Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day Thirty - "Halloween"

Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen,Voices whisper in the trees, "Tonight is Halloween!"
Dexter Kozen

Last night we went to a new friend's home (trained with Todd over the summer for Augusta) for a Halloween Bash. And what a bash it was. Their home was decorated from the front of the drive way all the way through the house and out near the BBQ Pit. It was amazing. There are people who celebrate Christmas by pouring on the greens, reds and lights, but the M's are Halloween folk. Their basement was a Haunted House with tons and tons of Halloween decorations (they bought out the Halloween Outlet last year) activities, food and of course beer for all...The adults. The food was out of this world, eye balls, mud pie, fingers, monster chips, chex mix grub, worms, brains and bloody punch. I got my fill of all the evils last night.

The kids dressed up in their costumes from, Cheerleaders, Laura Engles, Gothic Chick, Vampires, Ronald McDonald and even the Hamburgler. The M's home was filled with Halloween magic and we thank them for inviting our family to their home.

Today is Halloween, but just as important in the eyes of the cheerleaders in my home, it is the day before "Cheer Bowl". This is an event that the Cheerleading Coaches spend all season practicing for, the covenant prize of being Number 1. My daughters in between their "Trick or Treating" will be having nails done, hair put in rollers, practicing that final routine and eating a few morsels of candy before the big event that takes place all day tomorrow.

My parents are also on their way from Mississippi where my sister, Nicole just had the last of her pins removed from knee surgery a few months back.

This weekend will zip by with Ghost, Goblins, Cheerleaders, Grandparents and squeezing in a weight workout with Sarah, before we know it.

Will leave with one more quote to ponder over as I prepare for the hallow's of eve.

I'll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.

Author Unknown

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day Twenty Nine - "Off Season"

Bob & Jeff out on their first date....

The picture above is two of my close training buddies. This snap shot was taken at the Annual C's Halloween Party last Saturday. Thanks Jeff for a good time! And thank you Bob for the laughs.

They who have conquered doubt and fear have conquered failure.
James Allen

When you move into challenging areas in anything you do, doubt always creeps into your head and questions your abilities.

This week is a “step up” for the runners training for PR’s on the marathon courses of their choice. The pace has increased, the distance has increased and the speed workouts have become more intense. As I talk with the group of runners I have been fortunate to surround myself with, I hear the doubt snaking its way into their conversations with me. Can I hold pace? Can I do this distance and hold pace? I don’t think I can go this fast on the track? Each one of them has fears on their abilities to perform their training runs, but each one of these terrific runners and people have been able to conquer the apprehension that haunts them without question.

Sarah and Wren hit their paces with ease on Thursday. Now, must say, Sarah is amazing. Not only is she going through this intense training program, but she has taken on a role in her job that is more demanding and takes care of our daughters Monday thru Friday from 6AM to 10PM. Now, she does not do this all by herself, but she does take the meat of the day until I get home and then we tag team on the activities, homework, cleaning and dinners. Our lives our busy, but we seem to make it all work. Wren has been quite. I get my updates on Wren through Sarah. Sarah tells me Wren is a natural athlete and is breezing through the training with little concern.

Tracey’s reports to me have been spotty. I know my baby sister has a busy life with three kids with Bill working third shift for the airlines. She continues to find the time and with a few setbacks due to colds and flu’s in the family, she continues to forge ahead.

Ann Marie is just plain strong. She continues to question her abilities as an athlete, but she hits the mark (actually over shoots it most of the time) on every run. Like the runners above, her life is busy, she has had a minor setback early in the training and she will make it through this training and PR at Huntsville.

Michele the LSU swimmer ran with Brian this morning for 17 miles. Her brother has her on a different plan than the rest of the runners. I believe Michele coming to an end of a 50-mile week. That is some serious mileage. Brian stated Michele looked strong on her 17 miler this AM. I see Michele doing well also in Huntsville on her quest for the Holy Grail.

Bob & Jay. What can I saw about the Dynamic Duo? They are unstoppable. These two natural runners are getting stronger and faster every training week. I am witnessing each of them start to understand that running is just not, knocking one out as fast as you can go, but it is strategy. Planning and the mental aspect is just as important as the legs moving below you. Without a plan, you are lost. I think they on that page now.

I am enjoying witnessing the transformations in my wife, my sister and my friends. They are all going to accomplish their goals each of them started at the end of August with 7 weeks to go.

Now a little on my run this morning. Doubt has always been a nemesis of mine as well. Utilizing the Furman Program over the last couple of years, I too am developing as a runner and not as a person who runs. My run this morning to gear me for the Half Marathon and the 5K in December was 9 miles. The 9 miles I had to run was at a pace of 7 minutes/mile. With the amount of hills in the Alpharetta/Suwanee area, I even thought this was not going to be achievable. Last night I planned a route that would take me the full 9 miles that had a mix of hills, down hills and flats. I plotted my splits not on the mile, but on the two mile because I thought with the rolling terrain, I would be beating myself up to hit the pace. I left LTF at 5:30AM on my journey to conquer the doubt of my ability to run 7 minute/miles.

The morning was perfect for a run. The air was cool, there was no rain insight and a northern western breeze kept your core at the right temperature.

To cut this short in order for me to get some work done at get out of here to go to a Halloween Party tonight here is the course.

I need to work on being able to download items other than pictures.
At the end of the 9-miler I hit a time of 1:03:05. This is 5 seconds off the goal time. Heck, I will take it.

As humans it is natural to have doubts in what you can achieve, but if you never try then you will always fail.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day Twenty Eight - "Off Season"

I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.

Sir Winston Churchill

North Georgia is hitting the peak of the Autumn Season. The leaves are nearing full bloom as we come to the end of the Day Light Saving Time. This time next week, the leaves will start to lose their brilliance and us our day light. I will long for the days after the Winter Solstice when the sun slowly dominates the sky from the dark.

Last night was a pre long run meal for Sarah. I make her a special carb and protein dish with fresh vegetables every Wednesday night before her run on Thursday. Last night was one of her favorites with Shiitake Mushrooms, Asparagus, chicken and rigatoni. Add some herbs, olive oil and a nice glass on Pinot Noir…There is nothing better. Sarah and Susan are running 15 miles on the Cumming Greenway at 9AM. I will provide a 15-mile report after the runner’s have all completed their mileage for the week.

The alarm startled me this morning at 4:55AM. Another night of deep sleep, but for some reason I still feel drained. I continue to watch my food intake, not hitting runs or weights too hard and getting to bed before 10AM. This weekend will be a little catch up on the sleep with no scheduled activities first thing in the morning.

As Thursday rolled around the morning brought with it the Master’s Swim at 5:30AM. Last night I volunteered to stay home to enable Sarah to run with Wren at the Columns at 8AM, but she had already made plans with Susan to run at 9AM. Dang. I would have opted out of swim this morning to allow Sarah some flexibility to run, but I would not just “blow off” swimming for the heck of it. When you pay to swim, that is my motivation to hit the pool twice a week. Therefore, off to the pool I went.

I got to LTF and Jay was already scurrying from one end of the locker room to the pool deck. His equipment was already out on the deck indicating he has been there for a couple minutes already; Still don’t know why he gets there so early if no one gets into the pool until Coach Mike shows at 5:30AM. Just one of the weird things I think of at 5:20AM.

Coach Mike’s workout for the A Group:

300M Warm up
200M Non-free stroke
50M Fist
100M Zipper
4 X 200M @ 3:40
3 X 300M @ 5:30
2 X 200M @ 3:30
4 X 100M Kick, no board @ 2:00
6 X 50M with 8 wall push-ups
6 X 50M with 8 floor push-ups
100M Kick

I have a mental barrier with 200M’s. I do not like them. I can swim, 25M to 1500M no sweat, but 200M sets are mind numbing. I cannot seem to overcome the distaste for the distance. I was able to push through the sets with plenty of time for rest, but wished there was more when the time ended of they were 400M’s, 500M’s or even 800M’s instead of 200M.

The A Group finished up and Michelle asked me if I was riding in the Alpharetta Century this Sunday. This being Day Twenty Eight, I has not pedaled one stroke on a bike or a spinner. I told her, I am done with biking for a while, so my answer is no-way. Though in my mind, I am starting to feel the urge to get on my bike, I am not motivated to pull it down, repair it and saddle up. I have been on this bike for 6 seasons and I think I need a change. It may not be necessary to purchase a new bike, but just overhaul Ole’ Red, but I want to start looking for a new bike, road or tri-bike just to see. My biggest hang up is the prices of new bikes. They are outrageous for a tiny piece of metal & carbon that does not even have a motor. In the next couple of weeks, I will start my quest to see if it is even feasible to purchase a bike that will suit me. More to come on this subject…

Tomorrow is the first solo long run for me in a month. Though it is only 9 miles, I have decided to hit it alone due to the pace. I do not want to mess with my friend’s mojo in maintaining their set paces even though Bob and Ann Marie have asked me to tag along. I will plan to email Bob & Jay to see if I can meet up with them for breakfast in the morning as well.

