Monday, July 30, 2007

The plans are set...

Marathon training is approaching quickly. The decision has been made - it's going to be the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, AL. The plan - Pfitz 18/55. I am in the process of the reading Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas now. Michele is in, I think Joe is in, and possibly a few others. Since this is an 18 week plan and the race is Dec 8, training will start Aug 5th.

Here's the deal - I want a sub 4 hour marathon. My first marathon, the Country Music Marathon in April 2006 was a 4:17:17. I used an intermediate plan I got from that involved running 6 days a week with intervals, hills, and long runs up to 26 miles. The week I was supposed to do the 26 mile long run I did not make it. I struggled about 16 miles into it and couldn't go another step. I had to stop at a friend's house and get a ride home. After resting up some, and then tapering as the plan said, though, I finished the marathon and felt fairly well until about mile 22.

My second marathon, the New Las Vegas Marathon in Dec 2006, I was serious about getting under 4 hours. I chose the FIRST plan from the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training. It involved 3 key runs per week (1 interval, 1 tempo, and 1 long run) with cross training in between them. I loved the idea of this plan because I could continue my swimming and cycling while training for this marathon. The training went fairly well - it consisted of 5 20 milers. I can only remember a couple of tempo runs and 1 long run where I really felt too tired, and the paces of my long runs and tempo runs really indicated i was capable of a sub 4. Enter: 30 mph head winds between miles 10 and 15 in Vegas. By mile 18, I was hurting. By mile 20, I was falling off pace. By 26.2, I was just thankful to finish alive in 4:08:28.

You can't predict what the marathon might throw at you. And you can never underestimate the challenge. It's nothing like running a half marathon - it's a whole different ballgame. Barry Magee, the bronze medalist of the 1960 Olympic Marathon said:

"Anyone can run twenty miles, it's the next six that count."

In the past, those last 6 miles have punished me for running my first 6 miles too fast. They have hurt me severely for not taking in enough calories during the race. Or eating the proper pre-race meal. You can get away with a lot of things for 20 miles...but it all comes back home for the last 6. They have my utmost respect...

...but this time, they are mine.

I am serious about training the way Pfitzinger says to train. If he says "run fast", I will run fast. If he says "run slow", I'll be running slow - to hell with the ego. I realize that I am not going to get in as many good bike rides or swims or late season triathlons as I would like during this training. That's okay. I realize that I have to watch my diet closely - garbage in = garbage out. I realize that I have to practice nutrition during training like I intend to use it during the race, something I have not done so well in the past. All of this is easier said than done, but I'm going to give it my best shot. And last but absolutely not least, I realize that I have to pay close attention to keeping everything else in my life balanced so that I do not get overwhelmed. I have to stay on top of the laundry (ha!), I have to get enough sleep, I have to keep my priorities straight, and I have to stay healthy spiritually. I often find a deep spiritual value in running - the shear exhaustion sometimes strips me down and forces me to face things about myself I normally overlook. The being surrounded in the beauty of nature for 3 or 3.5 hours of running can render an awareness in myself that does not exist in the every day hustle and bustle of life. I'll be blogging almost every day - so you guys hold me accountable. Give me your feedback. Scream if you see me falling off track. We're bringing home a sub-4 this Dec...

"Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back." Philippians 3:13-14, The Message

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Back to Reality

Summer just ain't summer without a visit to the Redneck Riviera. My mom and dad invited us along with them for a trip to Fort Walton Beach, FL. We had a blast as usual.

Ever heard of Jerry Jeff Walker? J.T. played this song as we were driving home...


We’ve been here a week or so,
Now it’s finally time to go.
Can’t believe how quickly time has flown,
Packin’ up the bathin’ suits,
Getting out the cowboy boots,
That’s a sign we must be going home….

Time just stopped for a little while,
We were part of a tiny island.
Made a lot of friends we’ll keep for life.
When we get back home to Texas,
And they ask us what we missed most,
I’ll shrug my shoulders, and I’ll smile….

Early mornings on the long boat dock,
Drinkin’ coffee as the sun comes up
Lazy days napping in the big deck chair.
Late night dancing in the front street bar,
Walking home underneath the stars,
Man it’s like some dream we live down here….

