Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Road Ahead

I really like this picture. While the nice curvy roads are fun in an enduro kind of way, there's nothing like getting out on the open road and just going. No thoughts, no worries. Just moving forward. I've enjoyed finding this moment during my last few runs when I can just zone out and concentrate on my breathing and on the sound of my feet. There's a peace there that's absent in the rest of my life right now. Like this picture, I'm looking ahead. There's nothing around me. No distractions. No phone calls. No emails. Just road.
I'm pacing. I'm pressing. I have a calling. It's to move.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sparks 5K of Fury

A few months ago a couple of guys that I work with and I decided to challenge ourselves in a 5K trial. We all have different running back grounds and abilities. One guy is 36, 6'3" and weighs around 220. Slimish, but definitely not in shape. He started running last year for the first time and ran his first 5K in 28:10. The other guy is a natural athlete. He's quick but doesn't have strong endurance. He's completed 4 triathlons to date all at the sprint distance level. His 5K PR was 23:45. You know my story. Up to this point my 5K PR was 20:33. We decided to start training to better our times. The goal was to set a date and on that date we would meet up and try to beat our 5K PR. But that's not all, there was a catch. If you failed to best your PR, there was a catch. The first time we did it, we all bested our PRs. The first guy ran a 27:58. The second guy ran a 22:48 smashing his old PR, and I ran a 20:24. The penalty that time would have been to wear this funky purple shirt to the office. I was glad to see that one go by.

Yesterday we held the competition again. Same rules, but this time the penalty was to drink a Sparks Energy Lager directly following the run. Now, if you've never heard of a Sparks, let me tell you it's absolutely nasty. It's 16 ounces of pure foamy hell. It's 6% alcohol which I still haven't figured out why they add it to an energy drink. There was one little caveat. If you didn't puke after drinking the Sparks you had to run a lap of shame in hopes that this would encourage the reversal of said Sparks.

Everyone was nervous come race day. For weeks I've been at the track running 400s, 800s, and mile repeats. I knew where I had to keep my pace. I felt good about my chances, but you never know how it's going to go. The time I ran 20:24, I felt that I'd run my best. Luckily, yesterday I ran better. The track work paid off. I ran a 19:50. My first time official or not to go under 20 minutes. I dogged the last .1 so as not to ruin my chances of betting my time next go around. My fellow triathlete finished a few minutes behind me with a scream as he strained across the line. He'd beaten his time by 2 seconds. He was elated. Now for the big guy. I'd seen him walking a bit, but that was normal. He crossed the line at 28:09. He didn't beat his time. Sparks was in his future. We sat around him giggling like school girls while he downed the vile concoction. His belches and grimaces told the whole story. He downed all 16 ounces without puking, so there was only one thing left. The lap of shame. He said the Sparks was beginning to grow in his belly and it felt like a ton of bricks, but he ran the lap no less. He handled it like a man.

So what's up next? Well, the date hasn't been set, but the decision was made today that the next event will be called the Budweiser Clamato 5K of Fury. Yeah, Budweiser in all their wisdom has come up with a Beer with clam juice and tomato juice. I get shaky just thinking about it. I'm glad I dogged the last bit of that run because there's no way in hell I'm drinking that stuff.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

I Have A Confession

First, man it's been a long time since I've posted. It hasn't been a planned hiatus, but I will admit content has been lacking. Maybe it stems from being a bit disenfranchised with triathlons. For a while, I couldn't read enough about racing, gear, and nutrition. I never missed a tri mag issue or a tri-related Internet article. Currently, I haven't read an article or listened to a tri-pod cast in over a month. I haven't had the desire. As for training, it's still limited to 5 hours a week. I've really missed not being able to compete in the usual races this year. I've refused to go out and put in a bad performance or one that I'm not at my best. 5 hours isn't enough. So what have I been doing? Other than working my butt off and traveling a good bit, I'm still in the pool, I'm still on my bike (some), and I'm still getting the miles in. Just not as much.
It's been a bit disappointing, but honestly the reason things are the way they are has been absolutely worth it. Lauren and I are still working on starting a family so that takes priority. Maybe more on that in the future.
I need to report though that my good friend Gary completed his first triathlon last month. It ws a sprint race just north of here. It was his second attempt to complete a triathlon as his first race ended prematurely with a flat tire. He put in a great time and had a blast. I don't think he's stopped smiling yet.
My confession? I raced too. It was a small enough race far enough away from home that I felt comfortable giving it a go. I hadn't put in many bricks so I had no idea how I'd do off the bike. My fears proved to be correct. Although, I had my best swim ever and was in 11th place OA coming off of the bike, I collapsed on the run. I finished up 22nd. Just a sign of not having enough training. The race was too heavy on the run side. I needed a few more miles on the bike to put more distance between myself and those that can just run faster than I could. It was fun, but it was such a reminder of how much I've lost.
So for now, I'll continue to train as I am able. I may pick up a few running races here and there, but nothing longer than a 10k. I hope every one's summer is going well. I look forward to catching up on your blogs and your season.

