Monday, April 25, 2016

The what what

We've had a problem. We've been dealing with it, but it's still a problem. I tried to put off dealing with it until after the Umstead 100, but it wouldn't wait. So Easter weekend I had a day off from work, and Kelley and I decided to go for it. We had a toilet that was sinking into the floor. I thought it would be an easy 3 day project, just pop out the toilet, replace half a sheet of plywood under those tiles and get to grouting. What we found was quite shocking.

That's a lot of rotten subfloor

We started digging a bit deeper (literally) into the subfloor to find rotten joists all the way down. Before you know it I was in over my head. Not literally this time, there's only about 18" of crawl space down there, our house is really old. But I knew enough to know when it was time to call in a professional.

That is insulation and a hole where the toilet was.

After the contractor ripped out the tub and all joists

even the closet had to go

New joists going in

The whole space is open now!
We decided that if we had to rip out the floor we were just going to look at it as a remodel, not just trying to repair what was originally there. The rot went under the tub so it had to come out. The linen closet walls had water damage, and the floor had to come out underneath of those walls anyway.

If it all had to come out, it all had to get rebuilt, so we decided to get what we wanted. Apparently that was a double tub? something really old that shattered. We wanted to go with a walkin shower with glass doors instead. Linen closet is gone entirely, we moved the toilet to the other side of the new shower and will use a piece of furniture to hold the towels.

We picked out tiles

I want these glass doors

These are the floor tiles we picked
The contractor has gotten the bones all figured out, and my next post about it will show some actual forward progress. This easy 3 day project has now been going on for 5 weeks so far, and we've got about 2 weeks left. I'm hoping they can wrap up next week, but Kelley thinks it will be another month before we can actually use the new bathroom. We're trying to make lemonade out of the lemons we've been given here, and that's not even a pee joke. Continual forward progress!

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Aftermath

Well now that it's been a couple of weeks since the Umstead 100 things have started to almost get back to normal. There was some normal expected stuff in the recovery time, like blisters and walking with a limp. What I did not expect was a sinus infection. Apparently, the entire body responds to 75 miles of trauma with inflammation and it really blew up behind my nose. A sinus infection was already present before the race (according to the doctor), and the inflammation response blew it up into sinus pressure. The pressure then generalized into a migraine. This got worse every day. Finally on Friday after the race I went to the doctor thinking I needed an antibiotic or something. $300 later I got a shot in the ass that relieved the migraine for about 6 hours before it came raging back. I cannot express how badly our health care system sucks.

Week 2 was more of the same. I sang a solo in the church choir that Sunday, under severe medication. It went ok, but not my best stuff. The antibiotics did nothing. Blisters and muscles felt fine, and I really wanted to start working out again. But this migraine was absolutely debilitating. I haven't had a multi-day headache like this since 2005, and I did not miss it at all. Finally this Friday the 15th was the first day without medication so I thought I would be in the clear. The best combination of meds seemed to be 2 Aleve and 2 Excedrin Migraine at the same time for about 4 hours of relief.

Saturday I ran 10 miles, my basic route to the State Capital. The headache was easing up, it was a beautiful sunny day, and I really wanted to get some miles. I did end up pushing the speed some, and the heat meant that I was a bit under hydrated. But overall it felt amazing just to be out there again. If I go more than about 2 days without a workout of any kind it makes my personality a bit "testy" - not exactly pleasant for me or my family.

So of course tonight (Sunday) the headache is roaring again. I'll medicate up before heading into the office on Monday. This is not an aspect of recovery that I was expecting or was prepared for. In fact, I really wanted to hit the bike today, I'm ready to start triathlon training for this year. Swim practice starts again on Tuesday.
Really looking forward to biking more this year

The big news for this weekend is that my mother-in-law is finally living in Raleigh again! She closed on a condo about 4 miles from our house on friday morning, then we spent the whole weekend getting her moved in. She is very happy with her decision to get back to NC after spending over 25 years in South Carolina. The kids love having her in town. I am thoroughly relieved that she is here too, and will be very glad when she is settled down more and I don't have to lift heavy furniture.

Ladders in a covertible? That's how we roll.

