Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Terrible Tuesday

I have long forgotten the name of my defensive line coach from my senior year of high school, however I remember him well. Middle age but built like a ton of bricks, and despite appearances he was one of the nicest most inspirational men I have had the pleasure of meeting thus far. Even before he was not my position coach at first, he knew I wanted to play badly. He constantly gave me pointers, encouraged me to keep a journal, and kept pushing me despite knowing I was the smallest linemen in the conference and without any experience play time was unlikely.

This coach also kept our workouts on a very strict schedule. Mondays we watched tape and discussed anything we sucked at, Wednesday was an average day working on the other teams plays, Thursday was light again running plays, and Friday was the game. Everyone dreaded Tuesdays, it was TERRIBLE TUESDAY! This was the day that he cruelly and sadistically inflicted structure pain on us. He pushed us to our limits running, hitting, and pushing the sled. This was the day he made us stronger mentally and physically.

Right now I am unstructured and trying to figure out what my next focus should be. Since I am still a few pounds off my goal weight for the year I am working on that until I decide what to do next.

While working on the weight loss I am designating Tuesdays for the rest of the year as Terrible Tuesday. In the last few months most of my long workouts have been easy (except a few bricks), going slow and working on my mental conditioning. Today is going to be the opposite, long and hard. The tentative plan is to start with two miles of rowing, a hill workout on the stationary bike for about an hour, a steep hill walk on the treadmill, and then back to the bike for whatever it take to round out 2 hours. My goals are three- first to stimulate fat burn, second to stimulate muscle growth and HGH, and third fulfill the mental hazing I haven't had much of since my last triathlon. This whole workout will be managed by my heart rate monitor so I keep an intensity that is tough but will get me through the end.


With today's workout decided, I now am trying to decide what to do next physically. All of the plans I have looked at for my next multisport season start 20 weeks before my A race. CB and I have been discussing my real A race being a 70.3 at either Augusta, New Orleans, or Florida; in addition to competing in the Trysports Series. The training plans should overlap and I will be in a good training place when my first sprint in April falls. However, that gives me a few months before I need to start my training plan. With time to maintain I want to keep motivated. I have a few options- I can complete another 1/2 (maybe RNR AZ if I can get some cash together, if not something local), begin working toward a marathon (probably the Ellerbe marathon in Feb., very low key), or return to my first ever 5k on 1/1/11 an attempt a PR. Not a course PR, a 5k PR. That goal is somewhat lofty because my 5k PR was on a course that was not as hilly as this one,  but it is five months later and I think I am in better shape. I thought about this earlier and remembered that one of my original intentions with this blog was to try a variety of sports and document it. Not knowing which way to go I decided I should put it in my follower's hands. I feel I am up to most any of those three challenges.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Christmas List

With Thanksgiving past we our now in to my favorite time of year- Christmas and Hanukkah. This has always been my favorite time for year since I was a child. My favorite part is the lights and smells, next is the delicious food, and lastly is the air of happiness. Everyone is so much nicer this time of the year, even if it is brief.

I love gift giving and making people happy. I have always been the thoughtful gift giver, always giving my loved ones the presents they want but would never by themselves or things they didn't even remember wanting but I take notes all year. Contrarily, my family says that I am hard to shop for. I don't understand how, I have many hobbies but for some reason they never understand how to talk to the people at the store to help find gifts.

For that reason I am posting my Christmas list on here so that they can all find it. Here it is is more or less in ranked order-
  1. Road bike- all carbon is nice, but I am happy for carbon fork and seat post with good components. (i.e. Trek 1.5, Giant Defy 2, etc.)
  2. Spare bedroom cleaned out and organized by someone other than me, coat of paint a bonus, new carpet and I'll love you forever. It would be nice to be able to use the office/pain cave.(let's face it, I'm king of home repair and small projects here, this one i want to enjoy and it would be nice to not have to do it myself)
  3. Profile T2 Aero bars
  4. Look Keo Pedals
  5. Triathlon cycling shoes
  6. USAT membership
  7. Prepaid Races
  8. Digital SLR camera
  9. Dive Classes
  10. Road ID

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey Trot Half Marathon Race Report

I have been contemplating how to write this all morning, theoretically it should be easy just post what I did- Bam! Done! That would be easy except there is much about this race that I want to editorialize, so I am going to try to give that it's own spot at the end.

Pre-Race: Up at an unGodly hour to shower, bath in BodyGlide, shave, and make the drive.  For breakfast I had two pieces of wheat toast with peanut butter and honey. On one of them I placed banana slices. I thought I would try this for the first time on just one slice. It was great and I admit I stole it from someone else's blog. (Kovas, I think).

I am never amused to be out of bed this early
Got out of the house making perfect time to make the 35 minute drive and have 30 minutes to grab my packet (issue 2) and warm up (issue 2.5?). I came out of the house poised for the high 20's like the last time I left this early and was met by a startling discovery. It was 48 degrees outside. This run was not going to be as cold as planned. Knowing that it was going to be slightly, but not that warm, I had altered my clothing plan to include shorts, compression shirt, tech tee, calf sleeves, cut off tube sock arm warmers, and a hat. Thank you everyone for your advice and I learned I should invest in a long sleeve tech tee and a vest for the future. As I got there I found a parking spot (issue 1) and made it pick up and then the starting line.

Thank you Fleet Feet Sports
of Huntersville for the hat!!
Goal: Sub 2 hours- around 9:09 mile pace.

The Race: The turnout for the half marathon did not seem all that large, but there was variable mix of college long distance runner in school singlets to walkers. I guess I fall in the rear third of the participant scale. The race started 10 minutes late and once we started the course was two laps going through store parking lots, behind stores, through an apartment parking lot, a service road, and a mile or two of residential street. I started the first mile by running slower than my pace as a warm up. There was a port-o-potty at the first aid station as as we approached the guy in front of me ran to it. I decided to not take water and get to the next one. At aid station 2 I took my bathroom break and looked forward to taking water at the next station.

