Sunday, April 23, 2017

Weekend Happy Fun Times

There is a lot going on this weekend! It has been really hot here in Raleigh. Like into the 90's hot already, and it is still April. This summer is going to be miserable again if this keeps up. Yesterday I swear it was 91* in the afternoon heat, and today only got up to 53* and felt amazing (but it rained all day). Here's what's going on this weekend:

1. My awesome brother Michael is playing in a HUGE festival in Charleston. The headliners are The Avett Brothers, Jump Little Children, Nathaniel Rateliff, and Dawes. There's about 15 bands, he's playing in his own band (Slow Runner) and on keys for another band.
2. The Swim Around Lido Key is going on just south of Sarasota, Florida. 7 miles in clear gulf waters. KC and some other RAM teammates did this one, it's the US Masters Open Water Championship. Looked like an amazing time.
3. Last year I chose to knock Delaware from the 50 state list by doing the Trap Pond 50k, which happened this morning. My choice for this weekend was to do the race. My last state was Alabama last February, so it's been over a year and I was ready to get back out there.

Of course, my right foot is still busted. Can't run a step. Needless to say that between choosing running of those 3 options, not being able to run, then having that heat kick it I was a bit depressed this weekend. The cooler temps today really helped, and my boat is really coming along nicely.

In fact, all I could do was volunteer this year at the Umstead 100. It's always one of my favorite days of the year and I had several friends lined up for my pacing services. I had to turn them all down at the last minute, but I did get to volunteer at aide station #2.

Umstead was hot and angry that day, like an old man trying to send back soup

Tammy Massie! My ultra bestie

Brian! Cledawg finished in 21 hours
Tammy finished her 10th Umstead 100, getting her 1000 mile buckle. It was an amazing time and I wish more than anything else that I could have been out there running trails with her after dark.

The next weekend, I got to go to The Masters golf tournament again down in Augusta Ga. I took my friend Taylor from church, and we had an incredible time. He had never been to Augusta National before. The weather was cool but I ended up getting sunburned anyway. We were just in Augusta for the day on Friday, and spent a couple of nights at my parents house too. Taylor is a real craft beer aficianado and I'm also quite beer-friendly so we had a blast.

ready for some live golf!

After a hot day watching assholes hit a ball with sticks - I got a new hat
The next weekend was Easter, and we had a major production going at church. Easter music is my favorite, and if Umstead 100 day is one of my favorite days of the year, then Easter is also one of my favorite holidays. [other favorite days are the first day of the college football season, any marathon day, and usually thanksgiving day]

Easter family portrait in front of the flowered cross

The garden! I planted tomatoes and peppers from Mom
I came home from the Masters trip with plenty of tomatoes and bell pepper plants that Mom had started from seed, and had previously prepped the soil in the raised beds for a garden this year. Now is the time to plant, so I got those in the ground after church & brunch stuff. We actually got to give the Masters tickets to Kelley's dad for Thursday of the tournament, then Taylor and I went on Friday. Taylor came back with some plants as well for his garden.

That brings us back to this weekend. Umstead 100, Masters, Easter, Trap Pond 50k, then next weekend we have something special planned to wrap up the month. What was supposed to be 3 full marathons in March and 2 50k's in April has now become just the one half marathon. What's come out of my busted foot has been a lot of fun. Maybe not as much fun as actually being able to run around all of these other activities, but fun nonetheless.

After we got that much of the garden planted, Kelley's mom wanted to put some other plants in to fill out the beds a bit so we went to the farmers market. I got a ghost pepper and a carolina reaper, the ladies all got something else that they wanted (namely cucumbers and okra) and the garden filled up. Also you'll notice the muscadine vines are fully leafed out and looking great this year behind those beds. And since I have been leaving the boat pictures and progress on my other blog, I'll wrap up with finished garden and boat-in-progress pictures.

Just the sides! It looks like a boat now

Plant haul from the farmers market - $19

Got the bottom on the boat

Happy boatbuilders

All the plants are in the ground

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Truth

Well it was a March this year. All month long was a straight walk through time.  Here's how it broke down:

Swim: 14,900 yards, 6 swims
Bike: 11.8 miles, 1 ride
Run: 13.1 miles, 1 run, 1 race
Strength: 5 times
Yoga: nada

The storyline for this month centers around the foot injury. I was in physical therapy at Raleigh Orthopedics for 4 weeks. Funny thing was, I didn't actually see much improvement while in PT. The guy was great! I made him watch me run during the last appointment. He did find a flaw where my right knee is collapsing in, signifying a hip weakness on my right side. When I can actually run again, this will be useful information.

