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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gulf Coast Half Marathon

It rained and stormed all night last night. Thunder and lightening and the works. Woke up at 5AM and did the morning routine plus oatmeal. The Gulf Coast 1/2 Marathon would start in about 3 hours so I filled the tank. Checked the weather for the Stennis Space Center and it said that there was a 1% chance of rain at 8AM. You have to love these 'Rocket Scientists' - I am sure that they thought that there is never a 0% chance. Hit the road right on time at 6AM and headed south for the just over one hour drive. They checked our ID's at the guard station to enter the 'Space Center'.

Registration went quick and we lined up for the start of the race - the 5K, 1/2 marathon and Full marathon all would start at the same time. I took a gel with caffeine just before 8AM, however, due to some late arrivers they delayed the start of the race by about 15 minutes.

Jodie and I walked around for a little bit and then lined back up at the start and we were off. I intentionally started very slow. I surely did not want to get caught up in the 5k fast group and burn out. I watched my heart rate and kept it low and slow. Even though the pace was slow my right hamstring started to feel tight and ache just a little - this was in the first mile!

I was clicking along at 7:30+ / mile pace. I was trying to pace off of one of the fast women - I believe that she was in first or close to first place. She looked serious - running belt with numerous gels and a GPS watch that she was pacing off of. I was not going to let her slip away and tailed her for most of the race.

So I started slow and then by about the 4th mile I picked up my heart rate just a little. I was trying to keep it under 170. I would back off every time it jumped up. I kept this up until right around mile 8 (just under an hour). I allowed my heart rate to increase to the low / mid 170's. I still felt strong but did not want to bonk or to have to slow the pace. In retrospect I should have increased my heart rate much earlier in the race. I was pacing myself off of training heart rates and not race heart rates. During a race my heart rate automatically goes up by 5 - 10 beats per minute. I had been slowly passing people along the way

At mile 12 it was time to go for broke and I gave everything. I ran as hard as I could and passed several more people. Terry, local fast guy from the pine belt pacers, passed me at the water station at this point. I tried to hang with him but he calmly and smoothly pulled away. He had finished second in the 'Hobble then Gobble' race 2 days prior. The thing is - these are training runs for Terry. His race is next weekend - the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon. Terry is just fast.

Okay, back to me. I saw Terry pulling away and I kept my pace up and continued to pass people in those last miles. I tried and tried to pull in this one person that was right in front of me. However, it was to no avail - I finished just a few seconds behind this guy (I mean like 4 seconds). Come to find out that he was in my age group and it looked like I placed 19th overall and 4th in my age group - no awards / no prizes.

During the post race party someone pointed out to me that I had counted the age groupers wrong. One of the people that I counted was female and so that bumped me up to 3rd in my age group - a medal after all!

Shortly after I finished and while Jodie was still on the course it started to rain. And rain hard it did. I had already changed into my dry clean clothes and I got soaked. I can not imagine what the people running the full marathon were thinking when that rain came.

All in all it was a very good experience. My hamstring is hurting again - I will still have to nurse it for a while. I will keep the miles up on the bike and take the running slow and steady.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hobble then Gobble 5 MILE run

Went out to Lake Serene for the Thanksgiving Day run. Lake Serene is the place that I did almost all of my open water swimming last summer. I did dip my hand in the water to test the temperature. It seemed really cold. I was not running this race today but rather lending support for fellow runners (I did ride the bike on the trainer early this morning). I'm not able to just run a race - I easily get caught up in the excitement of the event. With the 1/2 marathon only two days away I believe that the only thing that could come out of this five mile race would be excuses - why I did not do well in the 1/2 marathon that is.

This would be Vic and Jodie's first ever races. Vic wanted to run a personal best 5 mile run at under 39 minutes and Jodie was using this race as a practice run for the 1/2 marathon. They both achieved their goals!

The Really Fast guys rounding the first turn. This race would be a sub 30 minute five mile run for some.

Jim (yellow shirt #219) heading out for the run. We will start doing structured ironman training and hitting the swim (in wetsuits) in just a few short months.

