Saturday, December 10, 2011

NYRR 6K Jingle Bell Jog Prospect Park, Brooklyn NY

The last of my 9 NYRR races for the year!

After work on Friday, we drove out to visit our friends in Brooklyn and spent the night at their place. Such a good time, I wish we would do this more often.
Instead of driving to the race and trying to search for parking. We took the subway. It probably took us 50-60 minutes or so to get to the race. 30-40 min of that was spent walking. It was a really beautiful morning and so it was really a nice way to get the day started.

Once again, I knew I wasn't ready to be in my assigned corral. (I haven't run since the race last Sunday. I'm still taking antibiotics) Deciding where to start is tricky tho. I think this race is a little smaller, so I decided to just put myself in the middle of the 2nd corral.
Once we made the first turn, it was obvious to me that I should have gone back another group. I was being passed, non-stop for awhile. (It reminded me of my bike at Timberman once I threw in the towel on that ride.) Eventually, the passfest stopped and I was in a group that it seemed I could hang with.

Somewhere around mile 2, I guy in a x-mas tree costume is running by me. For whatever reason, I thought to myself, "I can't let a X-mas tree pass me". So I turned it up a notch and started to follow him. As it turns out, the tree was faster than I was today. I then started to look for some other targets to keep me moving.

Well the next one worth mentioning was an older guy just ahead of me with about 600-400m to go. As I went by him (slowly), I think he got a look at my grey hair and he put me into his age group, because he was determined to stay with me. Eventually I got a number of steps ahead of him. I actually thought to myself as I was running towards the finish, "don't look back to see where he is". Turns out I didn't need to. They have a chip reader out ahead of the finish line so they can announce people as they reach the finish. Just after I crossed the line, the announcer called out "77 year old, John Doe". Dang! He's got 36 years on me! I sure hope I can still move like that at 77!
I'm really not joking about this guy thinking that I might have been stealing his Age Group win, it's happened to me before. (Tewksbury 5 miler report.)
If I was thinking, I would have turned around and talked with him, but the finish line at an 8 min/mile pace starts to really get crowded in a hurry. So they volunteers are doing their best to move people forward so that people can get to the timing mat at the finish.

So I finished on a 7:56 min/mile pace this morning. I really expected to run closer to 9 min/miles. The fact that I put myself into the faster corral pushed me around the course.
I'll have to keep this in mind when I get myself back into shape. When I'm feeling good, I'll make a point of getting to the very front of my corral. I really think it would help get the best performance out of me.

So what's next? Figuring out what's up with my right foot is at the top of my list. I've got my triathlon training calendar fairly well planned out all the way to the first 70.3 in June. Now it's just a matter of getting healthy and motivated again.

Video of the race start.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

NYRR 5 miler "join the voices"

I ran a NYRR 5 miler this morning in Central Park. It was probably the last thing I wanted to be doing. I'm on day 7 of dealing with a nasty sinus infection and I'm still feeling miserable. Unfortunately, if I want to be guaranteed entry to the NYC Marathon next year. I've got to go and finish this run.

I went to the doctor on Friday and got an antibiotic. In terms of my sinuses, I'm definitely improving. Unfortunately the antibiotic added a bad stomach into the mix. Ugh! I had figured I could jog/walk this run. Now I'm wishing I had Imodium. Ha! Actually now I really wish I was done with my 9 races already...

I ended up being completely overdressed for the race. I've been cold all week. (fevers probably). I also figure if I end up walking this I don't want to freeze. When I left the house it was 28. I think it was nearly 50 in Central Park just a couple hours later.

I was number 1111 but I joined in with the 4000's corral. I don't know what pace that is but I'm figuring just under 10 min miles today if I'm lucky. Actually I'm just hoping I don't have to stop at the portajohns at the half way point!

I had to look quite the fool out there running. I didn't want to check a bag because I planned on getting back to my car and out of town as quickly as I can. It was so warm that I ended up tying my sweatpants around my waist and eventually was carrying my jacket as well. Whatever. Just get to finish and go home.

At the mile markers, I noticed that I was faster than a 10 min/mile pace. The 4000's got me there faster than I expected. My stomach cooperated. I finished in 44:17, which is a 8:52 min/mile.
My abs were hating me towards the end of the run. My quads felt like they wanted to cramp as I was walking to the car. My right heel is quite painful now that I'm sitting at home writing this.

I suppose there might be something good that comes out of this sinus infection. After discussing my sinuses with the doctor. I asked if she had any suggestions as to who I should see about my foot/ankle issues and I got a couple recommendations. I haven't checked to see if they take my insurance yet tho'.

Anyhow, that was my 8th NYRR race of the year. Next Saturday will be my 9th and final.
I was starting to wonder if they were going to drop me into a slower corral because I feel like I haven't had a good NYRR race in a long time. Maybe more than a year. So I looked it up. Turns out I ran a 7:16 at the 5K back in March. Which is only 3 seconds slower than my fastest in 2010. So I guess I'm safe for another year. Hopefully NYRR 2012 will be a bit speedier for me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In a Funk

The last 2-3 weeks have not been good in terms of triathlon. Unless the downtime actually magically heals some of my aches and pains.
Initially the trouble was not enough time in the day. There were a few things that had to be taken care of that normally aren't in my schedule. These things proved to me just how little spare time I have, especially during the week where I lose 3+ hours a day to commuting.

To make things worse, I completely lost my focus on the diet. I was spot on for just over 6 weeks then... not so much.

Now to really throw a wrench into the works. I'm in day 4 of a sinus infection which also has me talking like a frog. Actually, I can whisper well, but normal volume is all cracked up. I'm hopeful that once I get through this one, I'll be done with them for awhile. I probably get these things at least 3 times a year. Nasty stuff.

Looking forward to putting everything back on track.
Not much of a post, was it? Hmmm. How about I post the trailers for the movies my co-workers worked on and try to make this worth looking at? (We are a sound design company)


Boardwalk Empire Season 2



Win Win

Jack Goes Boating

Another Happy Day

George Harrison Documentary

Monday, November 21, 2011

NYRR 4 miler "race to deliver" Report

I'm on my own for my last 3 NYRR races. Todd has completed his 9 already. Genine may run the Jingle Bell Jog with me in Brooklyn. I'm still hopeful that friends from Brooklyn will register as well.

Genine was out of town for the weekend. So I set two alarms to wake up at 5AM. I went to bed early. I didn't fall asleep for 2 hours. Then the remaining 5 hours, I woke up at least 5 times. Very unlike me. It was frustrating. I woke up on time tho'.

The drive into the city was simple. I wish I had a way to take some shots of downtown Manhattan, the Freedom Tower is a definite presence on the skyline now and it's not yet full height. I know many people that didn't live here when the Twin Towers were here and this building is just another building to them. For me, I'm not sure exactly how to describe it. I find myself checking it out any time it's in view. My attention is just drawn to it. I'm surprised at how important it seems to be to me that it's being built. I'm looking forward to it being completed.
For a view of it being built go here select camera 3 and click time lapse. Or watch it being built real time during the day.

Alright onto the race. Awesome weather for racing. I think it was about 50 degrees. I wish I had worn shorts but it was much colder at 6AM and I knew I'd be standing around for awhile because I had to pick up my number on race morning.
I started my warmup 30 minutes before because I wanted to get into the right corral this time. I hadn't run in a week but I was actually thinking I should put in a hard effort anyhow.
I forgot my watch. It never crossed my mind. Ah well, there are clocks at each mile.

Mile 1: It felt like a much less congested start than the 5K a couple weeks ago. I think I was over an 8 min mile for the first mile tho.

Mile 2: In a groove but unlike the 5K, I'm feeling like my cardio is being taxed. I remember that the 5K was pretty flat. The hills are mixing it up for me. I seem to be holding ground with the crowd on the uphills, and some people are getting by me on the downhills. Definintely under 8 minutes, not sure how far under.

Mile 3: Much of this is uphill. I stay on the gas but I feel like I'm losing a bit of ground to some of group I was within. I keep telling myself the last mile is mostly downhill, not much further. Looks like I'm under 8 min mile again.

