Sunday, December 13, 2009

Back in action

Well I almost didn't go, but I'm glad I did. It's been a roller coaster since Placid, and I had no real idea where my fitness stood. But the weather was nice, the wind relatively calm, and I needed to know how well I've held up. So yes I went to the 26th Annual Christmas 10k Run & 3.5 Mile Walk. This was my first competitive effort since July. Training has been inconsistent, but when I have trained I've tried to be smart about it so the minutes were no wasted. I've also tried to keep my weight reasonably in check. I started the day at 159lbs which is 6.5lbs more than my LP race weight. The course is pretty flat with a few rollers and a .2mile kicker right at the end. Makes your heart try to jump out of your chest it does! Long story short, I tried to run reasonably, not flashy. Took it out at 5:55 and tried to keep pace from going over 6:20 as I tired. The final result was a 37:45. My Garmin logged the distance as 6.17, or 6:07 per mile. That is exactly what both the www.runcalculator.com running calculator, and my Daniels training spreadsheet said I should run. Of course both were based on a guesstimate of being able to manage a 18:10 5k.

I've run this race before and would have been happy with anything under 38:20, and was shooting for 38:00. The extra 15sec were a bonus! It did hurt like hell. I knew RPE would be 10+ because I've done NOTHING since last Tuesday. I hurled 3 times (warm-up, mile 3.2, and after the finish). Here are the results:

http://www.coolrunning.com/results/09/ri/Dec13_26thAn_set1.shtml

That's me with the misspelled name in 15th place.

I'm also including a link to my pace data. I was hoping for pace and HR, but as happens when running in cold weather, by mile 2 my heart strap slid down to my waist. You'd think the belly would have held it in place! The splits were taken at the mile markers, though you'll notice the 5th mile marker was off a bit. The avg speed numbers tell the real tale.

http://connect.garmin.com/splits/20501610

Don't know when I'm going again, but it is a relief to know that if I have the opportunity to focus again, I still have something in the tank.

PS: The whole crew turned out for the finish. It was great to see them. The kids especially loved the "Allie's Donuts".

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Yeah I'm thinking again...hate that.

I really need to stop doing thinking, especially when I should be in bed. But after a pleasantly surprising day running, I'm stuck remembering the surgery that started it all. I've written about it before, so I'll just leave a link here which describes the circumstances.

Pectus Excavatum

As a parent I want nothing more than to protect my children. When I asked my parents why they agreed to let me have the procedure at the age of 12 (I was actually in the hospital on my 13th birthday), my mom gave me the short ,"well you wanted it." I'm really glad they let me, but obviously I had no idea what it meant. I mean I was 12. They trusted me to Dr. Ravitch (the inventor of the procedure used on me). The improvement in my athletic performance was immediate as my chest expanded. Middle of the pack runner in my class to almost the best. In essence a huge part of my life as I know it started that day in March. I just wonder if I could do it in my parent's place. At the time the thought was that it was mostly a cosmetic fix. We know now it wasn't, but that's hindsight. I still have general numbness and an impressive scar. It was a big deal. My parents are smart people. They understood it was a big deal. Could I do it?

Hopefully I won't have to find out, but no doubt there will be something. That's just life.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the first non-family visitor to my bedside is one of my Facebook friends. Thank you for the comic books Charlie. I've never forgotten.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Humbled

The most amazing thing about the last week is that for some reason I didn't get sick. Yes, I've washed until my skin cracked, and downed enough vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, echinacea and goldenseal(yuck!...naaaasty!!) to bottle my pee and sell it in a health food store, but seriously I've been so covered in the kids germs that I think the only logical explanation is that I already had H1N1 antibodies in my system. Either that or someone/thing/(insert your divinity here) wanted me to learn a lesson.

For the first 3 or 4 days I held up pretty well emotionally. I was patient and nurturing. Even after Leanna went down sick as well, I kept going. Pee on the floor at 1:58AM? No problem grab a mop! Dropped the roasted chicken on the floor just before dinner? I'll cook something else! I was "Super Dad!" And then the wheels fell off. I'm not sure what proved to be the final straw, but by Friday I was breaking. Come Saturday I was Jack Torrance typing "all work and no play makes Joel a dull boy" over and over and over. I had hoped to get out and run a race Saturday, just a 5k x-country, short but long enough to reduce the stress, but was unable to do so. I was bitter and brooding and I felt trapped. I hadn't interacted with the outside world in almost a week. Had Leanna not rallied a little I'm not sure I could have kept it together enough to make it through the day. Come this morning I needed to get out for an hour. I didn't tell Leanna, but I was going to run part of the race course to see if I indeed could have won yesterday. In the final assessment, no I would not have won. Maybe 3rd, but this was real trail running and it was hard, so hard that I crossed the finish line (still marked on the ground), walked a little and hurled. And in that purging all the anxiety and demons swiftly departed.

Parenting is more tough than any race...any. Kids are unbelievably relentless. You try so hard and when you lose it you feel guilty and on par with the worst people in the world. I started the week with images of a #1 Dad coffee mug in my stocking at x-mas. I finished the week thinking I'd be lucky to get coal, and my kids would never want to be close to their crazy Dad who yells a lot again. No #1 Dad here. Pipe cleaners and homemade play dough can't cover up human frailty.

The last week has been one of the most humbling and educational experiences I can recall. Tomorrow I head back to work and despite everything I'm not "jumping up and down" about the prospect of being away from the family. I really love my family and despite everything would rather be with them and going crazy than without them.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

November 1 already?

I can't believe it's been a quarter of a year since I felt like an athlete (Lake Placid at the end of July). Time sure does fly. With the arrival of November I'm beginning (along with my "experiments") my 2010 pre-season training. It's fairly unstructured except for the experimental stuff, and is aimed at keeping the neuron's firing and metabolism from grinding to a halt. My current weight is 160, which is about 8 pounds above my IMLP race weight. My z1 running pace (pace on the flats at 135bpm) is about 7:08 per mile. By comparison I was at 7:28 per mile last January. I hope to pretty much keep things where they are now. I'm starting some lifting to try and increase my power more, as that is clearly my limiter (well, that and time to adequately train for an Ironman). I'm not racing Ironman in 2010, so my training schedule will be closer to what I need to be successful. The focus will be 1/2 Irons with an 'A' goal of finally getting under 4:30, and maybe returning to the World Championships in Clearwater next November.

**Best and Worst of 2009**

Let's start with the best:
3) The return of my inner competitor 4 miles from the finish of Mooseman. It was almost an unconscious reaction. A guy in my age group passed me and I was pretty well resigned to holding pace and just cruising in. Then I caught an almost imperceptible hitch in his stride and something clicked. I just buried it and starting running scared. It was like high school cross country again. I "heard" footsteps behind me. Every time I sensed I was slowing I pressed the pace. By the finish I had destroyed that guy by minutes. Truly invigorating.

2) Similar situation at IMLP, but not an age group competitor and only 2 miles out. I put a minute on a guy in the last 3/4 of a mile. I crushed the finish in a manner I did not think was physically possible after 10hrs of racing.

1) Post finish at IMLP, when the volunteer came looking for me to tell me my family was trying to find me. When I looked there was Dylan on his Grandpa's shoulders searching for me. It just doesn't get better than that. A really difficult race in which I raced as hard and well as I could and then was able to enjoy the accomplishment with my family. That's what it is all about!

Non-racing #1: All the great QT2 teammates I met this year. I'm proud to call my friends.

The worst:
3) Racing the 10k in Hyannis in February. I really should not have raced because I was still sick, but I was soooo tired of being cooped up inside. The wheels fell off big time half way.

2) The Hawaii roll down at IMLP. 105 damn seconds (2 places) away from achieving a life goal: to race Ironman Hawaii. Ultimately it was a blessing. I and my family needed the rest of the year to address things.

1) The month of June. Starting with my call home after Mooseman and going into July, I lived and trained through the worst stress I can remember. We're all still here, and though the road still seems terribly long, we're moving forwards.

I'm hopeful for 2010, because I need to be. What choice is there really? We used to make fun of my Dad for being so idealistic, but as I get older I realize that you really need to be because being too much of a realist makes one pessimistic and ultimately makes one lose hope. We all need hope.

So here's to hoping 2010 is the best year yet!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Restart

So I need to restart the research. My best efforts were derailed by a mild cold which started coming on last week. Because the family situation is still such that I really can't afford to go on the DL, I completely shutdown the training last Wednesday and started hitting the zinc, C, and echinacea and the neti pot. This bit-o-voodoo got me through with very minor symptoms. In an effort to maintain the "purity" of this very un-scientific study, I'm resetting the clock and doing a new baseline run on Sunday.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Going strapless

I forgot my heart strap this weekend, but did have the GPS watch, so I decided why not "test" my form. The route was the 8.5 mile loop from my in-laws house in Shelton, CT. The notable feature of the course is the climb up Long Hill Ave. It's about a mile and a quarter long and gets pretty steep near the end, climbing about 400ft vertical. The whole run features about 1000ft vertical.

