Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Really Good Day

I never do "day in the life of" posts because I'm actually very boring day over day. But yesterday was quite special in a normal day kind of way. Walk you through it.

6:40 am
Woke up feeling refreshed and a few minutes before the alarm clock went off. Breakfast was oatmeal with raisins and a banana, delish! Got in my first workout of pushups (40) and some planking, followed by about 30 minutes of yoga. The time on the mat was particularly calming and felt great, and I haven't been on the yoga mat very much lately so this was much appreciated.

8:20 am
Made my way into the office. The commute is only about 6 minutes now, and that is quite nice. I am starting to get settled in at this new job, and I've been assigned a special project that is really fun. My new coworkers are really smart, and this system is very complex. I have been feeling like it's too complex for me to fully understand, but trying to have patience in learning the new system. That's not easy. This is week 3 of the new job, and I'm still waiting on that first paycheck to come in, which is equally frustrating. Finally starting to make some progress on the new project was a nice confidence boost.

The Oval, right behind my office building on the NC State Centennial Campus - BEAUTIFUL

11:15 am
We regularly have a meeting scheduled from 11:30 to 1pm on Wednesdays which directly conflicts with my noon swim practice. I hate this meeting anyway. Today it got cancelled! Yay! I can actually make the Wednesday swim practice! But I have no gear.

11:30 am
go to swim practice. Swing by the house first to pick up my gear and some extra food - love that short commute! It really does make a huge difference. We got 3200 yards in the pool in an hour and 15 minutes with some hard 100's that I absolutely crushed. Felt great to be in the water, so glad I was able to make practice.

1:30 pm
Back to the office, eating at the desk. Realized I brought a lunch that was fit for a non-workout day. Right after I finish that, someone tells me there is catering leftovers in the main break room, so I grab an extra sandwich from there to finish things off, and a brownie. I get a text about a bill pay, and Kelley tells me that both paychecks came in today! I get paid every week and it took a few weeks for the system to catch up. Ah, getting paid on the 29th of the month is a real relief when you have to make a mortgage payment and the first health insurance payment on the new plan (not withheld) so we paid all of the bills. amazing.

Then I cleared a huge milestone on my new project. For my fellow nerds, I was able to use a console app to authenticate TFS online, execute a query and process the work items returned individually. This is very challenging, and finally getting the result set I was expecting was a serious win!

4 pm
Work held a social hour in the big Centennial room on the first floor. This meant free beer and catering for all employees, and apparently they do this once a month. My boss found us all down there and told me how excited he was about my project and that he left a LexisNexis pint glass on my desk because all of the cool kids had one. I'm cool now. And finally full. Nothing better than free food (and beer!) after a nice hard swim practice. I went home after the social hour and got to hang with the fam for a bit.

6:30 pm
Choir practice started and was wonderful. I don't talk much about singing or church on here, but that is how I worship best. I love my church and the family feeling we have in the choir, usually about 20 - 30 people singing. Practice ran a bit long tonight, then we end up hanging out talking for a while after practice.  Here's a video Kelley took from the service a few weeks ago where I got to lead a song of worship.

8:20 pm
Hitting the gym for my last workout of the day. Like I mentioned earlier, I am on a marathon training plan again and I had to get in my 6 miles with a 25 minute tempo section in there. I went into the gym feeling grateful for exactly how well everything had gone so far. There was no way I had the energy or stamina to pull off a good run after all of that. But since it was the day where good things happen, I nailed it. Hit my tempo time, felt good the whole way. It's too hot to run outside anymore here in NC, so I'm on the treadmill all the time again. Baseline was at a 7.5 speed (8 minute miles), and for the tempo 25 minutes I took it up to a 7.8 mph (7:38 pace) until it was time to cool down.

9:30 pm
Made it home tired and satisfied. Icing on the cake, June 30 is the next price increase for 2 of the marathons on my 12 in 8 months list. After paying all of the bills, we still had enough left over to go ahead and register for both of them. So I'll be going back for my 3rd Tobacco Road marathon in March, and my first time tackling the City of Oaks marathon will be in November. Both are local, here in Raleigh so the logistics are easy.

