world 4 months ago, to scandal --> resigning --> fired --> cancer --> dead.  In just over three months.  Now that's what I call hitting a rough patch. 

I went to a podiatrist-orthopedist yesterday to get my right foot checked out.  They took some xrays to rule out a bone fracture, and they came out clean.  There are two tendons that start outside of the ankle and wrap around the bottom of the foot.  One of those is causing some swelling for some unknown reason.  This inflammation is quite painful just walking around the house all day, I mentioned it briefly in the last couple of posts because I didn't want it to be a big deal.  I don't think that it is a huge problem, but we'll see.

The first treatment option is ice, advil, and rest.  No running for 7-10 days, and I have to wear supportive shoes around the house.  Well, since I work from home I'm normally barefoot all day.  The naturalist in me that wants to wear minimal running shoes for runs less than 10 miles doesn't want to wear supportive shoes all day.  Barefoot runners would say that the foot naturally knows the best way to heal up and I need to go see the chiropractor.  I tend to agree.

I can still swim and bike during the weeks' rest, and yoga/strength work is good too.  Swimming will aggravate the tendon if it is anything worse than an inflammation, so that's a good test.  If it hurts after swimming then something is more wrong.  If I'm still having problems after 7-10 days the doc wants me to come back in for an MRI.  There could be a slight tear in one of the tendons that could be treated by wearing a boot for six weeks, or it might have to be surgically repaired.  But first I'm going to try the easy approach, not running for seven to ten days. 

Not running is naturally not that good when you have another marathon coming up in three weeks.  I"m just going to do what I can and take what I can get.  At least I'm not having as bad a time as JoePa.

She's such a camera hog.

 But hey, when you got it, flaunt it right?

They got some new costumes from the Kids Exchange recently.  They love them (Stitch and Buzz Lightyear), and it's too cute not to post a picture of.

Just being goofy with Bigun.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What a marathoner (shouldn't) eat

I do this every time, and it drives me crazy.  Marathons or other big races that you are prepared for but not conditioned to run every week have a short term impact on your mind and your metabolism.  I average burning about 150 calories per mile that I run.  It can be exactly calculated using a formula that includes your speed, body weight, and duration (the last mile burns more calories than the first mile), but I don't know the exact specifics for the formula.  The treadmill does it for me.  So running 26.2 miles will burn off about 3900 calories on that day, but the metabolic effects stay strong for about a week afterwards.  This post is about what that does to my appetite.

Every time I eat through the roof.  I love to eat, and I love the way eating healthy foods makes me feel.  But for the week after a big race like ironman or a marathon, I always relax the rules and let that metabolism ride me through it.  Here's what I ate after the Charleston Marathon on Saturday:

Saturday:  ran the race in the morning.  It was very cold and windy, temps in the mid 30's most of the time and I was out there running in shorts. We brought some chicken and dumplings from home, Kelley's recipe, which is not really health food but not as bad for you as most recipes are.  I had two big plates, it was warm and wonderful.  Then we took Michael and Summer out to a local seafood restaurant for a huge plate of fried fish, shrimp, french fries, and hush puppies.  Huge plate VERY high in sodium.  I finally felt full for about an hour.  From volume, nobody should consume that much food in 4 hours, ever.  I also had a bowl of cereal before falling asleep around 10 pm.

Sunday: Cereal for breakfast, then we hit up the Kickin Chicken for lunch.  It's one of our favorite places in Charleston, the sandwich had fried chicken strips on it, buffalo sauce, and a side of fries.  Fried stuff and hot sauce are both very high in sodium and fat.  Drove back to Raleigh and had a Five Guys cheeseburger and fries for dinner.  One huge fat cheeseburger and fries is my traditional reward meal after a big race or milestone.  Breaking 4 hours in the marathon was that big race and milestone.  More cereal before bed.

Monday: Oatmeal for breakfast.  Finally something normal and healthy.  I got scared after seeing the Monday  Morning Naked Weight (MMNW).  Leftover vegetarian shepard's pie for lunch.  Imagine if you will, the hunger you get a few days after marathoning.  Then go out for all you can eat tacos on monday night.  This place near the house has $5 all you can eat tacos every monday.  Normal sized meals would be maybe 3 of these tacos.  I usually eat 5 or 6 when I'm hungry, but marathon hungry took that to 7 tacos.  We fed the entire family for under $20.  I love this place.  I ate myself stupid and still had some cereal before bed.

Tuesday: Oatmeal for breakfast.  My buddy Jeff wanted to meet up for lunch, I haven't seen him in a while so that was great.  We met at a wing place with a 59 cent lunch special, so 10 wings had me way stuffed and over full.  seriously.  During the ironman training build phase I would get the same 10 wings with a side of fries and still lose weight.  that's how much you work off during the ironman build.  For dinner, Bigun had an Indian Princess meetup at a pizza place with the tribe, so I gorged myself on pizza there too.  Pizza and wings are healthy right?  That's like a 5000 calorie day.  At least I skipped the cereal before bed.

Running will leave you dehydrated.  Especially long runs like 26.2 miles.  It was so cold and windy, my clothes were dry when I finished.  But just because I didn't actually sweat I still lost a lot of body water through evaporation.  It's more than you think.  Cold races are still dangerous.  You cannot possibly take in enough water with or without electrolytes to replenish what you lose during a marathon, so post-race hydration is so important.  Electrolytes are salts, and you lose a ton of body salt during a race like that too.  Even if it's not visible (sweat) it still happens.  I promise.

My super secret recovery strategy is to drink three bottles of water at the finish line.  Really as soon as you can swallow again, drink three bottles.  of water.  Then you can chase it with something else like chocolate milk, muscle milk, Endurox, Recoverite, beer, whatever.  But it has to start with lots of water.

Since dehydration removes lots of water and salt from your body, the nature of recovery is to retain as much water as possible to prepare for the marathon you're going to run the next day. That's just how the body thinks.  Even though you know you're not going to run another marathon the next day, that's still mother nature's reaction.  So what do I do?  I take in lots of salt from the fried foods, then lots of water, and the body goes into ultra storage mode retaining water like it's going out of style.

