Thursday, December 31, 2009

Week 16 - New Year's Eve Day

“Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us”
Quoted by Hal Borland

Yesterday, Sarah and I had a date night. We had a great time going to the movies and Ted Montana's Grill for bison burgers, well at least I got a bison burger. It is a pleasure to break away and do something that we both enjoy.

I will not spend a lot of time on reflecting on 2009. 2009 even with the economic downturn, foreclosures, jobs lost and grim outlook all together, for my family and friends 2009 was a good year. Everyone is healthy, everyone is still employed, everyone is safe and everyone had good races and training throughout the year. I could make predictions on 2010, but honestly I hope we roll into 2010 with little change. Except for the economy, which will come back when its time. One thing I can say about 2009 is that I have made a lot of new friends and I appreciate each one of them and our continued friendship that will grow stronger in 2010.

This morning was swim. The drive over to the gym was rainy and cold. Ice had formed in the eves the homes I pasted at 5AM while a majority of the families inside where still asleep. The lot at LTF was sparse. There were about a dozen cars of early morning workout fanatics that braved the cold to hit the gym before sun-up.

The pool had all the regulars. We waited around for Coach Mike but a little after 5:30AM the "alpha" people of the group decided to take control of the situation. A copy of an old workout was copied and we started the morning swim minus the Coach.

After the warm up, Coach Mike decided to show up and switched out our back-up swim workout for the one he had designed.

The workout was:

200M Warm-up
150M - Kick
200M - Pulls

6 X 100M on the 1:45 with the first 25M fast
6 X 100M on the 1:45 with the last 25M fast
6 X 100M on the 1:25's. 25M recovery between each 100M
3 X 400M on the 7's
100M Swim
100M Kick
100M IM
100M Drills

200M kick
100M EZ

We all got in the hot tub and chatted about our evenings and just small talk. Next week starts more control over who swims in the pool on Tuesday's & Thursday's. Mostly with paying. The free ride is over and it is time to pay up for those who do not pony up.

Ellie and I have made one cake as of this morning for Grace to bring to her New Year's Party tonight. Weird that my 12 year old is out tonight and the rest of us are staying home. This is actually find with me. Fondue, wine and homemade cake while the Ball drops sounds just fine.

Besides, I am rolling into 2010 and have a tempo run scheduled for the morning.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Week 16 - Track Day

Marathon running is a terrible experience: monotonous, heavy, and exhausting. Veikko Karvonen, 1954 European and Boston Marathon Champ
Last night we celebrated our own Christmas. Over the last 2 weeks we have been celebrating Christmas with friends and family, but Tuesday Night was a time for us to exchange presents in the comforts of our own home.
This morning started the first track workout of the season. Training for a spring marathon is tough over the winter. Since I am hanging around the homestead this week I decided to sleep in and hit the speed workout during the daylight hours.
I never thought I would dread a workout, especially the first one, but I went to the speed workout himming and haahing.
The menu had speed of 3 X 1600M at 5:51's. The warm up solidified the resistance I was experiencing. Muscles and joints were tight. I ran for 20 minutes before I felt a trickle of sweat under my hat and then I knew I was ready.
1st 1600M: 5:50
2nd 1600M: 5:51
3rd 1600M: 5:50
Finished up with 13 minutes of cool down. I hit the marks but it was not easy. The speed was a little monotonous and tiring, but the first test of the journey is complete.
Going to work on the mud room today. The recess lights are installed and today will be bead board along one wall. I will complete the tiling by the end of the week as well.
Running is complete for the day, but there is still a lot of "running around" that still needs to be done.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Week 16 - Tuesday

"Testing is an honest look at where you are at; you need confidence & guts to accept & do this so you know how to pace yourself. If you fear testing, you are not being honest with yourself."
I have done the testing. I accomplished a 1:28:00 half marathon and a miserable 5K at 0:19:30. I believe I have the discipline to train off the half marathon time for the next 16 weeks.
We arrived back in Georgia last night. The flight was uneventful which is always good especially when you travel with your family.
Since this is the start of training I wanted to get off on the right foot. Tuesday's & Thursday's will continue to be Master Swim. The alarm went off at 5AM this morning with only 6 hours of sleep and a day of travel. I would not be honest with myself is I said it was not difficult prying the tired body out from under the warm sheets and blankets this morning. But it was, very hard to get up.
For the last week I have not had a "set schedule" which is a ritual I suggest every athlete do a couple weeks a year. Sleep in, eat whenever, exercise when you feel like it and go to bed when you want. It recharges the batteries. The only part of this ritual is when we start up again it is a bear.
I was in the zone, the dead zone, this morning. Couldn't find the bathroom, couldn't find the closet, tripped on the chair downstairs and had to make 2 trips to the car to load my stuff.
With all these obstacles I was able to get to the pool in time for the workout. The fog in my head did not lift until I hit the water for the first time in the week. As soon as I was submerged (never touch the water first, it makes it harder) and a quick underwater scream I was on my way.
Coach Mike's Workout:
300M - EZ
150M- Kick
200M - Drills
10 X 100M on the 2's
4 X 300M on 4:40
2 X 400M on 7:30
1. Swim
2. Kick
3. IM
4. Pull
K.O. 25M's
Reduce one stroke on each 25M until the strokes can not be reduced anymore.
This became a little bit of a competition. Michelle, Seth, Brian, Jeremiah and myself kept knocking it down until we hit only 6 strokes per 25M. Michelle, the competitive one, wanted to push further and she got it down to 3 strokes.
It was a good workout that was needed from all the Christmas goodies and beer over the last week.
Tomorrow starts up the track workouts again. With training under the 1:28:00 time I know I am being honest with myself in what I can accomplish in the upcoming weeks. It is not going to be easy and will take a lot of dedication and sacrifice on my part to accomplish my goal.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Week 16 - Marathon Training

It starts. Training for another marathon. Though I am in Boston currently, I went for a run this morning about 7 miles from Natick to Wellesley College and back. I won't start the speed, tempo and long stuff until Wednesday. My schedule will be the same as last year. Speed on Wednesdays, Tempo on Friday and Long Runs on Sunday's after church. The long runs will get me ready for the 10:30AM start for Boston.

We are heading back to Georgia today amongst a snowy day and heavy security. 3 hours should be enough time.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day Eighty Seven - "Christmas Break"

Christmas is the day that holds all time together.
Alexander Smith

As I sit on the couch in Natick, watching the New England Patriots I reflect on the time spent here in New England.

Snow. Snow is a part of the Christmas experience as a child. My children have had the same experience being in New England during this Christmas holiday. The girls have felt Old Man Winter nipping at their nose from the time we landed in Boston on Tuesday. The temperatures drove down into the double digits and not getting above 15 degrees as the winter storm that blankets the North a few days prior is still evident. The storm left the landscape covered in a white Christmas snow adding to their excitement.

We have spent the last 6 days of this Christmas season in Boston visiting friends and spending time with family. The girls enjoy bouncing around with their 5 cousins (all girls) at their grandparents home. Time does not seem to disrupt their relationship with their kin.

The cousins have spent time with games, sleepovers and spending hours sledding with other local neighborhood kids. The time has gone fast for them but the time has been full of joy and cheer.

Sarah has also enjoyed spending these holiday season with her mother, father, sister and brother. The heart does grow founder when you are away.
My role during these holidays’s in Boston is just to go with the flow. These times are not for me, but for my family. Time goes by so quickly I just want my family to have a fantastic Christmas season with their family members.

