Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why Vegan?

Going into the start of ironman training on Saturday this new vegan lifestyle has an important purpose.  I wanted to write something up that explains the expected benefits and reasons behind why I made that switch.  We've had plenty of stints with vegetarianism before, usually lasting about 6 months and resulting in weight loss and a more ideal body composition.  Sometimes we just get to poor to afford to buy meat at the grocery store.  It is a great thing to cut out to save some cash.  But this time was very specific.

Being vegan means cutting out meat as well as all other animal products including dairy and eggs.  I love eggs.  Even doing the vegetarian thing I would still take in sometimes 9 eggs a day.  And for the record, as long as my body weight was in a normal range and I got plenty of exercise my cholesterol stayed at normal levels.  Every day since I was a kid I finish off with a bowl of cereal in milk about 10 pm.  As a family we used to go through a gallon of milk every day.  And don't get me started on cheese.  Lowfat colbyjack, pepperjack, and american cheese are staples in the fridge.  I also had yogurt almost every day.  These things are much harder to cut out than chicken or pork.

So why do it?
Some people go vegan for ethical reasons. They think it's wrong to kill animals just to eat them or drink the lactation of another species.  I come from a family of hunters and am squarely not in the ethics camp.  I'll gladly take the head off of that chicken for you, just don't put it on my plate please.  Farms raise animals that are meant to become tasty morsels on our dinner plates.  Say what you will about factory farms vs free range chicken, that's another debate.  I'm not going vegan for ethical reasons.

The other primary reason people choose vegan is for their health.  A vegan lifestyle has been used to correct the body's imbalances and purify or flush out things like excess body fat and impurities stored from HFCS or the chemical additives in a McDonald's hamburger.  Like in the China Study book, veganism is used to extend life spans or fight cancer.  I am a huge believer in anything that is going to keep me in optimal health for as long as possible.  So I started doing my research.

Here's my sources:
The Paradigm Diet - written by an MD in California, very medically oriented
The Thrive Diet - written by retired pro triathlete Brendan Brazier who started Vega One
Forks Over Knives - documentary covering the China study and lots of other studies. If you only take one thing from my list watch Forks Over Knives. It is amazing and eye opening.
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead - incredibly interesting study of juicing and weight loss
Food, Inc - study of farming and organics
Food Matters - incredibl documentary about farming
Freakonomics - made me shift the way I interpreted things
Eat & Run - Scott Jurek, I'm still reading this one now

My Focus
The breakdown of an ironman training plan is to workout twice a day six days a week for about 9 months.  It starts to get a bit long in the build phase.  There are two main keys to surviving this regimen, fuel and recovery.  Typical whole food vegan fare breaks down to about 80% carbs, 10% protein and 10% fat, also known as 80/10/10 or 811.  It's all fruit and veggies.

The Paradigm Diet does a really good job of explaining fuel and digestion.  The primary purpose of the book is to identify the foods that can be easily consumed, taste great, need minimal cooking or prep, and fuel up for a tough day.  It comes down to sweets, greens, beans, and seeds.  By sweets, he means fruits.  Berries, apples, bananas, etc.  The best thing about paradigm foods is that you can eat unlimited quantities, the more the better.  In fact if you can get 3000 calories a day from paradigm foods go for it.

All foods have to be liquified in the stomach before they can be absorbed.  If you find chunks of steak or mushroom floating through a blood vessel then something has gone horribly wrong.  The stomach has to produce acid that liquifies animal products, and that acid actually breaks down most of the protein anyway.  It leaves the body in a more acidic state and promotes indigestion and reflux.  Fruits and veggies get absorbed in the small intestines, carry lots of water to keep the body hydrated and tons of vitamins.  Keeping the body alkaline has lots of benefits too, including helping with fat burning.

The Thrive Diet promotes recovery.  It's a much looser stance on vegan than just paradigm foods.  Since the author was a pro triathlete he knows what it takes to train and race on plant power.  The stomach digestion stuff?  The body has to work very hard to produce all of that acid and get rid of it after the food has been broken down.  Animal products including meat eggs and dairy are very hard for the body to handle.

I don't want the body to work that hard to digest my food.  I want the body to work very hard to recover from my workouts.  All those carbs are going to give me plenty of energy to fuel the next workout.  So faster recovery times means that if I hit the bike before work, I should be totally recovered by the time I hit the pool in the evening.  Get plenty of sleep after that and I'm ready to do it all again the next day.  The extra fuel means that I can push this workout hard, and the faster recovery times means I can push the next workout even harder. 