For now, I will enjoy the splendor of the fall foliage out my office window.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day Twenty Eight - "Off Season"

A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold.
Ogden Nash

It is always a good day when I speak with Sarah and she states that the kids are off to school. That means one part of our family unit is astray, the common cold. I believe it makes our unit stronger when there is an absence of sickness.

Last night we had another occasion to eat dinner as a family unit. I made homemade Chinese food, which is a hit, except for Grace who hates the broccoli mixed in the sauce. We finished the dinner with the remnants of the Smore Pie I made on Sunday. It is still good after a couple of days. Homework was finished early and we all had a good evening just hanging out in the home.
I awoke to the alarm at 5AM. I was still trying to catch up on the lack of sleep from Sunday night, which holds true since I have not woke before the alarm in the last two nights.
Wednesday morning is track workout. It was questionable by the amount of rain that pounded north of Atlanta in our next of the woods last night. This morning the air was thick and temped compared to the last couple of mornings we have had. After the rain last night, the outside morning was in the low 50’s, humid and a blanket of fog had rested over Suwanee/Alpharetta on my way to LTF.

We had an assemblage of runners for this morning’s track work out waiting in the lobby after I did a warm up mile on the treadmill to get the kinks out. Jay, Jeff, Ann Marie, Susan, Stacy and a new addition, Sammy were all ready to trot off to the Alpharetta High School.

The band of runners left the LTF parking lot and made small talk down Webb Bridge to the high school. Once we arrived, a few of us did our scouting run of the track to remove debris like: wood, gutter gates and hoses. We marked the 200M point with trashcans on both side and everyone started to zone in for the workout.

The majority of the group was performing this workout on different intervals:

3 X (2 X 1200M) with 2-minute rest and 4-minute rest between sets. Intervals for the runners was between 4:40 and 5:40.

Since I am on a different plan, my schedule was:

200M (200RI) @ :35
400M (400M RI) @ 1:23
600M (400M RI) @ 2:07
800M (400M RI) @ 2:51
800M (400M RI) @ 2:51
600M (400M RI) @ 2:07
400M (400M RI) @ 1:23
200M (200RI) @ :35

I came in on the mark within 1-2 seconds faster than the required goal.

As the session continued around the oval, I gave a few of the "track stars" a few pointers on how to take the turns and to focus on form. I could see after a few 1200M’s their running form was suffering from being fatigued. The form is “key” in the long workout. Focus on the form this will drive efficiency in your stride allowing you to maintain a consistent pace for a longer period.

Both Jay and Ann Marie indicated to me that they hit almost every 1200M too fast. I hope this will not affect them in their goal to pace for Huntsville in 7 weeks.

After the workout, we all headed back to LTF. Ann Marie and I talked about logistics getting to Huntsville and back home. She is wondering if there will be anything left of her after the run to make the 280-mile trek back. She thought that she, Stacy and Michele could take turns on driving. I offered my services as well and said they could ride with Sarah and I in the van. This way they would not have to worry about the trip back. The offer is out and if they want to take it, they are welcome to tag along for the 4 ½ trip…Another question Ann Marie asked me which I have been contemplating over is if I am coaching anyone on running. I told her no, I was just supporting the 6 runners on the Furman Plan. I did not mention to her, but I have thought of pursuing a coaching certificate in running or in triathlons to help other runners achieve their goals. I think I will wait until after Huntsville to see how everyone does before I take the leap though. If they succeed, then I will move ahead with the idea of coaching on the side.

Update on Bob, he ran the 1200M’s in Minnesota. The weather was in the low 40’s and just like Jay & Ann Marie Bob was too fast. I emailed Bob and told him that I am done with the comments on "too fast". They know what to do, let us see them do it.

The kids have half days for the next three days. With no cheerleading practice tonight, we will carve pumpkins, go to a Haunted House or maybe even hit a movie, which would be very uncharacteristic of us during a school week.

Sometimes you need to throw caution to the wind and have a little out of the ordinary fun with the family.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day Twenty Seven - "Off Season"

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yesterday had become one of those days to be forgotten. The stomach issues and a major computer issue with my team of 50 employees that have thrown us back into the stone age of technology. Lessons continue to been learned and now it is time to forge ahead.
Here is an update from my sister, Tracey that I received on Monday:

Well, after being sick & putting off my 20 miler all week, I needed some outside reinforcements who better to call then my friend Kelly, talk about somebody who is enthusiastic about running! She hasn't run 20 miles in a while, I told her the pace I needed to be at & she could do what she wanted, just having her out there w/ me was comforting, & she was more than happy to come a long & motivate me. We picked a route we both knew & after a few miles she did her thing & I stayed on pace (we were meeting up at a lake running trail going a few miles & then coming back home)The first 13 felt great, after that my legs started to get really tired, then I had to run up a couple of gradual hills on the way back which was difficult to do. I like the idea of going faster downhill, I was having trouble keeping pace going up! Overall it went well I came in at 2:56 something, It was a little fast ( goal was 3:01:36) I'm trying to figure out what kind of split I should do, at first I thought I should start slower & pick it up at the end, but I'm not so sure I will have the gusto in the end...

Like most runners, she needs to adapt her pacing for efficiencies and economy on the hills to have enough in the tank to be strong at the end of the long run or marathon. The positive note is that the groups of runners training for their marathons are learning something new about their running and are improving every day.

In the South, the autumn season comes late in October. When the fall approaches, it attacks unrestrained. It is witnessed that the foliage explode in a day’s time to the colors of the Thanksgiving Holiday with orange, red, yellow and brown leaves blanketing the landscape within the suburban sprawl we live in. As a runner, you welcome the change in seasons from the damp, muggy, humid days of summer to the crisp, cool days of the autumn.

Sarah and Wren are out for their 10-mile tempo this morning. They have decided to head out early because we are expecting a significant downpour in the next couple of hours. I will give an update on their run tomorrow.

The morning hit hard at 4:55AM as the alarm felt as if it reached out and knocked me in the head. I had gone to bed at a decent time from the exhaustion I was experiencing from the sleepless night 24 hours before. With the body trying to make up the deficit, I must have slept quite soundly but the 7 ½ hours of slumber were not enough. I debated on resetting the alarm to a later time of the morning, but since it was Master’s Swim day and I had paid for the sessions, that was my motivating factor to drag the body out of bed and hit the pool.

I arrived at LTF around 5:12AM, which is 5-10 minutes ahead of my regularly scheduled time. I was fortunate to hit all 14 traffic lights on my route at the peak of green. This cuts the time down dramatically as I arrived at LTF well ahead of schedule. I thought to myself as I unloaded the car that I have had to arrive here well before Jay this time since I did not see his car in the lot of sparsely parked vehicles.

Heading in the front door I was greeted with a, “hey” from Brian who was just coming in from a 6 mile run. Brian made a bee-lined to the second floor to stretch prior to jumping in the pool for Master’s. I also noticed Michele gating away on the treadmill that overlooks the lobby area. I wondered if there was a swim scheduled or does the running prohibit the swimming at this time in lieu of more miles. When I get the opportunity to talk to her, I need to ask her. I have to admit that her absence in the pool has moved me up to the “Big Fish” title. It is short lived, I know, but it is a moment I savor if it is only brief.

Coach Mike’s workout for Tuesday, October 27th:

250M Warm Up
150M Choice: Opted for pulls
6 X 100M Kicks on the 2:10
5 X 100M on 1:50
5 X 100M on 1:40
5 X 100M on 1:35
8 X 50M on :50
200m side kicks
10 X 25M 6 Wall push-ups on each end
10 X 25M 6 floor push-ups on each end
150M Kick
100M Cool Down

Some deception transpired this morning. The 100M’s frees each had 10 seconds more than the time above. When I hit the lane, Brian and Coach Mike indicated that our lane (2) was going to shave the times on the 100M’s. I was tired from the night before and the “mojo” was not flowing, but I figured if Brian, who just ran 6 miles was willing to conquer the times, then I am game. We hit the 1:50’s with little effort on each interval. When we started on 1:40,’s we both hit the first 100M, but after that, I noticed Brian was trailing off and hitting the wall after I had left on the mark. Then on the 1:35’s, he was even further behind. I kept thinking, why would he suggest times that, he could not hit? Well, after the workout and in the locker room Brian and I talked about the intervals and revealed that Coach Mike had told Brian that I wanted to step up on the times on the set, so Brian agreed. At that point, I indicated to Brian that I was under the assumption that he discussed the workout with Coach Mike and he was the one that wanted to boast the workout by eliminating time off the intervals. We both looked at each other and simultaneously said, “We were duped!”

The swim workout was finished at this point and the both of us had done what we could to make it at the goal times or at least attempting by giving it our best shot.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day Twenty Six-"Off Season"

Remember what I said about suffering...the suffering is repeated until the lesson is learned.

Mr. Prophet

The weekend was very busy in our household with running, chores, cheerleading, Halloween party at the Craver’s (awesome party Jeff), yard work, grocery shopping, cooking and of course football.