Vic achieving his goal and finishing in good form.

Jodie gliding in.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happiness is NOT a box of kittens...

I have not been talking about my training that much lately - needless to say I have been biking a lot, swimming a little and running somewhere in between. I am getting psyched up about starting a 'REAL' 1/2 ironman training plan next week. In addition I will be starting a 'REAL' weight training program like I used to do - meaning I actually go into the gym with a 'REAL' plan and execute said plan. I will even be documenting the exercises and charting my progress. What is it that they say - "If you don't have a plan then you plan to fail."

Well, today was Thanksgiving Eve and per normal the university shut down a little early. Knowing that this would probably happen I planned for a short bike ride with Jodie. The sun was out and the air was just starting to get crisp.

A few miles out from the house along the trace we saw a congregation of people. We had to slow way down to see what was going on. A couple of older people and 2 or 3 kids were all but blocking our path. There were 2 then 3 very small kittens in and along the trace. These kittens were tiny - still with piercing cold blue eyes. We rode past.

On our return trip we came upon the kittens again. This time they were all alone. We slowed and then stop. Two of the kittens charged us. They wanted out attention and then some. I did not know what to do. Jodie did.

I rode home to get something to put the kittens in so that we could rescue them from the elements. True this is only Mississippi but it has been freezing at night. I got one of my many nylon bags (the SWAG bags you get at many races).

Jodie picked the kittens up and put them in the bag and we rode home slowly. We were a little afraid of losing one on the trip home - one was a climber.

Once home we called the vet. For them to take the kittens we would have to guarantee any and all treatments for them. We were not prepared to do this. We called the no kill shelter and this being a holiday they were not available.

We fashioned a make shift home for them out of a box in the garage. Jodie feed the kittens some of Rufus's sloppy food (from the can) - he was not please but he got some too.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Anaerobic Threshold Test -

I decided to do some benchmark cycle performance testing on my indoor trainer. My trainer will display (on the computer) your heart rate, speed, cadence, and power. Using these parameters and the instruction from Joe Friel’s The Cyclist’s Training Bible I set out to conduct the test. I warmed up for 2 miles (about 6 minutes) on the trainer. I loaded a 10 mile course with 0 slope. The test instructs you to start at 100 watts and increase your power output by 20 watts every minute. At each minute you record your power, speed, heart rate and perceived exertion (scale from 6 – 20 - very very easy to very very hard). I wish that the results were a little better but it gives me a baseline to improve upon.

I will retest this approximately monthly to determine if my cycle training is improving.

Blood sport -

When I exercise on bonk (no calories before or during endurance exercise) I can get rather loopy. My glycogen stores deplete and my thought processes can suffer. I generally do not notice these conditions. Others around me claim that I get very irritable and downright ugly on occasion. I just know that I get frustrated easily. This also happens when I miss meals or do not get enough calories. Although I do eat a sensible diet and get plenty of exercise it has been brought to my attention that I may have Type 2 Diabetes. Looking at the symptoms from the mayo clinic I can see several that I posses:

Symptoms - Type 2 diabetes symptoms may seem harmless at first. In fact, you can have type 2 diabetes for years and not even know it. Look for:
  • Increased thirst and frequent urination. As excess sugar builds up in your bloodstream, fluid is pulled from your tissues. This may leave you thirsty. As a result, you may drink — and urinate — more than usual.
  • Extreme hunger. Without enough insulin to move sugar into your cells, your muscles and organs become depleted of energy. This triggers intense hunger that may persist even after you eat.
  • Weight loss. Despite eating more than usual to relieve your constant hunger, you may lose weight. Without the energy sugar supplies, your muscle tissues and fat stores may simply shrink.
  • Fatigue. If your cells are deprived of sugar, you may become tired and irritable.
  • Blurred vision. If your blood sugar level is too high, fluid may be pulled from your tissues — including the lenses of your eyes. This may affect your ability to focus.
  • Slow-healing sores or frequent infections. Type 2 diabetes affects your ability to heal and fight infections. Bladder and vaginal infections can be a particular problem for women.

