Saturday, March 29, 2014


I never expected "I traded my convertible for a Volvo" would be quite so cool. The small features this car has makes me think more about less. My favorite has to be the "magic button". Radio controls on the steering wheel are amazing. The "next" button scrolls through the radio station presets, so I just keep hitting it. I haven't even changed the presets from when I bought the car! No clue what stations are in there, I just hit the magic button and smile.

Heated seats. Oh how I love heated seats. I wish more things had heated seats, and I'm actually considering sewing some drug store heating pads onto the seat cushion and back of my recliner. It's like a warm muscle relaxer on a chilly day. ah. may. zing.  And I get it with the touch of one button.

Even the sunroof opens and closes with one touch of a button.  It's simple. I'm really loving simplicity right now.

Ironman training starts with April.  This is not simple. It doesn't have to be difficult either. Give the workouts a purpose, take it one workout at a time, trust in the training plan, and just go execute. It is time to dial in the nutrition, tighten up the vegan tendencies, measure the bodyfat and lean it down. I have a plan. it's time to go execute. More on that later.

Swim/bike/run/yoga all are simple practices. We make them seem complex by burning out too many miles or stressing too much about the type of practice. Yoga is designed to get you connected to an inner peace. When you can feel how everything comes together it is beautiful. Stretching your hammy's on the yoga mat leaves you setup for a smooth run that night. You can feel the same muscles used to hit the bike hard get worked again during a kick set in the pool that evening. Each exercise has its own magic button. And yes I've already gotten in one nice bike/run brick this year. But if I can appreciate the simplicity of each workout for what it is, I will come through this training cycle with a much more positive attitude and get better results. Bring on the simple.

The kids have been tracked out, and that means heading to a grandparent's house for a while. Turns out it was a week, Friday to Friday! Ah the freedom was blissful. They went down to the lake to visit with Kelley's mom and had a great time! The last quarter of the school year starts on Monday. This year has flown by. This month has flown by! March is gone. more on that later.

The next 9 weekends are booked, including volunteering as a timer for a swim meet with the RAM team this weekend. Insane! I wanted to volunteer more this year, I just hope I don't get distracted tomorrow and screw up somebody's time. Since I don't swim in meets I have no idea what I'm walking into. Here goes nothing!

And finally, some seemingly random pictures.

Evil Genius stole my Pine Mountain 40 hat one cold day.

EG at one of her Indian Princess tribe meetings horsing around with the other kids

The kids got haircuts! Bigun only cut off a few inches, but EG went SHORT. I think it's adorable. She loves it too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Some photos from Saturday's charity event

Climbing on Potato Mountain, we got to bag sweet potatoes for a while

Bigun with all of the food we bagged up

The Crew - our tribe name is Rainbow Thunder
That was just part of a great Saturday. Sunday I was feeling pretty good then I snapped a quick selfie.  The beard & haircut is turning out ok. Going to be a pity when I snap into triathlon training season and shave it all off!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


This weekend had some cool stuff going on. I knew Saturday was going to be busy.  Friday night the kids had a lock-in at the church. They were quite nervous, but I told them that I used to go to lockins at the church plenty of times as a kid. They ended up going in with open minds and had a blast.

Saturday morning I overslept past swim practice and went to pick them up. Then about 11:30 Bigun and I had a charity event with her Indian Princess tribe. It was helping at a local food bank packing up some food for distribution. It ended up being a really good project.

Saturday ended up being a beautiful day! Over 70* and sunny. So nice that I decided to run to the capital building and back, my staple 10 mile route. It was so nice, in fact, that I decided to do it shirtless. This may have been blindingly offensive to the other people I had to run past, and may have induced vomiting in a few, but I'm ok with that. Took the run easy, about 90 minutes, and felt amazing.

After that we had a church dinner to attend. We've been having an attendance contest with the church choir divided into 2 teams to see who could rack up the most points for attendance, and my team lost at the last minute. So being on the losing team we had to make some food, and Kelley ended up making an amazing quinoa salad and some yeast rolls. We ended up playing a game after the dinner, it was a lot of fun! Kelley's dad kept the girls while we were out.

