Thursday, September 19, 2013

2014's Schedule Is Set

There's still over three months left in 2013, but next year's "big" race schedule is already cemented in.

My plans were to race my second, and final, Ironman for my 60th birthday. This would be in 2014.  I had originally planned on returning to Louisville to complete this goal. This had been my plan for over a year.

With this in mind, I began researching which 70.3 distance I would race.  Because of the timing, and with the input from my coach, I chose Ironman 70.3 Raleigh.  June 1, 2014. This race sold out quickly last year, so I registered without hesitation.

Ironman 70.3 Raleigh June 1, 2014

Once registered for Raleigh, all I had to do was wait for registration to Ironman Louisville to open and my 2014 schedule would be set.

And then WTC announced a new Ironman event to their schedule.  Ironman Chattanooga would be held on September 28, 2014.

It didn't take much thought or any deliberation to make the switch. Chattanooga, it would be.  But now the registration.  Not having any experience with registering for new events, I did not know how soon or if it even would sell out.  The buzz around Middle Tennessee about this event was tremendous.  It just seemed like most everyone was planning on racing it.  Outside Middle TN, I did not hear much.  I asked often on Twitter but the response was minimal.  Not sure what to think of that.

Bottom line is I got my spot.  But the registration process did not come without controversy.  But perhaps that's a topic for another post.

Another, and the most important development came about when my daughter Juliana, announced that she too, will be racing Ironman Chattanooga 2014.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Not Your Average Long Training Run

As I set out on Saturday to do my weekly long run, I planned on 16 miles.  I planned on running a hilly, very hilly route for I am training for the ING NYC Marathon on November 3, 2013, with an estimated 885 ft of elevation and The Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon on November 24, 2013, with an estimated elevation gain of 3600 ft.

ING NYC Marathon, November 3, 2013

Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon, November 24, 2013

The route I have chosen for this run has a total elevation gain of 1054 ft.  Not a tremendous amount of elevation for the total run, but half of the elevation comes in a two mile stretch of the course, about half way through the run.

I set out with three goals.  1) NOT to walk up any hill. Accomplished. 2) To stick to a 5 minute run, 1 minute walk for the entire run.  When the five minutes were up, and I was going up hill, I finished the hill and adjusted accordingly.  Goal No. 1 was a priority today, and 3) To average a pace of under 12:30.  Actual pace was 12:20/mile. I've never claimed to be fast!

The run started without consequence. I left the park where we meet with our running club each and every Saturday morning.  We have talent of all levels, so everyone pretty much matches up according to pace and distance planned.

This morning I teamed up with my friends Tabitha, K'Leetha, Jennifer and Janelle, but this didn't last long for we went our own separte routes.  As it turns out Tabitha and Jennifer were running part of the route I was running.  I asked Tabitha if she would do the out and back with me (the one with the monster hills) and she quickly said... NO!.

Somewhere around mile 4, I picked up a bottle of water that K'Leetha had left there for us.  I drank about half of it and planned on dropping the remainder where I could have it after the out and back portion of the route.

I approached the stop sign where I would leave my water, and I dropped it at the base of said sign. So off I went. Ran over the hill to the other side and one mile later I turned around.  The return is a tougher rise so it took a little longer. About half way through the return, I began to think about the bottle of water.  I did not want to consume what I had on my fuel belt because I still had a long way to go.

Some three to four houses before getting to the stop sign and my water, a dog began to bark. Loudly and angrily. He came chasing after me with what appeared to be a fierce determination to get a good bite in. Only thought that came to my mind was that he was going to bite me in the back of my leg, my left leg, where my new tattoo is. That could just not happen.

So I stopped abruptly and waited for the dog. When he reached me, the dog immediately got on his back and started kicking his legs; he wanted me to pet him. So relieved I was that his intentions where not what I had thought, that I did pet him. Big mistake.

Off I went, I continued running. He went with me. Side by side.

