Friday, September 25, 2015

The Waves of Change

Stuff comes at me in waves. It just seems like I don't do small changes. And that's why I haven't posted anything in a while. I ended up landing a new job working for the state of NC in the Finance Housing Agency. It's all web based software around making mortgages. After over 2 years at this manufacturing company, leaving was a tough decision, and I hope it was the right one. It's going to take a while before I really figure that out.

The new office is on a side of town that I don't know very well and don't get into very often. It is much closer to the pool where the noon swim practices are, so that's going to be nice. But it's a whole new commute, different dress code, and the pace of state government workers. So far there has been lots of food.

Monday was my first day on the new gig, and settling in is always a stressful transition. And on Tuesday Kelley and the kids went with her mom to Myrtle Beach for the rest of the week. I do love my bachelor time. And they are having a blast on the coast.

It seems strange to me to start out a new job working 4 day weeks, but that's happening. Taking off the first 2 fridays to travel for races might not be the smartest plan, but they agreed to it. This is a new wrinkle to my stupid fall.

And now it's time to head down to Charleston for my first marathon swim! 12 miles in open water is no joke. They say the tide is supposed to be favorable and it looks like the weather *might* hold out for a nice day (80* and partly cloudy is the prediction). I need to trust in the training and push through the taper madness. Race day is this saturday! I'm ready, I guess. This is a totally new change, I've never tried anything like it before. Trust in the training.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Taper Madness

Tapering is like making a bonfire with green lumber. You spend the last 12 - 20 weeks building up this giant 60 foot high structure with wet logs. Taper is the time you need to sit back, rest, scale down the workouts, and let the wood dry. The result on race day should be to light that sucker on fire!

I'm ready to watch it burn.

Let's unpack that a little bit. Once you hit taper, it becomes difficult to trust that the hard work is actually done. You want to keep thinking that there is still time for hard work - there's not. The hay is in the barn. So what is really the harder part about building a bonfire? Stacking up the logs, sometimes designing something huge has got to be the hardest part. It takes a long time and a lot of muscle to build something like that. And using green or wet logs means it won't dry out and rot during the training plan.

The hard work is done
So after the logs are built up like that, the only thing left to do is fire prep. Wet logs need to dry out or they won't burn on race day. Muscles need to rest. Workouts need to be more sparse and performed under more race-like conditions.

One week from Saturday is my first open water swim marathon. 12 miles in the Swim Around Charleston. I've been setting personal monthly records for swim volume all summer long, putting in the hard work to ensure a successful race. Now is the time to trust in my training, rest as hard as possible, and let the recovery build strength that can show up on race day.

I'm also in a marathon taper, since my marathon swim is followed one week later by the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis, MN where I can't wait to run with Lisa. Last Saturday was the last hard workout, a 20 mile run from my house through a loop of the Umstead 100 course and back home. I had a brief 2 mile easy run monday, tuesday night swim practice, and I'm trying to get a consistent yoga practice in this week too. There will be more swimming and running this week, but not much. Next week is going to be even less, I think the Tuesday night swim might be my only workout.

But tonight in the pool something special happened. I've been trying for weeks to swim 50 yards in 34 seconds or less. So far I've had a lot of 35 and 36 second 50's, but nothing else. Tonight I nailed a 34 clean. Then the last set of the night was a 100 yard for time, and I swam a 1:10

let that sink in for a minute. My previous PR was 1:12 and it's only the 3rd time I've ever gotten under 1:14. 1:10 is what swimmers who had college scholarships can do, not me. It's the equivalent of finally breaking a 5 minute mile in running - only something that the genetically gifted can hope to achieve. I am not genetically gifted, it was totally all of the hard work.

This is how I know I'm ready for my marathons.

The bonfire is built. I'm letting the wood dry and pouring some gasoline on it. Something was certainly on fire tonight in the pool.

Only 10 more days until I burn that motherfucker to the ground.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

I love the photobomb by the demon Raven

because we're badasses

But only my Ella is enough of a badass to pull off a 'stache like that! Atta girl

cowboy cookies

Hot peppers from the garden

Going all lion king on us

The family that mustaches together....

