Friday, January 29, 2010

Week 12 - "Tempo Run with the Twins"

"There's a great power in words, if you don't hitch too many of them together."
Josh Billings

With little sleep from the night before my focus this morning was to muster up the energy for a ST run on the treadmill at 5:45AM.

I bumped into Susan L & Stacy as they headed up for a run as well on the treadmills. I followed them upstairs and I headed over to the stationary bikes to warm the legs up and work the kinks out while I waited for the Twins.

Right on schedule the two of them swaggered through the front door of LTF as I observed them from the second floor on the stationary bike. About 5 minutes later the Twins where heading my way side-by-side. Bob and Jay said good morning to Stacy and Susan before we headed to our path that leads nowhere.

The Wonder Twins had a long tempo of 9 miles on deck this morning:

1 Mile EZ @ 8:34 pace
2 Miles ST @ 7:03 pace
1 Mile EZ @ 8:34 pace
1 Mile @ 7:03 pace
1 Mile EZ @ 8:34 pace
2 Miles ST @ 7:03 pace
1 Mile Cool Down

My tempo was a little different at only 6 miles:

2 Miles EZ @ 8:03 pace
3 Miles ST @ 6:27 pace
1 Mile EZ @ 8:34 pace

From the above tempo runs, you can visualize that they were not a walk in the park, but all three did it, and I will leave it at that.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Week 12 - "Cross Training"

“The sum of wisdom is that time is never lost that is devoted to work.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

If this is the case, then I have a lot of wisdom.

Yesterday was an early release day for the girls. Sarah had plans in the mid-afternoon and she asked if I could come home at lunch to see Ellie off the bus. With business becoming more mobile, this was a no brainer.

I left the office around 11:30AM and hit the house about 10 minutes before the bus. Though the kids had a half day, Dad still needed to work. I reviewed a few remaining year-end evaluations that my directs had written on their employees, analyzed a couple policies and procedures, talked to my tech group on an issue with the system and put the final touches on a data base for scoring work performance. Grace walked in the house about 1:30PM with her entourage of friends in tow after getting off the middle school bus. A quick glance my way, a “hi dad” she and the group headed to other parts of the house for the rest of the afternoon.

About 4PM I had accomplished as much as I wanted to get done in my business job for the day. There would be some calls and emails that I would answered up until 6:30PM or so, but it was time to switch hats and put on the “repair man’s hat’.

The oven has been acting up lately. First, it was the temperature sensor that went out and now it was the baking element that had fried itself.

I spent about a half an hour removing and figuring out the wiring (some of the wires fried as well) to replace. Then the hard part. I went online to search for the part or an appliance part store in the area. GE does not make the process easy in locating parts. After about an hour and surfing through blogs I found out that GE wants its customers to use the repair man route instead of doing it yourself. Fortunately, there is an underground of “doers” that had blogged the best place for online parts. I found the part needed after peeling back the layers of the websites only to find that most of these places charge an arm and a leg to ship the product to you. 30% in shipping and handling of the price of the part is a little excessive.

After continued search online, since there are basically no appliance repair stores left on this earth, I found the part nested on Sear’s website under an obscure part number. Therefore, today’s journey will be to head over to the "dreaded" North Point Mall to order the part.

I finished the search, put another coat of primer on some trim, got a “after 5PM” cocktail, answered a few communications, cooked burgers on the grill, we all settled down for dinner together as a family. Sarah and I make it a point to have at least 5-6 meals a week together as a family. We know as the girls grow older and activities and hopefully PT-jobs come into play that these family meals will be minimized. This is an important factor in our family and both Sarah and I will continue to make sure this part of our lives continues. It builds and holds our family together and gives us all a time to relax, eat and talk.

Onto this morning.

I was a little longed winded above so I will skip the hum-drum and jump right to the swim:

Coach Mike’s Workout:

400M Warm up
100M Drills
3 X 100M I.M on the 2:10

3 X 400M – Fins
100M Swim, 100M Kick, 100M Swim & 100M Drills

Main Set
1 X 500M
Each 100M everyone in the lane takes a turn in leading.
200M @ 3:10
50M Recovery
Repeat Main Set

8 X 50M – ALL OUT
20 Second RI on the wall

200M EZ
150M Kick

Our lane was filled with Jerry, Jeff, Chris, Evan and I. 5 in the lane is 1 too many, but Mike wanted Evan in the lane. With this many in a lane, there needs to be some protocol set prior to the workout. Who will go first and when we are leaving are the two main issues that need to be established.

Working in the office, working from home, working on the home, working on track calculations, working on this blog, working in the pool and working on protocol in the pool. I think I am the wisest person I know, for today at least.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Week 12 - "Speed Workout"

“A good sacrifice is one that is not necessarily sound but leaves your opponent dazed and confused”

Nigel Short


Track: "a course laid out for running or racing." That is what was on the schedule for this morning.

The scheduling of this particular session started yesterday at 11:33AM from a distribution email from none other than Jay. Jay had posted the Wonder Twins speed workout for Wednesday morning which comprised of:
200M on :44 (200 RI)
400M on 1:31 (400 RI)
600M on 2:19 (400 RI)
800M on 3:07 (400 RI)
800M on 3:07 (400 RI)
600M on 2:19 (400 RI)
400M on 1:31 (400 RI)
200M on: 44

As I glanced through the workout (which is one of the best sessions on the track) I realized that the variances in speed and distance were not conducive to the constant speed workout I had planned. While the Wonder Twins had a step up and step down approach, I was scheduled for 3 X 1600M’s @ 6:00 pace.

Just from experience of running track, I knew that we would be on top of each other distributing the flow of each other’s agenda.

I shot an email back basically “taking one for the team” stating that since my speed workout was long intervals I would opted out of the track workout and perform these sets of 1600M’s on the treadmill in the morning. This way we would not run into each other and mess the other one up.
Almost instantly, I received emails from the Twins (weird how in sync they are) requesting my presence outdoors with them. I attempted to justify my reasoning for the change up but they would not hear of it.

As I thought about the approaching track session and the differences in speed and distance and how I had no other option if I wanted to still claim my manhood among the Twins, I had to make this work for all.

First thing was to stop thinking linear. I had to get myself off the 400M lane and focus on the oval as a whole and not just Lane 1. This means calculating the distance of Lane 2 through Lane 8 to come up with a reasonable measured distance for the start and finish of a 1600M.
The formula for calculating the distance of each lane is based on the distance, straights, radius and width:

L = 2S + 2pi(R + (n-1)w)
L = 2(100) + 2pi( 31.830995 + (7-1)1.22)
L = 200 + 6.2381385(38.83381) = ~444M

Which is 3.58 laps for 1600M’s

This means I would need to run 3.5 times around in Lane 7 with an additional 32 meters at the end to make the full amount. Brother…

It would be so much easier to run on the treadmill, mindless and let the mill do all the calculating for me as I just ran on the wheel like a hamster. However, where is the challenge in that?

4:50AM. The alarm sounded as a reminder to wake up, but I had beaten the clock to the punch by 10 minutes. As I laid in bed under the warmth of my sheets the mind raced. Recalculating in my head, the distances, the pace, the start and finishes. Every thought was different than the last until the sound of the alarm jolted me out of the racing anxiety settling me into one driven thought, “let’s do this”.

Arriving at the gym the lot was unusually full for 5:15AM. With the weather constantly changing and the weekend's being unfavorable lately to bike, the local area cyclist have congregated in Brian’s spin class on Monday’s and Wednesday’s filling it to capacity.

I made my way to the second floor after hitting the locker room to run 15 minutes on the treadmill to warm up the aching muscles from Sunday’s 18-mile hill run. After the 15, I headed to lobby where the Wonder Twins were waiting.

We headed out into the cold towards the AHS track. Conversation was light because the wind picked up and cut through our entire technical garb right to the core. The silence on the run down meant that each of us was focusing on staying warm and loosening up the muscles for the speed that awaited them.