11:30 pm
back to bed.

See? that's a totally normal day. I went to work, had some solid workouts, got to spend some time with Kelley and the kids in between, and capped it off with registering for 2 marathons. It just so happened that everything went right in some very incredible ways.

Since about mid-May when I found out my last job contract was not going to be extended, it has been kind of high stress around here. I was glad to finally be done with that place, and it only took a week to get this Lexis job lined up. But the transition into Lexis has been incredibly frustrating. I know the zen theories about suffering (everybody has both good days and bad, in the end they number about the same) but to string a bunch of bad days together like we had then was really tough. Being unexpectedly unemployed for over a week while I waited on a background check to clear threw a lot of money stuff up in the air. It was a valley for sure. Then stuff started to go right again. I got into the payroll system. The complex software started to roll up. Today was a real peak. it makes me humble and grateful.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Why No Tri?

At the end of 2007, I registered for my first race, a sprint triathlon, before I actually stopped smoking. Triathlon has been my motivator and primary focus (after family and work) since that first race in 2008. I learned how to ride a road bike, then got stronger at riding a road bike, then really enjoyed riding a road bike. By 2010 we had moved from SC to Raleigh and I was riding in the big gear a lot more. And racing a lot more often. In 2013 I rode over 4000 miles, then really burned out on the bike. I still stuck it out for one more Ironman in 2014. Last year only had 1 sprint triathlon, and this year was only the 3 Little Pigs last weekend.

Overall, the last 8 years of triathlons has been very fulfilling. I loved the discipline and confidence that goes into a training plan, and I wouldn't trade my ironman experiences for anything in the world. I have put a lot into triathlon in those years, and I have certainly gotten a lot back.

Also acceptable:
If triathlon was easy they would call it your mom
My favorite mexican triathlon: Eat tacos, drink tequila, fuck

For me, the multisport lifestyle has turned into more of just a healthy lifestyle. I've lost weight (and gained some of it back, who are we kidding), and gotten older. Actually I'm still trying to come to terms with being an "over 40" athlete even though I turn 41 next week. I'm going to leave triathlon for the younger people. I don't have the desire to pump out 2 a days anymore. Not sure I have the energy for the 5:15 alarm clock so I can ride for 90 minutes before working a full day only to finish it off with a Masters swim practice or easy 10 mile run. 5 bikes, 5 runs, 3 swims every week plus some strength training and yoga to prevent injuries and add some speed? I've had enough of that for one lifetime.

What I am really enjoying right now is single sport swimming or running races. Still leaning towards the longer runs and shorter swims, but I might have to switch that up some. My speed is starting to come back in the pool, I've got 2 more open water races this year.

You'd think after training for the Umstead 100 this year my running legs would be burned out, but that's actually not the case. I do think the marathon is my sweet spot, so I'm starting to train for some marathons and 50k's this fall. More specifically, I'm trying to setup to run 12 marathons in 8 months between October 2016 and May 2017, since by May it's too hot to run marathons here in the south. The grand finale of this streak should be a Mainly Marathon streak - 3 marathons in 3 states on 3 consecutive days covering Penn, New Jersey, and New York on May 1-3. You would think training and running these 12 marathons would be the hardest part, but actually the logistics behind it all is proving to be a challenge. I know how to pace long runs and how to recover quickly now. I don't know where the registration fees, hotel fees, travel time off work, and family involvement is coming from.

So that's the big reveal - the new and really tough marathon maniacs streak. I'm going to take it one race at a time, both to see how many of these I can get registered for to beat those price increases and then actually finish. I have all of the races picked out so let's see if I can raise the cash! And get the miles in. First up on the calendar is the New River trail 50k with Kelley's cousin Ryan. Already on a training plan for it and haven't even registered yet.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Third 3 Little Pigs

The 3 Little Pigs sprint triathlon happens to be my favorite local race in the greater Raleigh. This was my third time running this race, and it keeps getting "better". Saturday was a beautiful day to be out racing! This time was really cool, because my boss on my last contract was out racing too. It was her first triathlon ever, and I think her first race. It was a cool day at the end of a hot week, and that makes for a nice setup.