I set a personal best on the loop today with a 56:26, ~ a 6:38/mile average pace. I ran the final two miles below 6:00/mile.

I'll take it.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday in the rain

Pleasant surprise on this run. Despite poor sleep this week a better run than the last time on Blackstone Blvd. Better pace at less effort. I run this route a lot, and the trend is good. Maybe I really do just thrive on runs in the rain.

The data

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sunday is Runday

I had a decent run today. Nice strong finish, though there were some rough spots early on. I had a few miles worth of flashing lights and disorientation. I know why it happened; all about the pre-run activities (think kids and too much predawn activity). Things were the worst shortly after mile 2. I knew where I was based on the route I was running, but I just didn't really recognize anything. However the legs were great so I just focused on taking the steps, and waited for things to clear. By mile 4 though the head was clear and it was smooth sailing.

Here's the data

Saturday, October 03, 2009

It's that time of year again...

This is the time of year, every year, when the inner geek in me resurfaces. Yeah, I know, as opposed to the outer geek which is present all year long! Anyway, in the spirit of Roger Bannister I use myself as my own human subject. Maybe this is part of the "secret" to my endurance; I never really stop training, I just change it up so it feels more like play than training.

The last few years I've spent off-season time tweaking bike position, especially the front end of my bike. Of course to test any change you have to ride a little, so... This year I'm focusing on some aspects unrelated to my bike, though I do have one bike related change in the works as well. For a six week period, which started last Sunday, I'm going to do a very specific set of workouts and see how I can change my current fitness. The baseline run will be last Saturday's run around Sachuest. My workouts will be more about repetition and less about duration: 5 days per week totaling no more than 3 hrs. Also there will be only 3 runs and 2 bikes. This is extremely light compared to what I've handled in the past, and thus will be very manageable.

As well as retesting around Sachuest, at the conclusion of the test I also plan to take whatever fitness I have and put it to the test in competition. There's a 5k near my house in early November as well as an 8k steeplechase a week later. The 5k will probably provide more accurate results because the technical nature of steeplechase adds too many variables. Anyway you slice it, though, should be fun. Stay tuned for the updates.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A-Mazing


Today we had an a-Mazing (weak pun, I know) time. Good old fashioned family fun: A corn maze, hay ride, cows (and cow poop). Got to milk a fake cow as well. I'm thinking it was good practice for post-apocalypse Newport (Mad Max-esque). It's a real working dairy farm so a real farmer drove us (actually his 8 yr old grandson drove us...seriously) on real (think veeeery bumpy) paths through real turd filled fields. On more than one occasion I broke my a-- on the bumps: "yeah kids...all part of the experience!" NO respect for the cows, though. They were completely blocking the path at one point, but the kid drove straight through them. Hamburger for dinner tonight!


http://escobarshighlandfarm.com/

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sure I have to forfeit all my cool, but...

... I have to admit I like the van. And let's face it, I'm not forfeiting much if anything! First a little background on this van; it's pretty pimped out. I figured if I was giving in, I'd go all the way. Not only are the seats and doors power, but the rear hatch is as well. It also has DVD, wireless headsets, XM radio, 15 drink holders, and more hidden compartments than the Millenium Falcon. I plan to sleep in it tonight.

Tropical depression + shopping trip to BJs + power rear hatch = happy daddy. I opened the thing from 15 ft away and it's so big it's like putting an awning up.

And the storage area is HUUUUUGE.

And I like being able to have the kids get themselves in through the side doors, and with a push of the button they're safely shut into the vehicle while I load up.

So just call me Clark Griswold, and for x-mas someone needs to get me one of those magnetic soccer balls!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Come run with me.

Figuratively, not literally. Nobody ever really runs with me. I've even stopped looking for partners and I now embrace it as my time; time to think, time to wonder.

Yesterday was Dylan's party. It was almost the perfect party. It wasn't too big. Everyone had fun. Everyone left on schedule. That meant an easy transition to the routine today. With Grandma and Grandpa (my mother and father in-law) still here, daddy was allowed to have the rare guilt free weekend run. My route today was one I've done countless times. I start at the end of my driveway. Travel down third beach road and past the beach. Cross over to second beach and then cruise out to the Sachuest Point nature preserve. I loop around the 2.7 mile outer trail, and then back the way I came in. For the most part I've now become so accustom to the scenery that I sometimes pass the time more concerned about pace and heart rate than the natural beauty of the area. Today, however was different.
Hurricane Bill past by in the night, and the sky was a beautiful and calm blue with gentle high level clouds. The air was warm with still good amount of humidity in the air. The ocean however told a different story. The seas were not angry, rather they were "stern". Great long swells pushed inexorably towards the land (and the trail on which I was running) and then crashed upon the rocky shores of the point. These same rocks which were typically dotted with fisherman were now once again the property of Poseidon. Spray launched 20 or more feet above them and then hid them from view completely. On days like this there seems to be an intent or purpose to the activity of the sea. It comes as no great surprise that large amounts of refuse, human refuse, get regurgitated onto the land. I feel as though we're being told in a not too subtle way that we are not masters of the sea, but rather tolerated users. Get too arrogant and disrespectful and you can be wiped away so quickly and completely that the fact you ever existed could be something very much in doubt.
Other images reinforced this "there are many things larger than man" message. The area where we had held the party a scant 16hrs earlier had also become part of the sea. The long ribbon of fine white sand which is second beach was replaced by lines of breakers which washed well past the life guard stands.
As I finished the loop in the preserve and retraced my steps towards home I thought of my family and kids. They were headed to the beach. Had I done my job as a father and taught them to properly respect the ocean? Did they understand the message? Despite knowing that everything would be fine, I pushed the pace on the way home for no reason other than to be once again available to assist should I be needed. As I sit here typing everything is fine. Dylan's napping and Alexandra is playing in the kiddie pool on the deck.
I am relieved and oddly peaceful as the awe and anxiety created by the power of nature has an amazing power to wash away the ultimately frivolous concerns created by that artificial world we call "work" or "real life." I am also reminded of what is so special about this place I now call home. What is more real, a check box or number on some company's personnel evaluation or the majesty of a 10 ft. swell pummeling and then consuming a stone outcropping (and anything on it)?


Storm waves in RI

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's official

I'm shutting it down for the year. Initially I had planned on racing in September, either a 1/2 Iron or a 50k trail race (running), but that plan's now scrapped. Issues that have dogged us much of this year are still present and I need to help out around here w/o adding the stress higher volume training brings. Both the aforementioned events would require at least one or two extended workouts per week in addition to regular workouts. However this doesn't mean I'm not training at all. I'll be doing some, because I go nuts if I don't. And I will be running the Amica Marathon in Newport in mid-October. "But you said you're not racing?" Yes I did, but the Amica (formerly Breakers) Marathon will be a glorified training run because it is run entirely on roads I know. I can also manage the bulk of the training at work meaning I'm around all weekend. And there's no traveling and the kids can come out and see me run. The second half of the course loops around my house making spectating really, really easy.
If anyone wants to come down and run with me or spectate, just drop me a line. You can hang here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lake Placid 2009

It's taken some time to be able to focus on what this race truly was: one of my best managed races and definitely best managed Ironman ever. I needed a little time to feel sorry for myself. You see when all is said and done, I am still lacking that check box on my "list." You know the one, the one that says "Hawaiian Ironman." I was fairly close last year, 2:30 - 3:00 minutes, almost by accident. I was closer this year: 105 seconds. And there was no accident. I threw down the best race I had in me last Sunday. The only problem was 12 other guys did the same thing and did so a little bit better. It's frustrating because I wasn't at my physical best. No excuses, it was what it was. For whatever reason I just did not have my good biking legs. My time was decent, but slower than what I needed. Everything else was spot on. In fact I even bested my swim projection by a minute or 2. I don't even think I could have made up all 105 seconds in T1, which is normally where I drop lots of time. I wasn't blazing, but in the crowd I was in based on my swim, I managed T1 pretty well. I maybe left 30 seconds out there.