The crazy thing is that the way to get rid of all that retained water?  Drink more water.  It will eventually flush the salts and retention water from the cells in a few days.  I think vitamins A, C & D help too, but I can't tell you why.

The weighty issue
Before that Ironman - a scant 70 days or so ago - my weight peaked at a low point like it should around 165 lbs, which is my ideal racing weight.  I don't like to harp on numbers on the scale, but I'm trying to make a point here.  10 days after Ironman I was back up to 176 lbs.  Same eating pattern as above.  My comfort zone is officially 170 - 180 lbs, I like to be around 175 with a body fat percentage in the mid-teens.  I'm 6'1", that's a normal weight for my height and a BMI of 23.

Before Charleston, I came in at 178 lbs and 18.4% body fat, which is pretty ok for a Friday.  By the time I got this week's MMNW, I was up to 185.4 and 20.2% body fat.  So how did I burn 3900 calories during the race and gain 7 lbs?

It's all water retention from the salt and fried foods.  Monday morning at 6 am is only partway through the food log above.  I start every morning with a 22 oz bike bottle full of water, then four cups of coffee after my oatmeal (don't judge me).  Then another 32 oz bottle of water on my desk all day at work, sometimes I'll fill it up twice.  Plus 3 more cups of coffee or tea in the afternoon and another bottle of water after dinner.  That's a lot of hydration.  It is flushing the retained water out though.  Tuesday I was down to 183.  Who loses weight after all you can eat tacos?  Wednesday was 182, and today was 181.  I should be back to normal in a few more days.

So don't freak out if you gain some weight during marathon training or put on a bunch of weight quickly after running the big race.  Sure, I'm still freaking out a bit and I know better.  Have you ever freaked out like that?  it's tough mentally to deal with.

Other news:
As cold as it was during the race and all day Saturday, I forgot to mention that Sunday we woke up to bright, sunny, 61 degrees with no wind blowing.  Perfect conditions.  Where was that on race day?

I ran three miles yesterday very slow in recovery format.  Just trying to work out the kinks.  During the race my right foot got some new pain.  There is a swelling/fluid buildup thing on the outside of my right foot, right in the middle where there is normally a joint of the foot bones.  The pain went away (but not the fluid), but came roaring back with yesterday's run.  So today I'm going to find a doctor to tell me what that is and how to treat it.  I don't like this at all.

The yoga practice is going great.  I took Saturday off as planned for the race, but still got on the mat Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and last night Kelley and I both went back for the yoga class we've been getting into at the gym.  It has actually felt really good and helped the muscles recover from the marathon.  I'm still in the beginning poses, so nothing harder than down dog or warrior 1.  But it's a lot of fun.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Charleston Marathon Race Reports

We had a great time in Charleston.  I finished the marathon in 3:54:10 for a nice 30 minute PR, and Kelley finished in 5:39:33 for a 17 minute PR.  We had a blast hanging with my brother and our friends Joe and Gina, so it was a good time all around.  Official Results are up here.

How did I do with the goals?
1. PR - a 31 minute PR no doubt is a success.  Yes.
2. Go sub-4, beat The Snail.  Yep, I put a few minutes on him.  Success!  I went sub-four, and beat Thomas's PR by about 5 minutes.  But he deserves some serious props for running his first 100k in 12:57 on saturday too.  He ran for almost my entire Ironman time!
3. I'm not overtrained 3:30?  fail.  I may be a bit overtrained or under-recovered, depending on how you look at it.

Friday we got out of Raleigh about 1 pm and made it into Charleston about 6 and went right to the packet pickup.  We ended up meeting Joe and Gina there, got the packets and headed downtown for some dinner.  We ended up at Joe's Pasta for some unbelievable chicken & pasta in a gorganzola sauce.  Amazing stuff, and perfect for the night before a big race.

After dinner we made it out to James Island to Michael's house and visited with them some before crashing hard.  I slept pretty good, Kelley did not.  6 am came around way too early Saturday morning.

Turns out, it was much much colder than I was expecting.  I thought it was supposed to be in the mid-50's all day, turns out it was more like the mid-30's.  Luckily, the race shirt was a technical long sleeve shirt, so I wore it during the race over the singlet and nip band-aids I had planned on wearing.  Kelley happened to have a pair of non-throw-away gloves that I stole (she bought some toss-gloves at the expo), we grabbed all of the gear and got out there.  Turns out it was only a 20 minute drive from Michael's house on James Island to the finish/parking area in North Charleston; I was expecting it to be longer than that.
Self portrait in the car before the start

It was only 36 degrees when we got there, but it felt like 27 with the wind blowing.  And yes I was still running in shorts.  There was a huge line for the bus from the finish area to the starting area in downtown, I think they had a lot more people running this year than they did last year and it caused some logistical confusion.  The bus ride took about 30 minutes, and we got to talk to some nice people.  But still, we arrived 2 blocks from the starting line.  We had to stand in the line for the bus, then stand up on the bus because all of the seats were taken, then jog/walk the 2 blocks to the starting line, so we were already on our feet for about 45 minutes before ever getting to the start area. 

Turns out, the bus ride was long enough that we missed the start.  The race was chip timed, so our clock didn't start until we crossed the starting line.  But there were an awful lot of people to pass.  My plan to line up with the 3:30 pace group was completely hosed.  There was at least one other busload coming in after us, so we didn't start at the very back, but it was far enough.  There was also no pre-race excitement, nerves, jitters, hearing that gun go off, anything like that.  it was so strange.

So the immediate job at hand was to pass people.  I hit start on the garmin as soon as I crossed the line, and I knew I had to get up to my 8 min/mile pace and just try and hold it.  All of the slow people that started in the back of the pack had a four minute head start on me.  I caught them pretty quickly.

I caught the 4:45 pace group by the 1.1 mile mark.  The course was absolutely beautiful.  It started out in downtown Charleston, ran south by the battery (waterfront portion on the mainland), then all the way up King street towards North Charleston. I was watching my pace and the crowds pretty consistently.  Downtown is clean and very historic, but not very wide.  And with 3000 runners it got a bit congested at times.  Sometimes I wished they would have let the half marathon people run the second half of the course instead of the first half.  Ha! That would have made things easier. 

