Sunday, December 19, 2010

P90X ~ Down To The Wire

The end of this week brings me to 27 days left in the program, with 63 behind me.

May not seem like a bid deal.  But for me this is huge.

Not only has this been a test of physical endurance, but more important for me, a test and exercise in discipline.

Discipline because in order to accomplish this, I've had to make some serious adjustments to my schedule.  In order to fulfil my goal of completing the program, I've had to do the workouts early in the morning, everyday.

This has been huge for me because I am NOT a morning person.  I have always opted for afternoon workouts.  That alarm going off at 4, 4:30 even 5 am has not been a welcome sight for me.  Never has.

But now I  find myself anxious and excited to get up and get moving.  Never thinking twice about getting up to complete the daily workout.  This new found discipline brings new opportunities for me.

In the next few weeks, I will have to start early morning swim practice, 5:10 am in the water which means 4:15 alarm time.  In previous seasons, I've struggled to make these.  It is my new found hope is that now I will have the strength to make it.

So I'm looking forward to the next 27 days for several reason mainly to complete a task of monumental proportions.  Completing the P90X program, by any account, is not an easy thing to do.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Someone Thought Enough To Ask

I have shared my story with so many people over the past couple of years mostly through this blog and facebook.  I never could have imagined that someone would have thought enough to use their valuable space to tell my story as well.  I have a link here just in case you're interested.

Read the story here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Amidst The Hustle and Bustle ~ Week 7

Embarking into a new adventure this time of year is a challenge all of its own.  The demands presented by the job and the mandatory family commitments are unlike any other time, any other month, and yet I have chosen to and dedicated some time to start and fully complete an extreme conditioning program.

Last week was week 7 of P90X and like each week before it, it was intense and rewarding.  I continue to be pleased with the results I am seeing.

If you were to look around the P90X website, you would see before and after pictures of individuals that have made an incredible physical transformation, developing washboard-like abs and a beachbody physique.  Well, don't expect to see my picture there.

I would like to believe, however, that this incredible effort will pay off dividends on the pool, the bike and the run.  And if preliminary results are an indication, I am well on my way.

Monday, November 29, 2010

P90X ~ Week 6 ~ Toughest One So Far

Thanksgiving week was one tough week.  Mostly due to the fact that the schedule and routine as I had it going could not be followed.

Did manage to get all the P90X workouts, minus one.  Did manage to get a run in; Thanksgiving Morning.  Also managed to get an extra day of rest.  I think I really needed that.   Also managed to get an unscheduled swim in on Friday.  This was also very much needed.

And speaking of the Thanksgiving Run, it was by far the best run I've ever had.  5 miles in 41:59, an 8:23 pace.  A PR by almost three minutes.  This has been the biggest improvement I've seen since starting P90X!

I'm excited and anxious to get started with week seven.  Half way through this week, I will hit the half way point of the program.

Monday, November 22, 2010

P90X ~ Week 5 ~ YES, I'm Still Doing This!

One of the most surprising things about the P90X program is how many people doubt others' ability or resolve to stick to it.

Most everyone I talk to, besides those that know me well enough to know better and those that follow me closely on Facebook or DailyMile want to know if  "I'm still doing P90X".

I have talked to several folks that have started but did not finish.  Most find a way to stop somewhere around week two or three.  I'm not sure I understand why.

I didn't jump into this without first doing the research.  I knew exactly what kind of commitment was required, both physical and mental.  Not to mention the time; it takes a lot of time!

So, how's it going?  I'm not sure I can see much of a physical change.  I have not developed any "guns" and a "six pack" still long ways away, but this was and is not my goal. I cannot afford to put on muscle mass, for if I did, I would have to carry that with me when swimming, cycling and running.

I feel stronger, leaner, tighter.  I can do more push ups, pull ups and more reps with heavier weights.  But the biggest, most noticeable change is that I can run longer, smoother and more efficient.  This I have enjoyed!

I am having some trouble with my diet.  I have never been one to count calories, much less protein or carb grams, but I understand how important this is, so I have recruited the help of my brother to come up with easy to fix, well balanced meals.  If you have any suggestions please send them my way.  Keep in mind that I cannot eat shell fish...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

P90X Week 4 and Nashville Half Marathon Review

First things first.  I have finished week four of P90X!  They call this a transition week but I think it's also known as a recovery week.  Since adjustments were made to include triathlon based workouts, I did not have any strength sets this week; did not lift a weight at all.

I must say that I am getting the hang of Plyometrics.  I can see how this particular set will help me as a triathlete.  The stretching is also fast becoming a favorite one.  Did Core Synergistics twice this week and my gut was sore, still sore.  Good stuff.

So as of today, I'm a third of the way home!

This coming week I shall start Block Two.

On Saturday, my long run came in the form of The Nashville  Half Marathon, which brings me to the second topic of this post.

I understand that this race, as many others is a fundraiser event.  That being said it is important to understand that the safety of runners has to come first.  Second, it is important to understand that if an event is to grow, it must provide runners with reasons to come back and bring others.  I think this event fell short of that.

I thought the course was a hard course, very hilly.  Of course I understand that this is a matter that could be of great debate.  Other than the area in and around Metro Center, the course was full of rolling hills, some were tough, specially the one that waited for you coming out of Metro Center.  This hill took from me everything I had left.

The water situation was deplorable.  Not enough water stations.  Period.  First station was around mile 2.5 then again not till 5.5 or 6... way to far between them.  I have made a decision that from now on, I will carry my fuel belt with me to all events, regardless of distance.

Porta Potties was another issue.  Just a few set up at the start/finish, didn't count them but there couldn't have been more than ten.  Huge lines pre race, didn't count the people in line, but there must have been 200 or more.  Only one, that I saw on the course, somewhere around mile 6 or 7.

Not sure what the idea was behind the finisher's lanyards in lieu of medals but overheard many say how disappointed they were, specially those that were doing their first half marathon.  I guess it was a money saving issue.

I hope that organizers read and listen to reviews posted throughout the Internet.  Take things into consideration and ensure future participants that these issues have been addressed.  I for one will have to think twice about doing this one again.

So how did I do?  My Garmin showed 2:04:45 and 13.25 miles.  I am happy with the results.  Secretly, I had a goal of under two hours, but I'll take what I got!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

P90X ~ Week 3

Yes, that's right.  Week 3 is behind me.  Now I'm preparing for a "transition week".  Not sure what to expect but I'm ready, so "Bring It"!

I have talked in detail about the progress seen over the past three weeks.  It is beyond anything I could have expected, but what I'm most excited about is the fact that I have barely scraped the surface of the program.

Beyond my expectations not because I doubted the program, but because I'm was not sure if I was going to be able to stick to this regimen past a week or two.  The further I get into it, the more determined I get to get to the finish... an beyond.

I'm not particularly a fast runner by any stretch of the imagination, nor are my intentions to be one.  Improvement I want to see, yes.  But speed is not what I'm looking for.  So to take off 26sec/mile of identical runs just one week apart is pretty awesome.  At least for me it is.

And that's what happened last week.  Sunday's seven mile run was 9:55min/mile whereas one week ago it was 10:36min/mile!  This I had read, would happen but I was a bit skeptical about claims of fast progress.  I am slowly beginning to understand the power of P90X!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

P90X ~ Week 2

It has been said that it takes two weeks to create a habit.  If that's the case then a new habit I have created, or at least I hope I have.

Last week I touched on the fact that I'm not an early riser.  This week I'm here to inform you that I am well on my way to conquering this for each day this week it got easier than the day before.

I had planned to do week two just as I had done week one and following the plan outlined in the P90X schedule.  However, after receiving instructions for my swim, bike and run workouts from my coach, I knew that something would have to change.

I researched on the Internet how others in my situation were handling this.  It is important for a triathlete to keep his base during the off season, so getting in the water, on the bike and hitting the pavement for a run or two is something that must be done.  I came across an article that talked about the "P90X Hybrid" program/schedule for triathletes.

In a nutshell, it incorporates basic tri training with P90X, replacing cardio workouts with swim, rides and runs.

