Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thankful

I saw where people on Facebook were posting something they were thankful for every day of November (I think.  Maybe it's just until Thanksgiving... which makes me kinda sad that people can only come up with 23 things to be thankful for).  Well, typically, I didn't remember to post something any day this month so (because this seems to be the way it's done) I'll just catch them all up here.


  • 11/1 -- I was thankful for something about the weather... or maybe the leaves.  Something outside.
  • 11/2 -- I was thankful for a full belly.  (This one is kind of a cheat.  I'm always thankful for a full belly and I'm lucky enough to have one quite often).
  • 11/3 -- Mirinda Carfrae (Wut, Wut!)
  • 11/4-11/7 -- My daughter's birthday was in there and I'm usually pretty thankful for her.  I was also thankful she was only turning 15 and for her cake.
  • Every day -- LOCK LACES 
Okay, that's enough.  We all know what we're thankful for and telling you guys doesn't make me more grateful for what I have in my life.

Suffice to say, we athletes (yes, I can call myself that again with a straight face) have more to enjoy and be grateful for every day.  Let's not blow that particular gift.  It makes all the others stand out in full technicolor glory to be enjoyed to their fullest.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Delayed Onset Puberty

Since my race I've been thinking long and hard about my life (always dangerous).  I want to do many more races and I want to get my family involved in racing and do all kinds of active things together with them before my daughter leaves the nest.

Last summer I trained for 15 weeks and lost a grand total of 10 lbs.  I probably lost that same 10 lbs. 3 times over the summer.  If I'm going to continue racing things has to change.  After much introspection I realized I only need to change one thing:  I need to become an adult.

Ever since I left home after high school a large part of my life has remained firmly in the realm of college-age moron.  When I start drinking I tend to keep drinking like a stupid frat boy.  I still let my food cravings govern my food intake.  "Mmm... a cheeseburger sounds good.  I'd better buy two because I can't decide which kind to get so I'll just get one of each."  Really stupid, embarrassing, childish stuff.

So, I've decided to finally exit my post-pubescent stage and join the adult world.  My first goal is to change what I put in my body.  I'm cutting way back on meat and switching to a nutrient-rich diet (diet as in "what I eat" not as in "restricting calories").

I'm hoping that taking charge of another part of my life will lead to even more changes for the better (I keep house like I live in a dorm room unfortunately for my poor, sainted wife).  I keep reading that to change habits you need to pick them off one at a time.  Diet is where I'm drawing this particular line.

One thing I refuse to do is quit having fun.  Once you do that you've gone beyond adulthood to geezerhood.  I'm too young for that.  Maybe that's why I've fought "growing up" for so long.  I like having fun.  I like being goofy and making people laugh and I intend to continue doing that.  I'm just not going to try and kill myself with crappy food while I do it.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Meditatin'

While I was waiting for code to compile I was going through my RSS feeds and stumbled upon this article about meditation and it really struck home.  I mean, the reason I saw it was my lack of focus.  All day long, any time I am waiting on something I have a bad habit of checking in on something else going on in my life.  No telling how much more I could get done in multiple aspects of my life if I could be completely involved in what I'm working on.

So, tomorrow I'm going to set my watch for 5 minutes, turn off my monitors and just concentrate on my breathing and nothing else for that time.  I'm very lucky in that right now I don't share an office with someone full time so I can close my door and be completely by myself.

This is something I've been meaning to do forever.  My brain is constantly running full speed; especially when I lay down to go to sleep.  I've been wanting like crazy to try and teach myself to ignore all the little distractions that pull me out of deep concentration but I haven't had any luck so far.

Oddly enough, the time I spend in triathlon training is the one time I don't need distraction.  Most of the people I pass on the running trails wear ear buds while they run.  I don't see it too much on the bike but I've seen people listening to music while they swim, too.  For me, though, even long bike rides or swims don't seem to need music to make the time pass.

When I'm running, I feel the need to hear my feet hitting the ground and hear my breath.  Most of the time I can tell my form has gotten sloppy by the sound of my feet hitting the ground, or that my pace is too fast by the sound of my breathing.  I don't know why I never long for music on long bike rides.  Probably just mortal fear of not hearing danger while buzzing around on two wheels.



And when I'm in the pool I'm concentrating so hard on form I don't think I could handle any distraction.  Plus, I love the quiet, ambient noise of the water flowing past me.

Crap!  I just hit the end of that paragraph and swapped over to check my email.  Okay, tomorrow I'm going to try meditation at work...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The last few weeks have been pretty miserable training-wise.  My plan has been to switch into a winter fitness-building mode which means getting up early so I can make spinning class and coached masters' swimming sessions.  The only problem?  I can't freaking sleep!

I was never sleeping all that well all summer but all my training was in the afternoons so, after I got off work, I'd suck it up and hit my workout.  Now that I'm trying to get up earlier and I'm doing less training, my sleep issues have gotten worse.