The day started at 4:00am with the usual routine: choke down the apple sauce, sports drink, powerbar and banana. Try to enjoy about 1/2 a cup of coffee to get the heart started. Take care of business. Wander over to transition and get things in order. Because this was my 4th time racing Lake Placid I have the drill down pretty cold. So at 6:25 I proceeded to the water and at 6:40 or so I made my way into the lake and found my spot on the far side of the course. I like to keep the crowd to my left because I most frequently breath to my right when swimming. This keeps the stray hand/foot/you name it out of my face while trying to get some air. This year I also found some buds to hang with before the canon went off. This helped greatly in calming the nerves. Nonetheless when the canon sounded, pandemonium ensued. If you've never seen an Ironman start, it is a sight. This picture doesn't really even do it justice.
It's a no holds barred cage match. In 2005 I had my swim cap pulled off my head. This year my teammate got a rib cracked by a kick. If you ever have the opportunity to experience this madness, you'll know why I put such a premium on conserving energy and staying relaxed rather than trying to put in my absolute best time. Sure if I were a faster swimmer and could get out in front of the pack, it'd be a different story. However I'm not. I covered the first lap in 32 minutes which was about what my "unmolested" practice time had been, so I was content. Now the goal was just to not fade too much on lap 2. I came out of lap 2 in 34 minutes (lap 2 is a little longer than lap 1 because you have to swim out from the beach rather than starting right on the line, so I was pretty satisfied with my performance. I was tired but not beat and my heart was not racing so I was able to quickly focus on transition. **Note to self: Get velcro strap for Garmin watch. The regular one takes too damn long to put on. Also, maybe go back to wearing heart strap in water, so you don't have to phutz with it in transition. Combined this was probably 45 seconds.**

The big problem of the day was my bike ride. Okay, I say problem but it's all relative. I had a respectable bike time of 5:35. However, I felt like I was riding in mud most of the day, and I had an annoying lack of confidence in my new tires because they have a lot more "rebound" than my old ones. This means the bike bounced more over the ever present ripples in the black top on the 6 mile decent into Keene. This lack of confidence in turn led to a slow maximum speed of 42mph, well down from the nearly 50 I did the year before on exactly the same bike setup except with my Michelin Pro Lights, not the Hutchinson Fusion 2s. Not an excuse, I just need to be a better bike handler. Because I'm not I lost time. Despite this lack of "sack" assuming I didn't fade I was still exactly on target for a 5:28-5:30 until about 20-25 miles to go. It was at that point that the wind kicked up and my legs went away from me. I had cramping issues in both hamstrings which got so bad that I had to pedal standing the last 4 miles of the ride. Ironically if I had done a bit more climbing in the standing position earlier in the ride, I might have avoided some of the cramps. Oh well, maybe next time. I happily handed my bike over to a volunteer and ran to get my transition bag for the start of the run. I had one cramping episode in the transition tent but quickly got my shoes on and walked out to the run course. I knocked back a gel and some water and started off on the final, albeit long, leg of the race.

The sun which had made much of the bike fairly uncomfortable, stayed hidden for much of the run. Good thing too, because when it came out it got pretty unpleasant. I've got the burned shoulder blades to prove it! The human body is an amazing machine. Despite debilitating cramps during the end of the bike, I had no issues running. In fact I set off easily hitting my planned 7:10/mile starting pace. The goal for the run was a 3:23, or 7:45 per mile run with the usual walk for 10-15sec every even number aid station. I put my heart rate in the middle of my aerobic zone, known in QT2 lingo as Z1, and just cruised. I had no leg issues this year, and really no nutrition issues either, with one exception: Gatorade Endurance just isn't working for me. Maybe I need to train with it more, but by the end of the day it was really pretty nauseating pulling it down. I used more straight water this year as opposed to previous years, for rinsing down gels and pieces of Powerbars, and that helped the emptying of the gut quite a bit. There were no head in the clouds, "losing it" moments. All clear headed and ready to go. I had one fairly rough patch with about 5 miles to go. I think it was a combination of the heat, and actually purposely slowing a bit to ready myself for the final drag into town.

The last "surge" into town went far better than expected. The hill up to Main St. in Lake Placid usually feels like Everest on the final lap. This year I recall being surprised at how, when I put pressure down on my feet, my body actually lifted and moved smoothly forward. Don't get me wrong, it was hard. But my heart did not seize. In fact I didn't even hit my threshold heart rate. As soon as it flattened out a little I was able to start rolling again and with only 2 miles or so to go, I scoped out the competitors ahead of me. Sure enough teammate Andy was still in range. He had passed me during my rough spot (he had a great run), and my ego really doesn't like being passed! :-) So I squeezed up the pace and waited to see how close I really was at the final turn-around. The last stretch is mayhem with people on their 1st lap, people on their 2nd lap, and bikes still coming in. It's a little tricky trying to run hard and pass people without hitting something. However, I managed to stay upright and hit the turn a scant 10 seconds behind Andy and some "talkative" guy apparently in Andy's age group. Frankly I couldn't tell if he was being encouraging or just annoying to Andy, but either way I was now going to put the hurt on the guy yap'n at my teammate. When he saw me pull up he thought it was Andy for a second and then realized it wasn't (he told me this after the race). However he tried to hang with me even after he knew we were not in the same age group. Well it did give me some satisfaction to hit gas and turn on some of the speed I developed during endless indoor track sessions this last year. I gapped him with authority and flew into the finish hitting the line in 10:13:56. I had reset my goal after the bike to finish in 10:15 or better. It was nice to beat that target. And as last year, Tim was there to greet me on my arrival.

So I sit here reflecting on an experience that in retrospect I really enjoyed all the while recalling saying to Leanna after the finish, I don't think I ever want to do this again. It really hurt today. I mean I had Apollo Creed's line from Rocky in my head "Ain't gonna be no rematch!" Leanna said I was just having one of those "I'm never drinking again moments." She was right. She usually is. Some of what is creating this feeling of satisfaction and, dare I say bliss?, is realizing that this race experience was really enhanced by being able to share it with family, friends, and teammates (okay that's redundant, my teammates are friends). The moment that will be with me forever was the volunteer coming up to me in the food area and telling me my family was looking for me. Sure enough when I looked up, there was Dylan on grandpa's shoulders looking, no searching, for me with a true honest intensity and yearning and shouting "Daddy, daddy!". It was a far cry from the "battles" we have around the house when even at 3 he "challenges" the other male in the house for supremacy. No in this place at this time all pretense was gone and just pure emotion from him, and in kind from me. He yelled. I cried and went over to give him a big hug and kiss. And of course Alexandra was there too, hidden by the fencing. I reached over and gave her a big hug and kiss as well. She gave me a high 5. Yes this part was/is more important than Hawaii.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Home stretch

16 days to go. I'm well into the taper. Things are good physically. I had a touch of tendinitis in my ankle after my peak volume period, but that's clearing up. Had a rare double flat tire during my last big training ride. Had just enough co2 to repair both, but wound up riding the last 80 miles or so on 2 partially inflated tires.
Leanna still makes progress though not at the pace we'd like. She is driving a little again, so it seems the vertigo has subsided for the most part. So I'm back at work full time again. Yeah, turns out I didn't miss much. Still have to get my staff's reviews done. I'm about a month late with those. Also am behind on some project status reports. But you know what? I really don't care much, for 3 reasons:
1) We already know there are no raises for like the next 3 years.
2) My manager told me he's not putting me in for a promotion.
and most importantly
3) In a little over 2 weeks I'm going to be hitting Ironman Lake Placid with by far the best form I've ever had, and that includes last year. While there's always quite a bit of luck involved, most everything else has been addressed.

So it's back to being a Dad/Husband/triathlete who also has a job which (mostly) pays the bills. Could be worse actually. I could be stuck with just a job, and that would be so much less fulfilling of a life.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Knock on wood...

...but the things seem to be turning around. Leanna is on the mend; not there quite yet but we're stringing good days together into a pattern of steady progress. She's still unable to drive which means I'm still working from home.
I have been training, actually a lot, fitting it in wherever. Actually got in extra volume (within reason) because I've had a lot of nervous energy to work off. This week, especially the weekend, was the biggest week of training I've had. Yesterday was 98 miles riding (okay Tim I told you about the 90, but I did tack an 8 mile tail onto the end of the ride to get 5 hours in...mea culpa) followed immediately by an 8.12 mile run (1 hour even). Total exercise time was 6 hours and 8 minutes. Today I followed that up with the 17.8 mile run around the ocean drive. I was really concerned that I wouldn't have it in me to pull this off. The first 40 minutes of the run were brutal. Then I found the rhythm and it just became a regular run. Okay a little harder than a regular run, but it did go well. As beat as I am physically, I actually feel pretty relaxed right now because for the first time this year I really feel like I can reach this goal. I know I have never, including last year, been in the condition where I could put together a string of workouts like this and still be a functional husband and father. After all, I am still managing the show here too.
The biggest hit my training had taken to date seemed to be mental, not physical. I've been so concerned about the constant changes and upset, missed hours, makeup hours, etc... that I figured there was no way I was where I needed to be physically. Well I put up some really solid numbers this weekend in all three disciplines. The fact that I'm sitting here writing this tells me I'm still in the hunt for Kona.

Less than 4 weeks to go and this week is another big one...time for the final push.

