Sunday, February 28, 2010

End of Week 8 - "Funny the Things You Think Of"

Sunday was the end of the week's training with a 20 mile run at 7:43 pace. Right from the beginning of the run to the end questions kept running through my mind, "Why?"...

Why is it when you rely on technology for pace and distance the battery goes dead?

Why on an “out and back” running route you hit a nasty head wind in both directions?

Why when you are trying to keep pace you are stopped at every intersection light with tons of cars?

Why when you want to stop, the light does not change red?

Why is it that people who drive BMW’s are the biggest donkey’s behind?

Why is it that Mercedes, the safest car on the road for drivers is not for me while I am running?

Why are people exiting a church parking lot in such a hurry and have no patients?

Why is it that we live in the South but it is colder than the North?

Why does your nose run constantly, but your mouth is dry as a bone?

Why is the sky blue?

Why is it when you meticulously try to take one gel out of your pack they all fall out on the road?

Why does the Declaration of Independence start with “We the People”, but our Politian’s just don’t get it?

Why when your run or ride, “What goes down must go up and up and up”?

Why is it that when you run by a hamburger joint and smell cooking burgers you get so darn hungry?

Why does someone call you a friend, but is not there for you when you need them?

Why is it that a construction truck slows down, the dude rolls down his window, sticks his head out and calls YOU a “blanking” idiot?

Why is it on a new route never run before a pack of vicious dogs surround you?

Why running on a new road that dead ends and you have to run through the woods another pack of vicious dogs surround you?

Why do they build roads that you run on at the same incline of a Ski Jump?

Why do our children think we were placed on this Earth to be their servants?

Why do old people in Cadillac’s see you clearly on the side of the road, but veer right for you?

Why can Gatorade taste okay in the beginning of a run, but nearing the end it is just nasty?

Why don’t I give up running at this pace so I can run with someone else?

Why does the last mile of a long run take as long as the first 19 miles?

Why do I do this?

Why don’t I just quit?

Because it is not in my nature that’s why: 20 miles in 2:34:50 or a 7:44 pace.

(Not bad for the Garmin going out before the start, getting stopped by two packs of dogs and having to walk up a Ski Jump/road.)

Monday morning. I needed to wake up, early, and get to Brian’s spin class. After a 20 miler all I want to do is sleep in, but the spin is good to flush out the soreness in the legs.

The afternoon will be spent on leg weights. Increasing the weight is on the menu during the down week.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Week 8 - "Something New"

The online order was made due to the need.
Days go by and the package arrives.
Anticipation fills the air as the box is opened.
Excitement as the packing paraphernalia is tossed left and right.
Deep into the transporter lies the gray rectangular cube awaiting me.
The lid is abruptly popped by the hand.
The smell of ethylene vinyl acetate quaffs from inside.
The thin protective blanket cocoons the elements.
Hints of polyurethane waft up penetrating the nose.
Flashes of memories from first times criss cross through the mind.
Eyes shut for a brief instant to take in the moment.
A slight smile raises the cheeks on both ends.
Colors of new flash as the eyes open wide.
Lightning Yellows…
Deep Blacks…
Muted Chromes…
Scintillating Whites pop before me.
My next partner has arrived in my possession.
Uncorrupted running shoes lie in waiting for our meeting.
Void of dirt.
Void of sweat.
Void of blood.
Void of ungodly smells that force its peers to live in the garage.
These shoes are welcomed in the home for the time.
Premonition hovers around us.
However, feeling needs to be halted for the time.
Too early!
Need to wait!
For a time closer to the day that they will be needed.
What day is this?
Only the training program will tell.
Allowing us to join to become one.
That day?
23 days from the arrival.
23 days is the day that is set.
23 days is on the calendar were the journey will begin.
I must wait, control, tolerance is needed…

The Day Has Come
22 days has gone the day is near.
Excitement, anticipation the remembrance of days ago overtake me.
The box reopened awakens the elements.
Crude cardboard mid foots removed making way for real.
Signs of new that dangle out of eyelets cut.
Laces are long and threaded as if ready to go.
Tonight I sleep, tomorrow we run.
Alarm wakes me at 5.
Up in a flash while the shoes await.
Off to the gym the two of us go.
Treadmill, Dreadmill, who cares today.
Today is a new beginning to the end of a journey.
This tempo will be smooth on our maiden voyage.
First steps are stiff, need to break the ice.
Warming up the muscles warms up the ride.
First mile ends at ease with an 8:06.
The test is going to be felt for us on 4 miles at a clip.
Pace increase to a mid-T 6:45.
Strides are awkward and clumsy on the first date.
Heart rate high, lungs, burn body comes to an erratic state.
Feet are at ease, comfortable, snuggled in for the haul.
Tenths click by, time moves on, body goes nowhere.
Push the miles, determination and goals need to be set.
Body and shoes become one as the belt spins around.
Miles move forward, minutes march on.
Perpetual motion is not to be found.
4 miles are accomplished as body feels the effects.
The feet have no complaints, calm and undamaged.
The shoes had held up their part of the bargain.
Pace is decreased, heart rate and breathing subside.
Cruising to the 1 mile home stretch at 8:06’s.
The job is complete, the task is done.
Asics Nimbus 11’s and I are one.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Week 8 - "Giving Back"

What I spent, I had; What I kept, I lost; What I gave, I have.
Henry Ward Beecher

Wednesday, as I walked the parking lot at LTF heading towards the door for the lunchtime weight session I heard a familiar voice calling out to me. The voice was coming from the cracked darkly tinted window of a Nissan Maxima. Ann Marie had called out to me as I made my way towards her car. Both car doors open and out emerged Ann Marie and Susan L. both toting coffee’s in their hands.

They had just arrived from the local bagel shop and Ann Marie was at the point of bagging a weight workout until she saw me. Upon exiting the car, Ann Marie asked if she could shadow me on my lunchtime workout. It would be a great motivator for her since she was on the verge of calling it quits for the day. Susan was on her way home at this point, so we said our good-byes and Ann Marie (AM) and I headed into the facility.

There are very few times during the noon crowd that I workout with other individuals. I am all business at this time, “get in and get out”. No socializing or half attempted workouts. I am all business. If you did not know me, you would probably say to yourself that that dude is weird or intense, as I image some people do. Therefore, to have a workout partner was a good change of pace for me. Mixing it up and getting out of my box once in awhile is healthy. Besides, it was Ann Marie and every likes to hang out with a future 2010 podium winner in International Triathlons and all around a good friend.

We met upstairs and I asked her if she mind if she followed my lead on my twice a week leg routine. Without hesitation, she was game for anything. We saw Jeff, throwing some weight around and chatted with him while as we got started.

We started out, as I always do, focusing on the core. These are not sit-ups or even exercises for the ab’s but sets that focus on the hips and glutes. Sit-ups are in the routine, but not today. Over the last 2 years, I have place a large emphasis on working these areas. Hip abductors, Hip Flexors, Adductors, Hamstrings, Gluteus Medius, Upper Quad (connector to hip) and the Gluteus Maximus. There are 5 sets ranges of weights that pinpoint these areas.

We hit the machines that focus on these areas all the while I was helping AM with placement, range and speed of weights. When lifting I make sure that I focus on the muscle group I am trying to strengthen with proper form, the right amount of weight and patience. Rushing weights defeats the purpose.

After these sets, we hit the main muscle groups; Quads, Hamstrings, Quads again (Sled Squats) and calves. During the whole workout, we had great conversation and I was thankful to have someone to hit the weights with for a change.

The time I spend at the gym on weights to me is as important as any swim or run. Over the last couple of years, being regimented on weights has helped me maintain fitness and increase speed. All of the workouts I complete are for building and maintaining strength rather than toning or looking good in a bathing suit. When I am running a 20 miler at a hard pace, the last thing I think about is how I look. How I feel and can I sustain this pace is always my main priority.

I was glad that I was able to give AM some guidance and in turn she can me some company on my solitude lunchtime workouts.

