Friday, August 31, 2012

Virginia is for Lovers

This is pretty cool.  Virginia is taking it's own sweet time with my background check, so is Georgia.  This has delayed my start date for the new job by a week.  That means I get to stay in my current job for another week, without much to do.  So today is actually a floating holiday that my current employer is pushing, so I get paid for a four day weekend with 2 days of holidays, followed by a three day work week where I only have one main task to complete on wednesday.  the rest of the time is for documentation, knowledge transfer, and in case anything goes horribly wrong after the main task is complete.  Then I get a three day weekend after that before starting at IBM next monday.

I better enjoy it too.  Once I start the new gig there are no paid holidays or vacation days for the next 6 months at least.  It's a contract to hire position, which is actually very stable.  But during the contract part I get paid by the hour.  So no worky no pay-ey.  The timing stinks on that, because the contract will run over the winter.  I really only take vacations over the winter.  The summers here stink so much that I'd rather keep my nose on the grindstone and save those vacation day for the fall, or take off the week between Christmas and New Year's.  This means no vacations until March, when I can start from zero and accrue some vacation time.  Gonna be a lot of hard time pounding those rocks.

This weekend I can't decide what to do.  Obviously I want to get some hard workouts in.  Labor day screams long bike ride to me.  Saturday I've got the 5k in the soccer park, so I don't really want to go for a hard ride today.  I'm thinking about some easy stuff today like a long yoga session and some weights, then the 5k tomorrow followed by maybe a bike ride?  Saturday is also the first big day for college football, so I plan on drinking in the games.  Sunday's long workout will be in Umstead state park, starting my trail time for the ultra marathon in december.  And monday should be a long bike ride, maybe in the 40 to 60 mile range.  Think I'll head back for the long loop around Jordan Lake.

Funny, that does sound like a plan, doesn't it?  Enjoy the holiday!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Come run with us

This weekend was the first time in a long time where we really had nothing planned and no idea what was going to happen.  It turned out pretty fantastic, we got to hang out with some good friends saturday night, lots of time with the kids, and I still got in a 20 mile bike ride saturday and a 10 mile bike/7 mile run brick on Sunday. Great times all around.

I got a picture of our harvest from the garden this year, pathetic as it may seem.  A few tomatoes and five muscadines.  This year's garden consisted of four tomato plants, two bell peppers, and of course the six muscadine vines that are in their second year in the ground here and should start to produce.

That's pitiful, but I'll take it.  Looks like it's all the gardening I'm going to get this year.  We also finally got everything straightened out with the insurance company, so the people came out this week and put on a new roof and a fresh coat of paint on the house.  They still have to paint the shutters, do some final touch-ups, but it's about done and looking pretty good:

We ended up choosing a darker color than just the white siding used before, and it might have come out a touch darker than we originally hoped.  Still looks pretty good.

I'm handling this work transition pretty well I think.  Trying to get my last project wrapped up at Compuware, and it's going pretty smooth.  Friday is my last day there, and it's officially listed as a Compuware floating holiday.  So I may just get a four day weekend to be Funemployed before starting at IBM next tuesday.

Also on Saturday is a small local 5k.  I'm really looking forward to this one because it's a 9 am start (no early rise time), the location is a soccer park that's about 2 miles from our house, and there is a 10 year age group split so it should be a small field.  It hasn't been advertised very much, and while I would love to see a huge turnout (my fraternity is the charity recipient - advancing music education through the Sinfonian Foundation) I'm predicting kind of a small field.  That area of town should lend itself to a good time, and I'm betting that Kelley will finally break 30 minutes.  I'm hoping to be under 23 minutes, maybe I'll go sub-22.  But I'm hoping with a small field I can put up a decent placement overall or in my age group.  This might be the kind of race where a sub-22 minute time can get me into the top 10 overall.  But, this is Raleigh, and it's really competitive here, so who knows.  Come run with us!

We're also looking for a couple of people to join the team for the Tuna Run 200!  This relay race from Raleigh  to Atlantic Beach, NC is going to be a blast.  If you've ever wanted to get in on a relay this should be a fun one.  Comment, email, or facebook me and I'll put you in touch with our team organizer.  He just told me that we need a couple more people for the 12 person team, so come on out and have some fun.  Come run with us!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I'm a winner!

I've been listening to the podcasts from the Brilliant Body Summit in the afternoons lately.  It's a really interesting take on the raw vegan approach to healthy, weight loss, and fitness.  It's a great way to hear from raw food life coaches, nutritionalists, and people who have changed their lives in ways that they are very passionate about.  It is very interesting to me to hear other people talk about their passion the same way I might talk about Upper Cervical Chiropractic care or triathlon. 

Chris Kendall has to be one of my favorite speakers there.  He's really fun to watch and listen to.  Freelee and lots of the people from 30 Bananas a Day are on there.  Today's speaker is DurianRider, a controversial activist who's incredibly passionate about the 80/10/10 lifestyle.  These people all give away books or promote their products at the end of the podcast.

Yesterday's speaker was Drew McCall Burke, the Sexy Raw Vegan herself.  At the end, I won a copy of her book "Be a Sexy Raw Vegan in 30 Days" and it looks really interesting.  She promotes a combination of juicing, smoothies, and whole fruit.  The book has menu's, shopping lists, and lays out the whole plan very clearly.  It's a good read, and the authors (including Mitzi Mager) have been through some really impressive transformations.

