Monday, December 22, 2008

2009 begins Today!

I have made my New Year's resolution a bit early. Well, its not that I made it early, more like I've started working on it early. 2009 will be the year of the "Marathon", and training begins today!
This week's training looks like this:

Monday - 3 miles plus 500 yd swim
Tuesday - 45 minute spin class plus 3 mile run
Wednesday - 3 mile run plus 500 yd swim
Thursday - Off - Merry Christmas
Friday - 3 mile run plus 500 yd swim
Saturday - 6 mile run
Sunday - Strength

I have spelled out a 16 week plan with specific workouts and rest days throughout. Allowances will be made for any modifications that need to be made. All days will have a run followed by a swim or a bike ride / spin class followed by the run. There will be one rest day and one strength day during the week.

It is my goal to register and run the Country Music Marathon on April 25, 2009. It is my intention to have at least one full 26.2 marathon before training for and participating in the Ironman 70.3 triathlon. Now, with that being said, if I can simultaneously train for both and later in the summer be in shape to do justice to a 70.3 then, that will be.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's Official...

Official results for the Memphis St Jude's Half Marathon have been posted. My time was: 1hr, 58min, 57 seconds. A new PR!

Memphis St Jude's Half Marathon

We arrived in Memphis as planned, mid afternoon on Friday. After checking in at the hotel, we proceeded to find our way to the Convention Center to pick up the registration packet and to walk through the expo. I was assigned number 9634. After a couple of passes through he exhibitor booths we ran into some of our HEAT friends and we made plans for dinner.
At 6 pm we gathered to make a decision as to where we would go have our pre-race meal. Our first choice turned out to be very crowed so the group opted to walk across the street to a place called Mesquite Chop House. It appeared to be a fine, upscale restaurant and they had a table ready for our group of twelve. Other than being sat next to the front door where the cold breeze from the outside would send chill up our spine every time the door would open, the table seemed appropriate for our needs.
This post is not about the restaurant experience so I will just say that the server was awesome and the food was good... once we were served. Enough about that.
Made it back to the hotel around 10pm and hit the sack shortly thereafter. I slept well until somewhere around 3am when I woke up thinking about the race and how my body would perform in the cold weather.
We arrived at the race site and scrambled a bit to find the location of the start. We thought it would be best to follow the crowds but at first it looked like we were all lost. We asked a police officer if he could point us in the right direction, but he had no idea. So we just followed where people seemed to be going.
We finally found the spot with about half hour to spare and proceeded to do my stretches and warm up. Then I posted myself in corral number six. According to my estimated finish time, this is where I needed to be. Slowly the corral got crowded, very crowded. The estimated eleven thousand marathoners and half marathoners were all anxious and ready to run. There were some fifteen corrals in all was my estimate. One corral was supposed to be sent out every couple of minutes to give the runners and opportunity to spread out and find a pace. Not sure at this point what happened but the first 4-5 miles of the race where crowded, very crowded. It was very difficult to find a pace for the pace was pretty much dictated by the pack. I found out after the race that two corrals were sent out at a time and that the time between corrals was no where near the two minutes.
The first few miles of the run where good for me. My pace was steady and increasing as I had planned. By mile 5 my pace was at 8:40, which game me plenty of room to be able to accomplish my sub two hour finish time. To do this, I figured I needed an average pace of around 9 minutes.
The run course itself was pretty nice and at times it had a few challenges. The toughest portion, I thought, was around the area of the Memphis Zoo. Could also have been that the miles were adding up quickly. Then we came to the Poplar Avenue stretch. A long stretch of road that seemed to go forever.
At this point I knew that I didn't have much time to spare if I wanted to make my goal. My "slow down and catch my breath" zones would have to be managed very carefully. I remember reading about how to get over the need to slow down when you know you shouldn't. I picked a spot some twenty blocks down the road and focused on it. It was my intention to make it here and then decide if a slow down was what I really needed. After arriving here I just kept on going. This plan worked and it worked great.
There were plenty of water stations throughout the course One every mile or so. This seemed to be adequate for most everyone's needs. These, however were very crowded and at times impossible to take advantage of. I have thought that it would be a good idea to bring my own fuel belt, fully loaded to these events. After today, I think I will make it a practice. Additionally, this will also give me a place to store my energy gels.
The last couple of miles were difficult in as much as it took more mind than matter. My pace had slowed down close to the 9 minute and I knew I didn't have much to spare, so dig down deep I had to.
As I crossed the finish line, my gps read 1hr, 59minutes. As it appeared I had made my goal. Now I wait for the official results. Shouldn't be to different. I hope.
My overall opinion of this race is that it was a well managed, well planned event. Nice course, not to hard, not to soft. The crowds were big and very helpful to the runners. If you're serious about achieving a personal record, I'm not sure this is the place to be, specially once you get into the 8 minute pace due to the fact that the crowded field makes this very difficult. This however, is a great race for a wonderful cause, so support it if you can.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

You Know You're Hooked...

There's much conversation going around the tri circles that the sport is such that "once you try it, you're hooked for life". Well, I'm not here to dispute this claim, heaven forbid, for I am probably as hooked on triathlons as I have ever been hooked on anything. Well, except for my daily cup of Colombian Coffee.
So I did a small informal research to find what the classic symptoms are of Triathlon Addiction. Here's what I've found out:

* You find a way to bring up your triathlon training, competition and events during any conversation with anyone.
* The spare tire on your vehicle is a bike.
* Your favorite kind of car is one with a USAT sticker.
* Your bike costs more than your car.
* Your new circle of friends is made up of triathletes.
* Your Internet social network's list of friends in mostly triathletes.
* You know what heart rate zones are and you know what yours are.
* You know what VO2 is.
* Your web browser's bookmarks are 90% triathlon sites.
* Your Children call you a geek... but not the tech type kinda geek.
* You never train with the same outfit twice in one week.
* You're okay with a 5am, sub 30 degree weather training run.
* You have next year's races all planned out.
* You have registered for next year's races.
* Your favorite store is your multisport supply store.
* Your multisport store has your personal information handy... really, really handy!
* You spend your annual clothing budget all on training / racing apparel, all in one visit.
* You find justification for spending $300 for a gadget the size of a kitchen timer that straps to your wrist that gives you all the information you need to get you where you're going.
* You claim you "just want to finish the race" but you find yourself looking at the race results for your age group and think that you could have been in the top three, if only...
* You have a collection of bib numbers decorating a wall in your house.
* Your tee shirt collection is second to none.
* You convince yourself that you look good in your new Spandex.
* When buying a new car the first consideration is how will it look with your bike on the back.
* When looking for a new house the first three questions to your realtor are: Where's the nearest pool?, Where's the nearest bike trail? and where's the nearest track?
* You know what carb loading is, and you're okay with that.
* You're a man, and you understand the importance of shaving your legs.
* Your daily diet includes Powerbars, gatorade, protein bars, gels, water, smoothies.
* You know what "bricks" are.
* When you're almost drowning, after you crash your bike or puke on the run, your only question is: "When's the next tri?"
* Your favorite day of the month: The day your "Triathlete", "Runner's World" and "Bicycling" magazines arrive in the mail.

This list may sound, to some of you, like a confession of sorts. I must agree that I am experiencing some, but not all, of these symptoms. So I guess I have a long way to go to be truly addicted, right?

Becoming addicted to triathlons is completely understandable. Competitions, losing weight, enjoying exercising and meeting a bunch of new friends is all addicting. This sport is really about each person finding out what they and their own body can accomplish, but sometimes with the encouragement of others.