I have spent a little time by myself during the season in New England. I ran two times, once on Christmas Eve and once on Saturday. Both runs were on the Boston Marathon route between Natick & Wellesley. The runs totaled 23 miles. It was a fitting start to the training I start on December 28th, to start where I will be finishing at the end of the 16 weeks.

We leave this area tomorrow as we travel by air back to our home. The girls will miss their cousins and the snow during this season of festivities. The next time they see their cousins they will have traded the snow boots and winter coats for bathing suits and sunscreen when the next visit will be the annual Cape Cod summer holiday. But tonight we will suspend time once more as all 5 cousins (all girls) sleep at their grandparents house and we take them to Bertucci’s Pizza for dinner to end our time in New England before we start a new beginning of a new year in Georgia.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day Eighty Three - "Christmas Break"

“External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty.”

Charles Dickens

Yesterday was a travel day. It started at 5:30AM with Master's Swim. The pool was full with athletes pounding out a few more workouts before the Christmas celebrations.

The Tuesday Workout consisted of:

300M Warm up
200M Drills
200M Kicks
3 X 200M on the 3:40's
Cutting down the stroke count on the last 50M's by 6 strokes
2 X 400M on the 6:40's
5 X 200M on the 3:30's
7 X 100M on the 1:45 (Last 25 meters was only 3 breaths)
8 X 25M all out with 10 seconds on the wall
100M EZ
100M Kick

The Master's Swimmers gave Coach Mike a little Christmas present for having to put up with us twice a week so early in the morning.

I wished all my friends a Merry Christmas and headed home after the swim.

My oldest daughter, Grace has been running a fever and when I arrived home there fever was still invading her body. We decided to get her into the doctor's before we flew to Boston for the week. The doc loaded her up with med's to hopefully combat the fever. After we were equipped to battle the illness we took off for the airport.

Tuesday was the busiest day for traveling at ATL airport. Though there were tons of people at the terminals the process to the gate was uneventful. Upon arriving at the gate we were informed that the First Officer for the flight had not been grounded for the regular 1 hour in between flights so our flight was delayed. A lot of moans growled through the gate as people flipped their phones on and dialed their connections on the other end to complain about the delay. I have always looked at it as if the pilot needs a little rest before they are flying 200 people in a 200 ton sardine can, then let them have their rest. I would rather be late at my destination then never to arrive at all.

We arrived in Boston safe and sound. Last night Ellie could not wait to get to play in the snow, so at 9:00PM Ellie and I headed out into the back yard. The temp was around 15 degrees and the area had received about 20 inches of snow from the storm a couple days ago. We were not outside very long, but Ellie enjoyed the tromp through the cold, untouched, white snow leaving her tracks all over the yard.

This morning she was outside again, attempting to make a snowman, but with the air temp at 11 degrees the snow was crystallized and dry making the snowman building complicated. Tomorrow it is to top 30 degrees which will help the build. We will be out there tomorrow to make the biggest S-man we can build.

The ladies are going to see "Wicked" this afternoon leaving me to do a little shopping at the Natick Mall along with the task of making dinner. Through the cold and snowy weather a man's job is never done, even on vacation.

Shot of Sarah near the finish looking strong. Thanks for the picture Michelle.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day Eighty One - "Christmas Break"

"Tension is who you think you should be.
Relaxation is who you are."
Chinese Proverb
One week before the start of Boston Marathon training. I am just going to enjoy the time with the family as we head to Boston for the Christmas Break.
I got out of bed and hit Brian's Spin Class this morning. Hung by Hampton and shot the stuff with him about biking, running and swimming. What else to athletes talk about? Oh yeah, injuries. Hampton is still suffering with back issues limiting his running to only 3 miles. It is killing him not to run. I feel his pain since I was there a couple of years ago. Time and a lot to PT will make him strong again. For the time being I don't mind relishing in being faster than Hampton, for now...
Saw the Wonder Twins in the locker room. They did a 6 mile run, the first one after Rocket City. It was hard to say the least. The first couple after a punishing 26.2 miles is tough. The mind has the ability but the body says, "no way".
Chicago Marathon is on the docket for the Twins. No Half Ironman or Full Ironman in 2010 for them. Speed and endurance for PR's at Chicago are on their plate. I need to assess the season to see if Chicago is going to be my PR or should I shoot for NYC??? Boston will be my early season PR but maybe I have it in me for 2 marathons in 2010 and limit the triathlons to 1 or 2. That is something for next week to work on.
This is the time to relax and enjoy the season. I need to limit stress of traveling and bouncing around from house to house over the next week.
It's all good.
I am trying out the Facebook thing. This is the only stress in my life right now. It is overwhelming. But Ann Marie and Lou said they would guide me through this maze of crazy Wall stuff. I am counting on them.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day Eighty - "Christmas Break"

Christmas Break has started. This is time for recovery and rest. Boston Training does not start until December 28th.

Here are some shots from Rocket City. Unfortunately the blog site will not allow me to arrange in order.

Sarah, The Boston Qualifier

Bob & Jay in the lobby of the Hotel before the race.

The runners in the background right after the start

Bob, Jay, Bart Yasso, Michelle & Ann Marie (checking her gear again in the back) heading to the Start of the Rocket City Marathon

Ann Marie fixing her gear as she heads to the Start

Steve, Wren, Sarah, Bob, Jay, Ann Marie & Sue

Sarah, Wren, Michelle, Stacy & Ann Marie

The crowded Hotel lobby before the race

Steve, Jay & Bob @ Dinner

Sue, Cassy, Sarah & Wren at Dinner

Cassy, Sue, Sarah & Sue Hanson (Michelle's mom)

Michelle, Ann Marie & Stacy

The guys

Bob & I having a lovely dinner

Bob is ready for the race.
Bart Yasso & me

The runners at the Expo
The shots are backwards but the fit the title on my blog.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day Seventy Eight - "Resistence is Futile"

“There is no sin punished more implacably by nature than
the sin of resistance to change”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Last night I crossed the line into cyber communication. Sarah set me up with an email address and now I am on Facebook. I enjoy the one way communication of eBlog and this will continue to be my feed of information, but in order for me to be connected to some of my friends I am forced into this world. Just setting up the Facebook page was overhelming. I don't see too much use on my end except for a few friends that swear by it.

I adapt to change everyday in business and I need to continue to learn to adapt to the changes in life as well.

After extensive examination of the old ticker the clock repair-person has found no issues as initially found. I am good to go.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day Seventy Seven-"Double Dipping"

What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.

As I made my way back to the office yesterday afternoon, I receive a call from Sarah. She had been at the North Fulton Library and when she was leaving, the car would not start.

Apparently, the key would not turn in the ignition. I made a u-turn and headed over to the library where she had left the car. Fortunately, Sarah was able to catch a ride home with Wren and had phoned me from the house.

I tried to turn the key in the ignition but it would not budge. I jerked the wheel and tried every little trick I could think of to dislodge the key but to no avail.

After dinner, I headed back up with Sarah before she was going to a “Cookie Exchange Party” to try again. I was armed with GT85 lubricant and powdered graphite to see if could loosen the ignition pins to move the key. It ended up being a futile attempt. The key did not budge and we were in a time crunch for Sarah to make her party. We abandoned the car in Alpharetta for the night with the intention of giving it one more shot in the morning prior to calling a tow truck.