The good thing about an eight m/m pace is that it's easy to calculate split times in your head.  Five miles should be around 40 minutes.  I hit five miles at 41 minutes.  So I was a minute behind.  blame the traffic, hold pace, don't sweat it.  Actually, I wasn't sweating at all yet as it was still barely in the 30's.  A 3:31 is still an unbelievable time.  I caught the 4:30 pace group in mile 4 somewhere and passed them.  By mile 8 I passed the 4 hour pace group.  I know 8 miles should hit at 64 minutes in, and 10 miles should hit at 80 minutes in, but I don't remember my time when I passed the markers. That part of the course wasn't very well marked, I didn't see any mile markers or anything but the crowds were so big it's not like you were going to get lost.

I took a gel right on schedule at 4 miles, then the 8 mile aide station came at 7.6 miles and totally caught me by surprise.  So I slammed a gel and stood at the aide station to get the water to go with it, then had to start running again after getting colder.  Not fun.

Also, there was "that familiar grumbling" going on.  I was planning to poop at the mile 8 aide station before I remembered to take the gel.  Then I didn't see a port-a-let anywhere anyway, so I forgot about it and rolled on.  Just before the mile 10 aide station, I found the crapper I was looking for.  There was no line, and I saw somebody run out of there after it came into my view, so I thought I was in good standing.  Then someone else jumped in, and someone else decided to start a line.  I didn't have much of a choice but to stand there and wait it out.  Needless to say it was still in the low 30's, quite windy on this part of the course, and these guys were taking forever!  Other people suck.  I finally got in, dropped my duece, and got back to running 200 ft before the aide station.  Grabbed a couple of waters and had to re-warm up all over again.  There's no way I was only one minute off pace now.

At 12.4 miles the half and full split.  The finish line was in the Navy Shipyard in North Charleston for all the half, full, and 5k distances.  Once the course got out of downtown, we occupied a four lane road with lots of abandoned industrial buildings.  This is not a "nice" part of town.  There was no tree cover so there was lots of wind.  lots of wind.  It was not pleasant or fast or pretty.    But it was only for a few miles.  Then the half people got out of the way and we ventured out to the second half of the course. 

I know my half split should be at 1:45 for my pace, and I hit the half mark at 1:52.  So I was now 7 minutes behind.  Not that bad.  Anything in the 3:3x frame would be great.  I was also really feeling the day now.  Still so cold and so windy.  My legs had no feeling left at all.  My right knee was hurting pretty good, and a spot on my right foot was also picking up some pain.  There was certainly some muscle fatigue going on.  Nutrition and hydration were going on plan, so that was great.  But for the record, it's a bad idea to serve icewater at aide stations when it's only 36 degrees outside.  When I grab a cup of gatorade that was not iced (pleasant) and a cup of water that gives me brain freeze from drinking it too fast, that's not cool. Not cool at all.

The second half of the course got up through lots of new residential development, some parks and greenways, and lots of school grounds.  There was lots of circles and out-and-back spurs, so when I was in mile 14 I saw the leaders coming back in towards the finish.  The crowds were very thin and manageable here, so I was able to just hold my pace as best as the wind would allow.  In mile 17 I was coming back down when I saw Kelley coming up the course, so I got to see her for a quick kiss.  I was really feeling slow and beat up at that point, so I was really very glad to see her and get a little pick me up.  Guess what she told me?

I have to take a shit real bad.

Uplifting message received.  Now I was ready to slug out the last 9 miles.  ha!

While we were still in the pretty parts of the course, all of a sudden there were tons of walkers.  I knew there was a time cutoff, and anyone who missed it would be given a shortcut to get them back to the finish line.  So I thought these were the people missing the time cutoff.  Turns out it was the walkers in the 5k race, as we had caught up with their course.  I was not exactly enthusiastic about suddenly having about a hundred people walking in front of me that I had to dodge on this narrow greenway winding through a park with lots of fun turns.  Sharp turns.  I'm not going to admit to running into some of them, but I came close.

The course came out of the pretty parts and back into the industrial parts.  The Navy Shipyard was as pretty and colorful as you would expect an abandoned navy shipyard to be.  That is, not at all pretty.  There was nothing but abandoned buildings, unmaintained roads, and train tracks for miles.  I knew the 20 mile split should be at 2:40, and I hit it at 2:55 instead.  15 minutes behind is still not too bad.  Not as bad as I felt.  I knew I could knock out the last 10k under 1:05 and still break 4 hours.  How many 10k's did I run under 45 minutes this year?  surely a 1 hour 10k is within my grasp.  This gave me confidence to finish strong.

In mile 21 we ran very close to the finish line.  The last part of the course was an out and back spur on some old roads.  I twisted an ankle on some train tracks in the shipyard, that wasn't fun.  But it didn't really hurt or slow me down much either, it just took me by surprise and forced me to pay attention to my footing.  I decided then that court was in session, and I was totally going to put my speed on trial.  Here goes nothing (and I mean nothing, I was totally gassed).

Much to my surprise, the 8 m/m pace came quite easily.  I just knocked it down.  I looked at the garmin and saw 7:57, then 8:02, then 7:55, checking every few minutes.  I felt the way you are supposed to feel 23 miles into a marathon, not totally hitting the wall but I knew I was putting some work in.  Then I found out why.

Towards the end of mile 23 I hit the turnaround and started coming home to the finish line.  The 8m/m pace I hit so easily on the "out" part was thanks to a tailwind, that was now a headwind, and slowing me back down to a vomit inducing 9:30 pace when I was able to look down at the watch.  I saw 3:30 come and go, then 3:45 just watching the overall time.  That headwind didn't play games.  And it wasn't the time to play games either.  I did listen to tunes the whole way, and I heard five of Michael's songs come on.  The last one was right after the garmin rolled over to 24.1 miles, that headwind had slowed me to a walk, and the first line of the song was "I fucked up". 

poetic, no doubt.  That's why he won all of those songwriting awards - for his comedic timing.