My hats are off to all the newbies, rookies and first timers who are quickly becoming addicted to triathlons. Be smart, be safe and keep on tri-ing.

I also found out that there's no cure for this. The only support group you'll find is one that'll get you deeper and deeper into this addiction. So, by all means... enjoy while there, there's no ride quiet like it.

Please let us know what symptoms you have experienced and how you're coping with them. Do so by hitting the "comments' link button at the bottom of this post.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Memphis... Here I Come!

In just four days and a few hours I will be in Memphis running in the St Judes Memphis Half Marathon. From the reports on their website, the race has been sold out, which means that some 8,000 runners will be taking it to the streets on Memphis on Saturday at 8 o'clock in the morning.
My training journey for this event has been uneventful. My long run was two Saturdays ago. On Thanksgiving Day I ran the Indian Lake Loop 5 mile run in my hometown of Hendersonville, TN, and the morning after I did another run with a group of friends. In between, before and after all these, I followed a training plan as I have done in the past. On Saturday I hit the pool for an easy 1700 meter swim and yesterday afternoon it was the gym for a round of light weights.
Later this afternoon I plan on an easy 4-5 mile run, tomorrow a spin class, on Wednesday some 2-3 miles and on Thursday and Friday I will rest. A routine similar to this I have followed on my previous events and has worked beautifully.
My goal for Saturday is to have a good race. To do my best and to run safe. However, I wish to have a time of 1hr50m but I will be happy with anything under 2hrs.
Although I feel a bit sluggish, I feel that my energy level is high. My back pain, on a scale of 0-10 is around the 6 - 7 level. It tends to get this high specially right before an event. Could be the build up from all the training. My ankles feel good and my knees are pain free! Knock on wood! After this race, there will be time to rest, but for now...Memphis, Here I Come!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Run, Even When It Hurts

The alarm clock went off at 4:30 in the morning. Woke up got out of bed, went to my office to look at the outside temperature and all I could see was the # "1". Didn't bother to see what the second digit was, could have been 11, could have been 19. Didn't really matter. Went back to bed and reset the alarm for 6:30. At least at this time the sun would be out, not that I thought it would make a difference with the temperature, but it sure was nice stealing those extra two hours.

At 6:30am the thermometer read a frigid 20 degrees. That seemed more manageable, I thought. Put on the coffee and dropped a bagel in the toaster. Got dressed, eat my bagel and drank a cup of coffee, stretched and off I went... It was now somewhere around 7am and the temperature was 22 degrees.

So how cold was it? Just to tell you that as I left the house our two Siberian Huskies just lifted their head and halfway looked at me with that "Are You Crazy" look and went back to sleep.

It was a cool, crisp, beautiful morning. It didn't feel as cold as I thought it would. I have done my homework and purchased the right kind of clothing for this weather. Only discomfort was on my fingers, but they too felt great after a couple of miles. I was wearing ear covers with no hat and for a bit I wonder if maybe I should let my hair grow, but just for a very brief moment. That as well, took care of itself in no time. I was off to a good start, it's going to be a great run.

It was somewhere on mile seven that things headed south. Well, at least that's how it seemed at that moment. I was on pace and on track to run a sub 2 hour 13 mile when my right foot stepped on top of a rock of boulder proportions. Really, it was thaaaat big. And down I went. In that millisecond between the time when I knew I was going down to the time when I went down 423 thoughts came through my mind. Most of them had to do with how silly I must look to anyone looking, to will I still be able to run in Memphis on December 6th, to my ankle, my hands, my elbows, knees and back. But the dominating thought that seemed to take over was just one that wondered if I had ruined my new running clothes.

As I lay on my back I began to take inventory. Back felt good, no damage there. Ankle a little sore but not broken, thank God. Right elbow somewhat sore, left one okay. Left knee check, right knee hurt. And the hands, oh the palm of my hands. The right one was aching a lot, the left one was hurting bad. It took the bulk of the force as I landed. I got up and started walking slowly just to make sure. At this point the right knee and both palms were in pain, severe pain. I was just a mile or so from where my wife was exercising so I thought that maybe I could make it there and get a ride home with her.

I picked up the pace and much to my surprise everything felt good. Just my hands, they were in serious pain. So I decided to try to finish my run. The further I got the better I felt and in just a mile or so, the pain was gone. Amazing thing adrenaline does. I finished the 13 miles in 2 hours and 7 minutes.

My wife got home and saw my wounds and after she asked how I was she told me to be ready for the pain to show up. I knew that. I knew that after the body cooled down all the aches and pains of the fall would surface. And boy did they ever. A friend has told me to be proud of my war wounds and that, I am. It's a great story to be able to tell.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Balancing Act

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. No opportunity to keep a schedule, lots of reasons to try. The date of my next event, the Memphis / St Jude Children's Research Hospital Half Marathon, on December 6th will be here in just 20 short days, the time to train has to be found, no matter what the conditions or circumstances.

I have limited the scope of entries to this blog to be running/swimming/biking/triathlon/training related. I will continue as such, exercising editorial rights to slightly veer off on occasions as non related events deem it necessary to do so. Well, in so much that these events affect the focus of the topic at hand.

Two weeks ago, the Belmont University Women's Soccer Team traveled to Kennessaw, GA to participate in the A-Sun Conference Tournament as the #3 seed. As most of my regular readers are well aware, my younger daughter Marcela, is a member of this team. Hopes were high for a good showing and their sights were set on the Championship. It was obvious that a trip to support the team was a must. So we did.

At the same time my responsibility to my employer and my customers could not be compromised, so a plan to accommodate everything had to be drawn. The scheduling Gods saw it in our favor because the games where played at times that allowed us to make the trip and be back to work without missing a beat. Three trips were needed to secure the trophy, three trips we made. No regrets.

Additionally, time had to be found to get in a workout or two. Time to do the week's long run and most of the in-between sessions as well.

Then by virtue of a Championship at the A-Sun Tournament, the team earned a spot in the NCAA tournament, the "big dance", if you will. This game was played last night in Auburn, AL, which meant another five hours and change, one way trip... and back to support the Bruins. And that we did as well.

In the middle of all this, I guess I was not running fast enough because the bug that everyone was shaking caught up with me and for a couple of days it would not let go, but it finally did and I was glad.

Today should have been my 10 mile long run day. Today I chose to rest and relax. Today I took the time to listen to my body tell me to slow down for a step and just take a deep breath. Tomorrow, however, is a brand new day. Tomorrow the road awaits me and the 10 miles will be done.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How safe can running be?

I was a bit alarmed by the news that yet another marathoner died shorty after completing the New York City Marathon on November 2, 2008 and if I read the news correctly there were two other cases of heart attacks during the race.

The alarm bell went off because I have not been running my entire life, I am a late bloomer - per se. It has only been since 2003 that I laced up my shoes and hit the road. Up until then I led pretty much a sedentary life. At that time I was already 49 years young...WOW... has it been five years already!

As luck would have it, the December (2008) issue of Runner's World had arrived just a few days ago and it has a very informative article called "Are Marathons Dangerous? The Truth Behind the Scary Headlines". I sat down and read the entire article, it put things into perspective.

I was reminded that in sports, as in life, there are no guarantees. We can, however, improve the odds in our favor. And that's what we accomplish when we run. And swim, and bike... and repeat.

What is really important is that we train and compete smart and be fully informed. We must learn to push when able to, slow down when need to and stop when we have to.

I for one like my chances a whole lot better now that I exercise the way I do. I know that my overall health is much better for it. I am thirty pounds lighter, my cholesterol is in check, my blood pressure is perfect, my attitude has changed and my outlook has improved. What else can I ask for? I plan on doing a treadmill test sometime in the near future just to make sure all's well. I have no shortness of breath and I can last longer and run farther.