When weekend’s are piled high with activities our eating suffers a bit. We tend to eat on the go or eat foods that fit the activity. Pizza, chili, pulled pork, h’orderves, chips, popcorn, ribs, fries, beans, cole slaw, beer and more beer and to top it off a piece of homemade Smore pie. Every morsel was delicious, but at 2:40AM this morning, my stomach was not feeling the love of what I had pig out on for the last 36+ hours. I woke at this time with such a pain in my stomach it felt as if the Alien was attempting to chew its way through the lining of my stomach and explode out of my belly. I got out of bed and headed to bathroom to fish around for the Tums. I down a few of these and returned to bed. The antacids only abided the constant grinding a small portion to keep me awake the rest of the night.

When 5AM hit I had to make a decision on what I was going to do, either lay in bed and toss and turn or get up and attempt a 9-mile tempo run. Neither of these options sounded appealing, but I had to do something. Lying in bed was too uncomfortable. Therefore, I got up and slowly put on my running gear. As I dressed, I figured if this event were going to be too taxing on the gut, I would just head off to work.

I did my morning routine and headed out the door, in the car and down the road to LTF. The 9-mile ride was to my destination was miserable. Every bump upset messed with my gut, I was tired from lack of sleep and had a lot of doubt that what I was traveling this road to accomplish was going to come up short.
The drive, entering the facility, getting my gear on, talking with Bob (running 10-mile tempo outside), walking up stairs and even breathing was labored. I saw Chris and Ann Marie on the Wood Way treadmills and decided if I was going to attempt this run I might as well do it near people I can pulled some energy off of. I hopped on the treadmill next to Ann Marie, all decked out from her head to her calves in pink. I commented that she looked like a big piece of bubble gum as she chuckled and got back to business. Ann Marie was running her 10-mile tempo run just like the Dynamic Duo at her pace, 8:25/mile.

I started the first mile at my designated warm up pace of 8:34/mile. The first .25 miles my stomach sloshed, gurgled and kicked giving me every sign to stop right now and get off. I started to sip on water and focused my breathing as I hit the .3-mile mark.

After a few more minutes on the hamster wheel, I believe the endorphins kicked in and settled my stomach down. The pain had subsided and I was able to run with more ease on the first mile warm up. After the first mile warm-up, I felt in tune and decided to attempt the rest of the workout:

2 Miles @ 6:31 pace
1 Mile @ 8:05 Pace
1 Mile @ 6:31 Pace
1 Mile @ 8:05 Pace
2 Miles @ 6:31 Pace average on this one. (Dialed it down in the beginning but hit the average at the end)
1 Mile EZ @ 8:34 Pace

After the third, one miler Chris had completed his workout and was stretching. Ann Marie was on the home stretch with 3 miles to go as well. We needed to calculate her pace in order for her to speed up the tread mile to hit the average 8:25/Mile. The treadmill goes either 8:28 or 8:20, not 8:25. With a few calculations on my last 2-mile interval, we decided she needed to increase the speed now to 8:20/mile to average out. Ann Marie dialed it up to 8:20/mile and cruised to the finish.

I finished about .75 miles ahead of her as Brian walked over and we chatted about the weekend, Hunstville Marathon and wearing music on the course. This was a tough workout but I made it through the gut wrenching issues.
While talking, Ann Marie found out that listening to music is against the rules on this course and she stated that she needed and wanted to wear her iPod during the race. I advised her to look up in the rules to see what the penalty would be for wearing an iPod. The rule in marathons is typically that you will lose you place winner position if you are in contention for a placing.

Ann Marie and Brian continued to chat while headed off to stretch. As I was stretching, Ann Marie came over and we talked about her climb with her family and friends up Yonah Mountain. She said it was a great time hiking and actually scaling the side of the mountain. I need to look into this for a family adventure.
It was time to head off to work. We parted ways and she indicated that she would see me in the pool tomorrow.

Time for an update on the runners after their 20 mile run last week:

Sarah and Wren continue to get stronger with hitting their mark at 9:11’s on average. My wife is looking very fit these days and I know she is proud of her accomplishments.

Tracey has been under the weather and has not updated as of today on her 20-mile run.

Ann Marie ran the columns with some friends on Saturday and hit 8:32’s/mile. A little too fast but she will get the pace down. She is looking strong but needs to have confidence in her ability.

Bob & Jay averaged 8:24’s, which again is a little too fast. However, they are very aware of pace and continue to work on it.

These runners have come a long way hitting the half way mark of the 18-week program. The next couple of weeks will gear their bodies for running at race pace. This is the Meat and Potatoes of the training and I am here to help each one of them get through this portion. I have confidence in this group of athletes and am eager for the results at the end of these 9 weeks.

With all the advise I have given these athletes, it is time that I give some to myself. I have learned my lesson on this weekend’s pig fest. Everything in moderation. Pushing 150.2lbs after the weekend.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day Twenty Five - "Off Season"

“It was an ideal day for football - too cold for the spectators and too cold for the players”
Red Smith
Church, chores and football. The Patriots play the Buc's at 1PM. Now you know where I will be.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day Twenty Four - "Off Season"

The day began early. With the constant awakening at 5AM during the week, the weekend slumber is hard to come by. I was awake by 4:47AM but decided to lie in bed and enjoy the thought that I had actually another hour of the day before I had to get out of bed. Today, I am running the first half of Bob & Jay’s 20 mile run with them. I usually like to hit the back end of a run with the runners to help them achieve their goal, but time constraints due to obligation prohibited me from running the last 10 of their route.

I was educed out of bed at 5:21AM by my alertness of the morning and headed downstairs. I did not pack my running gear as I made my way in the darkness down the stairs trailing the dog who was guiding me. I wanted to check out the temperature this morning which would dictate the proper running attire I would wear on the run. As I opened the door to let the dog out and check the temperature the porch light illuminated the back deck revealing the remnants of a recent rain. I stepped out on the deck in my p.j.’s and no shoes to get an accurate feeling of the air temperature. As I made my way out of the house to the middle of the deck I looked up into the sky and could see from the porch light that the clouds were low and gray. The air was cool with a slight breeze coming from the southeast corner of the yard. A running singlet was out. A short sleeve technical shirt was in order with shorts. Long sleeve would do the job of keeping me warm, but after 2 miles I would be eager to shed the garment, so I opted for the short sleeve technical shirt.

My goal was to leave the house at 6AM to make it over to the Alpharetta LTF and depart on the run by 6:30AM. I went back upstairs to pack my gear and headed on my journey to Alpharetta.

Yesterday I headed over to Sports Authority to pick up a new pair of Asics Nimbus 10’s. The Nimbus 11’s are on the market, but being the frugal guy I am I always go for the “old” model because of the deep discounts on the shoes that the stores make in an attempt to unload the old merchandise and make room for the “newest and greatest” product. This process of purchasing last years models works 8 out of 10 times for me, except for yesterday. Sports Authority was completely out of size 9.5 Nimbus 10’s. Now what? Leave? If I leave, then I would have to wear my current pair of Nimbus 10’s that has over 500 miles logged. The tread was worn down and the shoes over 5 miles start to remind my feet that it is time for a new pair. Do I purchase another model or manufacturers pair? The risk here is that I have been wearing Asics Nimbus for 5 years and over 12 pairs and have not had any issues, so why change. What dilemma has plagued me over a pair of shoes? In the end, I decided for a change up in the shoe. Since I am in “off season” the pair of shoes does not have to be ideal, but comfortable, durable and reliable. I decided to stay with Asics due to the 3 qualities listed. I browsed the racks and came across the Asics Kinetic. This shoe retails for $169.99, but Sports Authority was again dumping last year’s models and the 2009 Kinetics were on sale for $90.00! With a discount of $80.00 on the top of the line shoe Asics produces, how could I go wrong? The Kinetic is a neutral shoe with a firm heel and roomy toe box, just what this runner ordered.

I made my purchase and taking the toad early did in fact make this a good day.

Arriving at the parking lot of LTF I recognized Bob’s truck pulling in as I was unloading. I gathered my gear and headed to greet him at the door leading into to the lobby. While I progressed across the lot I saw Michele leaving the lobby of LTF heading toward her car. I heard Bob asked her if she was running with us, but she stated she had already run 10 miles and was heading down to “The Columns” to run the rest. She made her way towards her car as she finished her conversation with Bob and disappeared into the shadows of the parking lot. Meeting Bob at the door, he advised me that Michele was running down at “The Columns” with her father.

We hit the locker room and prep for the run, shirts, socks, shoes and the most important item, lube. We each hit the chaffing spots to ward against rubbed off skin from long distance running. After the preparation we were off to the lobby to meet Jay. As we stood by the couches in the lobby it was 6:28AM and we both were perplexed that Jay had not shown? Then out of the corner of my eye I saw a dark figure in the windows outside waving its arms in the air. I looked towards the entrance and recognized Jay flailing his arms attempting to get our attention. Bob and I headed towards the door and commented that we should have known better that Jay would ever be late for a run. When we met up with Jay he indicated that he had been at the gym for almost 30 minutes. I was not surprised.