This is what what my week looked like:

Mon:  Chest and Back & Ab Ripper X (am)
           Spin (pm)
Tue:  Plyometrics (am)
         Swim (pm)
Wed:  Shoulders and Arms (am)
          Ab Ripper X (pm)
Thu:  X Stretch (am)
         Spin (pm)
Fri:  Legs and Back (am)
Sat:  Run ~ 7 miles
Sun:  Rest

The strength portion on the workouts seems to be improving everyday.  It feels a lot easier to do more reps, so much so that for a couple of sets I had to increase the weight used.

The pull up is where I've seen the most progress.  On Friday during the Legs and Back workout, there are four different pull up routines, two sets each.  From last week's workout to this week's there was an improvement of two to four extra pull ups.

I was a bit timid about the run on Saturday for I was not sure how the knees and legs would feel after two full weeks of P90X.  Much to my surprise and delight they felt great and as it turns out, it was one of the most enjoyable runs I've had in a while.  It just felt good.

This coming week is another week of identical sessions.  I am looking forward to more improvements.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ironman Access

On October 27th the WTC (World Triathlon Corportation) announced the creation of a new program, The Ironman Access.  Possibly by now, you have heard all about it, if not, watch this short video to get educated on the matter.  Even if you have heard about it, watch this and enjoy...

Monday, October 25, 2010

P90X ~ Week 1

I have now completed the first week, or 7 days of P90X training.  I guess the "hard" part is behind me, or so I'd like to think.
I am not a morning person, and anyone who knows me, knows that.  I have a difficult time getting up early for Master Swim, for long runs and for long bike rides.  I have always opted for late afternoon workouts,  but somehow I thought it would be easy to get up early for this.  I have been surprised, as has been my wife, that it has.
I have made it a point to jump out of bed as my wife's alarm clock goes off.  Sometimes it goes off at 4:20am, sometimes at 5am.
The first day I gathered all the necessary equipment; weights,push up bar, pull up bar, chair, towel, water, log and pen and off I went.  Followed the routine on the DVD to the letter.  It was time to work on Chest and Back.  I found out real quickly that pull ups were going to be an issue.  I had not done a pull up in probably 40 years.  I opted to use the chair as instructed.  This made it easier.  Not easy, just easier.
Push ups were not so bad.  I have been doing some for a while now.  Except for the second rotation.  Then they became a task.
At the end of the routine I started Ab Ripper X.  Now, this is what separates the "men" from the "boys" and I'm here to tell you, I'm still a "boy".  This will take work.
Day two I woke up sore.  In places I could not have imagined I would ever be sore.  But it was time for Plyometrics.  Designed to produce speed and power.  Okay, I need this, and I need this bad.
Day three:  Shoulders and Arms.  This required the use of weights for all but one routine.  I just knew I would be sore the next day, and I was not disappointed.  Finished the session with another Ab Ripper X.  Not much improvement here, yet.
Day four:  Yoga.  Oh, my!  Found out today how uncoordinated and unbalanced I really am.
Day five: Legs & Back.  I guess my legs are my strongest assets and today was not to bad.  Second day of back workout.  It felt good. Ab Ripper X concluded the session.  Maybe my imagination, but I see improvement.
Day Six (Sunday): Rest.  Since I started on Tuesday, this brought day six to a Sunday.  Sunday, for the most part in a day of rest.  Gotta give the body a chance to catch up.  Tomorrow I will start week 2.
For the most part I have been in pain all week.  Not the kind of pain that you would feel when you get hurt.  The kind of pain you feel when you push yourself.  I guess this is the "good" pain you always hear about.
I am excited to see what the future of P90X brings my way.
Until next time... Bring It!
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Motivation Comes From the Most Unlikely Sources

A couple of weeks ago, I was discussing my IM Louisville training plans with a triathlete friend.  I mentioned to him that for the remainder of this physical year, my intention was to, in addition to maintaining my swim, bike and run base, I would work very hard on strength and core conditioning.
We both agreed that this was a great plan to have.  He disagreed with me (although he did not come out and say so), however, with my plan.
I have been researching strength and conditioning programs suited for the triathlete.  With the help of my tri coach, Endurance Geeks' Barry Baird, we came to the conclusion that if I had the motivation and dedication required, that P90X would be the route to go.
So I have made the commitment to the program.  Additionally, I have made the commitment to the nutrition plan required to make the best of the program.  I have been reading everything I can get my hands and eyes on and I have learned a lot.
As I mentioned this to my friend, his remark was one that was very surprising to me.  He said:  "I have yet to meet anyone that has stuck to the program and finished it."
I am pretty sure that my friend did not understand at that point that by making that one simple, innocent statement, he was giving the the final motivation to get this done.  Yes, motivation comes from the most unlikely sources.
So, this morning I started the program.  First on the agenda was the "Chest & Back" followed by the "Ab Ripper X".  It was hard and tough and I can only guess that it is going to get harder and tougher.  The "Ab Ripper X" was brutal.  But, motivated to continue to the end I stand.  By the end of this, my friend will no longer be able to say that he has not met "anyone" that has finished P90X.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tag! You're It!

I do not want my blog to turn into a commercial enterprise.  I do not, as a rule, give out reviews much less endorsements.  I have to thoroughly believe and be convinced of a product and it worthiness or service and their usefulness before I stick my neck out and talk about it here.

This is why I have only done it a couple of time before.  And why I am about to talk about Tag! You're It!

For most that know me you understand how I use daily inspiration and motivation to get things done.  My mantra for most of this season has been: "Faith. Focus. Finish."  I have found ways to stamp that across my daily routine to help keep the motor going.

Purely by accident (or maybe it was meant to be), I ran across a product produced and offered by a stay-at-home mom:  "Tag! You're It!"  You have seen similar articles at expo's throughout.  You have seen people wear them.  Perhaps you wear one as well.

So what made this one different.  I was able to get my mantra stamped on a dog tag.

According to the website, "each sterling silver disc or dog tag is handstamped, one character at a time, with the lettering of your choice, oxidized t turn the letters black, and then buffed and polished."

When the item arrived I was truly amazed at the simplicity of the design.  "This is something I can see myself wearing through my Ironman training and beyond."  I have been wearing it on my training runs since.
Because of the quality of the material used, sterling silver, it has tarnished a bit but this is to be expected.  Easily cleaned, however.

I could go on all day talking about this product but I'll let you explore it for yourself.  Please visit their website and look around.  While you're there, register for a GiveAway.  Click on the link located on the navigation bar.  The GiveAway will run for two weeks.  Under Key Word, type: "Triathlonat55".
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Friday, September 17, 2010

140.6 Miles: A Dream. A Vision. A Mission

It just seemed like the right thing to do.

I contemplated for a few months the possibility of jumping in head first into an Ironman race. Well, I say head first because at first sight, it may seem like it's jumping in head first. I spoke with all those that would be affected by my decision to do this, mostly my family, a few friends and my coach, all of which I will need on my side supporting me every step of the way.  And together we have come to the conclusion that however crazy it may appear on the surface, it' time to do this.  The time is right.  The time is now.

My family has been very supportive all along the way.  Every crazy adventure I wish to take on, they're there. This will be no different.  My friends have been very supportive of the idea.  This is after all, what we do.  My coach has been very clear and explicit about the commitment that will be required to do this.  He has told me that it will not be easy, but it will be fun.

On Sunday, August 29 along with our friends, Skip and Charlene Alcorn, my wife and I traveled to Louisville to witness what it would be like.  Skip, at that moment, was also contemplating registering for the 2011 version of the IM.  Charlene is an Ironman.  She finished the 2009 Louisville IM.  It was our intention to get a feel for what the atmosphere would be like. We went searching for validation to our decision to do this race on 2011.  We found it.

From the very beginning we found ourselves getting more and more excited about the prospect.  As the day moved on, we traveled around the course to see different stages of the race; the swim, the bike, the run and then the finish line.  We couldn't believe that in just a short year, we would be experiencing what this amazing athletes were experiencing that day.  The temperatures held true to Louisville in late August.  It got hot and humid and windy.  But this did not deterred us.  We would train for these conditions.