Mile 4: Alright, I definitely don't have the downhill speed I'd like to have. Way too many people are going by me. It doesn't help that I'm starting to think that it would be nice to just coast in. It's not like it's going to be a PR anyhow... I must not have been suffering too much because that thought didn't last long. They had a new "1/2 mile to go" sign. There was no extra gear to shift into I just maintained and got to the finish in 30:54.
That worked out to a 7:44 pace. I'll take it.

My hamstrings were feeling tight as I was walking out of the park. It's about an hour drive home, so I took the time to stretch a bit before driving home. (cramping while on the interstate would be bad) My right foot was very sore the rest of the day. I've started to wear the boot at night in hopes of getting that back on track. Quads were sore on Monday. Guess it was a good workout!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Genetically Modified Foods. Good or Bad?

Yep, another post regarding the food we eat. I know a number of people that have very strong opinions regarding this subject. I on the other hand, didn't really know enough to have much to say about it. So I did some digging and this is one of the things that I felt brought up a number of the issues and was very watchable. I was very surprised about Europe's position on this compared to America's.
Can GM Food Save the World

When I finished watching. I had to wonder if there were "Organic" GMO foods on the shelf out there. Seeing how being Organic has nothing to do with being GMO or not. Well here ya go. GMO-Whole Foods. I have to admit that when someone writes "Frankenfood", I can't help but think they are using scare tactics rather than facts to "educate" their readers. I want to read both sides of these issues tho', I just have to looks past that nonsense.

One of the issues I do think should be a big concern is the accidental creation of "superweeds". Which are plants that are are tough to kill. Read this. Or go here to see the list of resistant weeds out there.

Plenty of tough choices out there. I like how the documentary summed it up. You've gotta support the research. The tough part is making the decisions on how it's going to be put into place.
I can't help but think the reason the US is so different than Europe is because our politics is driven by Big Business. But I don't know enough about Europe's politics to know if their corporations can "fund" them as just as well.

Oddly enough, I just finished a book called "The Windup Girl" (Sci Fi "biopunk"). It was set in a future earth where we had not only exhausted all the easy energy sources but there are also massive issues growing food. Interesting read. (fair warning, there is some nasty stuff in there as well)

Training and diet is going well. (had to throw some triathlon related stuff in, haha)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K Report

Just a quick report.

This run started outside of Central Park. It started in front of the UN Building over on First Avenue and 47th Street. We decided to get the race early enough so we could park near the finish and then jog over to the start line. Probably a 2.5 mile jog to the start.
Well we got to the start as the were bringing the athletes onto 1st avenue. I wasn't overly concerned about being up towards the front. There is no chance that I'll be trying for a personal best or even a NYRR best. Todd on the other hand, he needed to be further up in the pack. So he worked his way forward.
Because the NYC marathon is tomorrow, there were some big groups from many countries. I found it kind of interesting that all the clothes and shoes people were wearing were all brand names I've heard of.
Once the horn sounded, it took me awhile to get to the start line. Even worse, when I got to the start line we were still shuffling. I didn't bring my watch today. I wanted to run completely by feel. Because of the "groups" when you passed people, it was often 4-6 people wide running side by side. Many of them taking video and pictures along the way. Fortunately, the city streets were plenty wide on 42nd Street and by the mile mark, I had sorted my way through into "my pace" of runners and from there on, I was running.
I reached the 1st mile mark at exactly 9 minutes on the clock. Not sure what my start time was tho. That made it easy at mile 2 to determine what pace I was running. I ran a 7:35 min/mile for the 2nd mile. That was not surprising to me, about what I expected.
The surprising thing is that I'm guessing I was running in zone 4. I really wasn't breathing that hard. For a 5K, I should be maxing out. I really didn't have any more kick in me tho. I guess my legs aren't quick enough at the moment to tax my cardio. (add hills and it would have been a different story).
We ran over the Marathon finish line. I finished in 24:07 or a 7:47 pace. Nothing to write home about. The good news is that I felt that my hamstring held up very well. I wasn't sure how it was going to respond. My right foot... well I made sure I iced it when I got back home. That is still something that bothers me and is frustrating.

Todd finished in 20:52. He didn't have much commentary regarding that.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Organic or conventionally treated produce?

Shouldn't all food be safe to eat?

Buying groceries shouldn't be so confusing. In order to eat healthy you should be able to buy fruits and vegetables from the store and feel good about it. Only that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. You now have two sections. Organic and Not organic. (typically not found side by side so you can't be stunned by the difference in cost as easily).
I feel that every other week, the health section of popular web "news" sites will have a link to the dirty dozen of produce. Which is a list of foods they suggest you should buy organic. Download a PDF here for a list.

I'm sure you've all looked through them. I'm sure that most of us feel that it would be best if we would always buy the organic version. But that gets expensive. Well maybe you can not buy the dirty dozen and substitute something from the clean list instead. Unfortunately it seems many of these foods are like primary colors, there is no substitution for them. Frustrating right?
So what I want to know is, "Just how dangerous are "non-organic" foods?" Particularly ones from the dirty dozen. Because people are seriously concerned and perhaps confused. Check out this link where someone posed the question, Which is healthier? An Organic cookie or a conventional pesticide treated Strawberry?" You get to see the range of concern in the answers. Those that won't touch the pesticide berry. Those that are concerned about the quantity of berries they would eat. Those warning that washing the berries isn't going to help. To someone saying the health benefits of the berries outweighs the risk of the pesticides that would be ingested. It's an interesting read. All the readers are informed at some level. I would guess none are experts. And like the majority of "Health News" from news sites and such, there is no conclusion or researched answer given.
Here is another example. This one seems to have spent some money on some research and had me hopeful that there would be something to give clarity to my question.
Then you get to the end and I feel like they stack on disclaimers that nullifies everything they set out to prove. Although I do think they made a good point with describing points at which it might be wise to stick with organics. (While pregnant and for infants). That's just limiting risk tho' which is smart. It's not saying that it's definitely a problem.

Obviously, I should go digging for more official reports. A simple google search is not enough. First I'm going to give you a little lesson in Google searching. You can limit your search to a particular domain by including the following after your search terms. Example, type the following into a google search, pesticides in food site:
The "" is the clever bit obviously. Here is a link that has many more tricks.

What did I find in terms of more official reads. Well not as much as I'd like. For example, how's this answer for avoiding the actual question being asked? You need to click on this one. Really. Then do me a favor and click 1 "not helpful". And provide some feedback if you agree that tho' technically correct, it's as if a politician came up with the answer.

To be fair. There are many other links you can browse through. Although, I never found any to give me a huge boost of confidence. So I've emailed them directly. I'm curious what kind of a response I will get. Here are some official links regarding our subject.
Pesticide Residues in Food
Minimizing Pesticide Residues in Food
Healthy food practices
Produce Safety
A PDF about Food Washing

Another thing that drives me crazy is when they use percentages of a number that doesn't mean anything to you to explain something. For example, if they say that simple rinsing will remove 90% of the pesticides. Some people will find that to be great. Others will look at the 10% that is still there and not want any part of that even if that level of exposure is less toxic than spending a day breathing in Manhattan. (I don't know if that's true, but I'm sure that my example brought more clarity to the subject than saying 90% clean).

Then there is the whole subject of what Organic means. Well people think it means pesticide free. Well from what I've gathered, that's not the case. They can use organic pesticides.
Pesticides, if used, must be derived from natural sources, not synthetically manufactured. Also, these pesticides must be applied using equipment that has not been used to apply any synthetic materials for the past three years, and the land being planted cannot have been treated with synthetic materials for that period either.
read more here.

Ugh! That really muddies the waters for me. Is a pesticide derived for natural sources less harmful than a chemically derived one?

I may as well add this link to the mix in regards to "organic" Common Myths of Organic Gardening. If you are buying organic. You owe it to yourself to read the information found here.

Well there you have it. 3 hours of digging through stuff looking for answers and I end up writing something with no obvious conclusion. Only an opinion. Just like all the stuff I've read.

If I wanted to follow common practice I'd suggest you download the dirty dozen list and tell you to buy organic. But I'm starting to think you might be just as well off to buy those things and just wash them well. (but the pesticides are inside!!) Yeah well as we saw above organic approved pesticides are likely inside too. So unless you have access to "pesticide free" (that would be different than organic). I think we are going to have to take our chances.