There's history of diabetes in my family and the doctor tells me I'm doing all the right things. Exercising has also been proven to be a factor in preventing dementia and Alzheimer's, this is great news, 'cause I'd like to be able to enjoy my grandson for many, many years to come.

The one and only ailment I have not been able to cure with running or biking or swimming is my back pain. The funny thing is that I am totally pain free while in exercise mode! Go figure, the doctor can't explain. I have learned to manage the pain with stretching... gotta get back to the yoga mat, I really miss this.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Wounded Warrior Project

I received an email yesterday afternoon from a friend that he had received from Senator Bob Corker's office. It spelled out the details for next Saturday's ride to raise awareness to the "Wounded Warrior Project".
I had never heard of this and upon further research I was very glad that my friend had thought enough of me to bring me into the loop.
To learn more about the "Wounded Warrior Project" visit their website. There's an events page that'll show in a calendar where you can participate.
This Saturday's Soldier Ride will be held in Franklin, TN at 9am. The ride will be about 25 miles long starting at the Vaughn Road entrance to Edwin Warner Park. It will go through scenic Williamson County along the Old Natchez Trace and Del Rio Pike and the into Franklin's Jim Warren Park, and back. Similar rides will be held in Little Rock and Memphis.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

First Times

As I have mentioned in prior posts, one of the advantages of this new-found lifestyle is that there's a first time for this and a first time for that. At every turn and with every step, it seems like firsts just keep coming my way.

There was the first time I decided to register for a race. That was some three years ago. The decision was made to participate in the Music City Half Marathon so online I went and register I did. This brought some sense of commitment and purpose to my running.

Then there was the first time I ran past five miles in a single run. I remember that to me this was a huge milestone. Then there were 6 miles, then 7, 8, 9 and then 10! I remember the day I ran those first ten miles in a single run. Can't remember the time, can only remember the feeling. Then, according to my plan, I had to push the envelope to 11 and this was just a week before the half.

The first time I picked up my registration packet was surreal. Couldn't believe that I was actually doing this. Getting the timing chip made me feel, I had arrived. Walking through the fitness expo that day, amongst hundreds of other runners looking like I was lost, was fun and exciting.

Then was the first race itself. Arriving at the site and watching the crowd grow to 30 thousand plus. Amazing. Finding my corral and waiting for the starting gun, unbelievable. The waiting our turn to go through the starting gate, to have the mat read our chip meant that I was at the beginning of my first race.

Two hours and thirty one minutes later I made it to the finish line for the first time. I'm not even sure I can begin to explain how that felt.

Over the following two years I ran my first 5k, my first 10k, my first 10 miles. Bought my first road bike, entered and finished my first triathlon, swam in open water for the first time. I rode my first organized bike ride, all 66 miles of it.

Just recently I made the decision to continue training during the winter months and took keep me honest, I've registered for two half marathons that will be firsts for me; Memphis and Tampa. But training and competing in the winter time will bring a whole new set of challenges, mostly dealing with the weather, the cold weather, the very, very cold weather.

I set out this week to prepare myself for today's long run. The weather lady predicted high 30's for the time I planned to start. Brrrr. Looking through my training gear I realized that cold weather training gear I did not have. Well sort of. I did have gloves, ear covers, a long sleeve running shirt with a running jacket that would do for now. But the legs, oh the legs would be cold and that would be a problem. But that was soon resolved as I purchased a pair of running tights. Never thought I would be wearing, let alone be writing about, wearing tights, but I did and I was glad I did. The first long run in cold weather was very comfortable and as an added bonus, my knees didn't hurt.

I'm looking forward to be able to sit in front of this computer often to report on future firsts. My first sub 2-hour half, my first full marathon, my first Olympic distance triathlon, my first 100 mile bike ride and my ultimate first... 70.3

Friday, October 31, 2008

Just Five Short Weeks!

December 6th will be here in a jiffy, and the Memphis St Jude Children's Research Hospital Half Marathon will be here in no time. Training is going as planned. This week's long run, which I will do tomorrow will be of the 9 mile variety. The weather has changed and man oh man, it's cold in the morning. I think today, I will have to go shopping for some winter running gear.

This fall I added a new element to my training routine; spinning. On Tuesdays and Thursday I do a 45 minute spin class followed immediately with a one mile run. I have done this spin/run thing a few times now and it's pretty cool and not as difficult as I had imagined. My plan is to increase the run, until eventually I complete five miles after the spin.

Several months ago curiosity led me to see what the Facebook buzz was all about. I signed up for a page and added my family, those that were active; my wife Monica and both daughters Juliana and Marcela, as my friends. The page sat idle for several weeks. One day Juliana posted a note on my wall telling me to "get it fixed, dad... it's boring". Wanting to oblige I spent some time making it look acceptable. Added a few more friends, some pictures, a few applications and I was on my way. More family and more friends found their way into my network. This was pretty cool, even some of my daughter's friends sent me requests to be added as my friend! Who would have thought!

As I am one to always be looking for ways to learn and improve on tasks at hand, I began to see what the triathlon/triathlete/running Facebook community had to offer. I quickly found that there are thousands of people involved and sharing their experiences through this medium. Many of which, like myself have created their own blogs. This was interesting to me because I have finally found a purpose for my Facebook page. Mind you friends and family, I love ya'll but I needed more from this in order to stay motivated to stay with it.

Through the USA Triathlon page, the Triathlon Training page, and the Runner's World Magazine page I began to build my network of like minded triathlete and running enthusiasts. I have found people from all over the country and some from right here in Middle Tennessee. It's great to see how much motivation one can get just from reading and watching the progress others have accomplished. This has also been a great vehicle to get this blog promoted within the community using the Blog Networks application. Check it out, it's pretty cool.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My New Challenge

Most everyone following this blog knows of my adventures and misadventures during the past couple of years. You know why I do what I do. You know what brought me to this, and you know why I continue to do this. I appreciate the fact that you have taken an interest in my progress. And now it's time to take it to the next level.

At most every event I have been a part of, I see people from every walk of life supporting their "cause" in their own way. So it wasn't long before I started thinking that it was time to tie my efforts to my very own "cause".

There are so may worthwhile organizations out there, doing some fantastic things. In order to narrow down my choices and to find a renewed reason to continue the hard work, I solicited the help of my family; together we came with the decision that St. Jude Children's Research Hospital would be our "cause". I am running the St Jude/Memphis Marathon on December 6th and I'm using this race to help raise funds for St Jude.

Did you know that over 5400 active patients are seen at St Jude yearly, most of who are treated on a continuing outpatient basis as part of ongoing research programs? The hospital has 78 beds for patients requiring hospitalization during treatment. St Jude has treated children from all 50 states and from all over the world. The daily operating budget for St Jude is over $1.1 million dollars. Most of this money comes from private donations. A small percentage from government grants. No child has ever been refused treatment at St Jude because of the family's inability to pay.

As I go out on my runs I am reminded with each step I take that the challenges I face to get to the finish line is nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to the race these kids and their families are going through. I feel that it is my duty and responsibility to give back in any way I can. I am honored to have been given the chance to become a "St Jude Hero".

So please allow me to ask you to support my efforts. Go to and reach inside your heart.

I thank you in advance!


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Logic trumps!

It's been just a couple of three weeks since the Old Hickory Lake Triathlon here in my hometown of Hendersonville, TN. I spent the next five-seven days after recovering and nursing my bad back. Just this week I started, in earnest, to train for the Marathon in Memphis on December 6th!