I battled heartily with the "back" part of that last spur, made the last turn to be able to see the finish line chute, and pushed hard to get there as quickly as possible.  Stopped the garmin one second too late, apparently.  I had a nice 31 minute PR and broke four hours for the first time.

Chip time: 3:54:10, gun time: 3:57:33
8:56 per mile pace
264/850 overall (top 31%)
34/76 Male 35-39

I'll take it and I was glad to be done.  Now the fun part starts.  I have to wait on Kelley and Gina to finish.  At least I can enjoy some of the free beer and food before they get there.  I didn't expect Kelley to finish until they got closer to 5 hours.  I grabbed some water, caught my breath for a bit, found a cup of coffee (thank God) and started to pull myself together.  It only got up to about 45 degrees, so I was still freezing.  Never really broke a sweat.  But I knew I was dehydrated anyway.    Seriously, how do you run a full marathon without just being drenched?  it was that cold out there.

Of course since we got there that early, hopped in line for the bus, I drove and still had no idea where we parked.  So I spend the next hour mindlessly roaming a huge parking lot looking for ours among 3000 other cars.  Turns out I ran into a guy from Durham that has done a lot of the same races I have, so we talked for a bit.  Mind you, I have pants in the car.  That was my only focus.  Find the pants.  Find the sweatshirt. Get the camera and get back to the finish line before Kelley crosses. 

Turns out we parked behind a building that was next to the big parking lot.  No wonder I couldn't find my ride.  I did hear the race announcer call out "you guys still broke four and a half hours" and then later "and you guys still did better than 4:45" before I ever found the car.  It's still 45 degrees, and I'm still in shorts. 

Found my sweatshirt, self portrait with the medal

Found my pants.  Found my warm shirt.  Found the camera.

Finish time on the garmin with the medal.  My distance was 26.53 miles.  Notice the shorts.  The yellow is the bib on the race shirt, it was the only tech long sleeves I had.

I talked to Joe then since my phone was also still in the car.  I saw him walking at my mile 20.5, and he said he saw Kelley and Gina near that same spot a little while ago.  So Kelley was in mile 22 then and Gina was about 10 or 12 minutes behind her.  This is a surprise because Gina is typically matching my speeds.  Joe was going to walk it in with Gina so I knew I had some time.  I got in the beer line.  There was still plenty of food, but the beer line was slow so I got one and abandoned. Back out to the finish line.

Coming into the finish area

Here she is!  Bring it on home girl.

Crossing the line!  Well done!

Kelley crossed in 5:39:33 chip time, 5:42:57 gun time, 794/850 overall, 51/58 in her age group for a 13:05 pace.  Guess how she could have sped up?  Well, turns out that in mile 22 she got bored, so she called her cousin for some motivation.  Then found an aide station with muffins.  That was on the last out and back spur on the course, so she was walking back, talking on the phone while eating a muffin and getting lots of strange looks from the other (but still slower) runners.  Don't hate unless you're faster than she is - other people on the course.

She collected herself at the finish line area and we hung out waiting for Gina to come in.

Bring it on home!  Gina finished in 6:18:39

We also found our friend Charlotte and hung out with her for a while too.  Gina's husband Joe ended up walking over 11 miles trying to find us on the course, he still had blisters on his feet poor guy.  By that time, they had run out of shrimp and grits at the finishers tent, but we still grabbed a couple of extra beers each. Then they packed those away, and we sat in a few chairs before they could pack those up too.  With a 6.5 hour cutoff, most people had already abandoned.  We hung out for a bit and then headed back to Michael's, getting there about 2:30.

Me, Gina, and Kelley with the finishers medals on.

After showering, we had some chicken and dumplings that Kelley made (before driving to Charleston) as our primary recovery food.  We also got to go out to dinner to Bowen's Island seafood, which was really good. Nothings better than salty fried stuff when you're dehydrated, right?  We tried to watch the patriot's game after that, but we both fell asleep about halftime.  Slept for 12 hours each, got up and drove back to Raleigh. 

Overall, the race went through some rough parts of town so I'm not sure we'll do this one again.  The 5k results show that a sub-25 minute time would have given me an age group award, so I might give that a try next year. This weekend was fantastic, and overall the course was beautiful and I am satisfied with my results.  Good times all around.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Goals for Charleston

Saturday Kelley and I will both be running the Charleston Marathon in Charleston SC.  It will be my fourth marathon, and her second.  We are setting some goals to reach out for.

Kelley's first marathon was Myrtle Beach in 2009, she ran a 5:56 that included time stopped chatting and hanging out with her family on the course.  This time she's going to line up with the 5 hour pace group, but I feel confident she'll finish before then.  My prediction is a 1 hour PR for Kelley.

My first marathon (if you haven't been reading since 2009) was the Hatfield/McCoy where I finished in 5:07 and ended up in the emergency room in middle of nowhere West Virginia with extreme dehydration and heat exhaustion.  That was fun.  Then in 2010 I smashed the 5 hour barrier with a 4:31 in the Tobacco Road marathon, which I loved and will be returning to this year.  That was a March 2010 full, and I didn't run another full until November 2011 in Ironman Florida.  During that 20 month span between marathons, I lost a bunch of weight and got fast.  So I actually set my marathon PR during the Ironman while trying to hold back and run as slow as possible to avoid hitting the wall.  PR 4:25 set a few months ago.

Marathon Death March at mile 25 of Hatfield/McCoy

At the finish line of Tobacco Road marthon in 2010

Goal #1:  PR
Sounds simple enough.  Surely if I take a smaller warm up than that 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride I can pull a 4:24 or faster.

This also includes my normal every-time goal of Finish, Don't Die.  This is the first race in our attempt to qualify for the Marathon Maniacs, where you only have to finish (preferably alive) to qualify.

Goal #2: Sub-4
Right now The Snail is sitting on a 3:59:56 PR from his marathon in Savannah the same day I ran IMFL.  We have mutual targets of beating the other one by 5 seconds.  So if I can go 3:59:51 or faster it's a win.  Granted he's all into trail ultras this year, which is cool, but I still want to pwn him at this distance.  by 5 seconds.