Sunday Bigun ended up going to see a movie with a friend, so I ended up taking the Evil Genius to a flick as well. Got in some strength training after that, and 45 minutes on the stationary bike. Ended up being a colder, rainy day.

But you want to talk about cold and rainy? Monday it was snowing here. And sleeting. 31* in a rainstorm. So it was, of course, the perfect time to go swimming. I hit the RAM practice and Coach Steve nailed out a kink in my stroke. The workout had 3500 yards of timed intervals that got pretty quick. Ended up being a quick workout that really put me through the paces.

My plan is to hit the RAM practice 4 times a week to try and boost up my swim volume. Got a few weeks to hit the pool hard before Ironman trianing starts.

Finally, here's a few pics I snagged of the new paint and flooring that we got into the downstairs entry room and bedroom:

Bamboo flooring is cool, cheap, and sustainable.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lazy time is Over

It's about time to get back on the horse. After last week only containing one crappy swim, we tackled a cool project on the house. Monday I got adjusted at the chiropractor and it made a world of difference. After that, lazy time was over.

I've been making some great progress on the yoga mat. I even nailed this pose the other morning

It ain't easy to catch that toe
And last night, I actually did a headstand. I only held it a few seconds before falling over, but it was pretty awesome. Inversions are sexy.

One of the problems I've been having on the mat is with my left hip staying closed off. I asked the chiropractor how to get it opened up some, and he gave me some strength training moves to try. Specifically, hack squats, leg lifts, working the lower abs and gluteus minimus, plus that muscle on the inside of my knee. That should also help my IT band loosen up a bit.

It's working, too! My legs are sore from the new moves. I also got in an hour on the bike tuesday night, ran 3 miles wednesday morning, and swam 3100 m thursday night.

Now is the time for regular swim/bike/run to begin. I had my fun after the marathons. I ate cheeseburgers. But the stressful week is over, normal life is back, and it's time to let the regular fun begin. Ironman training starts the first week in April. In the second half of March, I need to swim as much as possible, and getting a couple of double days would be great too. Now is the time to enjoy a nice clean diet and establish a regular workout pattern. If this hip doesn't open up it could lead to some problems when the repetitive motions. Once again, yoga and regular strength training will lead to a successful Ironman training plan.

April and May are going to be PACKED! Check back in to see what all is going on. I've got a plan for my plan.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Nice and Clean

Well it finally came through!! I knew this week was going to be stressful. There was supposed to be a lot of things that had to come together in a kind of perfect harmony this week. I think it may have all actually happened, so that's pretty incredible.

Step 1 was beating the March 2nd price increase for a couple of race registrations. I did get the cash together to get all signed up on Friday! Now I'm looking forward to the Lake Logan Half iron on August 6th I've done the Oly out there twice, setting PRs both times. This is the first year that they have run a half, so I'm really looking forward to it. This year's mantra is "long and lean in 2014" so these might be the only tri's I'm running this year.

I also got signed up for the full iron at Rev3 Cedar Point! That's right, we're going to Ohio for some family fun time in the amusement park and another ironman.  Can't wait to see some of the Rev3 age group team friends up there, and get the kids on some roller coasters. I've got some other friends that live in OH now that I haven't seen in a long time, so I can't wait to see them.

Step 2 was the Umstead Trail Marathon. That was an incredibly fun day running through the woods. One of these days I've got to look up more trail racing.

Step 3 was the closing. I haven't talked about it much, but the shit house went under contract and finally closed on Wednesday. It didn't used to be the shit house, it used to be our house, then it used to be a profitable rental property. This was the first house we ever bought, and lived there from 2002 to 2005. Then we rented it out, and when these tenants left and stiffed us with a $15,000 repair bill we decided to sell. When it closed we got a small amount of profit (less than the repair cost), but SC real estate prices have been stagnant since the market crash in 08. I was still glad to have it gone, glad to no longer be a landlord, and glad to have that little bit of cash in my pocket.

Step 4 blow all the cash.  Actually, pay off the Discover card. I haven't talked about it much, but last March we started doing the Dave Ramsey baby steps. We got the $1000 emergency savings, then started doing everything else possible to pay off every other debt that we had Snowball style.