What's not nice is the level of triathlon training I've been doing this year. That's pitiful. I've done 1 brick, and biking just isn't regular. So my plan for this race was just to go out, have fun, and see what happens.

Before the start and ready to go!
I got up at 5:15, which is absurd, made it to the site by 6:30 (it's a 45 minute drive). Plenty of time to make it through the lines, get my TA setup, and hang out with Jeanette some. I actually saw several friends, some I hadn't seen in a while. This race has a pool swim, so it's very beginner friendly. That always makes for a fun environment.

Long lines

Swim in, Run out

Big transition area this year! There is a big Bike Out sign somewhere over there.

all those bikes
Swim 250 m: 4:07, 1:38/100m, 5/27 age group, 42/339 overall
This was really strange. In 2014 I nailed a 1:28 pace, but this time it got weird. This pair of goggles has been fogging up for a while, but I think the suntan lotion got involved somehow to make it much worse.  And the first row didn't have a black line, so I had no idea when the wall was coming up so I smashed my arm against it. Felt like that first length was pretty smooth, but after I missed my first flip turn my entire mental game was off. And I know that threw off my form. The estimated time I entered was only 3:15 so to finish almost a minute slower is really tough. I just couldn't see well, couldn't breathe cleanly, and couldn't find the walls. A bit frustrating. I even got passed by the guy who started behind me.

T1: 1:17
Win! Anything under 90 seconds is pretty smooth.

Bike 14 miles: 45:25, 18.5 mph, 18/27 ag, 139/339 o
This bike course never disappoints. Kind of challenging on the way out, but it still felt good to be riding outside again. The bike is always the worst sport for me, and I did get passed a lot. At one point 3 guys from my age group all passed me in practically drafting mode. It was a short time out there, I went hard. After I saw the mile 12 marker, I took a gel. Next thing I knew I was back in T2.

T2: 1:05
Win! Again!

Run 5k: 24:44, 7:58 m/m, 13/27 ag, 72/339 o
The run course is flat and shaded. I haven't raced a 5k in so long I've just about forgotten how. I turned the legs over as fast as I could and tried to keep my heart rate up so I couldn't talk. Zone 3 or 4 should do the trick, but I don't think I got there. I was out there having fun.

Finish: 1:16:40, 15/28 men 40-44, 88/339 overall
The age group breaks down into 3 real groups. The actual fast people finished in 1:05 - 1:09, the midpackers finished from 1:14 to 1:16, then the bottom range went from 1:22 to 1:29. Every now and then a midpacker like me has a good day and ends up in front of that 1:14, and sometimes we have a tough day and end up in the back of this pack. This was my tough day.

In my first 3 Little Pigs, I passed 2 people on the water. Last time was an even seeding, I didn't pass anybody, nobody passed me. This time I got passed. This time was the first time I've been slower than 20 mph on the bike in this race. This was also the first time I've taken longer than 24 minutes to finish a 5k in about 4 years.

Finished! a medal for a sprint?

finish line festivities

This might also be a swan song for me. Triathlon and tri training just doesn't have the appeal that it did a few years ago. Originally I wanted to load up the calendar with a bunch of tri's this year, finishing with the Lake Logan half again, so I went ahead and registered for that one and paid the annual USAT membership again. Now I'm leaning more towards skipping the trip to Asheville in August so I don't have to do all of that bike training. Running and swimming hold so much more appeal right now.

And I'm trying to pull together something that will be really fun for this winter. It's a logistical nightmare, but lots of fun.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

EG's big weekend

Two years ago Ella's 3rd grade spring outing with her Indian Princess tribe fell on the same weekend as my brother Morgan's wedding. We had to miss Camp Seafarer that year, so I took her on an Epic Mountain Adventure to Boone, NC. Evil Genius didn't have a conflict like that, so I offered her the choice. She didn't really enjoy last years' Camp Seafarer the way that Ella did and it's really expensive. So I let her choose between that or a trip like Ella had. She picked the trip, so I was able to plan a fun weekend in Boone for just the two of us! It just so happened that her weekend started on the last day of school (and Ella's 5th grade graduation). So after school, we headed for the mountains!