I'm-Not-Really-Overtrained Goal: 3:30
All of my run training before and after Ironman has been focused on 8 minute miles or faster.  Finishing the marathon in 3:30 is exactly an 8:00 per mile pace. If I start out too fast, I'll bonk out at the end.  I've finished plenty of 20 mile runs in 2:40 and I think I can hold the same pace for another 10k, but you never really know until you get there. 

They have a 3:30 pace group listed out.  I'm going to line up in that group at the start and try not to get ahead or behind.  I will have the garmin on, and will note my important mile splits.  The plan is to take GU's every 4 miles, advil and Endurolytes as needed.  They have aide stations every 2 miles until mile 21, and every mile after that.  4 miles at an 8 m/m pace should mean that I'm gelling every 32 minutes with one other water stop in between.  This should keep me with enough electrolytes to be good for the duration, as long as I can also get enough water. 

Part of me still has the haunting suspicion that I didn't take enough time to recover from the Ironman.  I've been fighting some of the signs of overtraining, like insomnia and fatigue.  The speed and comfort isn't always there when I expect it to be, like it was before Ironman.  One of my old coaches even warned me on facebook that I might be overtrained.  So I'm just going to pay attention to the 8 m/m pace.  If it's not there, I could bring some serious wrongs by pushing it too hard that could screw up the whole year.  That's not the goal.  So officially I'm going for a sub-3:30, but I will not feel guilty about slowing it down if I think it's going to wreck my season.  There are still two more marathons in the next two months to finish.

It's supposed to be sunny with a high of 53 on Saturday in Charleston, so it should be great conditions for a marathon.  The course is very flat, incredibly scenic, and goes through lots of downtown and historical Charleston without leaving the mainland.  We're staying with my brother Michael for the weekend, and our friends Joe and Gina are also coming down.  Gina's running, they've never been to Charleston before so they are in for a treat.  Lots of fun with friends and family is the name of the game.


On another fun note, the Bone Island triathlon exists now.  Full and Half Iron races, and it's the second full Iron triathlon put on by Setup Events director Jeremy Davis.  He's also the race director for the PPD Beach 2 Battleship that I wanted to run as my next full iron race.  Bone Island is Jan 12, 2013 (one year from today), it's the first year for the race, and it's in Key West Florida.  Registration is already open, and it's only $400 right now.  Racing ironman on Jan 12 means the last weekend of the build phase is going to be Christmas weekend, then it makes for a tough time to go out binge drinking on New Year's.  But then, starting a new year with a fast ironman also has some appeal.  I've never been to Miami, but always heard great things about it and I have some friends down there that I haven't seen in a long time.  Setup doesn't produce a bad race.  This has some appeal.  But it still requires five levels of approval signatures and a mental acceptance.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ashtanga Primer

One of my goals for this year is to hit the yoga mat 300 days with a focus on Ashtanga yoga.  There are two confusing things called Ashtanga yoga:  Patanjali's Ashtanga yoga mantras, which is a text written in 300 BCE outlining eight (Ashta) limbs (tanga) that branch out to spiritual enlightenment, and the Ashtanga movement practice developed by Sri K. Patabi Jois through most of the last century.  Make no mistake about it, I'm a Christian not Hindu so I stick with the movement patterns.  Not that there isn't validity to the eight limbed approach.  You can still see a lot of influence in the Jois approach from the ancient texts. I think the same basic premises are still achieved.

The primary focus of an Ashtanga practice is to "get on the mat".  Students are supposed to practice 6 days a week, taking saturdays as a rest day.  Also we should rest on the day of the new moon and full moon each month, which in 2012 occurs 25 times.  It is acceptable on these weeks to practice on Saturday and take the moon day off instead. This is how I can still hit my 300 target.  52 saturdays plus 25 moon days of rest means less than 300 sessions for me.  It's also worth noting that women should not practice while on their periods. 

There is a defined set of movements for Ashtanga that are categorized as beginning, intermediate, and the advanced A, B, C & D series of movements.  There are only one or two people in the world that are actively practicing the advanced C & D series.  It's a slow practice to learn, and should take at least five years before getting into the intermediate series.  I bet most people get bored taking that long and either abandon the practice or move on anyway.  Patience is a virtue that has its own rewards here. 

For instance, one of the first poses is a standing forward fold, but you are supposed to be able to touch your head to your knees.  My head doesn't come anywhere close to my knees.  This will take some time to achieve, but once I get there the foundation is laid for the intermediate moves. 

Ashtanga's primary focus is on breathing and movement. Specifically this is known as yama and priyama, translated as "movement and rest" or "effort and relaxation".  So each pose in a sequence sets up the next pose, and we are supposed to find relaxation and resting in every pose once we get there.  I find that the breathing really helps this target.  You move to find a pose, then hold it for five breaths before moving to the next pose.  Take deep breaths in and out slowly breathing through the nose, and try to find relaxation in every pose.  If you can hold some of those for five breaths, you will be more relaxed.

What do I really like about this practice?  Tons.  The benefits are enormous.  Yes, in running flexibily is easy speed.  That's great.  But the practice should end with some deep breathing in corpse pose, which is just lying on your back and trying to relax as much as possible.  As long as the kids aren't throwing things at me or yelling while I'm trying to relax, this time is worth its weight in gold. 

Today is January 10th.  I rested on Saturday - no yoga just a 5k race.  And Sunday was the first full moon day of the year, so I took it off as well.  But after getting on the mat 8 out of 10 days so far this year, I feel like I have a more relaxed, and more focused approach to everything.  I'm finishing better projects for work.  It just feels like I have more clarity in my decision making.  I feel better most of the time, and the rest of my workouts seem to go smoother.  I'm really looking forward to see where the rest of this practice can take me.

Next Ashtanga post will be a book review about "21 Things to Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice".