Thursday is Master’s Swim. Through the “Grape Vine” I had heard that this workout was stacked with a lot of 100’s. With the way things were on Tuesday with timing and pacing I had decided to lead the group going forward. This is not to take control for my benefit, but to insure that the team gets the most out of the workout we all get up at an unheard hour to jump into a cold pool to do. The main goal I want to achieve is that everyone gets a decent workout in and that every one finishes the workout (the ones that can stay for the duration) and feels satisfied.
On Tuesday, I talked about the swimmers in Lane 1. We are all good, strong swimmers (not Michelle and Susan caliber) and when we “click” the workouts are meaningful for all. Then, when Lane 1 is out of sync we are all out of sync and I believe every one walks away just a little frustrated.

I snagged a workout sheet from Mike to size up what we had this morning.

Coach Mike’s Workout for the last week in February:
300M EZ
3 X 100 I.M.
200M Perfect
1 X 500M on the 1:45 split
1 X 500M on the 1:35 split
100M Perfect
10 X 100M on the 1:45
5 X 100M on the 1:35
8 X 50M on the :50’s
200M Perfect
100M Kick

As we neared the 5:30AM hour, I checked to see who was heading towards Lane 1. Evan was already in the water swimming, Chris was about to get in, Melissa was dangling her feet over the edge and Jeff was near me getting his cap and goggles on. That makes 5 for the lane. I quickly assessed the team and made a decision after the warm up who was going to lead us out.

When we finished the warm-up, I took the lead and had Melissa start us off on the 500. Melissa indicated she was tired and was not sure if she would maintain the paces on the first 500, but I had total confidence in her that should would be able to swim us out in the times needed to sustain the 1:45 splits.

After the first 500 Melissa averaged a 1:43 - 100M split effortlessly. I gave her a high 5 and told her I knew she could do it. She is a great swimmer that does not know it most of the time. A little boost of encouragement will make her a dangerous shark in the water in the next couple of months. A challenge that I am eager to go up against. Now it was Evan’s turn. I had him pull us out for the next 500. Unlike Melissa, Evan is very confident in his swimming abilities, but also unlike Melissa, Evan is not controlled. He has strength and speed, but irregular in his pacing. Fast is the only setting on him. The last couple weeks we have been helping him on harnessing his energy for the long haul. With him taking us out, the first 100 was fast, but then he settled in and was clicking off 1:38 splits. After the 500 he was what we say in the biz, “jacked” and our suggestions are paying off.

100’s were up next. I had decided that all of us can hit the 100 time if we all did a 100 then rotated down the line of the 5 swimmers. That is too easy. I had Melissa lead us out, but instead of doing 1-100, I wanted us all to do 2-100’s in a row. This way the second 100 would be a little more difficult pushing the envelope on the group leader in the water. Melissa went out and both 100’s she led were on the money. This is after she said that she was still tired and the shoulder hurt. “Confidence Melissa, confidence.” You would not be up front if I did not think you could get us in on time.

To shorten the narrative up, let us just say that the marks where hit on the rest of the workout by all of us. Building a team for practice is a challenge. Helping and supporting Melissa in her ability that is there but she does not know it. Controlling Evan’s burst of energy (he was doing pushups on the 90 minute active rest period), to go long. Placing Chris’s speed in the right intervals to lead us out and having the IronZen, Mr. Consistency, Jeff there puts us all in harmony.

I gave my suggestions today, helped, encourage and I received back more than a good workout out, as I hope my team mates in Lane 1 did as well.

Upper body weights at lunchtime. Like my leg workouts, the upper workouts are designed for running and swimming strength. With a continual effort placed on these exercises I hope to someday be able to swim with the Barracuda’s in Lane 2…Not.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Week 8 - "The Release of Pressure"

“The only pressure I'm under is the pressure I've put on myself.”
Mark Messier

I handle pressure with ease. Pressure attacks from all sides, I assess the situation and counteract with logic and tenacity.

There are some types of pressure that do have an impact on me, but again with sizing up the issue and coming to a logical solution to the pressure it is dissipated.

Yesterday I had pressure attacking me. None of it came from external forces, but within. The demise of the Big Toe has left a constant amount of pain throbbing in and around my foot with the toe almost 2 times larger than the left for 2 ½ days straight. With time the pain will subside, however it is not the pain I am concerned with. It is the potential loss of the nail.

I have smashed, bashed and crashed my digits many times over the years on this Earth and yet to have lost a nail. With the Boston Marathon only 8 weeks away, the visions of running and a nail being lodged in between my toes at mile 18 haunts me.

Ridiculous I know, putting internal pressure on myself for what could happen. But come on, you do not obsess over mundane things? Putting thoughts in your head and worrying about the rain, the cold, a sore calf, a tweak in the neck, etc…It drives you crazy and you feel as if your training or upcoming race is doomed. It is the same for all of us.

To add to the toe pressure, I had internalized the track workout yesterday that was set up for this morning. I agonized over hitting the times with a bum toe and this workout being one of the “meat” workouts halfway through training it was important to stay the pace.

10 minutes of warm up
1 Mile @ 5:57
2 Miles @ 12:26
1 X 800M @ 2:51
10 minute warm down

On Monday, I showed Bob “the toe” and the first thing out of his mouth was you are going to lose the nail. I showed Sarah “the toe” and she said, “you’re going to lose the nail”. Michelle took a gander at “the toe” and said, “you’all going to lose that nail”. It is permanently drilled into my brain that, “I am going to lose the nail”.

Add "the toe" and a track together, it was going to be a long night with doubts filling the mind.

Bob, after his comment on Monday said something so obscure to me that for the next 36 hours I cringed at the thought of trying to attempt it. Bob said to save the nail you need to drill. He meant literally drill a hole in the nail to release the fluids built up behind the nail and let it drain.

“Drill the nail!?” The mere thought of this caused shivers down my spine. Drilling the nail and drilling to deep, crossed my mind a thousand times. The pain of this is not worth it…Or is it?
I am in pain, but I am not the type of person who caused self-inflected wounds or pain on one’s body. I can handle the pain, but with the pressure, the potential loss of a nail and a hard track workout in the morning, drastic times called for drastic measures.

Arriving home last night while Sarah and Grace were out, I went upstairs with Ellie and prepped for surgery. To relieve the pressure from the toe would kill two birds at once, allowing a relief of the constant pain and also allow a better workout at the track.

Drill, drill bit, iodine, rubbing alcohol, gauze, paper towels and Ellie standing by with the camera.
I proceeded and Ellie took these shots right before she ran out of the bathroom, saying, “I am going to throw up!”

This is where a picture says a thousand words.

As everyone takes a big gulp and looks at the picture one more time, this relief of one pressure killed two birds with one drilling.

The pressure was released and the swelling subsided and I was able this morning to hit the times register above on my track workout, with some pain, but not piercing pain like last night.

I appreciate the company this morning on a cool (not cold), mild (not rainy) Wednesday morning with the Wonder Twins and Susan. The Twins were in sync as always and it was good to see Susan knocking out 12-300M's. I almost caught her on one of her reps! Susan, you have to admit though those 300’s were hard it was a lot better than the dreadmill any day.

When you put unneeded pressures on yourself try pulling out the drill, plugging it in, press the button and just listen to the sound of the motor. Then go back to the image above and think, “Is the pressure I am experiencing really worth it?”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Week 8 - "Cross Training"

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.
Nelson Mandela

In a sport of triathlon or even running, the event is geared towards the individual. Early in my endeavors in crossing the Finish Line the only thought that drove me was the pursuit of me and only me finishing. This is where I struggled. I have always been on team sports going up with most of my athletic events being in soccer. With every team sport, it is not about the individual but about the collective that builds and sustains success.

Over the last year, I have made a conscious effort to revert back to this style of thinking. I am not going to be out on the soccer field or on the basketball court anytime soon, but have figured out that if you lead and teach as you go your own life is fulfilled.

I started this train of thought last spring during Half Ironman Training. On the long training rides, it was not about me finishing first or blowing everyone away on the bike. It was about insuring that each rider got the most out of their ride that day. The stronger riders would forge ahead and they were not the ones that needed the guidance, support and encouragement. By hanging with the “pack” or the ones that were not on their game that day and helping them achieve the goal that they set for the day gave me the sense of purpose in this very narrow-minded and focus sport.