(This was all brought about because we will have a juicer here soon and a good percentage of the food going into the juicer are on that dirty dozen list.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Optimistic again

So the other week when I ran and my foot hurt so badly the next day, I was really starting to think Aqua-Bike was my future. I just couldn't make sense of why my right leg was so out of whack and causing so much trouble. Hitting that low point 2 weeks ago inspired me to go digging for answers. It seems as if this whole "No Stretching" thing is a big key. I say this because my last 2 runs have gone well and I haven't had any foot problem the next day. I will add that I've also thrown watching my HR out the window for those two as well. The only thing I cared about during those runs was that I found a stride that felt comfortable. To stay "in zone" would have caused me to slow down considerably. Right now finding a good stride that the hamstring is okay with is the key. The result of that is similar to how I used to run a couple years ago, always a negative split. It felt good.

I really hope the hamstring continues to improve because I'm really surprised at how much better my attitude is after these last couple runs. Now to take some of that energy and focus it on waking up at 5AM to get to the pool before work… (can't seem to get that going). Swimming late in the evening isn't what I want to do either as it messes with my ability to fall asleep. It will come together soon. It's feeling like things are falling back into place.

For those of you wondering why I went from very few blog posts to so many. I blame the three "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" books. They are somewhat disturbing but a serious page turner. They were an excellent distraction for me the last three weeks but I didn't waste a single minute of my commute typing up blog posts as a result.
The movie comes out in December. I'd suggest you read the books before you see the movie. You will probably like the movie less by doing this but you will enjoy the book So Much More.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hamstrings Always the Hamstrings

Hamstrings, the tighter the better right!? I wish. I've been dealing with a hamstring injury all year. Which is why I spent so much time on the yoga mat at home. I've had a hard time explaining exactly where this problem is located. I knew that when I ran, when I'd extend my leg to the front it was pulling at something at the very top of the hamstring and it felt like it was buried deep in the middle of everything connected up near all those attachment points.

No matter how much I stretched, it never got any better. Then with my ramp up to the marathon, I really got focused on my stretching. It was my attempt to try and not repeat my ankle injury from last year, which was the result of being too tight. Well all that extra stretching was just making it worse, or was it the extra running? All I knew was when I would run, I felt like I was compensating how my foot would strike in an attempt to protect that hamstring attachment from the impacts.

Once I threw in the towel on the marathon, I then had time to consider going back to my yoga classes. Only I was concerned about injuring myself at yoga. Seriously. When you are as tight as I am, good form for many of the poses is nearly impossible.

As I had mentioned before, my first problem was trying to describe the injury well enough to be able to enter something into the search engine. I was verbalizing this effort explaining it to Genine as she was getting ready to go to yoga. She left, I went to Google and started to read. By the time she got back from class, I had discovered that my first step towards recovering was to STOP STRETCHING. Not surprisingly, Genine had explained to Tiffany at yoga what I had said to her, so when she got home she had offered me the exact same advice. She also was in agreement with the 2nd part of what I had read. That the healing could possibly be helped by ART or Graston technique. This is where they rub the tendons to break up the adhesions and promote blood flow to the injured area. (tendons unlike muscles don't get very much blood flow).

So I've not stretched for two weeks and I think I'm feeling improvement. I think I was aware of the hamstring anytime I was walking two weeks ago. Now I'm only noticing it when I run and it's much less of an issue
I'm very hopeful that over the next 3 or 4 months that this will become a non-issue. I completely skipped the majority of my speed workouts last year because I was concerned about making that injury worse. It would be nice if I were healed up in time for my speed workouts in the spring.
Here are some of the links I found regarding my issue.

Hamstring Attachment PDF
Hamstring Tightness PDF
Hamstring Advice Stretching

Monday, October 24, 2011

Changed the quote over there --->

Saw this quote ‘A man grows most tired while standing still.’ and realized that it pretty much describes how I've felt since I've taken such a big step back from my training. Not only tired but plenty of aches and pains. Genine and I both agree that we feel better when we are active.
I'm definitely feeling the, starting to train "pains" but I know those will be gone in a week or so.

The good news is my right shoulder is barely an issue during my swimming now. It's not 100% but it no longer feels like I need to be careful with it in the pool. It's still an issue with weight training and side planks but it's getting better.

I ran 3 miles on a hill loop tonight. It was nice to be running a different course. I really didn't run many hills last year. I think I'm going to change that this winter. I realize you don't build speed there but it will give me strength. I'll schedule in the track workouts as race season approaches. I keep thinking of the hills on the Columbia Run course. It would be fun to get around that course with a bit more speed next year.

I'll be running a 5 miler in Central Park this Sunday. I'm hoping for a nice morning of weather because I'm going to be out there awhile. haha. I've been trying to talk friends into running it with me but so far no takers. There's still time...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Working back into things

Kind of a repeat of my last post, with some actually graphs and results from the first 4 weeks.

I guess the biggest thing going on at the moment is the diet. I decided 4 weeks ago that enough was enough and I had to get back in control of things. I drew up a calendar that extends into next year and the goal is to lose a pound a week.

(Click for larger image)
Yup, that's 191 I started at. Two years ago I was racing at 175. As you can see I've extended my goal down to 165. So this is going to take some time and dedication to get there.

As you can see, I am slightly ahead of schedule but I've stalled and stayed the same over the last 7 days. That's harder to see on that graph. That's why I'm also tracking using iCal.
(click for larger image) Blue Goal Weight, Green Actual weight. Calories and Hours of Sleep.

Also I wasn't joking when I said I was going into scientist mode. My season was wrecked by the shingles, I can't say for sure why I got them. Not enough sleep? Too many workouts? Not eating well? Combination of all that? Well this year I hope to keep better track of all this. I should be able to see cause and effect of many things.

The most important of them at the moment is weight loss vs Calories going in. You can see that I've been shooting for 2000 calories a day. The first week was probably the toughest in terms of getting used to how to use those 2000 to get me through the day. At this point, 2000 feels like more than enough and I'm very comfortable with it. I can also log into my and see what I ate to get to those numbers. Which is helpful when I'm trying to figure out what sticks with me and what isn't enough in terms of "feeling" hungry.

Many of you are likely thinking, no way is that enough for a triathlete. Well at the moment, I'm not much of a triathlete. Workouts are a work in progress and I'm slowly building back up to where I should be. I'm tracking that as well. Here is a look with those "efforts" in the mix.

(click for larger image)
Yep, pretty weak, it's somewhat frustrating. I could also add in my "injury report". That would show that the morning of the 12 my right foot hurt more than it has ever hurt in all my years of training. Thus the 4 day break from everything and the long break from running. The good news is that I ran yesterday and had no issue this morning.

I included sleep on the chart not only for recovery tracking, I believe it plays a big part of dieting as well. If you are not rested, you will eat things that will get you through your day. For some people it will mean calories usually in the form of very simple carbs. (which stick to me like glue). Others will turn to caffeine. (which makes my food burn up so fast I'm hungry much much sooner, so I will eat more). So it's best that I rest rather than fuel.

Anyhow, I'm pleased with how the diet is moving along. It appears it's going to take more than a month to get back to my July weight but that's alright. I'm feeling confident that I have a plan in place that's going to get me where I want to go. I'm not concerned about the stalled week. I'm ahead of the curve. I'll make adjustments if I'm still stuck a week from now.
I'm hopeful that if I continue to track as well as I am right now, I'll be able to dial in exactly how much I can eat on a daily basis, the variables being if I want to maintain or lose weight and how much exercise I am doing.

Speaking of training. I'd better go do something.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Green Mountain Marathon

Completed the Green Mountain marathon (South Hero Island, VT) last Sunday in 3:30:33. The fastest I've done in 7 years. A good run. Johnson was 3:29, Martin 3:57 or 58, Brad 4:00.

That equals 16 states and 20 total marathons for me. At some point next spring I need to shift into biking and swimming mode too.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Scientist mode

As I said a couple posts ago, I was finally fed up with my weight gain and it was time to get serious about it. The thing that was worked for me the best (during my sub 190 weight) has been calorie tracking, using

I keep talking about how I plan on finding what my daily calorie intake should be given the amount of exercise I am doing, but then never follow up with that. Well I’ve setup a system that should make it simple for me to finally figure this out. Of course once I got this going, I added some other stuff as well.