Today I ran 13.1 miles, purely coincidental that this happens to be the exact distance of a half-marathon. The time, although not important at this point was 2 hours, 20 minutes and change. I was happy with this, although my knees, ankles and lower back were letting me know that this was just enough.

I have been trying to logically decide and to convince myself that it's time to give the full marathon (26.2 miles!) a whirl. It's something I truly want to do, I guess just to be able to say that I have, for there really is no other reason for this.

But, on this beautiful September morning, as I am making my way through the streets of Hendersonville, I am really and truly enjoying the work. I am not really worried about how far or how fast I'm going, I'm just paying attention to my body and what it's trying to tell me. Somewhere about an hour and a half after I started I'm still feeling really good. I know I can last at least another hour, more or less.

I take a small break to refill my water bottle and to take a second shot of GU jell. I make my way down the straight and long Gallatin Rd., on the way back home. At this point I begin to take a mental inventory of each and every joint that would hurt and I realize that each and everyone is beginning to ache. My right knee buckled at one point and I had to slow down to let it recover a bit. As I look at my gps, I see that I'm on mile ten and still have about three to make it to the house. This last stretch I was being very careful not to do anything silly that would compromise the health of my bones. And then I began to think..."if i were running a full marathon, I wouldn't even be halfway through. There's no way I could make it to the end without doing serious damage."

I took this opportunity to analyze why I was doing this, what would happen to my goals and intentions if I pushed it further. I have nothing to prove to anyone, except myself... and the only thing I have to prove to myself is that I should be able to continue to do what I've set out to do from the beginning, and that is to have fun while continuing to improve my physical condition and mental attitude.

I have been running for a couple of years and so far I have enjoyed every single mile. I cant recall at any point ever wondering why I am doing this, in a negative manner. This summer I tackled the world of triathlons and thoroughly enjoyed it because it provided the extra challenge I was looking for.

And so the decision was made. I would, at least for the time being, forego the idea of running a full marathon. I dont think that I would be happy putting myself in a situation where I begin to wonder why I did something like this! I will, however, leave the door open to revisit this idea in the future.

Logic trumps! If I run a full marathon, I could really do something to my back that would at the very least, sideline me for months and the the worst, sideline me forever. Additionally, the idea of putting myself in a situation of ever wishing, even for a step, that I wish I hadn't done this, is not something I want to do. I know what it takes and what I need to complete a half, this I can live with.

So, for now, I will stick to my schedule of half marathons; the Memphis St Jude's Half, the Gasparilla Half in Tampa and the Music City Half in Nashville

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Old Hickory Lake Triathlon

Twenty Four hours and change after the conclusion of the Old Hickory Lake Triathlon I'm still replaying the race over and over in my mind. Don't get me wrong, I finished the event, and that was my main goal. I have said over and over again, after each and every event that finishing was the goal of each race, as it was, but for this one it couldn't have been any more true.

On Tuesday morning, just four days prior the the tri, I woke up and could hardly walk! Took me several minutes to get out of bed, took me even longer to be able to stand up straight. The two bad discs on my back were at it again. I could feel the pain shooting all the way down my right leg, through my thigh to the knee. As I struggled to the morning two things kept going through my head; what went wrong and will it get better before Saturday morning?

On Wednesday I woke up feeling even more in pain. Nothing I did on Tuesday seemed to help. I just knew that the race in Saturday would have to be bypassed. This was a bummer. I was so looking forward to this one event. It is to be held at home, in front for family and friends, but I knew that feeling how I felt at that point it would be irresponsible to follow through and try to compete.

I continued stretching and concentrated on doing more sets of the back exercises. I pulled out the inversion table and borrowed a massage pad from my sister-in-law. I was not about to accept the fact that I couldn't race without a fight. I postponed the decision to a "game time" decision.

On Thursday morning the pain was a bit more bearable, it seemed that whatever I was doing was working, I was encouraged. By Friday morning, just hours prior to the swim start, I still felt pain and my walking was still affected.

So here it was. Woke up Saturday morning and my decision was to try to do at least ten back press ups as soon as I got out of bed. Assess the pain and make a decision. I was able to do full presses and the pain was almost non-existent. I was ready to go! Got ready and off I went.

The pre-race jitters were huge! Never this intense. There were several issues that contributed to this . How would my back perform and react? How would the swim leg be? This would be the first time I ever compete in open water and how would it go? How about the run? Would my back take the pounding? How would splitting the run in two stages be?

I was number 252 out of 454. My turn came quick and like it or not, off I went. As soon as I got in the water, anything and everything I had learned and practiced at the pool, was gone and forgotten. You cant see with your head in the water so your first reaction is to lift up your head to see where you're going. This alone, seemed to take more energy than anything else I did. When I tried to swim with the right technique, I found myself way off course, again dispensing more energy trying to get back in line. The buoys seemed to be miles away. Boy am I glad I had practiced the backstroke at length. This saved my swim.

Off the water came the first run leg. It started very gingerly as I was trying to assess how my back was feeling. It felt good, not great just good. Got through this stage and made it to the transition area to mount the bike.

The bike stage felt awesome. I feel this is where I made up time lost in the last two faces. All went well until about mile nine when my calves starting cramping up. Found out real quick that you cant climb well when your calves cramped up. Actually, it is very difficult to climb with your calves in pain. But I worked through it and made it back to transition area.

The last stage of the triathlon was the second half of the run. As soon as I started running the left calf started tightening up again, so I stopped immediately, stretched it to prevent further development. This worked somewhat but I still felt the remnants of pain through the remaining of the run.

I'm not sure what my total time was, let alone the splits. Today I was truly not interested in this, I was just happy I was able to finish. Half way through the event I realized that my mid to late week focus on the back pain distracted me from focusing on proper diet and hydration. I felt the effects during the race; I even forgot to take my pre-race Gu Gel as I have done prior to each event and each long session in the past.

Now this triathlon season is over for me. I will concentrate in the next few months in marathon racing. Yes, I did say "marathon" racing. My desire is to run the full Marathon in Memphis on December 6th! We'll just have to wait and see what develops!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Today's the day!

Well, it's a little after 5am, I woke up some 45 minutes ago, did my stretches and my back feels like it's going to make it. Somewhat sore, but not in terrible pain. I decided last night that it I could do 10 press ups this morning without pain, that I would give the tri a try! And it actually felt pretty good... so, off I go.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What went wrong?

Just three days before the Old Hickory Lake Triathlon and I CAN HARDLY WALK!

My recurring back problem has returned, and this time with a vengeance! I can't stand straight, I can't walk straight... it hurts like the dickens. I am doing everything in my power to get the discs back in place in time for Saturday. Stretches, press ups, leg ups, etc. Everything I need to do, I am doing. Now it's just wait and see.

Participation in the event will be a last moment decision. It will be irresponsible and dangerous to try to swim, bike and run feeling like I do... but giving up, I will not!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

HOT 100 - Metric Century

Participating in the HOT 100 - Metric Century (66 mile) Bicycle Ride yesterday was another first for me. I was looking for a bicycle ride experience to put under my belt, and that I did! It was quiet the experience, to say the least... but a great one at that.

I was tested. I was tested to every last bit of my being. I was tested like I had never been tested before. Early in the summer when I started looking for such a ride, my goal was to find one that was amongst other things, a bit challenging but not overpowering. Not having traveled in the bicycle circle as of yet, I was not sure of what to look for so I set off asking questions of anyone who may have had an answer and searching the web for anything that could enlighten me.

I arrived at the site some thirty minutes prior to start time. Plenty of time to get registered, use the facilities, get some energy food in me and ensure my bike was in proper working order. Once all that was completed, it was off to the races... well, it was not supposed to be a race, but tell that to the rest of the pack.

