Sunday, October 25, 2015

The 40th Annual Marine Corps Marathon...or as I like to call it "a lot of effort for a 15 mile training run"

Well, if anyone had asked my opinion about running a marathon, with no training and the longest run in 4 months being 10 miles (that being the Army 10 Miler that was a struggle), I would not only have said to not run the marathon but that it was a STUPID idea to even entertain the thought. But lets be honest...when has anyone ever asked my opinion...and when have I ever listened to good advice?!

I got into the Marine Corps Marathon through the lottery and had made travel plans months in advance. Even though all the work/life/training (or lack thereof) junk had gotten in the way, I figured at the very least I'd still come down to D.C. and have a much needed vacation. Honestly, I didn't really even pack to run the marathon hoping that would keep me from racing. I even kept saying it was a "game time" decision to give myself the "out". But then I went to the expo, saw everyone so excited to run, and thought I'd give it a shot. J was running it too and her coach thought I'd be good to pace her (throttling back to a 9:30 plus pace should mean I'd be theory at least) so that was the plan..pace duties and see how it goes.

Showing up on race day...what a mess! Stuck in lines with about ten thousand other runners waiting to get through security for almost 90 minutes! They were letting spectators...with kids AND dogs get in line with athletes?! And they only had like 6 access points to walk through. Jesus Christ! Finally, the assembled runners, with the start time looming and tired of standing in the rain, made a break for it and just walked through any opening. A quick stop at the porta-potty (did I mention the 90 minute wait?) and finally crossed the start line a whopping 30 minutes AFTER the gun went off (that'll mean more later). To add insult to injury, at most of the water stations, rather than hand out cups of Gatorade and water to runners, the volunteers (both marines and civilians) just filled cups and left them on tables to be picked up...WTH?! My Army just did the 10 Miler two weeks ago, forty two thousand runners and it went like butta!!! Ya, MCM...the 40th anniversary of the "People's Marathon" had your head firmly planted in your 4th point of contact (look it up). The only reason I wanted to do the race in the first place was because it was the 40th rendition thinking they'd pull out all the stops...and not only was it a total mess, now I have NO desire to ever do that marathon again (or maybe any marathon for that matter but more about that later).

On the Metro heading back after 15 miles
Anyhoo, getting back to running. The thought was if I throttled down I should be able to get through it. Did I mention the NO training?! And being a pacer I thought it'd help keep my mind occupied. But...because of the late start, we ended up getting stuck with those people that were looking to run a 6 hour plus marathon and the walkers so there was lots of stops and starts and yo-yo-ing for lots of miles.

Miles 1-5 9:56, 9:58, 10:26, 9:44, 10:18
Even though the goal pacer time was 9:30, the first five miles we're spent just trying to find clean pavement and keeping some type of pace. I thought that even with the the mass of people, we were doing well (or at least I thought I was) only to find out afterwards that folks on the side of the road beyond the 5 mile mark said I looked like garbage. oh boy

Miles 6-10 9:41, 11:02, 10:16, 10:37, 9:48
Amazingly the road hadn't opened up to this point. But the course turning back onto itself and the water station issue mentioned earlier didn't do anything to help stretch out the field of runners so the focus was to try and maintain some level pace and wait for the field to open up. I had just run 10 miles 2 weeks prior at the Army 10 Miler for 1:22 (my worst time so far) so I kind of thought that anything I ran over 10 miles was just a bonus. I can tell you that I was way more exhausted at this 10 mile mark than at the end of the 10 Miler and the pace showed it.

Miles 11-15 10:00, 10:18, 10:15, 10:48, 9:57
The road finally started to open up, I was hoping to set a decent pace around Haynes Point and then... my body just got angry. As I closed on mile 15, my knees and hips were just trashed. It felt like I had sand in my joints and it hurt. I talk all about the difference between "pain" and "hurt". I always think of "pain" being associated with fatigue and/or soreness and you're mind can overcome that. As a platoon sergeant of mine used to say "pain is just weakness leaving the body". But "hurt"...hurt means you're courting injury. In the past, as a younger athlete, I would've just fought through it and dealt with the consequences after...but this body...I think I may have beat it up too much over the years.