At the end of mile 4 or 5 the course made a right turn, at the same time the 5k course made a left turn and our courses became 1. This was a cluster. At my pace I ended up in the middle of the kids and stroller joggers. I pushed my pace to get past them and once I was past them the speed of the runners in front of them sucked me in and carried me a little faster than I had been moving. The last mile and a half of the loop was a decent size hill. At the end of the loop we had to enter the chute with the 5k runners and as they stopped in front of us we were supposed to keep going.

The second loop contained an out and back that the first loop did not contain and you could here many runners discussing why we didn't run this the first time. Through this loop I maintained an even pace and learned discovered that you can not use other runners to guage your pace this late. I realized that the other runners were slowing down. I picked off every runner in front of me for the rest of the race until I no longer had any in front of me I could see.

In the end I only had three miles below my target pace-my warm up mile, my potty break mile, and the end of the first lap with the 5k runner obstacle course. In fact, these were the only miles over 9:00 and I had a fastest mile of 8:40. I walked through (as planned) 5 aid stations in total (issue 3).

Note: Forgot about this from the original post- It did start raining in my ninth mile and by the time I was done and back to the car the temp had dropped 5 degrees. Also, I wrote I picked people off during the race, except for a guy who sprinted past me in the chute I was passed no other time and I even finished 2 minutes before the people who were in front of me at my bathroom break (It was three LOUD college freshman I could not forget them)

OVERALL TIME: ??????? See issue 4

Post Race: On site- I walked it off for a minute and had a granola bar and two cups of water (issue 5). When done I stretched and remembered to stop the Garmin. At this point it read 1:37 and only 11 miles. Once home- Ice bath and compression tights.

Post Post Race- Thanksgiving food and a trip to the movies to see Harry Potter.

Thoughts: I had a good time in general despite the issues. I am happy that for the most part I kept a steady pace and ran faster than my planned pace without issue. It actually felt good. I almost feel like I could have run faster, I didn't feel bad at the finish like I do when I run hard. I need to figure out what to do to break that plateau.

Issue 1: I arrived with time to spare to discover that all of the parking was taking (odd since I was in the first race), so was all the parking at the shopping center on the other side of the road, and the adjacent shopping center. I ended up parking over a half mile away at the Michael Waltrip Racing Headquarters. Luckily on the walk over I noticed a port-a-potty on the course.

Issue 2: Once there I spent 20 minutes in line to pic up my packet. It moved at a snail pace and there was no organization. Once I got it I had 7 minutes till race time.

Issue 2.5: I anticipate having to use the bathroom again (and I did have to) so I RAN to the bathroom. There were multiple lines with about 20 people a piece to get to the bathrooms. I asked the guy in front how long he had been waiting and he said 10 minutes. I decided to go back to the starting line and catch the first one I could on the course. This also didn't leave time for a warm up- good thing I was able to walk from my car for a warm up.

Issue 3: During the race their was only water on the course and they only put about half an inch in the cup. The race site said it would have on course advocare brand nutrition and there was none. Luckily, I did bring my own gel flask.

Issue 4: When I got to the finish the clock was set to the 5k finish time, I was not listed on the preliminary results, and I was not listed on the results today. I emailed the company Epic Sports Marketing and they returned an email to me with directions on where to find the results. I again emailed them that I know where to find them, I am just not on them.

Issue 5: When we got done there was only granola bars and water, I think running a race of this distance deserves something a little more substantial. Then again, for all I know they may have had it earlier and the other racers ate everything.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Race Day and Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and if you do not reside in a country with Thanksgiving then I still hope you have a good day.

Good luck to anyone racing or RDing today.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Good Idea, Bad Idea

When I was an early teen there was a short lived cartoon called the Anamaniacs. This cartoon featured the antics of characters Yacko, Wacko and Dot who lived in the WB studios water tower; as well as other shorts such as the goodfeathers, the original pinky and the brain episodes, and one of my personal favorites good idea, bad idea.

An episode of good idea, bad idea only lasted about a minute and an example of my favorite one would be:
Good idea- feeding cats in the park
Bad idea- feeding cats in the park...to a bear!

Today I  had my own version of the show:
Good idea- Taking a rest day before a half marathon.
Bad idea- using your rest day for 9 miles of mountain biking

I have never been one for drugs or even alcohol for the most part, however adrenalin has always been my personal heroin, whether rock climbing, rappelling, mountain biking, or snowboarding I love the rush. I certainly do not push the envelope in any of these and am probably more cautious than you average rider but I love it just as much.

Today I went back to the signal hill trail where I rode Saturday for another ride. I am on vacation this week and am trying to take advantage of my time before school lets out and CB is home, before we dive into family madness, and before I have to go back to my own personal purgatory of a job.

Although I did not hit any trees today I did fall three times in the first 15 minutes on the trail. I blame the first two most likely on my back wheel sliding on a root, one or both of them scraped up my left ankle pretty decent. I am not sure what caused the third fall but I do know that I hit something, I'm thinking the bike, and bruised my right knee. I am icing it as I type.  I may have fallen a few more times but I don't remember. I completed over 10 hike-a-bikes up hills because that third fall made me a bit more cautious for the day.

I did a little better with the technical obstacles today. I rode two of that thing above, I have never known what they are called, but I love them. I rode the skinny I showed the other day twice as far, but not the end. I also found a huge teeter-totter that I did not see last time and rode it. It was awesome but made me nervous because it didn't start to drop until I was about two feet from the end. I also made it over the bridge I fell off of last weekend. This ride left me debating if I should stick to some more novice trails until my skill are back or keep working on this trail. The pro is less likely to get hurt on an easier trail, but the con is easier trails are not as much fun to me.

As you near the end of the trail there is a sign for an extra loop- the circuit city loop, I didn't take it last time but I thought I would try it this time. Once I rode out to the start of the loop I noticed the sign said more difficult and there was a skeleton hanging in the tree. This was probably a bad sign but I tried it anyways. I did have some nice stunts, but I am not sure I would have called it more difficult. I would probably call it faster. It would be flowing really fast and then the bottom of the trail would drop almost straight down out of no where. With all the drops, pedaling back up at the end sucked.