I typically go to bed around 9:30, read until around 10 and then turn out the lights.  Some nights I get right to sleep, wake up at 2am and then I'm awake until 3:30-4:30.  I need to wake up around 4:45 to get to the gym in time.  Just stay awake?  I've tried that and sitting at a computer for 8 hours on 4 hours sleep is impossible for me.  Plus, when I'm that tired I eat all kinds of junk to try and stay awake.  No willpower at all.

Other nights I just lay awake for an hour in bed, then I get up and lay awake for another 1-2 hours before finally falling asleep.

Sometimes it's my brain that keeps me awake, other times my body is all wound up.

I've tried staying awake later to try to be more tired and stay asleep longer.  That hasn't worked.  I hate taking sleeping pills every night.  I don't want to get dependent on them.

This week, however, I'm hitting the meds.  I'm hoping if I can get through a couple nights where I sleep at least 6 hours and get up and work out I'll start being tired enough at night to sleep all the way through.

Kind of a downer of a post but I'm sick for about the 3rd time in 4 weeks, tired and only able to get in my runs which brings me down even more.

Hopefully I'll have something more fun to report on next week.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Atomic Sprint Triathlon

My support crew.


Dawn broke over Melton Hill Recreation cloudy and humid.  The atmosphere was thick with tension and

...

Just kidding.  I'm pretentious but I'm not going to make people slog through that.

Sick, too, poor thing.


I woke up race day morning still harboring some evil virus I'd picked up a few days earlier.  I'd gotten no sleep the last week before the race.  I think it was a combination of taper and a medication snafu but I spent most nights last week in paralyzing anxiety attacks.  It was some kind of awesome.

Swim started hanging from that yellow boom.

However, thanks to some benadryl, I slept pretty well the night before the race and woke up feeling better than I thought I would.  I'm pretty sure I cheated myself on breakfast: half a bagel with peanut butter and a banana.  I just couldn't get any more down and I'm pretty sure I paid for that mistake in spades.



Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck.  I was sure I was going to forget something important or not bring something that anyone who's done one before would know to bring.  Like a bike pump!  I didn't bring one because the info on the race said a bike shop was going to be there for adjustments.  What they didn't say is the bike shop would be there on Sunday for the Half, not on Saturday for the Sprint.  I did have a little emergency pump that I had bought and never used and promptly used it to deflate my rear tire about 25%.  I spent the entire half mile walk to transition with my bike looking for someone bringing a pump with them.  No luck.

When I made it to transition I hung my bike up in a fairly empty spot next to one other bike.  By the time I started setting up my spot, the owner of the other bike was there turning his bike around because both of ours were facing in the same direction.  At first I thought he was being a jerk but he ended up being a very cool guy and introduced himself as Dave.  Dave gave me all kinds of good advice (like putting my timing chip on my left leg... duh) and a pretty good pep talk as I started to sweat over the swim.

Me and (Super Nice) Dave
Then as I was trying to kill time and nerves I found a guy, not even racing, who had a pump.  Day saved!

The swim started at the beach on the lake.  Well, near the beach.  We started our waves hanging on to the boom protecting the beach from boats.  You had to either crawl over or swim under the boom when your wave started.  I didn't really like hanging there in the cold water but it allowed me to get away from other swimmers and swim by myself for almost the whole first 100 yards.

Waiting to start.


The swim was the one part of the race I was worried about but it went off without a hitch.  I sighted well, kept a good pace and had a good strong swim throughout.  Apparently I was a little excited because I kicked more than usual and my legs were a little more tired than usual when I hit the beach but I was elated to get 500m done in about 16 minutes.

I'm the one leaving the wake.


I started the bike way too fast (contrary to Dave's instructions).

Not going way too fast, yet.  Reminder, make sure bike is in gear and ready to go before hanging it up.

I had seen the elevation chart but, stupid engineer, I had never bothered to appreciate the scale of the chart.  It struck me as I started up the first long hill... the long hill in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains (never occurred to me, either).  By the time I had gotten to the top my legs were toast.



Now, I hadn't paid much attention to nutrition for this race.  I figured it was fairly short so I wouldn't need to worry about it.  But as I said, I hadn't had much for breakfast and as I was coasting down the other side of the hill, my tank was feeling empty.  And I still had 15 miles to go.  I had brought one packet of GU and some pieces of a Power Bar.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the Power Bar for during exercise so I used the meal replacement one I had.  I know, stupid.  First race, remember?

By the time I got back to the hill on the return trip I had nothing left.  I actually had to get off the bike twice to push it to the tops of the hills.  I flew down the other side knowing I was getting close.  As I reached the bottom and began the last climb back into the park, my bike started feeling weird.  I looked down and sure enough, my rear tire was flat.  I made an executive decision and rode the flat the last two miles to transition.


I hit transition with nothing left but a packet of GU.  I sucked it down put my bike and helmet away and headed out for the run.

Bookin' it, no?