The half marathon at Myrtle Beach is still my only run since January. It was a complete disaster. If I can't do what I want to do the way I want to do it, then it's time to move on. 3 full marathons in march and 2 50k's in April have become the MB half and volunteering at the Umstead 100. So my entire spring plan is scrapped. I still have about 4 more weeks before the fall plan falls behind, but I haven't worked up a training plan yet.

My swim volume is a bit lower than I expected, but I have been getting busy towards the end of the weeks. The real story is the strength training. It's been going really good. Last year I set and failed at a goal to bench press 225 lbs, but I think I'm really close now. Haven't gone for the 1 rep max lately but it's about time to try. Last year when I was trying, I was completely unable to lift as much as I am now. In particular, I tried 185 lbs for 7 sets of 3 reps last year, and bailed after the 2nd set. Last week I finished that lift and added a few extra reps in there for good measure. Weightlifting good.

Yoga still hurts my foot. I haven't even unrolled the mat all month. Now in April, my foot is finally starting to feel some relief, as in it doesn't hurt all the time. Every day, yes, but I'll get an hour here and there where there is no pain. So I know it's just a matter of time. The PT thinks starting yoga now would be a good idea.

If I am done with running, I can still swim. Signed up for the 3 local open water swim races this year already, that's going to be a fun time. Also, I can move on to other hobbies. So next, I'm getting into a more specific facet of woodworking, boatbuilding. I've been making sawdust for about 20 years now, usually furniture of home repairs. But building a boat is a completely different endeavor. Using epoxy and fiberglass tape or cloth, getting straight clean lines and a watertight seal, designing a boat that's light enough to carry yet strong enough to hold people. It's a very daunting challenge that I have been looking forward to for a long time. It's so challenging actually, I started a new blog to document my boatbuilding adventures - ncboatbuilder.blogspot.com. Fortunately, I'm just as behind in blogging there as I am over here. ha!

So I'm making the best of this tough situation and doing whatever I can to stay sane. My first boat is coming along nicely, so that's really fun. There was some other fun stuff that happened in March too:

Camilias came into bloom and fell off

They actually make a beer called Stupid Sexy Flanders! The Simpsons for the win!

I drank a beer. Bottle Rev has become one of my favorite spots in Raleigh

We got snow! First snow this year was March 12


This was my company's big March Madness party. yes, I was alone.

Got me on Tybee Island!

This hair is all gray. Getting old sucks!

I went to Bottle Rev again

Snow is gone and the muscadines are starting to leaf out! Spring is here!
 This is post #800 for me on the old smoke trainer blog. When I started this on a whim in 2008 I had no idea I would still be here over 8 years later, documenting my growth, successes, failures, and family time. I've written out what I've learned as an athlete (well, I still have a few more of those posts to write) and learned what I like. And what I like is open water swimming, 4 hour marathons, and trail ultras. Just because I can't do what I want to do right now doesn't mean this is the end of my athletic pursuits. Open water swim season will be here before you know it.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Tybee Vacation

This spring for the kids track-out we planned a family vacation. It started with Kelley's mom taking them down to the lake for a weekend, then my mom picked them up on Monday to head for the coast. Kelley and I are always grateful for a few kid-free days! Tybee Island is outside of Savannah GA, and our story begins on Wednesday.

Funny Faces

Giant German Beer

and cookies & Innis & Gunn for St Patricks day
Ok, fine, we spent the kid free days enjoying ourselves a bit.

It's about a 6 hour drive from Raleigh down to Tybee. I took off W/T/F from work, so we headed down wednesday morning and got there in time for dinner at AJ's seafood. It was amazing as always, they really do have the best shrimp on Tybee.
The path from our house to the beach

Kids were happy to be at AJ's as well
After dinner we made it down to the beach for a bit before sunset. We saw some kind of strange sea ducks floating around, but it never flew away. Also I got a really cool picture of us with the Tybee lighthouse in the background.

Evil Genius loves those magnet earrings because she refuses to get her ears pierced
Thursday was a bit cold, so we opted to go to a nearby park instead of going to the beach first thing. Then we quickly realized that our kids are now too old to typically enjoy going to a park. ha! Didn't see that one coming. Every other kid there was half their size.