I've been really digging the Fruit Detox Mondays' and I'm thinking about stepping that up a little bit.  Instead of doing just a full day of fruit on Monday I'm going to start increasing the fruit consumption throughout the week. It's the kind of thing that you can't eat too much of, if anything you can't get enough calories from raw fruits.  I'm leaning towards doing more green smoothies for breakfast and fruit/melon smoothies for lunch.  Then whatever Kelley cooks for dinner (which is usually sensible anyway).  I did look up more details on yesterdays food.

Breakfast green smoothie:
2 baby bok choy
handful of spinach
4 bananas
2 small apples
handful of blueberries
3 dates
2 cups of Orange Juice

1009 calories, 249 g carbs, 4g fat, 16g protein

Lunch melon smoothie:
half a Canary Melon (found at local farmer's market, any melon will do)
1 banana
handful of blueberries
2 cups OJ

878 calories, 211g carbs, 1g fat, 17g protein

So I'm up to almost 1900 calories by lunch.  The target is to get between 2000 and 3000 calories a day just from the smoothies like that, so that's pretty close.  But if all you eat is raw fruits and veg you don't get enough protein, right?  33 grams is enough for a full day.  and I still had dinner to go.  It's 91% carbs, 7% protein, and 1% fat.

For dinner last night, Kelley made red beans and rice, and some cabbage with carraway seeds that is really tasty when it's all mixed together.  Vegan, yes, but not raw.  Delish?  absolutely.  I also had a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch as a late night snack.  The beans and the milk also had plenty of protein.

But you can't fuel Ironman training workouts like that, right?  Well, actually I think maybe you can.   Yesterday I did my Ashtanga Primary series routine both in the morning and late at night. Over lunch I hit the weights for a quick circuit and did running intervals on the treadmill.  8 x half a mile each at 9.0 speed (6:39 pace) with recovery in between.  6 miles total.  The last time I tried that workout I could only do 4 intervals, so I was really pleased.  And I still had energy at the end, but instead of doing 2 more intervals I had to go back to work. 

So if I can get in yoga, strength training, and 6 miles of interval running on nothing but smoothie power, I think it will work. 

I made the smoothies on Sunday night and kept them in the fridge overnight.  Everything held it's consistency and texture overnight, and was still quite tasty all through the day.  With my new job, the plan is to make these the night before so I can drink the breakfast smoothie on my drive into work and keep the melon smoothie in the office fridge until I want to drink it at my desk.  After yesterday's performance, I feel pretty optimistic about this plan.

The final theory is that if you consume enough food that contains less than 5% fat, you will also end up with less than 5% fat because you are what you eat.  Yesterday's monday morning naked weight (MMNW) was 178.8 with 19.8% body fat.  Today's weigh in was 176.2 lbs with 19.1% body fat.  So the scale shows a 2.6 lb loss overall with 1.8 lbs of that being melted bodyfat.  My "safe" zone (or what Drew would call the Sexy range) is under 180 lbs and under 20% bodyfat.  So I'm totally in the safe zone.  But the last time I was getting this close to 175 lbs was in the middle of an Ironman build phase where I was working out 20 hours a week.

This is not an Ironman build phase.  This is the very beginning of an endurance base phase leading up to the half ironman/marathon/ultra set coming in the winter.  You may remember that last year, to get ready for Ironman training, I went totally vegetarian and restricted to only 1800 calories a day and it got me down to about this weight.  With this plan I get to eat more than 1800 calories just before lunch, and I still get to melt bodyfat?  I don't need to drop any more pounds, but the reduction in bodyfat is something I never could do last year.  This is going to be fun.

Monday, August 20, 2012

First weekend off?

Well, almost.  After racing three weekends in a row and taking Bigun to the beach last weekend, it felt like an easy weekend at home.  With some fun and some nerves.

It started with a job change. I don't talk about job stuff on here as a rule, but this was really cool. Thursday afternoon I got a job offer from IBM. This huge company wanted me to come on board with a senior level position. seriously cool. It's not easy for me to leave Compuware, and I'm going into a really deep lake here.  It's quite a leap, but I have to go into it with confidence.

Saturday we hit the big farmers market here to pick up some fresh goodness.  I've been reading a lot on raw vegan stuff lately, green smoothies and tons of fruit goodness.  We ended up getting an unbelievable end-of-the-season haul:
Yes that's a whole case of blueberries.  Scored it for only $20.

That's a lot of yummy goodness.  And that's only about half of the haul.  We also got some corn, tomatoes, kale and collards.  The farmers market was packed and everyone seemed to be enjoying the bounty of our local farms.  That's a beautiful thing.

I also had a decent workout on saturday, getting in 2000 yards in the pool and a 26 mile bike ride.  Felt good, I hit a 300 free/200 IM set pretty hard in the pool.  After a warmup and 3 of those sets, I was ready to get on the bike.  I'm starting to build up endurance for the half iron coming up September 22nd.  Sundays workout was a 20 mile ride 3 mile run brick, but it was totally boring.  Really the kind of day where it would be great to sit at home drinking coffee, eating blueberry mufffins, and watching movies (can you guess what Kelley did?  totally jealous).

Sunday morning was the kicker.  I had a solo performing with the church choir in the 11:00 service.  Scary, scary stuff.
Solo - Johnny Flynn.  terrifying.

Some people may remember that I was a music major in college and really enjoyed signing.  Back then, I sang some in voice lessons but wasn't good enough to actually score solos in any of the college choirs.  So really I hadn't done a solo since high school (I think).  To say I was nervous was an understatement.  Plus it's a tenor solo, and I always sang baritone or bass.  A pretty high tenor solo at that.  So it was a bit intimidating.  Kelley got some video on the flip, and if you really have nothing better to listen to here it is.