Last night we ate conch and lobster.
Mark said it was his favorite dinner,
Maybe even the best one of his life.
Dining underneath the stars
Chilean wine and Cuban cigars,
I smiled at him and said you could be right….

And he got real quiet, and he said you know,
hell I worked hard all my life,
I made a lot of dough.
I’ve been everywhere,
I don’t think it gets any better than down here.
I mean the warmth and love of the people here,
No crime, no hate, or fear
I don’t think I’m ready for the world waiting for me back there….

I need me just….
One more morning on the long boat dock,
Drinking coffee as the sun comes up,
Drinking bilikin beer in the big deck chair.
Late night dancin’ in a front street bar,
Makin’ love under the stars,
Man it’s like some dream we live down here….

Walking home underneath the stars,
Hearing voices from that empty bar,
Man it’s like some dream we live down there….

We’ve been here a week or so,
Now it’s finally time to go.
Can’t believe how quickly time as flown.
Packin’ up the bathin’ suits,
gettin’ out the cowboy boots,
That’s a sign we must be goin’ home….

I don't wear cowboy boots except for when they are appropriate (such as a Hank concert or a rodeo), and I don't live in Texas, but it's still a good song!

I got in a 10 mile (negative split!) run Saturday while I was there. I had intended to use my Garmin, but for some reason the battery was dead when I turned it on. And not having the charger with me, I had to be creative. So I downloaded the BimActive GPS program to my cell phone, and used my arm band to carry my cell phone with me during the run. It worked really well, and I actually really like all the information it gives you. Plus, since I have songs and podcasts on my phone as well, I was able to listen to Steve Runner during his latest run of the Boston Marathon. Ihave gotten quite a bit behind on the Phedippidations podcasts. On Sunday Briar and I ran a mile and a half on the beach, and on Monday after we got home I did a 4 mile run in 37:36. Early this morning I rode the Staggerwing course with H, K, and J.O., followed by a 1 mile run off.

Here is some of the information BimActive gave me about my 10 mile run from Fort Walton Beach to Destin and back:

Like I said, I really like that BimActive program. It doesn't have some of the same advantages as my Garmin, but it says you can also upload your Garmin data to the bimactive website - which would be very cool. I am going to investigate it further. I think it's worth checking out.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Improving On a Few Things

I was sore after the Waterfront. My quads down around my knees screamed at me for a couple of days. I thought this would happen, so the day following the race I jogged 3 miles with Holly during my lunch break. I thought this might help, but if it did I couldn't tell. Maybe it moved out some lactic acid buildup from the race, though. In all my soreness, I took Tuesday off. I stretched a lot. And actually ate a decent meal. I just don't know about this diet. It's not easy. And I can't say that I've lost any weight, even though I always feel hungry. I did break down and eat a Chips Ahoy cookie the other day. But I got back on track immediately. And I have started incorporating some smaller snacks to keep me from being so hungry I could eat a mailbox. I have also decided that I am not going to stress so much over any sugar that might be hidden in my dinner. I mean, good grief, if I just cut out the sweets and all the obvious sugar that I eat all the time (and white bread), then surely it will make a difference. I have noticed a slight difference in the intensity of cravings for sugar in the past couple of days. It's like, at this point, my brain says "You should be wanting sugar right now, you know?" But it's not like I really want it badly. So, that' s a positive sign. I still want some ice cream awfully bad, though. Gosh, I don't know if that will ever go away!

So I took Tuesday off, and I did a 19.5 mile hilly ride with co-workers during my lunch break on Wednesday. I had intentions of going to swim class Wednesday night, but there was just too much to do at home. We've got a beach trip coming up, and that laundry is not going to get done by itself. So I had to trade swim class for laundry. And I really did want to go to swim class, but I just couldn't justify it. Then this morning I met H, K, and L at the mtb trails. Oh. Yeah. We had a great ride. K and L were hammering, which forced me and H to hammer to the best of our abilities. It was a great ride. H and I are getting faster on the trails. I see progress, and I like it. I also see a mtb race or an Xterra in our future if we continue to make progress. I'm heading out for a run during my lunch break. It's about time I got a 2-a-day in.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Waterfront Results