Nana and the Evil Genius
In my goals post for 2016 I left something vague. After the Umstead 100 I wanted to come up with some other kind of challenge for the summer that was not triathlon based. Well it's time to formalize that goal and start working on it! I've decided to try a weightlifting challenge. I've always wanted to be able to bench press 225 lbs - that's two 45 lb plates on each side of the bar. The closest I've ever come is benching 205 during my crazy weightlifting phase in 2003. I think mustering up the testosterone to build my bench after age 40 makes this challenge extra hard and extra fun. I also think working the bench will end up strengthening my swimming as well.

Heavy weightlifting starts on Monday! migraine pending, unfortunately. I'm going to just roll with the punches here and see how it works.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Umstead 100 Competitor

Finally, after volunteering at the Umstead 100 for about 4 out of the last 5 years, I ran the 2016 with my own bib, #97. It was an amazing experience overall, and not something I would choose to repeat or miss out on. I finished 75 miles in 21:30:21 and got some good stories out of it. The race is 8 laps of 12.5 miles each, I finished 6 laps.

Packet Pickup
Friday night (4/1) all four of us rode out to the HQ, and we actually missed the packet pickup window but got in most of the pre-race meeting. I got to meet up with a facebook friend Bill, and the kids played with his dog. I only mention this because this is where most of the pictures came from:

HQ ready to go

Got the kids to the starting line!

The aide station at HQ

this is the closest Kelley will come to an ultra
I didn't really sleep much after that. Figured I wouldn't, I was a solid bundle of nerves. And the 4 am alarm clock went off really early, but I was ok with that. A 6 am start meant I needed to leave the house around 4:30, get there around 5, do the packet pickup, and get ready to run 100 miles.

Race Day
The park opened about 4:45 and I got there shortly after 5 am. Got my packet and pinned on the bib. Saw my friend Tammy and talked to a few others including a nice guy from Ohio and a dude from California. You see the most interesting people at trail races!
Got my game face on, ready to start

The crowd in HQ before the start

The start/finish line really lights up before sunrise
Lap 1
There is a rule in ultras, and especially in long ultras, where you walk anything that smells like an uphill. This race has an uphill start, so when the gun goes off, the wild ride begins. and everybody walks.

It took about an hour or so for the sun to come up. I ran with a nice lady at first who was trying to break 24 hours and hoping to win the female 60+ age group. These are bad people, although she was really nice about it. Hanging with the sub-24 crowd through the first lap is a good way for me to blow up.
Goofing around on lap 1
The forecast called for rain in the morning. My goal was to hit 3 hour laps as consistently as possible. I finished lap 1 in 2:42:05. It sprinkled a little bit, and was cool-ish, very overcast, but not really cold or raining hard.

Lap 2
Well since it was barely raining but I got a bit cold, I threw that yellow long sleeve shirt back on. I didn't think it was going to rain much harder than it already was, since it was 9 am already and was supposed to be done raining by 10 am, so I left the plastic poncho in my bag and headed back out.

Before I hit the mile 2 marker, the bottom fell out. Hard, driving rain, powered by a cold wind. And just when I start to feel bad about my life decisions something comes running towards me. It was the entire NC State Men's Cross Country team - an entire freaking wolfpack of early 20's shirtless hardbody dudes cranking out 7 minute miles on the same trails I was going to be pounding all day long. They were getting rained on too, and about half were miserable and half were cheering us on.

About 90 seconds later on the same trail, here comes the NC State Women's Cross Country team. An entire wolfpack of hardbody 20-something girls running 7 minute miles in sports bras and tiny shorts. They were getting rained on too, and about half looked miserable and half were cheering us on.

Happy to see Tom!
At the end of lap 2 I was heading up to the headquarters when my buddy Tom from the RAM team was hanging out with his daughter! Tom and I both did the Swim Around Charleston last year, and I was quite surprised to see him out there. So he grabbed that picture and we got to hang out for a bit.  He also hung out while I changed clothes and walked the first half mile or so of lap 3 with me. That was exactly when I needed a boost, totally cool.

Finished lap 2 at 5:42, so exactly 3 hours for that lap including my lap1-lap2 transition time. 1 marathon down, 3 to go.