The run starts downhill so I did pretty well until I hit bottom.  Then it was a struggle until I got to around the end of mile one.  Then it felt like the GU kicked in and the run/walk wasn't too bad from there.

One of the best parts of the race happened during the last mile of the run.  A young lady whom I found out later made the podium in her age group (I think it was 25-29) was cooling down on her bike and rode passed me and said, "You're almost there."

"Yeah, I think I'm going to make it," I said.

She smiled and said, "You want me to ride with you?"

I politely declined but that question right there is a big reason why I'm doing more of these.  The people that compete in this sport are awesome.  Most of them are doing it entirely for themselves, not to win.  And they understand that everyone else is there for the same thing.

Later on, as the awards ceremony was coming to a close, two young ladies that barely finished the swim came in on their bikes.  Everyone... everyone... stopped what they were doing to applaud them and encourage them keep going; to finish.  It brought goosebumps.

So I finished.  It took me 2:28:18 and I only beat 5 people but I finished.  I actually finished strong.


Which is why I think I just bonked and needed to think about nutrition more.  I had the energy to sprint across the finish line once my GU was flowing through my bloodstream.


I had no pain, no soreness.  I was tired as hell but I haven't felt so good in years.


I can't wait to find a race for the spring.  And I will volunteer every time I get a chance next year just to be around these amazing people.  Amazing people like me.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Derp

So, it turns out writing a recap of a race is even harder than completing the actual race.  I'm working hard on it but it seems like a lot of boring stuff happened and the last thing I want to do is bore people.

In the mean time, I'm going to talk about lethargy.  I have pretty much done nothing but lay on the couch, whine, and eat since the race.  Is this normal?  Okay, whining is always normal for me, but what about the other stuff?  I finally got two good nights' sleep in a row this week and feel like I'm ready to head out for a run this afternoon but I remember how the couch felt when I got home last night and it's how I imagine remembering your last dose of meth.  It's calling me back to it in a dreamy, persuasive voice that I'm not sure I can ignore.  It's big (I can actually stretch out on it), soft, leathery, and green.  Heaven, amirite?

Anyway, the recap is on the way with lots of pictures of some fat guy in way-too-tight clothes grinning like an idiot.  It will be epic in ways my racing can't be.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Didn't Finish Last!

It was the hardest and most amazing thing I've ever done.  I didn't do as well as I thought I could but I did my best and have plenty to improve on.  Race report to follow.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Pre-Race Retrospective

I've finally hit my taper week and my race is this Saturday morning.  My last full week ended like this:

Saturday: 1400m swim including 1000m straight in roughly 21:30.  Rest an hour.  51 minutes of run/walk (8/1).
Sunday: 20 mile bike

My wife went on my run with me on Saturday and the look in her eye as I finished gave me an idea of what I've accomplished over the last few months.

Looking back in my (poorly maintained) log I see that my first real workout on this journey was on June 19.  I did 20 minutes of run/walk: 30 seconds running, 90 seconds walking and I remember it being very painful.  My first bike ride was the next day: 20 minute 'recovery' ride of 3.6 miles.  My first swim was June 21: 8x25 with what I remember as a two minute rest after every 25.

If my math is right, that's only 3 months ago.  In 3 months I went from a struggling 8x25 in the pool to 1000m straight.  3.6 miles on the bike to 20 miles.  It's just damned near impossible to believe.

Don't ever tell yourself you're too fat or old to start exercising.  I was literally almost in tears with pain  and shame on my first run.  I've thought I would never be a swimmer many, many times.  But Saturday I compete in my first triathlon and I know that I'm completely ready for it.

I've been freaked out about this race for months and now I can't wait for it to get here.  If you race this weekend, good luck.  If you race with me, please say 'Hi'.  If you're watching a race, cheer for all comers and let yourself be inspired to dream about doing one, too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On Drowning and Other Fun Things

The last few weeks have gone by in a blur of work, volleyball,  and training and I only have 10 days left until my first tri.  With volleyball 3 or 4 afternoons a week it's been tough getting all my workouts in but I've done pretty well.  Tuesdays and Thursdays usually go something like:

  • Crawl off the couch after a crappy night's sleep
  • Go to work to say goodbye to the most recently laid off
  • Go to Freshmen volleyball match
  • Run to University of Kentucky for a swim
  • Go to Arboretum for run
  • Head back to gym for end of Varsity match and bring my daughter home
The days are pretty full but for the most part pretty good.

Andrea over at Bluegrass Tri Chick has been warning me about my open water swim for months.  Sunday I finally took her up on her offer to take me to Cave Run Lake and get it over with.  Her husband Steve came with us for kayak support and thank goodness he did.

I know I'm biased but I rock this look. (All pics from Andrea and Steve)

Having done most of my swims in a 25m pool and in shortish intervals I have developed some unreal expectations.  Apparently I've been swimming much faster than is reasonable for a straight 500m swim in open water.  Sunday at the lake I dove in, felt really good, and took off.  I don't know how far I went but it wasn't far before I was out of breath and treading water.