Monday, June 22, 2009

An interesting rhythm

I've fallen into this rhythm the last couple of days where life has begun to operate on a 24 hour clock. A pretty steady pattern of family/daddy duty, then some training (never more than 2hrs at a time), then back to family/daddy. Yes the notable missing element is work. Sleep actually does make an appearance as the item that appears in a given block when training doesn't. While my training is not optimal, I am getting my total hours in by increasing the number of reps. Sleep actually is not that far off, either. Once again no long stretches, just more reps.
This is possible because I work in higher ed and have a couple weeks of accrued sick time available, and a few more weeks of vacation should it be needed. I knew there was a reason I worked at Brown!
This emerging pattern (I'm all about patterns) is important because I might just be able to pull this off! This week and next I'm overloading my training, and if I make it through this I think I can actually make it to LP in decent shape! Yes it is all predicated on Leanna's continued improvement, but she was much better today than she has been in a few days. True it is just one day, and no doubt there will be setbacks, but we're only living one day at a time anyway, so I'll take it. It gives me a fraction of a bit of hope, and for someone as stubborn (and could it be optimistic?) as me, that's all I need.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Like a disfunctional relationship...

...training and I have broken up and gotten back together 3 times this weekend. I'm on my bike now awaiting Leanna's return home. I'll be riding to almost midnight tonight. In the final assessment I'll have missed a grand total of 48 minutes of running, and a little intensity swimming. My bike will be spot on, maybe even a little over, though all trainer work. At this point I'll take it.

So going forward my training strategy will be taken from "Cool hand Luke," cause right now I've got nothin'.

"Nothin'. A handful of nothin'. You stupid mullet-head. He beat you with nothin'. Just like today when he kept comin' back at me - with nothin'.

Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real Cool Hand."

35 days and counting

Well the body is still willing and able, my 5k interval during my run yesterday was @ 5:55/mile, but logistics are about to get very hard. 34 hrs of training scheduled over the next 2 wks, plus work, plus taking care of the kids, plus taking care of Leanna. My trainer will be seeing A LOT of action, but I need road time to get the pacing right. Pacing is my differentiator. I know I'm excellent at it...if I get my dress rehearsals in. I need that "imprinting" on my brain and muscles. Race day I can recall those sensations and dose my effort properly. I have my GPS/Heart monitor, so assuming I just get the time in physically I'll be ready, but I'll have to rely almost entirely on the electronics for strategy, and while I love technology, I wouldn't be thrilled about betting my whole qualifier on it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's June what?!

Ironman Lake Placid is 5 1/2 wks away. That means I'm in the final push of training, right? Well yes and no. According to my schedule I am; according to the log of actuals...not so much. Here's the last 36 hrs:

Wed 1:45am, One child nightmare.
3:45am One accident
4:30am scheduled wake-up for 100min workout, doesn't happen. Plan is to do it that at lunch+ that night.
6:45am Kids up...morning routine.
Leanna is still quite ill so Kirsten is coming to watch the kids at 8:30am
8:40am leave for work.
9:30 arriving in Providence. Get call to come home. Leanna is going to ER.
4:00pm everyone home from ER.
Mentally beat so plan is to try to do workout Thurs in addition to Thurs swim.
Thurs 7:05 everyone up, morning routine.
8:30 drop off Dylan
8:50 drop off Alexandra
9:10 home
10:00am back to Newport ER.
4:30pm home again with both kids, Leanna, and my in-laws.

So much for best laid plans. So I'm riding for 2hrs on my trainer tonight. An hour in the morning. Running god knows when. I missed a key swim, though thanks to a "cheat" I did get in 30min of ocean swimming Tuesday which is typically my steady swimming day, but was supposed to be off this week. Tough conditions Tuesday resulting in a reminder of why I always swim with a buddy: about 6min into the swim we hit the first buoy. I stopped swimming to tread and sight my new line when it hit me: vertigo. I know it happens, but it had never happened before. I almost lost it out there. My partner Mike calmed me down. We started swimming again and I just followed is feet. It gave me a good object on which to focus. About 5min later it had mostly passed and the rest was uneventful.

It's safe to say I'm a bit concerned about my readiness for LP. I can't take much more of this. That said I'm not that far off my training volume for the week, at least I won't be by 8:00am Friday. We're currently "sleep optional" at the Kehm household until I'm caught up. Oh, but we are beer mandatory.

**Update: June 21**
Spent the entire weekend in Newport Hospital. Lake Placid participation is very much in jeopardy. Haven't totally given up the ghost yet, but with the long weeks on tap, hard to see how it gets done right now.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I don't write about my Dad much, and in truth I don't call him nearly as much as I should (queue Harry Chapin), but I was thinking about him last night and am almost certain we were doing the exact same thing: watching the Pittsburgh Penguins win their 3rd Stanley Cup.

Good game Dad, wasn't it. Talbot reminds me of some of the super role players from the 91-92 Pens. Love you, Joel.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Mooseman 2009

This entry is mostly race report, part open letter to my team, and part reflection on this year. Each race season, at least the memorable ones, seems to have a theme. There is no doubt about this year's theme: perseverance.

I'm not going to recount all the issues; seems too much like feeling sorry for myself. I will start with a big congratulations to my teammates and a huge thank you to the QT2 coaches, especially my friend Tim. The dominance by the QT2 team (4 out of the top 5 places overall) speaks volumes. It was an honor to wear the colors and to get the incredulous looks as I went for my run right AFTER the race. Hey, it's all about Lake Placid and race day or not, I needed my 12o minutes of running. My biggest regret was not being able to stay around and enjoy the moment with people, and for that I apologize to my team (more on this later), but I'd have to do the same thing all over again (doesn't make it feel any better though).

This was my 1st triathlon of the year, first open water swim of the year, and first time in my full wetsuit since 2007. So despite my experience, I was every bit the neophyte in the early going. If there was any doubt about that, getting crushed by teammate, newbie (and former Kid Rock look-a-like) Custie Crampton in T1 made this abundantly clear. Something about swimming so far off course that I practically had to dodge boat moorings also threw the ice cold water of the reality of the situation in my face. So the early going smacked every bit of "my first race"-itis. T1 issues included, but were not limited to, wetsuit removal, putting on bike shoes (I missed the shoe a couple of times), putting on Garmin HRM/GPS watch w/numb fingers. In whole I probably gave away a minute or more in the water and 45 sec to a minute in transition.

The net effect here was a bit of panic beginning the bike. Add in the gigantic wads of grassy mud in my bike cleats which prevented clip in on both sides (another 10-15 sec lost clearing these while riding), and my pace strategy was put on hold for a bit. It was a good 10 or 15 miles of riding before I could begin to settle down. Experience told me I was overcooking it, but every time someone passed me (and a few people did...at first), mentally I started losing it. Only when triathlon legend Karen Smyers caught me and said a couple of words did I start to focus. Oh yeah, that's right I do know what the hell I'm doing out here! At about mile 20 of the bike I got things under control.

First step was to ease off to allow my gut to start processing liquids again. I could tell I was dehydrating and while not a 100 degree day like last year, dehydration would ruin my race. It meant letting people pass me and go on. It meant reminding myself I am strong on my bike this year and there was still more than half the leg to go, plenty of time to re-catch people. It meant reminding myself I was one of the best runners in my age group and would likely mow these guys down on the run. I just needed to make sure I could run. The first loop, including futzing time, took ~1:16. Good time but at what cost? I didn't feel great starting lap 2, but at least I was focused. I watched my heart rate more closely: 132-134 on the flats, 142-144 on gradual climbs and into the headwind, 150-152 on steep pitches, 115-125 descending. As my focus came back and the nutrition kicked in, so my legs came back. On the second time up the Devil's hill (a fairly steep pitch at ~miles 6 and 34) I was once again riding and climbing with a familiar fluidity and control. I didn't drop too many people on the climb itself, but because I could shift into a bigger gear as soon as the road began to level out I quickly distanced most pursuers. From that point on nobody from my age group passed me and stayed away. In fact few if any people passed me at all. At mile 46 I bid a smooth and steady farewell to my inspiration Karen as well. I had a few near misadventures the rest of the way in, most notably with a turning ambulance on the firehouse downhill (now wouldn't that have been ironic!), but made it safely into T2. My 2nd lap time was virtually identical to my 1st, but it felt sooo much better. I made it through T2 in a manner more consistent with my experience, racking my bike, changing shoes, and getting on the road in 58 seconds, which actually topped coach Tim by 2 seconds!