I'll be absolutely honest, I don't know if I'm angry at myself for deciding to call it a day or proud of myself for making the decision and not risking hurting myself anymore. While I know that stopping was the right and smart thing to do...that face says it all. Coming back on the metro after calling the ball, I was upset and doubting myself. There are a number of positive things to take away from the marathon I guess: that's the longest I've run since last year's Marine Corps Marathon (ooph), I can layoff my normal pace (the tight field helped with that too) and I can be smart and make decisions to save m body from unnecessary injury. Considering I can barely walk right now, maybe that was one good decision I made. ‪Now to get back to training and racing...but no marathons for the foreseeable future.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The 31st Army 10 Miler...also entitled "don't make excuses, you can't deal with the results" or "the wheels on the bus just fall right off".

A cautiously optimistic layout
Going into the Army 10 Miler let me just say I didn't want to be here. I am not prepared, physically or mentally. I've had to skip races over the last 18 months because of illness or injury (breaking my year streaks of doing "x" race) but... come hell or high water, I HAVE to be here. NO way I can miss THIS race. How much so? Well, because of airplane ticket and hotel hiccups, I drove down from Boston at 3:30 am the day before the race, raced and then drove back home after the race. Yup, a turn and burn to race. Ugh. Just one more example of how the wheels have completely fallen off over the last few months. But, it's never about the bad things that's about what you do to deal with them. Right? This race means too much to me (I was in town for years when I was a fat guy to support an annual event on race weekend, watched people race, feeling sorry for myself) and once I finally raced it I knew I'd never miss another. I can honestly say that if I had to walk the whole damned thing, all that matters to me is crossing the line and getting my prized finisher's coin. Ya, I don't know when I became the "it's important to show up and just finish" guy over my normal "nothing less than 1000%, kill yourself racing" guy...but I guess that's just indicative of the space I'm in.

Having any other expectation other than just finishing is pretty ridiculous when you realize the race was the longest I'd run, and the first run I've done over 6 miles in like 3 months. But...I am known for ridiculous expectations. My plan was to not look at my watch and just run on feel. That worked right up until I hit the 2nd mile marker. I missed the 1st marker because I was trying to figure out what the deal was with the course change. By the way I hate the new course! The whole race essentially started a mile later than years past so all the markers I've used for pace were "off".

Miles 1-3 7:33, 7:34, 7:38
I was surprised I was able to hold onto around 7:30s to be honest. I didn't feel like I was running fast but guess I got caught up in the 1st corral runners and felt ok with that pace.
Anxious before, tired after but finisher coin in hand

Miles 4-6 7:43, 7:51, 8:06
I didn't feel bad, but you can see that pace started to drop off quickly. By mile 6, I could feel my body position changing (leaning forward from the hips, shoulders rolled forward) from fatigue and knew that the last 4 miles weren't going to be fun.

Miles 7-10 8:12, 8:25, 8:52, 8:53
And then the wheels started to come off. That stretch of road, coming off the turn at 7 wasn't' fun at all and the new course bears left off the 14th street bridge rather than right to the Pentagon (as it has in year's past) and it just sucked the life right out of me. Add in that I was starting to hurt (my right hip started hurting because of what I wold think was the breakdown in body position) and those last miles felt like an eternity...and by that was! I was absolutely gassed at the end. I finished at 1:22:12, my worst time to date, but at least I got through it and got my treasured finisher's coin. I would love to say I took the time to enjoy the race and the surroundings...but I'd be lying. All I thought about at each mile marker was how far I was off the pace I could've been running. Not enjoyable at all and I think the Marine Corps Marathon in a couple weeks is completely off the table.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Your desire should be motivation enough...what a crock of sh*t!!!

You can have all the desire in the world but if you're in an environment that isn't supportive or even worse, with a significant other that's not'll never succeed (and yes, I drop a few expletives. What?! I was fired up!).

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The 3rd Annual Neighbors Helping Neighbors 5k...might as well get back on the horse.