Whole foods vegan also means nothing out of a box.  This means my beloved breakfast cereal in cow's milk is out.  Regular vegan CJ could still do cereal with almond or soy milk.  But whole foods means no dried pasta or cereal or anything processed or out of a box.  Shopping at the farmer's market time.  Tofu/tempeh is about the limit of processed that I want to do.

Kelley's in as well.  We went vegan as of Jan 1, and absolutely love it.  I love it!  Vegan meals have so much flavor.  It's all new textures, new combinations, there's nothing plain or boring at all.  And we really haven't gotten into too many salads yet.  I bring my lunch to work a lot more.  One of my favorites has to be 3 bananas and 2 apples, plus whatever other fruit we have laying around the house.  Tons of energy and hydration.  I've been working out pretty hard, and the recovery times are a lot faster.  Scott Jurek talked a lot about recovery times in Eat & Run.  And he put lots of recipes in there too. 

So if you take the best parts of Paradigm in fuel and digestion, and combine it with the recovery aspects of Thrive and Eat and Run you get my basic plan.  I want to stay healthy, happy, and awake during the entire training plan, and I really believe that a whole foods vegan approach is the best way.

The Plan
So getting my ironman finish time into the 11 hour range is going to come by volume.  There is no substitute for miles.  and miles and miles and miles.  Training for IMFL I was putting in 300 mile + months on the bike, and this time in the build phase I'm going to be staring down some 200 mile + weeks.  On the bike, volume breeds speed.  You don't put in 200 miles a week going 15 miles an hour.  It's only possible by reaching up into the 21 or 23 mph range.  In running, you can do speedwork, intervals, hill work, etc to speed up without volume.  For swimming, volume leads to a more efficient form so you end up getting in more yards per workout in the same amount of time = speed.  But on the bike miles are miles and you just have to hit the volume to get fast.  And if you do enough volume you get fast. The key is being able to keep the heart rate low.  When a zone 2 effort starts to produce 21 mph instead of 18 mph, you've got an 11 hour ironman.

Guess what maximum volume workouts take?  Patience, time, and fuel.  I'm starting Ironman training on Saturday with a very small swim/bike brick, 1000 yards in the pool and a 15 mile ride.  The 2 week warmup period is very low volume, but it will help my body get adjusted to the pattern of working out twice a day.  I'm going to tweet every workout - @SendCJToKona - just to be really annoying.  My build phase is 12 weeks.  6 of those saturdays will have 80 mile rides and the other 6 will be 100 mile rides.  That's going to take a lot of veggies to fuel those rides.  And I'm going to have to recover quickly from the bike saturdays to get in my bike run bricks on Sundays.  I'm not going to do 6 20 mile runs or anything that crazy.  But it's going to take a lot of fuel and really fast recovery to get in the volume that I'm looking for.  I really think that the vegan lifestyle is the best way to achieve that goal.

Monday, January 28, 2013

So good I can't come up with an effective Title

I don't even know where to start this is so good.  We had the banquet for the Second Empire Grand Prix fall series that we both finished.  Kelley ended up taking second place in her age group!  The series was 10 races long, all fall, and you had to complete 6 of those 10 races to finish the series.  Points were assigned based on overall finish place and weighted by time according to the first finisher of each race. The highest 6 point totals count towards your final score, so if two 5k's were run on different courses, you could have gotten more points for the slower finishing time.

Kelley is over the moon about her second place finish.  I mean she beat out plenty of other women and I am so proud for her.  The age group prize was a Zoot Performance transition bag embroidered with the series logo and it is seriously cool.  That's a $75 backpack!  Going to come in really handy here pretty soon.

I got some arm warmers

Walking up to get her prize

Out front with the prize!

In front of the Second Empire restaurant - seriously good eats
Second Empire in Raleigh is a really good restaurant, and they served lunch before giving out the awards.  It was very inspiring hanging out with all of the other runners.  I said I wasn't going to do the spring series and I still won't since Ironman training starts next weekend.  But that's really motivating to see all of those other runners in street clothes, talking about races and having fun.  I got to talking to one guy (who beat me in my age group) that is signed up for Ironman Florida this year.  Really makes me want to run more.

This newfound motivation to run ironically led to no workouts on Saturday.  Friday there was a pretty serious ice storm that melted on Saturday before we had to leave for the luncheon.  Then we got into some kid stuff and the day was gone.  Sunday I did get to sing in the choir, took the kids to see Frankenweenie (weird movie), and got in a bike/run brick.  It felt great.

This is the last week to take it easy letting the long workouts slide like that before breaking into Ironman training.  The two-a-days will start hard on Saturday, and I am still looking forward to it.  Ask me again in 4 months why I didn't take a complete rest in January.