I calculated, to the best of my ability some 500-600 riders. All were sent at the same time, which again to my inexperienced opinion was a big mistake. Immediately off the starting block, big packs formed and I would say that the grand majority of participants (me included) do not know how to ride in a pack. This was sadly evident as in the first, very first turn of the course, a major crash claimed it's first (and I hope its only) casualty. It appeared to me that on this turn, bikes crashed and people tumbled over each other. As I passed the scene, seconds after the incident, help was being administered to a gentleman who appeared not to be very mobile on the ground. I thought about him for a while, I was surely hoping he was alright.

The first 18 miles of the ride where wonderful, easy going, fast passed. Not any major climbs to speak of. I imagine my average speed was somewhere around the 20 mph window for I made it to this spot in less than a hour, and yet I felt that I was not over extending myself. This was how I had planned it. As I chose the 66 mile option, I was to have my first rest stop slightly past the 18 mile marker. It was very evident shortly thereafter why this rest was so strategically positioned at this spot.

Mile 27 brought the first real test of the day. For half a mile more or less, a climb that registerd an 18% climb. This was murderous, it was by any and all accounts the biggest challenge I had experienced all year long. Half a mile of gearing down and cranking up! This was followed by anothor shorter climb at a 13% grade. I had made it through this, I was over the hump or so I thought.

The next fourteen miles or so, where smooth with very small rolling hills. I approached the second rest stop around the 42 mile mark. Here, I took the opportunity to fuel up and recharge my evereadys. I estimate my pit stop lasted some 10 minutes.

And now I was off for the last third of the ride, which proved to be the toughest part of the morning, not just because it was the tail end of a very long morning but because it was evident why they're called "rolling hills". For anyone who may not know, anyone who may be wondering, there's no such thing as an easy, rolling hill course out in the country. When you span three counties, 66 miles of "rolling hills" along a country setting, there's nothing easy about it. Hill after hill, with very little flat land to recharge to end the ride makes for a situation where the very best may question their abilities.

Information is a wonderful thing, at times. At times it could be your worst enemy. Let me explain. I have a gps computer installed on my bike, which gives me any and all information on the fly about my performance. I knew exactly how fast I was going, what my heart rate was, how fast I was pedaling (cadance), how steep the climbs were and for that matter how steep the descents were as well, but unfortunately for us on the bike, the descents are never as long as the climbs. All this at the time seemed to be a wonderful source of help. That is until the tail end of the ride. 20 miles to go, 15 miles to go, 12 miles to go... just two more and I will be in single digits miles to go, I remember thinking. Each stroke seemed to get harder and harder. My toes were killing me, really killing me. I need to work on my pedaling to make sure I don't put undue pressure on the toes. They were bad, I remember thinking that if I had more distance than that I could possibly not make it.

Single digit miles to go. 9, 8, 7, 5 and oh my goodness my toes were hurting, they were hurting bad. 4 miles, it all seemed within my reach, 3 miles, 2 miles, one mile! Yes, I was there, I would finish. Then the computer read 66 miles. I should be at the finish line, but I was not. It was no where in sight. What happened? Are they playing a joke on me? This ain't right! Where are the officials? I want to file a grievance. I should be finished by now. 67 miles and still no finish line... Oh, there it is. I see the school, I see the turn. I AM home. I have finished. I am done. 67.3 miles and I was done! None to soon.

As I look back at the experience I wouldn't change a thing, except I will not keep track of my distance past the three quarter portion of the ride. This was the worst. Counting down, in this case was a detriment. It did not help. I learned from this experience that this distance is just about as far as I would want to go. The hundred mile ride, well... I think that for me, it would take the fun out of it.

I have one more event this summer. In two weeks I will compete in the Old Hickory Lake Triathlon here in Hendersonville. I can't wait.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Looking Back so I can See Ahead

This has been a summer of firsts. First of all, I'm still amazed that I have been able to do what I have done so far. I have competed on my first triathlon, I have been on my bike for a combined total of almost 500 miles, I have been in the water for what seems a million laps - well, not quiet a million, but it sure feels like a million. I have run from 10 to 15 miles per week, not a lot by many's standards, but a bunch by mine.

I still have one more triathlon to compete on. The Old Hickory Lake Triathlon to be held in my hometown of Hendersonville, TN. on September 6th. Not a long one by any stretch of the imagination, but challenging in that the run portion of the event will be split in two. The first leg will be 1.5 miles out of the water and the second leg will be another 1.5 miles out of the bike. I have been on the bike course for a few rides and I think I will be alright. It's the swim that I'm concerned about being my first competition in open water. 400 yards doesn't seem like to far or to big a challenge to swim, I have been able to do without problem in the pool.

I have taken a great interest in improving my bicycle portion of the event. I have been riding most every Saturday for the past couple of months. I have been on rides anywhere from 40 miles to as high as 52 miles. This I have enjoyed the most.

On Saturday, day after tomorrow, I will participate in the H.O.T. 100 bike ride in Murfreesboro, TN. I will be riding the 66 mile course. I am excited, for I do not quiet know what to expect, I'm nervous, for I do not know quiet to expect. An aero bar has been added to my bike in an effort to make the ride a bit more comfortable. Hope it works.

With very few exceptions, I have tried to keep to a six day workout routine; two - three times in the pool, two times on the weights, two - three times run and one - two times on the bike. This, as far as I can tell, seems to be working for me. Will have to wait and see.

To finish out this year, my plans are to do the Memphis - St. Jude's Half Marathon on December 6th. After that I will decide if I will run the Half-Marathon or the Full Marathon in Nashville in April, but before that I have a date with my brother to do the Gasparilla Half Marathon in Tampa, Fl on Sunday March 1, 2009.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

50 Miles! Who would have thunk it?

It's been a couple of weeks since my last update. This has not been due to lack of desire to do so, it has merely been due to the fact I would like to prevent redundancy in my reporting. With that being said, it is with pride and pleasure that I am sitting here after a long, very, very long 5o mile ride.

That's right, you read that right. I did say: "50 miles" - Now, if you're an experienced rider and your long rides are of the centennial type, I apologize for my excitement, but I hope you understand that this is something that I would have never imagined that I was capable of.

A week ago today, I set out to do a ride of the 25-30 mile variety. Before I knew it I had completed 40.2 in 2 hours and 50 minutes. I felt like I had some left in me. This is why I set out today with my mind set on a 50 mile trek.

When it was all said and done, it took me 3:29:39 to complete my goal. I did take two small brakes to fuel and hydrate, each one of about 5 minutes and change, making the actual ride time 3:18:19. Gu gel and half a pbj sandwich accompanied with plenty of water and Gatorade, was today's fuel source. I kept an average speed of 15.2 mph, that is an improvement of .5 mph over last week's 14.7 mph and a moving pace of 3:57 per mile, and improvement of .07 seconds per mile over last week's 4:04 per mile pace.

Biggest difference today is the fact that my climbs are improving... not just a bit, but a whole lot of bit. I have been watching Le Tour de France on the tele and I picked up a pointer or two on how the pros go about the climbs... mind you, I'm not comparing myself to these fine athletes, but what I observed, I put to practice and whaaala, it's working.

Three issues kept today's ride from being a perfect outing. One is the fact that I have not been able to find 100% comfort in the saddle. I do have an idea on how to fix this, but this is not something that I think you would want to know. Issue number two is that the shoe clip on the pedal is not releasing as smoothly as I would like it to, making today the day when I took the second spill! Yea, that's right! Knee scrapped, elbow bruised, pride - more than anything, a little hurt! And last but not least... would the bike rider that scared the biggibies out of me by sneaking up behind me and yelling: "morning", understand that that was not funny! Not funny at all. Next time make some noise or something, would you!