You can make a rough estimate at my speed by the massive wake I'm leaving.
Gasping for air.


Now, I've been known to have the odd panic attack and bobbing out in the lake, out of breath with a long way to go my heart rate sky-rocketed and I dove for the kayak.  I hung on to the kayak until I caught my breath and headed out again.

Steve kept saying, "You're going a little fast, man."  Having been able to stop every 25m if I needed to I had no idea what "not too fast" felt like.  Finally, after two unimpressive trips out to the buoy and back Andrea told me to just stick with her and she'd pace me.  That time I made it all the way to the buoy and could have turned around and come back but we stopped, tread water for a while, and I finally started to relax.

I'm horrified thinking what might have happened at the race if I hadn't had that wake up call.  Andrea and Steve pretty much saved my race and maybe my life.

Andrea is the normal-sized one.

Last night I had a full 500m swim scheduled for the first time.  I slowed my pace way down and made it easily.  Just to put my mind at ease, I took a little break and did another 400m swim.  The whole workout totaled 1000m.  For the first time since I started this journey I absolutely know I can do the swim and that's going to make all the difference.

10 more days.  I am now more excited than nervous.  I've worn my tri-suit in front of people, which may have been more horrifying than the prospect of drowning, and I survived.  I've done the bike distance, swim distance and run distance and my bricks have felt really good.  I've discovered Chocolate Outrage Gu and had my life changed again by it's heavenly flavor.  I'm looking forward to knocking out my last 10 days of training and killing this race.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Ponyboy, Meet Isaac

Yesterday, I was scheduled for a 15 mile ride.  I haven't found a safe, flat place for a ride in Lexington (yes I know I could join Bluegrass Tri Club, Andrea :-) ) so I always head out to the hilly, rather short Legacy Trail.  I left early to beat the impending arrival of what was left of hurricane Isaac.  I missed.

My first mistake was heading out for my long run way too late and finishing around 8 the night before. I got on my bike at 12:45 the next day and my legs felt dead before I even hit the saddle.  Then, within the first mile and a half, I turned South-West and straight into the teeth of the arriving storms.

I checked when I got back to the car and the wind was only gusting 17 MPH but let's face it, I'm basically a bike sail.  When I was going with the wind I could get into my large front ring but even going into the wind obliquely I felt like I was cycling through peanut butter.

I'm sure some of my trouble was poor recovery from my long run but either way, it was just a miserable ride.  I had to stop at the car after 12 miles with the full intention of stopping.  Lucky for me I found a Kashi Dark Mocha Almond chewy granola bar in my car and sucked it down.  4 more fights with the wind and I cranked out the whole 15.  At one point I actually caught myself growling at the wind as I fought my way through it.

But I made it.  I'll admit with a great deal of shame I have a history as a quitter.  I always bailed out of tough workouts early during soccer practice thinking I was done.  Now I know I wasn't.  Yesterday I thought I was done and I managed 3 more miles on pure determination.

Please, please, please don't give up on yourself.  I've done it my whole life.  Every time I mention triathlon or this blog to certain people their first response is "Oh, you're still doing that?"  That pisses me off no end.  But it motivates me, too.  I'm done being a quitter.  I never want to give someone a reason again to ask me if I'm sticking with something.  I've almost made it to my race and I know I'll finish it.  Just the first but definitely not the last time I'll finish something tough.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Beer and Water Don't Mix

I have just finished two of the longest weeks of my life.

Two weeks ago we first started hearing rumors of layoffs at my company.  Originally, it was 200 people... essentially a whole division.  Every time I heard the rumor the number had grown.  This past Monday, the day before D-Day, I heard 400-700 people.  Then there was a big managers' meeting in my building and I heard one of them (through the door... they were loud) mention 1700 people worldwide.  Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of restful sleep the last couple weeks.

Well, D-Day arrived and I woke at 5:30 and checked the news sources and there it was: 1700 people including 350 regular employees and 200 contractors at my facility.  The drive to work that morning was the longest of my life.

I was at my desk for a total of maybe 20 minutes before my boss called me on my cell, which he never does.  I nearly relieved myself involuntarily.  Fortunately, he was calling to tell me I was safe; I still had a job.  I had friends who weren't so lucky.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before but I survive on anti-depressants.  My doctor picked the last two weeks to transition me to a new medication.  That meant stopping one of my current meds cold turkey... the one that lists suicidal thoughts as one of its adverse side effects when stopping it.  This has made me hate the people making millions and laying off thousands probably more than I should, although I'm sure they deserve at least a little loathing.  It's also made me drink more alcohol than I have been, just trying to cope with the prospect of being jobless in a town where software engineers have few choices for employment.

Probably the only thing that's kept me sane has been my training (and my ridiculously awesome wife and daughter; seriously, no man has been luckier).  I still haven't missed a workout and as I'm able to go longer in each discipline, I appreciate it more.  The time I get to spend by myself working out anger and frustration has been priceless.