I have been logging all of January's workouts on TitanXT as a part of the 2013 Cast Iron Club.  You can follow the progress online, I'll add a link onto the left sidebar soon.  Right after I add that twitter link too.  I did get signed up for the club so we can track my progress to completing 30 iron distances in one year.

Saturday I hung out in some Injinji socks.  Bigun also put on a pair and loved them.  Injinji has just launched a new web site and product line, and I scored a couple of pairs of trail socks and a pair of running socks.  The trail socks have more padding in the bottom, and they all fit really well.

Bigun wouldn't take these off.  I may not get them back.

We're both hanging out in really cool toe socks

Of course EG couldn't let her big sister turn into a toe sock model without her getting sassy

Seriously sassy.  That's how she lures you in.  This look means that Evil is looming.

Check out the new Injinji web site and get some of the new product line Injinji 2.0 socks.  They really are very comfortable.  Saturday I wore a pair for the brick workout and did 11 miles on the bike and a 4 mile run.  It was the most comfortable my feet have been in quite a while.  I have a problem toenail that grows to a point and ends up stabbing my other toe quite painfully and usually when I get over about 5 miles, and these socks surely will help out with that.  Get yourself some!

Finally, Bigun was studying for a spelling test last week when this happened:

Mommy (to Bigun): How do you spell "beast"
Evil Genius: D-A-D-D-Y
(everybody laughs)

Looks like that kid has been paying attention.  Maybe she's finally started using her powers for good.  That's a pretty quick wit for a 5 year old.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

10 more days

Only 10 more days until the start of my Ironman training plan!  Feb 2 is going to be here before you know it.  I'm starting out easy with a couple of warmup weeks before the base phase begins.  The distances will actually be shorter than what I'm doing now, but it will establish the schedule that the distances will grow from.  The basic schedule is:

Saturday: swim/bike
Sunday: bike/run
Monday: PM run
Tuesday: bike/swim
Wednesday: bike/run
Thursday: bike/swim
Friday: Praise God Rest

Double downs.  Two a days.  They start here.  2 weeks of warmup, 22 weeks of base building, a 12 week build phase, and a 2 week taper.  That's a 38 week plan of weekend bricks and weekday double shots.  T/W/Th's bike rides will be done in the morning with the other workouts in the evenings.  I'll be rejoining the RAM team in March for my swimming practice again.  Got to work my distance back up to the yardage they put in. 

I know you're all ready to tackle my plan, huh?  I've been doing a few things to get ready.  Working out once a day to try and get ready, still taking my Friday rest days.  Baha even threw me into a facebook group for a 30 day ab/core work challenge.  Do 15 minutes of core work every day for 30 days straight to help us get ready for the tri season and stay motivated.  I've been working it in with my regular yoga, and by working it in I really mean replacing sometimes.  It's really going well so far. 

I also signed up for twitter, follow me under the handle SendCJToKona - as in I want to make a kona run in a few years.  Eventually I'll get a badge on the blog design.  I am really enjoying the tweet life so far.  It's fast paced and cool.

Following up on a few older posts:

We ended up dropping Directv.  Time Warner cable actually offered to lower my current bill with them if I added the tv service, so we ended up doing that.  I really hated their dvr software the last time, but I can't turn down a lower bill.

I got in a great 6 mile run outside on Sunday afternoon.  My cousin came down from DC for a surprise visit which was fantastic, and when they left it was about 70* so I got to pound some pavement.  Today I also got in a 4 miler.  My legs are finally getting re-adapted to running distance at a consistent pace again, flushing out the lactic acid, and being able to rebound nicely without feeling sore for very long.  It took longer than I thought it would, but is quite a relief.

This monday the MMNW finally came in inside of the safe zone for the first time this year.  179.8 lbs and 19.9% body fat.  The safe zone is under 180 and 20%, and I wanted to be there before launching the ironman training plan.  Good to go.  Jan 1 I came in at 186 and 20.6%, fwiw. 

Relief is the key word for a post I'm working on for next week.  Do you ever anticipate anything as much as I do this training plan?  I'm ready for kickoff here!

Monday, January 21, 2013

I love Raleigh

I've been living here since fall 2009, so just over 3 years.  My brother Michael just moved into a new house down in Charleston SC and it's a really nice place.  Morgan and I went down to help him get moved and we had a blast.  It's always fun when the three of us get to hang out.  We haven't done a brothers road trip together in a few years so this was going to be EPIC.

Friday night I got off to a later start then I wanted to, and ended up not leaving Raleigh until after 8 pm, putting me in charleston around 1 am.  Now I'm too old to be anywhere at 1 am besides asleep in my bed, so I turned around and headed back to the house.  As I pulled off the highway the exit I took put me out back in downtown Raleigh. Something about coming back into downtown like that really drove home how much I love this town.  I'm amazed at how well I know my way around and how comfortable I feel with the other people here.  It may actually deserve some bullet points!