Heading out onto the run I was a little uncertain how I would feel, but I was certain of one thing: I need to get some gels down. I used one of my own and one from the course because I wanted to save my last one for the final push on the run. Note to self here: NEVER again accept a Clif Shot Vanilla gel. I almost hurled. It was the nastiest taste I can recall. But I choked it down and washed everything down with some water and was ready to run. Shortly after beginning the run I passed our ever faithful QT2 support crew. Courtney told me fellow teammate Keith Manning was just up the road from me. This gave me a good carrot because I new Keith would be running pretty well. Hey we all train on the same protocol after all! Knowing that I was a mere minute or two behind Keith helped, because it meant I had made amends for my poor start to the race. So I quickly found my rhythm and settled in at my instructed target pace, 6:45 per mile. It felt easy and smooth...and then my left hammy started cramping. This is a familiar issue which occurs exactly at the one mile point after a hard bike and a quick transition. I think of it as my body finally figuring out I'm not longer on the bike and going into shock for a second. If I lolligag in transition, this doesn't happen. If I ride slowly this doesn't happen. Fast ride, fast transition...problem. Well of course Tim comes running down the road the other way right as I'm dragging my left leg behind me a little to keep the hamstring from seizing. Tim, in the middle of his own race, asks me how I'm doing. It's why I love working with him; he really does care. I gave a non-commital "okay" because I wasn't sure if I was going to get better or worse. Fortunately within 1/2 a mile everything loosened up and I was good to go. I picked it up a little to get back on pace, but I hadn't slipped much so mostly it was smooth running.

The run was somewhat uneventful for a while. I just nailed my pace and slowly chipped away at the people in front of me. A few times a fast mover came motoring by me, but mostly I was passing people. Near the end of the first lap I caught up with Keith and we ran together for a bit. We chatted and that helped me work through a rough spot. With about 5.5 miles to go I downed my last, double caf, gel packet and washed it down with a little more water. Then Keith and I settled in to pace and chatted about how we manage race stress. I was just finishing my explanation of how I try to ignore everyone else on the course when I guy with a 42, meaning he was in my age group, passes me. He looked good. I made a comment about this being the point of a race where, barring him having a meltdown, I doubted I could run with him. Then we hit the big hill on the course and a couple of things happened. I noticed something very slight in the guys body language. He stopped moving away. At the same time my inner athlete turned and stared straight into my face and said, "You pussy! There's 4.5 miles left and you're only running at 148 bpm. You have lots of room to go, so Go get that guy!!" I didn't charge but instead kept a firm pace on the climb. I guess the guy tried to go with me, but when you make moves like this you don't look back. As it started to flatten out I gave it what I had. I kept it rolling the rest of the way home. According to Keith the guy did try to go with me and popped on the hill. I put multiple minutes into him by the end of the race and Keith passed and beat him as well.
That final surge felt great. I felt better than I had the whole run. I had dropped my pace from 6:45 to ~6:15-6:20 and felt more like the athlete I think I can be. I sprinted to the line and stopped the clock at 4:34:50, a personal best for me at this distance. I was also 7th in my age group out of 99 people, and 33rd over all out of 668. Despite my poor start I had beaten my projected best case goal time by 2:10.

The thing about QT2 that works for me is that not only do the coaches and athletes work really, really hard, they really support each other. There were people in baby blue all over the finish chute to congratulate me. I got to see Keith finish too. He looked good as well. In fact everyone looked good. The program is that good. And yes, ahh the program; well the other thing about QT2 is that nobody gets to rest on their laurels. Shortly after the race and some refueling, it was out for my run.

It was during that run that real life came crushing back. I called home to tell Leanna how it had gone, but my mother-in-law answered and said Leanna was not feeling well again and was in bed. The shift in emotion from elation to desolation was brutal. As best as I could I went on autopilot, ran back to the transition area, rode my bike and equipment back to the house, grabbed a shower and my stuff, and headed home. I even forgot my bike pump and toolbox at the house. I only said goodbye to a couple of people and not even to Tim. I needed to get home, but I truly feel like a schmuck for ditching my people. QT2 owned the race and we all should have been at the awards to celebrate. I've been feeling like a crap teammate ever since.

Like the race itself, it was a great and crappy weekend at the same time. I saw hints of what could be, only to be smacked by what currently is. In many ways it would be easier if I had melted down and finished over 5 hours. It would make it easy to quit on Lake Placid. Instead I showed that despite everything I really can do this; that I can actually get stronger as the days drag on. So rather than dropping out I will strap a set on, focus on getting my work in, and keep going. Life is an endurance race after all and in times of crisis you only ever have two choices: quit or strap 'em on and persevere.

PS: Tim's my boy.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Confidence booster

This is really just a follow-up to the last post. Today I put in arguably my best workout of the year. 80+ miles on the bike and another 6+ running. I was pretty fast and feel reasonably good now. Of course I have about 2 hours of running tomorrow, which I guarantee will be sheer agony, but today I'm fairly content. A week ago I would not have thought I could perform this well.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The sun will come out tomorrow...

We made it through the week. It wasn't always pretty, far from perfect, but we made it. It was better than last week. I'm still a bit concerned about pulling it together for the Mooseman half iron in a week, and then Lake Placid; however, I feel better than I did at the beginning of the week. If I get through Monday and complete all my training, I'll feel back on track.
In an odd way the good news is that the lack of readiness is pretty much a mental thing. I had a lot of Best Effort workouts (hard repeats, short rest). They felt god awful, but I did them and did them pretty well. In fact my run today contained 4x800m repeats with 2:30 rest, and I actually negative split the whole workout: 2:40, 2:39, 2:37, 2:36. There was also a 400m kicker at the end run in 1:11. And all that was done with zero on the adrenaline meter. I actually was uncomfortable bordering on miserable the whole time. Between family health issues and work stress, I had nothing in the tank. And still I pulled off quality workouts everyday this week. Despite my physical discomfort as I sit here, I'm pretty content. I wasn't sure if I had enough left upstairs to push myself through these. Turns out I did.

On another note I'm torn about what to do with regards to my employee who resigned this week. It's not a "should I see if we can counter offer" thing; I'm fundamentally opposed to that. Sets a bad precedent. Rather I'm wondering if I should tell him what I really think. You see I really think he's making a big mistake. He's so focused on some objectionable things in his current role, that he isn't properly appreciating what he's about to get in his new job. Sure it sounds egotistical, but he's taking a real downgrade in manager, at least from the standpoint of how much I can offer him in mentoring and career development as opposed to his new manager. However, I'm leaning away from actually telling him because I fear it would be like "drunk dialing." And anyway, I'm not about to offer him something new (even if I could). He's welcome back if there is a job, but he needs to figure out what he wants out of his professional life himself.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Things to encourage insonmia

Strenuous physical activity at night - check!
Caffeinated gel packet - check!
Working on a computer - check!
I think all I'm missing is renting porn on pay-per-view!

I'm sitting here stuffing my face with tortilla chips and drinking a beer after a couple hours of trainer riding. I need some decompression time from the last few days. Without going into details I wound up with the family down in CT (unscheduled trip) for the long weekend...WITHOUT my bike! Circumstances being what they were, I'd do it again but that doesn't make the anxiety go away.

Each racing year seems to have a theme to it, be it long training miles in crap weather, recurring injuries, motivation (or lack there of), etc... This year the theme is "oh so close!" I've seen enough to know I've got potentially good form this year. I'm past wondering if I can be good. I can be good. But you know, potential doesn't get you to Kona. If I can't get the consistent hours of training in, it just isn't going to happen.

Ah training...it seems so disjointed right now. Amazingly I'm getting the majority of my work in, but there really doesn't seem to be a real flow to it. I don't feel like I'm building towards anything. It's not the plan; the plan has plenty of flow. It's me and my life. I've never been so close to giving up on as I am now; the irony of course is that I've never been as good as I am now. It's because I know I'm good, I will not be satisfied with merely showing up and enjoying the day in Lake Placid. I want to be able to race it well, and that means preparing properly. Because proper preparation seems hard to basically impossible for a while, I've been contemplating punting which is really a tough decision.

Decisions are easy. Living with them...that's the hard part.

Kona has been a goal for me ever since I first watched Ironman in the early 80s. To be so close...well let's just say it's the final piece that is keeping me training. It's tough to give up on a life goal. It could set a very dangerous precedent. So instead I did my best to get in my ride time (a day late by the way) by climbing on my trainer and sucking down my caffeinated gel, the only kind I own. Not the same as being on the road, but actually this weekend it was the safer alternative anyway. I expect to be up early tomorrow getting in the last hour of missed volume from the weekend, and then on to an abbreviated rest day.

One day at a time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Getting hyper

I've come to realize I've got a lot going on. Some good, some not so much, but in general I shouldn't complain...but that doesn't mean I won't! Because the weather is warmer and the days are longer I'm starting to get a little hyper about my readiness for Lake Placid. This year has been frustrating because every time I seem to really step up a notch I get sick. I have been bouncing back reasonably well, but that's a lot of snot coming out in the last 4 1/2 months or so. I'm just now getting over illness #4, and had a nice solid workout today, so things are improving.