Lap 3
I did change clothes completely for lap 3. I planned for this, knowing that it was going to rain in the morning. It was a bit of a gamble that the rain was done, but the thought of going back out on wet shoes & socks for another lap was kind of scary. Turns out it was a safe bet. My toes were starting to rub together, and the change of clothes had some Injinji toe socks and a pair of Hoka One-One's with only about 100 miles on them. By the time I left HQ I was feeling great.

Mostly in lap 3 I was either by myself or talking to other racers. I floated around and probably ran faster than I should have, but sometimes that was to get away from someone loud or annoying, or to keep up with someone I was enjoying hanging out with. Left to my own pacing, I will burn out pretty fast so this wasn't the best thing in the long run.

official race photo
The best part about lap 3 was finishing that lap. Kelley and the kids were waiting for me at HQ! I knew she was going to bring them by sometime, and that was the perfect pick-me-up to get after being 37.5 miles into the race. We got to hang out some, and Tammy caught up with us in transition and got to meet the kids! Finally, that was really cool.

I'm behind a tree

Finishing lap 3

Got my shorty's


Evil Genius wanted a snow cone
I finished lap 3 at 9:03:38, so I took 3:15 to finish that lap including 30 minutes at the start to change clothes. Very even pacing up until this point!

Lap 4
Kelley and Ella

Me with Tammy

Got the kids
I ran most of the lap with Tammy. Not long after the airport turnaround, she had to pee. Which consisted of getting onto the side of the trail (barely off of the trail), dropping trou and letting loose. this is why I love trail runners. Eventually the miles add up so tall that we lose all sense of civility. there's no need to worry about getting behind a tree.

Naturally I got about 10 paces ahead of Tammy at that point, and that's when I had to stop to allow FOUR HUGE deer to sprint across the trail! They were all doe's, no horns. But they were huge and moving very fast. The last one looked like she had a big hole in her side, which was fairly disconcerting. They were maybe 20 feet ahead of me on the trail? I think that's the closest I have ever come to getting run over by a deer. It was insane. And, it literally scared the piss out of Tammy.

It might have been the snow cone, but my stomach started to turn around mile 45. Luckily Tammy had some tums in her pack, so one of those really helped. In these races, people fail because of their nutrition more often than they fail because of their training. You don't want to have stomach problems. I was really glad that cleared up, but I still needed to eat more and drink more while I was out there. Mentally, I knew I got pacers for the second half of the race, so I was really looking forward to picking up friends.

I really did feel good until mile 45. Significantly better than I felt after 41 miles in Alabama back in February, and waaaaaay better than after 50 miles in San Diego back in January. There is something to be said about the Umstead Magic, it's real. Crazy, but real.

There is also a raging debate going on among trail runners. Is there such a thing as a half wedgie? Women seem to universally agree that you can have underwear from only one cheek slide over into wedgie territory. Guys (boxer guys) universally agree that it's not possible. Wedgies are all or nothing in my world. Tammy disagrees.

Finished lap 4 (50 miles) at 12:40:20, lap time 3:37 including transition time with the kids. This point was almost 7 pm, and I finally got to pick up pacers. 2 marathons down, 2 to go.

Lap 5
For lap 5 I was joined by the incredible Jess from the 21 Days blog. Jess is a streaker; she's run at least a mile every single day since Jan 1 2013, over 1100 days in a row. I felt privileged to have her share today's miles with my tired legs. In real life, Jess is tiny, and funny, and motivated. She recently moved from Miami up to North Carolina, so I've been looking for an excuse to get together with her for something, and when she volunteered to pace me on my FB post about getting registered, I took her up on it quickly.

I still had to teach her some of the rules of ultra running since she's more of a 5-7 miles a day on road kind of gal, but she picked it up quickly. Walk the uphills, talk the entire time, bathroom jokes are encouraged. She may never want to see me again now, but dang it we had a good time.

The sun went down during this lap. I hope Jess got to see enough of the park, both in the daylight and in the dark. Running with the headlights turned off can give you a view of the woods with just the moon and the city lights. There wasn't much of a moon that night, so it didn't really work.

I was leaning over to keep my head in the shot
Somebody called me a "tall drink of water" on facebook for that picture. ha! Besides the sun going down and running in the dark, the lap was pretty uneventful. No deer, no rain, no barf. But when I was done...