I definitely have the first two and the fourth (I wish that I had the third). So with all of the above I decided to check out my fasting blood sugar and start to track this parameter. I also think that it would be beneficial to take this fasted state reading and then do a bonk run / ride and track the fluctuations. My reading this morning was in the normal range (77). Also from the mayo clinic:

  • Fasting blood sugar test. A blood sample will be taken after an overnight fast. A fasting blood sugar level between 70 and 100 mg/dL is normal. A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL is considered prediabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing diabetes. If it's 126 mg/dL or higher on two separate tests, you'll be diagnosed with diabetes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

COLD OWS swimming - maybe...

Jim gave me a call Friday night and said that the local FFN (Hudson's) had wetsuits. I asked if they were triathlon specific and of course they were not. But the price was right. Headed over to FFN Saturday afternoon to have a look around. I walked and walked around the store but could not find anything that resembled wetsuits. They had the all usual 'stuff' - coffee makers, books, cheap clothes and now even fishing poles. I asked several people working there and finally I found the wetsuit rack. They had my size. For $50 this might get me out into the lake a couple of months sooner and allow me to stay out a couple of months longer.

I tried the suit on when I got home and it fit like a glove (body glove, no doubt). I wore it for about 5 minutes and this suit is hot. It really traps the heat in!

So I have been riding the trainer quite a bit in the mornings before work. Every ride is a race or time trial. I am going to have to schedule some base mile rides or recovery rides, but right now I am enjoying setting my benchmarks.

I ran on the treadmill at lunch on Monday and did not fare as well as I would have liked. I tried to maintain my projected fantasy 1/2 marathon pace ( 13.1 miles @ 6:53 pace ). Cardio wise I was feeling pretty good even though my heart rate was starting to creep above 170 beats per minute. The legs were heavy. I would like to run the majority of the 1/2 marathon in the high 160's ( like right at 168 ). I finished the run at 30 minutes for 4.25 miles. Not what I wanted. Having to take a huge break from running has really set me back. The cycling is doing well but I have the Gulf Coast 1/2 marathon the Saturday after next ( November 29 ). This is going to prove to be a challenging race - both physically and mentally. Chad and Vic worked me over with a vengeance with the medicine ball - I think they were trying to break me on the ab bench. I really felt my core today!
Hit the trainer this morning for a 10 mile time trial - dead flat course. I kept my heart rate below 165 and was able to clock a 27:30 for an average of 21.82 MPH. Yes, this is on a trainer and indoors but the exertion and times seem very realistic.

Tuesdays and Thursdays have become lap swim days. At lunch I got a good 1500 yards. Chris is feeling ill and Laura had to prepare for a meeting. I generally prefer a group swim to keep me motivated - it can be really tough for me to put in the time swimming laps. The swim felt good and I was strong throughout. Not a bad day in the pool. I did not miss the 50 or 100 yard intervals.

Ballroom dance class tonight - this will be the first class for Jodie and I. It is class 3 of 5 so we will have some catch-up to do.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Two flat tires and a microphone...

I set my old road bike up on the indoor cycling trainer. I purchased a trainer recently that hooks up to a computer and allows you to ride on different types of road courses. It even comes with DVD's that go faster or slower depending on how fast your are pedaling. I downloaded the 112 mile bike course from this years 2008 Louisville Ironman so that I can practice the race before I get there. You can download the .crs files from GPS devices like garmin, etc.

So I hooked my old road bike up to the trainer. I pumped up the tires to the normal 120 PSI and then tightened the trainer to the back tire. This worked fine for a few days but the bike was so slow. I felt very weak and disheartened. I had to drop into the smallest chain ring to just ride on level ground and had to stand up on the pedals to go up any amount of incline.