The road into the AHS was treacherous. There is a constant stream of water that cuts across the road, which today was a sheet of ice. We navigated the black ice and made it to the mouth of the beast, the track. As we arrived at it’s opening the cold wind picked up hitting us head on as a signal from the beast that it was not going to bow down to us this morning.

We entered with an unwelcoming feeling as we scouted around the arena marking our start, split and finish points. The markings were ready and now we were ready. The Twins were to take the inside lane and I was assigned Lane 7.

We took off at different times (so I would not mess with their paces as I passed them) the Twins starting the first 200M and me on the first 1600M.

I started the journey in Lane 7 and fell easily into a pace. I hit the first 400M at 1:18 which was fast. I cut the stride down as I ran into the wind on the north stretch of the track. The nose, eyes and ears immediately froze. My breathing increased as I took in the chilly air pushing myself around the north curve hitting the 800M mark at 3:15. 1.5+ laps to go. The third lap was consistent at a 1:25 though still too quick, with ending the last leg of the 1600M for a total of 5:50. The next two where similar to the first but I pushed for negative splits on both while decreasing my speed to come closer to 6:00. The times for the 3 X 1600M were 5:50, 5:55 & 5:57.

The second 1600M was in the opposite direction. I learned that I am weaker on this direction with having the left leg on the outside. This leg is weaker and the one riddled by sciatica. These factors push me on the outside of the lane, where as running south to north I hug the inside of the lane. Need more work on isolating the legs.

I cannot attest to the Twins workout, but I have to say, I need to keep my eye on them. I have seen over the last 6 months their simultaneous speed increasing with every workout.
After the track, we quickly headed back to the shelter of the gym to escape the cold. We stretched, talked with Chris, Stacy and Susan L. Then we all went our separate ways for the day.

The sacrifice of taking the outside lanes was worth it. Though it would have been easier to take the easy way and run the mill, I am glad to spend the time with Bob & Jay and observe their progress since our training schedules do not allow for this often.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Week 12 - "Cross Training"

“Laughter is the shock absorber that eases the blows of life”

The joke below was sent to me by my friend Bob. I think this is all that needs to be said for today:

A male patient is lying in bed
in the hospital,
wearing an oxygen mask over his
mouth and nose,
still heavily sedated from a difficult four hour surgical procedure .

A young student nurse appears to give him a
partial sponge bath.

Nurse,' he mumbles, from behind the mask
'Are my
testicles black?'

Embarrassed, the young nurse replies
'I don't know, Sir.
I'm only here to wash
your upper body.'

He struggles to ask again,
'Nurse, are my
testicles black?'

Concerned that he may elevate his vitals from worry about his testicles,
she overcomes her
embarrassment and sheepishly
pulls back the covers.
She raises his gown, holds his
penis in one hand and his
testicles in the other,
lifting and moving them
around and around gently..
Then, she takes a close look and says, 'No sir, they aren't and I assure you, there's nothing wrong
with them, Sir !!'

The man pulls off his oxygen mask,
smiles at her and
says very slowly,
'Thank you very much. That was
wonderful, but listen
very, very closely.....

' A r e - m y - t e s t - r e s u l t s -b a c k?

Seth, here is this morning's workout. Hope those bike intervals were exciting and not too cold for you.

500M EZ

5:00 minutes of turn practice

200M Drills

2 X 100M I.M. -EZ (Yeah right!)

2 X 400M Fins

  • Odds - Swim
  • Evens - Alt. One Arm Strokes

Main Set

5 X 100M on the 1:50

1 X 100M on the 1:35

4 X 100M on the 1:50

1 X 100M on the 1:35

3 X 100M on the 1:50

1 X 100M on the 1:35

2 X 100M on the 1:50

2 X 100M on the 1:35

5 X 50M - Fins

  • 25M Underwater
  • 25M Side Kick

150M Social Kick

100M EZ

Week 12 - "Recovery Day"

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now”
Alan Lakein

As I finished my run yesterday, I started to plan for Monday. Spin class in the morning would be the right medicine to flush out the aches and stiffness from Sunday’s run. My goal has always been with planning for training and races are twofold. The short plan and the long plan. The first steps are to figure out what races I plan to participate in during the year, then to set up when the training starts on these races. I plot this on a spreadsheet along with the races to get an idea how the year will pan out and if the set up is realistic.

With foregoing triathlons this year, the focus is on road races: Berry, ING, Boston & Chicago. The time goals are set and the training has begun. As for the short plan, when a training plan is set, I only focus on the week coming up and never beyond that. To worry about a 20-mile run or 10 X 800M’s at the track three weeks from now is counterproductive. The plan for the future is set; all I can do is concentrate on the present.

Last night after watching two disappointing football games, I set the alarm for 4:45AM for spin. With the weather this weekend, being less than desirable to cycle outside I knew Brian’s class was going to fill up Monday morning.

I emailed Bob a few times last night during the V and St.’s game. He had a 9 mile run planned this morning without his partner while I was to spin. I need to find out from him how the run went.

Arriving in the Spin room at 5:17AM, my intuition was right. The class was abuzz with almost every spin bike taken. Brian looked as if he had been there for a couple of hours already, as did the regulars in the front row. I snaked my way around the bikes looking for an open bike and happened to find one nestled on row in from the back.

I hopped on and started to warm up as about another dozen spinners where turned away due to no vacancy in the class. The goal for this morning was to follow Brian’s lead but only at about 75% effort. The spinning would warm up the legs and flush them out from the run yesterday. The class was fast paced as the room air became increasing dense with the body heat, sweat and heavy breathing of the spinners.

At the end of class, I headed to the weight room to perform a few of my leg exercises in order to cut down the time at lunch so I can hit the core a little bit more than usual.

In planning for 2010 and focusing on road races, I would like to hook up with a few athletes in the summer for a couple of Olympic and or Half Ironman distance relay races as the run anchor for the team. The way I would not loose contact with the triathlon world and accomplish my plans in honing in on my run skills for my PR goals.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

End of Week 13 - "Long Run"

"What attempts to break you down can only make you stronger."

Week 16: 13 mile run – 17 degrees & windy
Week 15: 15 mile run – Ice storm forced the run on the treadmill
Week 14: 17 mile run – Early morning downpour, soaking wet Columns trail
Week 13 – 18 mile run – Rain, wind, hills…

These have not been ideal runs, but you can never control the weather on race day.

The weather prediction for Sunday morning was rain. The 18 mile run was planned for after church at 10AM. The option to run on the treadmill was off the table. Pushing 15 miles is the most I would ever want to accomplish, so the outside was calling.

The course was laid out last night. The pace was 8 minute miles and the queue sheet was ready. The queue had land marks and street crossings at certain miles and the time I needed to hit to stay on course.

The morning was wet and cold as I prepped for the run with a large bowl of oatmeal, banana and coffee. I prepared a snack on the way to the gym of 30 Swedish Fish and a bottle of water.

At 9:30AM I left the church parking lot and traveled the 1 mile to the Johns Creek LTF. There was a heavy mist of rain covering the windshield as I made my way to the gym.

The course that was lined up for the 18 mile run was littered with hills as the course I plotted traversed me through Johns Creek, Milton and Alpharetta.

The course:

Lakeside to Johns Creek Pkwy
Johns Creek Pkwy to Route 141
Route 141 (S) to State Bridge
State Bridge to Old Milton
Old Milton to North Point
North Point to Windward
Windward to Clubhouse Drive
Clubhouse to Newport Bay
Newport Bay to Douglas
Douglas to Jones Bridge
Jones Bridge to Sargent
Sargent to Findley
Findley to Route 141

Hills, hills, and more hills. Add wind and rain into the mix it is a serious run. The total run was 2:20:40 or a 7:48 per mile pace. I will take it.