This morning I had planned a double session of running and swimming. I needed to get in my last run prior to Saturday’s 5K but I also wanted to swim. I have been spoiled with Master’s and swimming with the group. Swimming solo is a tough prospect to go back to when you are surrounded by other swimmers who are constantly pushing you.

In order for the run/swim to happen, I needed to get up in the middle of the night. The alarm was set for 4:00AM, but I ended up getting out of bed at 3:55AM. Figured at this unruly time of the night what is 5 minutes going to get me?

The run was on the dreadmill. 1-mile warm up at 8:34, 3-miles EZ at 7:40 and 1-mile cool down at 8:47. I hovered near the TV’s to keep my mind off the fact that the gym was sparse at 4:30AM. I focused on my stride and foot placement during the run to increase efficiency and lower my energy output. I finished the run with ease and headed down to the locker room to change for swim.

A crowd of regulars was forming by the bench as Ann Marie made her way in. We are collecting funds for a Christmas gift for someone who will remain anonymous (may be reading the blog…). We were pitching in a 5 spot for this person as she took my contribution to the cause.

The workout was a very doable set this morning:

400M EZ
200M non-Free
150M Drills
5 X 200M on the 3:40’s
3 X 400M on the 7’s
100M: Paddle/Fins, 100M Fins, 100M Free, 100M Hard
50M Stroke Count
5 X 50M reducing the stroke counts on each 50M by 2.
150M Drills
Repeat 50M set above

The lane was full with Melissa, Jeff, Ian and me. Ian moved into the majors from the B lane by Mike’s request. Let us just say he needs a little work on timing and sets in the future. He will get there, but needs a little help along the way.

After the swim was some hot tub action with a few of the swimmers. Small talk got tossed around as we all headed for the showers about 10 minutes later. I told Jeff about the van and that I was headed over there to attempt one more trick before calling the truck to tow it to a garage.

I headed back to the North Fulton Library around 7:40AM. The van had a blanket of frost draped over the entire body of the car. It felt cold outside but not until I saw the van I did not realize how cold it was. As I approached the van, I armed myself with two items, GT-85 lubricant and a rubber mallet. I sprayed the key with the GT-85 and the key lock on the steering column. I let it soak in and then inserted the key. I cranked the wheel as hard as I could to the left and hit the tip of the key with the rubber mallet 3 times. Nothing… The second attempt I used a little more force (not hard) and the key moved. The radio went on, but the steering wheel did not move. I let go of the wheel and landed 2 more strikes and on the 3rd strike I heard a “click”. I put the mallet down and turned the key towards the dash and vroom! The car kicked into life as the key slid easily to ignite the engine.

I thought to myself that the sound of a Chrysler T & C minivan starting up in a library parking lot on a Thursday morning is a beautiful thing. I hopped out, leaving the car on and gathered a few things from the Jeep. With the frost on the windows, I needed a pair of gloves to scrape the ice off to drive the car home. I used an old BJ Gas Card to remove the ice and away I went down Jones Bridge under my own power, well the power of the car, but with me at the wheel and not having to rely on another mode of transport.

There is still the issue of the key ignition needing to a replacement, but that will be a project during Christmas break.

On a side note, I placed the Chicago Marathon on the race list. Bob and Jay are toying with a PR at this race. Flat and fast just how the Wonder Twins like their races. With the tri season an unknown for 2010, I think after Boston the Chicago 26.2 maybe something up my alley. NYC is still there just for the heck of it because of the Q I got, but there is always 2011. We will discuss the 2010 training season and maybe on this race we can get Jeff to run his first stand-alone marathon. Jeff will need to dig deep within himself for this but he is a superior man, but it will not hurt to have the support of his buds to guide him.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day Seventy Six - "The Big Examination"

“In times of great stress or adversity, it's always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.”
Lee Iacocca

I don't know what is worse having to go take the test at my age or waiting for the results.

When they say, "We will call you in a few days with the results", there is not much that happens until then.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day Seventy Five - "The Solo Workout"

Stadiums are for spectators. We runners have nature and that is much better.
Juha Vaatainen

As the excitement of the weekend of Marathon races wears off life starts to takeover again as we all settle back into our normal routines.

Last night we went to Grace’s chorus show at Lambert High School. The middle school chorus puts on a good Holiday show each year and this event was no exception. The kids sang with excitement and enthusiasm to a pack auditorium of parents, siblings and grandparents.

We finished the night with some math word problems that was the last ruminants of homework for the evening and everyone was in bed by 9PM. The girls are counting the days down to Christmas break which will mark the half way point for the 2009-2010 school year.

The alarm sounded at 4:55AM this morning. I have changed my routine around this week to break up some monotony I have had and scheduled a track workout on a swim day. With the upcoming 5K race on Saturday to establish my paces for Boston training I opted for the change to rest the legs on Friday.

The weather outside was misty and humid for a mid-December morning. The environment must be taking note of Al Gore’s speech in Copenhagen where he vehemently stated that the Polar Ice Caps would be completely “ice-free” in 5-7 years. This was later refuted by Dr. Maslowski stating he would never be that direct with his figures and that Al Gore’s statement was unfounded. I guess the warm pocket over Suwanee/Alpharetta didn’t get the memo on another false statement about Global Warming.

The legs were stiff this morning so I spent an additional 10 minutes on the treadmill to loosen the them up and get the cobwebs out. After the warm-up I headed to the track solo. Since the summer I have had the company of Bob, Jay, Ann Marie, Susan, Michelle and Jeff out at the local track. It has been a motivating factor during Half Ironman training when the legs are fried from grinding it out on the bike and the fast runs we had done. The chats up and down Webb Bridge were silenced this morning by the sound of my shoes making contact with the wet sidewalks.

Arriving at the track I peeled off a few layers to keep cool as the air was thick and humid. I made the “once-around” the track to clear debris and to mark the 200M point.

The workout was: 6 X 400M’s. The plan was to go by feel and not split the 200M times. I took off on the first 400M in the damp, dark morning with no music attached to my ears. I usually wear headphones on solo runs but during race week I want to feel and hear my running to get a sense of how I feel. Rounding the first bend of the 400M the legs felt stiff even after the warm-up and run down to the track. I focused on form and propelled myself on the back stretch as I made the second turn. At the ending of the turn and into the home stretch, I kicked the legs higher and leaned forward as I glided in at 0:01:17. Right on the mark.

The next 5-400M’s was about form and pushing on the last 100M. The times for the next 5-400M’s were #2) 0:01:18, #3) 0:01:17, #4) 0:01:17, #5) 0:01:18, #6) 0:01:17. I would of have wanted the same time on all 6, but 1 second off on a few, I’ll take it.

I headed back to LTF were I spend the next 25 minutes stretching. This is one routine that I broke that needs to be incorporated back into my training. I have let a lot of stretch slide over the last 70 days and I am focusing on increasing my flexibility through stretching and yoga.

On the way to the lockers I ran into Michelle. She told me that everyone got out of the pool early because the PH balance was off and it was causing the swimmers to cough.

We chatted a few minutes and I noticed that she looked good for running a marathon only a few days ago. However, youthfulness can have that affect on a person, not like me where it takes a week or two to even to start to bounce back.

I saw Jeff in the locker room as he was leaving. He informed me of the same thing on the condition of the pool and that the Aquatic’s Director was on vacation this week. These two things tend to go hand-in-hand, the AD out and the pool goes to heck.