I returned home more determined and motivated than ever. On registration day, I was there ready to pull the trigger.  And that I did.  I am now a registered participant in the 2011 Ford Ironman Louisville.

As my coach said, this will be a tough, difficult and sometimes, lonely road.  But I'm holding him to his word that this will be fun.  I have given him my pledge that I will follow his plan to the letter.

I do not know what the year has in store for me, but I welcome the challenge with open arms.  All I know is that my dream of becoming an Ironman has evolved into a vision, and this vision is now my mission.  So, Louisville, here I come!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Strength and Determination Redefined

"Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do.  But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength."

All of us who spend umpteenth hours at the pool, the lake, the bike or the pavement training our bodies to endure punishment beyond unknown limits.  The sometimes pain is something that we feel during the hot, cold or otherwise unpleasant training runs or rides. We prepare our bodies for certain events and we follow plans that take us from the first stroke in the water to the last step on the run and everything in between.  Anything and everything the course has to offer we have probably seen and are ready to endure.  After all, that's what we do.

What we cannot prepare for, train for, or foresee is the totally unexpected.  The totally bizarre.

On Saturday, August 14 my wife and I took part, along with several of our teammates, in the Mountain Lakes Triathlon in Guntersville, Al.  For a good portion of us, it was a return trip.  For my wife it was her first time. 

It was also her first open water triathlon.

She had prepared for the event like everyone else.  She put in her time.  She swam her laps, rode and ran her miles.  She was ready, focused and excited.

Upon arrival at the site she racked her bike, eat a banana and proceeded to warm up in the lake, just like most everyone else was doing.  All was great, it would be an event to remember.  She was about to complete a challenge she had imposed on herself a few months back.  You could tell her excitement by the smile on her face.  Nothing was going to get in her way.

Or was it?

Her bib number was 849.  This placed her towards the back of the field.  She's not a fast swimmer, just an adequate one.  This positioning didn't face her.

As she approached the timing mats she could hear numbers being called; 847, 848...849.  Off she went.

Second step into the water her foot found a rock.  A rock with a sharp edge.  A rock was was not willing to move, budge or get out of the way.  She felt a sharp pain come through her foot.  She took a quick look and saw what she thought was a scrape.  So on her way she went.

The further in the swim she went, the sharper the pain became.  So sharp at times, she thought she was going to loose it.  She kept her cool, she knew this would not be a good thing.

Upon exiting the water she took a quick look and saw blood gushing out.  She knew she needed to get it looked at.  Along with the help of one of the race directors and our friend Charlene, she made it to the medical tent where the paramedics proceeded to clean it, tape it and bandage the two inch gash.

"I have to get going.  I have to continue."  She told them.  "You're going ahead with the race?"  They asked in disbelief.  "Yes, I am" she quickly replied.

She found her way to transition and to the bike.  And off she went.  The pain at times was so fierce that she had to stop to catch her breath.  She could feel the swelling of her foot and could see her bike shoe stained with blood.  But there was a race to finish.

On to the run.  A slight relief when she changed from her bike shoe to her running shoe.  The running shoe has a bit more of a give.  It wasn't so tight.

As I was coming in from the run, she was going out.  I high-fived her and encouraged her on.  I had no idea what had happened.  I just knew that my wife was about to complete her triathlon.

Several of us waited for her at the finish line.  But she wouldn't come.  I was concerned because it was taking more than I thought is should.  So I went looking for her.  When I found her about a quarter of a mile from the finish line, I just gave her two thumbs up.  But as I approached her, the look on her face told me something was just not right.

When I made it to her, she broke out in tears.  Immediately she told me to look at her shoe.  It was soaked in blood.  She told me she had been cut in the swim.  I could tell the pain was beyond anything I could comprehend.  I ran next to her until almost the finish line.  Then I got out of the way and let her cross it alone.  The glory was to be hers and hers alone.

We went to the emergency room a couple of hours thereafter.  The nurses and doctors could not believe that she had done what she had done with the cut she had.

The courage, the determination, the strength, the fortitude, the power of mind over matter that my wife exhibited during this race is something that I will draw from every day of the rest of my life.  Nothing that I will ever encounter, nothing that is ever tossed my way will be difficult to overcome if I just think of this particular day and this amazing woman... this woman who just happens to be my wife!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Whirlpool Ironman 70.3 Steelhead

Lets dispense with the formalities right off the bat... Although not a blazing time by any stretch of the imagination and no where near a slight threat to anyone on the course last Saturday,  I still PR'd!  And because my goal coming in was to beat last year's Ironman 70.3 Augusta time, I am happy!
I came in race day with a plan.  I tried, for the most part to follow the plan.  Because plans need to be flexible, I was forced, at times to make certain adjustments which had I not, I would probably still be out there somewhere on the course.

We arrived in what we had thought was plenty of time.  Registration opened at noon.  We were there at 11AM... or so we thought.  The time zone had changed on us and we didn't realize it.  It was already noon. We were now on EST. Good thing we were there early because the line was already huge.
The registration could have used a bit more help.  A bottle neck was created due to only two people checking ID's at the front desk.  Once you passed this point it went smooth and fast.
"Course Talks" were scheduled every 90 minutes.  We waited for the one at 1:30pm.  In the mean time, we had pasta lunch provided to the athletes by Pizza Hut.  It was great!
Biggest news to me was the fact that this is a WTC and USAT sanctioned event.  No big deal except they kept emphasizing the difference in the drafting rules.  4 bike lengths.  They would be very strict on this.  Also, men would have to wear tops on the bike and the run.  They would be very strict on this.

Other than the Ironman shop, there really was not much to get excited about.

 We made it to transition around 3pm on Friday.  There was already a bunch of activity and plenty of bikes were being racked.  I have been accused of getting overly exited about the small things.  Finding my bike spot marked with not only my number, but also my name, was very exiting to me.  How cool was that?
The temperatures in the area had been very high, mid to upper 90's,  for the previous two weeks.  For race day it was predicted low 80's and 30% chance of rain.  The water temperature on Friday was 76ยบ.

We left the hotel at 5am.  Started raining about 5:05.  The temperature was cool, verging on the side of cold.  The wind as a bit gusty, the sky was covered with heavy clouds.  It did not look pretty.
At transition everyone was talking, including the PA announcer about the big system coming over the lake.  They were keeping an eye on it.  The race would start as planned.

One thing I learned is that you have to bring a "rain" plan to transition.  Even if you don't use it you gotta have one.  I did not!  I arranged all my gear under the only trash bag I had brought with me.  I hoped for the best, expected the worst.  I thought and just knew that I would have to do the entire event with wet gear.
I left my area as organized as I could.  Took my wetsuit, cap and goggles and headed to the starting line.  But it was still early, so I took cover under a passage way.  I was getting cold, wet  and felt miserable.  I think a lot had to do with nerves as well.
Most every athlete taking cover at this point was wrestling with their wetsuit.  I never realized how difficult it is to put on a wetsuit when you're wet.  Lesson #2 learned.  But when I finally got it on, I immediately started to warm up, and felt much better.
Now it was time to head to swim start.  Had thirty minutes to walk the one mile on the beach.

I arrived at swim start when they were playing the national anthem.  Which mean that I only had four minutes  before my wave would start.  This was a blessing because it didn't give me time to dwell or think about things.  Just got there and off we went.
The wave was very large.  Must have been 50 to 75 of us.  Men and women.  I waited a bit to get a spot in the back and to the outside.
The water was wonderful.  Just the right temperature, I thought.  Clear as could be.  Could see the bottom of the lake the whole way.  It also rained the whole way.
I followed my plan to perfection, maybe a little to perfect.  I wanted to go slow and smooth.  It took me 52:02 to finish the swim.  I still need to work on direction.  This was the longest 1.2 miles I've ever swam.  I wanted to do the swim in 45 min.  I will keep this as my goal for future races.