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Run for Young 5k Race Report

Run for Young 5k
Finish time: 22:28
7:15 /mile pace
7/23 age group

Not exactly the race (or the course) that I was hoping for.  Started out nice enough.  The race wasn't until 10 am, so I got to sleep in a bit, eat breakfast, and get out the door at a reasonable time.  The weather was unbelievable, sunny and in the mid 60's.  I took the little camera and got a couple of shots before the start:

Proof that I was actually there

The start/finish line.  Not too crowded 40 minutes before the start.
Eventually it did get crowded.  We had 343 finishers so that was a great turnout.  Lots of high school kids, so the competition was fierce.  The race was established in memory of a high school kid who was killed in an alcohol related car accident in 2005.

I made my way near the front and lined up with a kid who was expecting to go 21 something.  Found some really nice people to talk to at the starting line, that made it easier to start without nerves.  Somebody said the course was basically uphill all the way out, turnaround at one of my favorite restaurants (the Player's Retreat), so it was downhill most of the way back.  I knew, however, that the worst two uphill parts were on the way back, that's why Kelley opted not to do this race with me.  So I was in for a nice challenge.  That's always something you want to find out at the starting line.

The gun goes off and we take off fast.  Too fast.  I had been coughing a lot that morning, and 200 yards into the run it felt like my heart was stabbing my lungs.  How did my heart even get a knife?  Oh, now my lungs are on fire!  Wow, the cold air (at 60 degrees?) was really doing a number on me.  I accidentally left the garmin at home again, so I was going naked.  So I'm pretty sure I went out of the gates too fast, but not really sure how fast that was.

Made the turn from Edenton onto Hillsborough street, and held pace.  Nobody really was passing me, and I wasn't really passing anybody else either.  So I was in good company.  Until I completely ran out of gas about a mile in.  Since it was an out and back course, I saw the leaders coming back in and was surprised at how quickly I saw them.  Then almost instantly after that I saw the turn around point.  I think, at the turn around, I was still in the top 30 people or so overall.  I made the turn around and walked a bit just to regroup.

Then I picked it back up, but my abs were really fatigued at this point, so I was having a tough time holding proper form for any decent distance.  I knew the toughest two hills were coming up and the rest was a slight downhill, so I walked about halfway up the two hills as well.  There was an aide station at the mile 2 marker, so I grabbed a cup of water there.  That was also the only mile marker I saw. 

The second bad uphill was close to the end.  I started walking at the bottom of the hill, and about halfway up started a slow jog again.  By the time I got to the top I was powering up again, and increased my foot turnover once it leveled out.  By then the finish line was in sight.  My abs were completely gone.  Totally unable to support the weight of my upper body anymore.  My lower back started to compensate, and it got very sore as well.  That's a first for me; I never had the lower back go out like that.  I was also audibly and involuntarily expressing my displeasure with the current state of my abs with language that should not have been used that close to a church.  I got a few funny stares when I crossed the finish line, then immediately doubled over, grabbed a water bottle, and found a nice quiet sidewalk to cry and puke on.

The winner came in at 15:23, the winner of my age group was 17:04 (4th overall), and the first female was 18:44.  I should also mention that the winner was 19 years old, I bet he never smoked a cigarette or had to lose 70 lbs in his life, and does nothing but be out of high school and run.  punk.

I am pleased with my time, but I could have managed the course better.  I took the first half of the course too fast without knowing that it was mostly uphill, then had nothing left for the easy return.  Kelley might have been right to skip this one.  It is, however, the first race in the Second Empire Grand Prix series, so I have the first race down for series points.  Five more to go.

My next race is the Charleston Marathon next saturday, then the Myrtle Beach marathon in February before my next 5k and attempt #3 at going sub-20.  Charleston has its own set of goals.

Good luck if you ran Disney!  Hope it was magical!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Goals & Races

Yes, I'm late jumping on the bandwagon.  I've had my thumb up my butt been refining the list for several weeks now to be sure I want to put that out there.  I've also been planning the races, some I want to do again and some new ones to try.  The 2012 Races gadget on the left will always have an up to date race list with the ones that are definitely on the schedule.

1. Time Goals:
  • 5k under 20 minutes
  • 10k under 42 minutes
  • 13.1 under 1:40
  • 26.2 under 3:30
  • Oly under 2:15
  • 70.3 under 5:30
2. Qualifiers
3. Places
  • Top 3 age group in a triathlon
  • Top 3 age group in a running event
  • Top 3 age group in an open water swim
  • Race in a new market, preferably Washington DC
I would love an overall win/place, but living in Raleigh and working in Washington, DC this year means I'll be in two very competitive markets.   I've seen others take an overall win with a 22 minute 5k time.  Around here you've got to be in the 15:xx or 16:xx time frame to get an overall win.  A good friend posted a 17:30 at my last 5k and still came in 4th overall. 

4. Join a sponsored triathlon team.  I joined the Delta Team last year just to get discounts at my local tri store and discounted race registrations.  I got nothing else out of it, never made it to any of the group runs or rides, only went to one social event.  I did make some new friends who were also on the team, but I don't think I'll be signing up for that one again.   There has been an application already submitted for the EvoTri team, but they had a fair number of applicants so it's going to be pretty competitive.  There are some other teams out there, but I'm not going to make any predictions yet.  I just hope I end up on the right team with good people.

5. Yoga - Going along with this years themes of speed and dealing with other people, I'm seriously considering starting an Ashtanga Yoga practice.  Ashtanga has very specific guidelines for a practice, namely "get on the mat" six days a week.  There's a lot more to it than that, and I'll be posting more about it as I learn and start my practice.  It takes at least 5 years of 6 days a week to be called a "beginner", so this is a long term thing.  There's also an intermediate and two series of advanced poses.

This year's commitment is for 300 days of yoga.  In Ashtanga, you are supposed to rest every saturday, and every new moon and full moon (and for women, rest during the "monthly women's holiday" as they call it).  Last night I finished reading 21 Things to Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice, and will be writing a review soon.

300 days of yoga.  Flexibility = speed, yoga also gives me an inner peace that is otherwise hard to find.