The rest of the week is “switched up” with runs and swims. This week will be a solo week in the pool and on the roads. I need to use to companionless runs over the next 16 weeks, but I have been there once and can do it again. It is better than being on the sidelines or in the stands. I will have my surroundings and occasional tune to keep me company.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Day Seventy Four -"Marathon Glory"

Every athlete has doubts. Elite runners in particular are insecure people. You need someone to affirm that what you are doing is right.
Lynn Jennings

Since Saturday I have been attempting to write a remarkable story about this weekend of Marathons, I finally found my inspiration:

Sarah: 3:48:44-Boston Qualifier
Ann Marie: 3:47:37-Boston Qualifier
Tracey: 3:48:01-Boston Qualifier
Bob “The Bullet” Marinich: 3:29:41-Boston Qualifier
Jay "Egg Whites" Eibler: 3:29:40-Boston Qualifier
Michelle Hanson: 3:54:46 PR
Stacy Hurd: 4:26:22 First but not the last marathon

Need I say anymore?
I am proud of all the runners in their accomplishments over the weekend in qualifying for Boston in 2011. The support these runners had during their journey to meet their goals was beyond compare.

Now that their season has come to an end, my season is starting to ramp up after Christmas. My goal during this training session is to get back to Boston in 2011 by qualifying on the course in 2010. The main motivation is to again share in a remarkable event in this runners lives.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day Seventy One - "Marathon Countdown"

Run like hell and get the agony over with.
Clarence DeMar

Less than 24 hours until race time for the runners.

We left Suwanee/Cumming around 9AM and arrived in Huntsville at 1PM. The ride was pleasurable with Sarah, Wren, Ann Marie, Stacy and me at the wheel.

We arrived in Huntsville and went to a local Subway near the Holiday Inn. After lunch we went over to the Host Hotel, registered and walked around the expo.

Sarah and Wren checked in while I drove Ann Marie and Stacy over to the Embassy Suites.
I talked to Bob and Jay while they were at the local Fleet Feet milling around picking up last

minute items. I will cruise over to their room in a little while to see how they are doing.

Dinner is at 5PM and Sarah and I are in the hotel room resting her legs so she can be ready to run like the wind.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day Seventy - "Marathon Week"

"A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more. Nobody is going to win a 5,000 meter race after running an easy 2 miles. Not with me. If I loose forcing the pace all the way, well, at least I can live with myself. "
Steve Prefontaine

Today starts the traveling days into Marathon Weekend.

The Wonder Twins are heading to Huntsville this afternoon to rub elbows with Bart Yasso while I am taking a caravan of runners tomorrow morning after all of our kids are safely off to school.
I find myself as the time gets near that I am starting to feel butterflies in the pit of my stomach. It is not because I m running the marathon but the fact that I have a personal connection with all the runners that I have written about for the last couple of months. Each one of my family and friends are embarking on the last leg of a journey they started out on 16 weeks ago. With over 440 miles of running under their belts, they have only a mere26.2 miles to go to complete this voyage. The feeling I am experience is a sense of excitement and anticipation for what will happen at 11:50AM CST on Saturday & on Sunday as well when the race will be over for all 6 runners.

I spoke to my sister, Tracey last night. She wanted a few pointers on food intake, drinking and when to get to the race on Sunday. We agreed on having a large pasta meal on Friday night. On Saturday she will eat normal portions of breakfast lunch (a little larger lunch) and dinner. Tracey will also start to get up at 5AM starting today to prep herself for Sunday’s early morning. I need to email her to advise her to increase her salt intake since the temperature in Dallas is to be mid-60’s for the race.

Thursday Morning Swim Workout:

I swam with Jeff and Melissa to aviod swimming with Carmen. Man, is she fast!

300M Warm up
200M IM
5 X 200M on 3:40
200M All out: sub 3:00
4 X 400M on 7:30
Sets were:
100M Free
100M Kick
100M IM
100M Paddles
8 X 25M all out with 6 Wall Push-up.
I bagged the Wall Push-up due to the shoulder.

Just got an email from Todd wishing a few of the runner’s good luck on Saturday. We need to break away from out busy lives and sit down for a cold one before the holidays. Todd if you are reading, let's plan on a ice cold one next week. I believe I am good any day. If not, I will make the time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day Sixty Nine -"Marathon Week".

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
Last night I completed the replacement of the struts and shocks on the van. I have a little tweaking of the left strut since it is making a bit of noise but that should be a minor adjustment. To complete a project or repair without hiring someone to do it for me is always a sense of accomplishment for me.

During the night and into the morning the rain came down in buckets. The wind howled and the trees shook releasing a majority of their leaves. I will need to do some clean-up around the house on Sunday to remove the blanket of brown leaves that are covering the yard in the front and back.
Today was the last run for the Wonder Twins, Ann Marie and Michelle prior to the marathon on Saturday. Sarah and Wren are running the 3 mile run tomorrow. I received a message from Tracey yesterday seeing if I could answer a few questions about the upcoming weekend and her run. We have yet to connect but I will attempt to contact her today.

As I woke I could still hear the rain hitting against the window in the bedroom. I was meeting Ann Marie, Michelle and Susan for the last training run at 5:15AM. My plan was to run this with them and then meet the Wonder Twins for their 3 miler at 5:45AM. I packed two sets of running attire; one for cold, rainy outside weather and another for treadmill running. I was not sure what the consensus would be for the run, either inside or out.

I met Michelle and Susan in the lobby about 5:10AM. We had normal short talk, which was fine since it was so early in the morning still. All 3 of us looked half asleep as we sacked out on the couches waiting for Ann Marie. By 5:25AM and no Ann Marie, Michelle and I decided to take off on the run. Susan was going to wait around to see if she showed.

I had decided we would run the MARTA-Westside PKY loop this morning. It is a 3.3 mile loop that begins and ends at LTF. The rain had let up by the time we started the run. My goal was to hang on Michelle’s shoulder the entire time and let her dominate the pace. Out of the gate, I knew we were too fast, but I paced myself by her step until she looked at her Garmin and saw that we were running sub 8’s. At that point she eased off and fell into a groove at a more sustainable speed.

By the time, we hit Windward and the low grade climb to Westside PKY the pace had settled to 8:20’s or so. I continued to stay in step with her and not get ahead of her pace. By being ahead of her and setting the pace she would stay stride-for-stride with me which would defeat the purpose of the 3 mile marathon pace run.

Onto Westside PKY the pace was very comfortable. I said to Michelle to control the pace on the 1.1 mile downhill on Westside. She managed the downhill portion as we turned on to Morris and head up to LTF.

The time was 5:52AM and I knew the Wonder Twins would have not waited so, I said good-bye to Michelle, told her I would see her tomorrow and I headed back out the door. I figured that the Wonder Twins did not give the 5-minute wait rule so they had at least 8 minute head start on me which would had been almost a mile. Even at a sub 7, I would have caught up with them within a quarter mile of the completion of the run. I decided to run the course in the opposite direction and meet up with the Wonder Twins at the halfway mark.

I took off down Morris onto Academy to Westside PKY. This way on the route is uphill on Westside. The hill is not a heavy hill but a long gradual incline to Windward. I headed up Westside and almost at the half way point on the parkway I was 3 shadowy figures careening down the road towards me.

It was the Wonder Twins and Bill. Bill is one of Bob’s friends that tagged along for the run. I turned and fell into stride with the Twins and Bill. Bob was leading the way as Jay flicked his wrist back and forth to monitor the pace. The pace was a little fast (as usual) but at this point this 3 miler was not going to have an effect on them at a faster than race pace speed.
We finished on Westside, turned left on Academy and headed towards Morris. Bill dropped as soon as we made the turn on Academy as we continued to the final 3 mile destination. Once we hit the mark, we turned to meet Bill back at the corner. The four of us walked/jogged the rest of the way to LTF.