Day two the back tire was flat. Not only was the tire flat but there was a cut in the tire (Rufus?). I removed the bike from the trainer and changed the tire (patched the tube). Today I went for a ride on the trainer in the morning - it was 30 something degrees outside and I wanted to stay in. About 30 minutes into the ride something starts to feel funny - no not my soft tissue - but the bike is getting squirrelly. The back tire is flat again.

Fortunately I have some spare tires (both old and new). I pulled the bike off of the trainer again and changed the tire. I put in a fresh (previously patched) tube in and another tire on the rim. This time I tried to be a little smarter. I only pumped the tire up to 100 PSI and then mounted the bike back on the trainer. I adjusted everything and then picked another course to tackle. The bike performed so much better. The speeds were much more realistic and I had a lot of fun setting new bench marks. I will beat these records later this week.

With the new road bike, I headed out for the 1:30 Sunday group ride. The temperature was still in the upper forties / lower fifties. I dressed warm. I was running late and really had to make time to get the the trail head. I think this was one of my fastest times ever - about 16 minutes. The new bike is easily the most comfortable bike that I have ever ridden - soft tissue, once again stays soft while riding - but not when you need it. Also, the bike feels fast. It wants you to ride it hard. It feels like my triathlon bike but more forgiving.

Did a fun 35 miles with the group and called it a day. Total mileage was about 55 miles today (inside / outside).

FYI - pop tarts are a great mid-ride fuel...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

swimming again

Hit the rollers at home before work on Monday. Just an easy 30 minute ride with a few lite intervals. Nothing taxing just a nice wake up. At lunch I decide to test the Achilles again with another five mile run. I increased the pace just a little after a warm-up (total was 5 miles @ 8:00 minute pace - 40 minutes). I experienced no pain in the Achilles area, however, in the last mile my right hamstring started to fatigue. It got just a little tight. Thinking back a couple of weeks to the 'Death March' I remember the same sensation. I am wondering if the fatigued hamstring altered my running stride and that is what has irritated the Achilles. I have to pay attention to this next time.

On Tuesday I got back into the pool (standard 25 yard pool). This is like only the second time I have been i n the water in 2 months. I miss the early morning routine of seeing the sun come up out in the middle of Lake Serene. This swim was, surprisingly, enjoyable. I started out slow and did a couple of sets of 100 yards and then several sets of 200 yards. I finished off with a steady 700 yard swim (14 laps - there and back or 28 lengths - just there). I did not get too bored swimming back and forth in the pool and just tried to concentrate of correct form. Total swim was 1500 yards. As a side note - for the Ironman swim (2.4 miles) -

1 mile is 1760 yards
2.4 miles = 4224 yards
4224 = 169 lengths of the pool
4224 = 84.5 laps of the pool

Monday, November 10, 2008

More bikes = better...

Friday I tested the ankle again by running a slow and steady five miles on the treadmill during lunch (43:00 minutes). The Achillies was fine but I do not want to damage it further. Jodie and I went 'Ballroom Dancing' on Friday night - it consisted of a 1 hour class and then a social mixer dance. There were all ages at the dance and many talented people. Not knowing ANY dance steps was definitely a liability but I am confident that I can gain the basics and then really enjoy myself.

Saturday I decided to have an easy bike ride (once again did not want to test the Achilles). Road a moderate 40 miles with no discomfort at all. Stopped and talked with some friends - no need to push the pace. The twenty miles out took 1:12 and the return (no talking or stops) took just over an hour - 1:02. This was a bonk ride - I ate nothing prior to leaving and did not have any calories while riding. In theory this should (over time - meaning years) allow your body to more efficiently process fat for energy. Almost all of my early morning exercise is with out calories. I've been doing this for a while. I can easily go for about 2 hours at a moderate pace, however, when the pace is elevated, an hour is about the maxmium.

On Sunday, after the success of the previous ride I hit the trail again. Since I was planning on riding a bit faster I ate my cup of oatmeal with a little brown sugar. I started out harder but still stopped and talked with Jodie for a few (she was doing a 10 mile run) and took my time at the Bassfield turnaround (4 minutes - bathroom, fill water bottles, etc). A few miles out from Bassfield on the way back I started to lose my steam. Fearing a bonk - I pulled over and added some powdered Gatorade (with electrolytes) to the water bottle and took a big hit. I think this was just enough to fight the wall off. I completed the 50 miler at 2:34 - just under 20 MPH average - of course, if you take out the talking and stops then just over 20 MPH - but, you don't do that of course.