  • My sense of direction is so bad I've actually gotten lost inside of a restaurant before.  I even got lost in a swimming pool once, stopping my swim on the wrong side.  But I know Raleigh.  I can get anywhere around here.
  • Kelley is about the only person I know in Raleigh who is from here.  Everyone else is a transplant who thinks that Raleigh is better than where they came from (no offense SC readers).  My boss moved here from Oregon almost 9 months ago and absolutely drools when we see sun this time of year
  • Friday it snowed here so I worked from home
  • There is an unbelievable amount of technology here.  Work for days!
  • Saturday it was 70* so I was in shorts playing outside.
  • Sunday got up to 72* so I went running outside (6 miles, slower than the last time I ran out there)
  • It didn't actually snow enough on Friday for the kids to build a snowman or anything, but it felt good to see it fall.  so pretty!  And like every other southern town the entire place shuts down where there is a threat of three flakes. 
  • The race environment here is so large and competitive!  It's a great landscape for all kinds of races both running and multisport.  Plus lots of coaches, great retailers and plenty of other good people to go race against.
  • The city is bike friendly.  It's not Portland, but you can really get around on wheels here.
  • The city is big!  Wake county actually has a higher population than Mecklenburg county (where Charlotte is), but the Charlotte metro area is larger.  So they got the pro football and basketball teams, and we got the NHL team.
  • I'll take the Hurricanes over the Panthers and Bobcats any day of the week.
  • Running races actually compete for weekends now.  A great half marathon that we ran in 2012 might get pushed out of the calendar because the Rock & Roll marathon people might be putting together a race here for the same weekend?  And Ironman is putting on a 70.3 this year?  That's putting Raleigh on the national race scene.  I'm glad we're getting that kind of attention.
  • That also means that every weekend is full for races.  Everything from trail ultramarathon 100 milers down to 5k's there is a way to push yourself.  And I feel like we take full advantage of that.
  • I love that I can run over the winter for spring marathons, bike in the spring and fall (even local century rides), and race open water swims in the summers here.  Triathlon can be scattered from March to October, which is an incredibly long season.  I'll take it all.
Finally I want to drive home that this city is just cool.  Being here is cool.  It's big enough to have anything you would ever want, but small enough to expect to see someone you know anytime you walk into a restaurant.  I couldn't ask for anything more.

And if anyone is considering moving here, you would be welcome.  and I hope you know who you are.

The next day (Saturday) morning I did head out to go to Charleston again.  Charleston is also quite a cool city if you ever get the chance to go.  We got Michael moved into his new house, which was only about half a mile down the road from his old house.  Morgan came down friday night, and we all had a blast hanging out.  That house is going to serve his family well for many years to come.  and there's enough room for me to go and visit more often, so that's going to happen now.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Getting Ready

Ironman training starts on Feb 2.  The training plan has been laid out in a spreadsheet for months.  A 2 week warmup, 22 week base plan, 12 week build phase, and 2 week taper.  It gets a little long in the build phase.  And it all kicks off in 17 days.  I don't want to go into the training plan cold so I've been working out once a day to get ready.  (ironman training is basically 2 workouts a day 6 days a week for about 8 months) Nothing hard, nothing fast.  Just something swim/bike/run six days a week at base building stamina so the body doesn't completely revolt when the 2 a days start.

I am pretty amazed at how fast I lost some conditioning.  Tuesday I ran 4 miles at about a 9:00 pace and my quads were screaming at me by the end. The conversation went something like this:

Me: running?  yes, I vaguely remember something about that.  It's only been about 6 weeks.
My feet:  screw you.  What are you trying to do to me?  this is horrible.
My quads:  Apparently I love lactic acid and will try to hold onto it for as long as possible.

Swimming is going about as smoothly as running is.  I get in the pool and start out slow with poor form and then it all starts to break down.  My RAM team swims are usually 2000 - 3100 yards per practice.  It takes me 14 or 15 strokes to get across the 25 yard pool. and if you don't swim regularly, that's the most accurate measure of improvement in the pool; count your strokes per length of the pool and that number will drop as your form (efficiency) improves.  I haven't really swam since the OBX half ironman in September. 

The first time back in the pool I crapped out after only 1200 yards.  That's typically a warmup before a RAM practice.  I took 19 strokes per length average when I counted.  So my swim stroke was in bad shape by comparison.  I was sore for about 3 days after that swim.  The next time in the water I put a mile in, doing 200's for as long as I could.  Form was still bad, 18 strokes per length.  But I felt like I used to have endurance and could get it again.  I mean, the spark was there.