The Wonder Twins are ready. I see it in their faces, I see it in their attitude and I see it in their runs.

The next two days are preparing to leave on Friday. My parents are staying at our Bed & Breakfast tonight as they pass threw on their way to Texas. They are continually supporters of their adult children in our endeavors, from my Ironman Events to my sister Nicole’s are festivals and now they are on their way to lend support to their baby daughter, Tracey in her first marathon.

We each have areas that we excel in and give our best. For my parents it is the continual support of their adult children and their grandchildren that we appreciate.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Day Sixty Eight - "Marathon Week"

"Deciding on when to kick is crucial
and depends on how the race is unfolding."
Michael East

We are 5-6 days away from Marathon Weekend. There is a nervous tension in the air from the runners…Well, maybe not all the runners, okay just the Wonder Twins. The emails are flying on the weather, their weight, the day they are heading to the race (they would have left last weekend if they could) and what to wear during the race. It is understandable for their nervous tendency. This is a huge race for them as it is for all. The Wonder Twins are going to do great at this race. I just hope they don’t kick out the first 5K at a sub 7 pace. Sarah, Wren, Ann Marie, Tracey, Michelle and Stacy are all going to do exceptionally well this weekend.

I emailed Sarah this morning to ask her what time she would like to leave for Huntsville on Friday. She decided to leave right after Grace leaves for school. The van will be pulling out of Suwanee around 8:15AM.

Last night until 12AM I spent my time in the garage preparing the van for the trip. The suspension after 128,000 miles was showing signs of weakness so I changed out the back shocks and started work on the front struts. The shocks took about 30 minutes to replace. The struts are a different animal. After decompression the coil spring on the one of the struts the tool slipped and the coil recoiled catching me in the Opponens pollics of the left hand. The impact sent a shock wave all the way down to the metacarpal and up through my radius. After the kick from the coil I was in some serious pain, but got through it to replace the strut and coil. Tonight I need to finish the other strut and re-install them on the van.

With the late night and sore left hand, I bagged swimming for some much needed sleep.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Day Sixty Seven -"Marathon Week"

“Having once decided to achieve a certain task, achieve it at all costs of tedium and distaste. The gain in self confidence of having accomplished a tiresome labor is immense.”
Arthur Helps

This weekend was completed in a blink of an eye. It was Friday night and we were eating pizza, drinking beers and watching “Angels and Demons” and then the next moment the alarm was sounding to start Monday.

The weekend was filled with many things that needed to be done. Skimming the ceiling in the mudroom, picking the van up from the mechanics, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, going to get a Christmas Tree, replacing the shocks and struts on the van, making gingerbread men with my youngest daughter and spending a magical night at Lake Lanier. I know there are a few other items that we did as well in addition to the ones listed above, but they escape me.

Saturday night we visited Lake Lanier to witness the “Magical Nights of Lights”. The light show is always a spectacular event that we enjoy every couple of years. We visited Santa’s Workshop and Grace and I rode on the Himalaya ride. The ride is a circular rollercoaster that takes you at break necking speeds around and around and around. Grace got a kick riding this ride and Ellie and Sarah watched from afar. The girls hit the “Fun House” and we ended with a nice quiet ride on the Carousel. The girls were hungry for some “Carnie” food so Ellie bought a bag of cotton candy while Grace went for the Carmel Apple. We all had a good time on Saturday night.

On Sunday Grace was an acolyte at church and Sarah was meeting Wren later in the morning to run their track workout. Sarah is still battling the groin issues but her perseverance and determination will not vacillate from the goal she has set out for herself. Sarah completed her track workout with ease on the times but still felt the nagging pain in her groin. I am proud of my wife in her dedication to what she had laid out for herself 16 weeks ago and has not waffled from this goal. The marathon is going to bring a certain different level of challenges for her with the injury but I am going to be there for her at mile 13 to 26.2 if she needs me.

As stated, Monday morning came fast. Working in the suspension on the van proved to me that no matter how much you workout and lift weights contorting your body in unnatural ways to remove shocks and struts leave you in pain. The back aches, the knees throb and the hands are bruised and cut up. Even with the pain and cuts I encountered there is always a sense of pleasure in accomplishing a project on your own.

This morning was track. The air was frigid and the sky was swirled with black and gray clouds. I was to meet Ann Marie, Jay & Bob out at the track for their last track workout in this training session. Our workouts were different this go around with Ann Marie and The Wonder Twins running 6 X 400M’s while I scurried around the track on 3 X 1600M’s. I left for the track alone in order for me to start the longer set and I was joined by the 3 marathoners after the completion of my first 1600M.

We all hit the track at different times due to the sets, but from what I could see from these 3 gliding around the oval was that they are ready for Saturday. Each runner flowed effortlessly around the track as I watched in amazement. The feeling of accomplishment came over me as I saw their stride and fluid movements knowing that I had done my part in helping them get to this critical juncture. I am not taking credit for where they are now because each of the runners that are training for the upcoming marathons on Saturday and Sunday has the ability to succeed. I was there for moral support and to help them in their journey if they needed me.

My sister Tracey, ran her 10 miles on Sunday with her friend Kelly. They ran miles 18-21 on the MetroPCS Marathon course. In reviewing the profile of this course these miles looked to be the most challenging and I thought it would be adventitious for Tracey to mental plot out her course of action on the “meat miles” of the course. Tracey reported that 18-21 was not as bad as expected and she hit her pace marks and felt good. This is my sister’s first marathon and I am wishing her all the best on this milestone in her running life.

The gains that the runners will accomplish next weekend will come with a cost to their bodies and spirit, the rewards will overshadow once the Finish Line is behind them.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Day Sixty Four - "1 Week to Marathon Weekend"

“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
Christopher Robin to Pooh”

Countdown to Rocket City Marathon and MetroPCS Marathon is on. Each race is next weekend. I have talked with all the runners; Sarah, Wren, Tracey, Ann Marie and the Wonder Twins going into the last week of training before the race. They are all ready! Everyone except my sister, Tracey, has finished his or her last long run of this training session. Tracey is running a section of the MetroPCS Marathon with her friend, Kelly on Saturday.

Each one of these brave, strong runners has come a long way in the last 15 weeks. There have been some complications from almost everyone but one thing has remained vicissitude, their desire to achieve the goal that they set for themselves.

Last night was another family gathering night at the table. With the year ending, the extra-curricular activities are winding down as well. This gives up more time as a family unit to talk about the day or days ahead. This past week I am on a mission with dinners. Every 90 days or so, I go through the freezer and plan meals strictly on the contents of the food that is in a deep freeze. Last night was BBQ ribs, BBQ chicken and bake beans. Not the healthy of choices, but is darn good.

I heard the alarm go off around 4:55AM this morning. I was slow to react to the sound and as I turned off the alarm, I had a smile on my face. Unlike Bob, it was not because of a track workout, but the smile was planted on my face because I turned the alarm off. Today is Friday, which means, Saturday is tomorrow and I do not need to get up at the crack of darkness (dawn is still 1.5 hours away) to workout. It is also bitter sweet, because Saturday’s used to be the Saturday Morning Ride training for Ironman or Half Ironman’s. Those days are gone and maybe hard to return in the future.