Tuesday is Master’s Swim day at LTF. Tuesday’s for the last month have been crowded with swimmers with 5-7 in a lane which has been a normal Tuesday. Our lane was no exception with Chris, Evan, Melissa, Jeff, Brian and I.

Coach Mike’s Workout:
400M –EZ
200M – Single Arm- With Fins. (Not for me, could not get my swollen toe in the fin)
200M – Side Kick-With Fins. (Not for me, could not get my swollen toe in the fin)
100M – Board Kick – No fins
4 X 100M: 1:50’s
4 X 100M: 1:45’s
4 X 100M: 1:35’s (I think and should only have been 2 X 100’s)
1 X 500M: 1:40’s to 1:45’s per 100M
1 X 500M: 1:35’s to 1:40’s per 100M
1 X 500M: 1:30’s to 1:35’s per 100M

200M @ 3:05

200M - Form
50M - Side Kick
50M - Single Arm
150M – Form

After the warm up, Chris took the lead on the 100M’s sets…

Before, I get into this workout let me explain the set up on this workout. Many of the swimmers during Master’s “go all out” and end up fizzling out half way through the total workout. The workout Coach Mike designed (we need more like this Mike) is to help the swimmer establish and control pacing. After reviewing the workout I knew this is the type of swim I could help the “speed demons” settle into a pace and maintain.

Chris was a little too eager to get going and lead on the 100-meter sets. We hit the first, second and third 100’s too fast. I knew we were not going to be able to maintain paces if Chris continued to push it.

As we started on the last 100M set at 1:35’s the pace for the first two swimmers became a challenge. There was not rest in between sets and we had to push to keep up the time. We ended up doing 2 more 100’s because of rushing the workout.

When the 500’s came, I decided to take the lead on this “meat set”. I asked Melissa to lead the first 500M at 1:45’s (I thought it was 1:50’s, sorry Melissa) because I knew she was capable of maintaining this pace for this distance. Melissa also needs a little boost of confidence once in a while for this great athlete. She is a strong swimmer, but she does not know it all of the time. By leading the first 500M I knew she would lock in to a set pace and lead the group out. I nestled in behind the leader and managed the time on the 100M splits.

At the end of the first set, Melissa did her job by maintaining pace and leading the group to hit the mark and building a little more confidence in the water. Right, Melissa?

The second 500M, I wanted Evan to take the lead. Evan is a “speed demon”. His swim style is speed, speed, speed. But unfortunately on the longer sets he applies the same principal as if he was knocking out a 50M and dies towards the middle of any distance swim.

Again, I hung right behind the leader and managed the time. Evan hit the first 100M’s right on the mark at 1:36. The next 4 - 100’s he was so consistent that I never had to pull him back or speed him up to make the time. On that 500M we hit the splits between 1:36 to 1:38 every time. At the end of the set Evan was “jacked” as I gave him a pat on the back and told him, “good job” for controlling himself and looking towards the bigger picture.

Chris wanted to take the last 500. I knew that right out of the chute we would be too fast but I was hoping that he would settle in to make the splits. We all took off with me right behind the leader to manage time and pace. The first split was 1:25 for Chris & I, which was too fast and I could tell that the next 400M were going to be a challenge. Rounding the second 50M of the second 100 split, Chris started to fade. We hit the wall at 6 seconds slower and then on the next 50M our split put us even further behind. Chris started to slow as I tapped him on the feet to push him, but the nudging was futile, he was spent. At the 250M, Chris pulled up and I took the lead. With an 8 second deficit to make up I was hoping that the rest of the swimmers would grab on to my draft and let me pull them in to make time.

As we forged ahead at every 25M the group’s spacing increased. The time and distance was wearing and I knew that for the group the time was not going to be achieved. I slowed to see if some would catch up with 125 meters to go, but the gap had widened even further. With 100 meters to go and 5 seconds behind at the split, I made the decision to push a little harder thinking if they saw me catching them on the back end they might dig a little deeper and knock out the last 100M. The time was not met but I know every one tried their hardest to make up the time.

Jeff was the master on the 200M. He hit the mark as we ended the 200M at a sub 3:05. That is the sign of a consistent swimmer.

In order for us as a collective to achieve the goals we are assigned we need to strategize and organize after the warm up. Swimmers lead on the distance that they are stronger at and the rest fall back in a pecking order. I know my teammates in Lane 1 want to hit the goals and for us to be able to accomplish this each one of us needs to check our individual pursuits at the door and work as a team.

This principal will be applied going forward in Lane 1. My teammates in this lane are all strong swimmers and can hit the mark on each set. However, when we do not work as a collective the waters become turbulent and everyone’s rhythm gets unbalanced.

One individual continually leading from the front has proven to be our demise. I prefer to be behind a changing leader to offer the support and guidance in order for all of us to achieve greatness.

Lunchtime upper body weights is on the schedule.

Monday, February 22, 2010

End of Week 9 -"Full Count"

After the emotional and physical day a lot of my friends and myself endured on Friday, waking I thought what Saturday was going to bring.

I had decided early Saturday morning, as I lie awake in bed listening to the set of cardinals in the backyard talking back in forth to each other in bird language that the day was going to constructive. To be exact, construction was on the docket. Building a custom shoe bench box in the mudroom to house the many pairs of shoes that escape their area and litter the house on a daily basis. Building a heavy-duty fortress to secure the shoes from going AWOL at will.

I had purchased lumber of 2 X 4’s for the foundation the week before and had the dimensions and look of the fortress in my head to start to work. This fortress not only had to be escape proof from the inside, but also had to be impenetrable from the outside.

Before tackling the project that was going to take most of the weekend, breakfast was needed to fuel the body. Pumpkin pancakes, two eggs, yogurt, banana and coffee was just what the body needed.

By 3PM and 7 hours later, I had next to finished the skeleton of the fortress. I had decided to go outside to fill up the bird feeder for the cardinals and sparrows and this is when it hit me. It was nice outside! I had been cooped up in the mudroom and garage all morning and afternoon and had missed the splendid weather that was upon us in Georgia.

During my incarceration, many of my friends were out in the warm weather, running, playing lacrosse, swimming, biking, having bike crashes (sorry to hear about that), having their bikes stolen, but then recovered as I worked obliviously in the dark dungeon.

The fresh, warm winter day felt good but I knew that having Saturday’s as a rest day, chores and projects don’t get done by themselves if I am not there to complete.

As the afternoon came to an end, the evening was about to get started. The family was meeting some new friends for pizza and beer at local joint. The conversation was lively, the company was awesome and the food was spectacular. We all had a good time as the place started to close up for the evening around us.

Sunday brought service, more construction, homework and dinner. Grace, our daughter was an acolyte at the 8:30AM service, which means it is my responsibility to assemble the troops early in the morning in order for us to be at the church in time. As coffee brewed, I went around to each room to roust the girls and Sarah from a long slumber.

After service, Sarah was meeting our neighbor, Pam (who is running Boston this year) for a run. Pam was running 19 miles while Sarah was going to meet Pam after 8 miles and finish up with her. The weather again was exceptionally warm from the last 60 days and the run was good for all.

For the rest of the clan it was homework, violin practice and additional work on the mudroom shoe jail. It was on the calendar for me to run a 6 miles tempo run on Sunday afternoon, but I felt like I needed to warden the household to insure the work by the inmates was completed.
After putting the final touches on the framing of the shoe cell, I headed off to Lowes to pick up the interior and exterior cosmetic pieces to tie the look in with the surroundings.

I headed off to the local big box hardware establishment to pick up supplies. The interior of the shoe jail was to be designed to handle the constant kicking off and throwing of shoes. I wanted to use a man made compressed wood and plastic material to line the interior. After finding 4 X 8 sheets of the compound, I proceeded to pull on sheet off the shelve that was approximately 3 ½ feet from the ground. As I leveraged my body against the man made panel I could feel that this 4 X 8 piece of synthetic compound weighed 70+ pounds per sheet.