At the same time I'm starting a project at work which has the potential to be transformational, at least for me. I'm working on a new approach to reviewing data gathered on preterm babies and their mothers, including DNA data, to try and determine causes for preterm birth (click here). The work on the project will contribute to a major grant proposal, which it sounds like a section of which I will also be writing. It's a whole new professional adventure for me and the first time I've been really excited about work in years. There are plenty of challenges ahead, but of everything I've ever done this has that "life's work" feeling to it.

But then there's still my regular management job which is really starting to suck. I have a dud employee and it's really damaging the team morale. Higher ed doesn't do quick terminations. I wish I were back at APC for this one. The problem would have been solved months ago.

And did I mention I've been married 15yrs at the end of this month? Leanna and I are actually escaping for a few days this weekend to celebrate. Between you and me I think it's her way of working me for extra gifts; one this weekend and one on the actual day! ;-) Hey, in all seriousness though, she deserves that and more.

So now I'm hyper because there's so much going on, and when I get that way other things happen, most notably being irritated by meaningless things. After reading something online I now feel the need to open up the whoop on the 40-44 year olds at Mooseman in a few weeks to clearly announce my intentions to go for a Kona spot in Lake Placid as well. Sure my life is busy and whacky and yes, I can only manage peak training weeks of about 14hrs. And I ride a K-Mart bike. But I've earned this one...my family has earned this one by putting up with me!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Missed posts like missed workouts...

...stack up in a hurry. There's plenty to write about, but it just hasn't been happening lately.
Mostly the Kehm household has been in some minor disarray since our trip to NYC 2 weeks ago. Long story short we've had to deal with yet another bout of whole family health issues here. Nothing big, but it is getting tiresome. Rather than try an work through it this time, I just shut it down for most of this week. Just taking my medicine, so to speak, in the hopes of getting back on track this weekend. I'm trying to avoid another prolonged health situation like Feb./Mar. For the record, no cases of swine flu here, but that doesn't mean the RI Dept of Health didn't get involved. I'll fill you in on those details at another time or in person.
In the midst of all this has come a big po0sitive on the work front. It appears to be a potentially life defining (in a professional way) chance. I'm not going to attempt to write the details here, but let's just say I'm taking a crash course in genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics.

I'll write more soon. Now it's back to riding the trainer.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

...and the groundhog didn't even see his shadow!

Yes, what am I talking about? The goatee stays for another 6 weeks (approximately the next time I race) because I won my age group today and came in 6th overall out of 342 starters at the Wrentham Duathlon. Full results can be found here. If you want to see my GPS, heart monitor, etc... data from the race try this link.

It wasn't my fastest time ever on the course. That was set in 2004. That said it was probably my best effort. Hell I can't even recall for sure what my 2004 time was. I'm pretty sure my first run was slower (I ran a modest 17:50 for ~3.05 miles), but I'm sure my second run was the fastest I've done on that course. My bike was up there with my best too, despite there being a bit of wind and my having limited road time this year. I do recall that in 2004 I had raced already that spring and was really a fast runner. I was training for speed, not endurance. 8 weeks later I would tear up my right ankle on a training run. It has never been the same. The fact that I'm getting my speed back to those levels despite now being 43 is quite encouraging. And, I'm not even training for speed. I do know that my endurance is far far beyond those days. I can carry a respectable pace for a long time now. In fact I was talking with race winner and teammate Tim Tapply, and we both commented on that fact that we probably couldn't have gone much faster than we were going on the second runs, but we could have held onto that pace for quite a a distance more. This is thanks to the "QT2 training protocol." Yes it is nice to know that at the end of a race people will be coming back to you.

So I'm pleased with my effort. My transitions were clean if not awe inspiring, and my race was steady if not flashy. That's the idea. I didn't crush any one piece of the race. I just steadily and consistently moved through the field. Feels good.

Next stop on the Lake Placid train, the Mooseman 1/2 Iron.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ahh, the wait is over

Multisport season opens tomorrow. My training year started December 29, 2008. On April 19, 2009 I will line up for the first time to run/bike/run. I know I have pretty good fitness, but the goal doesn't really have to do with placing. I'm going out there focused on the following:
1) Have a clean race. Well executed pacing and solid transitions.
2) Focus on calming the nerves by ignoring the rest of the field.

If I take care of 1) and 2) the results will take care of themselves.

The race is the Wrentham Duathlon, a race I've done probably 5 times before so I have lots of comparison data. I'll be wearing my Garmin the whole time so we'll get some good numbers for verifying where my fitness lies right now. Nothing like a race to get the core systems stimulated. I haven't done a multisport race of any sort since Lake Placid next year, so I'll be a little conservative in transition and in the first few minutes of each leg while my body adjusts.

Today I have just the basic prerace things to take care of, like get the spider webs off my race wheels (hope I don't have any flats), clean the drivechain of the bike, find my aero helmet, and yes...shave the legs. 8 months of growth about to go. I still have the facial hair, pending my results tomorrow, but the leg hair will soon be gone for the balance of the season.

The other thing I'm looking for coming out of tomorrow will be a boosting of my confidence building up to Lake Placid. If I put in a solid race, sub 1-hr, after all the illness (mine and the family's), family drama, work drama, etc... I'll start to believe that I really can do it at Lake Placid; that I really can challenge 10 hrs and thus secure a Kona spot. To be honest to this point I've really wondered if I could even go under 10 1/2 again. At times I'm not sure how I did it.

This Thursday I had my first glimpse of my true form this year. I did my usual bike loop and a short run and was fast. Actually I felt really slow, but my times were comparable to last June/July. And I wasn't really trying to go hard. My climbing is still developing, and yet overall I still maintained good pace. So now I'm excited for tomorrow. I'll update you tomorrow.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Parenting challenges for the perfectionist

I like things to be good. Okay that's an understatement; I need things to be great. Yeah, that's more accurate. So this parenting thing is a really challenging adventure. I guess it's all a matter of perspective, but the target today was simply all 4 people in this household still functional with 10 fingers, 10 toes, no obvious bruising, and no blood comin' out. That can be a frustratingly low bar for someone like me.

Humbling

I've finally gotten my first on-road bike workout in the books, and well, I'm glad it's April 5th and not June or July 5th. It was cold (yes, it's beautiful now but not so much at 5:45am) and really windy! My lap times were scary slow, but that wasn't the important thing. I rode my target zones unless I was climbing, and I did my time. I've got a long way to go. Despite all that I think I'm about where I was in May of last year, and my endurance is better. Slow, but I could keep going. Slow, but still able to crank out a respectable 4 mile run after the ride. Slow, but I recovered quickly and took the kids to the park so they could ride their bikes.
I'm getting a little downtime right now as everyone is in their rooms. No doubt Alexandra will emerge in a couple of minutes proclaiming that she had a good (10 minute) nap. Because I'll take anything I can get, I'll stop here and grab a 'Z'.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Quote of the day

This one is up there with her other famous quote:

"But Daddy, I'm allergic to Dylan!"

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuam libera mentem

On the surface, I should be really tired this week; week 2 of the build phase, 10k race and a lot of minutes of biking Sunday, bike/run (recovery zone, but still quite a few minutes), and oh yeah I'm still a Dad and have a full time job. However, I'm actually doing pretty well. My secret? One day last week I decided it was time to stop trying to appease my manager and by extension his boss and instead just do what I do best confident that the results will be more beneficial than any amount of playing ball. This decision was the topic of by post "Finding my center."

I had a pretty good race Sunday. At a cognitive level I wasn't positive how happy I was being slower than I was last year. But since that time things have been improving mentally and physically, including a very surprising and enjoyable swim today. Sure it wasn't a nasty hard effort, but there was something about it. I was moving well. I didn't slow down for the workout and I didn't feel gassed afterward. I wasn't fighting anything, literally and metaphorically.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chafee 10k report and results

(Data upload, click here. Try the "player" tab in the upper right.)
(Full event results here.)

Well on the surface we can pretty safely say that I'm slower on the run than at this time last year. Today I was 18 sec slower at the Chafee 10k than last year (38:03 this yr vs 37:45 last). Here are the details:

It was rainy, and cool but not too cold. There was LOTS of standing water on the course leading to quite a bit of lateral movement during the run to keep the shoes from getting too sogged out too early. As you might recall, this course also features a true XC section between miles 2.4 and 3.4. This section had okay footing considering the weather, but had lots of roots, mud and puddles. In order to stay upright you had to slow way down on the corners. For my personal purposes I'm treating this section separately from the paved sections. So here's how it breaks down:

Mile 1: 5:57, Avg HR 155. Weird mile for me because the weather kept the really fast guys away. As a result I found myself leading. This is an unusual spot for me and had me wondering about my pacing, despite the fact that it was fine.