Tail winds....

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Big Ole Nuthin

That's about all I've had to write about for the last few weeks. I've just been cruising along with workouts and work. Work, oh work has been horrendous. I won't bore you with the details nor will I give my mind a chance to rethink all the decisions made and projects not yet completed. I made a quick trip to Toronto which was nice, but I ate like a pig and drank a few Canadian ales. Alexander Keith's is top notch by the way.
I've spent the last month of Wednesdays going to the track to do some speed work. I've had days where I've felt good and some where I've struggled to finish. Over all, I am seeing improvement in my run splits which always makes it all feel worth while.
This past weekend, LKD and I headed to the beach for the 4th. I was able to get a run, a ride, and a DU in over the 4 day weekend. I took my TT bike this time and found it hard getting used to being in the aero position again. Guess, I've spent too much time being just a roadie. The homemade Du was short and intense. The plan was a 10 mile all out TT, a fast transition, then an all out 3 mile run. Beach riding is all about which way the wind is blowing. I conserved on the first half knowing the wind was at my back so by the time I made the turn, my extra effort to keep speed didn't hurt so bad. The run absolutely rocked. I felt strong and negative split the return. Guess that speed work is paying off.
Oh, can't believe I almost forgot! It's Tour season baby. I've been absolutely glued to the TV watching the Tour over the weekend. I'm recording them all so my lunches will be filled listening to Phil Ligget and Bob Roll and watch Team Columbia and Team Garmin Chipotle kick some French ass! Much like everyone else does, cause the French suck (despite their stage 3 performance).
Any way, off to bed, cause I'm friggin tired.
Tailwinds and Viva La Tour!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tagged By A Noodle

Well, I've been tagged by a Noodle, a Tough Noodle at that. So check out her blog and read below the results of my five questions.
1- How would you describe your running 10 years ago?
Well, that would make me 23 and more interested in drinking beer and Disco Hell night than running. I really didn't get into running until I found myself having to go buy a pair of 36 inch waist pants. (I wear a size 31 now) That was enough to scare me into getting back into shape. Being stocky and possessing a severe case of cankles, running wasn't always quick, but my competitive side is a nasty one so improvement came quickly. Then as every other red-blooded insecure boy would do, I hit the weight room. I wanted to be thick and lift as much weight as necessary to impress the lady-folk. The result, a body that wasn't conducive to running, especially not triathlon. I quickly changed my focus and goals after seeing the results of dropping a few pounds. I started racing just below the clydesdale level (although I had hit a peak of 208 pounds). This past year I raced at 158. Right now I'm carrying a few more pounds, but I'm very happy where I am. Running has become a ritual and a much enjoyed aspect of my life. It enables me to clear my mind and helps me to go into the day a bit more focused already having felt like I've accomplished something.
2-What is your best and worst run/race experience?
This is and easy one. I've had some pretty bad runs which quickly come to mind. We won't touch on the ones which include the sudden need to go boom boom. That's another post. We'll focus on the ones where everything just fell apart. In 2006, I was racing the Heart O' Dixie Triathlon in Philadelphia, MS in JULY, in MISSISSIPPI. In JULY! Needless to say it was hot, and I was feeling every bit of the 95+ degree heat and 100% humidity. Both hamstrings started cramping just after the one mile mark. With 6 more miles to go, the rest would be a death march. I've never wanted to quit a race before in my life until that day. My wife followed me along to track my progress. The shame of having her see me struggle was killing me. I limped in, but thanks to the worst run of my life I posted my slowest time of the 4 years I'd competed in the race.
The best? Same race, 2007. I'd marked this day on my calendar that day I made it back home from the race in 2006. I went in better prepared and fully juiced on electrolytes. In 2006, I completed the 7 miles in 1:13:24. In 2007, I did it in 47:54 and finished third in my age group. It was a much better day.
3- Why do you run?
Well, some days it's because it's the only thing that will get me to the finish line of a triathlon. But mainly, it's because I have to. Don't read that to mean that I regret having to run. What I mean is that I have to run in the same way that I have to breathe. I love my wife not because she's beautiful or because of the things she does for me. I love her because my heart tells me I have no choice. It loves her for what she is. I run for everything that it is. It's a gift.
4- What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?
Best - To race fast, you have to train fast. Don't show up on race day expecting to find some special adrenalin based speed. You gotta pay for speed. It only comes with training.
5- Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.
I read anything and everything I can get my hands on about Ancient Rome.
I sing in the shower, enjoy playing shooter style video games, and running makes me fart. That's why I run alone.