97* when we left Raleigh, and only 72* in Boone when we got there!

EG took this one

In the hotel

She separated the peanut butter from the M&M shell
Friday all we really did was drive up to Boone. It is always refreshing to my soul when I can get back to the mountains. Being able to show my kids individually what I love so much about this region is very special to me. After we got checked into the hotel, we drove around Boone for a bit, grabbed some food, and got rested for a big saturday.

EG in front of the water wheel

Giant ropes course in front of .......

Her favorite part about that picture is that there's someone else taking a picture of their kid in the background of our picture. Tweetsie railroad is an amusement park between Boone and Blowing Rock that has an actual steam engine train. When I was in college, I worked here as an indian (actor) for one of the shows, it was the best job ever. Basically I got paid to sit on a couch and drink beer all day.

EG went to Jail

Indian represent!

She was a good driver

Cool view from the racecars

Inside the swinging ride thingy

on the carousel

She named the horse lickety-split

In front of the #12 Tweetsie Railroad

Riding the train

Indians are attacking the fort!

I went to jail when we got back

then I rode a horse

She was terrified of taking the ski lift to get to the top amusement rides

that terrified!

Pretty view from up there!

We were sitting on a "cowch"

Baby goats at the petting zoo!

mean mugging for the wanted poster

I had a blast. It was a warm day, but not too hot to be uncomfortable. She really embraced the rides and the environment and had a wonderful time. I didn't really expect her to be quite as daring as she actually acted, so we really had a lot of fun.

After Tweetsie, it was Blowing Rock night. We got dressed up a bit, and I got to take her out for a fancy dinner at Twigs Restaurant in Blowing Rock. Now that it's June of 2016, I can say that it's been more than 20 years that Kelley and I have been together. We met in the bar at Twigs in April of 1996. So to take EG to dinner at the same place where her Mommy and I met so long ago is really special.  and of course, EG insisted on taking the same bar stool that Mommy had and I had to have the same stool as well. So sweet!

She took this inside of Twigs

Cheese fries was the only thing on the menu she would eat there

her Americana dress was a hit in front of the main dining room
We drove around a bit after dinner to show her some of the other places where Kelley lived in Blowing Rock and ended up on Main street where Kelley and I used to work back in the day.

This is the Fantastic View at Canyon's restaurant. 20 years ago it was an apartment building.


Kelley and I both used to work at Windwood

Kilwins Ice Cream is a must stop at

So is the Hat Shop next door

EG had a blast out in Blowing Rock, but I'm sure she got tired of me telling her about stuff that we did 20 years ago. All that was left in the weekend was Boone Day. And that is always fun. We started out driving around town showing her the apartments Kelley and I had when I was in college, then ended up on campus at Appalachian State. I got to show her the school of music, some of the cooler parts of campus, and we ended up at Macado's on King Street for lunch before heading back to Raleigh.

The amazing view from the back side of Rich Mountain

EG with my freshman dorm building in the background (Bowie, on the left)

In front of the football stadium

School of Music - 4th floor practice rooms

At Macado's

That gorilla is nasty

She even added some graffiti

Founders Bell on campus!

Yosef! The original mountain man

The closest she's ever been to ducks
Overall this was an amazing weekend that really exceeded my expectations. We had a blast just being together the whole time. This was very special to me, and I'm sure very special for Lena too. This really was a trip for the books. I'm grateful to be able to do this with each of my girls.

67* when we left Boone, 92* when we got back to Raleigh on Sunday afternoon

Ella and EG in front of Yosef - I got a few years older too!
Since this is officially the end of EG's 3rd year of the Indian Princess program, that means we're done. She doesn't want to go to Rockmont like Ella did. And since she is my youngest, that means that I am officially done with everything Indian Princess now. I can honestly say that it has been one of the best things I have done as a parent. It's been 5 years that we have had something IP related going on every month. I still have to glue some patches onto the vests, eventually I will get around to it. But I cannot say enough good things about the YMCA's Indian Princess program, also known as Y-Guides. So much fun, and we've all made lifelong relationships.