The one thing that has been going pretty consistently well has been biking.  It took a few rides to get back into the groove, feel my pedal stroke going in complete circles and feel like I knew what I was doing on there.  And I'm still slower than last year. But it feels familiar.  and comfortable.

Wednesday night, finally, I had a perfect swim.  At least as perfect as I could hope for.  We had a good choir practice at the church, and I hit the pool at the gym afterwards with no expectations.  I thought I would do 200's again and just try to relax.  I started knocking down laps and it felt great.  My form felt good, breathing wasn't labored, and I felt strong in the water.  200 came and went and I just kept knocking down laps.  In the end, I knocked out a solid mile without any breaks. No more than normal muscle fatigue, my form never broke down, and my breathing technique never broke down.  I was still around 17 or 18 strokes per length so it was slower than last year, but that's ok.  It just felt good, free, calm, relaxed.

And since something that perfect has to be followed by extreme pain, I slammed my head on the car door when attempting to leave the gym.  Near about ripped off my ear.  Ouch!  that's how perfect the swim was.  It could only be balanced out by losing an ear.

Mentally and emotionally I'm ready for the rigors of Ironman training.  I can't wait to shave my legs again, sick of paying for haircuts when I could be shaving my head.  Ready for the good sleep that comes from complete exhaustion and the badass status that comes after a 4 hour bike ride.  Physically?  Well let's just say I'm glad I have a couple more weeks to get there.

Monday, January 14, 2013

If I only had $120 a month

Phones are such an antiquated technology.  We still have a landline and cell phones.  They just seem old fashioned.  If I'm driving, training, or sleeping I won't talk on the phone.  Every other minute of the day I'm either sitting with a laptop in front of me or I don't want to be disturbed (eating, using the bathroom, etc) so it would be a bad time to take a call.  In fact, it's always a bad time to take a call.  I average 17 minutes a month on the cell phone.    Kelley uses her cell more than I do, but she only averages 112 minutes a month on her phone.  Who knows how often we use the landline.

It seems silly to me to pay $40 a month for the landline, and $93 a month for the cell phones.  Verizon is offering a free iPhone4 as an upgrade, but all smartphones require a data plan and I'm not willing to pay for a data plan.  Yes I still use a flip phone that doesn't even have a querty keyboard. I still have to hit the number 2 three times to send you the letter "c" in a text message.  Taking the free upgrade to the iPhone4 would raise my bill to $120 a month before taxes.  Suddenly it doesn't seem so free.  And there are no free upgrades to any non-smart phones.  Guess I'll have to keep my little flip phone for as long as it will last.

But what if we got rid of them?  Phones are a voice only numeric medium over copper lines in the ground.  Who needs a phone number?  If I didn't have a phone number, landline or cell phone, then you could only contact me through email, facebook, twitter, skype, or any other type of synchronous or asyc technology. 

Voice only is a crappy medium.  You can't see facial expresions, but can detect tone and inflection.  Video chat is readily available from any number of devices.  Telemarketers can't call me on skype.  Wifi is everywhere now.  Limiting the number of people that can engage me in conversation has its perks.

I went without a cell phone for most of 2008 and 2009, only getting a phone when I took the job in Raleigh because I would be away from Kelley and the kids during the week for a few months, and making the 4 hour drive every friday and sunday.  Now it's $93 a month for 17 minutes of talking.  But don't you need a cell phone for emergencies?  17 minutes a month says no.  Plus I can take off at any time and run 20 miles in any direction to get to someone else's phone or landline if I need to call for emergency help. 

And I'm sure there's a Magic Jack app or something like that to turn a regular iPod touch into a talkie or textie.  What's the ROI on something like that?  I bet I could pay for an iPad and put skype on it for the cost of only a few month's worth of phone service.  And if I want to talk to someone I would like to see them too.  Face contact can be very important.  And skype also has a chat feature that could easily replace texting.  So other devices that can connect to wifi can do anything that a phone can do without having to pay a monthly fee, and wifi is everywhere now.

So really it's only inconvenient for other people.  Most people would think I'm crazy to get rid of voice/talk/text entirely, and would have to remember a better way to get in touch with me instead of just using the number saved into their cell phone.

The disclaimer is that I work in technology.  I am a software developer for a mortgage servicing company that is in a division of a very large and recognizable technology company.  I build web sites, MVC sites, console apps and databases in the Microsoft stack (C# and SQL Server).  I started building apps for windows phones back in 2004, and never got into the languages used for android or iPhone development.  I have "handled" some iPhone and Android apps in the past and will eventually learn more about the development of those apps. I haven't had to make the leap yet.