Evil Genius and the iron dad

Monday, September 7, 2015

Going for the Buckle

Saturday 8/29 was a beautiful day for a sprint triathlon! It started early enough, I got up about 5:20 to get out the door on time and make the 45 minute drive out to Wilson NC to swim in their drinking water. I also ran the Battle At Buckhorn in 2011, 2012, and 2013 so I knew what to expect from the course and the day, Also, this is my only multisport event this year so I had high hopes for a fun day. Actually going out there just to have fun and enjoy a multisport event was the only goal. Secondary to that was fast transition times, go under 1 hour on the bike, and some kind of 23 minute 5k run.

It was very sunny with a slight chill in the air as I first arrived at Buckhorn Lake. I got there in plenty of time to do everything I needed to pre-race. First stop was the port-a-let and there was no line so the day was off to a great start! Packet pickup and body marking was a breeze, but they did actually write "40" on my calf for the first time. that was kind of hard, not going to lie about it.

I got my transition area all setup first, and I want to give some explanation about how I do that. Remember when I did Ironman Raleigh this year as the swimmer on a relay team? the wife on that team has her first triathlon coming up soon and I've been trying to coach her some to get ready. She needed a lot of help with her swim stroke and has no idea what to do in TA.

It's TA-lite for a sprint

The whole thing setup and ready to go
First pic - here's what you need to know. The towel is key to establishing needed space. That's a hand towel not a full bath towel, but it's plenty of room to spread my stuff out. First is my swim stuff, that will obviously be on me already when the race starts. So there is free space there, and my bike shoes already have the one strap opened up. As soon as I'm done swimming I'm going to step on the towel to dry off the bottom of my feet, then slide that foot straight into the bike shoe. step 2 there is the helmet. It's upside down on top of my aerobars in the second pic, with the straps hanging off to the sides. This way I can slide into the shoes and flip the straps closed, then slap the helmet on my head and easily clip that strap in, grab the bike and run out of TA. When I'm close to the end of the bike route, I'll pop my feet out of the shoes and leave them clipped into my pedals. After hitting the dismount line, I'll run barefoot back here, rerack the bike, toss the helmet, slip bare feet into running shoes on the back of the towel (with speed laces and built in socks), then grab the bib that's already attached to the race belt and run away.  I can put on the race belt while I'm getting out to the run course.

what's missing? Well for a sprint triathlon I don't normally wear socks. Don't want to take the time in T1 to sit down and put them on. Also I don't normally wear sunglasses when racing any distance. I could (should) be wearing a visor or running hat while I'm running but I forgot to grab one when I packed up the TA bag the night before, so my hair was flopping around pretty good. This is about the simplest TA setup possible, and a pretty thorough explanation of why I setup like this. Hope that helps.

My only real goal was to go have fun at my only multisport race of the year. 

Swim 750 meters: 15:05 Goal 10 minutes Success! 33/106 men, 11/28 AG (M40-44)
My warmup before the race was in the lake, I swam out to the middle buoy and back, felt like about 10 minutes. I swam straight and felt great.

Once the race was actually underway, it was a different story. About 160 people starting from a boat ramp all at the same time. I could not swim straight at all. I mean, I got seriously off course. I logged this as a 1000 yard swim. So that speed for 1k in open water is a 1:22 per 100 yard pace, and that's perfect. That's why I'm calling my goal at the top a Success! Totally nailed the speed I wanted in the water and it felt amazing. But seriously, I got way off course.

T1: 49 seconds, Goal: under 90 seconds, Success! 40/106 men, 11/28 AG
Stepped on the towel, slid into the shoes, threw on the helmet and got out of there. It's rare I can T1 in under a minute, but it worked great this time.

Bike 17 miles: 56:13, Goal: under 1 hour, Success! 18.1 mph, 75/106 men, 21/28 AG
There is one giant climb in the last third of the bike course that I forget about every year. It's not that bad, really. Other than that, the only thing I need to comment on is my obvious lack of bike training this year. This race was only the 2nd time I've had my bike on the road this year. I'll take 18+ mph any time I can get it on this little training.

T2: 39 seconds, Goal: under 90 seconds, Success! 34/106 men, 11/28 AG
Left the bike shoes clipped in and slid right into the Zoot running shoes.