The lowering of the panel showed to be difficult especially when the sheet slipped with 2 feet to go and landed on the right interphalangeal joint on the outer side with a heavy thump. With the sheet weighing ~ 70lbs and being dropped from a distance of 2 feet I figured that at 2.5974 pounds per square inch the pressure that was applied to the right outside interphalangeal joint was 371.4 psi. The force was enough to break the epidermis and cause severe pain that radiated up the metatarsal and into the talus. The cuticle instantly turned a black shaded color as sanguine fluid seeped through my sock. My breathing became shallow and I was forced to seek a place to sit for at least 20 minutes while the pain subsided.

After I was able to compose myself, I finished the task of gathering the necessary lumber to complete the shoebox minus out the composite that poised bodily harm.

Arriving home, I unloaded the lumber supplies and then proceeded to gather and ice compress to help contain the swelling that appeared.

The rest of the evening, I limped in excruciating pain around the house, making dinner, grilling steaks and not complaining of my misfortunate event. One elixir that helped ease the pain was of course, beer. After downing a few of this magical miracle drug, the pain was numbed.
I headed off to bed, early to watch the Canada vs. USA hockey game. Which ended in a victory for USA.

Monday morning came fast. Every bump in the night sent a shock wave of pain up through my body making a good night sleep impossible.

The alarm chimed at 4:30AM with the notion that I would spin for 45 minutes and then hit the tempo run that I missed yesterday. As I dressed for the morning in the closet I witnessed the size of the interphalangeal joint. The size was double that of the normal joint on the left. The cuticle was a dark midnight blue color with lacerations parallel across the top. I hobbled down the hall and at the landing, I needed to make a choice. Head off in pain or back to bed.

At 7AM, I woke to get ready for work.

With the decision I had set myself back again in my training regiment. Missing another key run could have extreme consequences on the pace I want to maintain during the marathon. I had packed workout clothes for this afternoon to either lift weights or attempt to run. By 10AM, I had made a decision on the lunchtime activities. Do the tempo run. In my mind, I needed to know if the interphalangeal joint was fractured ending the training or if it was just severely messed up with swelling and lacerations.

11:15AM I arrived at the gym to attempt the run. I saw Bob in the locker room getting ready for his tempo run as he waited for Jay’s appearance. I asked if I could join the Twins in their 8 mile tempo run, knowing what the answer was to be.

The Twins and I went upstairs and procured 3 mills halfway into the bowels of the treadmill rows. Warm ups were first on the menu. The first few strides I took sent a fierce pain shooting up my right side and nestling behind the sclera. The first thought was to stop but I decided to see if I could “work it out” during the first 2 miles of a 7.4 MPH pace. 10 minutes in the shooting pain started to subside and I was in not as much discomfort. By the end of the second mile the pace was prescribed to increase to 9.2 MPH. I had already dialed up and was hitting the 9.2 stride at the end of the first 2 miles. I only had 3 miles at this speed and then I was to reduce the speed back to 7.4 for a warm down.

The first 2 miles at 9.2 were okay. I was numb to the pain and started to feel sweat forming in my shoes from the lack of air in the gym. As I rounded into mile-3, holding the pace became difficult. I started grunting and taking in more water. Unlike a friend of mine who grunts on the treadmill and gets ask out on dates, the noises that came from my mouth (no swearing) did not solicit any acts of courting by the opposite sex even when that is not the intent. I received looks of pity and dismay as the 3 of us continued our run into oblivion.

Coming up on the last ½ mile of the short tempo pace of 9.2 MPH, I wanted to quit. Stop dead in my tracks and call it a day, but I knew with the Twins eyeing the speed on my mill that they would never let me live it down. I trudged ahead pretending to chase down the runner on the treadmill in front of me until the magic number 5 came up. I slowed the mill down to the cool down pace of 7.4MPH’s, sipped water and wondered why my right sock was damp while the left one was not?

Again, I need to thank the Wonder Twins for their mental push to allow me to complete the run. If not they would never let me let it down which I would expect from them.

After stretching and in the locker room the reason for the wetness showed as I peeled off the right sock. The right planter had a stain of crimson coloring surrounding the front. I could not see a large gash that would cause such a stain, but obliviously I had disrupted the healing process. I showered, cleaned up and got ready to head back to work.

I have had many obstacles in this training session so far. I could take the easy road and call it quits or even feel sorry for myself, but I don’t. Life throws these things at you, so you can attempt to hit them as they come or take the strikes and get out. The count is 3 & 2 and do not expect to strike out.

As for the shoe fortress it will be tackled again next weekend.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Week 9-"A Mere 18 Next to the Giant 40"

"What is the purpose of the giant sequoia tree? The purpose of the giant sequoia tree is to provide shade for the tiny titmouse."
Edward Abbey

Today was a day I awed over the undertaking that a single man was accomplishing. Today, I witnessed the triumph of a single man’s quest to take his body further than he has every taken it before. Today, I saw a giant…

My day started as the alarm buzzed at 3:30AM. The sound that emanates from the black box at that time of the morning is piercing to the drums.

My first thought as I sluggishly removed my body from the warmth and comfort of my bed was that Brian, has been trekking it all around Alpharetta for 2 ½ hours on his quest of 40 miles.

The thought of what this man was accomplishing this day is phenomenal and for me to even think that a mere 18 miles stacked up against his 40 miles in 6 hours could even compare is incomprehensible.

Arriving at the sparse lot at LTF I ran into Hokan in the lobby. Hokan had stated to me that he had never been up so early in his life. Hokan was departing with Brian on one of his stops to the gym to refuel and was running the last 18 miles. As we walked through the sober halls of LTF, we laughed at ourselves for the crazy antics that we do to balance our lives on a daily basis.

Like Hokan, I had an agenda for the early rise and departure on this Friday morning. My goal for the day was to meet up with the Wonder Twins at 5:15AM and run their long run of 10 miles at a 7:33 pace. The first order for me was to knock out 8 miles. Calculating the pace required to meet them at the quarter after the hour time, I had to run 8:02’s.

The 8-mile course was plotted last night. Out to Webb Bridge Park (loop twice) and head back. The mileage is actually 8.2, but what are a few tenth’s?

I headed down my path today thinking that Brian would be rounding the corner into the parking lot in a few minutes to pick up his posse’ of runners for the last 18 miles of his journey as I embarked on my mere 18 this morning.

The air was crisp and a bit chilly this morning. The was no wind, which was a nice change for once, but the low lying areas along the route nestled the cold air which made its way the layers of clothing to my core.

I rounded the park twice and headed back to meet the Twins. Running at this time of the morning is surreal. No traffic, the darkest part of the day and the quietness of the suburbs allows you to focus on your breathing, foot cadence and stride from the sound of your feet hitting the asphalt.

Since the demise of my iPod I have been running solo with no music. At first, it was a challenge, but now I have been able to hone in on my breathing and my stride a lot more making me more efficient on the run.

As I ran down the center of the road on Webb Bridge a car slowed down, it was Jay. He was on his way to the gym and said he would see me in few minutes. He stated I looked strong, but in reality, it was a bit of a struggle for some reason. There was a brief moment when all I wanted to do was hop in the back seat and head back with him, but my stubbornness for accomplishing my task would not allow it.

Jay took off down the road once again leaving me to myself to finish the task at 4:51AM.

I hit the gym a few minutes early (too fast) after the 8 miles. I met the Wonder Twins in the lobby and they bundled up as we headed out the door.

Bob had plotted a 10-mile course through the rough parts of Alpharetta and back. We took off heading out to conquer our first hill on Westside Parkway heading to Windward. The hill is not steep, just long. The Twins kicked into overdrive floating up the hill effortlessly.

We veered left onto Cumming then right onto Henderson Parkway, more hills. The pace was a little fast at this point 7:28’s but I knew the Wonder Twins needed to settle in by knocking off a few fast miles.

At the peak of Henderson Pkwy, we hung a left onto Hwy 9 then right on Vaughn Drive to Hopewell Road. This is where the Twins settled in at about 7:30 to 7:31’s. I hung on Jay’s left shoulder to hold the pace with them for the next couple of miles.