Taking of the wetsuit proved to be as difficult a task as it was putting it on.  Not sure if all the sand had anything to do with it, but it took me forever to take it off.
Getting the gear out of the plastic bag was another time consuming chore.  It had remained dry, for the most part.  But that didn't last, for it was still raining.  Total time in T1 was 8:38.


It continued to rain for the first 15-20 miles of my bike leg.  Everything was wet. The wind was getting cold.  The roads were slippery and the bike didn't like that.  My socks were soaked and I wonder if I'd have to run with wet socks?  I remember thinking that I have to train sockless.  This would be helpful today.
After the rain passed, the skies cleared and the sun came out.  It wasn't much longer before I was dry.  Even the socks were dry so I was happy.  At this point I cranked it up.
The bike course was nice.  Lots of newly resurfaced areas. Flat for the most part, slight rolling hills here and there and no big hills (that I can remember) to speak of.  A good portion of the road, however, was not in good condition.  Lots of holes and bumps and debris .  Saw at least 15 athletes fixing flat tires.
Oh yeah, regarding the drafting rule... only saw one judge and he did hand out a red card.  There were several pelotons that passed me.  Although illegal, it was cool to see this.
The bike-in portion of the course was amazing.  Coming in with the course lined with people yelling and cheering was surreal.
Total bike time was 3:17:24 which was a bike PR.

Not as slow as T1 but still slow.  6:33.  Trying to think back, I can't point at one thing which made it so.

After the run experience in Augusta last year, I ran the first mile or so very cautiously.  Feeling with every step, every muscle in my legs.  Wondering if at any minute I would cramp like I did before.  It did not happen.  When I realized that my legs would be okay, I set in my pace and went off.  And then there was the first hill.  A big, steep, long hill.  Made it up, no problem.
The course was nice and well supported.  Plenty of water, sports drinks, gels, fruit, ice, etc.
I ran the course as I had planned.  Slow and steady.  Walking only through the water stops.  Took an ice cup at each along with water on one and sport drink at the next.  The ice I carried with me to help me stay cool.  It was hot at this point.
The course took us through two loops of the Whirlpool campus.  Outside the campus, you would turn right.  Right into another mother of a hill.  Twice!  Walked up half the hill both times.
As I kept track of my time, I knew that if I could just crank it up, I could make my goal time of under 7.  Every time I did so, I would feel like I would loose my legs, so I gave up on the under 7 goal and went for a PR.
The road to the finish line was also lined with people.  Everyone yelling and screaming and encouraging everyone.  You would hear your name being yelled.  That was cool!
Total run time was: 2:43:57 which was a run PR.

As I made the final turn towards the finish line, I saw the official time clock.  I knew then that I had my PR.  Nothing else seemed to matter.
Total overall time was:  7:08:34.  A PR by 11:11.

On a scale of 1-10, I would have to give this event a 9.  The support throughout the race was fantastic.  The volunteers, staff and organizers did an outstanding job.  My hat's off to them!

Would I do this one again?  You bet!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

3 Days... Say What?

It's coming down to the wire.  All the work, training, dedication and determination will come to fruition in just 3 days and a few hours.  Holy Toledo!

All the i's have been dotted, the t's have been crossed.  All that's left to do is the execution.  There are, or rather will be, many factors which are beyond my control.  Things that I can do very little or nothing about.  About these, I must not fret. My only hope and wish at this point is that these are very few and far in between.

Recently I read that race day is not about fitness.  Race day is about execution.  To succeed you must have a race day plan.  Do I have a plan?  You betcha, I do.

And my plan is very simple.  To keep things simple.  In the swim, I must stay true to my strokes.  Three right, three left.  Should I feel the need to reduce the count it would only mean that I've lost my form.  Should this happen, I must slow down.  Three right, three left.  Slow, easy, steady.

In the bike I must begin and execute my fueling and hydration plan and this will begin in transition.

For the first 20 to 30 miles, I will just ride along, at about 80% of my maximum effort. Then I will shift to easy then to steady, about 85% to 90% of my maximum effort.  The last 8 miles or so, will be dedicated to getting the feet and legs ready for the run. back to about 80% of maximum effort.  By no stretch of the imagination a walk in the park, or rather a ride in the park but steady enough to save the legs for the last 13.1.

I will jog the first 2-3 miles of the run.  Keeping a pace that'll do no harm.  After this I will pick up the pace to a comfortable run until I get somewhere around mile 8-9, where I expect things to be very uncomfortable, but I will finish strong.  And this I will do only if I execute my plan.

The training for Ironman Steelhead 70.3 has been long and has taken it's toll on family and friends.  To all that have supported me, specially my wife and daughters, I owe you big.  I love you a lot!  I hope I make you proud.

To my coach, Barry Baird of Endurance Geeks... a great big thanks!  I hope to make you proud.

To my H.E.A.T. friends and teammates... thanks for pushing, pulling, tugging, nagging, and all other's along the way.  This would not have been possible without you.  You are now part of my extended family.  As well, I hope to make you proud.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Last Minute Cramming

Lighthouse of Benton Harbor and St. JosephImage via Wikipedia
In just 9 days I will be competing in the Steelhead Ironman 70.3 Triathlon in Benton Harbor, MI.  That's just 9 short days away.   And what do I need to be doing at this point?  Cramming for the final exam?

Not necessarily.  But that's the desire.

This is the first event in which I have used the services of a tri coach.  Up until now I have pulled plans from the Internet and adjusted to fit my needs, or rather... my likes.

I have understood the tapering period to be the week before the event.  That's when you cut back from mega miles to hardly miles.  This time around, my coach cut back the miles this week.  Next week, we're cutting back some more.

Last night I went to the pool.  On my schedule I had 2200 yards at slow to moderate pace.  I did 1500 at moderate to hard pace.  At the moment, it felt good.  It felt like I was cramming for the final exam and I was absorbing all that I could.  That is until I realized that I was not following instructions.  So, I stopped at 1500.

As with many of us in the sport, specially those of us who are newbies and don't quiet understand yet the importance of a proper taper, I feel like I need to be doing more.

So, for the rest of this week and next week, I will follow instructions as directed.  I will trust that what I have done is enough and I will enjoy the ride.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's Been A Hundred Miles

It's been a hundred miles since I bought my new bike.  The majority of those miles where logged in one ride, last week's 61 miler.  The remainder miles on random rides.

This morning I set out to do a 30 mile, easy ride.  Not sure why, but today i didn't want to venture far from the house, so rode to a nearby park and looped it several times for the majority of the miles.

I used today as an opportunity to test my familiarity with the bike.  The shifting, the aero bars, breaks, clips, etc.  Also, I wanted to know how fast I could push it.  The back side of the park lends itself to pick up some speed.

With each loop, I found myself wanting to go faster.  Because of where the Garmin had to be placed, a slight down look is necessary to see the data.  At the speeds I was approaching and because of the winding road, I did not feel to comfortable taking my eyes off the road to look at the speed, but I could tell that I had never "peddaled" that fast.

I was right.  When I downloaded the data to the computer, I saw that I had reached speeds of 28mph!  The average speed for today's ride was slightly under 17mph.

What I'm mostly enthused about is that with my previous bike, an average of 15mph was the norm.  What I'm most excited about is that after a bike ride, I still have legs left.

I'm looking forward to see what I can do at the Steelhead Ironman 70.3 Triathlon in 12 days.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fourteen Days...Just. Fourteen. Short. Days!

Two weeks from today, it's Steelhead Ironman 70.3 Triathlon!

Yesterday I received my last two weeks training plan from my coach.  In the body of the email it read:  "It's taper time my friend!"


Friday, July 16, 2010

Struggles to Tackle and Resolve

The date of my next "A" event approaches rapidly.  July 31, 2010 will be here in no time at all.  As of this post, there are only 14 days left.  In the world of triathlon training, that is no time at all.  Steelhead Ironman 70.3 Triathlon is in the horizon.

To cram or not to cram?  To go hard, harder than recommended?  To go outside what you know is best?  Sometimes just doing the "right" thing is the hardest thing to do.  In just a couple of days I will enter the taper portion of my training.  If history is to repeat itself, this will be a very difficult time.