6. Professional - Learn mobile development.  I'm getting into some more sales and leadership roles at work, and might soon be managing product development on a mobile platform.  I need to learn how to code iPhone and Droid apps and have some emulation platforms setup to be able to do this.  I haven't set a career goal in a long time so this is a biggie.

Race List:

  • 5k's - In Raleigh, there is the Second Empire Grand Prix series of races.  To earn series points, you just have to compete in 6 of the 10 races listed.  I already have date conflicts with some of them, but I really want to run as many as I can in the series and see if I can win an age group series award.  I'm already signed up for the Run For Young and the NC State Torch Run.  There will be many more.  Well, at least four more.
  • Marathons - All of the marathons for this year are coming up.  Kelley and I are both going to try and qualify for the Marathon Maniacs by running the Charleston Marathon in January, Myrtle Beach full marathon in February, and the Tobacco Road Marathon in March.  I can't believe Charleston is only 8 days away.  I'm going to attempt to go under 3:30 in Charleston, and I'm feeling strong for it.  If I make it easy enough, I may try to BQ at Myrtle Beach (3:10 for my age group), but it's highly unlikely that I would actually make it.  The local one here in Raleigh I'll just do for fun.  Maybe break four hours, but just get out there and enjoy the environment.
  • Triathlons
    • Battle at Buckhorn - last year if I hadn't missed the turnaround I would have come in 6th place overall.  Loved this race, can't wait to do it again.
    • Spring oly qualifier - USAT hasn't announced the races for the age group nationals yet, but I will run at least one of these in the spring.  Last year the Lake Logan international was also a special qualifier, and I missed qualifying by 2 minutes.  I wouldn't mind doing lake logan again anyway.  And the Nations Triathlon in Washington DC has been a qualifier in the past as well.
    • Kure Beach Double Sprint - this one is in June, it's a new format for me and it's supposed to be a fantastic race.  Really looking forward to this one.
    • Spring half?  The White Lake Half has been a USAT regional long course qualifier for the last few years.  If it makes the list again I will certainly run it this year.  Got a lot of friends doing this one too.
    • Fall half?  I would love to do either the Patriots Half again, or the OBX half again.  Patriot's has been a long course qualifier in previous years.  I could also be talked into doing the Rev3 half in Anderson SC since it is basically a hometown race and I'll get to hang with plenty of people on the Rev3 team!
  • Open Water Swims - I really want to do the Jordan Lake Open Water Challenge again, as well as either the Big Duece or the Little Uno, depending on what kind of distance shape I'm feeling come registration time.  There are two other races in the series that I would love to jump into if the dates don't conflict, and they've added a championship race that you have to qualify for, so that's also an option for September.
  • Aquathons - I'm already signed up for the Old School Aquathon Series again.  These were fantastic races last year, really hard to run in, and very competitive.  They are just swim/run races, local to Raleigh, on wednesday nights, just swim, run, and eat. 
Nothing out of the ordinary here.  Keep an eye on the race list in the left nav on the blog, and come on out to any of the races I end up doing!  I'm really screwed until the USAT announces the regional championships and special qualifiers race list.   I'm going to end up doing a ton of races this year.  No Ironman.  Just speed, flexibility, and teamwork.  Come on out and join me!  I'd love to see you out there.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Years Redux

If New Year's Day is supposed to predict how the rest of the year goes, then 2012 is going to be a real whopper.  This is so ridiculously insane I have to document it.

New year's eve was great.  Our friend Kayte came over to watch the ball drop, we had a few beers but not too many, Kelley made some cookies, we had a fire going in the firepit outside, Evil Genius went to sleep at a reasonable time but the Bigun stayed up until midnight to see the ball drop on TV for the first time.  I went to bed about 12:30 and read some before turning out the light and trying to sleep.  That's where the fun starts. 

  1. Insomnia - I could not get to sleep.  I am an old man here people.  Anything up past 11 pm is going to leave my knuckles dragging the ground the next day, I just can't do that anymore.  About 3:30 am I decided to go into the living room to watch tv for a bit.
  2. Actual Death - I find 8 cop cars and 2 fire trucks outside my front yard with the lights flashing.  We live on a busy four lane road, and someone was trying to walk (or I bet stumble) across the road when they were hit and killed by a car.  No other details were released about the victim or the car.  There are large skid marks in the road.  I timed 19 seconds that you can see a car coming on that road from that direction, the intersection is well lit and it's not like the car was cresting a hill or coming around a curve.  The victim didn't look, might have been drunk, the driver might have been drunk or didn't have his headlights on.  Something funky had to be going on there.  It's really quite obvious when there is a car coming or a person standing in the road.
  3. Hangover - The hit happened about 2:45 am.  I got up about 3:30 am, got something to eat, posted the accident on facebook, watched some tv and went back to bed about 5 am.  The cops were still cleaning up when I went back to bed.  I felt fine when I went to bed.  Got up about 10:30 with a horrible headache.  Actually, I was woken up at 10:30 by a reporter from the local news asking if we saw or knew anything about the accident.  I answered the door in my boxers thankful that there was no cameras on me at the time.  As I was describing what I saw when I got up, I realized I had a terrible headache and was dehydrated consistent with over-intoxication from the night before.  I only had maybe 3 or 4 beers and one glass of wine.  That's not nearly enough to induce that kind of headache.
  4. Superstitions - After re-hydrating some, I ran out to grab some lunch from the Cook-Out.  Kelley's family has always practiced an old superstition about New Year's, and it was apparently on the news this year too.  If the first visitor to your front door is a tall man (I'm 6'1") you will have good luck throughout the year.  If the first visitor is a woman with a unibrow, you will have bad luck throughout the year.  The reporter that came to our front door was a woman, did not cross the threshold into our house, and did not have a unibrow, but that's still too close for comfort.  So I stopped on the way to grab lunch at Kayte's house and went to Kelley's dad's house, being the first visitor to both.  I think maybe the superstition was just a way to get people to socialize, but should still be taken seriously.
  5. Lack of Football - my lunch was great, but I didn't get to eat it until about 3:30 pm.  Since NYD fell on a sunday this year, there were no bowl games on what is supposed to be the best day in college football.  I had enough other stuff to take care of to not get involved in any of the NFL games, and I have a tough time getting into the NFL anyway.  I was finally starting to feel better when it got too dark to get in my planned 12 mile run on the day, so I did some strength work and yoga instead.  Then the kids wanted to go to Waffle House for dinner.
  6. Bad Food - Going to WH can be an adventure by itself.  We used to go to one in SC, order the same thing every time just to see what we actually got.  It was always different, and rarely what we ordered.  Of course, Evil Genius ordered eggs and only actually ate Kelley's toast. Then she was hungry for the rest of the night.  Imagine that!
  7. Bad Movies - we ended up watching a movie called Warrior after we put the kids to bed.  I had really been looking forward to this one quite a bit thinking it was a boxing movie, and it turned out to be an incredibly predictable MMA  movie.  It was well produced, but so much of the flick was hokie and predictable.  An irish schoolteacher with an italian brother that's twice his size?  please.
If that pattern holds true there will be nothing but death and disappointment for us in 2012.  Of course, being the eternal optimist I don't want that to hold true.  All I can do is stick to my training plan, work my heart out, and keep my head held high.   How insane was that?