Well, the official results finally came out yesterday. I didn't get a penalty, nor did I get disqualified. Whew! Here they are:

I placed 16th out of 55 in the 30-34 AG, with a 2:46:34. Last year I did a 2:40 and placed that shows you how much harder this course was this year. Everyone's times were much slower. I thought my time was awful when I finished, but I noticed that I finished ahead of a few people who are normally faster than I am, so maybe it wasn't that bad. I do know that I could have had a better run if I had handled my nutrition better and had not started out so fast. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can swim faster than I did if I am more focused. Regardless, I think that I actually qualified for the USAT National AG Championships in Portland, Oregan next June. If I read the qualification rules correctly, it said that the top 33% of each age group qualifies. So that's pretty cool. Although I don't know if I'll make it all the way to Portland, OR during baseball season next year. But it's still pretty cool, I guess.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Chattanooga Waterfront 2007

It is Monday afternoon and there still no results posted on the internet, so I am going to go ahead and give my race report with official times and splits pending.

J.T., the boys and myself went down to Chattanooga Saturday afternoon. We checked into our hotel and walked down to the race site. I checked in while J.T. took the boys to play on the waterfall steps. We then went to the IMAX to see Dinosaurs Alive! which, in my opinion was pretty boring, and then we met Michele at TGI Fridays for dinner. I had chicken and pasta. By the time we got back to the hotel I was in a hurry to get to the bathroom. The chicken and pasta went straight through me. I'm not sure why, because I wasn't nervous or anything. J.T. and I took the boys to the pool and let them play until 10:00 p.m., and then we all went to bed.

My wakeup call came at 4:40 a.m. I got up and ready and went to Michele's room to get my bike ready and make some coffee. About 5:25 we headed out and rode our bikes to transition. They were much more organized this year for the check-in and body marking. We ended up standing around with nothing to do but lust over all the sweet bikes. We boarded the 6:35 a.m. bus and got to the swim start. More standing around there. We used the port-a-potty when we got there, and about 30 minutes later we both needed to go back, but the line was huge. I said "No big deal, I'll just pee when I get in the lake like everyone else." When it was time to start, though, I got in the lake and they were moving us through fast....I never could make it happen.