My theory behind the raw smoothie stuff is that it should be easy to get in a lot of calories in a dense format of foods that will fuel up long workouts and the endurance base I need, while not adding bodyfat.  The new job with IBM means I'll have to go into an office every day instead of working from home, and (I predict) I won't be able to take long lunch workouts either.  So Sunday night was a prep night to see if I could make a green smoothie for breakfast, a melon (or other fruit) smoothie for lunch, see how many calories I could get in, and see how the texture of the smoothies held up overnight.

The green smoothie had:
1 baby bok choy
handful of spinach
2 bananas
2 small apples
3 dates
handful of blueberries
2 cups of OJ

Turns out, that is an incredibly delicious combination.  I haven't calculated the calories yet, but it did keep its texture overnight in the fridge and made for a spectacular breakfast.  Next time I'll try 2 bok choy's and 4 bananas, but it really kept me full for most of the morning.  Time to get in a run today and try out the lunch fruit smoothie.  yum!

Big congrats goes out to Kevin and Mandy for rocking IMMT yesterday.  Very cool.

Monday, August 13, 2012

All the Good Ones Are Gay

This weekend Bigun and I had a beach trip with her Indian Princess tribe and it was an amazing amount of fun.  We couldn't pull her out of school early and I didn't want to miss any more work, but when she got home about 4 on Friday we packed up and got out of town.  Surf City NC is on Topsail Island and only about a 2 hour drive from Raleigh.  We hit traffic so it cost us an extra 45 minutes, plus we had to stop for dinner so we didn't get down there until about 8:30 friday night.
She doesn't care about the drive. Sunglasses, movie, DS, french fries.  Happy traveler.

And it turns out we weren't the last ones to arrive.  The tribe has 9 dad/daughter pairs, and one couldn't make it at all and one other pair could only get down for the day on Saturday.  One of the dad's owned the house so it was available all week for us to come and go as needed.  Two pairs had to go back to Raleigh Saturday afternoon so they missed out on some of the action as well.  But whoever was there whenever they were there we had so much fun.  The girls had a great time and so did the dads.

And if you talk to Kelley, we did not play poker or drink beer after I got there friday night and the girls went to bed.  Nope, that certainly did not happen.
A happy Bigun with Big Z in the background cooking breakfast

Saturday morning Big Z (the house owner) cooked up a big batch of pancakes and sausage, so we let the feasting begin.  This guy loves to cook and tends to make healthy versions of stuff that can have a healthy version (there is no healthy version of sausage) and we were all able to eat a lot and still have leftovers to snack on later. 
The girls playing amongst the sleeping bags
It was pretty rainy early in the morning, and of course the kids got us all up about 7:15 for breakfast.  But eventually we did make it down to the beach for some fun in the cloudy surf.  The wind was blowing and the current was really strong with the tide coming in.  So the kids couldn't go very deep into the water, but the waves were coming in hard and high enough to knock them down pretty good, even in knee deep water.

Now Big Z is a pretty adventerous guy.  He's a 3x ironman finisher, retired military, and generally doesn't have much of a fear factor.  He's earned it, dude was a complete international badass in the military.  So now he wanted to pick up kite surfing and bought a 10' kite and decided to try it out for the first time that morning on the beach since the wind was ripe for kiting. 

Remember the rains we saw earlier?  Well just standing on the beach trying to fly the kite and learn how to control it is a pretty tough process.  Turns out there's a huge learning curve for flying a 10' kite.  When we finally got it up and he was starting to do some turns and learn how to control the upswing I felt some rain starting to fall.  The storms hit in these small cells, and as soon as the cell moved over our part of the beach the wind went from 10 knots to 25 knots instantly, and it picked Big Z up about 4' off of the ground and carried him about 20 yards down the beach!  Surprise!  He hit the emergency release and got the kite headed toward the ground, but the wind was blowing it near where the kids were.  Myself and one other adult ran towards the kite to keep it on the ground and control it a bit, but we were running with the wind on the safe side of the kite.  Of course Bigun saw me running towards it and started running too, but she was running into the wind on the dangerous side where that thing would have hit her with about 800 lbs of force.  ouch.  The look on her face was priceless when it turned from the joy of running towards me to the absolute terror when I convinced her that she was heading into a dangerous situation.  The screams of "No, run away" kicked in right as the rain started to pour down.

We were still able to get the kite packed up and get everyone and everything back inside the house before the small rain cell turned into a full blown thunderstorm.  Lunch and some inside games kept us busy through the middle part of the day, and the dads all had a meeting to line up our activities for the year for the whole tribe.  It's going to be a great year.

I have this pink square leg Dolfin swimsuit that I wear to the RAM practices all the time, and the kids love it.  It's covered in flowers and always gets a good laugh.  I thought the kids would get a kick out of it, so I threw that suit on when we headed back down to the beach for some afternoon fun in the sun.  The rain and storms were gone and it turned out to be a beautiful sunny afternoon. 

The kids thought it was a Barbie swimsuit.  I got the laugh I was looking for from the kids, and the uncomfortable looks I was expecting from the other dads.  We hit the beach and it was so hilarious.
Bigun loves that suit.  It got a big laugh from all of the kids.