Now, I know what you are thinking again, “too fast!” Well, you are right and you are wrong. I have had to readjust my paces due to the sciatica issue. The pace was to be 7:45 per mile on the original plan. I notched the pace back due to the hip pain, but since it was feeling strong I knocked it up a little to a pace that I knew I would not push it beyond my ability to control the injury. I felt fine so I kept it at a pace that I knew I could achieve.

The run was solemn except for when I stopped at the Shell Station on Windward and Windward Concourse. I ran into the store, grabbed a Gatorade and paid. At this time I heard, “hey Corey”. I turned around and it was Courtney. Courtney was pumping gas in her truck to make her way down with Susan to the Columns to run. I filled up my bottle, said my good-byes to Courtney and I was off. Seeing her gave me a boast of energy for the hills that faced me.

Now, I sit here watching football. The Jets just scored and are up on the Colts 7-3. Not sure what is going to transpire in this game, but with the Jets coming off two away post season games and won them to get to this point, there is a chance.

Note: I am not a Jets fan; I just do not care for the Colts.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Week 13 - "Track"

The doer alone learneth.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

We all enjoy the familiar feeling of companionship if it is with family, friends or even the pet dog. The warmth of knowing the people or pets around you and are there for you because they want to be and enjoy your company. There comes a time in everyone’s life that they must venture out and tackle or face challenges alone knowing they may succeed or not. The reason why we can do this is that though we may be alone at the time there is constant reminder deep in our soul that knows that we have the support and well being of our companions in life.

Today is one of those days. It is Friday morning at 4:41AM. I lie awake in bed thinking of the challenge I have laid out before me. Sarah is still asleep by my side as is the rest of the house. I brood over the track workout on a cold, rainy morning, alone. The Wonder Twins have formed a bond and are attach to the hip these days. Their schedule is their schedule as they prepare for an upcoming 10K race in March. Jeff did not mention any hint of wanting to run track and with the weather and no particular goal who could blame him for wanting to subside in the warmth of his bed for a couple more hours. The rest of my friends were running a long run this morning, so that left me and me alone to battle the elements and pursue the flight of speed around the oval at AHS.

A few minutes later, I cast the die and got myself out of the comforts of bed to face the challenge set forth.

Lately, with the closing of Brookwood, I have been forced to find alternative routes into Alpharetta. I proceeded down the same path I ventured on Thursday in order to stop by the post office to send a package to my sister, Tracey. After the drop off I cruised down Webb Bridge to LTF. As I rounded onto Northpoint I saw a familiar hoard of runners crossing the road. As I honk at the group, the look that proceeded from each and everyone one of them was of look of incense. Did they not know it was me? Why the scowls so early in the morning from all? I figured something had happened and it was not the honking of the horn that set the clan onto the warpath.

After the perpetual process at the gym, I headed east down Webb Bridge to the track. The rain was a light mist with gust of winds blowing the droplets in directions against Newton’s Law.

Entering the AHS stadium the sense of solitude overcame me as I made my way north on the track towards the starting line of my workout. Dropping my bottle and sweatshirt I made the traditional scouting run around the track to clear my path of obstacles and mark the 200M point on the back portion near the visitor’s section. The black garbage can was untouched at the 50 yard line from the Wonder Twins track session 5 days earlier. During the scouting run I had my iPod tuned in but through the sound of Billy Joe Armstrong singing, Walking Contradiction, goose pimples started to develop on my neck as voices from the track started to overtake the music in my ears. I shut off the pod and tried to hone in on the voices. Rounding the north end curve of the oval the voices turned into conversation as I jerked my neck back and forth while trying to focus my eyes on the field and grandstand to pinpoint the voices. I stopped for a brief moment concentering my vision on the press box and a low light that was illuminating from a picture window above. Blinking my eyes repetitively, I witnessed shadows of figures dancing amongst the ceiling of the room above. Logic at 5:30AM on a cold, rainy Friday morning does not compute. The first imaginative thought that flashed through my head was spooks! A split second later, the voices became clearer as common sense took over the imagination. “You are at a high school; the voices are definitely that of high school kids upstairs in the press box”.

Looking across the field towards the Visitor bleachers

Clearing of the head, it was time to forge ahead with the 5 X 1000M’s at 0:03:37’s that awaited me in the abyss of the morning night.

The start of the 1000M's
5 X 1000M with a 400M RI:
1. 0:03:34
2. 0:03:36
3. 0:03:37
4. 0:03:40? (Mind started to wander and was not in tune with the goal!)
5. 0:03:37 (That’s better)
Averaged out to 0:03:37, does that count?

When the workout was completed, I headed back to the gym to stretch and complete a few hip exercises. During this routine, Brian and Ann Marie approached me. Brian just finished a 20 miler while Ann Marie hooked on with Brian for the last 10. I asked the both of them why the scowls on their faces when I honked earlier? Both indicated it was a reflex from biking. When a car honks, the first thing that runs through your mind is WTH! This thought is then translated into your facial expression as an angery stare at the honker. The reasoning is understood for being a cyclist in my past and a runner that encouters drivers on the roads.

We chatted for a few minutes and Brian departed for his day. Ann Marie and I talked about injuries, massages, kitchen appliances, stuff and biking…She is riding with Stacy in the morning and asked if Sarah and I would like to ride. I advised her that Sarah might be up for a ride, but not me. I am still having issues with my relationship with my bike. I told Ann Marie I see the bike hanging in the garage, but feel no desire for her at all. The love is gone. She is concerned that I may not bike, but that is unknown at this point in mid-January. I did not bike at all last year after Ironman Florida until after running Boston. So the thought of "the ride" is tucked far away in my cerebral cortex.

Just like the alone track session on a cold, rainy, damp and dark morning, I need to come to grasps with the bike portion of my training by myself. Learning what will work for me and what I need to accomplish I know I have the support, but the ultimate decision needs to something that can only be made alone, but for now it is the run that is important to me.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Week 13 - "Cross Training"

Last night Ellie wanted to go to "Steak-n-Shake" for her birthday celebration. You gotta love it when your kid wants simplicity instead of immoderation to celebrate her special day.

The four of us headed off to the restaurant with presents and a cake in tow. The plan was to order, open presents and then have cake.

In a world of "trying to stay in shape" by eating the right things constantly I find that my body goes through cycles. About every 30 days or so, after eating tons of fruits, veggies, lean meats and carbs. I crave nothing more than grease, salt and sugar! If you could take all three and make a burger, fries and mocha shake and mix it in the blender with a beer, I would be in heaven. But this evening the indulgence was going to be savored by chewing every last morsel till the plate was clear. Sarah and I ordered burgers while the girls asked for chicken sandwich and tenders. We all loosened the belt and ordered shakes to wash all the goodness down.

The Birthday Girl Acting a Little Funny

After the ordering and salivating in anticipation for the artery clotting meal Ellie opened presents from us. Again, simplicity rules. Ellie wanted a Touch-n-Brush dispenser (a "As Seen on TV" gadget) and the game, "Mad Gab". Sarah and I purchased these gifts for her, while Grace gave Ellie the gift of scents. Body wash, Shampoo and Conditioner from Bath and Body. Ellie was excited and pleased at her new gifts and immediately ran into the bathroom to try out all her new body washes on her hands...

At the end of the gifts it was chow time. We all ate our meals with pleasure and were beyond stuffed towards the end. It was just good eats.

We had some kind of cake controtion and sang Happy Birthday at the restaurant and then hung out to let the food settle.

Pure Goodness

Waddling out of Steak-n-Shake Ellie wanted to head to Target to buy a pedometer with birthday money she received from her Aunt, Uncle and cousins in Boston. The exact nature as to why a pedometer is unclear for a 9 year old, but she was set on it so, the girls walked over to Target as I meandered over to the car, answered a few business emails and met them in front of the store.

Ell's B-day was a a good time and she enjoyed herself which was the whole point of letting her do what she wanted to do on her day.

This morning came quick. From last nights indulgence I expected to have a rough night, but the sleep was sound.