Yesterday I had my longest scheduled swim of my plan, so far.  We were given half days Friday because it had been such a sucky, depressing week at work so a small group of us went out for drinks with a very good friend whom had unjustly lost his job.  I think I had 5 beers but I'm really not sure.  We were worried about our former colleague and blowing off steam and we ended up having a pretty good if bittersweet time.  Don't forget I still had a workout scheduled.

16x25 yds with 5 seconds rest.

On 5 beers, a burger, fries and mini corn dogs.

And a 20 minute nap.

I'd like to say I nailed but all I did was complete it.  It wasn't pretty and I thought I was going to collapse at the end but I finished it.  I even added on a couple 200 yards at the end.  I'm not sure but I think the suicidal thoughts took over and I was trying to drown myself.  Anyway, I got it done and made it home and even took my daughter to her high school's football game that night.

I never would have survived the last two weeks without the time I spend alone on my bike or on the trails or in the pool.  If that's not enough of a reason to get up and get out the door I don't know what possibly could be.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Still can't believe what I'm doing

Last night I knocked out a 600 yard swim.  And I could have done more.  Until Wednesday of this week, I had really been struggling with my swim.  I've been  doing 25 and 50 yard intervals with 10-15 seconds rest and I hadn't finished one properly, yet.  I would get a couple done then have to take a longer break to catch my breath.

How I felt before last night.


Wednesday I finally quit trying to finish so quickly, relaxed and all of a sudden swimming was easy.  On every previous swim, my arms were pretty much dead after 200 yards or so.  Now I really feel like I can handle my triathlon swim.

How I feel now.
I've been meaning to post this link about lap swimming etiquette forever.  It really helped me get up the courage to get in the lap lane for the first time and I hope it helps someone else get over their newbie fear and hop in.  I've met so many cool people during my swims and I promise you they don't care if your stroke sucks.  Be polite, follow these simple etiquette techniques and they welcome you into their group.  I've even had people help me with my stroke just to be friendly.

Today I have a 40 minute run/walk and tomorrow a 12 mile ride.  I'm almost covering the full distance of each discipline for my sprint tri.  I've done my first brick and it was awesome.  Things are going really well (knock wood) and I can't wait til race day.




Monday, August 13, 2012

So Far Behind... (Travelogue Edition)

Last weekend we took my wife's mom down to Asheville, NC to hang out with her sister and her family.  Best little vacation we've had in a while.  My wife's cousins are so much fun and so easy to get along with, every minute down there was fun.  Plus we ate like kings.

The first night we had some excellent Italian food at a place called Nona Mia.  Get there early if you go.  They said they took reservations but we waited for an hour to get a table.  On the bright side, the owners kept bringing fresh cheese pizzas to people waiting in a valiant attempt to keep the angry mobs at bay.  I got the Cavatapi Melanzane and nearly cried through my whole meal it was so good.  Everyone at the table was happy and the prices were incredible.  Great sorbettos and gelatos as well.  Highly recommended.

My wife Carolyn and her cousin Peter with Peter's wife Susan staring longingly at her menu.
The next morning we got up to watch Susan compete in the Lake Logan Olympic Triathlon.  This was my first chance to witness a triathlon in person and it was a treat.


Susan is a beast.  Literally.  She kind of scared me.  My pictures of her competing are complete crap but I'm posting them anyway because I asked her permission and I'd feel like a moron if I didn't post something.

Heading out for the bike.




Waiting for Susan.

Susan made it back!!!

While we waited for Susan to finish her 10K I worked on how I'd cross the finish line at Lenoir City:

The SBM

The "Chariots of Fire"
The "Moon Walk"... as if.


The "Heisman"
Just realized I'm wearing the same shirt I had on in Taiwan in the Buddha pic.  Embarrassing.

Fortunately, Susan finally found her way back to camp.


Finishing third in her age group.

It was truly inspiring to watch her finish and say, "That was fun!"

Following the race we imposed our own special form of torture on Susan by touring the Biltmore Estate.  Big house, old stuff, paintings, yada, yada.  Wine tasting?  Wut?!?!?

Me likey.
The next morning, Carolyn and I went for our first trail run ever.  I need to move somewhere with trails because I've fallen in love.  We went to the Bent Creek Experimental Forest.  It was packed with mountain bikers, runners and dogs.  Everyone was so friendly.  Just a perfect way to start a Sunday morning.

We followed that with shopping downtown and a great lunch at Havana Restaurant.  I'm not an aficionado of Cuban cuisine but everything I put in my mouth at Havana made me happy.  Including the rocking Highland Gaelic Ale I had everywhere I went.

For the afternoon we met back up with the cousins at the best book store in the world:  the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar.  Used books, leather couches, dogs and wine.  I could have stayed there all night but then I would have had to stay there all night.