On a side note, I really do not believe in many spontaneous purchases - I prefer to research and 'get the best deal.' This can be a gift and a curse - it can really cripple some of my purchasing decisions. Anyway, I bought another bike on Friday. This will make 3 bikes (6 total if you include Jodie's bikes - yes 6 bikes for 2 people). I bought my road bike - a Scott Speedster 60, an entry level road bike with entry level components (SORA) - (my first real bike) in February of 2006.

I only put about a thousand miles on it the first year - I did not have any really good routes in Terre Haute and Jodie and I only road on weekends in Bloomington. After moving to Hattiesburg with the Long Leaf Trace the miles started to add up. This bike became my everything - commuter, weekend rider, triathlon racer, etc).

I also had a pretty significant crash on the Scott. I was in a group ride and three of us went our own way. I was at the tail end of the group and I hit a very small bump in the rode. For what ever reason, the chain sucked down between the frame and the crank and locked up. The bike stopped immediately (at a little more that 20 MPH - I had my polar heart rate watch on and it recorded the 20+ to zero speed drop in about 1 second) - I did not stop and did a classic high side crash. I landed on my right side - elbow, knee, thigh, etc and rolled across my back to the other side all the while obtaining road rash. Luckily, nothing was really hurt - I landed flat and except for the bruising and rash everything was okay. By the way - road rash on top of sun burn is extremely uncomfortable.
It took about 20 minutes to dislodge the chain and limp home the 20+ miles. This chain suck action would happen several more times, generally when I was starting to stand up on the bike and really crank. No further accidents but the fear factor was high. I have become hesitant to ride the Scott hard.
I ended up getting a dedicated triathlon bike this spring (2007 - Giant Trinity A1). I purchased the bike new off of eBay for a little less than 50% off of MSRP. This triathlon bike immediately cut time off and added MPH's to all rides. It was many pounds lighter (about 8 lbs less than the Scott with area bars).

I do not have a cyclometer on my triathlon race bike - I do not care how fast I am going but only that I am going as fast as I can. However, if I look back on my training logs I am sure that I could get a pretty good idea - my guess would be about 1500 since spring. A dedicated triathlon bike doing commuter and distance and everything riding is not the best choice.
Hence, to my point, just as I set specific criteria when I purchased the Giant, I have been looking for a replacement road bike for about year (even before the crash). I have been looking for a certain level bike for a certain price. Last week I found such a bike. Once again the location was eBay. I found a 2008 Madone 4.5 full carbon bike with 71 miles on it.

This bike retails for $2400+. To seal the deal the seller was offering free shipping and a reasonable 'buy it now' price - these attribute of the sale were important. Microsoft, with their search engine, offers a cash back incentive for many retailers. eBay is one such retailer at this moment. Not to go into too much detail but with this transaction I was able to get $200 cash back. This made the purchase enter my buying zone. I am excited about the planned spontaneous purchase of the new bike.

Although the bike is the lowest Madone that Trek offers it is still full carbon and an enormous step up from the entry level Scott.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Give me a break... -

Just a quick update. I have been eating tuna everyday for months. It is a nutritious, inexpensive and portable meal. The pouches of tuna are much better than the cans and I have a supply that should last me (eating twice a day) until the summer of next year. The pouches also have a shelf life of decades.
It is almost the perfect food to have at work. I am the type of person that can get into a routine and eat the same meals day after day after day - forever. It just does not bother me. However, alas, even I can get sick of the same thing and I must take a break. This does not happen often - maybe once or twice every couple of years.
So for the rest of the week I am going to give myself a break and lay off of the tuna. I brought some grilled chicken in for the rest of the week.
Truly a much needed break. I will be back on the routine for next week - promise.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Crack the Vote!!!