I made the familiar trek to the gym drudgingly knowing that the workout ahead of me was not only on the track, but a solo track workout. These workouts as the air-cools in late fall are brutal. The wind, light from the moon and the surroundings on the AHS are disquiet to the brain. The bleachers in the stadium creek, the moon casts haunting images that are not seen in the light and the mind magnifies any little thing by 100. I know there is nothing there with me, but the brain states otherwise.

As I left the locker room I saw Jeff coming down the hall in his running gear. He was running a little late and wondered what I was up to. Jeff was to meet the Wonder Twins out on their 10 mile course and run the last mile or so in with them, but like me, the warmth of the bed held him at bay for more time than he expected. He asked where I was heading and I told him the track. Since Jeff was running late, he decided to join me out at AHS instead of trying to figure out where to meet the Twins. I was grateful for his decision.

The track workout was a tough one: 5 – 1k’s at 0:03:31’s. The legs were not firing on all cylinders from last week’s Half and the leg workout yesterday morning. The first 1k was right on at 0:03:31. I set the watch to hit the 200M split at 0:00:42 to keep me on track. After hitting the first 1k on the money, the remaining 4 did not go as well. I ended the workout at 0:03:31, 0:03:37, 0:03:35, 0:03:38, 0:03:36. I was a little disappointed in the lack of effort but oh well, not going to beat myself up over a few seconds here or there.

Jeff ended up running his own “stick” around and around the track. It was probably boring for him but I did enjoy his company. We tend to have a few times once or twice a year of working out that reminds me of the days of Ironman training and spending hours on end in the pool on the road and on the bike.

We saw Ann Marie, Susan A & Michele in the hall at LTF. First thing AM said to me was that they were 5 seconds off pace. They ended up running Windward that is hilly, hilly, and hilly. Jeff said, to only be 5 off for that run is good. I think she is a little nervous that dropping pace for this run is going to have an effect on her performance. Man, is she competitive. That is a compliment on her behalf because her energy feeds me in seeing how fast she is becoming. The devotion she has in doing her best fuels me to do my best as well. "It is always better to surround yourself with eagles than to be surrounded by turkeys." I need to get the eagle on a faster plan in the future so I have a running partner to sore with.

After the stretching, came the awards of Jeff and my efforts out on the track. We met the Wonder Twins at Cracker Barrel for a hearty breakfast. These are the times I enjoy, sitting around with a group of fine gentlemen that I am glad to call my friends, eating and conversing before our busy days start. We always have good intentions on having a beer after work but life extracts any little time we have to knock one back. Mornings are our thing. The family is still asleep or getting ready for school, it is before the start of the workday and it is the only time we truly have to ourselves or to friends.

Editor’s Blog Note: Ann Marie wanted this editor to set the record straight on Wednesday’s blog entry. It was stated that Ann Marie did a spin class Wednesday morning then ran her 5 by 1k’s on the treadmill proceeding the spin. While this is true, I am to clarify that Ann Marie no way or form broke a sweat while spinning. This was an hour of “light” spinning to get the legs warmed up for the speed workout.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Day Sixty Three - "Swim or be Eaten"

I walked away from the sport for 17 years, then started swimming again recently in a master's program.
Mark Spitz

We all have things we are good at cooking, reading, math, being friendly, sports or anything you have a passion for. It amazes me that no matter the time away from the thing you are good at you easily pick it back up.

The pool this morning. When I arrived on deck, I saw that Susan was sitting on the bench in her hoodie and Carmen was next to her getting ready. Instantly I thought, “there is no way in h-e-double hockey sticks that I am swimming in Lane 4.” I thought I was anaerobic on Tuesday swimming with an Ex-Olympian and a member of an Ex- Spanish Swim Team member would be detrimental to my health. These two athletes are amazing in the pool and are fun to watch in the outside lane was they jet by you in Lane 4.

I started to make my way towards Lane 5 to stake my claim in this lane but saw Ann Marie come in. In her hand, she had the money for her blowing away her Half Marathon pace last Thursday. The true amount owed was $425 for going excessively fast, but I settled for $42.00 made payable to the Humane Society of Forsyth County. Money well lost in my opinion. Ann Marie is on fire in her training and racing in 2009 and she like the rest are going to exceptionally well next week.

I dumped the winnings in my locker and shuffled over to Lane 5 to make sure I was not going to be tossed in with the sharks. Tuesday’s swim wreaked havoc on shoulders and today they were a little tender.

I jumped in Lane 5 but got a little back lash from the swimmers in the Lane, who will remain anonymous. At the same time, Susan was telling Mike that I need to swim with her but I ignored the conversation and started the warm up.

Coach Mike’s Swim:
250M Warm Up
100M Drills
100M Kick
400M Moderate
300M Pull with Paddles
5 X 400M @ 7:00
100M One Arm Swims
100M Catch-up
100M Right/Left Side Kicks
100M 5 Breaths per length
100M 4 Breaths per length
50M 2 breaths per length
150M Kick

The swim mojo was not there this morning due to the sore shoulders. What made it worse was Melissa was right on my tail on one set of 400M. I need to keep my eye on her. She is getting faster in a sneaky way...

I did notice after the swim that the Dynamic Duo of Jay, “The Man”, “The Myth”, “The Legend”(Jay's new quote for himself) and Bob, “Mr. 175lbs” were absent from the pool this morning. I have a theory that since they have trained together for the last 18 weeks they have become the “Wonder Twins” and cannot do any activity without the other. The need the presence of the other to activate the Wonder Rings. Jay and Bob have been transformed from the Dynamic Duo to the Wonder Twins effective immediately.

Next week starts the big countdown to Huntsville and the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon for the runners. The “Wonder Twins” are activating their rings and leaving on Thursday to hang in the town of Huntsville, AL for a day. I will be chauffeuring Sarah, Wren, Ann Marie and Stacy to the race site Friday morning. My sister’s marathon on the 13th in Dallas. This is a local race for her and her friend Kelly.

This is an awesome time for the group and I am excited to witness their hard work over the last 18 weeks pay off on the 12th and 13th.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day Sixty Two - "The Treadmill of Life"