It wasn't easy at all, but in the last 12 months we have paid off over $154,000 in debts. Most of that was in mortgages, so when the Banner Elk house went into foreclosure and this shit house sold, that was the bulk of that huge dollar amount. But we still took every single penny that we could scrape together to pay off the rest. Eventually it came down to just a few grand left on the Discover card, and we knew it wouldn't get paid off until this house sold.

When it was all said and done we got rid of 3 mortgages, 3 credit cards, medical debt, house repair debts, I had a giant spreadsheet setup to track it all. It felt really good to knock off those things one by one, but it was AMAZING to get the last one knocked out. I feel like this unbearable burden has been lifted off of our family. Now we're actually able to establish a pattern of savings and the kids might actually be able to drive, or go to college. I might actually be able to save for a decent retirement now.

Step 5 buy a car. Friday we had some serious winter weather move in. It rained all day and never got above 35*. Saturday was supposed to be a makeup day for the kids to go to school, but they canceled the makeup day because of black ice on some of the roads. Saturday turned out to be 70* and sunny. So we threw the top down on my convertible and headed back to the dealership.

I was stopped at a red light

My 2003 Mitsubishi Spider leaked for only the second time in three years, but driving to the dealership on wet seats, I knew it was time to trade it in for something a little newer and fun.  We ended up with this little gem:

It's a 2005 Volvo S40. Cute car, and it feels ok being in a sedan again. There is something uncool about saying "I traded in my convertible for a Volvo", but I'm becoming OK with that. It does have a roof rack, trailer hitch, sunroof, heated seats, 2 keys with the keyless entry, and some serious comfort. And it doesn't leak. Mechanically sound, and paid for in cash. I'm glad to have a safe, smooth, reliable ride again!

And you can fit an Evil Genius in the trunk

Typically I buy cars that are 5-10 years old for $5-10k and replace them every 2 years. This convertible I held onto for a 3rd year because we were working the debt snowball. I only keep them for 2 years to save the resell value and avoid most common maintenance tasks. In the 3rd year I've had to pay for new tires, new battery, other replacement parts to the tune of about a grand, and I got about a grand less on the trade-in as well. But I would have paid more than that $2k in interest if we replaced it last year instead of paying off those debts. So I feel like it all worked out in the end.

Step 6 was a home repair project! Don't have the pics off of the camera yet, but we replaced the flooring and painted the entry room and adjoining bedroom that the kids use as a playroom. We found some bamboo flooring on clearance at Home Depot, and painted the walls a nice green. It's coming together to look really nice!

What didn't happen this week? Swim/bike/run. I did get in one crappy swim on Thursday, but for the most part this was a high stress recovery week from the marathon. I'm happy to have all of these events behind me and ready to get back onto a steady regular workout plan.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Worded-up Wednesday

Saturday night after the marathon, Kelley's dad took the kids and we got to go out. A friend of mine is moving out to the coast and she was having a going away party so we got an actual adult night to go have fun with other fun people. This is incredibly rare for parents, and we had a blast. Jessica's boyfriend is a former marine, and a friend of his who is still an active marine both came up.

Let me tell you, hanging out with Marines is INTENSE. I mean, there was lots of crossfitters and other people there, but we ended up hanging mostly with Jess and the marines. and that turned out to be wonderful.

We ordered really unhealthy recovery food and multiple beers at the first bar. That made marathon recovery pretty fantastic. Then we ended up going to a Dave & Busters for more beers and gaming. Try playing air hockey and first person zombie shooter games with a Marine sniper and you will be humbled, no matter how drunk you get him. Straight up, those guys were a blast. We had so much fun the entire night.

Sunday was a bit more like the 2nd pic, where Bigun is trying to act like the cat. I sat on my ass and watched comic book movies all day long. Not really hungover, just had the normal post-marathon sore legs where standing didn't seem like fun.

happy recovery!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Umstead Trail Marathon Race Report

I finished the 2014 Umstead Trail Marathon in 4:42:09, a 10:46 pace a.k.a. about an hour slower than Myrtle Beach was two weeks ago. I am really glad I did this race, but it sure was a tough one. This gets me a second star in the Marathon Maniacs for 2 marathons in less than 16 days. My 9th total marathon is in the books and I'm pretty happy about that.