Forgive me racing's been 3 months since my last race. It was really a last minute decision to run the 3rd Annual Neighbors Helping Neighbors 5k today. I've been trying to recover and get back to training both physically and mentally over the last couple weeks. Issues with work, fitness level (or lack thereof) and poor mental attitude have all played a part in my not getting back to my training and racing routine. So what better way to force myself than show up at a race the morning of and just see? For the first a long time, I had no expectations other than to just finish. I can't believe that was even in my head to be honest. Normally, no matter what my fitness level, I think I should show up to race and either PR or podium and if I don't I've failed. Of course that  attitide and pushing too hard is part of what's gotten me to the spot I'm in right now. So I just wanted to run, focus on mechanics and see what happens. 
I didn't look at my watch for pace (but the v800 does vibrate at each mile), but instead focused on body postion, quick foot turnover and running people down. I kept telling myself "run with the body you have...NOT the body you THINK you have". Ya, kind of yoga-zen of me but I'm trying to learn from my mistakes. After the injury and all the GI stuff, I just wanted to focus on putting my best effort out there...whatever that was. The course was hilly so I tried to be more tactical by attacking and pushing up the hills and then focusing on quick turnover/recovery on the downhills. I turned the first mile in a 7:05 (of course I went back and reviewed the data after the race) which in hindsight felt slower. Yes, its 45sec to a minute off my usial pace but thats not bad for an opening mile. The second mile was hilly rollers and I thought they took a toll but I held a 7:16 through that mile. The last mile of the race is a steady uphill to the finish and then flattens for the last 200m to the end. I was feeling ok and had people in front of me to chase down, so I pushed hard up0 the hill and had enough energy for a little kick to the finish. I mean it was only a mile...but it sure felt longer than that and the pace showed it, I dropped to a 7:28.
I crossed the line not really knowing how I did or where I was in the field but I didn't have anything left in the tank and had to spend the next few minutes walking and trying to catch my breath. It was challenging and I was honestly glad it was only a 5k because pushing that hard for a 10k would've killed me I think. However, the effort and tactics were good enough for a 22:30, 7th overall and winning my age group. I've lost speed due to the time off (my normal 5k time is 2 to 3 minutes faster) but like I said I just tried to focus on body position, foot turnover and better tactics. After the race I ran the course again to get in a few more easy miles and cool down. NOt a bad day, now to find another race next weekend...

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A picture can indeed say a thousand words...

That was a long, tough day for sure...
A little ‪stroll down memory lane to Ironman Syracuse 70.3, 2013. I had forgotten about this picture for years, then was reminded of it, looked it up and bought it ASAP. It just arrived. This was just the 1st of 2 loops of the 13.1 mile run that day. As you can see, I'm one of the few people running...and that was at the beginning! That weather and course on race day just devastated the field. Even though I fell apart and it was the worst race I've ever had (yup, even worse than the crash at Timberman later that year), I take great pride that I could manage at least an "airborne shuffle" through the run. One of the racers said it best when he described it as the "Bataan death march of races". Indeed! But it's a testament that when I put my mind to something, no matter the consequences (even heat stroke) I will get it done. Now to harness that determination again moving forward.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Being a good race's all about the athlete...and much like being a parent

"Would you come support me at my race?" I get asked that often and it's not a request I take lightly. Especially for Ironman brand races. I also get asked about my approach and normally receive lots of comments about my support on race day (all positive mind you) so I thought it'd be worth capturing. AS for me...and my mantra...I always go into race support with the mantra that its my job to expend 1000% of my energy to ensure my race has the 100% of theirs for the race.

1. First off...go into being a sherpa with the realization that in order to be a good one and support your and your likes or dislikes are unimportant. The last thing your athlete needs to deal with on top of the stress and strains of race prep/race day is dealing with you in their decision cycle. So just be prepared to not get a lot sleep, food etc, etc, etc. You can be a diva later...but your athlete is the diva now.

2. Know your racer. Sit down and talk with your racer to see what type of support they'd like. Are they the kind that wants to be patted on the butt the whole time? Do they want you to be a drill sergeant to keep them on track/task? Something in between? A little discussion up front will save a lot of upset later. If you have the "I didn't know" or "why didn't you do this" conversation/argument've BOTH failed.