Dinner that night was at the Laughing Seed, the best vegetarian/vegan food I have ever had.  We go there on every trip to Asheville.  If I could cook vegan like they do, I could live without meat.  Seriously, it's that good.  I was kind of lit by the time I was done eating so I have nothing special to say about it except I tasted everyone's food and would order everyone dish again.  Mine was the Indian Thali Plate and I'm pretty sure I won dinner that night.  They make a vegan carrot cake that would make you slap your granny.  You'd never know it didn't have eggs or any other good stuff I generally can't live without.

The next morning we stopped at the Corner Kitchen on the way out of town and topped ourselves off for the trip.  Homemade corn beef hash with poached eggs and homemade raspberry jam with locally grown raspberries.  I'm tearing up just thinking about it.  The people at the Corner Kitchen rock, too.  Their menu says order what you want, if it's in their kitchen, they'll make it for you.

Wow, I think I've caught up.  Way long post but a full weekend.  Bob, Hilary, Peter and Susan: you guys are the best.  Can't wait to hang out again.  And Eli and Hannah (Peter and Susan's kids) are a blast.  Looking forward to seeing them again, too.

If you made it this far I should send you money.  The End.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sportsmanship

My daughter plays for her high school volleyball team.  A couple of weeks ago they played in a weekend long tournament.  While we were at one venue with her team, the varsity were playing elsewhere and apparently things did not go well.

This is all grapevine stuff but apparently, girls started yelling at other girls they deemed weren't playing well enough.  Then parents got into it.

This got me thinking about how we view playing sports here in America (I'm limiting this to America because I have no clue how other countries view sports).  We seem to put way too much emphasis on winning at too young an age.  I'm not one of those people that thinks we shouldn't keep score.  If the game's rules say to keep score, keep score.  But, when teammates are yelling at each other because they're losing, something's wrong.

I wish we could get people to focus more on doing your best.  If you've been watching the Olympics the last few weeks, you've seen what I'm talking about.  How many of all the athletes competing at the Olympics will get a medal?  Only some very small percentage.  All those people 'losing', though, are thrilled if they've hit some personal best in their event.  You hear it from them over and over again.

I'm not advocating not trying to win.  I just think that if everyone on a team tries to play their best and that's their focus, they will win and when they don't, they can go home knowing they did their best and maybe learned something to make them better next game.

Those of us doing or training for triathlons live this every day.  I used to be one of those guys that would bitch because I made a perfect pass in soccer and someone less skilled flubbed the shot.  I like to think I've grown beyond that kind of behavior.

I'm trying to compete in a sport now where I will probably never win, even in my age group.  But I know if I've done the training I can be happy with an all-out effort and hopefully learn something new about myself or my sport.  I believe that making that the goal in all sports will make us better sportsmen and women and happier athletes and make the actual wins that much sweeter.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Questions for Mirinda Carfrae

I'm coming up with a list of conversation starters in case I'm ever cruising down the marathon course at Kona alongside Mirinda Carfrae:

1) What gear do you ride in?  I like 22.
2) Don't you hate it when you un-clip on the wrong side?
3) Manchester United or Liverpool?
4) I never thought I'd wear a mankini but I think I'm rockin' it, amirite?
5) Ever read "Born to Run"?  You should probably work on that heel strike, sistah.
6) If we cross the finish line together, can I hold your hand?

Anyone have any better ideas?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Remembering Life

I am feeling like a brazillion dollars today.  Two of my workouts got stormed out this week so I had a busy weekend scheduled.  Saturday I got out and had a great run.  I'm still only doing 16 minutes of 1 minute walking and 1 minute running but my legs are getting stronger and there's no more squinting with pain as I start up.  I was going to double up with a swim Saturday afternoon but we'd promised to take my daughter we would take her and her friends to the state fair to meet her boyfriend.  Now, I'd just as soon give him a wedgie as go out of my way for him and my daughter to hang out but I'm trying to be a supportive dad.  At least that's how I felt before I saw them hanging out and riding a ride together.  They both looked really happy and it made my weekend.

I forgot to mention that after my run Saturday I went and bought my new used bike from Andrea's husband.  It's a sweet Fuji that actually fits me.

I've always kind of snickered at people that named their bike's because it seemed like something people did to be part of the tri or cycling crowd.  Of course, I used to have a much meaner spirit than I've had lately.  Anyway, before I even bought this bike I was checking it out and Andrea's house and as if whispered in my ear from an ancient aborigine the name "Ponyboy" lodged itself in my brain.  I know it's not original and there are probably millions of bikes named this around the world but I shall call my bike Ponyboy and I will love it and hug it and it will always be mine.

Wouldn't it figure the part with my new bike would get corrupted.  Are you on the edges of your seats?!?


Today is my wife's birthday.  I still had to catch up on a swim and she always makes sure to run 2 miles on her birthday so we split up before heading out for my inaugural ride on Ponyboy.  My swim was the best I've ever had.  Only 300m but the 50m pool usually kicks my rear.  Today there were tons of nice people swimming and it was a beautiful day.  I was only supposed to do 200m but I felt so good I through in the other 100m.

Then it was time for our ride.