Next on the agenda: 100K ride! In English, that would be 62 miles... give or take a block!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Results - McMinnville Triathlon

Well, not quiet sure what I was expecting and I'm not quiet sure what to think. I do however, now know where to go from here and where I need to improve.
My official times for the McMinnville Triathlon are:

Swim; 9:52 (slower than expected)
t1+bike: 1:03:07 (about what was expected)
t2: 2:32 (much slower than would have liked)
run: 29:43 (about what was expected)
total time: 1:45:13 - not sure what I was expecting.

Where I need to improve: I need to learn to swim "around" slower swimmers. Need to find a better and more comfortable swim pace.
Also, transitions killed me. Really need to practice these.
Additionally, I need to work on getting my heart rate down a bit prior to the end of the bike to ensure a smoother transition into the run. If I can get the run pace at or around 8 min/mile, I could possibly cut five to six minutes off the run time.

Would really like to cut some ten to fifteen minutes off the bike as well. This will require becoming more proficient at managing the cadence.

All in all, I'm pleased. I came in 144 our of 173 men.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

In the books!

It's official, I am now an bonafide, genuine triathlete! But no need to worry, Sports Illustrated will not be knocking on my door anytime in the near future asking for an interview, so anyone out there worrying about a new tri-king being born today... ah, that didn't happen!

What did happen, however, was an experience like no other. The adrenaline, the nerves, the jitters, they all found a common place, right about when it was time for me to take my place in line.

"Number 202" the announcer called, and ready or not, off I went. Into the pool, off to the races. 350 meters (seven lengths of the pool) later my biggest question mark had been answered. Not sure what my time was because as of this writing, the official times have not been posted, but it felt good, really, really good, regardless what the official clock tells me. One of my biggest concerns was that would interfere with younger, faster swimmers. I did not want to be in the way, I did not want to make any waves... no pun intended. What happened instead was just the opposite. But thinking about it closely, that was probably a good thing. It gave me time to catch my breath, and catching it needed.

First transition went okay, just okay. Stumbled a bit getting my gear on for the bike portion of the event. But off I went. The course was nice. Rolling hills, all manageable, none overpowering. Cadence was up, a bit higher than I've had it a practice, close to the 80 rpm. Remember the goal is 90-110. It felt good as well. Actually it felt good because I was overtaken only by a few bikes, all of which were ridden by athletes 10 to 15 years younger than me. If you're wondering how I know they were younger than me its because when the race officials do the body marking, they write your age on your left calf, for they world to see. I did manage to overtake a couple myself. That felt even better. I remember thinking and maybe even telling a few folks that time really didn't matter for me in this event. Well, when you're out there, pedaling your tail off, time does matter, and it matters a lot.

Second transition went bad, really, really bad. I think it took me over two minutes (goal should be seconds, just a few seconds) to change from my biking gear to running gear. This I must practice. It felt like I was stumbling over my own feet just to get myself ready. But finally out I went, off to the run course. As usual and as it has happened during training, the first couple hundred yards were tough. Body needs to get adjusted, legs need to figure out that you have changed gears. Once I got in the rhythm it was smooth sailing. I figured I would take it easy, again... Wrong! There's no taking it easy when someones got a clock on you. I was very thankful for the fact that this was the run course and not the bike course. Let me explain it with just one word: hills! The mother of all hills throughout this course, well at least they looked like they were the mother of all hills and I remember thinking: me, my bike and these hills... not sure that would work!

Was this all worth it? As you approach the finish line and the announcer calls your name... you know at that very moment that yes, it was all worth it!

A few things I learned today. One, I am not as bad as I thought I was in the water. Two, my comfort in the bike is growing. Three, the running still my strongest and last but not least: I suck at the transitions!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Just hours away!

With God's grace, tomorrow at this time I should be either finished or near the completion of my very first, ever triathlon! And as luck would have it, today I find myself in a state of "jitters". I guess the expectation of the unknown is what's most nerve racking. The swim... how will it go? will the countless hours in the pool pay off? Have I done enough? Could I have done more? The transitions? This is totally unknown territory to me. Although I have practiced a few times, it has obviously not been the same; in my driveway vs. the real world! The bike? will the 200 miles plus I've logged in the past three weeks pay off? How about the run? Although a short one by comparison, will my body, specifically my back, hold out? Do I have all the equipment needed to complete the race? I have been gathering all in a pile next to my bike for the past week or so. But have I forgotten anything? Jelly Beans or Gu Jell?, Water or Gatorade? I must trust what I have done in practice and not change for the race. There can be no surprises!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Back On The Saddle Again...

With just a little less than a week before my first tri and with last weekend's experience behind me, I wasted no time to get back on my bike. On Wednesday this week, I rode about 10 miles followed by about a mile running. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday... it was pool time.
This morning, I got up at the crack of dawn... well for me, on a Saturday it was the crack of dawn. Put on my gear, got my transition stuff ready for the run after the ride and off I went. I managed to ride a total of 17.5 miles on a course which I would rate, on a scale of 1-10 (1 being easy, 10 being tough), about an 8. An 8 because of the hills, one of which went from an elevation of 501 feet to 622 feet in .6 miles! Remember the story of the Little Engine that Could? Well, that was me when I first approached the hill and while I was going up the hill: "Yes, I can... Yes, I can.... Yes, I can" and when I reached the top: "I did, I did"!
The rest of the ride went smoothly, I average cadence was 70 rpm, well below the suggested 90-110, but well within my comfort zone. I stayed hydrated and life was good.
My transition time was exactly 58 seconds. For those of you not familiar with what a transition is, it's the time in between on event to the next. In a triathlon, there are two transitions; T1 and T2. T1 is the time between swim and bike, and T2 is the time between bike and run.
I drank plenty of water, changed my gear and off I went.
The first quarter mile, give or take a step or two, was pure hell on earth. Your body is trying to adjust from one event to the next. You've been on a bike for and hour and now you're asking you body to run! Just imagine! If there was ever a time when you begin to think "why am I doing this to myself", this would be the time. Again, that Little Engine came back: "I know I can, I know I can".
Once the adjustment period passed, it was all good. Not going to tell you that it didn't hurt, 'cause it did, but it was bearable, doable and well within my realm of ability. I was able to get 3.3 miles in. I was happy, very happy with that.
I am extremely excited about next week Saturday. It's off to the McMinnville City Triathlon. A new experience, which I'm looking forward to.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

OH my gosh! What was I thinking!