Life is short... running makes it seem longer.
Baron Hansen

You know your life is pretty darn good when you go to asleep and have a smile on your face and all is good in your world. Nothing “special” happened last night, which can be just perfect. It was a normal school weekday, but at dinner, the conversation was lively and it lasted well after the meal was over. We sat and conversed about our days, Grace’s upcoming play, Ellie’s encounter with a football to her head, Sarah and me meeting her at mile 13 on the marathon, Tiger Woods and his rights to privacy and just a bunch of little stuff that made us laugh. We try to have family dinner nights more often than not and I am glad that we do. Life does go by fast and it is these times in our lives that matter the most.
I woke at 3:12AM to the sound of rain knocking on the windows and dancing on the roof. There was a forecast for rain on Wednesday and the weathermen in Atlanta were actually right, for once. As I drifted back to sleep I knew that the track workout was scratched, but I would figure out the run when the alarm went off.
5:00AM, the radio woke me from a deep sleep. It took me a couple of minutes to get my bearings (which is unusual for me). The rain was heavier than before and I knew I needed to change up the outdoor garb for indoor treadmill clothing.
Downstairs I grab the running book to see if I could do the long run on the treadmill. This week was a 8 mile run at 6:54’s. Not what I really wanted to do on the treadmill, but it needed to get done.
Traveling to LTF the rain continued to come down in force. At times, the wind had intervened and pushed the rain sideways as it smacked up against the Jeep. A few moments of hydroplaning kept my attention on the road as I pulled into the lot at the gym.
I started the run on the Woodway Treadmills in the back of the gym. The first mile was a warm up at 8:13 then I settled into a 6:53 pace (6:54 is not an option on the TM). After the 2 mile I started to overheat in the dry, stagnant air. By the end of Mile 4 it was too hot to handle one more step. I jumped off the treadmill and headed for the center of the gym near the vents that were blowing air. I figured in the open area the air would circulate better and keep my core cooler than in the back.
I finished up the remaining 4 miles and went to stretch. I saw Ann Marie as I finished stretching and proceeded to do a few shoulder exercises. She had just completed Brian’s spin class and was starting the 5-1K’s on the treadmill. Ann Marie asked me what the pace needed to be and I calculated 6:40’s for the 1000’s. Before she started she asked me if that pace was right. I did the math in my head again and figured that pace to be more like 6:54’s. She was good with that pace and started to click off the first 1K. As Ann Marie motored along on the mill, I finished my shoulder exercises and talked to Chris and Brian for a few minutes.
The idée of life continues to intrigue me. The moments in life that you hold precious flash by in a blur while other things like a treadmill work tend to stop the movement of time. Events in your life like the growth of your children, which is a slow process move quickly, and quick or fast events, ergo, treadmill running at sub 7 pace go by very slow. You wonder how you would perceive your life if it was opposite?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day Sixty One - December First!"

It's been told that swimming is a wimp sport, but I don't see it. We don't get timeouts, in the middle of a race we can't stop and catch our breath, we can't roll on our stomachs and lie there, and we can't ask for a substitution.
~Dusty Hicks
Today I was stripped of the Big Fish title in Lane 1 and was demoted to the trail fish in Lane 2.
The holiday festivities brought out the swimmers in droves attempting to trim some of the turkey and stuffing that had accumulated around their wastes. The 5 lanes of the pool were filled with 4-5 swimmers this morning, well except for one. Lane 2. The lane that corrals all the Olympic and ex-college swimmers. Since I am the fastest swimmer in Lane 1,3,4 & 5 I was punished this morning by being bumped from my little pond where I reign as the "Big Fish" and was forced to swim with the sailfish.
As soon as I entered the Lane 2 I felt infinitesimal to the two Goliath swimmers taking off at a blinding speed for the warm up. Michelle, the former LSU Swimmer with records still unbroken on the walls of the local Dynamo Swim Club walls and Susan, the Olympic Breaststroker. I don't need to say any more on her accomplishments. The word, "Olympian" says it all.
Coach Mike's Workout (or anaerobic swim):
300M Warm up
150M Non-Free
150 Drills
5 X 200M on the 3:20
100 recovery swim
5 X 300M on the 5:00
Broken down:
100M Paddles & Fins
100M Fins
100M Free
100M recovery
100M Right/Left Side with Fins
50M Zipper
100M Fists
8 X 25M All Out with 10 seconds on the wall
100M kick
The first set of 200M's I held my own with only 3 body lengths of trailing. My heart rate was through the roof on all 5-200M's, but I came in at 3:05 on each.
The 300M's were an annihilation. I continued to fall back and by the 3rd 300M I was a length behind. I buckled down and did not quit even though I was about to be passed on the 5th and final 300M.
The 8 X 25M's is where I was able to hold my own. I maintained a 5 second gap between Susan and I as we blistered through the 25's. I looked at Susan at one point as I was huffing and puffing and it did not even look like she was taxed at all.
The rule of genetics applies to Susan. She has been a couch potato for 3 months, gets in the pool and by the third workout she is smokin' in the water.
Though the workout was more than I bargained for when I woke up this morning, I was glad I did it and I was really glad when it was over.
I could have stopped at anytime or wore fins through out the whole 300M sets as Mike suggested I do, but that deem me a wimp in my own eyes.
I guess if you want to be a Big Fish, you need to swim with the Big Fish.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Day Sixty - "Last Day of November"

“He who has health, has hope. And he who has hope, has everything.”

The last day of another month is upon us. We have sailed through Halloween and right past Thanksgiving. The days continue to speed ahead as the days of your life continue to grow longer. The Christmas Holiday is approaching at warp speed. This upcoming month brings with it not only the signs of tidings and cheer but hopeful accomplishments at the end of a season and the hopeful beginnings of a season to start.

The morning was a late one after having a few days off for the Thanksgiving Day Holiday. I was awoke by my youngest daughter at 6:05AM. This is her regular morning time to wake up and prepare her day for school. I was going to spend the day working from home today due to the doctor's appointments lined up for this issue with the ticker that was discovered two weeks ago.

I went to Johns Creek LTF to run my mid-tempo run on the treadmill. I saw Carmelo in the locker room who just completed IM-Arizona. He was excited that he finished and he proceeded to tell me how well organized the event was put together. This was Carmelo's second Ironman after being away from the sport for a couple of years. I was glad he accomplished a goal that he set out to achieve.

Upstairs at LTF was sparse. I must of hit the changing of the workers to the stay at home parents who just sent the kids off to school. I started out the workout at 8:34's for a warm up and after 1.3 miles turned the pace up to 7:00/mile. I needed about 10 minutes to warm up from the Half on Thursday so I took my time until I felt warm and then settled into a 6:41 pace. I ran this pace for 4.5 miles and then eased off to a 8:34 pace to cool down.

There Turkey Day Half still lingered in the legs after the tempo. Did a good stretch and headed home.

Starting December 1st the countdown for Boston Training begins. It will be bitter sweet for me. Great that I am training for my second consecutive Boston appearance but bitter that I will be there alone without my wife and friends.

Tomorrow is swim after a week's absence. I hope the desire is still there for the pool.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day Fifty Nine - End of Thanksgiving Holiday

I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we're all cowards.