Using my calendar program, I’ve created a new calendar for each of the following items.

•Goal Weight

•Actual Weight


•Completed Workouts

•Injuries & Illness

•Hours of Sleep

Goal Weight: My goal is to lose at least a pound a week. It will likely be more than that to start and then become closer to a pound or less as my weight drops. I now have a number to hit every Sunday all the way into the beginning of April. I don’t know what the goal weight is yet. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.

Actual Weight: Every day I’m on the scale. Sometimes I think this can be a bad thing. Right now is not one of those times. I’m heavy enough right now that I know the numbers will be dropping and it will be positive reinforcement.

Calories: I’m entering my calories, along with fat, carbs and protein grams. A simple copy and paste from the fitday website. Long term, this along with current weight is going to show me what my intake should be to maintain certain weights.

Completed Workouts: I list my workouts along with a note saying whether I felt that I was properly fueled to complete the workout.

Injuries & Illness: I seem to have enough aches and pains that I lose track of them. This will be interesting to look at if I’m able to track for an entire year. On a shorter term, I’m hoping it will help show me what workouts cause me the most grief so I can try and adjust my schedule to better recover from them.

Hours of Sleep: I have a feeling I think I get more sleep than I actually do. I’m sure this number plays a part in how good my workouts are.

I also think that when I don’t sleep enough, I want to eat more simple carbs to energize myself, or more calories in general.

Then there is the recovery aspect of sleep to keep injuries away not to mention illness.

I’m not sure I’ll be adding in the time that I sleep on the train, I’m not sure that’s quality sleep. I will make a note of when I do sleep on the train as I think it is one of the easiest indicators that I’m not getting enough sleep.

I’ve considered keeping track of the actual workout time but haven’t done that yet.

I’ve thought of tracking the expenses as well

Then of course I could get all of this info into an excel spreadsheet to keep track of totals for me. I doubt I’m going to do any of those things. I don’t think either of those are motivational long term.

The Calendar program on my computer definitely makes this easy. I can easily show/hide all of those categories however I want. I think I should be able to publish this so anyone can have access to it as well. (I won’t bore you with that). It is a project I’m working on at work tho’. At least there, the information being shared is important to more than the person making the calendar.

I’m a week into this plan by the way. I dropped 2.5 pounds the first week. It’s always nice to get ahead of the curve quickly. Now I need to bring the training back on line. I did make it to the pool twice and we biked for 90 minutes Sunday. I’m really looking forward to getting back in shape.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

13 mile No Go

There seems to be a bad pattern forming in my blog post titles.

Seeing how my calf hated me after 1.5 miles a week ago Wednesday, I gave my legs a 7 day break. I planned on running 3 on Wed but I knew it wasn't going to work. Thursday I actually felt like there was significant improvement but it was Genine's B'day and a run wasn't in the plans. Friday I figured I'd better attempt a short run to see if going into NYC on Saturday for 13 miles was going to be worth the effort. I didn't even run a mile, but I didn't hurt myself in the process either. I could just tell that my calves were going to revolt if I kept going. So I walked home.

What can I say. I tried to cram for a marathon and it's not going to work out. Tomorrow is the last day I can defer my entry to 2012.
So the question is, do I defer? You have to pay again, it saves you nothing, it just allows you to pay for 2012 and race.
Or do I go get my swag bag I've already paid for, and then make sure I run the rest of the NYRR races I've signed up for so I qualify for 2012 using the 9+1?
I'm leaning towards the 2nd option. Mainly because it gets me into the city for some events and keeps me focused on getting back on track.

I'm sure some people will read this and think, why not just run/walk the marathon? That's not how I want it to go. Surviving it has never been the goal. It's about getting into proper condition to actually run a marathon. Also, I'm tired of being sick and injured. I'd rather go back to Swim/Bike/Run + Yoga and Weights at an "off season" level, rather than "running it" and getting injured.

So I went to the pool today and swam 1000m. Let me tell you, after 8 weeks off, you have no choice but to start back slowly. My right shoulder is still not 100% but swimming doesn't seem to have any negative effects. I can feel it while I'm swimming but it's not painful or inflamed when I finish. I'm hopeful that it will be pain free eventually.

Alright, hopefully that's the end of the "bad news blog". Next post is going to talk about something positive.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

NYC 18 Miles a no go

Yeah, whatever I did to my left calf at the end of last weekend's run has taken me out of this weekend's race. I massaged, stretched, took extra days off, but eventually I had to run. I went out for a very easy run and 1.5 miles in, my calf got very angry, instantly, just like last weekend. Then I limped back home.
It's strange because most of the time it feels perfectly fine. Every now and then when I'm walking down stairs, I can feel some tightness but it doesn't cramp up on me like it does when I'm running.
18 miles would be a bad idea at this point. Strike 1.
I've got two weeks before the next possible LONG attempt and I have a 13 miler in Central park scheduled next Saturday. I'll do everything I can to be ready and see what happens.

In other news, 2012 Schedule Update:
The signup for IM Mont-Tremblant 70.3 was last week. Genine and I had thought that looked like a cool race venue when it was first announced. Some may remember that I had initially planned Ironman Newfoundland 70.3 to be my first Half Iron. Then they cancelled the venue.
Anyhow, Genine kept talking about wanting to do a new race next year and even tho' this one may not fit my schedule perfectly, I decided it's the one I wanted to do the most. So we are signed up!
One of the things that sounded really good to me was this: "Mont Tremblant takes pride in its bike course, which is 95% closed to other traffic and newly paved on 70% of its surface."
Yep, that should be cool.
Genine and I figure that by having a half iron scheduled in June, that should get us focused on getting in shape a bit quicker than we did this past year. Not that we aren't always trying to stay in shape. I'm just saying that having a tough race on the schedule is a really good motivator.

Lastly, because I've not been working out much I've put on weight. I really haven't been able to get in the zone with my eating habits in quite some time. (feels like a couple of years really) Well I'm kind of annoyed with myself at the moment so the motivation is there. So is back in action for me. I've got a few ideas about what I'd like to change in my diet long term but I've got to get some things together before adding in the changes. More on that later.

Monday, September 19, 2011

17 mile run.

If you are going to run 17 miles, Sunday’s weather was just about as perfect as you can get for running. I had been concerned about this run all week. The day after my 17 miler last year was when I messed up my ankle and was done for 8 weeks. Not to mention, last week’s need for an ice bath after a 14 mile run. Then to top it off, I ran 4 miles on Friday night and my left calf cramped at mile 3 and I had to short stride my way back in. At mile 3!!

Because of all this, I’ve been stretching out every chance I get. I even considered getting a massage on Saturday before Sunday’s run. I decided not to. Everything was feeling alright.

I also realized that I had better do a much better job with my hydration and gels this week. I decided to try out what had worked for me during my long bike rides this year. Salt Capsules, Water (not Gatorade) and GU. I woke up in time to get some good stretching in. I felt as good as I ever do. (I’m still only running 3x a week. I had run 8 and 4 as my mid week runs).

Todd and I meet up in Branchburg, then drive out to the High Bridge rail trail again. I asked how he wanted to run this. We decided to run out 6, so our first out and back would end up at 12. Then we’d only have 5 to go. It sounded like a good plan. It left us short of running the entire 7 miles of the trail, so we’d have that as a destination for our 19 and 20 mile runs in a few weeks.

I loaded up pretty heavy. 4 bottle fuel belt and a hand bottle along with 4 GUs and…. No salt capsules. I had left them at home. I had my endurance Gatorade mix with me but that combined with GU doesn’t always sit well for me. I stuck with water and off we went.

I knew I’d have to go slower than last week, if I wanted to get all 17 in. So I keep checking my HR monitor to try to keep to 150ish. Initially my legs were feeling like junk. It felt like they got tight immediately. So I stopped to walk a few times in the first 3 miles and that really helped. I think it just allowed for more blood flow and got rid of some of the junk that was there. After my first GU, I got a side stitch. I managed to run through that. At mile 6 we were in Califon. We decided to run off the trail to see if there was going to be a place to buy water/Gatorade on our longer runs in a few weeks. There were a couple options. That may save me from carrying so much next time.