Mile 2: 6:08, Avg HR 158. One guy pulled even with me and we ran away from the rest of the group. This was the worst stretch for standing water, and that likely contributed to the slow lap time.

Mile 2.4: 2:23 (5:57/mile avg), Avg HR 159. Slight downhill. I didn't press though because I knew what was coming. The other guy began to inch away from me.

Mile 2.4 - Mile 3.4: 6:43, Avg HR 162, max 164. This was the run through the woods. Big hill to climb on the 1st 1/2. Rolled the whole way. Dropped about 10 more sec to the leader, but overall was not displeased with the effort. It was not an easy section. Kept a little in the tank so I could get going again once we were clear.

Mile 3.4 - Mile 5: 9:41(6:03/mile avg), Avg HR 162. Just trying to get the turnover again after the XC section. Up and down to mile 4 and then it started to flatten out. I took a run at the leader between miles 4 and 5, but he had too much distance.

Mile 5 - Mile 6.2: 7:11 (5:59/mile avg), Avg HR 163, max 166. 1st mile in reverse.

So it was consistent and my HR was closer to where we want to see it for 10Ks. I actually finally started feeling smooth during the final mile. I probably left a little time out on the course, but I was happy with the effort. Because of the weather influenced turn out, I ended up 2nd overall and won men 40-49. Net gain of $40 on the day, so I'll take it! My physical state, due to stress and sleep issues is still a little subpar, but it is improving. My resting pulse has been somewhat elevated for the last week. It's maybe about 6-8 beats high right now. I feel like I'm beginning to head in the right direction again though, so next stop Wrentham.

(Special props to my Leanna, Alexandra, and Dylan for being probably the ONLY spectators at the course today. It made me smile...A LOT! But how the hell did I get an Olivia Newton John song stuck in my head?)

Chafee 10k today: Pre-race

Okay I'm up and beginning my pre-race ritual. Dylan's awake too, but I'm leaving him in his room for a bit while I have my quiet time. I need to focus. I'm big on visualization and planning. Tim's instructions and indeed my personal directive, is to run a steady disciplined race today. Pacing is my biggest asset in the long events, and I was horrid at it last week. My whole race is about not slowing down as much as the other guys. So today I'm to take it out fairly conservatively; 5:52 per mile. That's 15s per mile slower than last week's repeats. From there I settle into 5:57ish pacing. There is an uphill mile in the woods on this course so I expect to lose about 10-15s per mile on that segment, but it is followed by a nice downhill segment where I can look to get some of that back. Once I hit mile 5, which is just before the turn onto the East Bay bike path, the restricter plate is removed and I try some of that track speed for the last mile. It's a hard mile because it is dead straight and so seems to take forever. It also has just a hint of rollers at the end; reminiscent of long rollers coming up the bay from the Atlantic. Fitting because the course is right along the water.

My other goal is to see my heart rate hit the proper zones. I'd like to be 162ish for the most part, with it spiking on the wooded hill, and driving up 168 or higher for the last 1/2 to 1/4 mile. That would be reassuring.

Well time to get Dylan and get fed. I'll update after the race.

PS: It's a gentle steady rain right now.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Finding my center

Something about the start of spring. Maybe my birthday has something to do with it. I'm now 43. I had a rough week, training and at work, until sometime last night. Now believe me, I know it was in no small part self-inflicted, but not all was. Work has been challenging and at times very demoralizing. And when you are in the tailspin it can be hard to pull out. But I feel as if I'm pulling out after all. It's a matter of refocusing on my real strength. I'm a system builder. I can see innovation. But I need to get my hands dirty. So rather than even pretend to do "that management sh-t" my misguided manager wants me to do, today I returned to my sweet spot and got my hands dirty. And the great thing about bringing the positive energy, I seemed to infect those around me. I'm not sure I've ever encountered much more interest in innovation at Brown as I did today. Nothing earth shattering taken in a vacuum, but the type of mojo that if allowed to grow could be revolutionary, at least for higher ed, well at least for Brown.

So now I'm back on an upward path, and to celebrate I'm in the cellar staring at the wall for the next two hours! No guarantees for Sunday, but I am cautiously optimistic.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Feeling a little blue

So far today I'm not a happy camper. Today's my 43rd birthday, and no being 43 is not the issue. I was just hoping my cares and worries would decide to take the day off. Alas that hasn't happened. I tested my run form yesterday with 5x1 mile repeats w/3min rest between. The target was to run them all in the 5:37 - 5:40 range. The result was not so consistent: 5:40 - 5:58 as follows:
Mile# Time Avg HR Max HR
1 5:40 155 162
2 5:40 156 165
3 5:54 157 164
4 5:45 153 163
5 5:58 153 164

Laps 1,3,and 5 had a bit of headwind (5-10mph for .25 mile). That would be a tailwind on the same .25 during laps 2 and 4.

This is one of those 1/2 full 1/2 empty things. Much better than I could have managed 8 wks ago, but not what I hoped. I had been really good for 2 wks leading up to this, but the last 3 days it hasn't been there for me. It's distressing for me because the last 3 times I've tested myself, I've underperformed. My life is all about momentum and because the run wasn't there yesterday, the positive mo' isn't here today. And I'm 43, which means I'm back to wondering if this is the year the slide begins.

I'm running a 10k this Sunday. It's one I did last year which means I potentially have my first true year over year test. I top last year, 37:45, and suddenly all is right in my world. I need this. My work life took an unexpected downturn. It's not a matter of me hating the job that needs to be done. It's actually worse than that. I love the challenge of the job that needs to be done. I'm just not being allowed to do it. Yes I really need a win in some aspect of my life. I like to think of myself as the irresistible force who by virtue of his endurance and strength of will, will eventually succeed. But I'm being reminded my reserves are indeed not limitless. So I'm running the 10k because I must. I need the chance of the positive affirmation it can be. I need to see progress.

Until then I'm going to be a bit sullen and moody.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More training

So I might have to rethink that "my running is behind last year" statement. Depends on how you measure it. Yesterday I surprised myself during a roughly 7 mile run by averaging 6:57 per mile at an average HR of only 132 BPM. I know that is far better than this time last year. I recall being stuck ~7:10-7:15 per mile at 132BPM. (view run here)

This week concludes the base phase of training. I'm looking forward to the reduced load this week as well, because frankly I'm kinda beat. Today especially is reminding me what my secret weapon for building durability was last year. After an early morning bike ride, it's right into being daddy and taking the kids for the day; no naps. And I moved a pile of firewood across our muddy yard. Forcing myself to keep going and do everything I need to do, despite being tired, is precisely the skill that will carry me through Lake Placid again this year.

But boy a nap sounds great!

Friday, March 13, 2009

I actually have been training

So today I had a threshold test on my bike. Basically the idea is to get a sense of that point of exertion where your body begins more lactate than it can clear. Without going into the details of the whole test protocol, you end up with a graph of HR against power. It gives you an idea of performance potential and current fitness. It hurts. It really hurts, but thankfully not for that long because once you can't maintain your pedal cadence, you're done. I did this a year ago so had some data against which to compare my current fitness level. I tested out 15 watts @ threshold better than last March.

The bottom line is I'm ahead of where I was last year, which of course is expected because I have 11 weeks of riding under my belt. But it's been really boring base level riding, not the build phase workouts I did last year. Those start in 10 days or so, and it'll be interesting to see how I progress once the build starts. My guess is that I'm about where I was the week or two before Mooseman last year (early June 2008). Combine that with my swimming which is also at least as good as it was at Mooseman, and so far so good. True my running is a bit behind where it was last year. I'm not training for the Boston Marathon and thus have far fewer miles in. However I'm not that far behind. All things considered I think I'm doing pretty well. We'll be getting in either some test running miles or a 10k in the next week or two, so it should be pretty clear where I stand at that point.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hoping for some good Jujube

After a tough winter of sickness and other stresses, I've decided no matter what it's time to try and get the positive energy flowing again. On Saturday we were packed up and ready to roll down to CT. Well, as I went out to the car Leanna informed me there was a cyclist in distress in our driveway. Now the kids were already in their seats and the engine was running, but here was this person (her name was Lynn) with a broken chain. She pulled into our driveway looking for help when she saw my bike on top of the car. So yes I turned around and got some tools. The broken link was pretty mangled so I decided to remove the whole link and just shorten the chain. You'd think the fact that the chain just broke would be an indication that the removal would be easy. Well long story short, two chain tools, some really greasy hands and 20 minutes later the chain was fixed (I was aggravated because this should have been a 5 minute fix...I'm out of practice). Props to my family for not freaking out because it took so long.

(Lynn dropped off a new chain tool today as a thank you!)