3. Check lists, check lists, check lists!!! I'm not going to say you need to be all anal with spreadsheets but you need to know what time you racer needs to be where, you need to make sure your racer has all the gear they require (that you can never double check enough!), food they require (especially if there's special food requirements like gluten free or vegetarian) for race weekend and what's needed on race day.

A happy Sherpa...I'm not really but my athlete always sees
me smiling!
4. On race day make sure you're out in a place on the course where you can snap pics of your athlete, offer words or encouragement and they can see your bright shiny face. At triathlons, I've always found the best place to be is at the transition area near your athlete's spot on the rack...partly because my voice can boom across the entire area (no matter the size of the race, you can ask people who know me...haha) AND you give your athlete one less thing to worry about in finding their spot on the rack..they just run to you. Wicked smart right??

5. Things to tell your racer...focus on the task/event at hand: Bad swim? Forget and focus on the bike, comfortable grip on the handlebars- death grip on the bike expends energy, shrugged shoulders on the run fatigues them AND and makes them sore as the race goes on. Give your racers tips that are constructive and keeps their mind focused...instead of their mind wandering and settling on the suck that is a long course, bad weather or the race not going to plan.

6. Encourage, encourage, encourage...the ENTIRE time. Almost every racer starts to doubt and second guess themselves. Your job is to remind them that they've trained their butt of for this, they're ready and they're gonna do great. Look, unless your athlete is in dire straits and you're concerned about them medically when you see them on race day...its even MORE important to tell them they're doing great and they've got this as they race!

7. Relax and smile! Up to and ESPECIALLY on race day...for you AND your racer. Trust me, when you're racer sees you and your happy face they'll feel like they're doing well and on track to crushing their race!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My gut...oh the horror

I keep hearing everyone talking about fasted cardio. Training first thing in the morning on an empty stomach...ya, in the Army we called that "every morning". I swore off morning training when I left the Army but in trying to change up my normal routine I thought I'd give it a shot. 

I've been suffering from the same kind of symptoms I had before my emergency appendectomy. For what reason I can't even begin to explain. What's crazy is that whether I eat a small salad or a 10 course meal I feel the same way...bloated, suffering from GI issues and feeling like crap. I'd hoped a long run on an empty stomach might help, no dice. That 6 miles was not enjoyable. My gut was killing me through the whole run and that pace shows it. Guess it's time to call the docs again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Invest in yourself!

Now I remember, if I cut out sleep I can get SO much more done! Solid 2 hour lift session... I won't be able to touch my nose tomorrow but it felt great to smash my bags in the gym. LOL It's funny, I was having a chat with a dear friend about "not being able to find time to train/be fit" crap. There are 24 hours in the day. You HAVE to realize that a healthier/fitter you means you will enjoy life more and LONGER.

Your health and fitness is not a selfish pursuit at all. It's an investment that you make to ensure you'll be around to not only enjoy life longer but also be there for your loved ones longer. We have got to get over this guilt trip, ESPECIALLY given to mothers, about getting to the gym or training to be in shape. Do you want to be that elderly person that's heavy, using a walker or in a wheelchair, fighting poor health?! Then make INVESTMENTS now in what you eat and your activity to NOT be that person. Sure it gets more difficult the older we get. Hell, 20 somethings have to do little to shed body fat and be you get older you have to WORK to get there.

I get my chops busted all the time that I'm never happy about my fitness level/body. Duh, continually raising the bar and never settling is how I stay motivated!!! I'm about 20lbs heavier than my "ideal Ironman race weight". "Ideal" established by me but I have to admit I'm liking being a little bit bigger than normal. I will say that while it might look good in the mirror, I feel every extra pound with each step during the run or every pedal turn up a hill on the bike. An Ironman triathlete's body looks/performs different than any other athlete. Muscle stretched over bone with little body fat is key and I'll be back there soon. The fact that I'm working every day to get there is the key. Remember to invest in yourself!!!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mizuno Running posted an article I wrote (this is me doing a happy dance)!

So...who has two thumbs and is on the Mizuno Running website? THIS GUY!!! I can't even begin to say how excited I am that Mizuno put my article (about how to train for your first 5k) on their website...but they actually wanted to use pictures of me too! I'm not going to lie, I'm feeling pretty awesome about now. You can go read the whole article here. I'd like to know what you think. Now, if only I could just go run..damned broken toes.