Lap 5 (62.5 miles or 100k) finished at 16:20:41, lap time was 3:40. Much slower, and I was really just glad to be able to spend those hours with my friend. I've known Jess online since maybe 2009, and this was the first time we met in person. Worth every minute, and I can't wait to see her again.

Lap 6
The toughest part for this lap was just getting out of HQ. I almost didn't make it out for this lap. Dana was my pacer, her husband leads the contemporary service at our church. I sing in the choir for the traditional service, but Dana (and Kyle) and I still run in a lot of the same circles. I tried to talk her into pacing me for a lap one Sunday after the service, and eventually she agreed. at this point, 10:20 pm when I get back, she had to be questioning her decision.

It took me about an hour to get out of HQ. I really wanted to drop. My feet were killing me. The back of my knees hurt, that's a new pain. Of course my calves, quads, and hamstrings were sore. But the swelling in my feet was the worst part. I had to eat a lot, and drink a bunch of coffee to get over the sleep deprivation. Dana got loaded down by the RD with some extra stuff for me to carry, and I threw some pajama pants on over my running shorts to keep warm. Dana was warm, and supportive, and just the right amount of mean. We agreed to walk the airport spur and then choose weather to bail or finish the lap, but I have to admit after that hour break I felt like finishing the lap.

The airport spur is the flattest part of the course. After the turnaround I even tried to jog a bit. When that point came to head back to HQ and bail, however, I felt ok enough to go straight and finish the lap. Dana and I hit the aide station #2, I ate as much as I could. We walked through the sawtooth section and I didn't have to stop halfway up one of the steep climbs.

At this point in my physical condition, the mind/body connection wasn't really there. I don't remember much, and was having a difficult time forming complete sentences. But Dana and I talked the entire time, and I don't think I offended her too badly. So we'll call that a win.

Dana and I - notice my pajama pants
Lap 6 finished at 21:30:21, lap time of 5:10. We were walking at a pretty good pace, Dana had to shuffle jog some to keep up with me but once I got in motion it was not a good idea to speed up or slow down from there. I told the timers in the tent on the left of that picture that I was pulling out. 75 miles was enough for me.

Finish - 75 miles in 21:30:21
Kelley's cousin Ryan was on tap to pace me for laps 7 and 8. He is a long distance hiker and fairly new trailrunner - I thought that skillset would be a good combination to get me through those last few laps. He heard me tell the timers I was pulling out, and it turns out he got to HQ about 11:15, after they opened the gates at 11 pm. Since Dana and I started lap 6 about 11:10, we just missed him. I did text him from the trail once I absolutely knew I was done after 6, but he left his phone in the car and didn't see it.

After the 12 midnight gate opening was finished, my friend Allison showed up. She was upset about missing the gate, but waited around until 1 am when the park rangers opened the gate again. Again, the race organizers have no control over the park gates. opening and closing the gates is at the discretion of the park rangers. But when I finished, I saw Ryan and told him we weren't going out after all. Then felt bad for making him wait around HQ for 4 hours to get absolutely no trail time. Then I saw Allison and absolutely collapsed into her arms. I tried to cry, but again the mind/body connection was gone so I think I peed myself a little instead.

Ryan and Allison
Dana agreed to give me a ride home, so we all made it out by the 4 am gate opening. Apparently I was very chatty, and I knew that "Villanobobo had beateded Coklahoma" in the NCAA game that evening. I don't remember any of that. I do remember giving her some of the directions to my house before falling asleep in her car.

When I got home, the only working bathroom in our house right now is upstairs. So I had to climb a flight of stairs after running 75 miles. This would not go well. There's also a bedroom up there. It happened to have both kids sleeping in that bed. Apparently I did not wake them up by taking a shower, but left my clothes on the floor and made it back downstairs without falling. This is miraculous to me.

red discoloration, very swollen toes

I lost at least 4 of those toenails
Recovery went really well. I slept for a while on Sunday, got up and ate some, then took a nap. By monday I could walk around pretty easily. Still had some pretty bad blisters on my pinky toes, but that was the only lasting problem after Monday.