With that out of my system for the day I am committed to not riding tomorrow and making anything worse and impacting my race Thursday. I am prepping my mind for the half marathon. I am trying to think about what to wear because there is a 50% chance it will be 30 degrees and raining. I don't have clothes for that. I am also trying to decide if I should bring my own gels and water bottle. Everything I read says no, but I can't find any reviews for the last four years saying where they have aid station and what they have at them.

On the triathlon front I am still searching for a decent bike. CB says she has a little money put together I can use but not enough for a new bike, I have been scouring BT.com and ebay for bikes. I can not race next year on the bike I have.  It needs more in parts than it is worth and I have already put an equal amount into it. However, I am thinking about getting a trainer (sadly I sold my old trainer from college) and a new back tire for the old bike. This way I can begin following a plan and in case I do get a bike I will be closer to ready than if I didn't ride at all. I was recently offered a discount via sponsorship from a bike company but sadly even with the discount I can not afford the $5,000 bikes.

What do you think about training with a trainer, what to wear for cold rain, or what to bring to a longer race. Your comments are always appreciated!

Lastly a shameless plug. I posted some items on craigslist in NC and thought I would share them here too.
If you, your spouse or your child would like to learn to play bass guitar I have a whole kit here http://charlotte.craigslist.org/msg/2073342452.html. I also have the equipment I used to do recording for the theatre department in college, they would probably would make a great set up for doing podcasts. You can see it here... http://charlotte.craigslist.org/msg/2073316413.html.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Great Week

As I've written, this week has been a week of pain. Oddly, this has also been a great week for training. Mentally, I feel better than I have in a long time. I got in a workout everyday and have been controlling my weight loss. Training has been a great way get my mind off of life, apparently as I am distracted I am happy.

Workouts this week have included:
Monday- First day of the hard phase of my weight training. I hurt the next day.
Tuesday- 3 mile recovery run
Wednesday- 10x400 speed work
Thursday- 5 mile run in just under 46 minutes. Maybe a new PR. I wasn't even trying. Weights. Still Hurt.
Friday- Rest day. Active rest with 30 minutes on stationary bike.
Saturday- 8 mile run and 8 miles mountain bike ride.
Sunday 3 mile run

Run- 3 hours 30 minutes, 22.25 miles
Strength- 90 minutes
Bike- 2 hours 30 minutes, 8 outdoor miles

The overall highlight of the week was my ride yesterday. Even though I knew I had an 8-10 mile run single track was calling my name. It has been a long time since I have been on dirty singletrack, their is a learning curve for the skills it takes to ride. I realized that although I have better fitness, I no longer have those skills. By the time I was done with the ride I was doing a lot better though, as I hit some of the berms along the trail I noticed that my instincts were coming back. There were a few spots that would have lead to head over heels flips if they hadn't been there. The best part of the whole ride was being able to ride from the house to the trail and ride home with a detour to go see CB at a church event (you should see the looks from the old ladies when you show up wearing lycra, smelling of sweat, and covered in mud).

First Skinny I have seen in a long time. It used to ride taller, longer, more advanced ones. It only took me a few seconds to ride off the side of this one. If I keep riding it will come back to me. I could always go practice the obstacle, that's how I got proficient at them to begin with.

I fell 90% of the way up this hill. It has been a long time since I have had a climb that steep and short, and slick to bat. You can see some of the mud on me.

After the first fall I decided to walk this 12 inch wide bridge. I was worried if I fell I would end up hitting the old bridge laying to the left.

I was happy when I made it over that leaf covered bridge and up the hill without falling.

I decided to walk this hill, it was just after a sharp turn and was twice as long and steep as the one I fell on at the beginning.

I was often confused by the trail markings. There was only one trail yet often splits with up to 3 arrows.

Good thing I skipped the skinny bridge since I rode right off the side of this one. I found this just after riding a bank around a curve.

This is towards the end of my ride when I ran into a tree. As you can see one of my legs is still attached to the bike. With very narrow trails like this one sometimes their are trees on the side of the trails that are just wide enough for a bike to pass  through. This is one of the most hair raising obstacles for me and it is very common. As a big boy it has always been something that made me nervous. It this instance I did not hold a good line and I ate tree.

On the way home when I stopped to visit with CB and her friend I showed them pictures. They were questioning me about if I was ok from hitting a tree. They didn't understand when I said "it happens, no bid deal"

This takes some practice and getting used to again, but I loved every second of it. All it did was fuel my desire to be out on the trail. It's like a drug to me, I need more.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Bigger Picture

A few days before I turned 18 I went away to college at Western Carolina University. My family was proud of me for going but did not want me to go. Leaving was something I needed to do for me, there were some things going on in my house I needed to be separated from. However, I was not prepared.

I was not prepared academically, socially, or mentally. In retrospect, I probably should not have gone. I spent a lot of time alone, I spent a lot of time struggling with my coursework at first, and a decent amount of time sad.

I  usually jump head first into most things, and for this one I was not prepared. I look back and think that being unprepared was what left me feeling sad, however then I think about how happy I was after I learned to look at the bigger picture.

I chose Western Carolina University for two reasons. First, it had the cheapest in-state tuition in NC so be default it was the only school I could afford. Secondly and more importantly to me was it's location. The campus an hour south of Asheville, NC sits in middle of the North Carolina mountains. It is steps from great trout rivers, 15 minutes, from great trails, 30 minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, and 45 minutes from the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. The campus is literally in the middle of the mountains, the town of Cullowhee is Cherokee for valley of the lillies and the campus sits in this valley surrounded by mountain ridges and peaks. Since I was an avid rock climber and backpacker it seemed like it would be a place for me.