7-12 was feeling much better than 1-6. I figured my hydration and GU plan was working well. I was looking forward to knocking out the last 5. Then with less than a quarter mile to go (of the 12), the inside of my left calf went into spasm and I stopped dead in my tracks. We ended up walking it in from there. We refilled bottles and such and I continued to try and get that muscle to relax. Eventually I decided to try and run but it just felt like I was asking for an injury. So we turned and headed back to the car.

So I fell well short of 17 miles but the 12 that I did run felt much better than the 14 the week before. I’m guessing the slower pace was a big part of that. My massage was scheduled later that day. I think that worked out to be a better plan. Get the massage the same day as opposed to waiting until the next evening.

Here it is Monday morning and I can still feel that muscle in my calf. I spent time stretching when I woke up but it’s probably going to take a day or so. Any time a muscle actually makes it into spasm, it seems to be a 3 day recovery. Fortunately, I’m in no hurry. At this point this is what I’m thinking.

I’ve got 3 chances left.

Next Sunday I will attempt my longest run ever in Central Park. 18 miles, 3 complete loops. That will be attempt number 1 of 3, determining if I’ve done enough to be ready to run the marathon.

The following weekend is a down week and I’m only scheduled for 13, which will be in Central Park again. I supposed it’s a good thing that mentally I’m feeling good about 13 milers.

After that, I’ve got a 19 miler as my 2nd of 3 attempts.

Then I’ve got a 20 miler a week after that as my 3rd and final attempt.

I think I’m in a 3 strikes and I’m out situation here. Meaning if none of them go well, it probably makes no sense to attempt the marathon.

On the other hand, I’m also saying that if I get 2 strikes and only one of them goes well, that may be enough to put me on the start line.

I was thinking this weekend that a marathon training schedule is probably not the best way to return to training after a layoff from illness. It sure presents a very real challenge to me tho’ and is inspiring me to focus on my stretching as never before. So unless I injure myself, I think I’ll be better for it at the end.

I probably shouldn’t say this out loud but I want it on the journal here. I think I’ve gone an entire week without feeling that nerve in my back that had the shingles. Finally!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Running and planning

2012 looks like it might look very similar to 2011 in terms of a schedule. I’m signed up for Columbia, Mooseman International Distance and Timberman 70.3 again. Then of course the Tango Adventure Race as well.

I think I would like something in July. Black Fly Tri would fit. Philly or Morgantown in late June is on the radar as well.

There are always a number of local races here in NJ starting in September. I was kind of bummed that I was going to miss Skylands and Buckman again this year. (because the marathon training is more than enough post Shingles). As it turns out, Skylands became a Run, Bike, Run. Which is not a triathlon in my book. It’s tough, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that the swim is what makes it fun for me. So that took the sting out of missing that one.

Buckman is this weekend and I just got an update saying that they are still without power from the hurricane rains a few weeks back. They may have to reschedule that event as well to October 8th. That is yet to be determined. This weekend I’m scheduled to run 17 miles. That weekend in October, I’m scheduled to run 19 miles. It’s not going to happen this year. I’m over it.

Here is the update on my recovery. In terms of pain, my #1 problem is probably my shoulder. I knew I landed on that shoulder pretty hard at the Tango. I wouldn’t have guessed it would still be so sore almost 5 weeks later. I’ve got to figure out some sort of therapy for it.

#2 I would say is my right heel. I’m guessing this is carry over from my ankle problem last year. My feet are going into the ice bath after every run. It’s making a huge difference but I would love to find a therapist that could tell me if there is something I could be doing to bring that foot back around. Maybe I’ll get lucky and all the massages I have scheduled will help that foot more than I expect it will.

#3 goes to the shingles. I can’t figure out what triggers that nerve to become irritated but it still makes its presence known from time to time. Also I still feel that I’m more fatigued than I should be. I’ve been sleeping as late as possible and I’ve been getting to sleep early as well. Which is why there has been no cross training. I’ve been limiting myself to 3 runs a week. (soon to be 4).

For the record, getting ready for this marathon has been much more tough on my legs than all my triathlon training was leading up to July. The 5 weeks of no training is definitely a factor. Also to be fair to that tri schedule, I wasn’t able to complete as much of the build/hard stuff on there as I would have liked, back in June & July. Either way, I find it odd that by having the sore muscles I “feel” stronger. This must go back to all the time I spent in the weight room back in high school. No pain no gain and all that. Fortunately I realize that I have to recover in a big way after every run if I have any hopes of staying on schedule and making the starting line of the Marathon. So after my run on Sunday, I did my first ever ice bath. (which is worth doing). Monday I had a massage (also worth doing). Tuesday my quads still felt like junk, so instead of running 4, I stretched and rolled them out on the foam roller and the stick. They felt great after that. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed such a drastic difference in my legs after just rolling them out before. Skipping the run for this was definitely the right thing to do. (this week anyhow).

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got 17 on my schedule this weekend. I’ve got to practice my nutrition and fluid intake. I’ve been deficient the last couple weeks. I’m hoping that I have someone to run with, at least for the 2nd half of the run. I seem to do alright running for 90 minutes or so. After that I start getting bored. I don’t run with music. I don’t like to be that disconnected with the world when I’m out there. If I’m on my own this weekend I think I’ll have to put together a playlist and be ready to use it if/when I start to lose it.

Then the next 2 weekends I should be fine. I’ve got an 18 mile “race” in central park, then a 13 miler in central park the weekend after that. I’m behind schedule with my 9 NYRR races this year. I thought I had done 5 but only 4 of them counted towards my 9. That will be a good motivator for my 18 miler. I’ve got to pace it right so that I finish and get the credit towards the 2012 Marathon.

Monday, September 12, 2011

long run and a nice ice bath

I’m about to start week 3 of my 11 week marathon schedule. I really doubt 11 weeks is going to be enough time to put together a very good marathon time. I am hoping that it will be enough for me to complete it without feeling like I walked most of the time tho'.

I was having some serious doubts over the last week. Last weekend’s 12 miler was a sufferfest as was my mid week 7 miler. My brain was into it and I got them done, but it was a challenge.

Yesterday, Genine, Todd and I went out to the High Bridge trail to hopefully run 14 miles. The trail is 7 miles long so out and back would cover it. Except that would mean no hydration past what you could carry. Also it would mean if I couldn’t manage it. It could be a 7 mile walk back to the car. So I suggested we run out 3.5 miles then return to the car, rehydrate and fill up to do a 2nd run.

So we headed out. I was feeling much better than I did the other day. It was a nice cool day for running. A cool humidity, which was kind of odd but all in all, good running conditions.

I was definitely running faster than I should have been but everything was moving so well, I didn’t want to change anything. Even my foot strikes were feeling better than they had for a long while. When we reached about 3 miles. I suggested we switch to 4.5 out for the first “loop”. That way we’d have 9 down and 5 to go when we got back to the car. Everyone was on board with that plan.

When we turned to head back. Genine dropped to a pace I probably should have been running at, Todd and I ran ahead. I hadn’t run this trail in awhile and had forgotten how long the “hills” were. They aren’t steep but it’s enough to be noticeable. We got back to the car it what felt like a very short time. 9 down 5 to go. Genine thought she was a long way behind but she arrived very soon after us. She said she was done for the day tho’.

Todd and I headed back out. It was a climb to start, so there wasn’t much talking. About a mile in, I think I started to ask Todd how far we’d gone. (he had the gps). We kept moving. Just get it done. We walked for a short bit at 2.5. Then headed back. My legs were tight and I started to think about recovery from this. With about a mile left to go we spot Genine walking. She ran back to the car with us. It was kind of funny to see the high school kids running at us doing mile repeats.

We got back to the car and even tho’ I’d used body glide. I knew that what I was wearing today would not be what I’d wear for any other long runs. (ouch)

My massage is scheduled for Monday night. I think I may have to start scheduling those for Sunday night. On the way home, we stopped at a store to pick up 2 bags of ice. It was time for me to start doing this right.