Difficult because doubts will set in.  Have I done enough?  What else could I do?

Discipline will have to be the rule of day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Featured on Endurance Geeks Website

I have recently received the honor of being the featured athlete on my coach's Client Spotlight page of  his website!

This for me is a great honor in many ways.

First and foremost because I have not been one to think that what I have done so far is worthy of comparison to the achievements and accomplishments of those tremendous athletes around me.

I thank my coach, Barry Baird for thinking that I am worthy of this honor.  I will do everything in my power to make you proud.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Quintana Roo Seduza Vs. Cervelo P2

As I have made the decision to embark in the quest to complete the Louisville Iromnan 2011, I also realized that it was time to shop and acquire a new tri bike.  I have been riding on a road bike for the past three seasons.  I have enjoyed my Felt Z80 for it has taking me where I've wanted to go.  But now it's time to upgrade.

I've researched brands, models, components and more important pricing.  Yes, pricing is a big issue.  I do not want to overspend, I do not want to underspend.  Once I learned that for my goals I should be prepared to spend between $2,000 and $3,000 I set out to find options.

I visited with my  local tri store, ACME Multisports in Goodlettsville, TN. several times.  I asked 1,436 questions and they answered them all, every last one of them.  Thanks guys!  The options were narrowed to two:  The Quintana Roo Seduza and the Cervelo P2.

I have also done my homework and read several reviews online, both bikes fared pretty much the same.

There are three "major" differences between the QR and the P2.  As explained to me these are:  The handle bars, the front derailleur and the seat.  Apparently the P2 version of these is what justifies the price difference.  Everything else is pretty much identical.

On Thursday, July 1st I took the QR out for a 15 mile ride.  On Saturday, July 3rd I took the P2 for the identical 15 mile ride.  I also did a 15 minute brick (run) immediately after each ride.

This was the first time I would be on a tri bike for any distance.  It took me about a mile or so to get comfortable with the machine.  After that it was just a matter of getting the feel for it.  How would it shift, how would it pedal, how it handle, how would it turn, how would I feel on the aero position?.  The QR was delivering up to my expectations.  The pedaling and the shifting were smooth as silk. The effort to turn the wheels was dramatically easier than on my road bike.  I guess this is what a tri bike is supposed to do.

The aero position took some getting used to.  It felt like I was going to fly off the bike.  I sat back on the saddle but the pedaling was not as smooth, so I moved forward (as instructed) and it became better.  After a couple of miles, I became one with the bike and I continued with my test drive.

Somewhere along the ride I thought it would be smart to do a brick following my ride.  How would I feel after the ride?  Would the bike make a difference?  The answer to this was a surprising one.  The first half mile or so, my lower back was bothering me.  It had never done that before.  After the adjustment, the run became easier than it had ever been following a bike ride.  So yes, the bike did make a difference.

Then it was the turn to test the P2.

I set out to do the same, identical ride.  I wanted the conditions to be as equal as possible to make a smart, informed decision.  I rode the same route, I ran the same brick.

Everything I found on the QR I found on the P2.  No difference in the pedaling, no difference in the shifting, no difference in the handling.  So, at this point I set out to do the only thing I could.  I wanted to find $800 worth of difference.  I couldn't.

The decision was made.  I went with Quintana Roo.  One minor add-on.  I bought the Cervelo saddle!  This was more comfortable.  For the money, I feel I got the best bike.
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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Resilience or Something Else?

It has often been said that endurance athletes are cut from a different mold.  Come to think of it, if you ask any other athlete involved in any other sport, I am sure that they would tell you the same thing; they too, are cut from a different mold.

However, not being an athlete in any other sport, I have become a student of the endurance sports, specifically Triathlon.  One thing that seems to be a common denominator amongst all triathletes is that we thoroughly believe that what we do, day in, day out, has no rival.  Hence, we are cut from a different mold. This is in no way intended to disrespect any other athlete in any other sport.

Yesterday, I had a fifty mile bike ride, followed by a fifteen minute brick on my training schedule.  As I went to bed on Friday night, it was my intention to wake up early enough to be out on the road by 6am since the heat and humidity was to be intense early in the day.

Unbeknown to me, those plans changed as I slept for when the alarm went off at 5:15am, I could hardly move.  My bulging disk (L3-L4) and my herniated disk (L4-L5) decided that it was time to remind me who was in charge... or so they thought.

It was a struggle to get out of bed and move around, I must admit.  For anyone who suffers from this kind of issues, it is a common occurrence.  Some days are good, others are bad, others like yesterday are really bad.  With each step I took I saw my chances of riding/running today diminishing fast.

I have been here before.  I know what to do.  Stretching is the key.  By doing this, I can help push the discs back in place reducing or totally eliminating the pain.  Most of the time this works. Most of the time the pain is not so intense however.  What this means today is that the discs bulged out more than normal.  But stretching I did.

Slowly but surely I started feeling relief.  As time passed I began to notice that the pain had become manageable, so I began to make plans to go ahead and get on my bike.  And so I did.

Around 10am I felt like I had to give this a try.  I wouldn't venture to far from the house just in case I got in trouble while on the road.  And so I went.

The ride started with no consequence and as the miles added up, I was feeling great.  I made it to a park near my house that has a mile loop.  I practiced my aero position, practiced my pedal stroke working on a smooth rotary movement as opposed to a piston like motion.  I also worked on gear management to help increase cadence.  This I did for about fifteen miles.  And then a very familiar sharp pain shot all the way from my lower back all the way down my left side.  I remember thinking, "now I've done it."

So I headed back home.

When I finished the ride, I had completed 2 hours with some 26 miles of pedaling.  There was no sign of pain so I thought I would give the brick a try.  Fifteen minutes was on the plan, so fifteen minutes I did.

I felt good, physically.  Mentally I felt great.  I had overcome an obstacle that could have been devastating for my training plan.  The rest of the day my back was tight.  Last night I had a good night, woke up this morning sore and in slight pain but no where near what it was yesterday.  Today I think I will take it easy.

So, was this an exercise in resilience or something else?  Only time will tell.  But, if history is a teacher, I know that all will be good and I shall go on.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Steelhead 70.3 = T-Minus 50 Days...

 Training for the Steelhead 70.3 in Benton Harbor, Michigan on July 31st. has been on track and coming along as planned.
As of this writing, there's just 47 days until d-day.
When discussing what my goals are for this event with my tri coach, I expressed to him my wish to better last year's Augusta 70.3 total time. He looked things over and his estimate is to work on the run time by better managing the bike leg.
So that we are doing.
Yesterday's bike ride, a total of 53.6 mile ride, in the sweltering heat, was a measure of where I am today and where I need to go in the next 47 days.
The ride started off pretty much like any other ride.  I had my route planned (in my head) and I estimated it would be around 40-42 miles. I had always been pretty accurate on this.
Through the majority of the ride, my concentration was to practice my aero position, allowing my legs to use the correct muscles.  This I thought I did pretty good because, as my spin instructor always says: "make sure you feel your quads burn"!  and that they did.
I was pretty happy as well that my speed was higher and the ride was more constant than it had been.  Around mile 40 I noticed that my average speed was 17.5mph, this is about 1.5mph faster than my normal speed.  Sweet!
My concentration was such that at this same point I ran across three friends that were riding, I recognized one of them, didn't recognized the other two... sorry guys!
I made a quick stop to get a cold sports drink.  The weather had become a factor.  Filled my bottle with ice and some of the drink and left for the last leg of the ride.
And then my quad began to cramp.  I adjusted my pedaling some and this seemed to help some.  I noticed as well that the muscles inside both my upper legs were cramping as well... this had never happened!
I finished the ride, stretched my muscles and the cramping was history.  I am going under the assumption that I was short on electrolyte replacements.  Will adjust for next week's ride.
This week's plan calls for more of the same, but still kicking in it up a bit.  We shall kick!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Country Music Marathon ~ "Oh, so close, so very close"

The events leading to this marathon were not any different than those leading to any other event.  For the majority of the training period, the plan was followed as written.  Few exceptions were made, but none that would jeopardize the outcome of the marathon.