For my first few months I walked around only concentrating on what I was doing and what was in front of me. I was surrounded by tall concrete and brick buildings, like an urban canyon. That is all I saw. One day it dawned on me, look up!

I was walking across campus and the two buildings in front of me, both nine stories tall, were all could see. Once I looked up, I saw beautiful fall mountains a literal stones throw away.

This is one the most important things I have learned in my life to date. My wife will tell you that recount this lesson and this day often. Stop what you are doing at look at the bigger picture. It is simple but it so profound. there were many days after this you would have seen me walking through campus with a smile on my face looking like a space cadet. It is because as I was walking my focus was on the beauty of area.

I often recount this when I am leading hiking trips. I often plan my trips with distance, time and pace in mind. We charge down the trails looking at the pathway in front of us. Then it will hit me again. Stop! Don't stare down the path, look around. You are surrounded by beauty that can be seen in the smallest thing from spider webs to rocks.

If you focus solely on what you are doing you will miss all the good around you.

This applies to healthy living as well. I often think about the workout I am doing or the one that is coming up. I need to think about the long term goal and what the effect of this workout will have on my goal. Also to stop and think about my accomplishments and how my goals have morphed.

As I wrote this I was thinking about what the people who live in large cities away from nature are missing. Then I realized that you can take a large city like Chicago or NYC and ponder the history, the diversity, the architecture, or all of the forces that work in concert to make it work like a living organism and easily find beauty in that. I know I can.

I hope that everyone who reads this will take a moment this weekend to look at the bigger picture; either in the outdoors, in their training, or in their own lives. When you do take this time please come back and share it. I would love to know what your bigger picture is.

I did this on the way to work today just before I turned off the small highway I travel on. I was thinking about the day, what I needed to do at work, chores for the weekend, and holiday plans. Then I looked up and saw the mountains and it reminded my of the first time I did this. Below is a poor blackberry picture of what I was looking at. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Feeling great, feeling good, how are you" -Outkast

My posts have been a little behind this week and as I was trying to think how to write a post summing up what been going on. As I thought about it I could not find a way. Typically, I write my post before I read others blogs for the day, but with my blogger's block today I switched it up.

As I read Patrick's (@ responsibility199) post for the day I found the inspiration to explain how I am feeling at what's been going on.  In his post he wrote about why he is feeling great and asked others if they were and if not, why?

As the day went on I realized this was a good way to intro what has been going on lately.

How do I feel?

(I debated how to start because I don't want Andrew to think I am being negative if I start with the bad stuff, but I decided I would start with the bad and work towards the climax hehe I said climax)

Physically: I am not feeling great- My stomach has felt odd for a few days, my left quad is killing me, my right knee and shin are almost as bad, my back is slightly sore, and I am having sporadic pain in my left heel if I hit it wrong.

Mentally: I am feeling great. I almost as good as I have ever felt. I have a few areas in my life that are causing mental distress but they are staying behind the scenes because I feel so good about me!!!

You might ask how I feel so good mentally, If I am not feeling good physically? I feel great because I know the feeling of being battered and bruised is from working DAMN hard.

I missed half a day of work Monday do to my stomach, I know what caused it and it's not something I can change right now. I am doing everything I know to do to change it right now and once I think of more to do I will try. I clearly am avoiding talking about it here, but if you care to know send me and email and I will unload on you, maybe you can even help me think of something I haven't thought of yet.

After I got home from work I ate dinner with CB and headed to the gym. The running plan called for strength and stretching. My strength training plan called for a move from the endurance portion to the strength building portion of my training. This involved moving half my exercises from low weight higher reps to low reps higher weight. For the most part it went well. I am sure I will acclimate and be better the next time.

This is the reason my back is a little sore. Not a bad reason. I am considering going light next week considering my race so that I do not have this soreness on race day.

Tuesday night I headed out of the house for a 5 mile easy paced run, given the weekend having 6 more miles than planned, I decided to take the first mile slow and build into my pace from there. I never was able to get the pace up. I eventually turned off the garmin and said just run and get it done. After the first mile My quad knee and shin were hurting. I decided I would just do a three mile recovery and switch my 5 miler to Thursday. Honestly, the 5 miler would probably have been over doing it with weekend and the weight considered. I ended up walking the middle half mile of this. I figured it was better to walk it and get the active recovery than to quit altogether. It was tough, but i am happy with it despite the pain.

This morning I had my speedwork planned. I woke up with sore legs and procrastinated 45 minutes. I finally got up and said  JUST DO IT!! I ran 10x400. This is my last speedwork between now and next Thursday. I mixed up my course a little for some variety. I started out slow. The plan calls for 5k pace. I started off a littel slower because I remembered last time i started out with 200m pace and couldn't finish the workout.

I got the entire workout done. All of my intervals were in my pace zone, but I realized that the pace zone is slower than I want it to be given the Yasso formula. Since I want a sub 2 hour 13.1 I need  2 minute 400's. My longest one was 2:05 and half were over 2:00. Of the half that were under, several were substantially under and i was running over terrain, not on a track. I thought about it and decided that I will go out next week and have fun. I have trained hard. If I hit my time goal good. if not, I will have completed a race I have never done before. This workout and all of the corresponding thinking left me feeling very happy.

Now does it make sense how I beaten but am still feeling great?

My head is bloody but unbowed!

Are you feeling great? If so why? If not, why not?


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

111410 Trail Daze

Goal: run, get diet back under control.

Results: run, MTB ride

Thoughts: Saturday left me a little tired and it took me until Sunday night to update about my run Saturday. Now it is already Tuesday and I am just now updating for Sunday. Luckily, nothing worthwhile happened Monday so I am going to skip it.

I woke up Sunday and had three missions- One was mandatory, the other somewhere between mandatory and optional, and the last optional but highly sought after by me. The mandatory task was cleaning the mess in my closet where a stack containing a box of power tools, two large boxes of remodelling scraps, my construction tool bag and belt, and my around the house tool bag all fell over. Wouldn't you guess they were all either open or opened upon their fall leaving a 70 square foot disaster of tools and about 3,000 nails, screws, etc on the floor. It took 2 hours to sort everything back to it's correct tool box or bag.