With the payroll taxes going up this month (FICA tax back to 6.2%?) we've had to scale back our monthly expenses, and that had me looking into the cell phone bill.  Our DirecTV bill was also $120 a month so we slashed it pretty good already.  Now I'm starting to look into killing directv entirely and just using a pc connected to the internet with a broadcast antennae for the local stations and hulu/netflix/whatever for what little tv we watch anyway.  Sports seems to be the only thing missing from the equation with limited access to the ESPN app or ESPN3.

Ultimately, the kids have an easy time using the landline and we can't have kids in the house without being able to call 911 somehow so we can't destroy phones entirely.  So we're not going to end up changing anything.  But it would be nice to get into something not publicly available as a phone number.

Would you ever consider dropping a primary service entirely like phone or tv service?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

East Coast Style

Shady Grady is like a brother to me.  His parents are frequently referred to as my Atlanta parents, I always stay with them when I have to hit up the dirrty ATL.  And we always have lots of fun.  Back in July, Gray got married in Pasedena CA since he lives in Los Angeles now.  So on Dec 29 he was in town for the holidays and held the east coast reception.  I'll call it the Wedding of Funny Faces.

So after Christmas (Raleigh to Greenville to Prosperity back to Raleigh in 24 hours) I got two days in the office before heading back to Greenville friday night.  Saturday I got a haircut, got to hang out a while with a few friends, then loaded up the car with my parents and headed down to Atlanta.  We got ready for the party quickly and got over there.

Me with Gray and Susie, the happy newlyweds

Morgan and his girlfriend Martha came down too!
The wedding was absolutly lovely.  There was a fantastic band, open bar, buffet, and 250 guests.  There was singing and dancing, but not by me.  I got to see plenty of people that I didn't expect to see, including family young and old.
Me and Katie
This included Katie, a girl whom I had not seen maybe since we were 12 years old.  I can't believe she actually recognized me.  And for the wedding of funny faces, I couldn't stop talking long enough for mom to take the picture.

Mom and I, of course she can't take a bad picture
Me, Susie, Morgan, Martha

Even the bride can get caught at the Wedding of Funny Faces!
This time Gray looks kind of scared for his life.  Like he's suddenly caught in a trap of Flynn men.

Obviously, Dad believes what that guy is saying, but I'm about ready to call bullshit.  This may be my favorite Funny Face pic of the bunch.

Me with my Atlanta Momma
Susie is an incredible addition to the family and everyone that meets her falls in love with her.  It must be a blessing and a curse.  I couldn't be happier for these guys, and was really glad that I got to spend some time with them while they were on the east coast.  Much love and many happy years to you both!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Farewell Couchbed

It all started back in 1998 when I graduated from college.  My first job was driving a truck (yes an 18 wheeler) in the management trainee program for a regional trucking company.  I hated that job so much that I got married.  The day we got back from the honeymoon I quit my job driving a truck, left Kelley in Greensboro for a bit until I had a job and a place to live lined up in Greenville, and before you know it we were living in a doublewide trailer in Greer.   That's when we bought a couch.

It was a huge couch, two parts to a sectional sofa about 13' long when you put the sections side by side.  It was deep, and the arms came up as high as the back. We paid $99 for it at a Rooms To Go Outlet store in Columbia SC and carried it back to Greer in a minivan.  I built a middle thing out of plywood so we could put the sections in an L shape at some other houses we lived in.  Eventually when I came down with a cold once around 2000, we discovered you could put the two sections together and it was about the size of a short double bed.  Couchbed was born.
I don't know how this picture of Morgan driving a train while holding Bigun got in here but it's pretty cool.  He's oblivious, she's terrified.

couchbed in the mountain house.  We found that center piece that totally did not match and used it in the corner anyway.

At our last house in SC, even Santa Clause found Couchbed.

Couchbed became a source of comfort.  You're sick?  I'll make up couchbed.  That job you liked is gone?  Couchbed is still comfy.  Let's cuddle up and watch a movie.  I heard that one a lot.

When we got our house in the mountains, the couch moved in up there.  We moved it to 3 other houses in Greenville first, and 1 house in Greenville after we cleared out the mountain house, and eventually up here to Raleigh.  That's where eventually this giant old comfy sofa met its ultimate demise.  The frame boards on the bottom of the couch were broken.  Half of couchbed had to go to the dump.  And it did just that in December.  The other half made it up to the playroom so the kids can crush it and I can watch tv up there while they play. 