Then he took off.  Like a bat out of hell. He headed directly to the stop sign. Yes, the same one where my water bottle was on the ground.  He started sniffing around the post and the water bottle. Then I though... "Oh, NO, he's not". And yes, he did. He raised his right leg and proceeded to claim the water bottle as his own.  Dang!

I laughed for a few moments and continued my run. The dog came along with me. For the next 6 miles or so, I had company. I was getting worried that he would not find his way back home. He was wearing a collar, but no tag. I began to think what I was going to do with him if he continued to run with me to the end.

Two cars stopped and asked if the dog was mine. It appears that he had been roaming the streets for about two weeks.  The second car offered to take him home.  Not being my dog, I did not object. I noticed as the car drove away, that the lady had one of those dog rescue stickers on her car. I was happy she took him.

I continued.  5 minutes running, 1 minute walking. My ankles, as usual, were getting a bit upset. Time to suck it up and keep on moving.

Overall it was a great day. All of the goals I had left with, I had accomplished. Yes, the miles were hard and long. The ankles were in pain, but the spirits were high. The distractions today made it a great one!  What will next week's long run bring?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ironman Ink ~ Go Big or Go Home

My wish to sport an M-dot tattoo has been well documented. Months before running the final stretch of runway at Ironman Louisville 2011, I wrote about my desire to get a tattoo after completing my first Ironman.

I planned and deliberated on a design that would be representative of the journey.  I came up with a very simple idea adapted from images I had seen in the Internet, which at the time seemed to fit just right.  This, to me, represented the "blood, sweat and tears" that had fallen during the journey. Read about this here.

As the new race season came upon us and I participated in three IM 70.3 events, it became apparent that I had not done enough research on the design.  It was very clear, very quickly, that an m-dot tattoo half filled represented a 70.3 race.  Folks would ask me "when I was going to fill it in".  I also became very uncomfortable with this, because I strongly believe that you should not flaunt the m-dot until you have actually finished a 140.6 event.  I have nothing against a 70.3 tattoo, it's just not for me.  So I began to try to figure out what to do.

So I just thought that filling it in would be another simple solution.  I should have stopped at that.  But I also wanted to add the tribal piece I have been using as sort of my trademark to put a final stamp on the artwork.

As you can see by the photo, the job was sub-par.  From day one I was not happy with it.  The top half of the M was not filled properly and the "swim" figure was just awful. You really could not tell what the figures were unless you stopped and looked closer.  Not what I had intended-

Yes, I could have gone back to the artist that created this mess, but what would he do and what would it look like?  So I decided to wait and fix it right, once and for all.

Through some serious research and recommendations, I landed in the able hands of Ben Dixon, owner of Lone Wolf Tattoo in Nashville, TN.  I discussed with him my problem and what I was looking for.  He came up with some ideas, and together we tweaked it until I was happy.  But... one thing was the artwork on paper, another would be the final piece.  He showed me some examples of repair work he had done in the past and I felt comfortable that this was the route to take.  So we went ahead.

A tattoo, he told me, should tell a story.  It's one thing to do what everyone else is doing, its another thing to put your personal stamp on it.  We talked a lot about my journey; where I have been and what I have done. He seemed to know a lot about the Ironman.  I asked how.  He told me he has done several dozen m-dot tattoos over the year.  "Most people are just happy with a simple design."  He could sense that I am not "most people".

In our conversation(s) I revealed to him that my biggest fear upon entering the triathlon world was the swim. My second fear, or strong dislike, was the "big hills" on the bike.  I shared with him how I has able to overcome both of them. I shared with him about my swim experience in Louisville and my Mountain trek across the High Road in the Ozarks.  Granted, this was the IM 70.3 Branson experience, but as with the swim in Kentucky, I am now comfortable knowing that I can overcome any course that is put before me.

So this is what he came up with...

I could not be any happier with the result.  Yes, it is bigger than I would have ever thought I'd like and folks that know me are probably thinking that I've lost my mind. But I can assure you ... I have not!

And by the way... in case you're wondering, yes... getting this done, hurt like "you know what"!