At the next turn intersection, we turned left on Milton Ave where Bob (a good man) stashed 3 Gatorade bottles for us. We briefly stopped to pick them up but decided to forge ahead up Milton until we leveled out on Wills Road to crack open the much-needed drinks.

As we down the last of the Orange Gatorade, we picked the pace up almost instantly, to 7:30’s again making our way to Old Milton Pkwy. Turning left, we followed Old Milton to Haynes Bridge. Passing Bagel Boys was torture for us. The smells emanating from the shop of freshly baked bagels and coffee brewing was hypnotic. Stop, eat and warm up my body kept telling me, but as Jay snapped me into reality by stating, “3.7 miles to go”. I figured breakfast had to wait, dang.

Forging ahead, as the hypnotic smells dissipated, towards Mount Westside Pkwy I eased up a few clicks to take a gel and drink some fluid knowing that the mountain that lay ahead was going to be tough at about mile 16 for me.

As we rounded onto Mt. Westside, the Twins had a little after burner left in the jets and slowly progressed forwarded faster than I could hold. They pranced up the mountain effortlessly like two Kluane rams, while I trailed 15 meters behind trying to keep up.

Cresting the summit, we crossed Old Milton and headed down the closed section of Westside. I was able to make up some ground filing in behind Bob’s feet as we turned onto Academy heading back.

The Twins and I finished the run on the backside of Tradewinds behind LTF ending in the parking lot. I attempted to gain some ground on them heading up Tradewinds hill to finish side-by-side, but their strength had out matched me by a couple of steps.

I appreciated the challenge of hanging with these exceptional runners as we made our way indoors to warm up.

In the lobby, Brian’s next group of runners was congregating to run with him on his last 4 miles of his journey. Chris & Stacy were waiting as Susan, Ann Marie, Stacy H, Shane, Bob, Jay and I awaited Brian’s arrival.

We talked about our runs, the Chicago Marathon and took a few snap shots while the clock ticked by. About 20 minutes later, Brian’s scout, Jonathan came into the lobby signaling that Brian was about 2 minutes behind.

The group went out to give Brian a boost by cheering and clapping as he floated in looking unfazed from 36 miles and 5 ½ hours of constant perpetual motion.

As the group left following the leader, Brian, under a clap of hands and cheers, I was struck by the giant presence Brian had on this group of outstanding people and friends.

To be in his shadows of what he has accomplished on this day, February 19, 2010 is a special day for not only for me but also for all runners who know this giant of man among mere running mortals.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Week 9-"Discipline"


activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training.

a set or system of rules and regulations

The Wednesday after Quinquagesima Sunday, which is the first day of the Lenten fast. Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline.

Last night while listening to the pastor during the service the word that was used over and over was not “fasting”, “repentance” or even “moderation” which are all common words during in the Christian faith not only during the next 40 forty days. The word that stuck out to me was, “discipline”.

During this time leading up to Easter, Christians make a pledge to give up an indulgence if it is, candy, soda, chocolate, alcohol or whatever is a weakness they feel is in their lives they give it up.

For me, it has always been the same as well. I have given up desserts, soda, red meat (did not like this one too much) and last year it was swearing. I have always been able to maintain my commitment, but last year’s discipline is one that has stuck even to this day.

Now, let us be real. We all swear. However, I am confident to state that I very rarely swear and using the “nasty” words have been stricken from my vocabulary. There have been times; smack your finger with a hammer, drop a can on your toe or even when driving (alone) you say a few choice words to the vehicular inept person that just cut you off. It takes discipline not to use these words when in some circles when they have become socially acceptable?

Discipline. “A regiment that develops or improves skills”. With the discipline of refraining from swearing I know I have improved myself to be a better person, father and husband. Who wants their 13-year-old daughter using the F word, S word or any other word in public? "When we were young" (my kids roll their eyes at this statement) the slip of the tongue used to provoke a back hand from your mother across your cheek which was well deserved.

Over the last 16 ½ hours since listening to the sermon on discipline and moderation , I have been witness to conviction and how building a set of rules in life for yourself will improve you and the people around you.

First was my 9-year-old daughter. At the church dinner last night, she stated to her family that for the next 40 days she was going to give up television and the computer. These are two things she enjoys (a little too much) and this is going to be a huge sacrifice she is making to improve herself. I witnessed her devotion last night as she spent 1 hour reading instead of her regular 30 minutes which has already been positive. This act makes me proud of her and her dedication.

Last night during the Olympics, Shani Davis became the first Olympian to win back-to-back Gold medals in the 1,000M speed skating event. During his Gold metal event, the broadcaster used the word, "discipline" repeatedly. Through Davis’s regiment and system of rules he has set for himself he improved himself over all others to make history and inspiring future speed track Olympians.

This morning, I witnessed an act of lack of discipline during the Master’s Swim Workout. The workout was:

300M EZ
3 X 100M I.M.
150M Kick-No Fins
200M Side Kick w/Fins
200M One Arm (100M) w/Fins
200M Catch-up w/Fins
3 X 100M All out. 30 second R.I. on the wall
3 X 200M on the 3:30’s
2 X 400M on the 6:50’s
3 X 200M on the 3:30’s
3 X 100M All out. 30 second R.I. on the wall
150 Form Swim
200M Kick

The “meat” of the workout was the interval times. I was in Lane 1 with 2 other swimmers for this mornings beating. When we started the first set of 100’s Swimmer 1 took off out of the gate way too fast. All out is, All out, but seeing what was ahead of us, I held back just a tad not to blow myself up for the rest of the workout. Swimmer 1 did not. The next 100M, he was spent. By the last 100M in the set, I lapped him.

This happened in the 200M set with Swimmer 2. Out of the blocks, too fast. By the time we hit the wall at 3:04 he was done. Nothing left in the tank. I quickly gave him a pointer to pace himself, these are not all out attempts, but it was a little too late for Swimmer 2. I took the lead on the rest of the “meat” set as both Swimmer 1 & 2 fell off or did not finish the sets.

During this intense workout, I knew what time I needed to hit the wall at to give me enough rest before the next set, so I maintained my stroke and composure while coming in on the 200’s (both sets) at 3:05, the 400M’s at 6:20’s and on the final all outs, being tired and knowing I had a hard 18 mile run tomorrow I held 1:31’s. This was 10 seconds slower than the first set of 100’s, but setting the rule in my mind I was able to complete the whole workout without compromising on the distance.

The last bit of acts of discipline I witness was talking with Chris and Hokan in the hot tub. In the early fall Chris met with Michelle to go over his food intake and set him up on a plan to ensure he was taking in enough “good” calories during the day. In Mid-February, Chris is still on track.

With most of you, you are athletes. With being an athlete you need to enact a level of discipline into your life on a daily basis. The times you wake up, the amount of mileage you put in, the amount of weight you lift and the amount of food or kind of food you eat. All activities of using discipline to improve your skills.

Just think about if you took some of your dedication of disciplining yourself in your training and applied an additional 1 percent into acts of kindness or compassion towards your fellow man? I am not coming down on anyone or stating that you don’t already do this, that is not what I am driving. We all are caring beings by nature, but in a fast paced, "me, me, me", “what have you done for ME lately” disposable world we live in if we just slowed down to see our environment around us we may be able to use some of our untapped energy for good.

This leads me to my discipline for Ash Wednesday . When thinking of moderation or giving up, I am so head strung that I can do anything. Give up beer? Sure! Give up red meat? No problem. Disciplines come easy to me, because I hate to fail. These kinds of sacrifices are short lived though. After 40 days, I would drink beer and eat a 16oz Rib Eye Easter morning for breakfast.
So, my quest was to not focus on giving something up, but to give something in return. Just like my act of giving up the foul language, to start down a path that will last a lifetime is more meaningful than a 40-day commitment.

I am realist. I looked at what is obtainable and not try to “shoot for the moon”. I never sell myself short, but look at what I can accomplish and push myself to achieve. So, I have decided to be a bit broad and go with acts of kindness and caring. In a busy world, we are always rushing to get here and to get there. We focus on the now, we focus on the negative and we focus on…ourselves.
I am going to slow down and witness the world that is spinning under our feet and if there is someone in distress, I will act instead of watch. I will be more patient with mankind, since we are not perfect. An example was what transpired in the pool this morning. The acts of poor discipline on my fellow swimmers caused a ripple in my own workout. But, instead of getting upset or chewing them out, I gave some advice and rolled with it to have a positive effect not only on them but on me. The result of this has been a pleasant day for any one who comes in contact with me. Get it?