Couchbed, you will be greatly missed.  Kelley's dad had a couch and matching love seat, and Kelley's mom actually ended up with the couch a few years ago.  She wanted to get rid of the couch at the same time he replaced the love seat with something else, so we ended up getting the matching set again.  That meant the broken half had to go and the decent half had to go upstairs.
Perfect couch for little girls to get pedicures

then get under blankets and watch movies.
There may never be another couch that was quite as comfy as couchbed.  sad face.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 Goals

This year's mantra:  Lean and Clean in 2013!

2013 is going to be a great year!  I am so optimistic about this year.  The new mantra is really keeping me motivated already.  I haven't had a good mantra since it was Great in 08 and Fine in 09.  This year is going to be lean and clean, mind body and soul.

This year I have to be the leader my family needs me to be.  Strong, confident, providing direction and inspiration for the kids and keeping our long term future in today's mindset.  At work we call it building technical debt, taking the short term solution for something that will eventually have to be fixed later with interest paid - interest in the form of man-hours working in what should have been done in the first place.  My goal for the mind is to prevent any more of this techical debt from creeping into the family.

Go vegan for recovery.  Specifically during Ironman training, but Kelley and I are starting Jan 1.  I'm going to write a separate post about my approach to Ironman training this time, and why I'm doing this.  It's a really cool plan.  And for the record:
Current body weight on Jan 1: 186 lbs
Goal body weight: 11% body fat, whatever number that says.  11.9% is also acceptable.

Yep, I'm going to be tracking the MMNW (monday morning naked weight) through Ironman training again.  186 is a bit above my "happy weight" range of 171 to 180, but there is an allowable offseason fluffy factor built in there.  Built by cookies & Reece's cups, that is. 

Going vegan should provide my body with the best fuel for the hard workouts and the recovery from those workouts.  Whole foods vegan is all real foods (nothing out of a box or processed) and no animal products.  Lots of fruits and veg, all I can get in fact.  And when you only eat foods that contain less than 5% fat, you will also contain less than 5% fat.  That's the theory anyway.

But I'm also not going to be a prick about it.  Restaurants don't serve much vegan fare, and I would never expect anyone that wants to invite us over to dinner to cook something special just for my crazy ironman nutrition plan.  We'll take whatever we can get get when we don't have to cook, but the target is to make as many vegan meals at home whenever possible.

Forks over Knives should be on your Netflix queue.

Continue to sing in the church choir, but be a little more diligent about getting to the church on time and on a regular basis.  This really keeps me grounded and connected to the church and I absolutely love it.   Joining the choir was one of the best things I did in 2012.  I smile every time I walk into a rehearsal and smile the whole time I'm in there.

Keeping it simple after the 2012 speed goal fails.
  • 5k race under a 7 minute/mile pace
  • See how close I can get to 11 hours at Beach 2 Battleship
That's it and thats all folks.  No goals about age group placements or open water swims.  Set a 5k PR and finish an Ironman under 12 hours.  The A+ super secret goal would be to break 11 hours, but I'll call it a win at 11:59.

Beach 2 Battleship is really a test run for a Kona qualifying spot at the 2015 IMWI.  I want to see if this approach to training (volume, speedwork, recovery, vegan) can bring out the results that I'm looking for.  If this approach works I can ramp it up again in a couple of years and turn that 11 hour finish into a 10 hour finish.

Long Term
It's time for the Cast Iron Club!  The Cast Iron Club totals all of your training and racing distances to add up to 30 ironman distance races over the course of a calendar year. That's a total of 72 miles of swimming, 3360 miles of biking, and 786 miles of running between January and December. I came pretty close (300 bike miles short) during 2011 Ironman training, but this year I'm planning to hit the bike a bit harder.  My training plan actually adds up to 5400 miles on the bike and only 852 miles running.  I'm kind of hoping to get closer to 1200 miles running this year so I might swap some of those workouts.

After last year's successful 300 yoga workouts this long term goal is really exciting. Takes some serious badass factor to cover 30 ironman distances in one year.  Bring it on!

Destinations online this year: 
  • Washington DC for Shawn's wedding - can't wait!
  • Atlanta just for a social weekend.  Atl peeps give me a good race to meetup at!  Haven't picked a time of year yet.
  • Cincinnati to visit my old buddy Vince one weekend.  Really looking forward to that one.  We always have a blast and I haven't seen him since before we moved to NC.

That's it!  Please comment if you want to meet up when I travel to your city.  I'm trying to keep my goals simple this year.  Not too many, challenging but still totally achievable.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas 2012

This years Christmas was a blur.  A wonderful blur with lots of travel and family time.  At 7 and 5, the kids are at a really special age so we wanted to really make this a special Christmas for the kids.  I think we pulled off something pretty decent this year.  The story is best told photo-journalist style.
There was this huge creepy santa! I'm going on the attack.

