Tracking

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Yeah, about that blogging resolution....

It's pretty obvious by now that one of my resolutions isn't going to happen this year.  I've been extremely bad about posting on my blog and I'm willing to admit that resolution has been a big FAIL.  I am happy to note that all of my other resolutions are intact and on schedule.   We'll see if I can get back on track with the blogging, but it seems to be the hardest to do.  Sitting on the couch or at my desk at home hasn't been high on the list of things to do lately.  I've downloaded the Blogger app for my iPhone, but I always forget it's on my phone.  I promise I'll try harder.  

As far as running goes, everything is on track for OKC Memorial.  I'm now 6 weeks out from the race and feel healthier than I've ever felt at this point in my training.   Last week was a pretty light mileage week for me because I went skiing in Utah, but I've always been a big believer that a week or two "off" during a long training schedule isn't always the worst thing in the world.  It kinda gives your mind and body a chance to recharge before you hit the home stretch.   In the midst of my low mileage week, I ran a local 5K upon my return from skiing and set a new PR at the distance.   The shorter distance races definitely aren't my strength, especially during a marathon training cycle, but I was pleasantly surprised with my effort.   I also paced with two people who I thought would easily out run me that day and gained some confidence along the way.  I ended up running a 20:48 which averaged out to be about 6:41 min/miles.  Not too shabby.  It also continues to point me in the direction of a big PR at the marathon in a few weeks.

One of the unsung benefits of the Ironman last year is the change of perspective it provided.  Before the Ironman, marathon training seemed much more demanding.   Now it seems even more fun than it was previously.  I've always loved the long runs, but now it just seems so much simpler.  Not that it isn't hard, it just seems more relaxed.  I don't stress about the schedule as much.  I've learned to enjoy the ride more.  I've learned to just appreciate my body's ability to keep doing something I love.   The Ironman training was a gauntlet.  I tolerated the swimming and learned to like the bike.   Marathon training allows me to just run.   It allows me to truly focus on the sport that's changed my life.   The Ironman has allowed me to appreciate it even more.  It's amazing how the Ironman just keeps paying dividends on the time invested last year.   It's one of the reasons I'm looking forward to tackling it again in 2013.   You get out what you put in.  That statement has never been more true.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Countdown to OKC Memorial

This weekend brought me one week closer to the OKC Memorial Marathon.  After Austin, I felt pretty confident in my training and each passing week has kept adding fuel to the fire.   I'm gaining more and more confidence in my running and the training schedule I've laid out for myself.   A few months ago I made a conscious decision to attack this marathon on my own.  I wanted to save some money this year so I opted to go without a coach for the first half of the year to see how I would like it.  Now that I'm entering my 4th year in endurance sports, I felt more confident in my ability to manage my training on my own and still come up with the desired results.  The results I'm seeing in training so far are proving me right.  I know there is still a long way to go until marathon day so I'll keep assessing and adjusting my schedule as we go.  I don't want to peak too soon.   The next 5 weeks will be crucial.  I need to make sure I mix in a few recovery weeks and continue to build mileage the other weeks.   This past week marked my first 30+ mileage week of the training schedule and my legs feel great today.  I knocked out a very nice 18 mile run yesterday morning.   I started out conservatively and then opened up my legs at the end of the run.  I felt awesome at the end and knocked out some sub-8 minute miles to close out the run.   Overall my pace averaged out to be 8:30/miles which is perfect for my training runs.   The focus for the week ahead will be to recover, step back the mileage, and then get ready for the step up to 20 miles in a couple of weeks.  My schedule will be a little off due to some travel, but it won't hurt to give the legs a break at this point in the schedule.  I hope you all have a great start to March.   Run happy friends.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 2012 Charity of the Month : WomenHeart

In memory of my late grandmother, Forrest Nye, I chose WomenHeart as my charity of choice for February 2012.  Forrest fought two tough battles with heart disease before it eventually took her life in July 2002.   I always look back at my grandparents, Jack and Forrest, and hope that one day I find that perfect person in my life, just like they did.   They were the true portrait of true soul mates.   They laughed, loved, and cried together.  They gave life and love to nine kids with limited financial resources.   They both exited this world loving one another with the same fire and passion they shared when they first met.   I can't think of a better charity to chose for February 2012.   If my donation can provide resources for research, patient care, and education for women's heart health, it will have served it's purpose.