My wife has been letting me use her bike all this time so it was the first time we'd ridden together in years.  I put on my new chamois liner and instantly regretted Dick's Sporting Goods' lack of a plus-size section.  XL cycling shorts do not fit me at least not comfortably.  It was a battle to get them on and I spent most of the ride with ovaries but I'm going to make them work.  I was going to take a picture but I figured it'd be like seeing the corpse on CSI: fascinating but regrettable in the long run.

PEARL IZUMI Liner Short for Men - Black In Size: Extra Large

Those awesome shorts were a birthday present.  Yes, my taste is impeccable.


The wife and I took a 9 mile ride on our Legacy Trail and I think it was one of her best birthdays.  It was so much fun.  Just a couple of months ago I wouldn't have even tried it.  Today it was like taking a walk.

I have nothing else inspiring to say today.  I'm just going to leave you with this picture that made my day.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Go Figure, Happiness Happens

I've been having a great week.  Work has been pretty miserable but I've been ignoring that pretty well and it's always that way.  My training has been kicking ass.  Sunday my daughter ran with me for the first time.  We did 60/60 run/walk intervals and she dropped me on every interval.  But by the end I was keeping up better than I thought I could.  She broke me out of my fat-guy shuffle and today my run was an actual, honest-to-goodness jog.  I felt like an Olympian.

Today, we found out she made the high school volleyball team as a freshman.  I'm always proud of her but I'm beaming this evening.  Apparently she was really worried about her chances because when she found out she broke down.  I felt so bad for her and happy for her at the same time.  I can't wait for the season to begin.

Last Friday I had the oddest swim of my life.  It was cool and rainy but I really didn't want to screw up my schedule so I went and was the only swimmer there.  The lifeguards actually had to go out and get in the chairs just for me.  One of these guards must have felt badly for me because he proceeded to sing in falsetto through my entire swim.  I must have looked lonely and in need of serenading and to be honest it kind of made my day.  God bless you little lifeguard, God bless you.

Saturday I pick up my new used bike.  It's a rocking bike built for someone my height and I can't wait for my first ride.

For my friends and family that read this:  Thank you.  I'm am a very lucky person to have such wonderful people in my life.  Some of them I've only met through this blog but I appreciate the thoughts they send my way.  I hope I get to meet them in person, and hopefully on course.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Freedom

This morning I got thinking about the 4th of July, again.  Sitting with my post-run Ovaltine my mind turned to freedom.  Americans are very blessed with the amount of freedom we have to live our daily lives.  However, I think somewhere along the line we've conflated 'freedom' with the Declaration of Independence's 'pursuit of happiness'.  Now, anything that gets in the way of what we consider our happiness is impinging our freedoms.  Our pursuit of happiness seems to give us the freedom to put common courtesy and decency towards other citizens in the back seat.  And that pursuit of happiness has become an end in itself; one long marathon to get happier and happier because Thomas Jefferson said it's what we deserved.

Fortunately, I'm just a nerd with pretty toes so my ruminations usually end there.


This week, though, those thoughts keep coming back to my personal journey.  I'm starting to realize what true freedom feels like.  I never realized it but I had built my own cell around myself.  I had gotten fat, lazy, sad, emotionally cut off, and bored.  I kept trying and used meds to help and I thought I was happy but now I know how trapped I was.  My wife would come bang her coffee cup on the bars every once in a while but I didn't listen.  


I think more than anything writing this blog was the key to my freedom.  It forced me to talk about things I've never even thought about and then when I told everyone my plans it gave me the push I needed to get out the door.


Now I hit the pool twice a week when a couple weeks ago I wouldn't even go because I didn't want to take my shirt off.  I'm riding my bike twice a week when before I was too embarrassed by my old, pedestrian bike to take it out on the trails.  I'm running twice a week when before I was too embarrassed to be seen run/walking.


Now that I've had a taste of what real freedom feels like, I'm never stepping back into that cell.  If you're feeling trapped in your life, don't be afraid to try the lock.  Take that first step or pedal or stroke.  There are a bunch of us out here and we're dying for more to join us.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Advice Needed

Yesterday I got stormed out of my swim.  I completed 150m of a 500m swim before they chased us out of the pool.  I decided that at my level of training, at least I got some swimming in and I'll just stick to my schedule and bike today.

I'm wondering what other people do if life gets in the way of their training.  Would you have added a swim today before or after the bike?  If I added a swim today, should I have just completed the 500m, started over?

Also, I'd like to add some strength training to my triathlon training but I'm not sure when.  Right now I'm training 6 days a week, one tri discipline each day (no bricks, yet).  I do most of my training in the evening but I love working out in the morning.  I just don't know what to do, how many days to add strength work and which days to do it on.  Should my day off from tri training be a complete day off or can I add plyometrics or strength training that day?  Keep in mind, I'm still new at tri training so I don't want to add so much that I jeopardize my regular workouts.