Monday, June 22, 2015

I mean...I HAD to go try a run to see if I was healing up

Look, I'm not going to lie...not running is killing me. Yes I can swim, lift and bike (although biking is a challenge) but nothing help me feel fit and trim like running. It was such a nice day out that I couldn't spend another day inside training.

What I had planned was to do a 1 to 1.5 mile "test run" to see if my toes could take it. I went with a pair of my Topoathletic shoes because they're a "natural" running shoe with a wider toe box and man I never understood what that really meant until now. Even busted up, my toes felt good with the more room.

I started out with an easier pace just trying to focus on body position and turnover to see how uncomfortable running would be. Because I cant roll off the end of the foot, I was running with a shallower step and that's what got me in trouble. I didn't see the "rise" in the pavement and caught the tip of my left foot on it. It caught me by complete surprise and it went down hard. I didn't do my normal "tuck and roll" fall and ended up taking off the top of my knee, a good chunk of my elbow and the skin off both palms (thanks goodness I didn't break a collarbone)! And not even at the 1/2 mile mark!!!

Well, what was going to be an "easy test run" turned into a rage driven, adrenaline fueled, expletive filled screaming in my head, 4 miler. The good thing about the fall is that pain made me forget all about my least for a little while. But after I stopped..wowza! Ya, I'll be enjoying a large glass of bourbon later.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Who knew toes are so important?! Sonuva!

So, I've never broken a toe. Yes I've banged them, stubbed them but NEVER broken them...until now. To add insult to injury, literally, I didn't break them doing anything cool either. I was walking between my kitchen and living room while making myself some dinner and "kicked" the edge of the oak feet of my couch.

I looked down to see the last two toes on my left foot pointing 90 degrees to the left and oh my sweet baby Jesus the pain. So, I quickly reached down and grabbed the toes to pull them out and reset them back in place (I mean I've reset my own should before, not fun but has to be done) but heard the "snap, crackle, pop" of what had to be broken tootsies. I just told myself "they couldn't be broken, I didn't hit the couch that hard",  "sure they're dislocated but not broken, "I'll be fine in the morning".  Well, woke up the next morning to realize I was just lying to myself. I couldn't even get my foot in a shoe for Christ's sake!

A trip to the doc, and x-rays revealed I did dislocate them...AND break them. Although, I take great pride that both the doc and the x-ray tech were impressed by my resetting the toes correctly. Prognosis? Its toes, no way to cast them or even tape them to other toes because they're on the end. So two weeks on no running period, then reevaluate. Bottom line is that  its broken bone and will take 6 weeks to be completely healed. You know the doc knows you when you ask about painkillers and his response is "I'm not giving you anything for pain. you'll just take 'em and keep running". This is NOT what I needed to have happen now. I was just getting back into the training and racing groove and this now jeopardizes my racing Timberman 70.3...and that was my only BIG race this season. Ugh. I'm gutted. I'll just have to see how I recover. more to follow...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Something new is coming AND I got a speedwork workout in too

So I had an impromptu photo shoot for an article I hope to be able to share shortly. Gorgeous, sunny, hot New England day to get out and snap some photos...and my friend Melanie made me look awesome! She shot so many great images of me and this is my fave. Good running form, proper turn over, one of my favorite quotes and a wicked light, fast pair of running shoes (hint, hint...more to follow, I hope).

If I'm on the track to shoot pictures, I might as well get a workout in too right?! A 1 mile warm up on 7:15 pace followed by 6x100s on a 5:45 pace. I need to get back to speed work and having a great "kick" for racing. I never cease to be amazed at how you can literally run off the anger and frustration of the day. Oomph, I'm a bit wiped out but I feel great!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The 2nd Annual Greendale eye opening race to say the least

Well, I would love to say I had a great race...or that the race went the way I'd hoped...but that would be a total lie. I have been not training, not motivated to train and apathetic about racing at best. Because of the illness, surgery, more illness, lung infection and general malaise, I haven't done a triathlon in almost a year. A year?! Jesus! So what better thing could I do than sign up for a race to shake the silliness right out of me, right? Right?! It was a new race for me (although in an area I know pretty well) and I was beyond anxious about it. Taking my bike down off its rack the night before to prep it I had to clean off the dust. DUST?! Wow, its been a while since I've touched my bike. I went through my packing lists and tried to layout everything like it was just a routine thing.