So I took off on the swim and couldn't get into a rhythm at all. It wasn't terribly crowded, but I was worried about staying on course. At one point, I was wondering where that current was from last year, and figured it must have just been me. But I kept swimming, without pushing myself too hard, and finally made it to the dock. Looking back, that whole swim was screwed up. I never was in a rhythm, I kept changing my stroke, getting away from the buoys and then coming back, and I think I was too far under the water as well. Plus I carried about 1/2 a gallon of unwanted "number 1" all the way down that river. Side note: It didn't go on the bike ride with me though...I was able to let 'er fly as I ran through transition. I know, that's gross. When the guys pulled me out of the water, I was worried about banging my knees on the I think I was pretty heavy coming out of the water like this(LOL - poor guys!I'm in the pink.):
It was electric coming up off the dock, though. I mean tons of people packed in yelling and ringing cowbells. I spotted my dad with his camera and gave a thumbs up, and heard my mom yelling just as loud as she could. I didn't spot J.T. and the boys, but I knew they were there in all that crowd. Even running up the steps to transition, people who had no clue who I was were yelling for me. That's one thing about this race - the crowd support is unreal. Transition went smoothly. I hopped on my bike and was off. I had no clue what my swim time was because I didn't get my watch started at the start. That was probably for the best because I didn't have negative thoughts about the bad swim during the race. As it turned out, it was around 30 minutes. The bike course was totally changed this year. It consisted of several climbs. I don't mind climbing though, so I kind of liked it. I spotted a couple of people that were moving on and tried to stay with them. Me and these two guys(one was wearing a yellow and black jersey and was easy to spot) switched positions during the entire ride...and then I continued it with one of them during the run. At one point in the ride, we were going up a long hill and it got congested. I couldn't exactly pass in a few seconds, but I couldn't exactly drop back either, or I would be toast. At that point, I heard the dreaded sound of that motorcycle behind me. I still don't know if he got me for drafting or not since I haven't seen the official results yet, but I saw his passenger writing down numbers. I am certain that I was gaining no advantage at that point though. And nobody was about to drop back on that hill. Close to the end I came up upon a girl who was moving on pretty fast, but I caught her going down a hill. She was all the way to the left of the road, and I was wanting to pass. I was thinking "On your left!!!" but I yelled "On your right!!!" She didn't move. Obviously because I yelled "right" instead of left, but I was still in my own world. Again I yell "RIGHT!!!" And about the time I start getting frustrated I realize she's staying left because I'm yelling "right". So then I yell "left" and figure the girl thinks I'm crazy. And by then it's too late, she stayed in front of me the rest of the way. I can be such a tool sometimes. I saw my Dad at places I wondered how he got during this race...he was on the prowl out snapping pics!! T-2 went smoothly. And again, the atmosphere was unreal. I saw my mom and sister as I was running out. My mom was yelling to the top of her lungs again!! I wouldn't be surprised if she has lost her voice today. They were playing "Born to be Wild" as I ran out...and I guess I took it too personal because I took off like a wild woman! My first mile was sub 8, my second mile was 8:20, and then I felt a twinge around my knee. "What could be up with my knee?" I thought. And then as the twinge moved up my quad I realized it wasn't knee pain - it was a cramp. I kept going, hitting it with my fist when it got too bad, and finally stopped to stretch it after the turnaround point around mile 3. I pulled my quad up behind me, stretched it out, and then as I dropped it my hamstring cramped. I grabbed it, beat the crap of both of them, and then took back off at a much more conservative pace than before. I decided then, as my other quad was starting to cramp as well, that I had better find a pace that I could finish this race with and stick with it. The slow-down brought yellow and black jersey guy back in the race with me. He got out pretty far ahead of me, until we came to the last hill. I saw him stop and walk about halfway up it, and I said to myself "Self, you walked this hill last year. You knew it was coming this year. You run your ass up that hill no matter what it takes this year." I ran it, passing by yellow and black jersey guy. On the home stretch, he started to pass me back and said "Here I am again!" and I said "Whew - I'm gonna try to stay with you this time." He was really nice, gave me five, and we pushed each other in, gradually picking up the pace. With about 100 yds to go, I look over and see Briar...and he jumped out and ran in with me. He said "Don't slow down for me, keep going fast! I'll stay with you!"

So I finished the race in like 2:46:39. But as we finished they announced that "if you run in with your kids you could get disqualified." I didn't realize that was a rule, but I saw lots of others doing I guess other people didn't realize it as well. My name was on the preliminary results that were posted, so maybe they won't really disqualify me. We'll see.

Of course my quads and hammies began to cramp as soon I stopped. My mom met me at the end and grabbed me some more water and we massaged and walked it out until I felt better. I was disappointed with my time because it was 8 minutes slower than last year. But I am finding out that everyone was slower. I'll be glad to see some official results and get the splits.

This is me with my mom and dad. Only a mother's love would get up before the break of dawn, drive over an hour, and then run around all over this race site yelling at the top of her lungs to encourage me. And check out my dad - he's got those binoculars again!

Me with J.T., Briar and Bo. They spent their whole weekend here with me. There's nothing like having your own support crew!!

Holly and Kelly made the trip as well!! Hopefully next year they'll be in their tri-suits all sweaty and tired like me!

I'll post some splits as soon as they are out...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

No sugar, please

After my lunch this past Sunday, July 8th, I decided to stop eating refined sugar. Now, I don't mean I'm refusing to eat anything that has a trace of sugar in it, but within reason, I am cutting it out of my diet.

The reason?

I am addicted to it. I want to break the addiction to this stuff because I know I'll feel better if it's not dominating my diet - like it has been for some time. And since white bread turns into sugar when it's broken down, I've taken that out too. And you know what? I don't have hardly anything to eat!!! I didn't realize it, but sugar and bread are about the only things I eat. That's not good.

So, when I went out to my parents' house Sunday evening, I had to turn down the homemade chocolate ice cream. Monday morning when I made my coffee, I had to drink it black, instead of black with Splenda. Oh yeah - no artificial sweeteners either. I got myself in a bind Tuesday because I was starving. I had done a brick early that morning, and then rushed to work without eating breakfast. Our department had lunch at Miss Mary Bobo's - which comes with the desert they are serving that day. I was still so hungry I ate a piece of pie!! So then Wednesday I wanted sugar again all day, but I held out. And today, I'm doing alright. My goal is to do without sugar until I don't want it any longer(and drop about 10 lbs). And right now, that seems impossible. But we'll see how it goes.