So let's tag some folks. Everyone racing CDA this weekend gets a break. So let's hear from my favorite Chattanoogan, Molly (who needs to break away from facebook), Dr. Tri Jack, and the newly crowned Ironman David. Let's hear it.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Changing Up the Game Plan (a bit)

You know that orange in the back of your fridge? You know, the one you've been saving. You can't wait to slice it up and suck down the juices, but there it sits. You know it's there. You still want it, but still it stays in there. Couped up. Slowly deteriorating. The once ripe luscious fruit will soon become a chilled moldy turd. That's how I feel right now. I'm wasting away.

Not being able to throw down the training hours that I'm used to has greatly put a cramp in my fitness. Since I have a cap of 5 hours of exercise per week, my workouts have been uninspired and unfocused. Yes, there is something to be said for taking it easy, relaxing, and enjoying the experience, BUT nothing trumps the competitive side that says "if you aren't improving, you're wasting your time." So with that said, I've decided to add some focus to my workouts with putting some set goals for each discipline. What I've done is to focus on my favorite distance race, the intermediate/Olympic , and set speed goals for each leg. To do so, I will be turning up the intensity of my work outs a bit and include periodical time trials to test my progress.

Here's how a typical week will look:

Monday - 1 hour run - 7 miles

Tuesday - Swim 4x500 at race pace - core exercises to follow

Wednesday - Track work - mix of 400s and 800s

Thursday - Swim - 10 x 50, 5 x 100, sprints on 1:00

Friday - Swim 45 minutes - easy - core exercises to follow

Saturday - 30 mile time trial on bike, brick 6 mile run.

Sunday - rest

So far the week has gone well. Tonight will be my third week of completing track work, and I've enjoyed seeing the improvements in my runs. Track work totally sucks, but it really pays off.

Hope every one's season is going well. A bit fist pump to everyone racing this weekend in CDA (Blink, Big-Un, Tac, Al, Tri-Guy,Momo). I look forward to tracking your race on Sunday.


Monday, June 16, 2008


Over the last week, I've witnessed a couple of instances of people struggling with some really tough times and some simply struggling with the cards life has dealt them. For instance, there is a girl at our church who has been crippled with MS since birth. She's able to get around with a walker, but it leaves her exhausted. Getting dressed to go somewhere is a two hour ordeal. She lives a life that would leave most of us bent and in tears if we had to endure just one day of it.

Lauren and I visited a shelter for the homeless this weekend. Eighty plus homeless men and a handful of women crowded into an old fire house to get their one meal for the weekend. These are the real social rejects. No one looks them in the eye or much less offers a hello or a smile. They've long since felt human. They deal daily with the results of whatever led them to this path. (I myself recognize that we've all taken the wrong path in life, but some of us are lucky enough to have avoided any real consequences with lifelong implications).

Lastly, a friend lost her husband nearly one week ago today. He was in his mid 30's and died due to an epileptic seizure. She was there and tried to save him by performing mouth to mouth on him. I can't imagine the pain of watching a loved one die in your hands, nor the uncertainty of what tomorrow might bring. There are so many questions.

This world, this life, that we are in is a broken mess. We're in a constant battle. There will always be pain, hurt, misunderstandings, and loss. Why does it have to be like this? When will there be rest?
I ran across this last night, and I wanted to share it with you. It reminds us of the promise of the peace that awaits us. You can find rest in this.

From the Gadsby Hymnal:

Weary of earth, myself, and sin
Dear Jesus, set me free,
And to Thy glory take me in,
For there I long to be.

Let a poor laborer here below,
When from his toil set free;
To rest and peace eternal go;
For there I long to be.

Burdened, dejected and oppressed,
Ah! Whither shall I flee,
But to Thy arms for peace and rest?
For there I long to be.

Let a poor laborer here below,
When from his toil set free;
To rest and peace eternal go;
For there I long to be.

Empty, polluted, dark and vain,
Is all this world to me;
May I the better world obtain;
For there I long to be.

Let a poor laborer here below,
When from his toil set free;
To rest and peace eternal go;
For there I long to be.