I headed to the gym for the Thursday Master's Swim. I have to leave earlier now since the main drag of road I take into Alpharetta, day-and-day out is closed for construction. I am trying alternate routes in the attempt to find the most direct way to my destination. The route this morning was accelerated as I arrived at the LTF parking lot around 5:10AM. I may continue to use this route if it allows me an additional 5 to 10 minutes of additional sleep.

The pool deck and lanes this Thursday were not at capacity like they have been recently. The AA lanes only had 3 to a lane while the other lanes where 4. This makes the swim more manageable on the turns and starts.

Coach Mikes' Workout:

400M EZ
200M Paddles
4 X 100M I.M.
10 X 200M on the 3:30
8 X 100M
1 & 5: Stroke
2 & 6: Tarzan Swim
3 & 7: Fist
4 & 8: Smooth
200M Kick
100M EZ

The workout was moderate in effort today which was fine with me. My goal was to work off a burger, fries, shake and cake. Mission accomplished.

Lunchtime will consist of an upper body, core and stretching routine.

Must continue to monitor flights to Boston for April. There has to be a bargain that pops up very soon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Week 13 - "Happy Birthday

"Yesterday is history Tomorrow is mystery Today is a gift."

Eleanor Roosevelt

Today is the day of birth for our youngest daughter. Her birth will always be a special day for our entire family when the odds were stacked against her. Today will be her day to receive gifts, but everyday she is a gift to us.

Happy Birthday!

Donuts & Ice Cream for Breakfast before heading off to School!

Switched up the training schedule in order for me to be home this morning on my baby girl's big day. The tempo I usually do on Friday's was scheduled at lunch today.

Tempo run at lunch which consisted of:

1 mile EZ: 8:05 pace

4 miles at mid-tempo: 6:49 average pace

(Mile 1: 7:18, Mile 2 & 3: 6:48, Mile 4: 6:22)

1 mile EZ: 8:05 pace

Susan L. was on the treadmills as well knocking out her trackworkout. As I was stretching I watched her form and gave her a few key pointers to work on with her upper body form to be more effiicent on the run. If she gets the run down she will be dangerous in the AG category on tri's.

I also ran into Marty Rubin. Marty and I started to run together a few years back. We were equals in our runs and we pushed each other. After a few months of running Marty has some surgery and dropped off of running. He is now doing the Insanity Workouts and has trimmed down. Marty has started to run again but only short distance. I told him if he takes up the long run again to give me a call.

Tonight is dinner out to celebrate! Where we are going, I am glad I got this tempo run in.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

End of Week 14 & The Beginning of Week 13

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

Dr. Suess

It is Tuesday morning after a long Holiday Weekend. The long weekend went by in a blur. I always enjoy the extra time off to spend with the family and work on house projects.

This blog is quite long packing 4 days into the mix.

Saturday was a day of rain and chores. Saturday is the day the the whole family cleans out the week of "living" in our home. Bathrooms, kitchen, bedrooms and laundry were all in need of a deep cleaning.

After the house was worked on there was a little time for some antics. Ellie for Christmas received a Po-Go stick from Santa, "yes Virginia there still is a Santa Claus". When she first received the stick her amount of consecutive jumps was four. Over the next couple of days she was getting discouraged by only topping four jumps on the new toy. I gave her some pointers, with the main piece of advise for her was, practice. We continue to instill in our girls in this world of instant gratification that nothing comes easy and only dedication, time and practice will develop the results you want.

I gave Ellie a goal of her own for her new toy. I told her to practice so she would be able to hit 9 jumps by her birthday.

Ellie has been practicing for a week and she went from four jumps to 1,135 consecutive jumps. This shot was taken at the exact moment she hit 1,135. She has a drive like her mom and dad.

After the event above it was time for me to get to work on the mudroom. Recess lighting is in. Bead board is up. Ceiling, walls and bead board is painted. Old floor is ripped up and prepped. Time for tile. I have decided to take my time and work the tiles manually and not use any electric machinery when laying the tile. Below is what is being used, along with a pair of snips to trim around the molding.

Saturday night was movie night. The four of us went to see Aviator. All I can say is that it was awesome. There are very few movies I would see again in the theaters but this one is one I would repeat. If you have not seen it. Get some candy, popcorn and waters and get ready for almost 3 hours of excitment.

As I put Ellie to bed she requested that I wake her at 7:15AM Sunday morning for church. I had to reluctantly advise my youngest that Dad was not going to church in the morning. This is when she sat up in bed and asked why? She stated we always go to church and that I was obligated to go with them. I tried to explain my schedule in the morning to her, but it did not fly. She did not think running should take presidence over church. And she was right... I left her room as I tucked her in feeling guilty for not participating in our families worship time.

I am dedicated to my workouts, but I need to adjust my thinking to insure that I continue to be dedicated 100% to my obligations to my family when it comes to our time at church. In this case, Dr. Suess in not correct. Being who I am, has had an effect on the ones that matter. For the remaining 13 weeks of training, the scheduling will change and when events do come up on a Sunday (most races are on Sunday), I will make sure that I discuss these with my children.

Sunday is the long run for the week. The plan is 17 miles. I decided to hit the Columns for the run. I figured with the gravel path the impact on the spine and hip would be minimized enabling me to accomplish the 17 mile goal. Ann Marie said that she would meet me at the Columns for the last hour of my run on her, yes, Birthday! I will not published her age since a lady never reveals her age. Though I know who old she is from all of her races and age group winnings...

Saturday we exchanged a few emails and Facebook...communications? What are the notes on Facebook called anyways? The plan was that we would meet at the Columns at 8AM. It was raining pretty hard on Saturday night and I gave her an "out" if she did not want to drive down and run in the rain on her birthday.

Sunday morning came at 5:30AM. I needed to fuel up prior to the run. I ate 4 pieces of toast with peanut butter and grape jelly on top of each piece, glass of OJ and a travel mug of coffee.

Sunday mornings in the northern suburbs of Georgia are peaceful. There are no cars on the road, everyone is still sequestered in their homes sound asleep. The ride down 400 to the Columns was solem. I arrived at the park, paid my token $3 for the privilage to be the first and only car in the lot. It was 5 minutes after the 6:30AM departure time and I new that I had to hussle and get on the trail. I had 1 hour and 24 minutes to run the 10.5 miles prior to Ann Marie showing at 8AM.

The park was pitch black as I stared towards the trail that seemed to lie on the edge of the abyss. The sight range was about 4 feet just enough for me to see the trail floor as I ran.

Looking down the trail at the Columns Parking Lot right before the run

As I made my way down the atramentous trail with my iPod pumping my warm up music in my ears I was having a hard time seeing my foot placement. I decided after .5 miles to turn the tunes off in order for me to hear the rhythm of my feet stiking the gravel since my vision was obstured by the lack of light.

After the first mile I became intune with the sound of the gravel under my feet and fell in to a steady pace. The goal for this run was 8 minute miles or 45 seconds over marathon race pace. I easily dropped into this pace as the gravel, mud and water below me made various sounds as I trotted down the darkness.

About this time I started to hear thunderous noises all around me. I heard and felt the pounding of hooves darting in front, behind and on the sides of my path. In the Cimmerian morning your mind plays tricks on you that your eyes can not justify for validation. The noise continued to amplify and I felt presences surrounding me as a dark figure an arm length ahead of my destination crossed my path. I caught a glimp on the left side of me a faint white object bouncing up and down. This vision put everything into prospective. It was not the hiena like creatures that plagued JakeSully in Aviator in the jungle, but white tailed deer that I had spooked with the movement and sound of my feet on the gravel path. This realization settled the heart rate and brain waves after seeing the figure of the deer and it not being a alien creature that was looking to feast on my bones.

The next 9 miles where uneventful as I settled in and cruised the Columns. At the ending of the 10.5 miles and the pick up of Ann Marie, I was hoping that she was going to show. I had given her an out due to the rain, but at this point of the run I needed some human conversation especially when we had scheduled to meet up at 8AM. It is not that I could not have run the rest of the run along, but I was looking forward to having another runner with me and if the plans had change it would have let a little air out of my sails.