-- Alberto Salazar

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday, I have been devoid from the blog. With the holidays I focus on family and friends and leave the normal traces of life behind.
Wednesday through Sunday sailed by with the family having a lot of fun along the way.
Tuesday night Sarah and I brought the girls and headed down to Buckhead to the Atlanta Expo to pick up our bib number and shirt. I was also there to have my picture taken for the sponsor that fronted a little cash and a few shirts for me to run the race. The new TV show, “Men of a Certain Age” on TNT was the sponsor. This photo shoot was a little messed up with the picture being taken with the group early making me miss the group shot but I had a picture taken with my youngest daughter with her and I sporting the shirts the TV show gave me. After the expo we headed over to Buckhead Pizza and had an awesome dinner with lively conversation with the girls.
My parents headed down from North Carolina on Wednesday to join us for the festivities.
When my parents come down to our home they easily fold into our lives. Wednesday night was of a course the pre-race dinner prior to the Atlanta Half Marathon. The dinner was loaded with carbs, protein and veggie’s. I always enjoy making the meal of Chicken Alfredo, salad and bread for Sarah and myself, but now I had more company to join us. Not only does the dinner serve as a loading prior to a long run or race, but also it covers the areas of comfort food for guest.
Sarah and I turned in early in order for us to get plenty of sleep for the half marathon. Tomorrow’s annual half marathon is serving two purposes for Sarah and I. For Sarah, at the end of week 14 she had a 13 miler at race pace. The Atlanta Half Marathon is the perfect venue for Sarah to control her pace and achieve her 13-mile training run at race pace. For me, it was a race. I wanted to break the 1:30:00 mark for a half marathon. Since Augusta, I have not had a set training program, but with the workouts I have had, I knew that there was some untapped power in me to achieve this goal.
Turkey Day morning both Sarah and I woke prior to 5AM. Our plan was to pick up Wren at 5:35AM in her neighborhood and head down to the Chamblee MARTA station near the start of the Half Marathon.
We picked Wren up and made a smooth ride down 141 to Chamblee. We unloaded our bags at the transport trucks and I kissed my wife and wished her good luck. I hugged Wren and wished her a good run and I headed off to do a 10-minute warm up prior to the race.
The warm up was uneventful down a side road into a neighborhood where I could not help but thinking that most of these residences of this community are still sleeping while less than quarter mile away from them 10,000 runners were congregating.
As I made my way to the Start Line and Corral #1 I ran into Les. I have known Les for the last 7 years. I met him at the local Y in Alpharetta and have been friends every since. Les is a great guy who in fact was one triathlete who stopped to give me a CO-2 cartridge on the Augusta bike route. Les and I chatted about family and his progress in running. He was looking for a PR on this course (he finished in 1:37:00) and told me his current coach was Kona Jerry. As we made our way to the corrals I saw the 1:30:00 pace group. I wished Les the best of runs and told him I may see him at the finish.
I walked up to Corral #1 there were a number of runners piling into the corral. I found the pace group and hung out with about 8 minutes prior to the start. The coolness of the air settled on the crowd of runners as the runners mostly strangers to all huddled close together to keep the body warmth in the corral.
A few moments later the announcer came over the loud speaker thanking the volunteers, then the Anthem and we were off!
I was about 4 runners deep from the start and with a few steps I was over the start line heading down Peachtree for 13.1 miles. Jamie, our pace group leader had decided to run a positive split on this course. The first 7 miles are downhill with 4.0 miles up then less than 2 miles downhill to Turner Field.
The route was start toward the town of Atlanta. With the 10-minute warm up I was able to settle into a steady pace on the first mile. The group was 6:25 on the first with 6:14 on the second mile. I heard a few complaints from some of the runners but after I explained the plan they settled into the idea and we made our way down PT.
The next 2-3 miles we eased back and had a 10 second per mile cushion going into the middle of the course. I passed under the 6.5 ”Men of a Certain Age” banner draped across the road. I expected to see a large contingency of supporters for the TV Show but it was only two guys. A spotter and a camera guy. The thought that ran through my head was, lame. I expected more, but my goal was not to be greeted by the banner but to finish this race.
As I rounded the 7 mile marker I stripped the Tech Shirt and wore the racing tee I had under the black sponsor shirt. The temp was increasing to the mid-40’s by this point and with a large amount of hill facing me, I wanted to make sure my core was cool and ready for the challenges.
The group at this point started to thin out. A few “runners” moved ahead and more fell behind. I was comfortable in my pace and wanted to attack the hills with Jamie to insure I maintained pace. By the first hill we were 1:40 ahead of total pace which left us a nice reserve for the hills. The hills came fast and steep. For the next 4 miles we lost 20 seconds per mile on grades and averaged 6:50’s. I held back and followed the leader since he knew where the next hill was and when we needed to prepare for it.
After the last of the hills the course gradually changed to a downhill again. At this point I knew I was at mile 11 and started to increase the pace and broke from the group. I followed a few lone runners to Capital Hill here I knew the short steep road would hit the quads hard and furious. The hill was in front of me as I lowered my head leaned into the hill shortened my step and increased the cadence. I could feel gravity slowing me down as I made it up and over the last of the hills before I could see the Olympic Rings leading to Turner Field.
Taking the time to catch my breath I focused on the Rings and increased the pace. There was one small grad up and over 75/85 and took this with no problem. After that it was smooth sailing. The heart rate and breathing increased as the crowds grew closer to Turner Field. On the left a quarter mile from the Finish I saw Susan and Mike taking pictures. Susan yelled and I gave them the thumbs up as I sailed down Hank Aaron to the end. A moment later I passed a runner on the left and I felt him catch my right shoulder to draft off me to the end. 100 meters further I heard a snap and the runner dropping off. He started to scream as I turned to see that he had hit a pot hole and twisted his ankle less than 250 meters from the end of the 13.1 miles. His swearing was loud until the distance took over between us and the loudness of his cursing was muffled by the cheers of the crowd.
I kicked it one more time thinking of the track and the acceleration I do at the last turn of a 400 and crossed the line at 1:28:46. This time gets me an automatic entrance into the New York Marathon.
I had accomplished the goal I had set out. I felt awesome. Was not winded, was not sore, was not in pain, just elated. I saw a few of the group runners I had shared over an hour of my life with. I congratulated them on their accomplishments and headed towards the medal stands. I was adorn in a medal and walked to the water and food stations.
After gathering some post race recovery fuel I got my clothing bag, I had dropped off 2 hours earlier and changed in the parking lot. The next goal was to meet up with my friends then Sarah and Wren.
Here are the shots from the race. Everyone had accomplished their task. With all of the runners actually running faster than the pace they were to hold for this run. Sarah finished at 1:48:46, 3 minutes too fast but she felt fine and looked good. Wren knocked out a 1:48:03, again fast. The bet I had with Ann Marie has made me a rich man. AM finished at 1:41:28, almost 7 minutes excessively fast! AM owes me $42.00. Cha-ching! If I stuck to the original bet AM would be ponying up $425 clams. I couldn't do that to her for a great run even though it was too fast for a training run.

Ann Marie, Michele, Susan, Amy and Amy's Bro

Michele, Seth and Les

Michele, Seth & Me

Sarah and Wren

Sarah & I (I am very proud of her)

Thanksgiving Dinner with my family was very special to us. We are truly thankful for our health, family, friends, jobs, abilities and love we have for each other. My youngest made us Indian hats to celebrate the first Turkey Day in America.

The Family on Turkey Day

The rest of the holiday was spent with the grandparents playing board games, going downtown to Dialogue in the Dark (which I highly recommend) making pizza’s, breakfast and watching a few DVD’s. My parents left on Saturday morning.
Sarah and Wren had left Friday afternoon with Courtney to support her in her first marathon. Courtney ran a trail marathon in Milledgeville, Georgia on Saturday. Courtney accomplished her first marathon in less than 5 hours. It ended up being a tough technical course where the mileage was not correct, but her desire and dedication to accomplishing 26.2 miles was her determination. After the last loop of the course, Courtney headed out for 2 more miles to knock out the FULL MARATHON. We are all very proud of her.

Courtney and her Marathon Prize, yes a Ginger Bread Man, along with the Race Director

The girls and I were on a roll instead of ginger bread on Saturday. We went Christmas shopping and in one trip got 4 out 7 cousin's Christmas presents. Not as tough as a marathon, but I would rather run 26.2 then shop any day!
Sitting here on Sunday evening before the start of a new week, I am reflect on the last 5 days and would not change a thing. The half marathoners had an awesome race, the full “hard core” trail marathoner finished her first long race, we all had a great time with family and my 8 year old is currently making homemade sugar cookies all by herself. Man! “What a great week!”
Tomorrow is a long tempo run and a visit to the cardiologist. As I age, I am getting faster but this comes with more doctors and prescription drugs.
Everyone in my circle had awesome races and runs. None of these athletes are cowards but I understand what Alberto is saying, when we are at the start the nerves kick in and we loose the faith in our abilities. I think this is true, but with the support of family and great friends you overcome this sense of cowardness and we roar like lions.