24: Jack is back doing the same old sh-t

Question: Who is the most predictable "bad white guy" in t.v./film today? If you answered Jon Voight, you're right! The last couple hours have been so predictable and/or silly (Secret tunnels under the White House? I think I've seen this movie.) Actually two episodes ago the season could have ended. The female FBI agent had found the bad guys and saw them (a dozen large, heavily armed African soldiers) getting onto a fishing boat. She was safely on shore and had a working cell phone. Instead of calling in the air strike, she jumps onto the boat and ruins her phone and drops her gun. Duh.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Finally healthy

Seems like I've been fighting one bug or another since Christmas. I had a few good weeks in January, but Feb. has been dismal. Not once, but twice I've been running a fever of ~101. It's been 15 years since this has happened. Of course I know why, and it's really tied to my immune system being suppressed due to a lack of sleep. My last down days came after a three day period where I averaged only 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night. Add in working 2 jobs, training, and oh crap that's right I have 2 kids...

Nonetheless I am getting life back on track. I raced a 10k, okay, participated in a 10k on Sunday. I was only 48hrs removed from running that 101 fever. Yes, I'll finally admit that running the race was probably not a smart choice, especially as I was also dealing with bronchitis. But run I did, and even putting in a sub-par performance it still had the one positive effect I REALLY needed; it got me to refocus on my training (including adequate rest for recovery). I've now put down my best training week of Feb (maybe of the year) and at last my lungs are clearing. The sinuses should also be back up to speed by the end of the weekend.

And despite all this, I think I have improved as a triathlete this winter. My swimming is on track, my biking is much further along than it usually is in Feb., and though my running is behind where it normally is, it's not far behind and net I'm better. New for this year was a lifting program. I now have leg muscles (albeit skinny ones)! I have some arm and back muscles too (yes...skinny too). Now I need to train diligently so I can take advantage of my greater power potential.

Well it's bed time now. No days off for while, so I need to sleep. Good night.

PS: I finished the "10k" (it was 6.38 miles, actually, follow this link to see my race) in 10th place overall, and avg'd 6:17 per mile.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Birthday present idea

Chamois cream. Just sayin'...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Final run before flu

Last Thursday.

Blackstone Blvd, Providence


Yes, I think I'm improving.

Must be February

On a plateau, getting sick, and really getting mentally fatigued being inside. Same thing happens about this time every year, and given how long I've been a competitor of some sort that's a whole lot of years, a whole lot of winters. I always come through; I know that. The quote in the header of this blog was selected precisely because of it's applicability to this time period. I'll get well and I'll be good. In fact I'm mostly well now which is why I'm back up on the trainer and writing this posting.
Each year the challenge is to find that "thing" that will not just carry me through, but define my year. Last year was defined by Feb. phone call to my friend Jesse, the mastermind behind QT2 Systems. After a conversation I decided it was the year to give my training over to someone else. Jesse suggested Tim would be the best fit as coach. I secretly think Jesse was concerned I'd be a bit high maintenance and didn't want to be stuck with me himself! In his defense, he was right. I'm a bit high maintenance as an athlete; comes with being in my 40s. I'm fairly opinionated. Anyway I digress. So the theme for last year was how much could I improve by allowing someone else to guide my training. Well the answer is already in this blog.

So now I need to define this year; a year which has already been challenging. Inside I've kind of known the answer all along; time to step up. I'm self-aware enough to realize I've got some skills, both professionally and athletically. I'm not getting any younger, so it's time to show people what I've really got, both professionally and athletically.

Now if I can just make it through these last 5 weeks of base training without going crazy!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

This and that

I watched a interesting, albeit violent, movie yesterday. It's called "Green Street Hooligans," aka Frodo Baggins gets liquored up and gets his nasty on. It was so different from what I usually watch, I wasn't really sure if I liked it, but I keep thinking about it. If you're okay with A LOT of street fighting, it's worth renting.

I've been training regularly but am really missing that feeling of being an athlete. Life has been encroaching on things a bit too frequently. I'm running a 10k in Hyannis in the 22nd and hope to get things headed in the right direction at that time.

I spent the weekend in NYC at my brother-in-law's new apartment. It's in Washington Heights right next to the entrance of Fort Tryon Park. I got a run in in the park. Lots of up and down...up and down. We went to see the New York Philharmonic last: Masur, Mutter, and Mendelssohn. Following the show we dined at Compass, across from ESPN anchor Chris Fowler (we also think we spotted Larry David in the audience at the Avery Fisher Hall in the Lincoln Center). And we got to spend time with Max, a 104lb Akita mix. Max scares lots of people, but not me and not Leanna. He reminded us of Otis in an odd way. We got along great as I did my best Cesar Millan "calm assertive" thing.

You know it's all about the energy. Sometimes it's really hard to bring the positive, but it just has to happen or things go down the crapper in a hurry. Here's hoping the kids finally get well and February turns out to be less challenging than January.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Anyone want an Armani suit?

I've been working out. Went from a size 40, to a 42. Yeah, I’m huge.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

2.5%

It's not a whole lot, is it. If you got a raise and it was only 2.5%, you'd feel pretty screwed (well, except for this year of course). According to Tim that's the target number for improvement over last year. An extra 3 months of training, trips to the weight room, countless laps around the indoor track doing what I'm now referring to as "restricter plate running" (running at a fixed/low heart rate), and hours upon hours staring at my cellar wall all for 2.5%. Seems like a lot of extra work for not a lot of gain...until you put it into minutes. For me, after a full Ironman that 2.5% becomes a 15 1/2 minute improvement. It's a trip to the big island if I so choose. Okay, now I feel a little better about it. In fact I think I'll lift and do another 80 minutes on my trainer tomorrow just to "celebrate".

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Facebook: facinating or frightening?

Okay, being middle aged I'm not a big Facebook person, but I do have an account now and a few friends. Mostly I share pictures and stuff with family members. I know I have other friends on Facebook (Austin) and know many more people, but I hesitate to make them my friends. It's not because I don't want to be their friend (I talk to Austin a few times a week), it's actually that some of their friends I'm not sure I want to risk contacting again. If you've read my post about my 25th high school reunion, you can probably guess I'm not a big fan of everyone with which I went to HS. Well, because I am good at snooping, I've determined that even my restricted group of friends is 3 degrees of separation from 1/2 of my HS class. I mean damn...I'm cowering under the dining room table shaking and fearful that the guy with the chainsaw is about to come busting through the door!

Saturday with the kids


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Training update

Yesterday's run can be seen here. Nothing too special. More work than I thought it should be, so it is unlikely that I'll run the Little Compton RR next weekend.

Friday, January 02, 2009

16 days

That's how long I'll have been off from work. It's the longest I've been out of work for, well I don't remember. I've spent all of it with my family and it has been a wonderful experience. I've actually lost track of the days of the week. Sure there's been shouting and arguing, but there's also been playing and bonding and everything you hope for. It's typical for time off to make me restless and thinking about changing my life and most usually my job. Not this time. Sure this job has many warts, but what job doesn't? I'm home every night. I see them every morning. I ward off monsters and dig tunnels in snow drifts. And I get to teach them good life habits. How many kids, who are aware of the existence of candy, fight over a granola bar for a special treat. I'm very proud of how they're developing (big props to Leanna here as well). Sure I could make quite a bit more money elsewhere, but is money everything? Yes it really helps with quite a few things, but if you have to make a choice, put a dollar value on more than 1/2 a month of break without using a single day of vacation. With the kids being 4 3/4 and 2 1/2 the time is priceless. It is cliche, but they're only this age once and only for a very short period of time. Odds are I'll have time later on in life to apply myself professionally if I so choose. For now I'll hang with the kids.

And now for something completely different...

I don't usually write about tech or gadets unless they are run/bike related, like my Garmin. But this time I'm making an exception. This post is being composed on my Blackjack II using Opera mini. Mostly I was curious about the capabilities of Opera mini, which is a web browser written in java for mobile devices. In short it is FAR FAR superior to mobile IE. As it turns out the list of things I dislike about my Blackjack really reads like a list of Windows mobile flaws. Once I started finding 3rd party applications to do the things I should have been able to do but couldn't, like cut and paste, things have been great.

That's all for now. Back to regular programming.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Yeah this is the feeling...

...that I've come to know. The normal pattern when training is resumed is that my first workout will feel the best, and for the next couple of weeks it's all downhill due to fatigue. Then comes some rest and the first set of physiological adaptations. By week 4 I'm starting to move again. Well thanks to the Garmin I can see this experience in action. Over the first 3 runs, avg. pace has gotten slower while avg. HR has gone up. This means I'm working harder and still going slower. However I still feel okay so it's just nature running its course.

My first test is a 5k run in about 4 weeks. That will show me how things are shaping up. Until then time to just turn off the brain and enjoy the miles.

(This post written on my trainer in the cellar!)