After this was completed I could move on to my other two tasks. The next task in priority was my run. The plan called for a 5 mile half marathon pace run. I have set loops in town I run for workouts under 5 miles. At this distance their is no single loop I can run. For extra long runs I have an out and back into the country I can run, but 5 miles is too short for this road. As I dressed and headed outside I came up with an idea. Just past a mile down my out and back route there is a museum.

This museum is the Iredell county history museum (or something like that). It has a small log homestead and a small mill; behind it is a small loop trail. I remember it from finding a geocache on it a few years back. I decided i would run to the musuem, run the loop so that i could measure it with the garmin, and then add in whatever distance was needed to complete the 5 miles by using neighborhood streets.

Before I moved here whenever I went through a get fit or lose weight epic fail I always ran at a local park that was located a block away. This was a sprawling park with a lake, boathouse, bait shop, amphitheatre, community center and a ton of other attractions. With a park this big, there are 4 interconnected trails that you could run. Individually they ranged from 1 mile to 6 miles and since they connect you could make any distance you wanted. In the past if I was going to run, it was always on these trails.

Since moving here I spent 6 months on a treadmill and as you know have been road running since June. I had not ran a trail since the move. This was exactly the break I needed. Although I struggled to be able to keep my pace, I loved every off-road second. This experience also reminded me of how many more muscles it takes to run on the trails. In the end my average pace was 5 seconds slower than it was supposed to be, but given I ran 15 miles the day before, I was running on a trail, and I had to walk a huge hill on the way home, I chalk it up as a win.

Once I got back to the house, I hydrated, had a snack and was off to do the last thing on my to do list. After weeks of it calling my name I got a chance to ride my mountain bike. I removed my slicks and put the knobbies back on, ice waxed the chain, and was off. It was amazing how diferent it felt than my road bike and how GIGANTIC the tire looked when I have been staring at a 21cm tire for 5 months.

I rode down to the same trail I had just run. Halfway around it connects to dirt greenway owned by the town. According to something posted on www. mapmyride.com there is a new trail off this greenway. I saw a stone with a plaque a few months back and thought it was the trail head. I set out to explore. When I got there it turns out that it was not the trailhead, just a plaque about the trees the Boy Scouts had planted on the museum loop trail. I did not find the trail so I just rode around the loop. It was not technical for mountain biking at all, but I still enjoyed being out. It is amazing to me how I could get such a simple pleasure just by being on my bike.

When I got home I checked the map and it turns out the trail is on the other end of the greenway. i will try again another day. Unfortunately, as much as I enjoyed this ride it did not put out my off-road craving. It just made it stronger. I am planning in the next few weeks to try some other trails, there is another mountain bike trail maintained by the local bike shop just 2 miles away. In the past I would have been put off by going to ride there because I would have to pack everything up and drive to the trail. It is very nice to be at a fitness level where I can actually ride to the trail and still have the energy to actually ride the trail.

That last sentence gives me a warm fuzzy I have a hard time putting to words. I have talked before about milestones, this is one. Even more is that this is an unexpected one, which leaves me even happier.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mangum Track Club

The Mangum Track Club is a running club starting from a group of 5 marathon runners that has been based out of Mangum, NC since the 1980's (you will not find Mangum on a map or on my garmin vehicle gps). In the late 80's the one of the members gave the other members a blue t-shirt with block letters reading "Mangum Track Club". One of the wives wanted a t-shirt and since boys will be boys they told her she had to run for it. This began the history of becoming a member of the Mangum Track Club, to earn her t-shirt she had to run 15 miles from Mangum, NC to Ellerbe, NC. (source).

As of  yesterday they had 448 members, in 7 countries, 16 states, an in DC. Once you complete the shirt run you are given a shirt and lifetime membership. There are no dues and the club is comprised of an informal group of runner, mostly ultra-marathoners.

When I began researching endurance sports and ultra-marathons I stumbled across the club's website. I read their history and really liked that they also roster all dogs that cross the finish line as member. I decided this is a pretty neat group and I would give it a shot.

Yesterday, I made the 2 hour drive to Mangum to participate in one of the Club's shirt runs.

I was very happy with the run overall. My strategy was not to race, just to run to the finish. Use it as a training run. I finished in 2:30 and my last 15 miler was 2:50. I was very please with the 20 minute improvement, especially considering I wasn't watching the clock at all.

This run will go down as a favorite course for me. For the most part it was flat, as compared to running near home. It had a few decent hills and one killer. I had to walk up this hill, but I didn't see anyone else who didn't have to walk this one.  Luckily at the second aid station another runner was warning me that the course turns and gave me directions including this hill. The way she described it left me mentally prepared for it. This hill was around mile 11 and after this even the small hills sucked. When I started walking Holly and turned around and looked at me like I was lazy. My dog thinks I'm lazy, nice!

Can you find the big hill?
 The course was beautiful. It was a mix of woods and plowed fields. The last time I ran this distance I got lonely after the second hour, but this time I did not feel like that despite still being by myself. I don't know if it was from running with Holly, passing others on the course, or just having ran the distance before. It was a weird feeling at one point trying to figure out the noise I kept hearing in the woods was. I realized it was so quiet I could hear the leaves falling. One of the other highlights was reaching the top of the biggest hill and seeing over the tops of the trees.

I expected this run to be small and unsupported. There were was bottled water left at three points on the course and when I got to the end a big surprise- 2 dozen pizzas, cookies, chips, crackers, coke, and a few beers.

Holly and I nearing the finish. I swear I am not walking.