Rounding the bend on the trail I could see about 200 meters up an angelic figure standing by the enterance to the trail. Nearing the figure (I didn't have my glasses on, hard to see until I am close) in a white techincal shirt, white shoes and a bright white hat that look like a halo it turned out to be Ann Marie. (Little corny description I know, but she was in a lot of white).

I stopped by her and we made our way a few feet to my car to switch out my fuel bottle and we were off down the trail. I told her I was glad that she had trekked down here on a rainy, wet day to run with me on her birthday. She wanted to run and by setting a time and place gave her the motivation to run so she stated she was happy to do it.

We negotiated our way around the muddy, wet trail and had a good conversation about a bunch of stuff that I will not bore you with.

At the end of the run which turned out to be a total of 17.75 miles or a 8:09 pace in total with the additional 7.25 miles I ran with Ann Marie, we talked for a few more minutes as we stretched.

It is nice to see that a friendship is growing with another person who enjoys; family, friends, training, establishing goals and trying to balance it all.

Monday was a bonus day. Martin Luther King Day were we were all off to celebrated his great accomlishments as a human being. We spent the day unfortunately not honoring his achievements but accomplishing some projects and running errands. In a world that is always turning at a fast pace, we do not set our priorities straight and take the time to honor those who have made our lives better.

In regards to a better place, then I will close. My cousin Jackie who joined the Navy in 2009 was deployed for the first time yesterday. She is on her way to Hiati to assist with the relief efforts. I wish her a safe voyage and return.

I am adding Tuesday's mix in as well to complete the blog.
Tuesday was swim. Coach Mike is in California biking a few stages of the Tour de California. We are on our own with the workout. Mike provided Ann Marie (the swim manager) with this mornings workout which she supplied to us.
300M EZ
100M Side Kick
200M Paddles and Bouys
4 X 100M I.M.
6 X 400M on the 6:50's
200M Left Kick, Right Kick
8 X 100M on the 1:50's
200 Kick
100M Cool Down
Long workout, but very manageable.
Lunchtime will be upper weights with continual stretching.
Now I should be caught up and I know this was a long entry, but I said what I feel and if you do matter than you will not mind the length.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Week 14-"Adjusted Tempo Run"

"A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be."
Albert Einstein

I guess Albert Einstein was the originator for the modern quote of, “it is what it is”. After writing that rather long blog yesterday, I am using Einstein’s wise words and going to incorporate them into my Life.

With the nagging issues I have I decided to ratchet back the goal pace I set for Boston, which at the time was an obtainable goal, to a new set training pace. The goal is still to qualify on Boston for Boston in 2011, but at a slower pace and time.

My original goal was a 3:04:00 marathon but now I have adjusted it to 3:15:00. This is a reasonable time to train for while I battle the nemesis that has wreaked havoc on my left leg and back.

I started the readjusted training this morning with a tempo run. The plan was 1 mile EZ, 5 miles at 7:29 pace and the 1 mile EZ. I saw Chris out in the parking lot, as he was getting ready to rondeavu with Brian who had been running for a couple of hours already, current time was 5:20AM. Yeah, my thoughts too.

Chris looked cold and he commented on the hawkish air as he turned into the direction of Morris Road to find Brian on the streets of Alpharetta. In the locker room I saw Bob getting ready to meet Jay for their run of 7 miles. Bob was dressed head-to-toe for the weather that we experienced last week. I thought Bob was over dressed and he would end up overheating out in the 25-degree air. I mentioned this concern and he agreed and peeled off a few layers.
I made my way upstairs to the Woodway treadmills at LTF I saw Calvin knocking out a few miles on one of the Woodways. I jumped on the TM next to him and saw that he was already 2.5 miles into his run. I knew that my company with another runner was going to short-lived this morning.

I started up and got the legs moving. The initial feeling was not good. Shooting pain in the hip, down the quad and into the knee. The toes started to numb over instantly as I focused on my form and posture to alleviate any unnecessary pressure on my lower back. After a the first mile I increased the speed from 8:27 to 7:47’s. About this time, Calvin was off the mill and I comment on the short run. It turns out Calvin was making his way up to North Georgia for the weekend to tackle Hog Pen. He was up there for the long weekend and decided to add a little challenge to his time while he was up there. We commented on the future rain in the forecast for tomorrow and his thoughts on cycling Hog Pen in the rain, but he seemed determine to be King of this Mountain.

Around mile 2.5, my body heated up as the sweat was pouring off me. Once the core is warmed up the back relaxes and the sciatica is abated. The pains were minor as I trudged along making sure to keep form.

Near the end of the 5 mile tempo I was up to a 7:03 pace which averaged the run out to a 7:24/mile. I cooled down with a 1 miler at 8:34 and went to stretch.

As I was spread out on the floor, I took notice of Chris coming up the stairs from running outside with Brian. Chris was pallid as he made his way over to where I planted myself to insure that I would run into the Wonder Twins and IronZen (Jeff). He indicated that the air temperature was not conducive to his Georgia blood. By this time, Brian meandered the staircase with an irascibility on his face, I knew the run was just as pleasant for him. After the 17-mile run, he indicated that his finger froze solid and the discomfort was abhorrent while he ran.

By this time the Wonder Twins and IronZen spotted Chris, Brian and myself and made their way to the point of the conversations. They all indicated though the air was crisp, the run was actually enjoyable. Bob is from upper NY, Jay is from Michigan and Jeff is from St. Louis. Enough said.

We talked a few more minutes and continued to stretch out the warm and for some, cold muscles. Then the party broke up. The Wonder Twins, IronZen and I have plans for a Friday morning breakfast feast at Cracker Barrel.

The four of us quickly hit the showers, changed and cruised over for a smorgasbord of pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits, coffee, chocolate milk, Coke, OJ and of course Jay’s whole wheat “dry” toast.

When the four of us get together, it is always a great time. We talked about the Chicago Marathon which the four of are running in October, our kids, our jobs, our training, cars, beer and other stuff.

Sometimes we take for granted our busy lives, but it is always good to step out of the everyday and “break bread” with a group of guys I am proud to call friends.

This is what I see that it is and not anything else it should be: Friendship.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Week 14-"Reality"

“The supreme irony of life is that hardly anyone gets out of it alive.”
Robert A. Heinlein

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how life is not fair and how you should deal with it and move on. Well, life has delivered me a piece of unfairness lately and I have to say, “It stinks”!

Since I wrote the article in reference to Matthew 20:1:1 on being dealt a wrong hand in the game we call, “Life” I have been battling with an archenemy of mine. This evil doer of pain and misery has cloaked itself upon me again, sciatica.

I am familiar with the debilitating darkness that plagues my L4 & L5 in the lower spin on a daily basis. But ever so often, usually during the cold winters, sciatica decides to wreak havoc and come out of hibernation and stop me in my tracks.

Now, I usually can handle the chronic numbness, soreness, muscle loss and uncomfortable feeling that my shoes are constantly too tight, through “Pain Management” but this year is different. This year the pain has affected my ability to training at my optimum level. Right at the end of Week 16, it hit and since then almost at the end Week 14, I am at its mercy.

The thoughts are popping, well it is only Week 14 and you have 14 more before April 19th. Better now than in Week 3 or 2 or 1, right? Well, you are correct sitting in your comfortable chair sipping coffee pain free. However, it is like buying a new car and crashing it the first week you get behind the wheel. Well, it can be fixed, right? What is the big deal? I think you get the point.