Actually the worst problem was a sinus infection. Apparently every possible inflammation response the body has to offer will be triggered after a certain point of endurance. Starting Sunday afternoon it felt like I had a pool cue ball behind my left eyeball. The pressure from the sinus infection generalized into a migraine that has now lasted for 7 days. I do not miss these multi-day headaches, this is my first one in over a decade. How did I used to live like this?

So the next time I try a 100... well there won't be a next time. This was my first and only attempt and I am totally ok with that. I've been telling people that I would try it again if I could get about 6" shorter and drop 50 lbs, which of course is not possible. Human feet simply are not designed to push 180 lbs for 100 miles. I didn't finish the last 2 laps thanks to my feet and my nutrition; you can't eat enough to fuel up a body this size to run for that long. It's impossible to not get dehydrated. The best I can hope for is to finish before that stuff catches up with me. In Ironman, that's totally possible. After 21 hours (or 24 hours, or the entire 30 hour cutoff) it's just not possible.

I ran 828 miles in training since October to get ready for this day. I put in the work, had the time on my feet. Sure I could have done more in training. But that was all I could do on race day. I finished 3 marathons inside of one day, and I feel confident that was my best effort. I'm calling this a win.

Friday, April 1, 2016

End of March

Well March is over and came to an end on an overcast day. That means April is here, and that has its own set of terrifying conditions.

Swim: 0
Bike: 15 miles, 1 ride
Run: 144 miles, 12 runs
Strength: 5 times
Yoga: 6 times

Overall it was a decent month. Still no swimming this year. The one ride was on March 1st, and it was a great way to recover and spin the legs out for a while. Most of this month was in taper. Still getting 144 miles in 3 weeks of taper for the Umstead 100. And it sure beats the 138 miles I ran in February.

Today April 1st is the packet pickup for the 100. That's not an April Fool's joke. Saturday is the Umstead 100. I've been training for this since October. My nerves are setting in and I'm terrified. not even scared to admit that. I have no idea how the day is going to play out, but all I can do is take what the trail gives me on that day. It looks like it's going to rain until about noon on the first day.

I also got signed up for a couple more races for this summer. it's shaking out to be a fun year. I will finally get to do all three races in the open water swim series, and I'm doing the shorter distances at all three events. Went ahead and registered for the first one, got until June to beat the price increase for the other two. Also signed up to run the 3 Little Pigs triathlon again this year, I think my boss right now will be trying this as her first race ever. It's a great choice for her, and I hope she follows through.

March also provided some really fun times in the convertible.
3/1 driving home from work

a bit warmer on 3/9
Also got in my first shirtless run of the year! 3/13 I got to break in a new pair of Hoka One-One's. Giant shoes are a perfect complement to the really really short shorts.
In other completely random picture from March that I need to pull together news, I got a really sweet swag bag from the race in Alabama. They gave out finisher plaques instead of medals, and I got a stick-on thing in the mail on 3/31 denoting my 41 mile finish distance.
Delano Park Rocks
This is a really cool picture of Ella and I at a restaurant recently. I don't know why I like it so much, but it just cracks me up.
Man I love hanging out with my girl
Of course, also Easter happened in March. It was preceded by a wonderful visit from my parents for a couple of days. Since Dad almost never comes to Raleigh, this was a real treat. They hung out mid-week, I still had to work, we did some fun stuff in the evenings and worked on the shed some together, and they brought me my tools. I got no pictures this visit. Still a blast. They made it back to SC in time for the holiday, and we had fun stuff to take care of too.

Easter baskets with real eggs

Family portrait in front of the church

Easter egg hunt at the country club

The girls had a blast with their grandfather
We had a huge easter service at the church, it was a wonderful experience. Then afterwards we went to the NC State golf course clubhouse for a huge brunch with Mickey. They had an easter egg hunt at the club too. All of those Easter Sunday festivities were by far the highlight of the weekend.

March also finished on a really strong note! This and Easter should both really be their own posts since they have so many pictures but I've run out of March to post about. Evil Genius has finally learned how to ride a bike! She's riding on her own now, after being terrified of it for years. I am totally the proud daddy too. It's fantastic! All of those years doing the Indian Princess camps in the spring where everyone else there would ride and she still wanted training wheels. This is it! She's got it down now.

I hope the embedded video works.

March was overall a fun month, so much better than February was. Care to guess how many miles I'm going to run in April?