Great picture, I wish I could rotate it left.
Most of the other dads had never seen the tattoos either, so I got a lot of questions about the suit and the tats, and a lot of "I never knew" statements when they were shaking their heads (to which I would always respond "you could be that attracted to another man?" and laughter would erupt).  It was fantastic.

You could see this big pier off in the distance, and we knew it was 1.8 miles away.  Well, Big Z being an adventerous guy and Ironman, he's always trying to get me to have some fun while we're out on these trips.  Saturday afternoon he approached me about swimming to the pier and running back on the beach.  He had an extra pair of goggles I could borrow so I actually agreed to it.  What's a 2 mile ocean swim between friends?  The other dads were all down at the beach too, so they were able to keep track of our kids easily while we swam/ran.

The current was really strong.  Like, I would be walking in knee deep water walking against the curent and get knocked down.  The waves averaged 3' to 4' high and were breaking about 50 yards offshore.  So for Saturday's workout, we swam out past the breakers which was incredibly difficult, then turned left and swam parallel to the shore until we came into the pier.  Touch the pier, then turn and run the 1.8 miles back to our kids on the beach.

The swim only took 25 to 30 minutes.  Swimming with that strong of a current made it go by really fast.  The goggles leaked a lot and fogged up really bad, but it was still a great swim.  Big Z was fighting a rotator cuff issue, so I'd tread water to let him stay in my sightline.  As long as I could see the houses on the shore and him behind me I felt pretty comfortable.  The huge waves were rocking the whole time, but they always came from my right.  So I would breathe to my left and a wave would pick me up and drop me down 4' quickly, so that made for a very wild ride.  It was a lot of fun in the end, but pretty scary when I would get out there, and the shoreline would dissapear behind a wave and I couldn't see big Z.

What I didn't think about before we agreed to this was the end of the swim.  Here I come out of the water, and the pier is a public beach and kind of the gathering point for the whole island.  So it's really crowded, and I got out of the water a few minutes before Big Z did.  So I just appear out of the water in the pink flowered bathing suit and just stand there.  wow.  ok, yea, I forgot about that.  He came out of the water, we touched the pier then started running back.  We kept an easy pace, maybe 9 or 10 minute miles running barefoot in the sand.  So there I was holding the blue goggles and running on the beach with another very fit man in my pink flowered bathing suit.

Our part of the beach, while public, was just us and a couple of other families.  Not very crowded at all.  Turns out, the closer you get to the pier the more crowded that beach gets.  It was almost flattering.  I mean, I got plenty of whistles and cat calls, people taking pictures and just blatantly staring at us.  More than a few kids screamed "Mommy look at that man's bathing suit!"  But hands down the funniest one was these two women sitting in beach chairs.  One of them threw both arms in the air and screamed "See, the good ones are always gay!" to the other one.

Apparently they thought we were a couple, and we didn't consider that before starting the workout.  Z could barely keep running after that one.  So funny! And yes if you follow the stereotypes a man in a pink flowered speedo with shaved legs running down the beach with another man does look pretty gay.  Stating the obvious has never made me laugh like that.  I'm glad I was able to provide quality entertainment for half of Topsail Island while getting my workout done. 

After that we played with the kids some more on the beach, Bigun had a sand problem in her bathing suit, so we had to come up to the house a touch early which really let us get showers and knock all of that sand off before the masses came up.  After all of the cleanup we had a great dinner of burgers and hot dogs.
Clearly they are eating pancakes here, but let's just pretend I got a picture of the dinner.
After all of that beach play and fun in the sun all day long, you can imagine that the girls stayed up half the night being crazy.  But you'd be wrong, they were out like a light before sunset.  Another huge thunderstorm rolled in overnight, and they didn't move.  I was expecting a few of them to wake up and get scared, but everybody slept like logs all night long.  Even the dads got to sleep in until about 9 am.

And of course if you talk to my mom, only report that we did not play poker or drink beer on saturday night.  No way that actually happened.

Sunday was another good breakfast, then a few of the dads took the girls down to the beach again while the rest of us cleaned up some.  Bigun's suit was still trashed - I could not figure out how that much sand got between the liner and the outside fabric, and I could not figure out how to get the sand out of there.  So she was in street clothes and stuck playing in the sand (in theory).  She still ended up in the water a little bit.

Big Z and I did get back down to the beach for a run Sunday as well.  We went 4 miles in about 34 minutes and change.  He was quite relieved when I showed up in running clothes this time instead of the pink suit.  We still ran away from the pier just to be safe.  Great run at a conversational pace, although he did beat me on the sprint at the end.
Bigun and I in the driveway before leaving
We headed back to Raleigh and got home about 4:15 pm.  I was completely exhausted.  I actually got a nap in before dinner.  I'm not a beach person at all, and this was the most fun I've had at the beach in a very long time.  Many  many years.  The whole trip was fantastic, everybody got along really well, and nobody got seriously injured.  I can't wait until next year!

Thursday, August 9, 2012


First, there's a reflection on this guy:
I know the leagues of adoring fans that Kelley's photography brings here.  And this guy didn't work his moneymakers that hard for them to go unnoticed in public.  She must oblige the fans and find the best in all of my races.

Of course, she also found these guys:

A whole group of guys in pink speedo's that had "The End of The Kid" on the butt.  Turns out it was a batchelor party and the groom was called "the kid".  He had the whole party centered on the Lake Logan race.  They also all grew out mustaches.  This guy beat me by more than a few minutes, and they were all in pretty good shape.  Gives me a good idea for an upcoming batchelor party for my buddy Shawn.