I enjoyed completing and earning my place in the club, but the post race socializing was very odd for me. The other runner were very outgoing people. I am very shy and don't do too well in groups setting without some kind of catalyst, like a friend who already knows the people. To make it worse, Holly (who has anxiety issues as is) started getting nervous and snapped at three people as we sat there. After resting a bit, I jumped in the second car going back to the start. As much as both training and losing weight has increased my confidence, being anit-anti-social is still something I have yet to work past. As much as I don't like people, it's ironic I have a dog who doesn't either. Per Myers-Briggs being an INTJ means that running and similar sports are more my style than team sports, but it is interesting how I meet more type A's than I do introverts like me while I do this.

Friday, November 12, 2010

How to Make a Treadmill Workouts More Exciting

Due to Veteran's Day being my first day off for a few month's I decided to do the workout shuffle. I moved my weights and recovery run to today in order to get the yard work done yesterday. After I lifted I needed to decide how to do my run- run my normal 5k route, three laps around my block, or just use the treadmill. I decided since I was already at the gym I would go ahead with the treadmill.

An odd turn of fate has happened. Last year when I started running again I used the treadmill exclusively, I even trained for my first 5k using only the treadmill except for one run. I didn't even start running outside until this past summer.

Three miles takes entirely too long on the treadmill and I get really tired of staring at something like this:

The treadmills at the my Y are kind of outdated and although I have seen the super fancy ones with TV's, IPOD docks, Internet connectivity, and networking to training peaks, I think there is more we can do. Below is my first idea:

I think this would improve the gym and treadmill experience 10 fold. However I saw a few problems. First, the gym, especially the YMCA is supposed to be a family environment, no go. Second, even though this would entertain me it would not stop me from working out, but I realize that there are guys (and girls) who could not concentrate with pole dancing going on at the gym. Lastly, I think this would lead some to try to show off and in turn we would see an increase in hernias or possible other accidental........nevermind.

With this ruled out, my four other best choices are below:

Coloring book and crayons, integrated into the treadmill screen. Maybe a rack next to the magazines so you can choose your coloring book maybe you prefer transformers over Hello Kitty. The down side I saw with this was the thought of bending down to pick up a dropped crayon without thinking. Belt burn sucks!

A magnadoodle that can flip over the screen. Enter your program and then flip this over from behind and draw birds, bees, or whatever floats your boat.

Video poker built into the screen and then networked to the other treadmills. Poker tournaments while you run. This could even be networked into the bikes and ellipticals.

Lastly, this jewel. If you do not recognize it, it is a tennis ball cannon from the Assault round of the original American Gladiators. This was my favorite round, if you can imagine. Think about this mounted to the top the treadmill. How entertaining would it be to concentrate on shooting tennis balls at the weightlifters? Wait for someone to load the squat rack with 550 pound and then time the bottom of their rep and beam him in the head with a ball and watch him collapse and the bar fall on top of him. Personally, given the guys that were in the gym with my tonight, I would have had a great time shooting guys that looked and were dressed like this-


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sunshine, rainbows, and butterflies

Picture stolen from a random 12
year old girls myspace page. Where
else does one find a picture of
rainbows, sunshine, and butterflies?
Do you ever have one of those day or one of those workouts where everything goes your way? Tuesday's run was one of those . This might be my last great run for the year. All the conditions that needed to be there were present.

It was a long day prior to the run. I had training today to learn to teach inmates how to be good public speakers so they can go give speeches about life in prison to high schoolers. This was a 4 hour training that required being at work several hours early in order to do the six hours of friving toand from the training site. When I got home I was exhausted!

I really didn't feel like running, but I knew I needed to. I remembered the day being decently warm while I was trapped in the car so I decided to go with shorts and a tech tee. I got Holly leashed up, hit start on the garmin, and headed out the door.

Once outside I just started running, no pace alarms, no ipod. It was 69 degrees (according to a bank clock I ran past) and sunny. Perect weather for me, not hot, not cold, no ear warmers needed! I deviated from the neighborhood and ran downtown. This required more traffic and some bigger hills than usual, but the big hills did not phase me and cars even seemed to stop for me to cross. "The Plan" called for 5 miles at a very easy 10:26 pace. I did not set the pace alarm or look at the garmin. I just ran. I did not have a planned route. I just ran. I made a loop around town, cut through a cemetery and headed home. Within 50 feet of my house my distance alert went off letting me know I had reached 5 miles, I looked at my pace and it was just under 10 minute miles. I ran faster than the plan called for and it didn't even feel like I was trying. Within minutes of my going in the house the sun went down, like it was like it was waiting on me to get done.

Perfect run- Perfect weather, perfect doggy, perfect effort, perfect route.

When was the last time the planets and stars aligned for you?

Monday, November 8, 2010

So, maybe I'm a jerk.

This is the post I meant to write Saturday, but the day kind of got away from me. Then I was going to write it Sunday, but that wasn't a good do for me, so here goes take three for this post.

All thought I am not fan of dieting, I am a huge fan of all the training i have done this year. More so last year when i started I decided to sign of that first 5k as motivation to train. More than training, I love racing, whether it be a triathlon, 5k, 10k, or whatever. I really enjoy the energy of the day and pushing myself to the limit.

This weekend in Statesville was the annual pumpkin festival and 5k. I had it on my schedule as an "A" race but down graded it to a "B" as I thought the 10k last weekend was more important when building up to a Half Marathon. Given that my Sunday long run is very important this late in training (especially with the skipped weeks) I felt if I ran the 5k hard I knew I would be too sore for my long run. i decided this was reason enough to skip the race. Late Friday afternoon I decided since the raise was so close, there is no reason to skip it altogether. I SHOULD VOLUNTEER! I decided I would do that and write a post called life on the other side. It didn't go as planned.

I spoke to my local Y to sign up a volunteer and hey told me to show up at 06:15 Saturday morning, being that this race was being held about a mile away I decided I could just jog there. I got there at about 06:10  morning of and went over to the awards table and talked to the only other people who were there. I asked who do I checked in with to volunteer. They said "XXXX has gone to help set up the finish line, hang out here and he will be back". So I stood in the dark parking lot while it was 39 degrees and waited. As people began to gather a man with a clip board showed up and started greeting people by name and telling them where to go. This was about 06:50. After waiting a few more minutes there was an announcement for all volunteers to stand in a line by the YMCA van and we would be given our assignment.