Even putting my feet into an ice bath is a tough challenge but I’d heard of a trick of how to do this ice bath thing. You get into the tub when it’s just cold water from the tap. Then you add the ice in once you are in. Soooo much easier. And yes, the ice bath is very much worth the time and effort.

Hoping to get some help for my right foot at the massage tonight. That seems to be the weak link right now.

Anyhow, I’m much more hopeful about the marathon today than I was on Friday. I’ve got 17 miles on the schedule next weekend. I’m going to have to slow it down and really work on the salt tab, gel and hydration intake. I would love to finish 17 miles feeling positive. That would match my longest run ever and it's also the run that ended my training for 2 months last year. That's not going to happen this year.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

2012 Triathlon Schedule possiblities

Yep, It's that time already. Time to start signing up for next year's events. I'm really glad that I received a Facebook update about there being a Mooseman/Timberman Combo pack discount, because that got me thinking about next year. Which lead me to check on Columbia's signup. It typically fills very quickly and I found that it was already open! So I immediately signed up for that race. Why? Well I know I can do better than I did this year, (would be nice to finish without a flat). More importantly, I also have enough friends in the area down there that I probably wouldn't see otherwise if I didn't race this event. That makes it a must do.

Back to this Mooseman and Timberman notice. It turns out that if we register for both events before the 14th, we get a pretty nice discount. Its' enough that if we are going to do both of them we should sign up now. The thing is, Genine has been talking about going to the new Rev3 race up in Maine instead of Timberman. Which makes sense to me, except that Timberman is cheap for us because we don't have to get a hotel or eat meals out. Also I can see where Genine would want to move on, it's tough to top her Timberman Experience this year. I on the other hand have not had the race I'd like to have on that course yet. So it's still pulling me in. No decision has been made, we have a few days. Maybe we will do both! Meaning I race Timberman, Genine races Rev3 OOB. If we worked that schedule, there would be a lot more race photos. Ha!

One step earlier in our schedule next year is the Tango. Fortunately, we don't have to make a decision about how much of that race we are going to do any time soon. As always, there is talk about doing as little as one event, to doing the entire thing together. Genine has done everything but the 13.1 in that race. I haven't biked or run the 4.5. Relay is probably the most likely as I'm really unsure about how long it would take to recover from a full tango and be ready to race a half iron 15 days later.

Next step earlier was an empty July schedule this past year. Black Fly Tri in NH continues to be an event I'd like to do. Visions of doing the whole "Lord of the Flies" thing where you do every race that weekend. To just going over to compete in the bike time trial, as I've never done a straight up time trial before.

Before that is Mooseman. I've been thinking about doing the 70.3 next year. My main reason was because the Olympic event was so poorly attended this past year. It just lacked "big race" feel. The 70.3 didn't have that problem. Again, it's been tough to beat our prior years when we've had a bunch of our friends up for the weekend and they would race as a relay team. Well.... I am stunned. They brought back the relay team category to both Mooseman and Timberman!! That makes it more difficult for me to decide on the 70.3. If there is going to be a bunch of people post race partying from the Olympic on Saturday, it's going to be really hard to get sleep that night to wake up for a 70.3 on Sunday. The good news is, I still love the Olympic distance course and I would love to have a really fast day on it.

I have a couple days to think on all this. There are so many other events that we'd love to do. Mont-Tremblant 70.3 in late June for example. Or Rev3 Costa Rica. Or LavaMan. Or Boulder 70.3 to visit family and friends there.... You get the idea. There is plenty to do out there and I don't think there are many bad decisions on that list.

What do you have planned?

Monday, September 5, 2011

2011 Timberman 70.3: A Step toward my Destiny. A Day of Giving Thanks. Genine’s Race Report&Prelude to Race Day

For many of you out there reading this, completing a half-ironman has become a regular part of your race season. For me, however, it was anything but common. So if you will indulge me for a few moments, I would like to start with a prelude to my Timberman 70.3 race report. I will try to be brief, but no guarantees. Actually, you may want to get a cup of coffee before starting to read.

For the past 3+ years I had been working in a high stress retail environment, commuting over 100 miles each day (driving), suffering from insomnia and eating poorly – all while trying to live the healthy lifestyle of a triathlete. I felt as if I was living a lie and the life was being sucked out of me. By fall of last year I had reached my limit. I could not physically, mentally or emotionally continue on my current path. I approached my supervisors at work, explained my situation, crossed my fingers that I wasn’t committing career suicide and respectfully asked to be transferred to a store closer to home. In January of this year, I was granted the chance to change jobs and gain my life back. I felt like I could breathe again. It was the first step in changing my direction toward being happy.

In the months between when I asked for the transfer and it was finally granted, I made a promise to myself- a promise that I would make the most of this opportunity if it were given to me. I would not waste the chance to take the next big step toward my destiny. I needed a new goal – a BIG goal – to keep me motivated. Signing up for a half-iron seemed like the perfect idea. Achievable, but not without a lot of work. The day I accepted the offer to start my new job I went on line and registered for Timberman. There was no going back. Scared or not, I was going to do it!

I began my new job (now less than 5 miles from home!) in February. I had such lofty expectations of what the next 6 months of training would look like. Since our race schedule was very much the same, I was shadowing Matt’s coached training plan. It felt good knowing I had a plan to follow. Next was getting my eating back on track- story of my life. (I have always wished that I were one of those people that stopped eating when they are stressed. Unfortunately I am the exact opposite. I can’t seem to stop eating). Over the course of about 2 years, I had gained back 15lbs of the 40lbs I had lost when we first started triathlon in 2008. Back to Fit Day and tracking the calories. (::sigh::) The first 2-3 months brought only a slight drop in weight (still wasn’t in a place to wrap my brain around the eating part) and some good progress in getting back to a regular workout schedule. I was especially proud of my gains in my run training. I ran in two 5k’s and at the end of April I completed my first 15k. I finished right on my goal time of 1:30 (a few seconds under in fact). Wahoo! And yes, race reports are still needed for these run races.

Now it was May- only 1 month to Mooseman- my first A race of the season. The couple pounds that I had lost came back (grrrr…) and I was finding that the schedule of 14 workouts per week was harder to fit in around work and life than I thought. And since I tend to be an “all or nothing” person, I was skipping or post-poning workouts that I didn’t have time to complete as written (so dumb). On May 14th, I raced in the Jersey Shore Kick-Off (a small, nicely run sprint tri- close to home). It was a great warm-up race for Mooseman. My swim was a bit rough, but my bike and run felt improved. Overall I was happy with my times and actually won my age group! That was a first! (still need to write that race report! Ha!)

I went into Mooseman with the attitude of “it will be what it will be”. I was hoping to have been at a better place in my training/level of fitness. And I was certainly not happy with the extra pounds that were still lingering. But regardless, race day is always fun…especially on my favorite course EVER! All 3 of my splits that day were within seconds or minute of my 2009 splits. Kind of ironic and a bit depressing, but I didn’t dwell. Time to focus forward. I had 10 weeks to Timberman. Time to kick my own butt!

I had made a commitment that when I returned home after Mooseman, my eating would make a drastic change for the better. And it did. My biggest obstacle has always been my sugar addiction. Yep! I’m an addict… full-fledged, card-holding sugar addict. So I decided to go cold turkey and kick it once and for all. Through my Inten-Sati instructors, I discovered a diet cleanse that looked like something I could handle because I was able to eat solid foods – as opposed to only drinking smoothies or juice. I made the mind shift and began the 14 day Be Well Cleanse by Dr. Frank Lipman. Basically, this cleanse is 3 shakes a day, supplements and 2-3 meals daily that you choose from the “approved” food list. And the food list was plentiful. This 14day cleanse removes all possible food allergies from your diet- no sugar, no dairy, no gluten, no caffeine and all organic. Tough? Yes. Impossible? No way. I was determined! No more excuses. By the end of the 2 weeks, I had dropped 10 pounds just by changing what I was putting in my mouth- no counting calories – no fake “sugar-free” gimmicks. I felt lean, my energy levels began to even out and my clothes were fitting better - all the incentive I needed to continue with this new way of eating. I was also feeling some momentum in my training. Things were moving in the right direction! Mentally I had made a shift to knowing I was on the right path to get me to race day…and beyond. Even though I recite the words every week during my warm-up in Inten-Sati- “As above so is below. This is what I know.”- I sometimes forget how true it really is. What you put out in the world is what you get back. What you choose to focus on shapes the path of your life. What you give is what you get. It was mid-June when I came across this post from Big Daddy Diesel- a blog of a triathlete that I follow. It struck me so profoundly, that I have to share it with you.