We made a few comments about, dinner last night and Bob’s trip back from Las Vegas yesterday and we headed off on the first 10 mile portion of their run a little after 6:30AM.

Leaving the parking lot I was pleasantly surprised that right out of the chute both Bob & Jay were controlled in their stride and did not “kick it”. We ran down Morris Drive towards MARTA road to North Point. This is the first mile and most of the run is downhill. After the first mile the pace was around 8:20/mile but with the first mile on a decline this is to be expected. Both Bob & Jay knew they needed to settle in and adjusted their speed to a controlled pace.

Mile 2-4 Bob & Jay still attempted to settle the pace to 8:30’s which was the goal of this 20 mile run. We cruised down Windward to HWY 9, mostly an incline in elevation, as we made our way towards Academy. Turning right on Academy Bob indicted the first “bottle drop was right past the Corner Deli.

Bob and Jay are not ones to carry fluids on the long runs, so Bob has graciously planted bottles on their long runs in order for them to replenish at certain intervals on the run. On this particular run it was unknown to me that Bob had planted bottles for me as well. Bob’s unselfish hospitality towards his friends is unmatched. I thank you Bob for your actions.

We stopped briefly to pick up the fruit punch flavored Gatorades and let Jay relieve himself on the side of a building. We polished off the 10 oz bottles of hydration and started up the pace again down Academy.

The next set of miles brought us through Bob’s neck of the woods in Alpharetta heading towards Westside Parkway. The pace was still a bit fast but still manageable at 8:25’s or so. Navigating our way to Westside Parkway we hit the next bottle drop as Bob and Jay replenished I told Bob that I was going to leave my bottle for them on the second loop. I had plenty of fluid in me and with me and I would not want them left short or in need of fluid on the second 10 miles.

The pace quickened as we made our way up Westside Parkway towards Old Milton. The pace continued to increase on the inclines as I mentioned this to the Dynamic Duo. They both confessed to the pace increase and stated that they feel that hills slow them down and off pace. In order, in their minds to keep the pace, they would speed up. This makes sense on paper to average out, but on long runs you need to know your terrain and increase the pace on the flats and downhill’s were you expend less energy than trying to maintain pace on increasing speed on a uphill. It is a honest fault that they both are aware of and will continue to work on to fix.

The Dynamic Duo and I continued on the 10 mile journey and as we looped back onto Academy heading the last 2 miles towards LTF. At the turn I knew I was coming to the end of my run and my friends were just starting their journey on the back half of their 20 miler. I had a lot left in my tank and wanted to continue on the quest of the 20 miler with them, but knew that I had important commitments to my family with cheerleading. But even the little running voice in my head spoke up and said, “You need not to run anymore than this. It is the “off season”.

As we made our way to the last .6 miles of the run on Morris Road, I picked up the pace to test my friends in their discipline to “sticking to the pace”. Well, they failed. The Dynamic Duo must have knocked their “Wonder Twin Rings” together and picked up the pace and were stride for stride with me. I said, “Too fast ladies” and they both looked at me and told me it was my fault. Brother… I ran a little ahead of them and started to run backwards to push on them to slow down. While I was doing this I noticed that Bob was diverting his eyes from my view. I moved over, still running backwards, and got in Bob’s view and ask him if this bothered him. With the diverted look he was giving me, I could tell that he was not happy that I was running backwards and in his face. I turned around eased up to complete the run near LTF.

Hitting the LTF lot, the three of us took different courses to navigate between the cars while Jay headed towards his car, Bob bee-lined it towards his and I trailing behind them making my way to the lobby door.

Bob mentioned he need to take a gel and needed more for the last 10 miles. I ran over to him and gave him my gel just in case he was in need.

As they both restocked and started to head out on the challenging 10 miles that awaited them, I high five both of them and they were off.

Bob & Jay have come a long way in the last 9 weeks. They believe in the program and it is showing in their runs. The ended the 20 miler in 2:48:00 which was right on pace.

I will get more on the back 10 tonight at the Craver’s Annual Halloween Party. A time to dress up in costumes, drink beer and more beer, dance and hang out with friends. It will be a great time.

I close with sitting at the Sharon Springs football fields as my youngest daughter, Ellie is cheering for the War Eagles. It is in last quarter and the score is tied, 6 to 6 on a typical autumn day. These kids like my running team have progressed over the last 10 weeks in their disciplines. Progress is a good thing.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day Twenty Three - "Off Seaon"

Eat a live toad the first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
Last night for dinner I made Sarah her favorite dinner for her 20 mile recovery meal. Chicken Alfredo with Ziti and herb bread. I popped open a bottle of red wine and we enjoyed a relaxing meal with the girls. With the busy schedules we have been keeping this was the first sit down as a family unit we have had in over a week. I started to make a Smore Pie for dessert, but after half way through I realized that the pie needed to set overnight. Well at least we have something to look forwarded to on Movie Night.
The night was filled of restlessness for both Sarah and I. Sarah was feeling the effects of the 20 miles on her body and was up most of the night tossing and turning in attempts to ward off the muscle pain she was feeling. Her uneasy night kept me awake worrying about her. I drifted in and out but during the "outs" I could hear Sarah and feel her managing the issues. The next thing I knew I heard a voice over the radio that suggested I get out of bed. It was time to get up. 6:08AM. Friday morning was a true "off season" day. My main objective was getting the girls ready for school.
I woke Ellie at 6:09AM and while she got ready for her day I shuffled downstairs (calf is still tender) to make coffee for Sarah and I, lunch for the girls and breakfast for Ellie. She came down around 6:20AM and the next 39 minutes was preparing Ellie for her day. At 6:59AM there was a small congregation on school children at the bus stop right outside our house. Ellie packed up her school stuff, gave me a hug and headed out to the bus stop. The morning was still as night with no hint of day light to be seen. The path across the yard was only lit by the street lamp that shone down on the children and the yard. Within 2 minutes of Ellie's departure and as I stand in the threshold of the door watching, the familiar sound of a diesel engine makes its way down the street to the children's standing point. The squeal of the brakes and the flashing of the lights rounds up the school children in a single file line as the bus comes to a stop, the yellow doors opening and the engulfing the children as the climb the stairs of the yellow transport into the abyss.
As the last child boards the transport to the public school I give a wave to yellow object blaring red lights as the windows are tinted with no recognition on little ones aboard. The yellow bus's red blaring lights subside and the door closes as the transport takes off down the street to its final destination at the school.
7:02AM. 18 miuntes to get ready for work before waking up daughter Number 2. This process is a lot easier since her being a Tween. You turn on the hall light, open her door and say, "Grace, time to get up". Once this is completed, I head down to have some breakfast and at 7:30AM I head back up to cleanse the teeth of the night and make sure Grace is up. She is awake and doing her "girly" stuff in the bathroom as I stopped, say good -bye as I head off to the job. With Grace tipping on the edge of being a teenager, our constant presence in her morning rituals is not needed. We give her the space to get herself ready and off to school which builds independence and self reliance. We will always be there if she falls to help pick her up as her parents.
The ride into work is far different at 7:35AM than at 5:00AM. The amount of cars compounds the time to travel the same distance by 3. What takes 12 minutes at 5, takes over 36 minutes at 7:30. I like 5 better.
Though I ate my breakfast a half an hour before leaving home the "toad" for me is the traveling in traffic 7.6 miles in 36 minutes at 7:30AM. So, now the rest of the day is going to be a good. Which actually is so far... I signed Sarah and I up for the Atlanta Half Marathon on Turkey Day. This event actually falls on the week that Sarah needs to run 13 miles at race pace. What a perfect time to test her ability to maintain pace in a race environment.
Mom & Dad, now that we are running the half, I am inviting you to our home for Thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day Twenty Two -"Off Season"

“Red skies at night, sailors delight
Red skies in the morning, sailors take warning"

It is 7:11AM when this picture was taken

Looks like we are in for more rain in the next day and over the weekend.

Last night was the Sharon Springs “Pep-Rally”. All of the cheer squads gathered on the field to show the parents their stuff. The congregation of cheerleads ranging from 5 years old to 12 years old was over 100! Each squad performed a routine and after the routines, the 10-12 year old squads played a Powder Puff Football game against each other while the football players cheered for them. My daughter, Grace, her team won the game 17-0. The girls had a fun time at the rally last night. Grace and Ellie are enjoying the team atmophere of cheerling which Sarah and I am glad to see. Speaking of Sarah, she and Wren are running the 3rd 20 miler this morning. I can not wait to hear how it went. I had to leave a message on the answering machine this morning. I talk to Sarah every morning but this particular morning we missed each other. There is a little bit of stress with this 20 miler due to work, Ellie being sick and well just life, so instead of attempting to call her and talk, I will just let her "do her thing" and I will get the report on the run later this afternoon.

Thursday morning. The ‘hump” of the week has been conquered and now it is downhill to the weekend. This is not an indication the rest of the week will be a piece of cake or I will skate through the rest of the 5 day work week. This particular week has seen its “red skies” but I have been able to manage through some turbulent storms with "presumable" smooth sailing ahead even with the warnings in the sky.