We formed a line in front of the clipboarded man and waited some more. Instead of the line moving toward the man, he came down the line, again greeting the people he knew and giving them assignments, and then he walked away. A waited a few more minutes to see if he would come back and at 07:05 with the racing starting at 07:30 I made a decision. With the other two volunteers asking where should we go? I said I know where I am going, HOME!

So, maybe I am a jerk. Maybe since this was my first attempt at volunteering I am unfamiliar with race day disorganization. I understand that things are hectic to a degree. However, I feel that telling me when to be there and making me wait outside in the cold for almost an hour while you figure out what to do is unacceptable. I understand that you need to treat your runners well because they are paying to race, but on the same principle your volunteers are coming for free on their own time, you should not abuse them.

I look forward to trying to volunteer again some time, maybe it will go better on my next go round.

On my training side- Thursday i got my weights in but only 1 mile of the recovery run due to cramps. Friday I made up the 3 mile recovery run and did a 30 minute spin on a stationary. Saturday I got in a 60 minute spin, and my big 10 miler for Sunday....I got into a "funk" and didn't do it. Instead I repaired sheetrock, squared a door, and caulked a tub. At the same time during my funk my diet fell apart and I ate a ton of food. Round 3 this week. Now I have to figure out when to get in the long run.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fleet Feet Sports

Have you ever had something that you liked so much you didn't want to keep to yourself? That is exactly how I feel about Fleet Feet Sports.

Fleet Feet Incorporated is a store centered around active people. The company started from one store in 1976 and now has franchises nationwide. They are infamous for their Fitlosophy, it is their way of approaching business and how they assist you with their products.

Growing up in Chapel Hill, NC I shopped at the Carrboro store, for the last year I have shopped at the Hickory, NC store and on the way home from last weekend's race I had the pleasure of shopping at one of their newest stores in Huntersville, NC.

Since they fitted me for my first pair of shoes for the the high school track team up, I have had impeccable customer service at every visit. The store I visited this weekend looked more upscale than others I have visited, but that didn't change the service. From walking through the door I was greeted and offered some of the bananas and bagels they had at the register. This was great considering the race only had orange slices and I really wanted a banana.

After the normal small talk the associate asked if I needed help with finding a pair of shoes. I let the associate know that I was just picking up some odds and ends and I could handle it. I picked up my first few items, and then went to grab the Nuun I wanted. Having never tried it before, I turned for help with flavors, she was able to give me information for all of them. I chose the lemon lime, but she suggested I try the very tri berry and got a sample for me. Then I went to look at gel flasks and wanted a single but they only had belts or bags of 2's and 4's. When they didn't have what I was looking for the associate called around local cycling shops to find one that did. How many stores will send their business to other companies? That shows me that they truly care about their customers happiness.

Once I was done with the odds and ends I decided I wanted to look at compression socks. The associate who had been helping me walked me to another who took measurements of my calves and chose the properly fitting socks. He not only handed me the box but insisted I try them on first.

When I went to check out they again urged me to sample some snacks, and then called the bike shop with the flask I wanted and got directions for me. In the end I left with Bodyglide, Nuun, 2xu calf sleeves, a few gels and my banana. I was disappointed they didn't have the Brook's Nightlife hat. You can't have everything you want. Every time I go to any of their stores I am impressed with the service. This particular day I was so overwhelmed by the level of service, I forgot to grab one of their logo water bottles I came in for (much cheaper than a generic bottle at REI). I also meant to look and see if they had any logo singlets but I forgot about that too. Also notable is that all I spent today works toward getting my a gift certificate for $15 dollars after I spend $150. A few month back this paid for the visor and race number belt I bought myself as a weight loss reward.

I'm sure most of the veterans that follow me have had a proper fitting somewhere. If you haven't, then anyone who is active whether walking, running, or anything else should have one. Once they measure your feet standing and sitting, watch your running and walking gates, they determine what type of shoe you need and bring you multiple pairs to choose from. They even encourage you to go outside and run in them. Fleet Feet even works with me on my limited budget and my strict anti-neon rule. Regardless of where, this is something you should have done if you haven't.

If you have a Fleet Feet Sports in you area I encourage you to check them out. If they are anything like the stores I have shopped at you will not be disappointed.

This "review" was at not solicited and all opinions are my own. They are purely based on my experience as a customer.


Goal: Speed work, Eat healthy

Results: Check!

Diet: Spot on!

Morning Weight: 204

Thoughts: See the picture to the right? That is exactly how I feel right now.  I am still running 5-6 days a week in order to prepare for my half mary, but with the volume feels slow.  Once run under an hour is a large difference between working multiple sports 6 days a week. I assume this is probably normal for the off season. Veterans please let me know.

Other than running and concentrating on diet, I thought that I would be less obsessive since I didn't need to keep my mind right for upcoming races. This is not the case. I am still perusing for gear and training programs, reading race reviews from other races, formulating goals, etc. If only could get paid to obsess. One of the biggest obsession for me and points of conflict in the house right now is a new bike. The old bike outside of being old, needs both new tires and wheels. I have already put almost $400 into it and we both agree that another $300+ would probably not be a good investment. On the other hand good bike are hard, I love the Giant Defy 2 and the Trek 1.5 and think they would be a great starting point for me. I digress.

I took a break from twittling my thumbs today and got in my speedwork. THE PLAN called for 9x400. since my last speedwork was 5x400 due to skipping 6 weeks I thought I would play it by ear. They were to be at my 5k pace. The first 3 were at my 200m sprint pace, the next 4 toggled between my 5k pace and my 400m sprint pace. The 7th interval I WORKED HARD to keep in my 5k pace. I knew it was time to listen to my body and call it off. I was able to complete seven good intervals with a 400m walking recovery (to conserve energy) so I started my jog home. As I neared the house I felt renewed and thought I could get an 8th interval in. So I tried it. It sucked out loud!