And that is the hardbody addendum to my Lake Logan Oly race report for this year.

Sunday I got to sit out on the deck at Kelley's mom's house in Maggie Valley NC right next to this big loud creek with 15 waterfalls within sight and just drink coffee.  I ended up going through about 6 cups, and other people would come out and talk some, then go back inside to get more coffee or do something for the kids.  I tried to be very present in that moment and gain full appreciation for that situation and just how peaceful it was.  I really loved living in the mountains, and still enjoy going back up there any chance I can.  That moment gave me the time to reflect on the triathlon season and the difference in goals between this year and previous years.

This week I'm able to take some time to recover from the race and really embrace the yoga and the finer details on what worked and what didn't work about my training.  This year I was built for speed, not endurance.  There wasn't a question of could I finish the race, but how hard could I push myself.  Did I do the right kind of training for this type of result or should I have done something different?

Speed vs Endurance is a strange concept.  I had to fuel up to get lean and strong, hitting the weights a lot more.  I really enjoy this physique right now, although I may be carrying too much muscle weight to be fast over a longer distance.  And I still don't have the body fat down into the 11% range, although it has gone under 20% for several weeks this summer.  Overall I feel confident and look pretty good, if I may toot my own horn there.

I have raced a lot this year.  I have already registered for 21 races this year, and completed 18 of them.  We did the Grand Prix series for the spring, and there is a fall series as well.  The spring series was so much fun that we both really want to do the fall series too, that's 6 more races (mostly 5k's).  There's also the City of Oaks marathon, that will really be a long run/warmup race for the Pine Mountain 40 miler in December.  So seven more will make 28 races on the year.  Plus the Tuna Run (more on that later), and there are still people trying to talk me into doing fall century rides, or the last few open water swim races.  It could be too much racing on the year and not enough training.

Training for speed is very different from training just to finish something or training for endurance.  Training for endurance dictates that you have to run 10 miles today.  Training for speed says that it's better to split that into two 5 mile runs in the same day, and be sure that each run is under 38 minutes, and eat xxxx calories in between the two runs, and be sure you can sleep enough that night to recover well.  They both go onto the training log spreadsheet as a 10 mile run day, but with very different efforts, preparations, and results. 

At the same time, I think there is a volume component for speed training to still be effective.  When I regularly started putting 20,000 yards a month in the pool my swim speeds started to get incredibly competitive.  I broke 30 minutes in an open water mile for the first time in May by only 10 seconds.  Then by July I put two miles in open water in only 59:04, absolutely smashing a 30 minute mile.  Lake Logan's 1500 meter (0.92 miles) swim time was under 25 minutes, which is completely absurd by last year's standards.  At the same time I was doing that much volume in the water, I was almost putting 300 miles a month on the bike and only a pitiful 40 miles a month on the running shoes.  Hitting the bike three to five times a week and running three times a week should have been enough (in theory).  But they weren't.

So if 20k yards a month is the magic number to make my swimming fly, I still have to find that magic volume amounts for bike and run distances.  Do you know what your magic distances are?  or at least your monthly average?  I became a faster runner when I was putting up 100+ mile months in Ironman training last year.

The rest of my year is going to be endurance based, from the half ironman in OBX september 22nd to the marathon in November and the 40 mile ultra on December 2nd.  Next year I'm going back into Ironman training for Beach 2 Battleship.  That means this week I've been thinking about a plan to get the right volume in for endurance training, and starting to work on my training plan.

I mean last year I was in the middle of Ironman training building an endurance base to go for 140.6 miles with no concern for speed.  This year was entirely focused on speed and I finished the same race only one minute faster?  I know there's a point of diminishing returns, but one minute?  I was expecting to be a touch faster than that.  When you are training for speed you expect to get faster.  I really think there was too much racing (and recovery time) and not enough training time.

So of course, there is something cool to add to the race list.  The Tuna Run 200 is a relay race from Raleigh to the coast, covering 200 miles.  We both actually got in with the same group, spearheaded by a guy from the Second Empire Grand Prix series, but I ended up on a 6 man team and Kelley ended up on a 12 man team.  So we won't be riding in the same van but we will both have plenty of stories to share.  I'm really looking forward to this, it should be a total blast.  Sunday we pay the registration fee for this one, which is why I haven't really talked about it too much on here yet.

And there is also the City of Oaks marathon.  Every year we try to run this one, but there is some kind of conflict.  Kelley wants to do it this year as her fall marathon.  I might do it just to get a good long run in before the ultra.  We haven't registered yet, but the price increase is the end of this month so I bet we will do it soon.

Next year has to be less racing and more training time.  The biggest goal for the year will be getting under 12 hours at the full iron Beach 2 Battleship, and it could be that the only other race I do was just announced yesterday.  Ironman 70.3 Raleigh is on the board for June 2nd.  I love it!  The swim is in Jordan Lake at Vista Point, one of my favorite open water swim spots.  The Bike then goes from Jordan Lake, right past my house, and into downtown Raleigh, and having separate transition areas is not going to be ideal.  But then the run course is the real highlight here.  Running through downtown Raleigh out Hillsborough street you get to see everything from the Capital building to the NC State main campus, then pick up a greenway at Meredith college (close to my house), turnaround and head back downtown to the finish line.  You know a WTD branded race is going to be well organized (well, all of the local area races are well organized), and this is really going to shine a spotlight on our great city.  I race all of these same spots all the time, but putting it all together on one course and with the spotlight of the Ironman brand.... this is going to be really special.  My toughest decision around this race is going to be deciding what kind of social activity to surround it with.  Open dinner the night before?  Recovery party at the house?  Let me know if you want to come to town for this one.