I will be swimming with these athletes every Tuesday and Thursday. What better way to make the swims better for all than to have the patience and time to help them develop?

The journey has begun and I will continue lending more support and help to my friends and strangers with "stuff" that may take me away from what I want to do.

I know it is wide open, but if I devote one minute of my time to someone else then it may be contagious and spread.

My daughter who is only 9 is giving up her “drug” cold turkey as of 5PM last night. She is human and will slip from her set goal for the next 40, but when she does, I will be supportive of her in her goals and there for her. I am much older than my daughter is and I too am human and will slip from the discipline. With a constant regiment and rules to live by along with the support of people around me, who knows what will come of this…Maybe it will be an infectious disease.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Week 9 - "Yes, Track Outdoors"

“There is no such thing as bad weather - only the wrong clothes.”
Billy Connelly

My friend Jeff sent this to the Twins and myself last week after our indoor track workout on the treadmills. Okay, Jeff we get it, but where were you?

Last night was a sleepless night. The wind howled against the house, the trees swayed and the heat kept kicking on even when it is set at 62 degrees at night. The only image that plagued me for 7 hours of supposed bedtime was the "Oval Track".

Wednesday is track day. This is the day of the week we make our way down to the AHS stadium to run our weekly intervals. Last week we had to bagged the track workout (see the 2/10/2010 blog entry) due to the wind chill knocking the temperature down to 9 degrees that morning.

As I lie in bed listening to Old Man Winter blowing, I had visions of myself absconding around the oval dressed like Randy Parker with a constant sound of nylon rubbing against my thighs.

Doubts filled my head; “How can I do this in this cold weather?” “Is 1:23’s going to be too fast? Am I going to pull something?” “How many freaking layers to I need to wear to combat this weather?”

At 4:40AM, I had enough ambiguity and got myself out of bed to face my uncertainty head on. I layered up with tri shorts, tights, Under Armour, Nike compression long sleeve, a cycling pullover, cycling coat, winter coat, a babushka and gloves. There were socks and shoes of course to finish the dress. As I stood in the closet with my arms at about a 30 degree angle from my torso, a flash of Randy running from Scut Farcus a.k.a. the Twins bolted through my mind. This actually put me in the zone thinking, “Today is not Farcus’s day, it’s Randy Time”!

I headed to ALPH-LTF to meet up with the Twins. Ann Marie had decided to abstain for the early morning track for the comforts of the warm gym later today. Evan and Steve were also supposed to make themselves present for the day’s workout, but in the end it was only the Twins and me.

With the temperatures hovering in the mid 20’s my first order of business was to build a layer of sweat by warming up the leg muscles. I jumped on one of the treadmills and ran for 15 minutes prior to our 5:45AM departure. I shed the jackets, pullover and babushka while I ran easy at a 8:34 pace to get the legs moving.

After the warm up and a good layer of sweat build up I meet the Twins in the lobby and we made our way over to the track. The parking lot at the high school had a river of ice across the entry. Not thinking it was below freezing temperatures the 3 brain surgeons ran right on the ice which sent the hearts into a Z5 heart rate!

As we approached the opening of the AHS stadium we say figures climbing up and down the visitor section bleachers. It sounded as if they we high schools girls getting in an early morning workout before school. I figured at that point if a 17 year old is up at this time and outside running wind sprints up stairs, these old bones could handle it as well.

The workout’s were:


10 X 400M’s at 1:30 with a 1:30 R.I.

My workout:

12 X 400M’s at 1:23 with a 1:30 R.I.

As the Twins ran a scouting run to set split markers, I decided to jump into the sets since I had 2 more than them to get done this morning and with the wind and cold I did not want them to have to wait for me while I finished up.

The first 400M’s was a snap. The wind had died to nothing and I crossed the line in 1:20. I felt good, not out of breath and said, “1 down, 11 to go!” as the Twins started their first interval.

By the start of the second 400, the wind had picked up dramatically on the back stretch heading North on the loop. A steady head wind pushed you back as you continued to propel forward as the sound of the rope slapped against the flag pole constantly throughout your whole interval.

This was the scene for the rest of the intervals. We switched direction at the halfway point to even out the strides. In both directions, nearly 200M’s of each 400M was directly into the wind. Jay said at one point, “that is feels like you are running with a parachute on.” This was true, the turns and straight-aways messed with your time and your psyche.

In the end the Twins were all over the board on the 400’s: 1:24 to 1:30’s. I stayed consistent with hitting 1:21 to 1:23’s. Two fell out of the pace, the 7th 400 was a 1:24 due to a huge gust of wind the last 100M that felt as if I had stopped in my tracks and the 12th 400 which I purposely “hit it” for a 1:17.

The three of us quickly shuffled back to the gym to stretch and more importantly get warm.

The days for warmer mornings are waiting in anticipation for us. The only redeeming quality hitting these types of workouts and runs in this weather is that you constantly have to remind yourself that come “race day”, the weather does not change for your benefit.

To train in cold, rain, snow, wind, etc…only makes you more adaptable come “crunch time”. I spent 7 hours of my life agonizing about 1:05:17 of time that really was not that bad. For this, I have to thank Bob for his tenacity and would never let me live it down if I bagged this workout due to the weather.

Note: work on psyche to prepare for anything.

Now I am off to read an article sent to me by Coach Mike on swimming pretty. After having frozen snot on my face, chapped lips, wind burned face and dressed like a sherpa, "Swimming Pretty" should be left to the ones who did not run track today. I will grab a Chamomile Tea and a Lady Finger and read this article.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Week 9 - "Cross Training Tuesday"

"You were not born a winner, and you were not born a loser. You are what you make yourself to be.”

0.09 seconds. That was the amount of time Bodie Miller was behind Didier Defago’s gold medal run in the Men’s Alpine Skiing yesterday.

The media and most people felt that Bodie Miller was not successful in his run yesterday in the Alpine Event. I see it differently. Bodie said it right when asked about him being inched out of the gold. Bodie stated, "That's what ski racing is about," he said. "It's always a mix. There definitely was light changing in the very beginning. It got progressively better, but definitely, when I went the middle part was dark. That's where Aksel pulled eight-tenths back on me. That's the way ski racing goes. But I was happy with the way I skied."

Bodie went out yesterday and skied the best run he could and now he is an Olympic medalist in the Men’s Alpine Downhill. I consider him a champion.

We are all competitive. Every one of you, who reads this blog, pushes themselves everyday to be your best. We strive for perfection and when we do not achieve it, we beat ourselves up more than anyone else does to us.

Olympians and professional athletes are the top of the pyramid with their elite status. Based on the population of the world of 6,706,993,152 the amount of athletes on this spinning mass of iron is only 1.5% of the total population. This includes elites and age group athletes which includes you. That means for whatever you do today; run, swim or even bike there are over 6.6 Billion people that are not doing a darn thing.

We strive for greatness everyday in everything we do. So, the next time you don’t hit your mark on a run, come in 4th in a race in your age group, bonk on a long ride or even hit a personal best, just remember that every day you are out there doing something you enjoy you are making the best of yourself and that is the only thing that will ever count.

Tuesday morning feels like Monday morning with having the day off yesterday to celebrate the 44 men who have served this great nation as our leader. This morning it felt like I had celebrated each president by hoisting a beer in their honor even though the bar tabs only showed 2 that were downed. This morning was not pretty. (That word is for you Mike)

The wake up was slow, the start was slow, the drive in to the gym was slow (Got hit by every light on the way) and my enthusiasm to jump into the cold pool was phlegmatic to say the least.
I sat on the cold, granite bench on the pool deck to size up what lane I was going to swimming in this morning. I was prepared to swim in Lane 3 with the B swimmers just for the reason that the A distance is not necessary at this point with the running ramping up the last 9 weeks before Boston.