Kelley takes a different approach.

We had the Bugg with us for the entire holiday, which made the season even more memorable for me.
The first stop was Christmas Eve in Robbins, NC with Kelley's dad's entire side of the family.  Even cousin Kendall and her brood were there, and we rarely get to see them anymore.  At least not as much as I'd like.  and they haven't been to the big family gathering in several years since they moved to the other side of the state.  It's always good to see everyone, and they always put out a good spread and we get plenty of laughs. 

The best had to come thanks to the Evil Genius.  Jimmy recently married one of Kelley's cousins, and they were hosting this year.  He collects vintage rifles and shotguns (safely stored), and pulled one out to show somebody.  Of course, EG had been turning the lights off in the room we were in, and being weird.  So when Jimmy pulled that gun out of course we told the EG "see what happens when you don't listen to us?" and she took off out of there like lightning.  I've never seen her move that fast.  I've got to remember that when she starts bringing boys home.
Family portrait with Kelley's dad and Bugg!
Christmas morning we got a special visit from Santa Clause.
This is absurd

Bugg was quite happy!
Of course the kids said what they wanted all year long, which was everything that appeared in a TV commercial.  And they are at that age where we have to get two of everything to squash the sibling rivalry.  Nobody shares anymore.  Apparently sharing is for losers.

They were so incredibly sweet this year!  Squeals when they found something they really wanted.  Screams of "I LOVE YOU SANTA CLAUSE" for that really desirable treat.  It was really unexpected, and makes me glad we went a little overboard.
Rudolph noses

Got to throw some NC State gear in there!
We had breakfast at home with Kelley's dad and Meem, then got on the road to SC.  We had to get down to Greenville while my mom's huge side of the family was still there.  They started early because some people had to leave, so we missed seeing my cousin Ben. And one of my aunts couldn't make the trip at all.  She's been fighting breast cancer for several months now and almost has it beaten. 

Afterwards, we went with my brothers to see "This is 40" and really enjoyed it.  It was very relatable and may have hit a bit close to home, but was really funny all the way through.

On Wednesday we had just the Flynn family Christmas, and that's where I ended up getting most of the pictures.
Morgan playing with Bugg's hair extentsions.  Silly uncle.

This is the kind of hug you get after giving them an American Girl doll.  Good to know their affections can be bought.
My folks got them each an American Girl doll that they picked out of the catalog.  And since my mom is an incredible seamstress, she also made them doll size clothes and matching kid size clothes!

They each got a fur vest and an apron in both sizes
This is too much!  The kids heads were about to explode.  I am amazed at how much stuff they ended up with.  It was all freaking adorable.
Bugg and Morgan really enjoyed getting to hang out some.  I think she loved the entire big family experience.

Me with my niece, Michael's kid.  It's nice to not be the only one bringing grandkids to these things.  And she's freaking adorable!

Morgan, Michael, and the new kid

My grandmother is 92 now, this is the entire Flynn clan (my dad is her only child) - that's quite a legacy!

My entire clan - Bugg, Bigun, Kelley, Evil Genius, and me.

The three grandkids

Michael, dad, Morgan, mom, me

Mom with her three granddaughters

And dad with his three granddaughters
It was wonderful.  The entire time we were in Greenville was just wonderful.  Then we got down to Prosperity to see Kelley's mom.  It was wonderful too.
Bigun and Nana

Trying to figure out what kind of present that really is!  What is that strange box?

I don't believe it

Once they figured it out, this was the position they assumed for the next, well, they still haven't broken ranks.
Kelley's mom sprung for Android tablets. The kids fight all the time over Kelley's laptop and her Nook.  Now they each have their own thing and can avoid all contact with other humans for as long as they wish.  or at least until the batteries run dead.  We loaded them up with a few games and the Netflix app, and Christmas was complete.

Kelley's sister was really sick for a while, which is why we had Bugg for the holiday.  I absolutely loved having her with us for the extra time.  I'm glad Meri is feeling better now and Bugg was able to go home, but I miss her already.  I had to work Thursday and Friday so I took off after only a few hours in Prosperity.  Nana was going to get Bugg back home (near Charlotte), and Kelley and the kids were sick of travelling.  They ended up staying at her mom's for the rest of the week, so I got a couple of nights to myself!  Merry Christmas to me!

I hope your holiday was festive and filled with love.  I know mine was!  This was one for the ages.  Our goal was to provide a meaningful Christmas for the kids and I think we all came together and pulled it off.  Amid all of these electronics, presents, and pictures there was still the message of Jesus coming to earth and the reason why we have this season.  The girls really fell in love with Christmas this year, and I hope they know why.