Today I learned a valuable lesson. When you decide to go ride (bike) with a group, make sure, absolutely sure, that you are at the same level they are. Cannot express how important this is. Let me explain.
Got an email yesterday afternoon. In this email they were inviting folks who wanted to ride today (Saturday) at 7 in the AM! Well, wanting to do a ride with a group, I decided to tag along. In this email it said that there would be a ride for beginners; that would be me!
So I get there, and all's looking good. Some 15 folks are getting ready for said ride. Am looking around and I know no one! No big deal. I was there, I could do this with these folks. After all, being so new in the sport, I haven't met everyone yet.
One of the riders comes up to me an introduces himself. Asked if I had ever ridden with them. I said no. He said OK. Off we go.
Immediately out of the parking lot, we turn right. So far so good. We're all keeping pace with each other, "this is good" I remember thinking. Then I find myself in the back of the pack. "Being in this position has to have some sort of responsibility" I thought. "Do I need to warn the pack when there's a car coming?" Well, I thought I would catch up to the bunch and then ask. HA! catch up, famous last words.
Things were going okay, felt good about myself for the next 15 or so...feet. Then a hill. The first of what seemed a thousand hills. And I was dust. Didn't get much better after that.
I quickly realized that I was with the wrong group. I am sure at this point they were asking themselves: "who is that new guy, and what is he doing here?"
You see, as far as experience and ability levels I was here (image me pointing to the floor) and they are here (imagine me pointing my hand three feet over my head). Two of the riders, felt compelled to stay back and keep pushing me. For this I was thankful. Well, I was thankful mostly because if they hadn't I would have been lost. Really, really lost. I had no idea where we were, how we got there, or where we were going. Nothing looked familiar.
At around mile 15 we stopped for a break. Thank goodness. I remember thinking. We must be half way through our course. Wishful thinking. Off we go, I would try to keep up. Really I did, I tried to keep up, for about half a block, give or take half a block.
One of the riders keeping up with me, or rather staying back to keep track of me, mentioned that I should really practice my hills. Duh! what gave it up? But I didn't say that. I just agreed, because I now know I have to. He was nice to me and wanted to keep my spirits up. I didn't want to come off like a weenie, but I really wanted to ask how far this ride was. I did anyway. He said: "48 miles". Just about knocked me off my bike. I looked at my gps and we had only gone 29 miles at that point. He must have seen the shocked looked on my face because he reassured me that I would be alright. Define "alright".
We finally reached an area that I recognized and from here on out I knew how to get back to my car, or get Monica to come and get me. I told my two new found friends that if they wanted to go on ahead, they could, I was okay, I now knew my way. Now it was my turn to see his expression, relief would be a good way to put it. "you sure" he asked. "Yeap" I said. Off they went.
The last several miles of this ride were my most enjoyable. Mostly because up until now I felt like I had been a burden to these nice people. I don't like being a burden. I rode at my pace, I went up, yet another hill or two, at my own pace, not trying to keep up.
When it was all said and done, the ride was 43.2 miles and it took me 3 hours and 26 minutes. Would I do it again. Yes I would, but with one exception. I would it either do it alone, or with a group at my level. That would be hard to find. So I guess alone it is.
I've got my work cut out for me. I know what I lack, I know what I need to do.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

And after vacation...

It has been almost a month since my last post. A lot has been going on in that time; lots of swimming, lots of miles on my bike - which by the way include my first wipe out! Fortunately for me, it happened just as I was taking off the other morning. Didn't get enough of a push and while I clipped the shoe to the pedal... pow! lost my balance, hit the pavement. My first and only thought at that time was; "oh my, hope the neighbors weren't watching, and laughing"... and a little bit of running. Took a week's vacation last week, literally a vacation in which I traveled with the family to the land of Mickey and Shamu. No training during that period. This week, I am making up; two a days since Monday. Early in the morning - weight training or bike riding, late afternoon swimming or running. We'll see the payoff this Saturday. Plan to do a long ride 30-40 miles followed by 3-5 miles running. Crazy? We'll see. The great thing is that this week I feel like a million bucks! A little soreness in the back, but heck, what's new?!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

One week later...

One week of recovery seems to be enough. On Monday and Wednesday I hit the pool for an easy 1500m and 1000m swim, respectively. Today, it was off on the bike! And I must tell you, 20 miles later I discovered new meaning to the words "my butt hurts"! I had gone out on the bike a few times prior to today, but because my concentration was on the run, I guess I have not built up enough resistance to the bike seat. Oh, well... just one more thing to add to the mix.

Other than my legs feeling a little jelly-like, today's experience would have to be rated a 7.5 (out of a 10). Can't figure out how to get my cadence sensor to work, this should help when I do. I was somewhat nervous of how the shoe/pedal clips would work, but they were fine. I figured these out real quick.

The experience of riding on city roads leaves a lot to be desired. Most folks are pretty aware of what's going on around them, however there are those few out there that are oblivious to their surroundings, or they just don't care. There was a guy in a white pick up truck, at the park, mind you... that chose to stop on the middle of the road, put his truck in reverse and without looking, proceded to move. Good thing I was looking out for him. It would have been ugly, real ugly. I would like to think that when I'm behind the wheel of my car, that I am very aware of what's going on around me, that I yield the right of way to any non-motorized vehicles; bikes and runners alike. I would like to think that most people are like this, but being a realist, I know that this just isn't so. I would like to extend permission to anyone who is ever in the car with me and if you see me not following simple rules of courtesy... please, I ask you, give me a good whack in the side of my head, for I truly deserve it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Country Music Half Marathon... 2:00:14

4:45AM came awfully quick! The weather man had predicted rain for the morning and he did not disappoint. The rain was steady but the spirits could not be dampened. After training for hours upon hours, day after day, week after week, for what seemed like forever, race day was here and a little shower would not interfere with the plans. I have never raced in fowl weather. Some have been cold and windy, others hot and muggy, but I never have I experienced a wet, rainy race. How will I react? How will I perform? What will the water and wind and cold do for the race and the runners? The puddles? The roads? So much was added to the pre-race gitters. At one point I remember thinking: "If I can run as fast and steady as my mind is going now, I will be okay!"

Upon arrival to the starting site, the rain was still coming down steady. Again, the weather man had predicted that he showers would end by 7am. As time approached the rains moved out! It was time for me and the other 30,000 runners plus to get serious about the task at hand. So off it goes, the elites take off and the race is on. Being corralled at number 16, it would be another 36 minutes before my turn, so it became a hurry up and wait situation.

Then there it was. All the preparation, all the expectation, all the build up and jitters would finally be put to test. But as I crossed the starting gate, one thought came to mind: "this is just another race... take it as such and you will be alright!"

That's what I did. With every step taken I would be one step closer to realizing my goal. And as with every event past, my goal still very simple; I just want to finish! A respectable time would be nice, better than last year would be awesome. I carry with me Garmin that helps me keep in pace. Not to fast, not to slow... just steady. If I get anxious and push, it'll remind me to slow down. If I get lazy and slow, it reminds me so crank it up a bit. The only other aide I bring with me is my mp3 player. Although I cannot tell you what was playing while I was running, I can tell you that it kept me going.

As the miles passed I began to realize that alll the work leading up to today was paying off handsomly. I hydrated as needed, I fueled as planned. My body was responding as I hoped it would, it was time to push, to see what I had.

Somewhere along mile eleven, give or take, I realized that finishing in two hours, which would be 27 minutes faster than last year, could actually be a reality. I would have to run the last strech of race in under nine minute mile pace. And that I did!

I do not pretend to sit here and tell you that every step taken came without some sort of pain, sometimes physical, sometimes mental... because there was plenty of that throughout. However, the memory of approaching the final stretch towards the finish line, having thousands of cheering supporters helping you through, and amongst those my daughters, wife and her parents, was the ultimate motivator. Again, I was not disappointed, it was everything I had remembered and expected it to be. Unbelievalbe to most, one of my thoughts at that moment was not that I had made it through in two hours flat, it was the thought that I couldn't beleive that the race was over, that it would be a year before I could do this again in front of family and friends.

Have you ever wonder if you can do this? Have you ever wondered if you have it in you to run a race like this? Have you ever wondered if you have the discipline to train and dedicate some of your time to do something as crazy as this? All I can tell you is that it is within all of us. There are people of all walks of life participating, and from what I managed to gather when talking to some of the participants is that we all have one thing in common; the desire to put our mind to something, something we never thought we could do, and doing it! And by a unanimous, albeit unofficial poll, once you do in once, you'll come back again and again.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Just hours to go!