The alarm sounded at 4:50AM in the darkness of the morning. The days continue to get shorter with sun light as we drive closer to the changing of the clocks and winter solstice. I woke with a few aches and pains that I have not experienced in the past. Left calf was tender, left rotator cuff had a slight pinch and the right trapezius was sore. The feeling when I awoke was as if I had just played a game of football with Bob and his neighbors on the Grid Iron, even though I had not experienced this activity as of yet. Or maybe it is jsut the old age thing...Nah, can't be!

I shuffled off to the closet, gathered my gear and headed towards Alpharetta. I have been driving the Honda all week since the Jeep has been acting up lately. I have put the repairs on the list of things to do, but at this point with the Honda running and Sarah's van humming along, it is not at the top of my list.

With the monotony of the past couple of weeks that I have been experiencing, I have been taken a different route to LTF and I am really mixing things up by parking in different spots everyday attempting to break the “creature of habit” syndrome.

I made my way through the lobby of LTF and took a short cut through the family lockers onto the pool deck and into the men’s locker room. At 5:15AM as I passed through the pool deck, there was Jay standing there waiting for the Master’s clan to arrive. I always wonder what is going through his mind that he needs to get to the pool so dang early on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. Jay is always the first one there. Maybe I will mess with his routine, get there extra early, take his locker (creature of habit) just to throw a monkey wrench into the mundane.

Coach Mike’s Master’s Workout for today:

300M Warm up
200M Any stroke but free style
150M Kick
2 X 200M @ 3:50 (too much rest time)
2 X 200M @ 3:40
2 X 200M @ 3:30 (we took 5 seconds in my lane to push a little more)
2 X 200M @ 3:20 (same thing)
4 X 100M @ 1:40
50M EZ
12 X 50M Up and Out, into the zero entry pool around the magic mushroom and back in the lap pool. I walked around the shroom instead of running. Ran yesterday and this is an off day for running)
6 X 25M 12 Deck push-ups
150 Kick
150 EZ

I cut the time on the 200’s because for some reason I cannot put my finger on, this distance is mind numbing too me. I figured by cutting the time it would go by faster. Well, it worked. I don’t think Jeff and Melissa were too happy with me on these because on a few turns they were standing on the wall when they should have been well on their way down the lane.

I just received a company email that needs my attention. The storm is coming from the indications in this correspondence and I need to prepare by “battening down the hatches”. It looks like it may be a rough ride. So much for smooth sailing the rest of the week.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day Twenty One - "Off Season"

All we actually have is our body and its muscles that allow us to be under our own power.
Allegra Kent

Wednesday started early for me today. The mind awoke the body at 4:03AM. The day started to run around in the gray matter between my ears about two hours before the body propels me around the track. Was Ellie going to feel better today? Will she go to school? Is this just a normal strain of the flu? Will any of more of my employees break their new computers today that they just received? Is Sarah awake? What does Sarah have on her busy plate toady? I guess she will not swim if Ellie is home? Should I stay home this morning? No…Need to show face at work. Who won the baseball game last night? Yankees or Angels? I hope the Angles, but the Yankees are hot right now. I wonder if all my managers finished their assignments before the close of business last night. I wonder how many runners are going out to the track this morning. I wonder if it is cold outside.

The thoughts continued to spin around in my mind until I decided to stop thinking of them and start to do them. 4:45AM: I pulled back the covers and made my way across the caliginous room towards the closet to get my track clothes on and schlep my bag and clothes downstairs.
The weather has been unseasonably cold for mid-October in Georgia. The temps have been in the 30’s & low 40’s in the mornings driving the questions for winter run gear or not? Since the morning consisted of a track workout and the temperature was in the high 30’s the decision was to dress in running tights, two layers of shirts and a hooded sweatshirt. This way when I started to warm up I could shed the layers as I ran.

As I navigating myself downstairs to let the dog out, I could feel the cool morning air on the hardwood floors on my bare feet. In opening the back door, I was reassured of my decision to dress in layers when a slow stream of cold night air made its way into the house sending a chill from my feet traveling up my back to my shoulders. This foreign entity of coldness reacted to my body sending a shiver throughout my core. Good call, I thought on the layers…

I stood in the threshold of the door taking in the early morning temperatures, I looked up into the nebulous sky, populated with the Milky Way’s constellations. Due to the lack of manmade lighting that pollutes the suburban skies this particular morning you are able to witness Aquarius, the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper coming off the Polaris star. Mars and Jupiter also showed brightly in the sky as I searched for Saturn but the dog’s abrupt return inside broke the concentration of the search as I closed the door behind her. From the picturesque early morning sky, the indication for the rest of the day was going to be clear and no signs of rain.

I arrived at LTF at 5:15AM and packed in another section of the lot to mix up the monotony of it all. I saw Jerry who had just finished Ironman World Championships in Kona a week and a half ago getting ready to run with Calvin for a short 6-7 miles. Jerry said Kona was amazing when I asked. The venue was a memory that will not quickly fade for him. Jerry looked remarkably fresh for racing IMCDA in June and then making and participating IMKONA 4 months later. Jerry’s definitely wired different from us mere mortals.

I decided to hit the “hamster wheel” for about 10 minutes before I was to meet the fellow trackers in the lobby at 5:45AM. I set the pace at 8:34/mile and ran an EZ 10 minutes warming the legs up for the workout at the Alpharetta High School.

At the 10-minute mark, I jumped off and headed to meet, Jay, Bob, Jeff, Ann Marie, Stacy, Michele and Susan in the lobby. The large group of athletes shuffled out the doors of LTF to make the small 1-mile pilgrimage to the track. We chatted about runs, workouts, shoes, football and a fellow cyclist that had crashed 65 days ago in Bulgaria due to a head on collision with a car. Ann Marie had ridden a charity ride for the fallen cyclist to raise money for her medical cost. It is always a sobering thought when you hear stories of cycling accidents and how blessed you and your friends are that ride without incident.

The band of eight cascaded through the dark early morning to the high school track. The skies were void of the Moon, which assisted in shining reflective light onto the track during the summer months, but with the presence of fall upon us, we had no guidance of light. The only redeeming feature on this void of light morning is the white lines on the black rubberized track that segregated Lanes 1 through 8 on the oval track.
Jay, Bob and I made our usual celebratory 400M jog around the emulsified surroundings to insure that all debris remained cleared for the runners on all lanes. Once the ritual was completed and we were back at the start each one of us had our own objectives to accomplish:

Bob & Jay:
1 Mile @ 6:39 – 400M RI
2 Miles @ 13:38 – 800M RI
800M @ 3:12

Ann Marie & Susan’s:
1 Mile @ 7:02 – 400M RI
2 Miles @ 14:24 – 800M RI
800M @ 3:23

4 X 400M @ 1:30
2 X 800M @ 3:50
10 Minute EZ run

Stacy was on her maiden voyage on the track was knocking out 400’s. Not sure how many she was knocking out. Did not want to stress her with too many questions.

Michele ran half of her mileage on the treadmill and came out to run the remaining on the track. She had to leave before we had completed our sets.

As for me:
2 X 1600M @ 5:57 – 400 RI
1 X 800M @ 2:51

We all hit our marks among the picturesque sky with slight glimpses of space objects shooting across the atmosphere in a fiery streak. Well, most of us hit the marks…"Speed Racer” Ann Marie was too fast on most of her sets. She knew she was fast but did not pace the 200’s and 400’s correctly to hit the mark. Instead she obliterated them by setting fire to the inside lane with her speed.

As for Jay & Bob, again I am impressed on their consistent control in maintaining pace even though a few where well above the mark, (I think they wanted to show off in front of the ladies) they are learning.

On the way back, Jeff, Bob & I took the lead heading out of the field and making our way up the Webb Bridge Road hill back to LTF. At this point Ann Marie, Susan and Stacy peeled off and headed to their cars to pick up their gear. I believe they had indicated to me that they were going to ride this morning right from this destination. We said our good-byes and headed in out of the dawn’s chill to stretch. Bob, Jay, Jeff and I made our way upstairs and positioned ourselves in our regular spot to chat and stretch.

And the rest is getting myself to this point to write this entry for Wednesday.

The morning started out with the power of the mind propelling me out of a deep sleep, which lead my body to power me around a 400M oval track in the break of a new day with a group of individuals that I considered my friends.

If Ann Marie and Susan are out there cranking it out on the bikes this morning, I wish them a safe and fun ride.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day Twenty One - "Off Season"

The day began with the sound of advertisement for “” blaring over the radio at 4:50AM. The night was another good night. My head hit the pillow at 10PM and that carried through the nighttide by the cool, crisp fall air that brings euphoria to my slumber, which enables me to sleep without disturbance.

Today is Master’s Swim and the time in which I pay my debt. I requested that Bob be a Master’s in the morning to allow me to unload the burden of the albatross that has been looming since Friday’s run. I am one to settle my notes in a timely manner and I wanted to unload the currency to Bob before I drank his winnings.