Run 5k: 23:44, Goal 23:XX, Success! 42/106 men, 13/28 AG
This course is 2 loops, both are pretty flat. Pretty much you set a pace and try to hold on for dear life. But this time something cool happened that has never happened to me before: I descended my mile splits! Everything in training lately has been long and slow, so I had no idea what kind of speed I would have. When I saw the first mile clock in at 7:38 I was pleasantly surprised. Then mile 2 came in 7:28 and I was even more surprised. But when the 3rd mile clocked 7:25 I was floored. I know there was no chance for my sub-22 5k time at all. Coming off of the bike I didn't expect a sub-23 time either. But my last several standalone 5k's have been 23 something, so I was shocked and pleased to do that again.

Finish: 1:36:32, Goal: under 1:40, Success! 53/106 men, 15/28 AG
Overall this was a wonderful race yet again. Most of my friends finished around 1:26, 3rd place in my (God this still sounds insane) 40-44 age group finished in 1:18, so we are an incredibly competitive bunch. I missed 14th place by only 40 seconds.

Happy finisher

So if you're looking for a fun sprint to jump into around Raleigh, this is still one that I highly recommend. Especially if you're a beginner or don't mind how it attracts tons of seriously fast people. Love the Battle at Buckhorn!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Well, that happened

Well my 2016 goal is set! Today was the registration for the Umstead 100 and I got in! After volunteering there on 3 different years, and getting 38 miles in the pacer pool last year, I knew I wanted to get registered for the full monty. This will be my first 100 mile trail ultramarathon.

holy shit. how am I actually going to run 100 miles by myself in under 30 hours?

Umstead 100 headquarters from the 2015 race
I guess I still have 29 weeks to hydrate and train. There is a basic outline of a training plan on the race web site. Blake Norwood, the race founder, wrote a "how to train for your first 100" piece that has become the bible for first timers. Plenty of time for long runs on back to back days. Plenty of time to grow out the trail beard. Plenty of time for night runs.


In preparation for this amount of stupidity I have lined up an entire fall of stupidity. To the tune of 3 full road marathons and 2 50 mile trail races. Of course these end in January, nothing yet lined up for February or March. I have to respect the distance. It's going to take some 70 mile weeks. It's going to take some 180 or even 200 mile months. My nutrition and body composition is going to have to stay on point through the winter, no getting fat this offseason like I normally do. And I'm going to have to do all of this while keeping the injuries at bay. I tell you, since I turned 40 a couple of months ago everything hurts all the time. it's kind of insane.

So I knew this day was going to come. I'm glad I was able to register, have the cash and the patience to get in. Let the insanity commence!

This year I get my own bib!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fall is Eminent

Well folks we've made it through another hell month of August. This one was pretty wild, had some serious heat down here in the deep south, but we've gotten a bit of the teaser time too. Last week or so have seen some high's in the low 80's instead of the dismal 90's, and it has actually been pleasant sometimes! This, of course, means that the tease will end and we're going to get another heat wave before Glorious Autumn actually arrives.

Swim: 52,500 yards, 15 swims, 1 race
Bike: 40 miles, 2 rides, 1 race
Run: 127.1 miles, 14 runs, 1 race
Strength: goose egg
Yoga: 8 times

Finally happened! 52,500 yards of swimming finally beats out the 51,300 personal distance record I've hit twice this year. Really hitting the pool hard this month is paying off. The speed is there, the endurance is there, my confidence is building for the big 12 mile open water swim at the end of this month. 127 miles of running is really cool too, that is a much higher number than I was expecting. Marathon training is in full swing.

It's also interesting to note that I didn't weigh myself during the month at all. I figured it would be time to lay off of the strength training, as much as I love it my arms and shoulders are really already really solid from all of the time in the water. I'm eating as much as I can possibly shove in my face, but it doesn't seem to be quite as much as I had to eat during Ironman training last year. My pants all still fit. All of the stuff that should naturally be ok, is actually ok. and that's pretty cool.

The strangest part is knowing that last September was my last Ironman. Being a full year removed from the training doesn't feel right, like I don't want to admit it has really been that long. One whole year removed from Ironman. let that sink in for a minute.

All in all, I'm glad August is behind us and September is front and center. Come on Autumn! Some other random pics from July:

Evil Genius loves her red sparkly shoes

Daddy does too

Pretty much the entire harvest from the garden this year

Ella grew a watermelon this year!

Proud of her harvest