Again, I chose this charity after researching women's heart health on www.charitynavigator.org.   It was the highest rated charity I could find in the category.  Here is a brief synopsis of  WomenHeart's mission:

WomenHeart is the only national organization dedicated to promoting women's heart health through advocacy, education and patient support. As the leading voice for the 44 million American women living with or at risk of heart disease, WomenHeart advocates for equal access to quality care and provides information and resources to help women take charge of their heart health. Since our inception in 1999, WomenHeart has been at the forefront of providing support services to women with heart disease and educating policymakers, health professionals and the public about the urgent need to make women's heart health a priority. WomenHeart's mission is to improve the health and quality of life of women living with or at risk of heart disease.

I hope you all had a great February.  It's been a February of loss and love for my family.   We said goodbye to my Granddad Kenneth Sloan on February 10, 2012.   It was a month where we mourned the loss of a loved one, but were able to rekindle many family bonds with family near and far.   Here's hoping for a joyous and happy March.  It'll be a month where I turn the page in my own life.  I'll say goodbye to my 20's and welcome in a new decade.  I'm excited for the many new memories to be made.  Until then, run happy friends.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Livestrong Austin Half Marathon

My apologies for the prolonged hiatus.  The last two weeks flew by and I wasn't home more than a few hours at a time.   With the funeral, travel for the Austin half marathon, work obligations, and training, I really haven't spent much time at home.   It's times like these that I'm happy I have a small apartment and no pets because it would have just added to the list of things to do.   Spring always seems to be the busiest time of year for me.   I think it may finally start slowing down after the marathon.  Until then, I'll just have some fun, train for OKC Memorial, and work my way into a more normal schedule when summer hits.

Last weekend I traveled to Austin, TX, to run in the Livestrong Austin Half Marathon.  I used this as a training run and a gauge for where I'm at in my training.   I left Austin with a renewed confidence in my goals for OKC, but the race itself left a bit to be desired.  I don't know if I'm spoiled from OKC's half marathon but I felt the race wasn't very well ran.  My friends and I got caught waiting in line at the port-a-potties before the start of the race because there were not nearly enough for the amount of runners in the race.   Due to this I started the race way in the back, about 12 minutes after the gun.   I was stuck in a pack of runners who were running around a 2:10 half marathon pace and it forced me to spend most of the race trying to pass people.  I ran most of the race outside of the course so I could have some running space.  I felt really comfortable and controlled when I had some room and felt really strong.   The course is a lot hillier than my normal running routes so the fact I managed a 1:45 with pretty easy effort shows I'm well on my way to running a PR in April.   Another complaint was the lack of warning for water stops.  There were no big signs or visual cues for upcoming water stops and many times I was forced to slow and cut across the course to pick up hydration.  It was another factor in a less than ideal race.   The course was really crowded too.  It rivaled Chicago in the lack of open running space, but you expect that in Chicago where they have nearly 40,000 runners.   Overall I think it's a decent course, I just wish they would address a few issues.  I love Austin so I could see myself running it again, but next time I'll make sure to get there a lot earlier to get in my proper pacing corral.

Yesterday was my most recent long run.  I ran 15 miles at Mitch Park in Edmond, OK, which is a nice trail with some rolling hills.   It was the first time I had run there and I was pleasantly surprised.  It's about a 30 minute drive from my house so it's not a convenient place for me to run, but I definitely see myself going up there on weekends when I need to get in a long run by myself.   You can pretty easily make a 5-mile loop out of the trails system.  The run went really well.  My calf muscles are starting to show some perpetual tightness, but overall I feel pretty healthy.  I'm trying to stretch and foam roll my calf muscles to alleviate some of the tightness, but it's only a small concern at this point.   We're now 8 weeks away from the marathon so the next five weeks will be crucial when I hit my heavy mileage.  I'll start inching up that ladder this week when I am scheduled to run 33 miles.  I'm going to try to squeeze in at least one bike and one swim this week as well.  I have a few evening obligations this week so it may require a few early morning sessions on the trainer and in the pool.  