Getting to the race I was a bit on edge (could you not tell in that first pic?) and setting up transition was a challenge because I had to ask folks around me to rack their bike properly. I that to be that guy but come on people, look around and see what everyone else is doing. The race is run by MRA (a local race management group that I have nothing but great things to say about. If you want a great, well organized race, do an MRA won't be disappointed) and the volunteers and race staff were all smiles.  Which I never realized has a pretty calming effect. One thing worth pointing out is that bike numbers they gave out were really cool. Made by a local company called "Smart Mount" they're like what you see in pro bike races and were super easy to put on, no muss no fuss. But I digress.

1/2 mile swim (um, no) - 24:23

Although the water wasn't that cold, I decided to go with a full wetsuit because I just got it and wanted to try it out. Taking in an easy swim before the start I looked at the buoys and it seemed a little long but I'd wait until the race brief to be worried. Sure enough, in going over the swim course in the pre-race announcements it was actually longer than I originally thought. Now I don't have a calibrated eye but even I know that out to the first buoy and back was half a need for the other 2 buoys! And yes a half mile swim (what the race was billed as) or longer shouldn't be a big deal but longer is NEVER better...when it comes to swims at least. I have not been swimming a lot lately and I didn't have the confidence of lots of swim fitness to slough it off. Add in that it was a "rolling start/time trial" start (which I absolutely hate) and I placed myself near the back by accident and queue the nerves. When the mantra in your head as you swim is "just make it out of the water, you'll be fine on the bike and run" it is not going to be a good day. As I came to the swim exit, I couldn't get my wetsuit off for the life of me. I don't know if it was fatigue, being out of practice, anger or what but I had the grace and speed of a dying rhino. I glanced down at my watch to see I was at .78 miles instead of .5 miles for the swim...just as a ran by the race director I did have enough energy to say "half mile swim my ass".

T1 - 3:02
I got into transition STILL with my wetsuit on, gassed, and barely able to catch my breath. I actually had to sit down to get my wetsuit off. IT honestly was like I've never raced at all before. I even forgot how to use my v800 (so the data for the race just ended up that it was one long swim, ugh)! I fumbled my way out of transition to get out on the bike.

Bike - 16.5 miles - 52:45 (18.76mph)

Ah, the leg of a triathlon. Oh, no it was not. Even though the course was relatively flat with rolling hills I couldn't but settled in or comfortable at all. Since my watch wasn't giving me the proper data, I just focused on trying to catch and pass people. So much so that when I got the 10mi marker I realized my dry mouth had come from not drinking anything (other than some lake water during the swim) up to this point. I know I should've something positive to focus on but instead I was just taken aback at how poorly I was doing up to this point. Then the age old triathlete problem hit...I had to pee. Damnit, peeing on the bike...yet another thing I was that I was out of practice. Maybe i could hit the porta potty in transition before going out on the run. Well, keep grinding and get to transition.

T2: 1:07

Learning from the T1 debacle I was thinking about how to better execute T2 while I was riding in. As I got off the bike and saw how many people were already out, I just skipped hitting the porta potty (I'm not wasting MORE time getting out of a skinsuit to pee). Thanks goodness I got in and out trouble free at least.

Run - 2.5 miles - 19:43 (7:53min pace)

Yup, haven't done bike run bricks in a while and my legs let me know quickly. I thought that they'd come back quickly...but considering we had to run up stairs...and then continue running practically uphill to the first mile maker..I felt like I was made out of cement. I just kept telling myself that it'd be downhill, the finish was close and it'd all be over soon. Ya, when you hear that coming from a sprint know I'm having a sh*tshow of a time. I crossed the finish line in 1:40:58, 45th overall and 9th in my age group.  I have always prided myself on being in a level of shape that allowed me to pick any race, show up and be competitive. That was blatantly not the case today. I have no one to blame but myself. The only thing I can do is use this as a learning lesson and motivator and work to get back to the "me" I expect for race day. But now I'm going to have some pizza...