Woke up early this morning - I forgot to change the timer on the coffee pot - it started brewing at 3:45 AM. I was already starting to wake so it was not a big deal. Decided to jump on the rollers for a 30 minute session. I beat my previous average MPH and then towelled off to ride to work.

Jodie had to drive. I gave her my backpack and I left the house at a good clip. I was able beat her to work. (I must mention that there is a detour due to road construction and that gave me a couple of minutes.)

I also rode the exercise bike at lunch and then did some abs. I am taking the Achilles tendon issue seriously. I have grown to depend on exercise for not only physical health but mental health as well. When I do not exercise my mood will change. Ask anyone about this! When I taper for a race (take a rest day before the event) I become a major grouch.

I will also ride the bike in to work in the morning and I am pretty stoked that the voting / polling precinct for my district is on the Long Leaf Trace. I will be able to just hop off the bike and cast my vote.

*** SOAPBOX ***

I don't care who you vote for but please vote. This is a special privilege that we should not take for granted. And I honestly do believe that every vote does indeed count.

*** SOAPBOX ***

Another side note - went grocery shopping this weekend and the young clerk thanked me for saving the environment. (We always use canvas bags when shopping.)

Someone sent me the following (funny stuff):

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Track on Tap - Halloween Edition

I skipped the workout at lunch on Friday since I was doing the Track on Tap (in costume) that evening. I knew that it would not be a 'real' workout but I have been trying to take care of my ankle.

Jodie and I arrived near downtown at about 5:30 PM. Others soon started to gather and there was a photographer from the news paper working the 'Halloween Beat'. We ran down a popular trick or treating street in full get up and caught many eyes. The marines ran ahead (the guys without their shirts) and parted the hordes of ghouls with their swords. Our first stop was the 'Live at Five' concert in the park. The beer wagon had 'Southern Pecan' on tap and I of course par took (I think I par took 3 times at that stop). I also got a little hungry and bought a steak sandwich from a cute nurse (see picture) - and it really was a damn good sandwich.

We trekked over to brownstones and sat out on the balcony for more liquid refreshment. The legs and lips started to loosen up at this point. A few pints later we made it across the street for some pizza.

Charles, the rainbow colored pirate, was lobbing up easy pitches and I, was of course, knocking them out of the park with little mercy - there was no 10 run limit tonight. Lots of laughs. Soon enough the steak sandwich selling nurse was making her rounds and I had, after all, sampled her wares earlier. She stayed and played for a little while and posed for some provocative photos.

We ran past the Sanger Theatre on the way to the vehicles. Audrey was in back and must have been people watching. She was following close behind a runner and did not notice that they moved to the left. Full force, she was clothes lined at the knee cap by a cast iron bench. Ouch! I heard the clang from about 20 feet away. We all stopped. She was able to make it back to the vehicles.

Stopped at Wal-Mart and got some beer and cookies. The cookies never made it out of the car.

Feeling good with a headache and dehydrated (it must have been the cookies - damn cookies) I decide to go for a long run on Saturday. I was feeling good - really. I hit the turn around point for my twelve miles and pushed on - I was going to turn this into a 15 miler. After the 6 mile turn around point I jumped on the dirt horse trails. The soft surface and uneven terrain is good for the knee and ankle joints. I hit my new turn around point and after 10 miles I jumped back on the asphalt of the Long Leaf Trace. As soon as I did that my Achilles tendon flamed on and shut me down. I had to walk. After a few minutes I ran a little more but I could tell that this was going to end up being a death march. It was easier to transform my run to a heel strike - still this was not going to be pretty. I suppressed my pride and gave Jodie a call and requested an evak. I still had several miles to walk to the next station.

Made good time on the 10 mile run (it was intentionally slow - but a solid run) and horrible time on the 3 mile limp - Total time was 2:13 for 13 miles (a slow 10:13 pace).

There will be lots of recovery this week with little to no running and a lot of ice on the ankle. From experience, this type injury can be very persistent.