With this year's Music City Half Marathon just around the corner, my mind has been racing just as fast and steady as my body has. The prelude to last years event, being the first one of such magnitude that I had participated in, brought few questions of little concern, mostly regarding my conditioning at the time. "Will I have enough gas to make it through"?, "Will I pace myself accordingly"?, not knowing what to expect, all I really thought about was if I would make it to the finish line... if I would make it standing up... if I would make it that same day! Because things went as I hoped they would I was more than pleased.

This year, having that race to refer to, my mind has been quiet busy. What ifs, mostly. What if it rains? What if my back doesn't hold out? What if my ankle betrays me? What if I didn't train properly? Most of these questions will be answered once the race begins... in the first couple of miles for the most part. This has been the norm for every training run I've had this year. I expect that if I have done the proper things to prepare myself, I will be fine. I must keep in mind that my goal is to finish the race in a respectable fashion. I would like for the time to be under 2 hours and 15 minutes... but that's just a wish. I must remember to push myself just to the point of a little anguish but not past it.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

9 minute mile

To say that this experience has been easy, would be a stretch. As each day passes, miles have to be logged; miles have to be logged because, well... miles have to be logged.

Yesterday's 10K (6.2 miles) at a 9 minute mile pace, in Nashville was sort of a test. Needed to see where I stand in-as-far as running in a competitive environment. I do not wish to compete against others, for me this will take the fun out of what I'm doing. I do, however, wish to compete against myself. I need to see improvement in both times and conditioning. Self imposed goals, if you will.

As I hit the pavement, I am quickly reminded that my back and my ankle are dictating much of what I have to do. I have learned that with proper technique and diligence, I can not only prevent future strain to both, but I can help improve their condition.

I have a quote posted on my schedule board, it says: "The pain may last a day or two, but regrets will last a lifetime." I have this embedded in my head, and each time I'm no the track, the road or the water, I have to pull it out as a reminder, and it helps me through, not the physical pain, because there really is not any, but the mental anguish has a tendency to try to take over here and there.

The biggest challenge I am facing at this moment is keeping pace with the race. The natural reaction when the race or the training session starts is to take of like a jack rabbit. The pace has to be methodical and planned. I think I am coming along nicely on this. I have two weeks to get this down right.

This coming week, there's more large miles in store for my training, culminating on the weekend with a 11 mile long run. After that it's mostly recovery and allowing the body to get ready for the half marathon (13.1 miles) to be run on the 26th.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Moving along nicely

Another fine week! Two great accomplishments during the past couple of days: yesterday's long run, 10m... was a nice surprise, not because I feared the distance or my conditioning, but because it felt good, no - it felt great! Weather conditions were less than desirable with gusts of cold air in my face most of the latter part of the run and temperatures in the 40's early in the morning, made it for a challengeable run. But at the end I was within my desired pace margin for the entire distance.
Second, on Friday I had another great swim session with my new coach. Great improvement from week one. Still need to work on breathing technique but I'm encouraged by his words for he believes that learning this should be no problem for me. I feel the same way. Just need to make sure I find myself in the water several times per week.
As of this writing there are just 19 days till the Half Marathon. This coming weekend however, I will be running a 10k in Nashville; a preparation race of sorts. I'm looking forward to see how my race pace and form is coming along.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What a great week!

The culmination of a great week came today as I ran 8 miles in the frigid, windy weather. Okay... eight miles may not seem like a whole bunch of road in the whole scheme of things, but its right where I need to be in my plan for March 26th's Music City Half Triathlon. This coming week, will take me to a 10 mile long run on Friday.
All week long my runs were great, each and every workout went just as planned. Some better than other, but as a whole I was very pleased. I have had to put my Saturday yoga class on hold for the time being. There's just not enough hours available in the week to do it all. I can for sure feel the difference without the yoga so after the 26th I will definitely put it back on my schedule.
Also this week, I started private swim classes with a local instructor and I can tell you for a fact, that after just one session, the improvement is a thousand percent. Just the few things he showed me and asked me to practice on before our next meeting will make a difference. I can't hardly wait to get this going.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Saturday March 22/08

According to my training schedule, I should be able to run 7 miles by now. This was the case last Saturday when I took to the streets mid-morning. As usual, and I cant figure out why, the first mile or so was the hardest for it seemed like every inch of my body was being pushed to the max. Luckily sometime within the first ten minutes my energy level kicked in. I don't want to say I was on cruise control, but it seemed to get a whole lot easier. I was able to work on form and some speed. Prior to my run, I stretched for some 20 minutes and warmed up in an elliptical machine at the "Y'. I had taken my GU jell prior to this, for it's instructions state that this should be done some 15 minutes before exercising. Forty five minutes after I got going, I took another jell pack, strawberry-banana and it was good. It game me enough of a boost at the end that I felt like I could have gone another three miles. But I know best, I need to keep to the plan. On area of concern this morning was the fact that I seemed to be having a hard time breathing through my nose. Must be allergy season as well. This week's plan is to swim at least three times, bike at least twice and run three times, with an 8 mile run this coming weekend.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

2008 Schedule

The process of selecting which races to participate in this year was done with much thought. Being that this is my first competition year, I surely want to partake in events which will allow me the highest possibility of success in my journey. Success, as I define it, for this purpose is not to "win" any of the races I participate in. Success for me will be finishing each and everyone of these events. My goal will not vary from last year's half marathon. My goal continues to be "to finish, to finish standing up and to finish the same day the race starts"... somewhere in the middle of the pack, or better... would be a bonus!

This is the list of events for 2008:

April 12th - Purity Moosic City 10K - Nashville, TN
April 26th - Music City Half Marathon - Nashville, TN
June 28th - McMinnville City Triathlon - McMinnville, TN
July 26th - Cedars of Labanon Triathlon - Labanon, TN
September 6th - Old Hickory Lake Triathlon - Hendersonville, TN
September 16th - Music City Triathlon - Nashville, TN

And to finish out the year...

Boulevard Bolt 5 mile- Thanksgiving Day - November 27th
Memphis Half Marathon - December 6th

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bitten by "The Bug"

Have you ever been bitten by a bug? No, I don't mean by a spider or a wasp or an ant or anything creepy crawler. I mean a bug! Something that just got in you and you couldn't shake loose... not that you tried to get rid of it, but something that once in you it just grew and grew. Some may, and some have called it an obsession, I just call it a purpose.
It all started very innocently. It all started with the intention of just looking for a way to loose a few pounds, for I was what I thought was a bit overweight-198lbs at 5'10". At the very beginning it was hard, the most difficult venture I ever entered into. But fighting through the initial pain, it all got better as the days and the laps passed.
Before I knew it I was hooked! I had lost some weight and my doctor told me my overall health had improved tremendously. But never mind that... I felt Great!
Early January 2007, I wast talking with a friend, discussing my exercise routine and habits and he suggested I should enter the Music City Marathon. "What?, 26.2 miles! You have got to be kidding me!" I settled for the "Half" for 13.1 miles seemed a whole lot more manageable. I researched several sites that offered advice on a structured training program and once I found one I thought I could stick to, I went for it. Somehow, this whole process seemed a whole lot easier for me than I had ever imagined.
The rush, the adrenaline, the excitement of the event was unlike anything I had ever experienced. At this moment, I new the "Bug had bitten me". But I want more!
Now, I have set a new personal goal: "Ironman World Championship 70.3", Clearwater, Florida. on or around November 7, 2009. That's 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run.
So off I go. I have to set my plan and work my plan. 20 months will be here tomorrow!

UPDATE:  As you can see had a lot to learn back then.  I thought you could just register and show up for Clearwater!