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Powisset Farm 6 miler trail race...always look down

In the spirit of getting back in the habit of racing and trying new things, I decided to do a trail race on Memorial Day Monday. I've never raced on a Monday and I've never done a trail race. So I should have no expectations other than to finish and learn something new. Boy, did I..

 So...what did I learn? Well first off, since the course is winding and the ground uneven, you're not going to just blow by lots of people. You have to think of when and where you're going to pass someone. I got that little lesson taught to me when I first tried to pass a group of people at about 1/4 mile into the race and rolled my ankle, actually letting out a little yelp from the pain (really, I'm not proud) and I had to stop and take a breath. But hey, we're here to race so lets get back to it. I would love to say I learned my lesson for the rest of the race...but no. There is no "turning off the brain" to run when trail racing and there's no "looking ahead of you" either. I did that a few times more during the race...and what did it get me? Fall, then fall, then fall again. Jesus Christ, I felt like I was going to spend the whole race fumbling and stumbling! Oh ya, then then there was a mountain climb in the middle (no really, in order to get over it I had to lean forward and use my hands to get up and over the top). The course was technical and challenging almost every step. But, I have to admit that I enjoyed it and want to do another one. I did ok too, 17th overall and 4th in my age group. And the icing on the cake is even with all the effort the race required I had no heart rate spikes. Maybe I'm done with that too!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Golden Eagle 5k. The only nway to get comfortable to go race

My racing every weekend schedule has been off for quite a while. So rather than fret or be nervous about racing, why not just show up to one and see how it goes? 

This 5k was just minutes from my apartment, had a late start (yay, for sleeping in) so I figured I'd head over and try my luck. When I got to the start line I realized the crowd was filled with middle school and high school track kids. Oh my, the pain of this race just got more painful. These kids are gonna take off at the start and I knew my ego would not want to just let them go.

The gun goes off and indeed, all those kids take off like rockets!!! the first mile marker they started to burn out and the steady uphill from mile 1 to mile 2 got to most of the rest. Ha, there's a joy in being old, fat and SMART! I just focused on good body position and foot turnover. Don't get me wrong, that hill killed me too but I knew how to get through it.

Not the pace I would've wanted (or expect, with proper training I should've averaged around 6 min miles even with that hill) but it was good enough for a top 5 overall and winning my age group. AS I walked up to get my medal, I don't know which overheard comment made me happier: the "That guy is in the 40-44 age group?" or "that old guy is FAST!". Well, at least its another race in the books. Now to go log some training miles for the day.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The James Joyce Ramble 10k...I forgot how to race

I'll admit it, I've been anxious about racing. It's been a while since I've toed a start line and with all the health and life issues and my being more fluffy than normal, I've had no desire to get back to it. But racing is something I love and I've wanted to get back to it.

Enter my friend Lisa and her Zoom Multisport Racing Team. Before I knew it I was talked into racing and on the hook to hang with the team on race day. The fact that one team member's house was maybe a 500m walk to the start line was a bonus! So, I got there early (duh, of course) and spent some time chatting and getting introduced to some of the team.
What an awesome group of folks!
We all headed over to the start and I realized I didn't want to be anywhere near the front of this race field. This is a big race and there were plenty of gazelles loping around the start warming up. So I seeded my self about 2/3 of the way back in the field. That would make me start slow and give me people to run down...or if I blew up and died, less embarrassment when the field passed me (yes, real thoughts in my head). I had heard the course was challenging but I didn't look up the profile. I mean, ignorance is bliss right?! Chatting with Andy, owner of said awesomely placed house, he said the course wasn't bad, just the climb from 3-4 miles. Ok, well nothing to do now but race.

Mile 1 - 7:15
So the gun goes off (not that I heard it, the race is so big that the herd of people moving me forward let me know we'd started) and rather to stick to the plan of just "seeing how it goes", I start darting between runners moving up in the field. A quick glance of the watch let me see I was going WAY too fast. The start was downhill and that helped too. Then I thought to myself "we run back this way so the finish is uphill?!" Oh crap. Ok, well nothing to do but settle in.