I will say that after the second day, I started enjoying my coffee just as well without any sweetener in it.

Swim class went well last night, by the way. 3450 yards total. Talk about a workout! Here's what it was:

20 minute warmup (850 yds)

8 x 75 - kick/drill/swim

400 on 7:30

4 x 100 recovery on 2:15

300 on 5:30

3 x 100 recovery on 2:15

200 on 3:30

2 x 100 recovery on 2:15

100 on 1:45

100 recovery on 2:15

Total: 3450 yds

I needed that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Waterfront coming up...

My goodness I have not blogged in forever. So I'll make my comeback on a day when I have so far not done a thing except stay up until 2:30 a.m. playing poker and then barely drag my butt out of bed for work. haha.

While I actually have gotten some pretty good workouts in past couple of weeks here and there, I am not getting too stressed out about much anything. The Chattanooga Waterfront Tri is Sunday. Olympic distance, and yes, it's gonna hurt like hell. And no, I'm not going to have a shot at placing in my age we're going to TRI HARD and HAVE FUN! Here's how I look at it...I followed some pretty tough plans from Jan - May...improving my swim and getting ready for Memphis in May. And right around the corner is August. Which is when marathon training starts. in I must run a sub 4 this time kind of marathon. And immediately following that early December marathon (Hunstville or Memphis....still undecided) and a short recovery period, I am going to start training for the Gulf Coast Half Iron Tri in May. So even though we are right smack-dab in the middle of triathlon season, and I would have liked to have really rocked the Waterfront...I'm giving myself a bit of break right now. Because when August comes, and I post "Week 1, Day 1" of my newborn "yes baby, I can taste sub-4 Marathon Training Plan", there won't be room for any slack. No messing around. No staying up late. 16 to 18 weeks of focus on what it's going to take to cross the finish line after 26.2 miles and look down at my Garmin to see a big, fat "3:XX:XX" That's what I want. This is the year. There is nothing that conjures up motivation so much as previously coming up short of your goal. The taste of defeat. It lingers even when you cross other finish lines in victory.

I'm going to swim class tonight, finally. Yesterday I did a brick with Michele, and Don, Joe, Kelly and Holly joined us for the bike. Dude - it was a fast bike!! Don was back after crashing exactly a week ago on a seriously steep and curvy downhill on a 24 mile climbing route that I had picked out for a group of us to do. He banged up pretty good, but you can't keep a good man down. Although I hear from his wife that she's getting the raw end of that deal!!! During that ride, though, I have to mention that H climbed Lakeview!!! If you haven't ridden out in Normandy much I guess you don't have a clue what I a talking about, but it is a serious climb. And she didn't make it to the top the first time she tried about a month ago...but she got it this time. She was on top of the world!

In between all that J.T. and I took the boys camping for the week of July 4th. Good times. Catching fish, grilling out, riding bikes leisurely, jumping in the lake and swimming around...heck, even Mary Beth swam out to one of the buoys and back with me one day! Michele met out there me for a lake swim and a ride as well. The part I am most tickled about though is that Briar finally learned how to clip in and out of his clipless pedals on this trip. So we took a sweet little 6 mile mtb ride to celebrate. Oh, and speaking of my kids and bikes...gosh...Bo was really doing well riding his bike around without training wheels...and then his stupid chain came off going down hill towards the lake. Thus, his breaks didn't work (he's got the little Trek 16, it's got foot breaks). Meaning - I look up and he's riding a run-a-way bicycle screaming straight towards the lake!!!!! I'm screaming "FALL OVER!!!!" and he finally turns it over and takes the fall about 15 yards shy of water. Whew...never without adventure.

Note: No pics of the runaway bicycle. I didn't exactly take time to whip out the camera for that.

So like I said...I'm going to swim class tonight. Still uncertain about what tomorrow holds...but I promise I'll do something productive. Life is good. Soak it up.