So I'm enjoying the recovery week, and looking forward to the endurance base building that lies ahead.  This weekend is going to be a lot of (non-racing) fun!  Have a great one.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lake Logan Race Report

This was my goal race for the year, the Lake Logan International.  It had some good parts and some bad parts, but in the end I still set a PR for the distance and walked away with a good experience. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have....

The fun started friday afternoon when I was shaving up for the race and sliced my right nipple open pretty hard.  Yep, that really hurt.  If that was a sign for how the rest of the weekend was going to go down I was really in trouble.  Earlier in the week Bigun had developed a bad cough from a sinus thing and was kind enough to pass it around some.  So all day Friday I was coughing with a sore throat, headache, and that kind of upper body hate crime that comes with a sinus infection.  I had high hopes that it would clear up in the afternoon, but after cutting my chest like that I knew I was just going to be in some discomfort for a while.  that's the shakes sometimes.

We got into Canton, NC where the race was about 7:15 friday night after packet pickup closed at 7 pm.  We should have done something faster for dinner and made it there on time.  Oh well, nothing difficult about race morning packet pickup.  We got to Kelley's Mom's house in Maggie Valley soon after that, and watched the Olympics until bedtime.  You never sleep really well the night before a big race, but we were quite comfortable and got enough rest to put out a good race the next day.
I cannot overstate how beautiful this venue is.  Absolutely incredible race site!

Still, 5 am came really early.  really really early.  I had everything we needed laid out from the night before, so it was easy to get up and out the door, and get to the race site about 6:15.  From the minute we got there everything seemed to be timed exactly right.  I got air in the bike tires, got my packet & timing chip, got the TA setup, hit the port-a-let line, and everything fell into place right on time.  Eerily on time.
Setting up TA

Taping my 2 gels to the bike

One last check in transition before getting back to the swim start area

Swim: Goal: 28 minutes, 2011: 30:48, Actual: 25:15 Success!!!
This swim also included a quarter mile run up to the TA after getting out of the water, so the real swim time was about a minute faster than that.  And for reals?  Five and a half minutes faster than last year?  That really happened.
I'm one of the blue caps about to start

I know this was before the race because I'm still smiling.
I could hear the national anthem going as I was walking across the street to where the swim start area was.  It was a J course, where you go out, make two right hand turns, then back past the start line under a bridge to the swim exit on a dock with no ladder or easy exit point.  As I get down there, the first wave was already in the water and my wave was on the dock ready to get in.  So much for any kind of warmup.  I'm telling you, the entire prerace routine was timed out to the second.  I walked out on that dock, clapped twice for the elites, and jumped in for my wave start.

That water was FREEZING cold.  Much colder than I expected.  They said the water temps were supposed to be around 70, it felt like maybe 65, more like 63.  I knew the race was going to be wetsuit legal, but if it's going to be over 70 I don't like to wear the wetsuit, it doesn't give me that much of an advantage and you lose a ton of time in T1 getting it stripped off.  I didn't wear it last year and left it in Raleigh this year.  I should have worn the wetsuit.

The start was pretty clean.  I was really glad to be moving so I could finally generate some heat after sitting in that shockingly cold water for 3 minutes after the elite's started.  Some other people got in my way, but the contact really wasn't that bad.  I started near the front on the right hand side, stayed on course pretty well, and had a clean swim to the first turn.  My wave was all men under 39, and it got crowded between the bouys but that was about it for the most part.  Swim 500 meters out, turn right, swim about 100 meters, turn right again.  That actually felt like the longest part of the course.  The remaining 900 meters felt like it went by faster than the first 600 did.

Coming back to the swim finish was really clean. There is a bridge that separates the lake from the river that feeds the lake, and the river water was significantly colder than the lake water.  That was some serious motivation to swim faster.  And check this out:

That's all the debris right in front of the bridge.  After the elite and fast swimmers came through there and chopped all of that stuff up, it got really nasty.  There were whole branches in there over an inch in diameter!  Come on organizers, somebody's got to have a net hanging around somewhere.  Of course the bridge creates a bottleneck so the swimmers get congregated right when the water gets cold and nasty.  It threw everybody off.  The guy in front of me apparently slowed down, so I ran up on his feet and got kicked in the face.  Apparently the debris came from a few days worth of heavy rainfall.  So after swimming over the floating trees and getting kicked in the face I just pulled off to the right and went water polo style (face out of the water) to the dock and pulled myself up out of the water.

T1: 2:41, 2011: 2:54
Looking strong coming out of the water
So pretty out there.  Glad to be done with the swim.
After running that long run up to the transition area, I threw down the goggles and swim cap, got on socks, bike shoes, helmet, grabbed the bike and ran out.  It felt like it took too long.  I need to start riding without socks.  Should be under 90 seconds. 

Bike: Goal 1:10, 2011: 1:08:51, Actual: 1:13:34 Fail!
Ready to ride!
Oh the bike.  We accidentally left the garmin in the luggage at the house, so I was riding naked.  My strategy was to get out of the water fast enough to make the faster bikers pass me, as opposed to last year when I got caught up in a lot of bike traffic and had to pass a bunch of other people.  My strategy worked. 