However, this is not about me crying over spilled milk. It is about taking what life has to give you and doing something about it. (I could of used the spilled milk, blah, blah and making it into butter, but I think that has been used too much)

I decided to move on and readjusted the training for the interim to mend the body and not say, “why me?” I have eased up on the running and actually have tried an Aqua Run workout in the pool the other day. It seems lame to be running in the pool waist deep back and forth, back and forth but I had to say, it is arduous. The goal was 20-1 minute intervals with a 30 second RI in between. The first couple of intervals were not bad. I thought to myself, as people from the hot tub, the windows in the upstairs workout room stared at the crazy dude in the pool, “this is not so bad”. I was able to run 4.5 lengths of the 25-yard pool with little effort. After the fourth interval, I noticed that the distance I was covering was a bit shorter. By the seventh interval, I was sweating; breathing hard and my quads were on fire. As I stopped for the 30 second RI and got a drink I said, “…man…(heavy breathing)……t..o..u..ff!”

I was determined to finish all 20 intervals since I opted out of the track workout that morning with Bob, Jay and Susan. This way I was keeping fitness, minimizing the stress and pounding on the spine from outside running, which worked. The Aqua Running was as challenging as any high-speed interval track workout I have done. The only thing I need to remember for the next go around with pool running is to wear an old pair of running shoes in the water. The bottoms of my feet where ripped to shreds like cabbage in the La Machine. All the blisters and calluses on the bottoms of the feet wear ripped off leaving raw skin. If I was walking funny from the back pain, I am currently walking like a male Empire Penguin holding its unborn chick’s egg on the tops of its feet. Think about that analogy…

There. I have gotten the burden of my setback off my chest and now to move on. I will come out of this alive, well and maybe back to my original speed. After a couple of weeks, I will reassess my goal time for Boston to see if it is realistic and if not, then the obvious decision will be to change the goal time. I will still need to qualify at Boston in 2010 for the following year, 2011 with my wife, Sarah, Ann Marie, Bob, Jay and my sister, Tracey running that year’s event. I would not want to miss this for the world.

Onto today. The awaken brought me a sense of rejuvenation after a good night’s sleep. Sarah made awesome potato chowder last night for dinner and I put on another coat of paint on the mudroom. I know what you are recollecting, “this project is taking forever!” Well, it is, but with owning a home there is always more than one thing that breaks or needs attention. With this room being off the kitchen that heads to the garage and is behind a closed door, there is no rush. The way it looked before the remodel project believe me, there is no rush.

Later that night, as a family after the girls completed their homework then we all gathered on our bed and watched American Idol. I am not the biggest fan of the show, but I do enjoy the family time so I go along with it.

The morning was tempered for me. I did the morning laundry list of things; woke up, gathered clothes in bag, got dressed, negotiated a path around the cat who dodges in and out of my feet as I walk down the blackened hallway and stairs, coffee was perking, started car, put stuff in car, made my lunch, poured the coffee and drove off. Half way down the street from my home, I stopped and reassessed all of my stuff. This is when I realized that I had forgotten my clothes for work and actually, I had not even put out clothes for work the night before! I reversed direction headed back in the dark house, renegotiated my way upstairs and quickly figured out garb to wear and I was off.

I guess with Life’s little punches lately and my focus on other things something is bound to be left behind occasionally.

I made it to LTF, changed and got to the pool deck on time. This was a good thing because looming on the pool deck benches were the “barracuda’s”. Not only was Susan and Michelle their but out of the corner of my eye I saw the most fierce one of the all, Carmen (swimming wise, Carmen is actually a nice person. I know you are reading this Carmen). The first thought that crosses my mind was, “oh crap.” I then discerned that I needed to jockey for a lane before I was tossed in the swirl of these mighty fish. I almost can handle Susan and Michelle at an anaerobic level for over an hour, but when you through Carmen into the mix, well, the game changes.

These three women (though are very nice) are all very competitive swimmers and when you mixed their upbringing of pool time, competitions and downright awesome swimming abilities together in one lane, the dynamics of the water are altered. The lane water heats up A mere age group swimmer will be eaten alive in the same channel of water with them.

I got in the outside lane to much of Brian, Melissa and Seth’s chagrin. Jeff, not so much, because Jeff and I have been swimming together for years and have a respect for each other. In our eyes, it is what it is and you just deal with it…

Coach Mike’s Workout

200M EZ
150 kick-no fins
200M Drills
10 by 3:00 minute swims.
The object was to cover as much ground as possible in the 3 minutes
200 EZ: Breath-5
5 X 100M with the first 100 all out. The remaining sets were to be at a good pace, but we did not figure that out until after the 3rd 100M trying to keep the time.
100M Race against the other lanes
100M cool down

Jeremiah, who was late to the pool deck, was thrown in with the barracuda’s. I glanced at him a couple of times and saw a look of confusion and an overwhelming thought in his eyes as to what has he gotten himself into. He did make it out alive from this Life's little twist, but maybe he will get his behind out of bed and get there on time next swim.

After the swim, most of the swimmers congregated in the hot tub to “shoot the poop”. This is always a fun time because during the workout there is little time for conversation, so we tend to catch up with everyone’s going on’s. Face-to-face talking beats Facebook hands down!
Tomorrow will be an attempt to run a tempo run on the treadmill. Life will throw its punches and I hope I can at least duck a few times.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Week 14 - "Cross Training"

"I am who I am and that’s all that I am"

It seems age has made a presence in my life in 2010. It was only 30 days ago that my body and mind were humming along with little to no issues. Then as fast as the year changed from a single digit year of “09” to a double digit of “10” my body and mind modulated along with the next year.

Injuries are creeping up where they have not surfaced in the past. My sciatica has reared its debilitating sting between L4 & L5 causing a chronic pain that is more severe than in years past. The mind is not as sharp over the last 30 days as if a sheer sheet is covering over my head. My focus on work, home and training is foggy causing me to have to concentrate more than the years past to maintain who I am.

The concentration effort is extreme in order for me hold on to my levels from the past which exhausting and is causes early “turn in” at night to rejuvenate.

All of this maybe attributed to a new regiment of a counteragent I am taking, but I have two more weeks until I go to the medico for another round of prognosis.

In the meantime, I must not struggle with trying to be who I was but who I am, which is all I can be.

The alarm sounded at 4:50AM. The extra 5 minutes I was getting was wasted by looking at the clock every minute, so I am trying an experiment. I have set the alarm 5 minutes earlier to see if the alarm wakes me up instead of my internal clock snapping me out of a slumber. Therefore, the bellowing of the classic hits on channel 97.1 have been my only alarm over the last 2 days.

The routine was mundane this Tuesday morning. I am not complaining at all about the repetitiveness of the early morning hours. I find if the morning is “status quo” then I do not forget anything as I am leaving. However, if one-step is out of place, I tend to forget an item like my lunch, coffee, computer or water bottle. It never fails...

I arrived at LTF at 5:10AM and saw that Susan L, Chris and Jay were already on the pool deck. After the change into the suit in the locker room and returning to the deck, more swimmers started to congregate. It looked like we were going to have a full house today. It turned out that every lane had 5-6 swimmers ready to take on the workouts. Lane 5 was filling five swimmers by the time I approached. This meant I was swimming with the barracuda’s this morning. Michelle had been swimming when we arrived and I knew Susan L. was to join in this lane as well. The rest followed; Jerry, Seth and Calvin. Six in Lane 4 today. The workout in distance was a bear, but now with the presence of the fastest swimmers that I know in a LSU collegiate and Olympic swimmer along with the sharks in Jerry, Calvin and Seth behind me compounded the toughness of the current workout.

With the swimmers in Lane 4 I knew I would position myself behind Michelle and Susan with the 3 other guys trailing me. This way I would have the advantage of pacing off the barracuda’s and keeping Jerry, Seth and Calvin about a half a pool length behind.