I have found that the mental preparation for each event is different.  Things come up prior to each event that are unique to that event.  For the 2010 edition of the Country Music Marathon it was not any different.

The weather became an issue the week leading up to the race.  Unlike last year's blistering heat, this year the weatherman predicted rain, storms, winds, possibilities of hail and conditions favorable for tornadoes.  The predictions for time frame varied as do most weather predictions.

Having had a couple of long runs in the rain under my belt, I accepted the fact that the 2010 CMM would be a wet one.  Nothing I could do about it, so I would not worry about it.  I tried to stay focused and positive on the matter at hand.  26.2 miles to the finish line.

At the expo on Thursday I had my IT bands, both of them,  KT Taped.  KT tape is my new best friend.  Love it!  That was about the length of my stay at the expo.  Didn't want to stay long, didn't want to spend to much time here this year, this was part of the plan.

As it has become routine with me, the night prior to the race, I could not sleep well.  It was 1am when I woke up, never to sleep soundly again.  At 4am the alarm went off and I was ready to go.

As usual the first order of business was to take a quick shower to fully wake up.  Having done that, I got the coffee ready and proceeded to get dressed.  Everything went smoothly because, as you know, I had my clothes all layed out on the sofa for the past week.  I was not about to leave anything behind.  Thoroughly stretched and warmed up my muscles before it was time to go.

Left the house at 5:20 and the skies looked dark, not because it was still night but because the storms where over our head.  It rained just a bit on the way downtown but not anything to despair about.

Upon arrival at the starting line, proceeded to line up at the nearest porta-potty.  Lines were not to bad but they were moving slowly.

Several minutes before 7am, the race started.  I guess it started early to get a head jump on the impending storms.  I noticed that the corrals this year were jammed packed with runners.  More so than in previous years.  Went looking for mine.  Number 17.

As we proceeded our way to the starting line, the hit of the corral was my tee.  Or rather the message on the back of my tee.  It seemed like everyone around me, and those around them, wanted to see it, read it and make a comment on it.  This was pretty cool.

And off we went.  Steady and as planned I settled into my pace quickly.  I stayed in the middle of the road as was my strategy to help my ITB issues.  This proved to be more difficult that I had anticipated due to all the walkers taking up the middle of the road.

This year the course seemed more crowded than in years past.  This is my fourth time doing this race.  Twice the half marathon and twice the marathon.  As I figured out later, the chaos at the beginning of the race and the overcrowded field  was due to the multitude of people moving to the front of the pack, the earlier corrals, to try to beat the weather.  There was no control for this, so it was out of control.  I followed the rules and stayed where I belonged.

Next year, I will estimate my time to be faster so I can get an earlier corral.

Up until the split, just past mile 11, the course continued to be very crowded and at times is seemed impossible to stay on pace.  I felt great!  I knew that my training was paying dividends.  But Metro Center was still to come.  I call it the Black Hole of the CMM.  It's long and it's lonely.

Around mile 12 I saw two friends that had come to support those in our HRC team; Shari and Leslie.  What a sight to see.  Their cheering and encouraging words put an extra kick on my step.  Thanks ladies, you are awesome!

The weather had cooperated.  There was even a slight period of time when the sun had come out.  Slight period of time.  As I approached mile 13 the wind started to pick up.  It was very noticeable at mile 15 which came along the banks of the Cumberland River.  Out of Metro Center and around mile 18 the rain started coming down, just minutes later, the bottom fell out.

I am one that believes that everything happens for a reason and that there's a reason for everything that happens.  So, right when things were getting a bit tough, one of my power songs came, automatically, on my MP3... The Eagles, "Get Over It".  WOW.  How weird was that, but how cool.  As I sang along, I noticed, once again, that extra kick on my step.  Time for the last stretch home.  Yes, I was close.

Right past mile 20 we were diverted to the half marathon finish line.  I had no clue this is what had happened, I was just running.  I heard folks saying "it's over, it's over."  This is when my heart sunk and the pain in my gut set in.

How could this be?  So close, so very close.

My Garmin showed a little over 22 miles and 3:43:50 when I crossed the finish line.  The official time shows me with 3:45 minutes but no clue as to the official distance.  By my calculations, had I been able to finish the full marathon I would have done it in 4:26.  My goal was 4:30.  So close, so very close.

Awaiting us at the finish line was the  customary finishers' medal.  I accepted it with grace but felt uncomfortable putting it around my neck.  Pretty sure I thought I didn't deserve it.

To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement.  But, after thinking things through I am glad that the race director and the city officials had our back.  Very glad of that.  Don't want to imagine the alternatives.

So there's always next time!

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Home Stretch

According to DailyMile, my online training log, I have logged 583 miles over the past four months. That's a lot of road!  And in a little less than 48 hours, it will all come together at the Country Music Marathon.

Preparation for this year's marathon began much earlier than that.  Actually, it began as I finished last year's.  Well, a couple of weeks after the end of last year's.  As number 16137 crossed the finish line, I remember telling myself "never again, ever".  But here I am today, 12 short months later anticipating the start of a new CMM.

Best piece of advice anyone can give you at this moment is to savor the moment; there's nothing you can do to make a difference in the race now, there's plenty you can do to ruin the race.  I have followed, for the most part, my training plan, deviating only on a couple of instances but nothing that would interfere with progress.

I have pushed, pulled and dragged myself through each mile and I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every step.  I have mostly trained by myself but on a couple of instances I have met up with our running group.  This was special, they're a fantastic, supportive bunch.  Additionally, I have created a sizable on-line support group.  Through Facebook, DailyMile and Twitter, I have found advise and encouragement from sometimes the most unlikely sources.  To all my family and friends... I am indebted to you!

My race number this year will be "17067".  I have a finish goal time in mind but life as I know it will not end if that is not accomplished. I will be very happy if I finish ahead of last year.

My race gear has been ready for three days.  All spread out on the couch.  Each time I get a chance I look at it and take inventory.  My biggest fear is that I will forget something.  A few weeks ago I designed my race day tee shirt.  I ordered it and received it two weeks ago.  I will be wearing this on race day:

According to the National Weather Service... "potential exists for severe storms in Middle Tennessee on Saturday... any storms that develop will have the capability to produce large hail and damaging winds.  There's also a potential for isolated tornadoes...'  GREAT!

This is one element that I can't control so I will not worry about it.  I will take the weather as it comes and run to the best of my ability given the conditions that are given to us.

So, for now it just hurry up and.... wait!  See ya'll at the finish line!
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Last Minute Marathon Tips"

To all my friends running the Country Music Marathon in Nashville this coming Saturday, or any other marathon on any other day... here's some last minute advise you should really look at.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Boston Bound? Congratulations and Good Luck!

In just a few short days, you my friend, will be running in the world's greatest race: The Boston Marathon.  You didn't get there by chance.  You earned your right to be there.  Your determination, perseverance and drive along with your dream, belief and faith were your driving force necessary for you to punch your ticket to Boston.

This to you is your Super Bowl, your World Series, Your World Cup. Your Masters. Your goal may be to pursue a pr, to enjoy the experience or just simply to cross the finish line.  Whatever that may be, I wish you luck.

As you leave for this venture, please take with you the knowledge that you leave behind a mass of supporters and admirers.  We will follow your progress throughout the race and as you cross that finish line rest assured that that roar you hear is us cheering with pride as we celebrate your success.

So, without any further to do... It is my best desire and wish that you find in Boston everything you have been expecting and then a little more.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday 35 Mile Bike Ride

A beautiful day for a beautiful ride. Just me, my bike and mother nature.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

When is a Black Toenail not a Black Toenail?

For an endurance athlete, be it a runner, a triathlete or whatever the sport of choice, it's in their nature to push it to the limit and then beyond.  Today just happened to be one of those days.

Today's plan was changed last night. The weather report stated that the rain would come mid morning. So I set myself up for a 4:30 wake up call, 5:15 run time. The way I figured it, the rain would be about here by the time I was finishing my 20 miles. Yeah, slow... I know.