How are your workouts going?

Anyone know the best time of year to find deals on triathlon/running singlets and gear?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Goal: easy run, eat healthy

Results: 4.8 miles.

Diet setbacks: I tried to figure out how many marshmallow and chocolate chips I could fit in my mouth at the same time.

Morning Weight: 204

Thoughts: Today was an uneventful day, but it I was reminded how quickly one event cane ruin a day. Weeks ago I had thought about how I would like to fire myself after Christmas, just to give myself the real motivation to get my own business together. Today was the nail in the coffin that tells me it is time to go, by any mean necessary, anywhere.

Due to aggravation after work I just wanted to take a nap and I ended up binge eating bugles, marshmallows and chocolate chips. Or as CB calls them witches fingers, bat eyes, and ghost toes.

After dinner I decided I need to run not just to stick to the plan but to de-stress. When I was a teenager I ran to escape. I needed one of those tonight. I started my run, but my quads, hamstrings and knees were struggling to turnover. My pace was slower than my LSD pace. Somewhere around mile three either my mind cleared or this weekends lactic acid was flushed and I took off. Before I knew it I was running at tempo pace and had to force myself to slow down. The plan was to run 5 miles but I ran out of space. I ended up running 4.8 because if I added another lap around the neighborhood I would have ran closer to 6 miles.

Toward the middle of the run I was thinking about how I look forward to running the 5k I ran last New Year's eve. I hope I can blast my time from last year. I think after the half mary I will follow the Hal Higdon advanced 5k plan until New Years. I will see what happens after that. I think running that race at midnight after the ball drops is a tradition I want to continue. Last year I also ran on thanksgiving and Christmas nights with my mom-in-law. Another tradition I hope to keep. I also went hiking to a brand new place the day after thanksgiving and Christmas last year. Again, a tradition I hope to keep.

When was the last time you had to just run, just cycle, just swim, or just box to escape something?

Have you started any tradition that you want to keep?

Monday, November 1, 2010


Goal: Strength Training, eat healthy

Results: Check!

Diet Setbacks: more below

Morning Weight: 206

Thoughts: Today hasn't been half bad, thanks to chipper vibes from Tricia. I got great news from Jon at SwiCycloRun. I won his contest!!! New toys on the way!!! I also learned today that all of my past comments people have left me did not get emailed to me by blogger. I went back today and I read a lot of comments I never knew people had left. Thank you everyone for all your feedback!

Today's diet went well except I over ate chili for dinner. I love chili, I love making chili, and I love eating MY chili. I make it when it starts to get cold and I will make on a snow day if I am home. Today was the first day of my chili season. I had two large bowls with shredded cheese and oyster crackers. I loved every bite of it!

Hopefully I can burn off the chili. I got in my strength training in today at lunch at work. I learned that the weights on the universals (leg ext. and curls, and lat pull down) at work are not the same as the weights at the Y. This began the 2nd week of my endurance phase. Although it was tough on my legs after the weekends. It did not hurt as much overall as it did last week. I also was able to up my bench press by 5 pounds per set. I will try to increase it every week as long as I can keep my form. If everything goes my way I will meet my goal of pressing 200 lbs before the end of the year.

Speaking of goals I did not meet my goal of 200 pounds by the end of the October. That would have meant I was able to lose 50 pounds in 1 year. The lowest I saw all month was 202. That is OK I am resetting and will make my goal to be under 200 by the end of this month. I have 20 more pounds for my goal for the year and 9 weeks. I can safely drop that weight.

Lastly, I am skipping ahead to week 9 of my training schedule. Similiar to what I was thinking I am going to follow Mandy's advice and take the speedwork a little easier. I will give it a try but once my 400's are not meeting my goal pace I know I am done with that workout. If I am too tired, I am just going to risk injury.

What goals do you have left this year?


Goals: recovery run, eat halfway healthy

Results: 1 mile run.HA.

Diet setbacks: didn't eat too healthy, but not calling any of it a setback.

Morning Weight: 206

Thoughts: I was lazy today. I will admit it. My aim was to eat half way healthy but eat some fun stuff for breakfast as a reward. I had french toast with butter and powdered sugar. It was everything I thought it would be. Planned a healthy salad for lunch but the in-laws wanted us to go out with them to a little greasy spoon, no healthy options so I sucked it up. Dinner not so bad.

I had a new first today. After lunch we got home and I went to work on my race report. CB changed and said "I'm going to the gym are you coming" and I said "no I'm going to finish this and run later".  Never has CB gone to the gym and I stayed home. It's like the twilight zone.

After dinner I changed out to run and grabbed Holly. I wanted a nice slow three mile recovery run. It was late, I was cold, my hamstrings were aching, and I really just wanted to go to bed. I wrapped it up at a mile.

One thing I can say is that I have no soreness in my calves, the calf sleeves work. Today I just had soreness in my chest, arms, abs, and upper legs. sheesh.

Today I have a decision I need to make. I have decided to forego the Disney World Half Marathon, sadly. The cost of the trip is really not in our budget. Especially with saving for a bike and all. When I picked that race as what I wanted to do, I had a to secret back up race. The 10k I have as a "B" race on my schedule has a half marathon option. I have decided to do that instead.

The decision I need to make is how to alter my training schedule. It is time AGAIN to adapt and overcome. I am following a 12 week half marathon plan. I have completed the first two weeks. With the race change I would need to move to week 9, clearly skipping 6 weeks. Due to some altering of the first two weeks of the schedule I ended up running 19 miles last week and about 31 the week before. The mileage for week 9 is 21.5. So this would be right in line with what I have been doing. The mileage is only that high because the plan calls for a 15k race on Sunday. Essentially I ran that last weekend. Not much concern there. The only thing that even concerns me is the speed work. The 400 repeats would go from last weeks 5 to 9 this week. This might not even be something that should concern me.

Tell me what you think!