As I observed the amount of lycra and polyester gathering by the lane lines, I knew my only choice was going to be Lane 1 this morning. The B Lane was filled with 6+ swimmers. In Lane 1, for this morning’s A workout we had: Jeff, Brian, Melissa, Evan and Jeremiah. Each lane on this cold Tuesday morning was filled with capacity.

Coach “Jean Shorts with a Pink Clip Board” Mike’s workout was:
150M swim
3 X 300M
100M Free
100M I.M.
100 Kick
12 X 100M’s on the 1:50
5 X 200M on the 3:15
50M RI after each 200M
4 X 200M on the 3:10
50M RI after each 200M
150M Form
200M Kick

The warm up was a little mind numbing. Back and forth, back and forth…Counting the lengths of the pool, wishing this was over. As we warmed up the water in the pool became turbulent due to the amount of swimmers stroking it out. I guess this morning I was not into a swim.

After the warm up we started into the 100M’s. To snap out of the funk I took the lead on all 12 and held a constant 1:31 pace on all 12 with the rest of the group in tow. I figured if I led out the rest would track me down keeping my mind on the workout. When the 100’s were over, I let the rest of the group lead the 200M’s. My thoughts were that all 5 of these swimmers are good, but sometimes they need a little push, so I tried to nestle behind the leader each time to push them to hit the times. On all 9-200’s we came in at the scheduled time or less. Well, except for one 200M. The leader on this 200 (you know who you are) swallowed half of the pool water and threw us off course. We ended up not hitting the mark and we all were messed up on the lap count as a result. However, you know what? “Who cares.” The swimmer had some distress and we stopped to insure that they were okay. None of us is that selfish that we cannot stop for fellow athlete who is in distress.

No matter what we are doing on the training field or in life, to be concerned with the well-being of individuals when help is needed is what makes you a winner.

Yesterday was spent on the legs while today’s lunchtime event will be spent on honing the upper body. I will not be any faster in the water than I am, but I surely do not want to lose what I have. Well, at least for a couple more seasons…

Monday, February 15, 2010

Week 9 -"Back to Reality"

"Travel broadens the mind, and raises the spirits"

The weekend was not used to physically travel to another location, but to use our imaginations and journey to places in our own home and surrounding environment.

Saturday morning we spent the time in the Rockie Mountains making a Snowman, sleding and throwing snowballs. The winter wonderland was a great change from the gray landscapes of Georgia during the winter months.

That night we jetted off to the Orient. we visited a local village outside of Jiangsu where we made fresh spring rolls and a chicken, squash and cashew stir fry. The meal was topped of with excellent Saki and Kirin Ichiban Beers.

While we were in the Orient, Grace spent the day at a medieval castle witnessing Knights battling it out for the hand of the princess.

Sunday we were back in Georgia for a brief time while we went to church services. After church Sarah and I jetted off to the Northeast to get our long runs in for the week. I headed off down the snowy trail for my 13 mile run, while Sarah stayed closer to civilization and run the snow banked roads. During my adventures on the trial, I was surprised to see Hokan cruising the trail and back roads on his mountain bike. The snow, ice, mud and water on the trail made for a challenging ride and run. As I ended my run, I saw two friends, Susan and Randy. They were on their way out for a run. We said our, hello's and good-byes as they headed North while I finished up heading South.

After our runs we were off to France. Arriving in France I spent the next 6 hours spending time at the Le Cordon Blue cooking school, preparing a French dinner for my Valentine's, Sarah, Grace and Ellie. First I prepared a Le Marquis with a butter frosting for dessert. Then I started the process of making, Bouef A' La Bourguignonne. The dish takes 4+ hours to prepare and cook. I slaved in the kitchen chopping, saute'ing, boiling, browing and cooking the dish for our V-Day dinner.

The dinner was set under candle light with a fresh french baguette and was accompanied with a fine Co'tes Du Rhone.

After the feast we sat around, ate the Le Marquis and "chocolats".

Today, we are back in the realm of our home as Sarah is off to Master's Swim at Dynamo. Monday is a day of rest for the girls and I as we celebrate the day of our Presidents.

Your imagination can take your further sometimes than any plane, train or automoble can go. It is still fun to pretend in a world that takes life too serious now and then.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Week 10 -"Recovery and Snow in Georgia"

Snow, peaceful and serence. I just wish today was a run day for me. Running while the roads and landscape is covered in a white blanket of snow makes for a good run. The ones who run today outside are the lucky ones.

Hopefully some of the white stuff will be around for tomorrow's 13 mile run.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Week 10 -"Running and Coaching???"

"Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect."
Vince Lombardi

With a few calls made and many complaints from the Master’s Swim Group action has been taken. The lap pool has been drained; the staff is in the process of cleaning the walls and bottom along with fixing a few tiles that are loose.

The pool should be (I use this loosely) ready to go this afternoon. The pool this morning looked, okay. Not crystal clear, but a lot better than the inept job that has been performed up to this point. I have been assured by the Operations Manager, Cathy at LTF that accountability has been put into place and there will be one person responsible for control going forward.

Interesting enough, I was told from a reliable source that the Aquatic’s Director is upset with me for complaining about his inabilities for performing his job correctly. Again, an example of how people do not take responsibility for their actions. Is it wrong to be a paying customer and complain about inferior service you are receiving? I guess in the Aquatic Director’s diminutive mind, “it’s not his fault for not doing his job; it is mine for complaining about his inadequacies”.

I have set up a time to meet with Carmen in the morning to critique her stride and form. Bob is going to join me at 5:25AM and we are going to run our runs first and by the time Carmen shows we will be half way through. This will be a good indicator for me on her stride. Looking at her form half way into her run will allow me to see how she is “really” running when fatigue has set in. Just like in the pool, anyone can maintain form for 100 meters, but look at their form when they are deep into a set to see their true nature.

Last night was a treat and out of the norm. Dinner and a movie. The girls have the next couple of days off from school so Grace and Sarah rented a movie. We made taco’s (sorry Bob), prepped the “fixin’s” and set up the movie down in the basement. The movie that Grace and Sarah rented was, “Julie & Julia”. Now I know the thoughts going through your head, “isn’t that a chick flick?” “I thought this guy was a man, what is he doing watching this kind of movie?” Well, it wasn’t and I am a man. The base of the movie was not a romance or gushy, smoochie, tearjerker.

The show was based on a subject I enjoy, cooking. The movie told the story of modern day Julie and her attempts to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s cookbook, “The French Cookbook” in a 365-day period. The movie also tells the story of Julia’s rise to becoming one of the most famous cook’s to-date. If you enjoy cooking, I recommend the movie.

Friday morning arrived at 4:40AM. On the schedule today was an 8-mile tempo run. I was to meet Bob at 5:25AM on the treadmills upstairs at LTF. The weather was conducive for an outdoor run, but with me meeting Carmen at 6:00AM and Bob wanting to hold a steady pace, the treadmills were on tap.

At 5:25AM on the dot, Bob and I cranked up the rollers to start our 8 mile journey. Bob had a 8-mile long run with a pace of 7:33’s. I had a tempo run for 8-miles with 1 mile @ 8:00, 6 miles @ 7:00, 1 mile @ 8:00. Bob, ramped up at 7:33 right out of the gate, while I tuned up with the 1 mile EZ.

Bob plugged into his iPod while I attempted to get my iPod going. The battery had drained completely for some reason since I had it charging all night. This left me listening to LTF’s pumped in “night club” music. I could not let this setback get into my head, so I decided to focus on two run techniques: Stride by listening to my foot strikes and keeping my head up looking off into the distance. By listening to my foot strike, I was able to make sure that my foot placement and stride were consistent. With keeping, my head up looking off in the distance just keep me focused on the goal and not what is directly in front of me.

At 6:00AM Carmen showed up and jumped on the treadmill next to mine. Carmen had asked me to take a look at her running form. I was glad to help a fellow athlete become better at what they enjoy to do.

When Carmen jumped on, I told her that I was going to let her warm up and about halfway through her run I would start to analyze her stride. This way I will be able to see her form while she had a little fatigue to get a true picture of her stride.