Mile 2 - 7:25
Race done, phew!
There's a climb to mile 2, it wasn't enjoyable but doable and I'm thinking well maybe that was the hill everyone was taking about. That wasn't bad maybe this race won't be so bad.

Mile 3 - 7:31
Oh crap! Here was that hill climb everyone was talking about. I know it wasn't a mountain of a climb but for a guy that doesn't train on hills and hasn't raced in sure as hell felt like one! I just kept focusing past the top of the hill as my target. But the one good thing is no HR spike! Don't get me wrong, I was dying...just from the effort not from a heart attack. my heart. LOL
 Mile 4 - 7:55, Mile 5 - 7:40, Mile 6 - 7:45
I was dying by the time I hit Mile 4! All I could think was "keep breathing, focus on form and foot turnover and you're almost there". What weird weather! At some points it was windy and others it was calm and warm. I was hoping it was downhill to the finish (literally) but instead I was greeted with a series of little kicker hills to the finish. I pride myself on having a strong finishing kick...but not today friends and that last mile pace proves it. I could just feel the speed drain out of my legs. I was feeling the effects of not racing for so long...and that this was the longest I've run I've done in like 9 months (yes, I know) so it was all about getting to the finish.

I think beer might make everything better 
I crossed the finish line in 47:49. Not great, not terrible. Yes it's an unrealistic expectation to think that with the layoff, the health issues, the life issues, that course and everything else that I should or would be anywhere near my PR pace...but when had that ever entered in my thinking before?! Bwahahahaha

After the race I hung out with the Zoom folks some more. We chatted about the race, race gear, shoes, supplements...oh ya and drank beer! I'm trying to do different stuff and I never drink beers post race but I haven't to admit, those IPAs went down pretty smooth and quick!

All in all, not a bad foray back into racing. Decent race and great new peeps to hang out to get to the track and work on some speed drills.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dutch 3.0 (although I think I might be on a higher number version by now)

Same skin but 2 completely different people!
My friend Zule suggested I do a side by side image with the one fat picture that exists of me, compared to "me today" after I posted the picture of me on the right this morning before I started one of my briefings for work.  I honestly can't think her enough for suggestion it! It made me stop and look at how far I've come. The image on the left is me from some 6 years ago. I was in a bad way back then...bad marriage, terrible pain from Army injuries, no self worth, 245 pounds (I might have been more but when I hit 245 I stop getting ono a scale and I have no clue what my body fat was back then...but I was REALLY fluffy) and I was "medicating myself" with a sedentary life, medications and all the food I could get my hands on. I was living on the "I was a Ranger/athlete my whole life so know I can relax and just enjoy life" mantra. It was by no means the truth. I had given up on life and decided I didn't care about much of anything anymore, least of all myself.

Fast forward to today...much healthier and finally happy with where my life is headed. Make no mistake, the journey from then to now has be riddled with bad decisions, missed opportunities, self destruction and maybe more importantly...doubt and fear. Doubt in myself and fear that I wouldn't be able to become or have the tools necessary to become the person I want to be. I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel (I mean there HAS to be right?!) but I had no idea that I would ever reach the end of the tunnel to get past; a bad separation, lawyers, courts, money worries, training hard (too hard) racing (too hard and too often), injury, surgery, family death, a bad divorce, a difficult home sale, family death, bad relationships and the lot...but I'm finally there. 

Look, I'm not where I want to BE yet nor am I in MY race shape but I'm pretty happy with where I am... know it's a great starting point to go where I want. And, and, and I know that I have SO much left to achieve...even at the ripe old age of 43. LOL! Remember, that you have to transform your MIND as well as your BODY. It is important to take the time and realize where you want to be, how you're going to get there...and ENJOY it when you get there! I can't let anyone (even myself) take away from what I've gone through and endured to get here...but I have LOTS more work to do. I have plans for this body, for racing, for my endeavors (I might even get into coaching, personal training, writing and/or more artistic projects) and my future is wide and bright. It's awe inspiring to finally see that. I am a firm believer that you have to make the most of your life and I'm excited that moving forward I will be able to concentrate ALL my efforts on doing so! Never surrender and keep on fighting my friends!!!