So often hear that word thrown around. Many feel that we’re all predestined for this or that fate, predetermined to live this life or that life. Somehow, someway, mystically “meant to be”. I’m too wise to spit in the face of the cosmos or to second guess the presence of a higher power, but I don’t buy that laissez-faire, hands-off-the-wheel crap for a second. Yeah, I believe, elementally and fundamentally in my destiny and my dreams, but because I put that future in place. I set that goal, I fixed my gaze on that faraway destination, and if I’m ever going to have a puncher’s chance of getting there, that is ultimately up to me and only me. I don’t have the luxury of passing this buck to the whims of divine providence or to blame the great bogeyman on my fears or the miserable lot of life in the working class. The only “man holding me down”, the only force holding me back, is me. I don’t read my horoscope or heed the dictates of a zodiac sign or birthstone. Instead I’ve committed my life to willing my stars to order themselves as I demand. I refuse to be a passenger on my own journey or a bystander standing idly by, cheering from the sidelines in my own game. I’ll own my upshot, I’ll face my odds. I’m not following somebody else’s path or building according to a preset blueprint. If I’ll ever have a future worth telling, it won’t be read by some psychic reading my palm. It will be told in a story of blood, sweat, pain, and tears, in dark days of doubt and long nights of toil. Wielding this heavy hammer. Banging away. Framing and molding. Conceiving and creating. Intent on being the architect of my own destiny.

Wow! This was exactly what I needed to hear (well…read) at that moment, and I have read this post hundreds of times since then. I knew that if I was going to reach the starting line of Timberman (and hopefully the finish line, too!), I must not waver. No -way.

Several lessons were learned during the month of July. One: Traveling to PA or NH every other weekend to see family, while fun, is not conducive to sticking to a heavy workout schedule. Two: I need to take salt tabs on long bike/run bricks in 95+degree heat. (Go figure!) Because of our hectic vacation travel, most of the weekends we were home, I was working. I manuevered my schedule the best I could, but I felt like I still was missed many of my long bike rides. But I did the best with the time I had available. Swimming and running, for the most part, were getting done. Our NH vacation in mid-July made for great practice for hot & humid race day conditions. It was an oven most days, but we used that to our advantage to practice our nutrition & hydration…and learning that salt tablets are necessary for me to make it through these longer distances on hot & humid days. It was a tough go, but we put in the miles and got it done. Very satisfying!

The first weekend in August was the Kinzua Country Tango adventure race in our hometown of Warren, PA. It is one of my favorite races and weekends of the summer. So many friends come home for this race, so it is always a good time. When we decided to join forces to form a co-ed high school relay team (WAHS Class of 88), I volunteered to do the 2.5mile swim. I needed a new goal for this race. I needed to prove to myself that I could it. (And it would be good practice for Timberman). I completed the swim in 1 hour 5mins (still need to write a race report for this, too!) I was feeling good and was hopeful going into the final weeks to Timberman.

However, somewhere in the those last few weeks, I felt like I was starting to second guess myself. I was procrastinating over workouts and/or missing them totally. Putting the blame on “work” or “too much to do” or maybe I was having sympathy pains for Matt & his battle with shingles. Lame excuses, right? Maybe it was nerves or my own subconscious working against me. Don’t know why. Just was. How ironic that Tiffany’s Inten-Sati series for August zeroed in on whatever was going on in my brain at that time. This is the series. These are the words that got me thru to race day.

August Series
I am the change I want to see
I am done complaining
I set myself free!
MY life is on fire!
I am bursting at the seams
I have the will to BELIEVE
I have the will to be STRONG
I have the will to be EXCEED
All excuses are GONE!
I have the courage and confidence to be
the warrior I am meant to be.
I have the power, strength to see my beauty and divinity.

And so I stopped complaining, stopped my pity parties, stopped being self-deprecating and began accepting where I was. And being grateful for the opportunity that lay before me. Was my training 100% according to plan or what I had envisioned it to be back in February? No. I guess a person doesn’t become super human in 6 months! But, I had made significant improvements in my endurance (maybe a tiny bit of speed- relative to where I was) and overall fitness. I was feeling HEALTHY and was anticipating what I could do on the racecourse. For the first time in a very long while, I really had no idea what to expect. Both nerve racking and exciting!

The Wednesday before the race, I worked a half-day and went home to pack. The goal was to leave Thursday morning. As I was scurrying around the house, I turned the corner from the living room to go upstairs. Midway thru the turn, I caught the little toe of my right foot on the corner of the baseboard on the wall. I fell on to the stairs, screaming in pain! SON OF A B@*#H!! After sitting for a minute, I refused to believe that it was anything more than a stubbed toe. It will be fine. Continue packing. It will be fine. And so I did…hobbling along ignoring the pain. It wasn’t until we were getting ready to meet a friend for dinner that night that I glanced down and did a double take of my right foot. It was noticeably swollen and rapidly turning purple & blue. Still refusing to acknowledge that there may be a problem, I put on my flip-flops and we went to dinner. When we got home, I decided I had better check it out further. I got my running shoe and attempted to put my foot into it. Painful, but I got it in. That’s all I needed to know. We were good to go!

My toe in the car on the way to NH. Made it thru the race. Still hurts now tho.

The Timberman in Cannan, NH. Very appropriate, right?

Thursday we drove up to NH, arriving at the farm in the early evening and got to share a game of cards and some delicious homemade berry pie with Matt’s cousin Abby and her friend Melissa. I slept well Thursday night. Abby, Melissa & kids left Friday morning. Matt and I got a bike ride and short run in, went to the grocery store and then relaxed for the rest of the day. I slept well Friday night and awoke Saturday morning not to an alarm, but to the sun shining on the red barn. Aahh. Saturday was a super quick pre-race swim, bike, run- prep race gear and then it was into the car to drive to Gunstock for packet pick-up and Ellacoya Park for bike drop off. I was super excited to have a purple swim cap (whew! No pink!) and that my bib was # 500! That seemed like a lucky number! We got our packets, walked thru the expo and then went to drop off bikes. I was in the middle of a row, but easy to find by the tree with the big dead branch above my rack. Perfect! Time to head back to the house to meet my mom, sister & nephews (arriving from PA) and Matt’s brother & nephew for dinner. I wanted to be in bed by 8:00, then it was 9:00. I made it in bed with lights out at 10:00pm. Typical. It wasn’t a good sleep, but not a bad sleep either. Also typical.

Sunday – Race Day! The alarm went off a 2:15am. I was able to easily eat my oatmeal. I packed a PBJ, Hammer Bar and bananas for the car. It was still a long time until my 7:20am start. We left the house around 3:15am and arrived at Ellacoya at 4:00am when the park opened. We parked easily and Matt immediately fell back to sleep in the car. I tried to sleep, but it just wasn’t happening. I remained quiet, trying not to disturb Matt. Times like this are when I love my Iphone! I passed some time posting on FB and reviewing the day’s weather. In the hour+ before transition opened, while Matt slept soundly, I was out of the car 3 times to go to the porta-potties. Might as well take advantage of clean potties with no lines early in the morning! I also put to good use my new head lamp. It’s dark in the potties at 4:30am! Best $12 spent at L.L.Bean!

Early morning photo of my WARRIOR arm for race day.

5:30am arrived. Matt got up and we headed to transition to set up. I am always amazed at how quickly this time before race start goes. It FLYS!! Before I knew it, we were at the beach in line for one last pee stop and getting ready to start. My wave started ahead of Matt’s, so he stood with me until my wave was called. He gave me a kiss, wished me luck and promised me that he would take it easy out there today- not to worry. (I still worried). The water was calm & a nice temp. This was the first time that I felt any nerves. We were running just late enough to the start that we missed swim warm-ups. Was this bad or would it not matter? I was about to find out!