Any advice is welcome and I'd love to hear from people that are reading this.  Have a happy 4th!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Great week

This may have been the best week I've had in 10 years.  Okay, that's a lie, but it was a great, great week.  I hit every workout but one but I'm not complaining about taking a day off in this weather.  Yesterday it was 101F at 7PM.  I had been waiting all day to run and finally just canned it.
My best side.


The previous days bike ride in the heat gave my soul a wedgie and I didn't feel like doing much anyway.

Pictures taken Survivorman style.

It was only a 5 mile ride but I think it hit me harder than I realized.

I'm falling in love with swimming.  I had two 500m swims last week even throwing in some drills on the last swim of the week.

My runs get better every time.  The best side effect of starting this new life style is my wife and I get to run together.  Well, we get to share the arboretum trail at the same time.  If I'm lucky we pass each other at some point and that's always occasion for a quick high five.  We haven't gotten to run together for years and it's such a treat.

Today I got in my missed run; the best one yet and tomorrow I get to get back in the pool.  I'm having so much fun doing this I feel like an idiot.

In other news, we heard last week that the Rock 'n' Roll marathon series is doing a half here in Lexington.  Every runner I know is excited.  I got an IM from a dear friend I hardly see anymore.  She's started reading my blog and she sent me a message to tell me about the half-marathon and that she's going to train for it.  I'm thrilled to hear it and hope I get to train with her in the future.

That's all I got for today.  A disjointed mess but I've kind of settled into my routine and I'm in cruise mode.  I hope everyone's staying cool!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Milestone!

Yesterday I had my one thousandth page view.  No, you are not allowed to ask if I count my own.  But, in honor of this amazing milestone I will regale you with a tale of perseverance in the face of almost unimaginable adversity.


Last week on my first trip to the pool, I took a deep breath, sucked in my gut and took my shirt off (yes, they should require a permit).  I put my head down, making eye contact with no one, and walked manfully to the edge of the pool.  The end of the pool where you enter the lap lanes is only 3'6" deep which barely comes up to my hips making me afraid to just cannonball in and start swimming.  So, instead, I eased my foot to the lip, squatted down until I could touch the apron, eased one foot out and gracefully fell into the pool.  As a friend of mine used to say, "Poetry in motion."




But, here's the deal: I didn't die of embarrassment.  I usually look around to see who saw me and who's laughing.  Now I'm wondering why I ever do that to myself.  I just kept my mind on what I was doing and let the rest of the world slip away and enjoyed myself like I never thought I would.



Thursday, June 21, 2012

I Did It

All day today, every time I thought about what I had planned this afternoon I broke into a sweat. "Hmm, that didn't compile... OMG I have to f'n swim in public this afternoon!!!" It wasn't the physical activity that worried me but the drills.  I even thought I was going to knock out the 500m my training plan had scheduled for me.  My wife tried to very gently tone down my expectations and it's a good thing she did.  I only made it 200m.

But the distance really means nothing.  I'm the king of finding excuses for not doing things that scare me.  For most of my life, having my plans messed up by the lap lane not being open would have been enough for me to roll up my towel and head home for a beer.  Tonight, I sucked it up, hopped in the pool as soon as the lane was open and started.

My form was terrible.  I was trying to remember 40 things at once and only got one of them right at any one time, if that.  But at the end of every lap, I turned around and started another one (well, almost every lap).  I even had an Ironman jump in the pool and start zipping around me and I kept going.

Those of you who haven't known me forever have no idea how huge this is.  I can't wait to get back in over the weekend and see if I can throw on another 25m.  I feel like I've been shot out of a gun.  This week I've done all three disciplines of the Tri and I feel fantastic.  And this is only the beginning!

WTF?!?!

I was thinking I'd be a good dad and bring my daughter and a friend to the fun pool while I used the lap lane. I put down my towel and take a step to the pool and see ten toddlers being put in the lap lane for swim lessons. They apparently don't police the lane well, anyway. There are kids playing in there and people just hanging out.

Maybe I expected too much.  I have no idea how these things work. I'm going to hang out for a while and see if I have any luck. Frustrated.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On My Way

Things are finally on the move.  I've now been on three 'runs' (30 seconds on, 90 seconds off for 20 minutes).  Each run has gotten a little easier and the only issue is making sure my legs can handle it.  I haven't gotten out of breath or even really broken a sweat on a run, yet.

Today, I finally made it out to our Legacy Trail and put in my first bike ride.

20 minutes at moderate pace including a small hill.  I could have gone longer but was worried about over doing it.  The bike rides a little rough, I think the crank is warped but it worked fine for what I was doing.

Not pretty but peoples likes the pics.
Looking at that pic it looks like I may need to invest in a new helmet, too.

Anywho, tomorrow I'm heading to the pool.  I've picked up some drills from the Total Immersion DVD  Andrea loaned me so I don't think I'll look too ridiculous and I should get something out of it.  The goal tomorrow is an easy (very easy) 500m.  Wish me luck, I need to go find my swim suit.