Monday Jan2 was much better.  The kids did the calisthenics and yoga with me, I ran 10 miles, the football games held some insane delayed gratification.  Oregon won, Stanford lost, USC won big, and we found a place with all you can eat tacos on monday nights for $5, so I was able to feed the whole family at a restaurant for only $18 plus tip.  Then we got the new season of The Batchelor, with more trashy crazy women than I dream about.  It was incredible.  And I had the day off from work.  So let's hope 2012 has more Mondays than days like Sunday.  And that starts the list of things I never thought I would say this year.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 in Review

Another great year of training and racing has come and gone, and 2011 was pretty special.  First, let's take a quick check on December:

Swim: 5 swims, 12,100 yards
Bike: 3 rides, 43 miles
Run: 13 runs, 90.76 miles
Strength: 4 workouts
Yoga: 1 class

Can you tell I'm not loving the bike over the winter?  Marathon training is still in full effect with over 90 miles running, and the Charleston Marathon is in 12 days.  My only race in December was a single 5k that gave me a nice PR.  The swimming was pretty consistent, but I really wanted to see two swims a week over the winter.  The biggest gain has to be a return to regular strength training and yoga.  After completely abandoning the practice during Ironman training it feels so good to start getting strong again.  I know next years speed gains aren't going to come from form improvements, as my form in all three sports is pretty solid.  So it's time to start working on some strength gains.

Overall numbers for 2011:

Swim: 62 swims, 143,585 yards, 81.58 miles
Bike: 130 rides, 3135.5 miles
Run: 173 runs, 1100.01 miles, average 6.4 miles
Strength: 29 workouts
Yoga: 23 workouts

There's a concept put on by a local triathlon store called the Cast Iron Club that looks really cool.  If I was going to do another Ironman in 2012 I would probably sign up for it.  The theory is that you train and race (and log your miles) for the equivalent of 30 Ironmans in a single calendar year.  This turns out to be 72 miles of swimming, 3360 miles of biking, and 786 miles of running.  I didn't sign up for 2011 because that sounded like way to much work.  But turns out I only missed it by about 200 miles of cycling that easily could have been accomplished in December.  This is pretty nuts.  Swimming 81 miles? Biking over 3000?  Those are unheard of numbers. 

Recently I've seen a picture floating around facebook that says "140.6.... Don't ever question my commitment".  Seeing numbers like that and knowing that I did finish my first Ironman makes me truly appreciate the type of commitment I made to my health this year.  That's insane.

Friday I ran 9.56 miles over lunch to wrap the annual total to 1100.01, just to mess with anyone who has OCD and thinks I should have capped it at an even 1100.  This includes my wife and father-in-law.  The nerd in me now thinks I should have thrown the extra few feet in there to stretch it to 4 decimal places and look at the binary conversion. 

As it stands, 00110001 in binary = 49, and I had 173 runs which is 10101101.  If you add those binaries together you get 10011100, which is 156 numeric.  So 49 + 173 = 156.  4 + 9 + 1 + 7 + 3 = 24 and 2 + 4 = 6.  If you add the numeric 49 + 173, you get 222, and 2 + 2 + 2 also = 6.  Which has to lead you to the ultimate conclusion that I am really a gigantic nerd.  But I'm sure you already knew that.

At the beginning of the year I outlined my 2011 goals.  How did I do?

1.  Ironman on November 5th at IMFL = Success!  I did indeed turn Iron at IMFL, finishing in 13:06.  It was a glorious trip.

2. Single digit body fat % and maintaining a healthy weight throughout the year.  = partial success.  I did get the BF% down to about 16%, which is very good.  So the problem was in the goal there.  I never should have shot for single digit.  The real goal was 11% anyway.  I did, however, complete my weight loss target by the time Ironman training started and hit my ideal racing weight for the big day, getting down to 165 lbs just before the race. 

3. Age group placement in something - Fail.  I never did any better than 4th in anything.  So close!  Next year.  I even finished 13th overall at one race, a 5k in April and was still 5th in my age group (I think).

4. Time goals:
  • 5k under 22 minutes:  Success!
  • 10k uner 50 minutes: Success!
  • 5 mile under 40:  Success! no races, but plenty of training runs in 36:xx.
  • 13.1 under 1:55: Success! I actually ran 7 halfs under 1:55 in 2011.
  • 26.2 under 4:00: Fail, but the only marathon I ran was in the Ironman at 4:25, which was still a PR
  • Century Ride under 6 hours: fail, the one century ride was just over 6 hours and unofficially timed.
5. Have a garden:  Partial success here.  I had a garden, it was small, and nothing actually grew there.

6. Live in a way that makes others proud:  Success!  I completed a heavy workload for Ironman training without abandoning family or friends, became much closer with some local friends.  I changed jobs, started working from home again, and was truly able to put my family first. 

Here's some highlights in pictures from the year. 

The year I turned Iron has turned out to be pretty incredible.  I can't wait to see what 2012 has in store!