There were 125 women in my wave. I decided to start on the inside close to the buoys, but a little further back. The gun went off and I soon found myself in a washing machine of swimmers. Typically this would freak me out and I would end up in a panic. Today- all it did was make me aggravated! A small victory for me already! After about 200m of bumping, kicking and grabbing feet, I escaped to the left a bit and found some space. From there on out, I found a groove and swam. I felt good, the water was clear to see other swimmers and also the safety kayaks. Which was a good thing because even though I felt great swimming, I am sure that I swam the course on a zig-zag. It seemed like I swam from a buoy to a kayak- back & forth- the entire time! A bit frustrating, but over all I was very happy with my swim time. The swim seemed to be over in no time!

I have never used wetsuit strippers because I have never had any issues getting out of my wetsuit…until today. It wasn’t anything catastrophic, but just annoying. At one point a guy in the row beside me offered to help get the last leg of my wetsuit off in exchange for helping him get the back of his bike jersey pulled down over his back. Deal! Then it was time to bike. YES!!

I felt confident on this bike course. It was fresh in my mind from our practice ride the month prior. My only strategy for today was to not go out too hard, aim to maintain a 90 cadence, get my nutrition in and hydrate. Oh! And to have fun! Since there was only 1 wave of women that started ahead of me, I got to pass a lot of guys on the bike to start, but soon the fast guys & girls from the later waves were in the mix. It was crowded at times and a bit challenging at the beginning of the course, but once I was out onto the highway (Rt 106), it was fun riding. I kept expecting to have Matt pass me at some point as his wave started only 10 minutes behind me. It wasn’t until I had made the half-way turnaround that I saw him on the other side of the highway. I shouted and waved. He waved back. I was relieved to see him and know he was doing ok. I was also excited to see that I had made it to the turnaround in 1 hour 30mins! I was pacing to possibly finish my bike around 3 hours! I had figured closer to 3 hours 30mins, so I was thrilled. I kept on moving along feeling excited and hopeful! The only down side to my bike was that I had forgot to put my Cliff Shot Blocks in my bento box. Luckily I had taped 2 GU’s to my top tube the night before…just in case. Even though the shot blocks sit better in my stomach, I used both GU’s. They gave me the pep I needed, but my stomach was starting to revolt. And by the last 5 miles of my ride, so were my quads. Big time. In the last downhill (no passing zone) into the park, I stood on my pedals to stretch my legs. They immediately began to seize! Terrified of my legs freezing while clipped into my pedals going 20mph, I instinctively sat and coasted into the park.

T2 was painful. My quads were on the verge of seizing and my stomach was on the verge of puking. And it was time to start the toughest part of my race – the run. I took my time in transition, remembered my shot blocks this time, taped the back of my ankles, grabbed my hat & fuel belt palm bottle and calmly talked myself thru my plan of how I was going to get through the next 13.1 miles. I had never run 13.1 miles before. I figured today was a good day to do it! I decided to walk out of transition & talk my legs into working for me. I started to run when I hit the timing mat. Ouch! I kept going. I have to admit, part of me was hoping that Matt would soon be right behind me and we could run this together. But he didn’t show. He stopped his race after his bike. I was on my own. I needed to get to the mile 1 aid station so I could get some Coke in me to help calm my stomach. And so I did. Around mile2, I looked up to see a woman in a blue race kit with “Race with Passion” on the back. I knew immediately who it was. So I yelled, “Hey Frayed Laces! You’re looking good there! I am a big fan of your blog!” She asked my name and we had a quick exchange. She wished me good luck on my first half and off she went. (BTW- She PR’d this race. Congrats, Laura! You are awesome!) Then I got to see the pro women coming back on their last 2 miles to the finish. I yelled to Chrissie (as everyone was doing). So awesome to see athletes of that caliber! Meanwhile, I continued to run aid station to aid station- grabbing water & Coke at each one. Little by little, my stomach seemed to cooperate as did my legs. Now mind you, none of this was pretty. But I was doing it! I repeated to myself, “No more complaining!” and “I CAN do this!” over and over again. I looked at the WARRIOR on my arm. Oh YES! I am a warrior! This was the toughest mental battle of my life and I was winning!

Finishing my first loop of the run.

As I was approaching the park for the turnaround loop, I heard Matt yelling my name, but I couldn’t see him. In my mind I was still looking for his yellow tri top. Obviously he had changed! Don’t worry, I found him! He told me I was looking good. I said, “This is painful, but I’m going to finish!” As I started out of the park for lap 2, Matt was there again. It was so nice to see him and have him there cheering for me! I thought the second loop would be torture, but I have to say that miles 7-10 were the best feeling of the day. I just kept my pace, walked the aid stations, got my nutrition in me and focused on the beautiful scenery. Oh! Have I mentioned how much I loved the ice cubes in my sports bra and the snow balls (crushed ice) that the local high school hockey team was handing out on the course? Heaven!

When I started approaching the park for the finish, I switched from “I can do this” to “I AM doing this! I am going to FINISH!!” As I was running down the chute to the finish line, I was elated! Bursting with pride! I saw Matt and Kryste with Danny in the backpack. I was so thankful that they were there for this moment! But as I crossed the finish line and Chrissie Wellington handed me my medal (Yes! I finished in time to get my medal from Chrissie!), I felt my stomach revolt. I pushed the kid getting ready to take my timing chip aside as I frantically searched for a garbage can. I didn’t find one. I ended up throwing up (just a little!) in the corner of the tent were the very kind woman was handing our cold bottles of water to finishers. I apologized and assured her I was ok. She was very sweet and said not to worry. Once I gathered my composure again, I went to the side of the fence where Matt was telling me that Chrissie was autographing people’s medals, jerseys, etc. There was a bit of a gap, so I went walked back to the finish line and asked Chrissie if she would sign my medal. She graciously said yes. I didn’t say much, but thanked her and told her she is AMAZING! She was so sincere and grateful. What an incredible gift to receive as a keepsake from my first 70.3!

Chrissie Wellington signing my medal!

Happy to be done and showing off my bling!

With my autographed medal in hand, I made my way out the back of the finishing chute to meet up with Matt, Kryste and Danny. As I weaved my way through the crowd, my eyes welled up with tears. In that quiet moment alone, it hit me. I did it. I really did it. Wow. I wonder what else is possible. What is the next step toward my destiny? And then I decided now was not the time to wonder. Now was the time to celebrate!

I found Matt, Kryste and Danny. We went to get some post race food and relax. As we were sitting in the grass eating, I got a text from my friend Jeff. He, Debbie and Zoe were arriving at the park! Hooray! It was so good to see them. But within a half hour, the storm started brewing. And it was a BIG one! We decided to pack it up and head back to the farm. I am glad we escaped when we did. Matt & I drove Kryste & Danny back to Gunstock to get their car as the line to take the shuttle bus was GIGANTIC and filled with sweaty athletes, bikes, gear, families, etc. There was pouring rain on the drive back. When I called my mom to tell here we were heading home, she said the electric was out. Matt & I stopped to pick up pizza & salads at the B.H.O.P. for dinner and visited back at the house. After Jeff, Debbie and Zoe left, I was more than ready for a hot shower! Matt reminded me that no power = no water pump. Rats! So in the car and to Newfound Lake we went for a post race ice bath! Not ideal, but the water wasn’t too chilly and it got the stink off! And with that the day was done.

It was a day that will live in my memory as one of my best. Not only did I achieve my goal, I surpassed it. I finished in 6 hours 18mins and1 sec.(Swim= 38:36 Bike= 3:01:08 Run= 2:27:15) But best of all, I spent my entire day saying, “Thank You!” It felt so good, too! I made sure to say thank you to as many people as I could- all day long!. The guys parking cars at 4:00am, volunteers on the bike course, police officers, people handing out water, high school kids at the aid stations, the guys picking up sponges and empty cups from the run course, other athletes, the woman serving clam chowder in the food tent and on and on. But my most special Thank You’s of the day went to Matt (my AMAZING husband!)and Kryste & Danny. To Jeff, Debbie and Zoe. To my mom and Ian when she called after the race. To my Dad in PA when he called after the race. To my friends and family who checked in via text, email or FB. Thank you for always being in my corner and supporting me! With love and gratitude…..

My family at our house in NH.

(Mom, Ian, Kryste and Danny. Matt and me.)