As I left the house, the wind was blowing and the clouds were low, dark and very heavy. You could tell they were loaded. Not a good sign was my first thought. But I got on my car and off to the park I went.

Wasting no time upon arrival, I proceeded with my run. One loop around the park and a couple of miles down the road later the rain came. Not to hard, but it was here and it was early. Oh, well. A run in the rain never hurt anyone

I have been nursing a sore calf from what appeared to be a severe cramp last Saturday.  It was sore but not in pain.  If I changed my stride in any form, I could tell right away because the muscle would let me know.  So, in addition to having to watch for the wet pavement, I had to be extra careful with my calf, did not really want to aggravate the injury this close to marathon day.

I could tell my pace was slower than usual.  If I tried to push it, I could feel it.

So off and on the rain kept coming.  Nothing really bad, just annoying.  That is until the bottom fell off.  It rained so hard for about five minutes that the rain was hurting as it hit my body.  I had no where to take shelter so I just kept on going.

By this point it was just about survival.  The last six miles of the run were an adventure, to say the least.  Every stitch of clothing was wet, heavy wet.  It was like carrying an extra twenty pounds with you.  The shoes, but specially the socks were soaked.  (Note to self:  gotta get some good wicking socks).  My Garmin had condensation build up.  Couldn't see out of my glasses.  I was cold and seriously hoping that one day I would be able to warm up again.

But as the miles kept coming I was determined to finish strong.  My plan today was to run one mile and walk (fast walk) one tenth of a mile.  I would use this time to reload, refuel, recup.  I stuck to this plan to the end.

So, when is a black toenail not a black toenail?  I tell you.

When I got home and took of my shoes, I saw a very disturbing sight:  A red (blood) ring on my left sock.  Weird, I remember thinking.  So, I took of my sock and my second toe was covered in blood.  No pain, just blood.  My toenail was not black any longer!  So I guess the blood blister that was making my toenail black was no longer a blister which made it no longer a black toenail.  Usually, black toenails grow out, this was a first for me.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Fork On The Road

When I set out to run the Tom King Classic Half Marathon in Nashville yesterday, my goal was very simple: to run at my marathon pace (secretly, really... a little faster). I wanted to use this race as pace training for the Country Music Marathon which is coming up on April 24th. I'd like to run the CMM in 4:30 which is a 10:17 pace. That was the plan anyway.

Quickly after the start of the race, an adjustment was made to my plan. This pace seemed awfully slow for a half marathon. I would leave the pace training to my training runs. Today I would shoot for a 2:10 finish time.

I have found that one of the most difficult things in a race is not to fall into the trap of running at the pack's pace. By all accounts it's always to fast. And yesterday was not any different. But... after a couple of miles I realized that I would go after the 2:10 finish time which meant a 9:55 pace, not to terribly off my marathon goal pace.

My first five miles splits were 8:34, 8:42, 8:51, 9:00 and 9:09. Pretty steady I thought, but way faster than my comfort zone. At this point I chose to slow it down some and try to get into a better running rhythm. The next five mile splits continued to be slower, but at the same rate of decreased pace as the first five; 9:19, 9:28, 9:37, 9:47 and 9:56. I was consistently loosing about 8-10 seconds per mile. Which felt comfortable. The last three were not any different. 10:06, 10:16 and 10:27. Finish time was 2:05:12. 4:48 faster than goal time. I was pleased.

There's a lot of talk in the running world about negative splits. One day, I think, I will have to give that a try. I will have to work on that.

The Country Music Marathon is only five weeks away. I will have to work on a more consistent pace in order to have a successful race. I hope five weeks is enough.

The weather for this race, historically has been less than ideal. Rain and wind and cold and all that. Yesterday's prospects were not any better. It had rained in Nashville for a couple of days and the weatherman projected more for race time. But, we live in Middle Tennessee and that is subject to change without notice. What to wear and how to dress was the question. Layers? No layers? Gloves? Tights? Shorts? I decided from the git-go that I would wear shorts. The temperature was mid 40's and that would be okay. However, layers? how many? It wasn't windy, but it was cloudy and the rain was coming. So three layers I wore. As it turns out, the rain didn't materialize during the race, it was not windy and the temperature was comfortable. Waiting for the race to start, I was wishing I had my gloves but very quickly I gave thanks that I left them behind. Somewhere around mile two, I realized that two layers would have been enough. Oh, well.

I remembered from last year that the course was wet and that the ground had puddles. I also remembered how horrible it was to run with wet socks. So this year I took some precautions. I found a new use for duck tape. Taped the mesh on top of the shoe to prevent water from getting my socks wet. See picture!  This worked wonderful.

Now to the fork on the road.  It is becoming very obvious to me that I need to make a choice.  Do I want to continue to train and run full marathons or do I want to concentrate and run for better times at Half Marathons?  This question I kept asking myself throughout the run yesterday.  I knew that if I wanted to push it harder, I had plenty in me to do so, but I didn't want to risk injury this close to the CMM.

What's more important to me and what would give me the most pleasure?  Pursuing a PR, but how fast can I really and realistically go?  And when would I know that I have run as fast as I can physically run?  What about the knees and the ankles?  How much use and abuse can they take?  Oh yeah, what about my back? Bulging and herniated disks, how much can they take?  What about the thrill of crossing the finish line at a marathon, would that equal the thrill of a PR on the half?

I'm not suggesting that I can't do both, but I don't think I can do both well.

But for now, the CMM is next.  Should my number come up for NYC, that will be on the schedule.  A decision will be made as to how many more I will run... however, in order to run an Ironman, I will have to have marathon training.  Decisions, decisions!

Friday, February 5, 2010

This Season's Official Training Has Begun

Not that I had a chance to take much of a break from training this winter, but officially the 2010 training season has begun!
I am trying to squeeze a couple of swims - three sessions a week would be ideal, a couple of spin classes - at least until I can consistently get the bike out on the road, and somewhere around 25-30 miles of running per week.  This millage will continue to go up as the date for the Country Music Marathon gets closer.
There are a few demons I have to face, fight and conquer.  Primarily is the one that fights with me to get up early in the morning on Mondays and Wednesdays to go swimming.  This week was a good battle, but I can proudly say that I won, for on both days I made it to the pool!  Step One has been taken.  Next week, Step Two.  It has been said that it takes two weeks to create a habit.  I am hoping that to be true, for if it is, and I make it out of bed on Monday and Wednesday this coming week, then my chances of success (in this area) have been tremendously improved.  But man, getting up at 4:15 sure is a struggle.
Second and not such a battle is the one that challenges me to do two workouts on Monday and Wednesday.  After the pool in the morning, I have a spin class scheduled for Monday afternoon and strength conditioning on Wednesday afternoon.  These are not to bad.  I think these can be managed.
The third battle is taking the day off when I'm supposed to take the day off.  Putting a little smarts behind this one, could easily be conquered.  I think!
My schedule for the next week is as follows:  (and I post it here for accountability purposes)

Today:  Afternoon Swim (1200-1500m)
Saturday:  14 mile run
Sunday: - OFF
Monday:  AM - TriSwim, PM - Spin
Tuesday: 7 mile run
Wednesday: AM - TriSwim, PM - Strength
Thursday: AM - Spin (optional), PM - 7 mile run

 Additionally, I have started a program called "One Hundred Push Ups".  I am on the second week of a six week program which, if completed according to plan, will get me to 100 push ups.
'til next time...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

An Endurance Athlete...Me?

According to Webster's online dictionary, "Endurance" is defined as the act, quality or power of withstanding hardship or stress.  The act or fact of persevering.  An Endurance Athlete is able to accomplish feats such as Marathons, Half Marathons, Triathlons and challenging Ultra endurance events.

But what's the attraction and why are so many seemingly normal people attracted to this? Considering that the majority of the world's population has trouble finding the time or energy to work out at all, let alone train for a grueling endurance event?  What makes these elite athletes different and where do they get their energy and motivation to do so?