The party got started Friday night. Packet pickup was uneventful, there was a Moe's nearby and I've had good luck with their rice bowls before the last few big races. Tofu and veg in there gives me lots of healthy protein and carbs. Afterwards I came home and got my race outfit together, and of course Evil Genius had to do the same.

Ready for her own race
 She even made her own race bib with a higher number than mine! She got 249, I got 149. Still freaking adorable. Think she looks up to Daddy much?

Saturday morning came at a normal time. I set the same alarm I use for work. Race didn't start until 9, they wanted us to get there between 7:30 and 8:30 to minimize  parking turmoil and checkin problems. I got up, made some oatmeal, drank some coffee and hit the road. Umstead is only about a 20 minute drive from the house.

Snapped a quick shot before heading to the start

Once I got parked and made my way to the Camp Lapihio headquarters, first stop was the port-a-let. After lightening myself a bit I got checked in and found a nice spot in front of the fireplace to thaw out a bit. See, it only got up to about 34* that day. A cold day to run in the woods that could have been rainy, they were even calling for snow at one point.

I found my old friend Tammy hanging out! She came down from DC, and the last time I saw her was pacing her for 2 laps of the Umstead 100 a couple of years ago. We got to talking with some others as well. The people you meet at trail races are a completely different kind of nice than you can find anywhere else.

I had to pee one more time before the start, and by that time there was quite a line already formed. I got out of there with about 4 minutes to spare before the race start, so we just hung out around the starting line ready to rock and roll.

At about 9:01 they said go so we took off. About a mile and  half in I finally got the feeling back in my fingers. They got all swollen and discolored from the cold. The first mile was uneventful, and by the second mile we were onto the single track.  Most of the first 8 miles were single track, actually. Really it was the coolest part of the course.

While on the single track I started talking to a guy named Chris, and we hung out until about mile 19. He was from Boston, ran the Boston Marathon last year, and did not finish before the bombings. To keep awareness of this, he ran a marathon every month until this years Boston where he will finally get his finish line. It was very cool getting to run with this guy. This was his 42nd marathon, plenty of them finished around 3 hours. He hosts the RunRunLive podcast, give it a listen.

Mile 20 was mostly downhill, we came back around to the lake at Reedy Creek trail, which is why that mile was faster than the rest of the second half miles. The rest of it was straight uphill to the finish. In fact, there was a sign that said "Enjoy Cemetary Hill" right at the end of mile 24.

You don't have to be a Rhodes scholar or know exactly what Cemetery Hill is to get my drift here. What kind of sadist puts the Mile 25 sign marker at the top of something called Cemetery Hill? Actually to the right of the top of the hill there is a really old cemetery, that's what it's named after. But by the time you get there, you're ready to be buried. This is the last of 3 giant hills that they put in the last 3 miles.  My mile 24 was 14:22, whereas in Myrtle Beach mile 24 was only 9 minutes.

If you survived that, it was an easy death crawl to the finish line. I was incredibly grateful to see that finish line. They give out pint glasses instead of medals, so after sitting and getting a few pints of water in me, Chris finished. We talked some more, then went inside the HQ where they were serving giant burritos and chips. Ah, salty goodness. That may have been the best burrito I've ever scarfed down.

After we warmed up by the fire some I made it back to the car and snapped an "after" shot on my way home.

With my finishers pint glass, very very glad to be done.  It was so cold all day out there, that I would sweat a lot but it dried very quickly. Check out the salt crust on my eyelids

gross, I know.

So I'm glad to have this one in the books. It was a great race, and very well organized. But I don't know that I will be doing this one again. I run in Umstead a lot and love to take the kids hiking there. but about 15 or 20 miles is really the most I'm good for out there. That last 10k switched it from "fun" to "don't die" mentally. If you're looking for a real challenge and a very interesting race, come on down. I might just volunteer next year.