The morning was hawkish as I loaded the Honda with my swim stuff to make the familiar trek over to LTF. As I drove down the roads of Alpharetta, the night still covered the dawn with the only luminescent objects flashing from oncoming headlights in my front and rear view mirror.
Arriving at LTF there is a sense of repetitiveness witnessing the same parking lot, the same cars in the parking lot and the same greeting from the same LTF employees who check me in to the facility. Is it time for a change? Do I need to mix up my routine in order to stay fresh and interested? What should I do? Find a new gym? Attempt another Master’s class? I enjoy the company of my training partners and new found training partners, but the monotonous feeling is starting to overtake me. On the other hand, is it that I am a man without a mission? Am I sliding through the “off season” with no real purpose? With having a productive training season with 2 out of 3 good races in IMFL, Boston and then Augusta that seems to never die. Have I burned to the point of boredom in my routines? Swim, run, weights, repeat…Monday through Friday. The weekends do not have this sense of ennui due to family activities and the “to do list”. I look forward to the weekends not because of the extra hour of sleep I get, but the bonding of the family unit and the cognizance of my accomplishments around the homestead. I will drive to find ways to make the “5 day week” more interesting to ward of the complacency.

I met Bob in the locker room and awarded him his winnings, a “5” pack of Sierra Nevada.

Yes, one goes to the spoiler.

We hit the deck in the pool area and chatted a few minutes with the other fellow swimmers about, well, nothing in particular. Even for us hard-core people, 5:30AM at the pool half dressed in a swimsuit is still hard to get use too. There is a lag in the air due to the tiredness of the group. The only cure for this is the cool pool water to awaken the training beast within. The pool has steadily been going downhill lately. Before we took the lanes Melissa showed me the “war wound” she received from last week’s pushup battle. Still do not know how she cut her knee attempting push-ups, but I was sympathetic (a little) as she rubbed the scab. Hopefully it does not fall off in the pool. Reminder: “keep my mouth closed”.

The Aquatics Director is out for 3 weeks and the pool water has become consistently cloudier everyday with a fine layer of used band-aids at the bottom of the tiles. Today was the pinnacle of nastiness. The visibility in the pool was about a body length due to a milky white murkiness. Time to fire off a concern to the manager of LTF.

My lane mates for today’s swim were, Michele & Brian. Michele led us off, of course with me trailing behind her and Brian taking up the rear. Coach Mike’s workout for Tuesday:

300M Free
200M Anything but Free
100M Kick
4 X 200M on 3:50
50M Recovery
4 X 200M on 3:40
50M Recovery
6 X 100M 0n 1:45
6 X 100M Kicks on 2:10
10 X 25M with 10 wall pushups at each end
8 X 25M with 10 floor pushups at each end
100M Kick
100M Cool Down

The time intervals were all very manageable even with me attempting as an old dude to reel in the “sail fish” Michele in front of me. All I kept thinking is, “she is a swimmer and I will have her beat on the run, HA!”. I have no animosity against Michele at all, it just helps me dig through the sets. Her presence is a motivator for me to push a little harder. The sets of 200M had a sense of accomplishment coming in at 0:02:55’s as I pushed myself with a goal to not give Michele a lot of time waiting at the wall alone for us. After the 100M sets, Michele got out and left Brian and I to fend for ourselves on the wall and floor pushups. Brian and I crushed the rest of the sets and finished up a few minutes behind the B & C swimmers.

I hit the hot tub for a few minutes to talk to Ann Marie and see how she is doing and what the plan for track is in the morning. Her tempo run went well yesterday, she is feeling strong and is eager for the early morning workout around the Alpharetta oval. We should have a good group in the morning with each of us doing our own speeds and sets. This is what makes the monotony of “off season” fitness training worth it sharing the experiences with other athletes that are reaching for their goals and achieving them. I continue to thrive off my wife, sister and my friends as they continue to grow stronger on this program. Huntsville in December is going to be wild with Sarah, Wren, Bob, Jay, Ann Marie, Stacy (I just found out she is doing her first marathon) and a new addition that will remain anonymous for the time being. They are superstitious and do not want to publish to the LTF community their intentions. I respect that and will be on the “Q-T” until the time is right to let the cat out of the bag.

I needed to head home for a few hours. Ellie is home with the flu and with our busy lives, these days I volunteered to work at of the home until the afternoon. As I made my way home in the reverse direction from 2 hours early, the canvass of the sky is going through metamorphosis. The sun was pushing the darkness higher in the sky with hues of Yellows and Oranges on the horizon. Through the high-tension wires of the populated skyline on Route 141, I witnessed the beginning of a new day filled with sunshine and clear skies. Through the doldrums, I experience in the “off season” with maintaining fitness everything is put into perspective when you see a glorious day ahead of you.

I will hit an upper body workout even after the pounding on the pool deck prior to hitting the office.

Time to get busy and tackle the day. (Even though I have accomplished about 10 different work related items writing the blog already).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day Twenty - "Off Season"

Nobody in the game of football should be called a genius. A genius is somebody like Norman Einstein.
Joe Theismann

Another great weekend has past. The end of a week always starts of good with the family gathering for our traditional “Friday Night Movie Night”, Cheerleading, chores and house projects on Saturday and Church, more house projects, picked out pumpkins with Ellie and of course watched football to top of Sunday. Yesterday I was up on the roof patching the leak (I hope) on the back end of the house, clearing gutters and cleaning mold spots off the shingles. As I had a climbing rope attached to the Jeep at the front of the house and was dangling near the edge of the eaves on the backside of the roof cleaning out the gutter of debris and asphalt single gravel Sarah was calling up to me. Her voice was over powered by the sound of the hose hitting the gutter as I spraying out the buildup in the gutter’s trough with my left hand and holding on to the climbing rope wrapped around my right. I had to seize my progress to be able to hear her from the 30-foot cliff I was precariously hanging off to listen to Sarah. Sarah cupped her hands around her mouth and bellowed the Pat’s are on CBS at 4PM!” I said, “Really?” “Aren’t they playing the Titan’s?” At this juncture of the pro season, the Titan’s record is a shameful 0-5. I that it was interesting that CBS would carry this game, but I am glad they are! I told Sarah, that I would finish the roof up and be ready for kick off! I had two hours to complete the patching and cleaning of the roof enabling me to gather up the football snacks and beer to watch my favorite team on national television.

I completed the roof repairs, returned all my equipment to their proper storage areas in the garage and clean off all the tar and dirt that had stuck to me during my roof job.

After cleaning up, I popped some corn, opened a bag of chips, got a beer, and headed for the den in the basement to witness the Patriot’s take on the Titan’s. Summarizing the game by the score:

A blow out.

Titan's: 0
Patriot's: 59

It was a good weekend for football. Jeff went to Pittsburgh this weekend to witness the Steelers over take the Browns: 27 to 14.

Jay’s Detroit Lions held consistent and lost another one to the Packers: 0 to 26

Moreover, Bob’s NY Giants lost to the New Orleans Saints: 48 to 27.

Now, Bob is a good friend of mine and I do not wish any "ill will" on him, but every since Super Bowl XLII when the Giants beat the Patriot’s I have not been a fan of the NYG’s. I actually do not like the Giants which is the same I can say the same for the Yankees. Sorry for your lost Bob but I did go to bed with a smile on my face.

I came out of a deep sleep at 4:59AM this morning to the sound of Train on the radio. The indication of a busy weekend for me is the wake up on Monday morning. If I do not wake up before the sound of the alarm, then I know that the weekend took a little too much out of me. For the better though.

The morning air was still and cool. The temperature was in the mid 30’s which begs the question if there really is Global Warming when mid-October in Georgia in the 30’s and New England yesterday was blanked with a snow storm. I could start in on my political views on this point, but I doubt there is enough space on the blog, so I digress and will get to my Monday morning run...

I drove the Honda for the first time in over two months after I repaired the front end suspension. The car has a new suspension, brakes, rotors and a battery. I had to garage the Jeep because it was acting up on Sarah yesterday and was not starting. Another item to add to the list of “things to do” next weekend. Got to love the “off season”.

The ride to LTF was uneventful. I tested the suspension and brakes on the Honda with a few tight turns and quick stop. Everything checks out. Pulling into the parking lot the car population for a Monday was down. I figured a lot of Monday workout junkies alarms went off, they felt the cold morning hit them and diverted the awake up call for another hour of so as they pulled the blankets up to their necks and got an extra hour of sleep.

As I made my way through the lobby, I saw Michele running on the treadmill on the second floor. She was well into her workout for 5:20AM and had a look of motivation on her. She mentioned that she was switching up Atlanta Marathon for Huntsville in December. Does this mean she is gunning for a Qualifying time as well??? I headed up to the treadmills after unloading my stuff in the locker and saw Chris, Ann Marie and Stacy on the mills facing the televisions in the back. I decided I would head over there and run with them instead of hitting my normal secluded area where no televisions or people are.
As I approached Chris, I noticed he had been running for 0:57:34 already. He indicated that he had to catch a flight to Dallas and needed to get to the airport early. As I was jumping on the mill, he was dialing it down and finishing. I looked over at Ann Marie and she was had been knocking it out for almost an hour. The plan called for 1 mile EZ, 4 miles at mid-tempo and 1 mile EZ. I was starting this same tempo run as she was doing. As always, Ann Marie looked strong as she ran the “meat & potato” portion at a 0:07:50 mile when I started to warm up.

I started the mill tempo run with a 1-mile EZ at 0:08:34’s. I am in need of shoes desperately at this point. The ball of my left foot is tender from the tread being worn down, but I figured running on the Wood Way treadmills would give me more cushion than the standards TM’s. After the first mile, the soreness went away and the muscles started to react to the workout.

During the “off season”, I have decided to train myself to start out slow and build my pace to average out to the pace I need to achieve. "Run smart and Finish strong". On this tempo run, my, “meat & potatoes” is 6:47’s for 4 miles. The tempo mile times were as follows to hit an average of 0:6:47/mile:

Mile 1: 0;07:03
Mile 2: 0:06:58
Mile 3: 0:06:38
Mile 4: 0:06;27
Average was 0:06:46 for 4 miles

I ended the tempo with an EZ 0:08:34 to cool down.

The run was good and I did not feel labored at any point of the run. Building up and finishing strong is my mantra for the upcoming marathon training this season. My experience in the past has been start real strong and finish good, but not great.

At the end of the run I did my regular stretching but took a little more time and care in making sure all my parts were properly worked.

I did not see the “dynamic duo” of Bob & Jay this morning. I believe they were going to run the tempo run outside. I will follow up with them during the day to see how it went.

Leaving the gym I felt I ran smart this morning and left me some in the tank for “a day at the office” and a leg workout at lunch.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Day Ninteen - "Off Season"

If God hadn't rested on Sunday, He would have had time to finish the world.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Day Eighteen - "Off Season"

If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm
Vince Lombardi

This morning as I sit in the Jeep while Ellie is cheering for the War Eagles football team in the rain, I look back on my accomplishments of Friday and the events that for the weekend.

Yesterday was a day of activity both on the run and at work. We had Associate Recognition Days throughout the line of business of Bank of America. The day filled with contests, sporting events, BBQ lunch and most of all recognition of our employees.

Friday night was again our movie night. The showing was a classic, The Wizard of Oz. We opted out of pizzas on the grill and ate leftovers in the freezer. Every 60 days or so we cleanse the fridge of frozen concoctions made for dinner that are placed in a deep freeze and have smorgasbord. Tonight’s creation is chili. All the ingredients come from the freezer, fridge and panty. Nothing is purchased for the meal. I add all the fridge's stored foods in a pot and just let it simmer for a couple of hours with a can of beer for the main liquid.

This is actually an ideal week for these meals since we have a busy week ahead with the girls’ activities. My parents plan to use us as a Bed & Breakfast on Tuesday as the head South from North Carolina to my sister’s residence in Mississippi. Our home has become an away station for them on their destinations to the Southwest. They tend to be short visits but are ideal and we make them more of a quality visit than quantity. It is a win-win for all.

Saturday morning I woke rather late by my standards. The time on the clock was 7:11AM. I would had slept longer but the cat had perched himself on my chest and was kneading the quilt piercing it with his nails and digging into my chest. That is his way of saying, “It was time for me to eat”. As I lie in bed putting the day ahead into perspective: cheerleading games, battery for the car, Halloween costumes for Craver and McGee’s parties and purchasing a six pack Sierra Nevada for Bob, I felt as if I had run a marathon the day before. The joints, muscles and feet ached as I stretched out in bed. I knew the feet were tender because my running shoes have hit their life span but my joints and muscles, sore? I only ran 12 miles at a comfortable pace yesterday? Then I realized that the events at work all day had kept me on my feet causing some fatigue. I thought to myself that I am getting old. Then remembered that I had pushed myself in the sports games at work to bring my team to victory over all the other teams for first place. I was a judge in office decorations and was also a judge in recognition of top associates in our facility. The First Place prize for the sports events was a $15 gift card to Cold Stone Creamery. Not the best of prizes, but the bragging rights of being Number 1 was worth it all. Yes, I am as competitive as all my friends are.

Ellie and I headed over to Sawnee Mountain Park for the start of the football game. We saw a cyclist on a tri bike all decked out in winter cycling gear heading up Post Rd (a route I had ridden many of times) as the weather was turning ugly and the temperature continued to drop. I thought to myself as I turned up the heat in the Jeep and activated the wipers that I am so glad I am not training for IM Florida or IM Arizona at this point of the season. The thought of a 100-mile bike ride this morning in 40 degree weather with a head wind of rain does not appeal to me at all.

We turned into the park area and the facilities were alive with football games, soccer matches, boys baseball and girls softball games. The sports parents milled around trying to stay warm and dry while their younger children ran around while their siblings participated in one of the many events. We parked and searched for Ellie’s cheer squad. Upon locating the coach, Ellie decided my services were not needed any more and she dismissed me to hang with her posse’ of cheer girls. She is starting at 8 years old to find herself and the independence we instill in our children. It is bitter sweet to see your kids lose their innocents but I feel confident that my children are growing with the proper morals and ethics that will help them coup with life.

After the game we came home to warm our bodies with hot chocolate and chicken soup. Sarah and I decided to head off to the gym. Saturday is Sarah’s cross training day and wanted to swim 2,000M so, I knocked out a leg workout. I saw Tom in the locker room. Tom started tri’s last year and completed his first half ironman distance in May. Tom informed me that he just finished a 5 hour ride in the rain and cold. I said, “what for”? He proceeded to tell me that his birthday was last month and for a birthday present his wife bought him a Community Fund Entry Slot to Ironman Arizona in November. I said, “that is great”! He looked at me and shook his head and told me that he had enthusiasm for it 3 weeks ago until the cold weather set in. I thought to myself, better him than me, but I told him the experience at the event will wash away all the cold, rainy rides that have been and will be. He looked at me and I knew that he was not buying it. I was not either.

I am enthusiastic with spending the rest of the Saturday evening with my family eating chili and chilling out on a chilly night October night. There is nothing better.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Day Seventeen - "Off Season"

If I was a betting man and I had to wager on who I thought would inherit the earth, my money would be on the curious and not the meek.
Jim Coudal

Today actually started out yesterday afternoon. Bob, Jay & Michele scheduled to 18 miles starting at 4:45AM this morning. Bob fired off the route to Jay & I to peruse so I could pick a place to hook up with the trio during their run. The route was a double loop past LTF that allowed for refueling of liquids, foods and the much need potty break for some. As I reviewed the route and passed the route onto Michele, I noticed that the pick-up place was a little low on mileage for me. I pulled up Google Map and plotted the route enabling me to see where the mileage and cross section areas where.

I discovered a place where the runner’s could hook up with me where I could get in 11+ miles but did not alter them from their 18-mile goal. I shot Bob & Jay the checkpoint on where and when I would meet them this morning. “Corner of Westside Parkway and Old Milton.” In my correspondence back to the organizer of this event, I asked what the pace would be…
Now, if you now Bob & Jay’s history, pace has always been that untamed animal in them that they have not been able to break. No matter how many times they get on the back of the pace beast , the beast has bucked them off and they either go too fast or are so sporadic in maintaining the pace they are thrown out of whack. A lot has to do with their competitive nature and not the lack of any physical attributes. Bear in mind, these to veteran marathoners are excellent athletes in above normal fitness. The one thing they have lacked in the past and are attempting to tame is pacing.

Bob replied to my request for a pace and quoted, 8:35’s for the first 9 miles. The average pace for the full 18 miles is an average of 8:30’s, so 8:35’s is a good speed to complete the first half of their endeavor. With the 8:35’s for 9, the pace on the back 9 would need to be 8:24’s. This is very doable for this running trio since Michele had indicated a 8:30-8:45 pace plan.

I verified the route and enlightened Bob and Jay via electronic correspondence that an 8:35/mile pace would land them at the corner of Westside Parkway and Old Milton at 5:49AM. I proceeded to inquire if they would be able to control themselves and harbor the beast within them to hold the goal time? Within seconds a response from Bob, “That sounds good… “ and from Jay, “Soundsa good…”. This is not a spelling error from the highly educated manager of VW Credit, but a light hearted joke at the situation. You can take this two ways, 1. Jay is just being funny or 2. Jay is being funny knowing what he is agreeing to will never be and he will be tearing up Westside at a 7:10/mile gallop and holding on to dear life while he is being bucked by the beast of pacing he eludes to control.

After I saw the response from Bob, Mr. “Pace? What’s pace?” M I knew I had to sweeten the pot. I fired off an offer I knew Bob could not refuse, “Wager?’ This dangling of the carrot on a bet that any real man would take after being called out was, “Okay a six pack of Sierra Nevada?” Which my reply was, “you’re on.

With a wager placed out, I knew that this was going to be a good run…

I awoke at 4:45AM eager to prep myself for the journey I was about to embark on with the running trio in 1 hour and 4 minutes. I made the coffee, drank the my beet juice, got my bag ready and even last night I made sure to limit the wine to less than a half a glass. I could have had a bit more, but I wanted to make sure that I was fully alert and in the right frame of mind for the run. I guess I need to make something clear at this point. This run is not a race or even a competition. I wanted to run with these outstanding runners for the sole purpose of pacing and to have healthy fun training run. From Bob & Jay’s history, pacing as I indicted has been a cause of contention. I wanted to see how they have been progressing on the Furman Plan and to help them with their running on the back half of their 18 miles. Michele is on another training program but shares the same common goal this morning, mileage and controlling her pace. I was more excited to run with my friends that I have not shared a long run with in over 7 months more than racing and beating them on the back portion of their run. In addition, running with Michele gives me a little redemption since the LSU swimmer tears us up in the pool week after week.

I arrived at LTF at 5:15AM and got ready to head out to meet the group who had been out for a half an hour. I ran into Ann Marie in the lobby with all her workout gizmo’s and we talked about how she is “back on track” and was ready to go again. She indicated that her schedule is on course and wants to switch a run up so she can spin on Monday’s or Wednesday’s. She is fine to do that with the Furman program as long as there are not back-to-back runs. We chatted about an upcoming ride this weekend for a fallen cyclist (Kelly) who has been in the hospital for over 60 days as well. When we started to head our separated ways I volunteered to Ann Marie to switch up track either for Monday or Wednesday if she makes changes to her training plans. Ann Marie is training solo on the Furman plan as I have indicated due to her pace and work schedule. Bob & Jay do track together but if Ann Marie cannot make Wednesday I suggested that I could hit the track with her on Monday’s so she is not fishing for someone to go with her. We parted and I left that up to her.

I made my way from the inside of LTF to the outside in the parking lot. I had 19 minutes to make it ~2 miles to the checkpoint where I was to meet the running trio. I started out with a slight head wind blowing against me on Tradewinds RD, (see the irony) and guided by only the white lines of the road reflecting the stop light off in the distance. Turning on Academy and heading towards Westside, I thought that it was not smart to be wearing two layers with the top layer a long sleeve technical shirt. The air was still on this stretch of road and my core temperature spiked. I thought of taking the top layer off but knew that Westside was heading the same direction as Tradewinds so the head wind would cool me down again. As I turned and made my way up the curvy road to the junction point the wind blowing from the south lowered my core temperature as I made my way up the road to the corner of Westside and Old Milton.

I arrived a few minutes early on purpose. I wanted to make sure that the wager we had established 12 hours before was going too monitored by me. Honestly, I thought they would tear out the first 7 miles and slow prior to getting to the pickup point to insure a victory. As my watch was nearing the 5:49AM mark and bet time, here they came. Side-by-side-by-side cruising up the sidewalk at the most effortless stride I have ever seen. The three of these runners look fresh, alive and strong.

Jay, Bob & Michele

They hit the mark of the checkpoint at the exact time they said they would, 5:49AM. I had lost the bet. But, at this point I was not upset or sad that I had lost the wager that between Bob and I, no I was actually proud of them. For this was an accomplishment of epic portions! They had stuck to the pace! You could see it in their eyes and body language. It said, “bring it on”. At that moment, I felt like the 4th wheel of a 3 wheel motorcycle. They had all meshed on this portion of the run and was I going to cramp these “in the zone” runners? I decided to start moving down towards our destination not to mess with their “zone”. As we started down Old Milton, Michele said to me that I was going to be hot in that long sleeve shirt. I knew what she was saying and decided when we rounded at LTF that I would peel it off for the remainder of our adventure through the cool morning streets of Alpharetta.
The four of us…The 4Runners, headed down Old Milton towards Academy for a brief pit stop at LTF. The pace was comfortable and I could feel that the 3 of them where in tune because none of them started to pick it up and spread their wings to show who was the biggest peacock there. It was controlled, relaxed and focused. We conversed about the first portion of their run, Michele dropping her coat due to her getting too warm, Bob cracking jokes and keeping the conversation light and Jay floating along on his Nike wings like he was running on clouds. Oh boy, they are getting stronger…

The 4Runners made a few turns and ended on Academy down to LTF. After 1 ½ hours and drinking Jay needed to unload his thimble blatter. He sped up a notch and bee lined behind a large oak tree to water the grass. Bob suggested I take a snap shot of the “reliever” which I could not pass up this opportunity to do:

After a few words, that I will leave out we continued on our path towards the parking lot of LTF 2 miles from where Jay had marked his territory. We hit LTF and the four of us dispersed quickly to do our little tasks to in order for us to get back on the road and head off for the remainder 7.5 miles. 1 minute 16 seconds later, we were off. At this juncture of the run the pace need to increase to 8:24/mile in order for the average to hold for the run. Bob and Jay lead Michele and me down Northpoint towards Old Milton again. While cruising down the road Michele indicated to me that the pace had picked up to 7:36’s which was way too fast. I knew the stop would had fueled the beast in Bob and Jay to hit it a little too hard, but coming up on Old Milton and crossing over the river of cars rushing to work would divert them and the pace would change on the other side of the bank. We gingerly crossed Old Milton and the traffic (we were safe) and pinpointed the run continuously down Northpoint heading for our next turnoff.

When we were making our way down the road Michele advised me that she did not know if she could hold the pace Bob & Jay were running. Knowing that this run was a little aggressive, but manageable for her I told Michele I would get the rest of the course from Bob and we could back off to a reasonable pace for her. I ran up to Bob, he spurted out the way to me and I told the dynamic duo to forge ahead without us. I saw a pickup in both their steps as they slowly progressed forwarded widening the gap between Michele and me.
Michele and I settled into a pace that was more comfortable for her to finish the run and still hit her time goals. Realize, we did not back off to a pedestrian’s crawl, we just notched it back a peg in order for her to run strong and finish stronger.

We headed onto Haynes Bridge with its up rollers as Bob and Jay’s distance increased. I commented to Michele that the duo had kicked it up and hoped they were not driving too hard over the desired pace.

As we ran the rollers of Haynes Bridge eyeing oncoming traffic, cars turning left and right, I couldn’t get the image of Michele lugging her 20oz water bottle in her arm like Walter Payton with a football making his way down the field. She had to be getting tired? Her arm must be sore? Why doesn’t she have a bottle holder or a Fuel Belt. So, I asked her. “Does that bottle make your arms sore?” She mentioned that it did and she was going to borrow Brian’s fuel belt but forgot. Michele said that she was a little unprepared for the longer distance out since she usually did shorter loops to rehydrate. It is time for Michele, endurance runner to carry a hydration belt.

When we reached the end of the roller coaster called, Haynes Bridge we needed to slow in order for Michele to grab her jacket at the Shell Station where she had dropped it earlier on the run. The only problem with this task was the exact drop off point was unknown. We looked up and down the sidewalk looking for a black pole she had dispersed the jacket near, but the task was unsuccessful. In order for us to maintain the pace we needed to head back out and I told Michele that Bob would swing by and pick up her jacket for her. We left the unmanned jacket and headed back on our path towards LTF. Crossing HWY 9 our next turn was Maxwell. We headed for the first light, Roswell. We made our way towards the second road, Marietta St. We wondered if the next road on the right was going to be the prize we searched for and it was…Wills Dr? No Maxwell? We went the right way? Michele looked at her Garmin, almost 16 miles. Oh, oh…we had gone too far. There was no way that it was only 2 miles to our destination from our location. We made a quick decision and turned onto Wills knowing that this dead end into Milton, which will lead us, home…LTF.
Hitting Milton Avenue I knew that is was a straight shot back from here. Michele said, where are we? I pointed out the Old Milton High School and I said we are close to the end. She said, “how close?” “2 miles or so”, I said. “Oh”, Michele stated, “that will put us at 19+ miles”. Nothing we could do now but trek our way back. Heading down Academy with a mile to go at 18.2 miles on her Garmin I heard the sound of her step increase and quicken. Following Michele’s lead our pace increased as we made our way over 400 and left onto Tradewinds. Michele did not let up as we turned onto Tradewinds but instead I thought she was buckling down to finish strong and at a more upbeat pace than mile 17 and 18. We turned into LTF and maintained the exact pace all the way to the door of the lobby. Not knowing the exact mileage and time, I am guessing that the pace on average was around 8:45’s. Michele’s email from yesterday was right where she wanted to be if you average the 8:35’s from the first portion and 8:45’s from the remaining 18 miles.

It was an excellent run and it was good that I was able to run with Michele so she had someone to talk to and have someone else to run with while she navigated the early morning streets.
We saw Bob & Jay as we entered LTF, already showered and heading to Cracker Barrel for a recovery breakfast. I was to join the dynamic duo running team but due to the time, I needed to take a rain check for another time. They headed off with Bob picking up Michele’s jacket, Michele heading to stretch and me heading for the showers.

All three of these awesome runners looked strong on this October morning run for 18 miles. I am proud that each one of them is progressing and learning more about “the run” and how to conquer the beast within in order for them to reach their goals, if it is a PR or the Holy Grail of Qualifying.

The bet I made was not to witness the meek, which by no means are my friends and their abilities, but the curious side of me to witness their progression of marathon training. A losing bet that I would make any time.