Accoridng to an article published by, "Much of this is mental.  While many endurance athletes say there's nothing special about their physical abilities, clearly people who are drawn to and are able to accomplish feats such as marathons, triathlons and challenging ultra events differ from the rest of us somehow.  A big piece of the puzzle is how these athletes think about their lives, goals and the obstacles they face."

Jenny Susser, a clinical psychologist at the Women's Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery goes on to say that "many endurance athletes also have common personality traits which include persistence, endless curiosity, a lack of fear when it comes to failure and a sense of boldness."

Personally, I can atest to these statements.  But when I set out to run my first race, the furthest thing from my mind was becoming an "endurance athlete".  And a short four years thereafter, I find that I am a member of a very elite group, purely by accident.

After completing my first half marathon I found myself wanting to push the envelope a bit further.  How much could I endure?  I how much would I be willing to go?  How high is my pain - physical and mental - threshold?  Do I have the dedication to commit to a training schedule?  When is enough?

One of the greatest and most attractive elements of endurance sports is that you can create and execute your own goals at your own pace.  For me my goals have been simple: to simply finish and to finish in respectable time.  Respectable as defined by my standards.  Doing this has enabled me to measure my perforance in accordance to my wants and needs.  I have had disappointments but mostly success.

So how far am I willing to go?  or a better question may be, how far can my body take me?

That question remains to be answered.  Up to this point no one single event has left me wondering why I do this or if it's time to quit.  On the contrary, every event has reinforced the reasons why I do this and wondering what's next?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

50 Ways To Identify Triathlon Obsession

A FB friend, Spence Smith posted this compilation of the "you know you're an obsessed triathlete when...".  These have floated around the interned for some time now and you have probably seen some of them at one time or another.  I too thought it was a great list to share!

50. You are over 30 and there is still someone in your life that you refer to as “coach”.

49. Your last bike cost more than your first car.

48. You have peed outdoors more times in the last year than you did in your first year of university.

47. You think of mowing the lawn as a form of cross-training.

46. You’ve worn a heart-rate monitor to bed.

45. And it wasn’t when you were sleeping.

44. You refer to the front hall of your house as the “transition area”.

43. When you get home from a training session at the pool, the newspaper is just being delivered to your house.

42. You have changed more flat tires this year than light bulbs.

41. The most frequently used software program on your computer is the one that keeps track of your workouts.

40. You have no idea why they call Cal Ripken Jr. “Iron Man” when, after all, he was a baseball player.

39. The first three items on your grocery list are Gatorade, power bars, and gels.

38. When you floss at night, it’s to get the bugs out of your teeth.

37. Your legs move in a cycling motion while you are asleep.

36. When you see a drop of blood, your first reaction is that you spilled some red Gatorade.

35. You know how far you biked and ran last year, to one-tenth of a kilometre.

34. You think the ultimate form of wallpaper is about 64 racing bibs.

33. A 19-year old kid who works in a bicycle shop know more about you than your next-door neighbour.

32. Your children are more likely to recognize you if you put your bicycle helmet.

31. You have a vanity licence plate with the word “Kona” in it.

30. About half the shirts you own have at least a dozen logos on the back of them.

29. You don’t find the word “fartlek” in the least bit amusing.

28. When you refer to your “partner”, you mean neither your spouse nor the co-owner of your business but the person you run or bike with three times a week.

27. You shave your legs more often than your wife.

26. The closest you came to punching somebody was when they disagreed with your position on whether wearing a wetsuit amounts to cheating.

25. It doesn’t feel right that you can’t “clip “ in and out of the pedals in your car.

24. There is a group of people in your life about whom you are more likely to know how fast they can swim 100 metres than their surnames or occupations.

23. Some of the shorts you wear today are tighter than the ones you wore in high school.

22. You are frustrated with the latest Garmin Forerunner because its live readings have a margin of error of approximately three per cent.

21. There’s a separate load of laundry every week that is just your workout clothes.

20. One of your goals this year is to be faster at getting out of your wetsuit.

19. You failed high school chemistry but you could teach a course on lactic acid.

18. All you want for Christmas is something called a carbon crank set.

17. You wore a digital watch to your wedding.

16. You have to have completely separate meals from your spouse because he or she is on a low-carb diet.

15. Your bicycle is in your living room.

14. You have stocked up on a brand of cereal because it has a coupon that will save you money on your next two pairs of running shoes.

13. In order to establish a new personal best, you considered peeing without getting off your bike.

12. One of your proudest moments is when you lost a toenail.

11. When a car follows too closely behind you, you accuse the driver of “drafting”.

10. When you went for a job interview, you wrote your social insurance number on your arm in black marker.

9. Your spouse cried during Terms of Endearment; you cried during the television coverage of the Hawaii Ironman.

8. You are comfortable discussing the sensitivity of your nipples with other guys.

7. Your spouse is looking forward to the day when you will slow down and just run marathons.

6. You have paused in front of the mirror in your wetsuit and thought, “Hey, I look like Spiderman.”

5. You see no issue with talking about treatments for chafing or saddle rash at the dinner table.

4. You recently asked your spouse out for dinner by asking if he or she wanted to “fuel up” together.

3. For you, “bonking” no longer has a sexual connotation.

2. The magazine secretly tucked under your mattress has pictures of really expensive bicycles in it.

And the No. 1 sign you’re obsessed:

1. Most of this list doesn’t seem like a joke to you.

Monday, January 11, 2010

13.1 + 26.2 = 39.3 Goofy 2010 Recap

When I first signed up for "The Challenge" last February, the furthest thing from my mind was the weather. After all, it's Florida, Central Florida at that. The weather usually that time of year is perfect for running. This was not an issue and it shouldn't have been an issue. But as it turned out it was the biggest issue we had to deal with.

On Saturday, it was cold, very cold and windy, and rainy and sleety (at times). Temperature itself was manageable, low 30's but wind gust of up to 18mph made it bad, real bad. On Sunday, it was colder but not as much wind and the sun came out. Average temperatures for this time of year are 61F.

The crowds were amazing. Not sure of the exact number but I heard numbers varying from 12k to 20k for each race. There were 9K Goofy runners. It appeared to me that there were more Marathoners than Half Marathoners which was a surprise.

The idea going in was to go and have fun.  Run -walk - run - walk - Finish.  At no time did I set myself a time goal for either race and as it turns out this was the smart thing to do.  I had read and heard that the distractions during the race would be many, to take full advantage of them and to have fun.  That I did.

The event itself was extremely well organized. What else could you expect from a Disney organization?

The course itself was wonderful. Going through the parks was amazing, specially on the Marathon course,  going through some later in the morning made it more fun because the crowds were bigger and louder.

I ran with five friends from my local running club; Hendersonville Running Club.  Leslie, Shari, Bob, Charlene and Skip.  On Saturday morning we caught up with each other at mile 3 or somewhat there after.  We ran the rest of the Half together and finished together.  That was prety amazing!  Thanks ya'll for allowing me to share this experience with you.  On Sunday, although we had made plans on where to meet, it just didn't work out.  I met up with Skip somewhere around mile 16.  We ran together for about 6 or 7 miles then he went ahead to go catch up with his wife who was just ahead.  The rest of the group had started at an earlier corral and we had no opportunity to meet up.  That was a bummer!

Since I was running solo for the majority of the Marathon, I took advantage of some photo ops, not to many so as not to break the pace, but a few none-the-less.  I really wanted to meet up with Goofy but he was no where to be found!  Oh, well.

As far as the run itself it went just as planned.  I had trained to run a mile and walk for .20m.  As it turned out we ran for 5 minutes and walked for 1 minute on Saturday and I ran for 4 minutes and walked for 1 minute on Sunday.  This was just a perfect plan.  Other than slight soreness in my ankles and heels, all was good.  I was concerned about my IT band but that was not a problem.  YES!

As far as the time it took...well lets just say that I finished in plenty of time to qualify for the "Goofy".   The crowds on the courses were such that going for specific times would have been a disaster.

Today my legs are sore, my ankles and heels not as bad.  I will take it easy the rest of this week for it is vacation time.  Next week it's back to training for the Country Music Marathon is just around the corner.