Coach Mike’s Workout was:
200M Warm up
2 X 100M I.M.
150M Kick no fins
200M Drills
2 X (4 X 300M) @5:25
First 50M all out then 250M at Olympic Tri Distance Pace
50 Recovery after first set of 300's.
200M Kick with fins, no board
8 X 50 all out. 15 second rest on the wall
150M Kick with fins & board
100M Cool Down

The 300M repeats were challenging. The barracuda’s were sporadic in their intervals fast then faster…while I maintained each 300M at about 4:25. This sporadic behavior is common in the “true swimmers” of the group. It is not negative characteristic of Susan or Michelle that I would never say is bad about these two people I call friends. The competitive juices run in their veins from years of competition. There is a constant battle of the “big fish” in the lane. When you add Carmen to this lane the competitive tone in the pool is at an all time high, which signals me to move to a more reasonable lane. I am who I am and I am not one who belongs in the same category of these outstanding swimmers. These three women are strong and the rest of us mere mortals have learned a great deal from watching and swimming with them.

The workout ended and the hot tub filled up with the swimmers. Looking at the faces of most of the A & B swimmers that the workout we just completed was a tough one. We shot the stuff, set up tomorrow’s track session at AHS and talked to Coach Mike. Mike asked me what races I have set up this year and I said, Boston. “What else?” was his next response. I said, “nothing.” “No Tri’s?” he questioned. “Nope” I finished with. Mike could not believe that I was not planning any triathlons this year. I said, cycling maybe in my future, but the tri’s, no love lost.

This piece of me potential was left on the Augusta course and triathlons may not be my thing anymore. I enjoy the swim and the run and used to enjoy cycling, but all three? I do not know if that is who I am anymore.

However, it is only January. I have enough to focus on and do not have to worry about all that is going to happen in 2010. For now, I need to who I am and that is all I can be. Besides, this is Sarah’s year. Completing a Boston Qualifier and taking on a Half Ironman. Being a spectator, is that so bad?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Week 14 - "Cross Training"

These words were sent to me today via an email distribution. I usually delete these Junk Emails, but the title caught my attention. I don't believe all of these hold true as you mature but some of them do and for the others? Well, maybe they will make you laugh. And as we grow older this is one of the things that never should fade.

As I Mature

I've learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is stalk them and hope they panic and give in.
I've learned that no matter how much I care, some people are just a xx h xxx .
I've learned that it takes years to build up trust, and it only takes suspicion, not proof, to destroy it.
I've learned that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you'd better have a big willy or huge boobs.
I've learned that you shouldn't compare yourself to others - they are more screwed up than you think.
I've learned that you can keep vomiting long after you think you're finished.
I've learned that we are responsible for what we do, unless we are celebrities.
I've learned that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades, and the realities of life sink in. (Man, getting old blows)
I've learned that 99% of the time when something isn't working in your house, one of your kids did it.
I've learned that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon and all the less important ones just never go away.

After a weekend of projects and football another week is here. This starts week 14 of the training. The weather is still bitterly cold, but I am making the best of it to keep on track. The plan for runs this week are Track on Weds, Tempo on Friday and the Long Run-17 miles on Sunday.

Monday is a "Cross Training" Day. I spent this morning in spin class and will hit the weights at lunch. The plan is a total of 3,570lbs of lifting on the legs. Trying out new hip flexor exercises. Need to add more strength to the mid section. I am finding a little sway in my stride that I believe is attibuted to weakness from sitting at a desk all day.

Weight is continuing to creep up. About 1.5 pound per week. Current weight is 155.5. Need to shed 7lbs in the next 10-11 weeks and maintain my running weight for 3-4 weeks prior to the marathon.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Week 15 - "Long (hard) Run"

Anyone who has a continuous smile on his face conceals a toughness that is almost frightening.”
Greta Garbo

Black ice. Here in the south snow is not the issue on the roads. It is was happens after the snow. We tend to get mixtures of snow and rain that leaves a layer of ice on the roads, sidewalks, cars and lawns.

After last night’s, “storm” that was what was left in its aftermath. When I say, “storm” I do not mean a “Nor Easter” that has dumped a pile of snow on Georgia. A storm in the south is when snow is involved and a single flake of crystallized rain floats to the ground. The media takes cold air and rain combined and throws out a media blitz on the dangers of the weather. This fuels concern in people and makes a situation that is bad even worse.

This morning was not good, not terrible, just not good. I woke at 4:15AM for two reasons. 1. A decision needed to be made on the office I work in to either close or delay. It was delayed 2 hours. 2. I had a long run of 15 miles that needed to be done.

I planned to run the 15 outside in the 2-degree weather (wind chill temp) in Alpharetta, but as I drove the roads of Suwanee and Alpharetta with going off the road twice due to black ice, the decision was made. It would be an indoor run. I made up my mind as I drove through intersections and noticing the amount of ice on the roads. I figured with the amount of streets I had to cross that even if a car did see me I was not guaranteed that the car would be able stop.

Arriving at LTF there was only one car in the lot with no ice covering the entire body of the car. It happened to be Calvin’s truck. I was in the Jeep arranging with the Emergency Line with work to send out a broadcast delaying work until 9:30AM. After I completed this task, I was ready for #2 on my list.

I have spoken a number of times about the “dread mill” and how it zaps your mind, energy and spirit while you trot along on the belts. Since I was not going to put my life in the hands of Southern Drivers on icy roads, I had to prepare myself for 15 miles of running on the belt to nowhere. But I figured, what better way to increase mental toughness if I will not run outside than to run my long run on the treadmill in a deserted gym?

I brought two water bottles filled with Gatorade and 1 GU for the 1 hour and 57 minute test of my mental facilities. The first few miles where not bad given where I was. Calvin was running two mills away and we exchanged a few remarks on the effort and heat in the building. After he left, I fell into a zone and listen to music as I focused on my form. I felt the form was good and efficient as I ran. With the pace constant, I kept creeping up to the treadmill's front hand bar without increasing effort. I was able to maintain the form until around mile 10. That is when the abominable snowman emerged from between two weight machines and hopped on the mill next to mine. It was Bob. Bob and Jay braved the ice, cold and southern drivers and ran a 10K outdoors. He still had some frozen sweat on his cap as we chatted about the run. Both were cautious as they ran the established 10K from LTF and came in 18 seconds faster than plan at about 46:05.

After a few more words, Bob jumped off to go stretch and head off to Cracker Barrel for a well deserved breakfast. About 2 miles later both Bob & Jay appeared on each side of me. Jay stated, “anyone who runs 15 miles on the treadmill is good in my book.” Which I replied back, “anyone who runs in 2 degree weather on a sheet of ice is also good in my book.” There is a general admiration between the three of us for our dedication to the “get er’ done” attitude.

I asked Bob a moment later if he wouldn’t mind filling up my water bottle since I had drained one bottle and was more than half way done on the second. He shot off and filled it up for me, which proved to be significant in the last 1.5 miles of the run. Thank you Bob for the supply of much needed hydration.

We said our good-byes as they took off for Cracker Barrel, which at this point made me hungry. Maine Blueberry Pancakes, two eggs, sausage and coffee…I need to get off this rotation leading nowhere!

As I made it mile 13 the run got increasingly harder. The tenths clicked by slower than molasses dripping out of a bottle. I kept saying to myself, “don’t look at the mileage counter”, but every time those words came out the eyes diverted to the mileage counter: 13.5….13.6…13.7…13.7…13.7…I think the counter is stuck?

I had almost ended the track of “running songs” on my iPod and decided to find a few songs to push me through the last 2 miles. Queens, Bohemia Rhapsody was the first. It is long, I know all the words and it would push me into mile 14.5 at the pace I was running at. I focused on singing the song as the mileage counter turned to 14 and at this point, I decided to increase the pace. The faster the pace, the quicker this 15 miler would be done with. I notched up the pace to 7:03 pace and cruised into mile 15 singing, “Bad,Bad Girlfriend by Theory of a Deadman.

Done. 15 miles at an average pace of 7:45/mile. The goal pace was 7:51’s but, 1. The treadmill does not have a 7:51 pace, only 7:53 or 7:47. I settled on 7:47…of course. 2. I increased the pace in the last mile to finish this.