I'll pick my February charity in the next two days and report back with my choice.   I hope you all have a great start to the week.   Run happy friends.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Running is Therapy

On Friday morning about 9:05 AM, my grandfather took his last breath on this earth.   While his passing was expected, losing a loved one is never easy.   What's even harder is watching those you love in pain.   It broke my heart to see my dad and my granny crying and mourning the loss of their father and their husband.  Hearing my granny asking if it was real when we went to the viewing at the funeral home was one of the toughest moments of this weekend.   My heart broke for her as she realized again that her life was changed forever.   The man she loved for nearly 62 years was gone forever.   No words can help.  You feel powerless.  You just hope that she can find peace and comfort in knowing he's better off now.   You hope that she can get used to her new normal.  You hope she finds a new happy over the coming weeks and months.   The funeral is set for Tuesday when we celebrate his life and mourn his passing.  

Today I set out for a bone-chilling 14 miles.   It was an opportunity for me to clear my head.   Mend some wounds.  It was a time for me to be thankful for my life.   Thankful for being able to breathe in that crisp, cold air.   Thankful for a healthy body that allows me to run.  Thankful for my time to myself when everything makes sense.  I love running.  I love the peace it gives me.  I love how it makes me search deep inside and examine my innermost thoughts and feelings.   Today was one of those days when I came out of my run with a renewed sense of peace and calm.   It helped me grieve in my own way.   I grieved by sweating out my tears.  Pounding out the pain on the pavement below me.   Running is therapy in it's finest form.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Time to Swim

I've waited long enough.  After nearly 3 months of no swimming, I've decided to add swimming back into my rotation next week.  I'm going to use this coming week as schedule prep so I can try to fit in my swims and not give up any of my current workouts.   I'm leaning towards swimming two times a week using my old Team-in-Training Olympic distance training plan with anticipation of doing the Route 66 Olympic triathlon at El Reno, OK, in June.  It'll be a great segway from the OKC Memorial Marathon into the summer triathlon/cycling season.   As much as I haven't missed swimming, I know I need to get back in the water.  It'll be great cross-training and get me ready to cut back on running after the spring marathon.  

On the running front, everything is going really well.  I feel incredibly strong at the moment and am excited about what may happen in April.  I'm trying to be cautious though because I know the next 6-8 weeks are the time when the injuries will try to creep in.  Currently my longest run has been 13 miles this training season so I have a lot of miles left to go.  I'm hopeful I'll continue to stay healthy so I can really show what I can do at the marathon distance.  Please keep sending positive thoughts my way.  Time to finish watching the Super Bowl and get the gym bag packed for pilates and strength training tomorrow.  Run happy friends.

Monday, January 30, 2012

January 2012 Charity of the Month : Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

One of my goals for 2012 is to be more charitable.  Each month I'll pick a different entity to donate money to in an effort to help organizations, events, or causes that have personal relevance.   

The organization I chose for January 2012 is a no-brainer.  My Granddad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2005 and has slowly been losing the battle to the disease.  Our family has watched as his mental state has slowly deteriorated over the past few years to a point where his mental state and ability to function became dangerous to himself and my Granny.  I made a gift to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in an effort to help fund research to find a cure for this horrible disease.  It is such an ugly disease that steals the memories and identities of too many people.   I chose to donate to OMRF because I wanted my money to go directly to research.   For the basis of most of my charitable donations this year, I'll use the CharityNavigator.org website to filter through potential recipients.   When I did a search for Alzheimer's research, the OMRF received one of the top ratings in the US and ultimately received my money due to location and rating on the site.   After working through the OMRF website, I realized that they have made several promising advances in their research.   In an effort to be brief, here is an excerpt from their site:

OMRF is at the center of this struggle, and its scientists are battling Alzheimer’s on multiple fronts. Led by Dr. Jordan Tang, a team of OMRF researchers identified and cloned the enzyme believed to cause the disease, then created an inhibitor to halt the enzyme’s action. Today, an experimental drug based on those discoveries is progressing through human clinical trials. If those trials prove successful, the new drug, known as CTS-2116, could offer the first effective treatment for Alzheimer’s.
OMRF researchers also have achieved promising results from a pre-clinical study of a potential Alzheimer’s vaccine. And they have uncovered a molecular mechanism that provides important clues why certain people are at higher risk for developing the disease.

Results like these are what make my gift meaningful to me.   I want to fund research to help other families who have loved ones that may be at risk for Alzheimer's.  I want to fund research to help fight the disease in my own family if the genetic predisposition to developing this disease has been passed on to others.  I never want to have to go through this again with someone else in my family.  Hopefully a cure will be found soon.

If you have any interest in donating to the OMRF, here is a link to their website and a link to their rating on CharityNavigator.org's site: