Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bigun Up!

Ella may be having the best month ever. I'm going to go ahead and photo dump it now before all of the Halloween stuff gets in the way. Evil Genius insisted on getting in on the action too.

Carrots from the garden. I like the cape and the puffy shirt
She was excited about growing carrots in the garden this year. We ended up with a pitiful garden this year. I never got any plants from Mom so all we planted was seeds. We planted some beans that came up pretty good, but once it got really hot they stopped producing. It looked like our muscadine crop was going to be huge, but the birds ended up getting them all before they got ripe. So these tiny carrots really are the best produce.

a milk mustache?

In gymnastics, on the high balance beam!

She insisted I take this one while shopping.
She is loving gymnastics, but it's starting to get into some of the harder stuff now. Actually growing in her sport is really fun for me to watch. Fears are overcome, confidence is being built! That's what it's all about.

Ella is the Cheshire Cat

EG is a Greek Goddess

they are having too much fun

At Trunk or Treat at the church!

Ella lost a tooth in a sticky piece of candy!

Of course the Cheshire Cat smile glows in the dark
Ok, I know I said no Halloween stuff yet. But it's already started! Kelley worked like a mad woman to finish off those costumes. We may put on another coat of the glow in the dark paint for the cat smile, but they turned out amazing. My mom made Lena's Goddess costume and Kelley came up with the gold parts. My part of making their costumes consisted solely of wearing Ella's shirt so it would be stretched tight enough to add the duct tape stripes. I am still totally in awe of the creative execution it takes to pull these things together every year.

Trunk or Treat is an annual event that our church puts on, where cars put out a theme with candy. It attracts a lot of the local community and the members dress up, so it's always a ton of fun. It was great to see so many kids dressed up!


Quite the fuzzy rabbit. I'm sure she'll be delish in a stew or something.
 Ruby is the newest addition to our household. It's a Red Something (bolt, i want to say?) rabbit. They bought Ruby while at the State Fair. This was a bit of an impulse purchase, I certainly didn't agree to it beforehand. But I guess there could be worse options. as long as it doesn't chew stuff, it is kind of cute.
Ella's swimming!

On a team! It's her first team swim practice!

Nailed it
This is the really cool part. After the Olympics this year EG wanted to start gymnastics, and she was able to go ahead and get into a class. Bigun had to wait until Monday to start her olympic dreams, but now she is finally swimming on the Pullen Pirates kids swim team! It was her first team practice ever.

I am absolutely thrilled about this. She loved it. They did about half a mile in 45 minutes including drills on all 4 strokes and worked the turns a bit at the end. Coach wants them to start showing up 15 minutes early for some dryland and stretching before hitting the water next week. She looked really comfortable in the water, and I've never seen her move like that. She wasn't the fastest kid out there, but wasn't the slowest either. And she had fun.

As a parent, seeing your kid get into something that you are into is an amazing feeling. I've been swimming on a Masters team for 5 years now and absolutely love it. I get in the water as often as possible every week and race open water swimming events all summer long from 1 mile to a 12 miler last year. Watching the next generation enjoy picking up the torch is absolutely amazing. Ella is pretty adventurous too, I might even be able to get her into an open water event next summer. For now, she's got practice on a regular basis and a couple of meets coming up. I AM SO EXCITED!!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Skinny & Co Coconut Oil

A while back, I was contacted and sent some free samples of the pure coconut oil from Skinny + Co. Their products are supposed to be made from the purest coconut oil out there. They sent me a pack of 5 products to evaluate and review.

they didn't send the dog
I like to think I'm a pretty progressive guy. I have a wife and 2 daughters, they know things. I know enough to admit my shortcomings. When I saw makeup remover in the kit I knew I was in trouble. The kids have tried it after they were playing dress-up, and they love it. They think it smells good and gets the makeup off of their face.

I'm still not really sure what a sugar scrub is. Kelley told me to put some on my feet, and my feet like it. That's all I really know about Skinny Sugar Scrub. Gently exfoliate and remove dead skin indeed.

Oil pulling is something I had been wanting to try for a while. Coconut oil is a solid when it gets below 72*, then goes liquid any warmer than that. So you put a spoonful of this stuff in your mouth when it's still solid and it turns into a liquid quickly. Then you spend 20 minutes swishing this stuff around inside of your mouth before spitting it out. The oil binds to impurities and bacteria inside your mouth and that is why you spit out the stuff after 20 minutes. If this sounds gross don't worry, it is actually gross. But it's very effective.

I also got some body butter. This is the good stuff. It smells great and really makes my skin feel good. I use it on my elbows and anything with a tattoo. It's great. It's always great! Love it more than I expected to. Who wants to rub themselves down with a fat? nobody. But when it's a coconut oil purified and formed into a lotion, it's wonderful.

Cooking with coconut oil is becoming quite popular. They even sell it at the warehouses now, but it's not this quality. Good quality cooking oil is very distinct. You can tell in both the smell and texture when you're cooking with a high quality coconut oil. I actually put a little bit in with my scrambled eggs. It makes the kitchen smell great, adds a very healthy fat into my eggs, and helps them scramble with a smoother texture than using butter or olive oil. Anytime you would normally start with a pat of butter, use this stuff instead and you will not be disappointed.

All very effective products
Skinny is a natural detoxifying agent. It is designed to be alkaline, and bind to impurities in the body. Regular consumption can lead to increased mental clarity and a boost in immune systems activity. Skinny is a small family owned company, and the coconuts are wild harvested (not from a plantation) then cold pressed into oil to be sure all of the nutrients are retained. Skinny is the only 100% raw, alkaline coconut oil in the world.
- from the company web site
and the lit included in the packaging

In the end, yes I was given free product in exchange for a review. But I've been wanting to try coconut oil for a while now as a part of my natural holistic wellness regime so I jumped at the chance when it was offered to me. And this product exceeded every expectation. Get yourself a big jar online, you'll thank me later.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

12 in 8 update

Of course, the first marathon in this streak is now in the books. The New River Trail 50k was a blast, and I'm completely recovered and it feels great to have this goal streak underway. The strange part is that I have set the goal and started the streak without having registered for all 12 races yet. Normally you don't plan for something like an ironman without actually registering for an ironman. But this is really spread out. By the end of the year I will have decided on all 12 races and registered. So far only 2016 is pretty decided.

I'm starting to stretch things a bit. The new addition to the lineup is actually a 24 hour race called the Raleigh Runaround - 24 hours running around the track at Meredith College, which is about 2 miles from the house. It goes from 10 am New Years Eve until 10 am New Years Day, so I have a strategy. 105 laps around the track is a marathon. So I start at 10 am and record my time at 105 laps for a marathon time on 12/31/2016. Then I leave, back to the house, shower, eat, do NYE stuff with the family. Kiss the wife and kids at midnight, then head back to the track. Do another 105 laps between midnight and 10 am to record another marathon time on 1/1/2017. They are actually giving belt buckles for anyone who hits 100k (245 laps) or 100 miles (400 laps) so I might try for a belt buckle. If I did 120 laps on the first one and 125 laps for the second one I could get home with some cool hardware.

That gets me two marathons in the streak with only one registration fee. And it also counts as another ultra, especially if I hit the 100k or make the second marathon a full 50k. And the race will be cancelled if we don't have at least 25 runners registered by Dec 1, currently only 7 people are signed up. Come out and run some track with me!!!

Also in the name of "stretching the race registration money" I'm adding my pacer duty at the Umstead 100 to the list. Certainly not registered for that one, my results won't show up anywhere, but I already have agreements to pace two people, hopefully for 3 laps. Tammie takes top priority as she is getting her 1000 mile buckle this year finishing her 10th Umstead. That's insane. And Brian (aka Cledawg) is doing Umstead again this year so I get to pace him for at least a lap. We'll work out the specifics of who/when after new years, Tammie is also doing the Raleigh Runaround.  Pacing is miles (38 miles this time) but not officially racing, so it's kind of a stretch to include that in a streak.

So including those "3 races", that gives me 7 already registered. Of the 5 more that I have yet to sign up for, 4 of those are 2017's contributions to the 50 state list. Registration hasn't opened yet for the Trap Pond 50k in Delaware, but I am really looking forward to knocking that state off of my list. The streak ends May 3, 4, and 5 with a triple in the Mainly Marathons Independence series. This will knock off Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey on consecutive days. Run a marathon, drive to the next state, run the next marathon, repeat. Tons of fun. The double at New Years is a warmup to be sure my body can handle the triple in May.

The last choice will involve a family vacation to our Tybee Island house. Either the Hilton Head marathon, then I can do Wrightsville Beach marathon as well, or Skidaway Island Marathon which is the same weekend as Wrightsville Beach. Pros and cons to each side of this, Wrightsville Beach will be my friend Charlotte's 100th marathon and there may be a party afterwards. Skidaway Island is closer to Tybee and it's in March, when the kids are out of school anyway so we get more beach time.

What's not making the cut? I actually really want to do the Myrtle Beach marathon this year. Brian (pacing at Umstead) is doing it, Beth is coming up from Florida too, several other friends are heading down for the weekend. I've done the full twice before, and the half a few times too. Trying for some new adventures here. But with that many people coming in, it's at the top of the reserve list.

Also missing is anything from Upstate Ultras. Matthew has put together an amazing series of races: marathons, ultras, timed races, everything. Most of those are within minutes from my parents house. They are cheap and well run, and really support the charity listed.

So that's that. The streak is underway and the rest of the pieces are starting to fall into place. Next race is the Triple Lakes Trail Marathon on 10/29, followed by my hometown City of Oaks marathon (road) the next weekend 11/6. Run more!

After swim practice the other day, I am ready to run more.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The New New River 50k

My second time running the New River Trail 50k proved to be a fantastic way to kick off my streak of 12 marathons in 8 months. I did this race in 2014 and it was my first 50k then. The worst part was that I didn't appreciate what I was doing when it was happening then. I felt like 5:21 with a 4:26 marathon split was really slow and I should stick to road marathons after that. Well, 2 years later that is still my 50k PR after several other attempts. And full disclosure, my first ultramarathon was the Pine Mountain 40 in 2012 after which I swore off trail running forever.

This time I really tried to get my zen on, and live in the moment for where I was and what I was doing. It was awesome! I finished in 5:36:53 with a 4:39 marathon split. It was cold and foggy at the start, then 72* and perfectly sunny at the finish. Since I never meet a stranger there were tons of cool, friendly people to talk to out there. awesome.

Macado's in Galax! Who knew that was there

Cute farmers market
Friday night I drove up to Galax Va straight after work. Stayed in the Rodeway Inn in Galax for only $52 - cheap enough so Kelley didn't want to come with me for this trip but the room ended up being pretty nice for the money. The town of Galax is SO CUTE. Must go back sometime for a weekend getaway. In 2014 it was raining, but this time I got to walk Main St for a while and found a Macado's - my favorite restaurant from college. I had to stop in for a beer and some late night snacking. AND I GOT CARDED! The bartender gave me the "holy shit you're the same age as my sister but she looks way older than you do' speech so I guess the mountains of Virginia are fraught with low standards of youth. I'll take it.

Saturday morning I ate breakfast in the hotel, running into another NRT runner from Chapel Hill. He didn't want to eat but I tend to throw down on race morning before an ultra. Made the easy drive from Galax up to Fries Va and got ready to rock. The hospitality up there was incredible.

Foggy on the river - that's a picture of a trash can

facing north

The river was angry that morning - like an old man trying to send back soup

Here's the old man

The registration & starting line area is right next to the parking lot

Start/finish line

I'm ready to go!
The start of this race is very deceptive. Anytime you are running next to the river in the direction of the water flow you are going downhill. When the water is running in the opposite direction you are, you are actually going uphill. This is because of the basic principle of civil engineering - water always flows downhill. The course is billed as flat and scenic, but flat is a relative term. For the first several miles you are actually running downhill. Then you hit a turnaround and go uphill back to an aide station, then out a different section of the trail! It's a wide gravel rail-to-trail conversion, so it's the kind of soft and easy trail that I love.

Beautiful waterfall 2:11 into the race. Maybe 14 miles?

That's how I really felt about that waterfall
I didn't have the Garmin for this one. I wanted to run more by feel and perceived effort than just trying to keep a pace. The only downside to that is that I didn't have the current mileage either. We crossed a really cool bridge, ran through a tunnel, there were waterfalls and river sounds all the time. These pictures above were 2:11 into the race (10:11 am) so I'm guessing that was around 14 miles. It was still beautiful.

After the second turnaround it was a straight shot back to the start/finish line. I realized I didn't take many pictures on the way out there, so I tried to snag a couple more on the way back.

11:28 am, it was starting to warm up more by then

and by 12:04 pm I'm 4 hours into the race and totally beat
The race started at 8 am so by the time I crossed the 4 hour mark it was up to 72* and the sun was blazing out there. I certainly didn't overheat, but was very glad I could drain my water bottle between aide stations.

The day and the course lived up to expectations. It was cold, hot, and beautiful for so many different reasons. They didn't have a clock at the marathon point, but there was a girl yelling out your marathon split time as you ran past. Then at 1:36 pm I came back to the finish line, happy to be done and grateful for the day I had. I finished 29th of 63 finishers, square in the middle of the pack. I wanted to get those 5 miles between the marathon split and the finish line done in under an hour, and I made it in 57 minutes. I wanted to have fun, so that I certainly did.

The same river picture from the top of this post, without the fog

Happy happy finisher!

Giving my feet an ice bath in the river. Best part of finishing this race.

Not a cloud in the sky! What happened to that fog and long sleeve shirt?

Beautiful day in the VA mountains.

With my medal at the finish line

Some of the many cool friends I made on the trail. These girls all finished their first ultra.
Really if I could find a way to bottle up the environment, the emotion, the reasons to run trail ultras, this would be it. I even tried to capture that in a video.

This was a great way to kick off my streak. 1 down, 11 more to go. Up next is the Triple Lakes Trail Marathon in Greensboro on Oct 29. Run more trails!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hello October

September turned out to be a pretty fantastic month!  It started with a very comfortable labor day weekend and wrapped up with a gloriously cool weekend.

Swim: 25,800 yards, 8 swims
Bike: 0
Run: 102 miles, 11 runs, 1 race
Strength: 4 times
Yoga: 8 times

Not bad numbers overall. I thought I had more yards than that in the pool, but 25k is still alright. 102 miles is a bit low for the last month of marathon training, but I did have some taper time in there. The one race was the Oak City Mile, and when the race is only 1 mile you're not going to have a huge month. It's got me setup for an amazing October!

It also left me at 980 miles of running on the year, which means I'm over 1000 now. That might have been a goal for the year, maybe it was 1200. I better check on that. It's still cool.

Topless year
I actually got to ride around a lot with the top down on the old Audi, but didn't get too many pictures. It was really hot for a large percentage of the month but did eventually get more comfortable.

At the church on 9/14

Happy swimmer after practice on 9/28
after swim practice back at work on 9/28. Tough day at the office!
Other cool stuff
Facebook prompted for a memory that Lena thought we should recreate. After a race in 2009 Ella got up on my shoulder. She's so grown up now that it's hilarious.

They grow up so fast!

She's too big for this now! I need medical attention.

I got to run my favorite 20 mile route into Umstead this month! First time since March.

Lena got her best friend to join the gymnastics class too!

The teacher is trying to help Lena get over the bar. She's loving it.
Overall September had a lot of fun! But October is usually my favorite month of the year. So let's see what's going to happen next.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Random August Pics

Yea I know September is almost over, but it's been busy. And there is still some random stuff from the Hell month that was August that I haven't recorded for posterity here. So this should be fun. I'll get back to the Periodization & Body Composition soon.

Double rainbow on 8/5 driving near the NC State football stadium

Got a date night with that smoking hottie for some Pho Vietnam on 8/13

Ella loves her mexican food

Evil Genius started gymnastics!

She's on the bar

her selfie game is too strong. She loves that outfit

For this last one, we redid a bed next to the back door. It was a nice weekend project even if it was too hot to be out there doing that. Kelley did all of the prep work and had all of the ideas. I laid the brick and spread the mulch, she transplanted those hostas. It turned out really well, and now we have a nice place to store the trash & recycling bins.