After I completed my run, I jumped off the treadmill and started to check Carmen’s form. I gave her some pointers on foot placement, upper body form and how she holds her hands.
After Carmen’s run of 50 minutes, I showed her a few strength exercises to help her in areas where she needs to build strength to her forward motion.

I enjoyed spending the time with her and showing her some pointers. I might have found a new calling, but I will need to get some feedback from my critic, Carmen.

I am going to meet with Carmen in about two weeks to see her progress. Therefore, Carmen (I know you are reading) take the pointers I gave you and from Vince and practice to be perfect.
Friday afternoon at lunch will be spent at the gym once again. Today is “leg day”. 8 exercises for the legs and 4 for the core with tomorrow being my rest day.

Friday night, will be a repeat of Thursday night. Homemade pizza’s, beer and a movie in our basement family room which I always look forward too.

With the way how life is so complicated and fast pace, “chillin’” with the family and enjoying the simple things in life will be welcomed.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Week 10 -"A Milk Bath"

“I am, as I've said, merely competent. But in an age of incompetence, that makes me extraordinary.”
Billy Joel

Not much to report today. Swim was on the schedule this morning. Arriving at the pool I noticed the water was opaque as Michelle was swimming laps solo.

Coach Mike tested the lap pool's chlorine level and it was void of any chlorine in the water. This raised concerns for build up of bacteria in a public pool. After about 10 minutes the decision was to swim in the zero entry pool. The temperature is 5 degrees warmer and the length is 8 meters shorter. I opted out. Went upstairs to complete my weight regiment instead.

For the amount of money we pay for membership and Master's Swim, the condition of the lap pool is unacceptable. Swimming in enough pools in my life I have never seen such poor quality in a single pool, month after month.

A formal complaint has been made via, "Suggestion Box", Web Site & attempting to contact the manager of ALPHA-LTF. Had to leave a message.

The Aquatic Director is incapable of performing his duties and needs to be replaced with a competent person.

My venting for the day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Week 10 – "Time to Run Again"

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”
Dr. Seuss

The day started awake in bed,
Crazy thoughts of track ran through my head.
Was the wind too fast? Was the air too cool?
A person to run track this morning must be a fool.
As I lay there listening to the howl,
Common sense keep saying to me, “don’t run afoul”.
Stay in bed, lay down your head, Track will be there you cuckoo head.
Listen? Why listen to that voice, I have an appointment,
I have no choice.
Up out of bed I got the body going; it was a slow shuffle,
Moreover, it was a very slow undergoing.
I made the distance to the closet, where my clothes laid piled a mile.
10 pounds of stuff all await for me,
To slip on and get going that was to make this run worthwhile.
I hustled down the stairs to pack up my gear
As the wind blew against the house that rocked the chandelier.
Off I swiftly did made to the Jeep,
With the bitter cold cutting through the blockade of clothing piled 5 inches deep.
The freeze has seized the door handles shut,
Opening the Jeep was like prying open a hickory nut.
The handle cracked open and I jump in,
While the cold enter the Jeep causing my body to spasim.
The cold air was cruel and not a friend,
But, I was determined to get to the gym and run track to the bitter end.
Old Man Winter had been blowing so hard,
That the locks on the Jeep door stayed ajar.
With doors not closing and the wind still blowing,
I had to think fast to keep myself going,
Towards the gym where I had runners that were showing.
Fast as I could I switched cars and headed over arctic char,
Speeding to make the deadline in the compact car.
In the lair of the gym, I ran into Suzzie Lipstickum all dressed in black
As she had decided to skip the track.
“Too cold”, “not up to it”, she exclaimed,
You would have to be crazy to venture out there, "and I sustain".
Doubts rattled in my brain, as I contemplated,” is running speed outside insane”?
Was Suzzie Lipstickum right?
Was this all a hopeless fight?
With the temperatures hovering at single digits,
Is this a crazy act that has no wits?
The plan was to get warm as warm as can be,
To do this I needed to flee, to the treadmills you see.
Moving towards the stairs to go up top,
I saw one of the runners I was to go to the track with so I stopped.
It was one of the Twins, Jay Eye Blurz, all decked out in bright green,
He reminded me of a large legged lima bean.
I stated to him, are we crazy, insane?
To run track in the cold that may put our muscles at strain?
Jay Eye Blurz, decision to run or not was not concluding,
He had to get a consensus from his other half to be colluding.
As Jay Eye Blurz discussed the track with Bob Bear Quick,
I went to the mill to warm up lickity split.
10 minutes later, the Twins arrived at my side,
The decision was to run the track workouts inside.
“Too cold”, “not good for the body”,
Was the general consensus with everybody.
But, what about the last runner who was to join?
Had anyone found Ann Marie Fashion More and conjoined?
They did and she will come upstairs to the lair,
After Ann Marie Fashion More finds something to wear.
Four runners off to the treadmill row,
To start to run slow to warm up the run,
And before Ann Marie made her way to our destination so we can begun.
The runners aligned on the dreadmills of doom,

As other people look at us from all across the room.
Ann Marie Fashion More arrived as we ran on the mill,
With her outfit that she must of purchased in Brazil.
Green, yellow and blue, galore!
The four of us could not believe what she had wore!
Did she, match? That was not for us to adjudicate,
It was time to run and it and to get out the gate.

Now there were five, aligned in a row,
Like soldiers from the marine corp.
We each had a plan,
That was to be carried out,
As all started into our indoor track workouts.
1600’s 1200’s, 800’s and more we all cranked the rollers up,
And proceeded indoors.
Sweat poured from our brows as we cruised,
Down the roller path looking bemused.
At the end the workout was completed,
With the five runners, feeling quite depleted.
Warm down for 10 was next on the list,
The five ran together as if we coexist,
We were done with the track workout ,
Though it was not ideal,
Being indoors on the treadmill is not an appeal.
Stretching and gabbing always ends on a note,
As I know these great runners would say it not a misquote.
We all departed all on a high spot,
But not before I took this last shot.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Week 10 - "Water, Water, Water Everywhere"

“Don't shirk away from challenges... keep reaching for that star, that sky.”

This is a new week. The week’s past have had obstacles and challenges since starting marathon training. Through all the this stuff that has been going on and with the inconsistency of my training, one thing has been constant. The athletes and people that surround me. My family, my friends, my new friends, my acquaintances and people that I am starting to become friends with.

I thank you for your neverending support. Through you, I continue to be a better man and that is the best thing I can be in life.

If there is any more I can do for you, do not hesitate to ask. It would be my honor and only fitting response to support you as you have to me.

I will keep this entry short since not much has happened since the “Big Game” on Sunday.
Monday was another tempo run. I opted out of the track workout from last week due to obvious reasons. To stay on “track” with mileage and runs I ran a 5-mile mid-tempo run at 6:48’s on the treadmill, again. Wednesday will be the weekly track workout that I am welcoming to stretch the legs out of doors. It will be a good group of athletes heading down to the AHS oval.

This morning was rough to say the least. The first challenge of the day was getting out of bed. I am not back to 100% yet, hovering around 80% right now, and 4:50AM is early. I have not seen 4:50AM in 8 days and the alarm was not welcoming.

I made it to the pool for Master’s. I had decided to back down on the workout to the B lane to get my mojo back from being absent in the water. I jumped into Lane 3 with, Josefina, Jay, Sami, Amy & Rebecca. All of these athletes are solid swimmers and I knew my presence in the lane would be a challenge for them, but a welcoming challenge.

Coach "Jean Shorts"-Mike’s workout:
150M EZ
2 X 100M I.M.
75M Fist
75M Side Kicks
4 X 200M on 3:50 with the last 25M FAST
3 X 400M on 7:50-Every 100M 5 Wall Push-ups
4 X 200M on 3:45
100M EZ
100M Fist
100M Side Kicks
100M Social Kick
100M Form

Thanks for letting me hang in the lane guys. I really appreciate it.

Hitting the weights at lunch. Upper body weights on Tuesday & Thursday, while a leg workout will be in order for Wednesday & Friday.

This week is going to be slowly building back up to a constant level. The challenge I see facing me is being consistent for the last 10 weeks of this training regiment.