Ella's as long as the slide!

She still fits on the swings

This super-creepy tree was full of birds
Later we went into downtown Savannah. Sav is an incredibly beautiful city that's always a lot of fun. We did some shopping on Rivers street, played in the squares, and enjoyed the spanish moss in the huge oak trees. Amazing.

Ella stopping that ship from reaching the harbor

Savannah's waving girl statue

Those trees! This is downtown in a big city?

Playing in the historic squares
Ella loves all things pirate, and mom's birthday is coming up so we decided to take everyone to dinner at the Pirate's House. This is one of the oldest historic homes in Georgia. Supposedly there was a tunnel that Blackbeard the Pirate used to get from the water into the house where he kept some treasure. It was also heavily featured in Robert Louis Stevenson's book Treasure Island! So the atmosphere was unique and the food was amazing. We all had a blast in there. Ella was in her natural habitat.


she's too funny

a fireplace full of skulls! argh!

Friday was quite a bit warmer, so we ended up going down to the beach for a bit in the morning. The kids got in the water but it was a bit too cold for me. Still good to just walk around and get some time in the sun listening to the waves and talking to this beauty


and that was the last picture I took! Strange that I didn't get a single picture of my parents. Dad got a wild hair and came down on Friday afternoon. We went to his favorite place on the island for dinner, they pass out free shots to salute the sunset every day! We ate a bit early for that, but still got to enjoy a few cold beers with my old man, then watched the NCAA tournament games at the house afterwards with a few more. Dad's parkinsons disease is really starting to limit his mobility, it really makes me treasure the time we get to spend together just sitting around drinking beer and talking shit about sports.

My plan for Saturday was supposed to start with my running the Skidaway Island Marathon, but unfortunately my foot is still too busted so that didn't happen. It was also supposed to end with another massive platter of fried seafood, and that didn't happen either. The kids started back to school on monday, so we decided to head back to Raleigh on Saturday to save Sunday to recover from the road trip. The drive back was uneventful. Not being able to run the marathon thanks to an injury was really depressing. I want to be healthy and out there doing what I love to do! But overall missing the race did not put a damper on the overall vacation.

Turns out the wife of one of my fraternity brothers ran Skidaway, and I had no idea they were in town until we were almost back on the road home.  My friend Charlotte ran the Wrightsville Beach marathon, her 100th overall. There was a big party that we missed, but I'm super proud for both of them. Shanti had a nice PR in the skidaway half and Charlotte had a killer party with lots of running friends there.

Another fun trip to Tybee is in the books! We all had a blast. The kids didn't want to leave. Mom and Dad stuck around another night to get everything cleaned then headed back to Greenville. This is why I really enjoy the year-round school schedule. We get to do this kind of thing in the spring when it's actually pleasant to be there. Actually it could have been a bit warmer but everything else was really perfect.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Myrtle Beach Half Marathon 2017

Ah the Myrtle Beach Marathon. The best and really only good reason to visit MB. This time it was made better because we left the kids with Kelley's mom so we got a weekend all planned out for ourselves!
Road trip!

Couple of hitches, however. Ella has been sick off and on for about 3 weeks. Poor thing has been blowing it out of both ends, bless her heart. Sometimes at the same time (gross!) so it hasn't been pretty. Also my foot prevented any running at all since Jan 12, so I was going in totally cold. Not just untrained, but untrained and still in a fair amount of pain. I've been swimming, so hopefully a combination of arthritis medication and lung capacity could muscle me through something. I decided to drop back from the full and just run the half.

Packet pickup was smooth, but had the longest line ever seen for the swag. Great swag though, nice tech shirt and socks, even a new pair of orange sunglasses. And I ran into my friend Ocean there - hadn't seen her in a while.


Race day started really smooth. Got up before the alarm, dressed, medicated, ate breakfast, walked out to the start in plenty of time. Only problem was this asinine security line to nowhere. They had fenced off the sidewalk to be sure only the runners got into the starting corral, but it just turned into a bottleneck. I told people specifically that I would be hanging out around the 4 hour pace group and to find me there because I would be looking for them.

Have to turn right at that stop light to get to the starting corral
Literally, I made my way to the back of the massive pack of runners (about 4000 people total?) and heard 3 - 2 - 1- GO! No chance of finding my friends.