There are only two climbs on opposite sides of the same hill right next to the park.  I came out and made it up the first climb, took the big descent on the other side pretty carefully, and then started getting passed on the flats heading into downtown Canton.  I was trying to watch for my own age group, and I got passed by lots of older and a few younger people as well as by two people in my age group.  I just kept a steady cadence and tried to keep my speed as high as possible for as long as I could.

Everything was really pretty smooth so far.  I had to play it conservatively because it had been raining the entire time.  Not really hard, but when you hit that screaming descent that should be done around 45 mph and the roads are very wet and it's still coming down, yea you slow down a bit.  The rain let up for about 3 mintues when we hit downtown Canton, then picked up again as we went out to the next town.  Luckily it stopped again when I was in downtown Bethel as well, as these small town downtowns are the only places with any other automotive traffic or spectators and have the tightest turns on the course.  So the only place it was dry was the only place you did not want to wipe out.  That was pure luck.

I knew my nutrition strategy was to drink one bottle of sports drink and one bottle of water on the bike.  For some reason the sports drink tasted disgusting, so that was kind of tough.  I needed to take one gel at mile 5, and another after mile 20.  With no garmin to give me the distance markers this was a total guess.  On the way out I noticed one intersection with a "no outlet" sign and no street name sign, and made a mental note to take the second gel when I got back to that intersection.  No outlet and no name, time to shoot the Roctane.  That one actually worked, I found the intersection on the way back and was able to take both gel's at the right time.

After Bethel the course lollipop'd back towards the park.  The first screaming descent done in the rain became the second climb done in the rain.  I still put up a pretty strong climb.  Decent, but not great.   After getting up that big climb (it was bigger than the first climb) I got my feet out of the shoes.  Then realized there was still one more uphill section that I would have to muscle through, oh well.  That made for a soggy run in my socks from the dismount line back into T2.  I got passed by one more person from my age group right before the climb.

Actually I'm still wearing shoes there.  This was still before the bike ride.

T2: 58 seconds, Goal: < 5 minutes total, 2011: 4:50, Actual: 3:39 Success!
Drop off the bike and helmet, running shoes on, race belt on, grab the hat and go run.

Run: Goal 45 minutes, 2011: 48:47, Actual 49:53 Fail!
Running over the same bridge that I swam under earlier in the day
The run is where I did completely run out of gas.  Nothing went really wrong.  I was running with no garmin of course, so I had no idea what kind of pace I was putting up.  The rain would come and go, but mostly stayed dry.  The course is an out and back on one road, so you go out (and uphill) for the first 5k, then back (and all downhill) for the last 5k.  My plan was to go out easier so I wasn't completely gassed when I hit the turnaround and could still hammer the downhill.  Last year I had to walk most of the downhill because I was just had nothing left.  and really, for a runner to be walking that much downhill is not cool so I didn't want that to happen again.

It felt like I kept a pretty even 8 minute pace going uphill, but of course I have nothing to verify that with.  I did pass several people in the first half of the run, but nobody in my age group.  I felt pretty good when I hit the turnaround and did actually drop the hammer to come home. 

Unfortunately, I think I may have dropped that hammer on my foot.  About 4.5 miles into the run I got totally deflated.  With no more calories left to burn off, I had bonked and was walking.  Slouched, couldn't really hold my head upright anymore, something about all of that rain and nasty mess on the course had left me gone.  I would try my best to shake it off and recover, get in some more distance, then slouch over again.    On the way out, I noticed a landmark and said that when I got back there I would run hard into the finish.  Some of the early walking was preemptive so I'd be able to run that last bit with energy.

When I did hit that landmark I was able to run it into the finish.  I got passed by one guy in my age group and got a bit deflated  I thought that was my spot to USAT nationals that he was taking, and I couldn't get it back.  But after I hit the landmark to run that last half mile back in, I actually passed somebody else from my age group.  It turned out to be the first guy that passed me on the bike!  He ran out of steam and was in worse shape than I was.  I'll take it. 

As I turned from the road onto a gravel point somebody else passed and told me to sprint hard to the finish with him.  I tried, but he still beat me out with the sprint by about 20 feet.
That guy.  Stupid sprint finish.  I thought I was going to puke.
I came in hard to the line thought I saw a PR on the clock.  Again, no garmin = no clue what my splits were, but the clock said PR and that was all that mattered.
Glad to be crossing that line!  Clock actually says 2:35 something, my wave started 3 minutes in.

I can barely stand up
Finish: Goal: < 2:30, 2011: 2:33:13, Actual 2:32:19 PR!
Sure, I didn't make that goal time but I'm not going to call a PR a fail.
That guy freaking made it!

Completely spent.  Found a bench to sit on.  This is what happyness looks like.

Finally I can rehydrate.
The cut nipple actually didn't bother me too much once I got in the race.  It stung pretty bad in that freezing water.  And rubbed a bit wrong on the run, but that tri top did it's job nicely.  And if you still don't think there was some debris in the water, here's the proof:
Kelley thinks that look on my face is hilarious
All of that crap was inside of my jersey for the entire race!  That's just stupid. 

So I finished 95 out of 193 men, and 14 out of 24 in my age group.  My biggest goal for the race was to qualify for the USAT Age Group Nationals short course race, which meant that I had to be in the top third of my age group here.  Last year I finished 14th of 39 men age 35-39.  With only 24 people in the field Saturday I had to finish in the top 8 to qualify.  Ironically?  Only 6 minutes separated me in 14th place from the 8th place qualifier.  and I was 5 minutes slower on the bike and 1 minute slower on the run.  If I had last year's bike and run times with this year's swim and transitions I would have been in.  You can't control who's going to show up on race day so I really can't beat myself up too bad about that one, but it's still a goal fail.  I could have been 6 minutes faster.