During the whole 15 miles I kept thinking about what Jerry (Ironman Kona Dude) said. “If you cannot run at least 20 miles on the treadmill how are you expected to have the metal toughness to complete an Ironman?” Those words have stuck with me as I smiled in the mirror this morning which helped me persevere over this challenge. Not sure if I want to endure 20 miles on the mill, but 15 miles is in the books.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Week 15 - "Sleep"

Not much to report on this day. Yesterday was a day to be reckoned with. GI issues and a stomach bug took me out for the count (the reason for this colored font).

Was in bed about 7:15PM last night after a BRAT dinner. Skipped swim. The thought of water was not pleasing at all last night.

Today, I woke at 6:45AM and I feel a whole heck of a lot better than I did at any point yesterday after the track workout on Wednesday. Hit the weights at lunch for an 1 hour or so focusing on legs and core. Lifted 3,345 total pounds on the legs.

Running 15 miles in the morning. Switching the long run from Sunday to Friday in order to work around the house and prep for Pro Football playoffs on Sunday.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Week 15 - A Cold, Very Cold Track Workout

The mere difficulty of running when the temperature dips below freezing makes us tougher.

Peter Snell, a pupil of the famed New Zealand coach Arthur
Lydiard and the 800 and 1,500 gold medalist in the 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games, claimed he enjoyed running outdoors in bad weather, because he figured all his rivals were indoors doing nothing, pampering themselves.

Cold, cold, cold. That what was on my mind as I tried to figure out the layers I needed to be wearing for the “outdoor” track workout in the morning. Too many layers would impede the speed, too few layers would freeze all my extremities and sweat. After pulling out the entire wardrobe of winter running apparel, I decided on my ensemble for the 5:45AM track workout. 3 layers on the top, 2 layers on the legs, gloves, a winter babushka and a water resistant shell.

Of all the track workouts I have done, this was by far going to be coldest one. I woke at 4:55AM and started to layer up for the morning. I was to meet the Wonder Twins in the lobby at LTF at our regular scheduled track time. All the other runners where to meet us out at the track, yeah right! It was the three of us, since Jeff was not feeling well and we knew he was going to be a “no show”. I arrived at LTF early enough to hit the treadmill with full garb on (minus the shell). I was going to run 14-16 minutes to warm up prior to heading down the dark alley of the Arctic streets of Alpharetta toward the AHS track.

After the treadmill warm up I met Bob & Jay in the lobby, took a quick shot:

18 Degrees out. The Wonder Twins are activated!

The frigid air almost immediately froze the layer of sweat that had formed from running on the mill. I picked up the pace on the short run to warm up, but Bob, yes Bob, told me to slow down since they had not warmed up prior. I slowed to keep in step with the Wonder Twins as we navigated the “black ice” in the parking lots towards our frozen destination.

After the 400M scouting around the rink, we started our speed workout. The Twins were running 8 X 400M at 1:31’s and I was hitting 4 X 800M at 2:47’s. The first round was as normally fast for both. The cold air immediately was felt on the second 100M’s as you rounded the oval and came in contact with a direct head wind. The snot froze, the lungs burned and the face stung as you increased speed to maintain the pace. The head wind was substantial enough that the 3 of us had to compensate our paces on the back portion of the track to ensure the times we needed to achieve.

After the 4 X 800’s the Wonder Twins still had 3 more 400M’s to go. I decided to run the outside of the track while they finished, but after 1 400M the fingers burned from the cold and I decided to head back to the gym solo. Both Jay & Bob were good with this, as I knew they would. Mild temperatures they would have given me a rash of stuff, but the current outdoor environment warranted a quick return to the comforts of heat.

Arriving back at LTF, I started to receive a lot of comments like, “is it cold outside?”, “I bet your cold?”, “did you run?” The jaws were still a little frozen and I politely nodded and said, “yes” to all the questions.

Though the weather was not ideal for track workout, change is good. Come race day you cannot control the weather so the more you can prepare the better you will be prepared. At least that is what I have to say to myself since I have about 7 more weeks of winter workouts before the temperatures start to change.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Week 15 -"More Cross Training"

Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”

Every season I am reminded how the first couple weeks of a new training regiment taxes the body. Even though I decided this year to go through the “off season” in base mode and not drop off entirely by maintaining my fitness level, this week of marathon training has taken its toll.

Is it age? It is the cold weather? It is coming off 2 weeks of holiday? Who really knows but at the end of the first week, I am exhausted.

Last night I was milling around the house while Ellie read and Sarah and Grace brought the cat, Digory, up to the vet’s to get the cat’s paw taped again. The cat has had an infection that would not heal for two weeks, so a small fortune later we are pumping antibiotics into the cat along with dressing the wound.

"The Cat In The Cone"

After prepping for Tuesday, it was around 8:15PM and I was ready to call it quits for the night. Ellie had 15 more minutes of reading so I decided to ice the inflammation, heat the back, and read a few articles in Runner’s World. Ellie came in to the bedroom around 8:30PM as Sarah and Grace were making their way upstairs from their trip to the vet. Both Sarah and I put Ellie to bed and I crawled back into the bed ready for lights out.

I glanced at the clock and figured that 8:40PM was too early to sleep. I would be wide awake at 3AM and there was no way I wanted to be awake at 3AM. I read a little more, talked to Sarah and watched a little tube. By 9:30PM I was ready. Turned over and I was out.

4:50AM came quick. I hesitated, once the alarm went off, on just hitting the off button and rolling over in the warmth of the bed for another hour of slumber. But…then I realized that I had paid for a full months of Master’s Swim and had to get up and go. Money is still a motivator for me even at 5AM in the morning.

I shuffled my stiff body over to the closet and I as I opened the door a rush of cold air bellowed out from the dark. The coldness felt as if I was walking into a freezer as I fumbled for the light switch. The air was still and frigid atmosphere snapped me out of my groggy state as I put on ice-cold clothing that had been piled up on the floor.

The rest of the events leading to the pool were mundane. Coffee was brewing, car warming up and 8 out of 16 traffic lights stopped me. At traffic light number 15 as I waited for the crimson dot to award me with the green tint of go, I saw a white sedan coming the other way on Windward. Before I could register, “I think that is Ann Marie” the white sedan flashed me with its halogens signifying it was Ann Marie. I chuckled to myself (of course being in the Jeep alone at 5:15AM) as I thought she was bright eye and bushy tailed for so early in the morning on a cold, early morning. Then I realized this is the first day of her new job as the Pool Manager. Ann Marie has volunteered to take over the administrative duties of making sure everyone pays “their dues” to swim on Tuesday & Thursday mornings. I need to come up with a good nickname for Ann Marie on her newfound duty, but I am thankful for her taking the time to organize a bunch of Alpha athletes so early in the AM.

The swim. What can I say about the swim today…Difficult comes to mind. My head was not into it. With the focus on running and training for the marathon, swimming is starting to take a back seat. In addition, with the shoulder injury I have not been hitting 100% on my workouts for fear of further damage. At this point, I am thinking about reducing the distance and speed to stay focus on the task at hand with running and nurse the shoulder. This may prove to be futile for the moment since this morning there were on average 5-6 swimmers per lane. To move to the “B” lane I may throw a kink into the B swimmers workouts which I do not want to do. It is not fair to them to disrupt their flow. I will finish the month of January and decide if another avenue for swimming maybe more conducive to my goals.

Coach Mike’s Workout: (might be a little off)
400M EZ
150M Drills
200M Non Free
3 X 100M Kicks no fins
5 X 100M @ 1:50
200M EZ
1000M Time Trial
100M Fist
100M One Arm
100M Catch-up
200M EZ
200M Kick
50M EZ

The decision as stated above, on the swim came during the 1000M swim. I had no mojo and could barely propel myself forward in the water. I will not quit on the swim, but maybe just dial it down for a while. I need to give up a little to be better on the run. Cycling indefinitely tabled; swim may need to take a back seat in order for me to achieve my own personal greatness.

Tomorrow is Track. The temperature was 18 degrees this morning. Tomorrow morning it will be a balmy 24 degrees. A proper warm-up is in order for me to be great on the track and hit my times.