Still got a starting line picture
Then it was time to run. Took a couple of minutes to get over the starting line but eventually I took my first steps in over 7 weeks and it felt amazing. Muscle memory is a funny thing. As soon as my legs started turning over my foot began hurting worse, but I expected that. Mostly I tried to just appreciate the moment of finally running again. Since I started at the very back it was easy to pass lots of people in the first few miles.

I hit the 10k mark in 1:02, so that's not bad at all. In those first few miles I saw my friend Charlotte, running her 99th marathon and we talked for a while. I also ran some with Relentless Forward Commotion - always great to see Heather out there.

Charlotte always runs in costume - she was 99 bottles of beer today
Eventually I also caught up with the 4:15 pace group, but then had to poop and never saw them again. Really miles 6 - 10 were pretty uneventful, thank goodness. I didn't wear the garmin (that 1:02 split came from the official results), but it started at 6:32 am and I took this pic at the 10 mile marker at 8:20 am, so we'll call that around 1:48. Pretty sluggish by my standards, but again I was just happy to be out there.
Still almost smiling
At the mile 11 marker the wheels fell off. My arthritis really kicked in on my hands, I couldn't come anywhere close to making a fist anymore. My legs were killing me, the injured foot felt like it was going to fall off. I decided to just walk it in from there. It had gone from "not fun" into "completely miserable" territory. I would jog a little bit here and there when I wanted to get away from someone annoying, but for the most part I just kept my head down and kept moving forward.

Evil Genius decided to call me in mile 11. Fortunately I wasn't even out of breath and could easily talk to her, although I did feel like kind of a douche for taking the call in the middle of a race. She said mommy wasn't answering which meant Kelley was still asleep and she needed to relay some instructions. Ella had barfed again that morning, a couple of times and wanted us to come home. Actually, EG gave specific instructions. 1. Finish the race 2. take a shower and eat something 3. take Mommy for a long walk on the beach where you can hold hands, then 4. drive back to Raleigh. Isn't that sweet.

Got my medal!
I hit the finish line in 2:27:38, which is a far cry from the 1:47 I put up the last time I ran the half here. But you can only be so upset about finishing a half marathon with absolutely no training. I didn't really stick around for the post race festivities this time, but they are fantastic. I really wanted that beer, but first priority was finding a bathroom. Those were on the way out of the park anyway, so I just headed back to the hotel.

After a quick shower we still hit the breakfast at the hotel. Our little secret is that we always stay at the La Quinta at Broadway at the Beach. It's nice, clean, cheap, and you can walk to the start/finish line. We also managed to walk some of the stores at Broadway, and did hold hands for a bit. But then headed back to Raleigh pretty soon. Stopped in the small town of Calabash NC for some lunch and shopping, and still made it back to Raleigh before dinner. Ella was feeling better the next day. And my first race of 2017 is in the books.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Secondary

The joint pain feels pretty good. We've had some amazing weather here in NC. I haven't started physical therapy yet just because I've been unable to get an appointment. Saturday is the Myrtle Beach half marathon, I'm looking forward to running for the first time since January. Monday is my follow up appointment with the orthopedist, then Tuesday is the first physical therapy appointment. It should be an appropriate recovery from attempting to run my first 13.1 miles since mid-January.

Swim: 16,400 yards, 6 swims
Bike: 28.4 miles, 3 rides
Run: 0
Strength: 4 times
Yoga: 1 time

February started off pretty decent, but before too long the total body inflammation kicked in. that was really rough. Remember like 3 years ago when I could workout 14 times a week? yeah, now I got in 14 workouts on the month. I'm getting used to this much rest, and can understand why fatties are such a fan of being lazy. I think I got my nutrition under control too, I've been vegan for a couple of weeks now but it's not having the same benefits that it did a few years ago.

I've been hanging upside down some and I think it's really helping. Literally, I picked up some gravity boots from Amazon and have been hanging from the iron gym. It's awesome. Really helps my back and knees feel better.



Other Fun Family Stuff
After last month's drone experiment the kids loved playing with my old radio controlled car. We're having a blast. We also got in some fun date nights, and Evil Genius had a science fair project due.


Ella left me a sweet note asking to go play with the car


I like to repeat the joke

On a Habitat for Humanities project with the team from work!


My whole team joined up for a day of Build a Block. It was great fun and really built some comraderie. So nice that our company gives us two days a year to volunteer!

Hope you had a great February too! The second(ary) month of the year is always short, sometimes leaves me sick, but this year also had some fun.