I also could have been much slower.  Crap in the water?  Rain on the bike?  Ran out of gas on the run?  It could have been much worse.  I did still average 20.3 mph on the bike, making the goal of finishing over 20 mph.  And you will rarely hear me complain about a 10k run under 50 minutes.  That swim time is pretty amazing, with a 1:42/100m pace.  Last year's race times were all around a 2:03 pace.

The rest of the weekend was spent like this:

Recovering, drinking coffee on the deck

You can see the handrail for the deck here, and there are 15 waterfalls like this within earshot

Seriously, 15 waterfalls can get really loud.

Fer?  really?  you're going to put FER' on your sign?  I have to make fun of that.
We all had a great time hanging out in Maggie Valley.  I ate a ton of good food, drank a lot of coffee, and watched a lot of Olympic coverage.  It's about a 5 hour drive to get back to Raleigh, but we came back sunday afternoon.  Overall it was a fantastic weekend and a great race.  Such a perfect venue.  I'd love to see some of you guys out there with me next year.  Well, if I do this one again.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Longest July ever!

July is a pretty tough month around here, typically.  Most people get seasonal affectiveness disorder (or SAD) during the winter months, but here in the deep south it hits me hardest in the summer.  The heat is so intense it gets difficult to go outside, much less workout or play in the yard, or cut the grass, or do anything to attempt to enjoy the outdoors.  This July has been the worst I've seen in 20 years.  And it just seemed to go on forever.  Something about having the 31st on a tuesday just killed me last weekend.  And every August I complain about how horrible that is too, so I'm not expecting much relief now. 

I'm trying to keep my eye on the prize that is September.  Football, labor day holiday, the end of summer finally officially getting here, this heat will break, and I will finally be able to step outside without wanting to move to Canada.  It has to break sometime.  So what did I do in July?

Swim: 19,650 yards, 9 swims, 3 races
Bike: 277 miles, 14 rides, 1 race
Run: 43.5 miles, 10 runs, 2 races
Strength: 13 workouts
Yoga: 30 times!

So close to 20k yards in the pool & lake.  I think it was actually the races that killed me.  Only 800 yards on the Aquathon and 750 yards in the sprint triathlon last weekend?  Those were certainly smaller swims than I would have gotten at a RAM practice.  The 277 mile bike month is pretty good, but I was hoping to get over 300.  And the 43 running miles is pretty good, but I was hoping to get over 50.  So this is just the month that came up just a bit short.  That is just like the triathlon last weekend where the swim and run were about a minute too slow, and the bike was two minutes too slow.  At least the strength training and yoga were right on schedule.  I only missed one day of yoga the whole month?  that's nuts.  I'm supposed to rest every saturday.  More Yoga!  Great month of tri training overall.

And hopefully all of that triathlon training will pay off this weekend.  This is my "A" race for the year coming up.  The Lake Logan olympic distance triathlon is this Saturday morning outside of Asheville NC.  This race is the special qualifier for the USAT Age Group Nationals race, and you can register for nationals after qualifying for the 18 months prior to the big race.  The 2012 Nationals is on August 18th in Burlington, VT, and I don't think I want to try and pull the travel plans and registration together in only 2 weeks.  If I can qualify I'll wait and see where next year's race will be and potentially register then.  To qualify I have to finish in the top third of my age group.

Last year I set my oly PR on this course at 2:33.  It was an incredible race, I got to hang with friends and have a lot of fun in the mountains.  Last year I finished in 14th place, and the top 13 qualified for Nationals.  This year my goal is to get under 2:30 and get into that top third.  Here's how I'm going to nail it:

Swim: 28 minutes.  I want to swim fast.  If I can get out of the water as quickly as possible it should put me on the bike before the slower swimmers.  Most triathletes are faster bikers, so I want to make those people pass me rather than have me get caught up in more bike traffic.  So the real goal for this swim is to have less people on the road when I get out there.
Bike: 1:10 There are only two hills on the course and it's right next to transition. As soon as I get out of the park there's one steep climb followed by a fast descent, and it's pretty flat through the town after that.  Then the fast descent becomes the second climb at the end of the bike leg, and the first climb becomes a fast descent heading back into T2.  Crush the climbs and I can crush the bike course.  Get the feet out of my bike shoes before entering T2 and I'll be setup for a fast transition and run.
Run 45 minutes The run course is all on one road, it goes uphill for 5k out to a turnaround then downhill the whole way back to the finish line.  The real goal here is to still have something left in the tank to crush the downhill.  Last year I got caught with no gas left in the tank when I hit that turnaround and had to walk for too much of the downhill.
Transitions: 3 mintues total.  Just like last weekend.

I have no idea who is going to show up to play on Saturday.  It could be that my age group only consists of 10 people that are all faster than me, or I could beat out 50 slower guys and take an AG award.  I might end up turning in a 2:10, just like last year when I beat my goal time by 20 minutes.  I might come in closer to 3 hours.  All I can try to do is hammer the swim, recover and stay steady on the bike, and put out a decent run.  I'm going to head out there and run my race and keep a smile on my face.  As long as I give it everything I've got then I'll have a good race.  And when you head to the mountains in August you're going to end up having a good time, so I'm just looking forward to the whole thing.  It's my only oly this year, and it's the one that counts.  Here goes nothing.