Tracking

Thursday, December 30, 2010

70 Degrees in December

It was too nice to pass it up.  I kept telling myself I needed to take one more day to rest and get over this little bug, but it was just way too nice.  I couldn't pass up 70 degrees, low humidity, and light winds in late December.  I got home from work, changed into shorts and a tech tee and hit the streets.  It was my first "official" run since NYC marathon.  I've run a couple of times during Team-in-Training practice as a coach.  Basically all I do is run a few blocks and chat with the runners and then jog back to pick up a few more.  It doesn't really count as an official run because I run at their pace and take it pretty easy.  This was just me and my thoughts.  I've missed it.  I've missed it a lot.  It wasn't perfect, but it was really nice.  I had minimal pain in my knee and the head cold only provided me with some minor nuisances.  I strapped my Garmin on just for measurement purposes but never looked at it while I was running.  I have a mile loop marked off in my neighborhood so I just ran that twice and called it good.  I wanted to run more, but I keep telling myself to come back slow.  I want to stay healthy.

Today was also my first run in my new Brooks Adrenaline 11's.  These shoes feel like a glove on my foot and are very comfortable.  I would have to say I'm very impressed with the update from the 10 and look forward to breaking them in over the next few months.  I also received my free pair of shoes today that I won in the Brooks ID race series.  I ordered a pair of Brooks Ravenna shoes.   They are labeled as "guidance" shoes, not the full "support" of the Adrenaline.  I was told the Adrenaline may be too much support for my gait based on the gait-analysis done by the local running store, but a pure neutral shoe (the Glycerin's), caused me to have foot problems.  I may try to work the Ravenna's into my rotation on some of my shorter runs to see how it goes.  I hate to mix it up too much when all I want to do is stay healthy though. 

Thank goodness for 4-day weekends!  I'm going to enjoy my last weekend of rest and relaxation before I start up the big road to the Ironman next week.  Ready or not, here it comes. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fantasy Football, Brooks ID, and Oklahoma State University

I'm still sick so I'm resting up again today with no training.  I'm worn out after work so I went straight from my car to my couch.  I'm hoping one or two more days of rest will help kick this stubborn cold or whatever it is I have right now.  The great thing is that tomorrow is my last day of work and then I get a 4-day weekend.  Plenty of time to get healthy and hit the new year with some extra vigor.

I won my fantasy football league this year so I just got a nice little influx into the triathlon bike fund.  It's going to be put to very good use!  It was only my second year to ever play in a league where you had to pay an entry fee.  It has definitely made pro football more entertaining and I feel like the little time I put into it is well worth the payoff. 

Since we don't have an NFL team in Oklahoma, college football is king around here.  Most people cheer for the big, bad Sooners at the University of Oklahoma, but I am a proud alum of Oklahoma State University and my Cowboys play tonight in the Alamo Bowl.  If it wasn't for them playing, I would probably already be asleep.  I really wanted to make the trip to San Antonio, but the timing sucked:  midweek game during the last week of the month.  Never going to happen.  Regardless, I'll be wearing my orange and watching from home.  Go Pokes!!

Finally, I received my letter from Brooks about my 2011 status.  They are restructuring the ID program into 3 tiers : Bluestreak, PACE, and Fanatics.  I got bumped to the Fanatics group which will be less involved than the 2010 program but it sounds like I'll still be able to reap some of the benefits I had as an ID member.  It was a little disappointing, but it wasn't completely unexpected.  I'll still be sporting my Brooks gear though.

Nothing else going on at the moment.  I'm looking forward to a few more days off before we tackle the new year ahead.  I'm starting to compile my 2011 resolutions so I'll share those in the coming days.  It's almost time to say goodbye to 2010....yikes!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Good Doc Visit

Today was the long awaited appointment with my sports doc.  I think I've said it on here a couple of times, but I really like my doctor.  He's an ex-marathoner, who I thought was an avid cyclist, but after conversations today I learned he is a multiple Ironman finisher.  He's competed in IM Florida, Arizona, Canada, and several other full distance races over the past few years.  It was refreshing to know that I was talking to someone who understood what I was doing and had been there himself.  I really lucked into this doctor.  When I started marathon training for Dallas White Rock back in 2009, I just found the number for the sports medicine association here in OKC and dialed it up.  I got assigned to this doctor and it was a great match.  He is an endurance athlete and talks to me like someone who understands the desire/passion for the sport.

Today was a check-up on my knee which had been bugging me since mid-August.  I had put it off for months because I was in the midst of the Chicago/NYC marathon double and I wasn't convinced going to the doctor would actually help.  I thought rest was the only real option to get better so I just gritted my teeth and pushed on.  After NYC, I took nearly 4 weeks off completely and have since started adding back in the elliptical, cycling, swimming, and some very brief spurts of running.  The knee has felt much better and I can honestly say it's the best it's felt since August.  I went ahead and kept my appointment as a way to get a post-season check-up and see if I could find a way to get into see my doctor in a more timely manner next year.

As is usually the case, they took some x-rays before I spoke with my doctor.  He came in and immediately started checking my left Achilles which was the last thing I had seen him about about 2 weeks prior to my first full marathon in Dallas last December.  It kind of threw me off guard because I was expecting him to go straight for my knee.  I told him all was well with the Achilles and told him my real issue had been my knee.  It was my subtle way of moving him to my knee in case he thought I was back for that issue.  Ha, turns out he was just being thorough.

He then examined my knee and as expected I wasn't really experiencing much pain.  Like I said, it's the best it's felt since August.  However, I started explaining to him the issues I had been having and some of the most recent ones that provoked my calling to get an appointment.  The most alarming was when I was on my bike and I pushed my knee out to grab my water bottle and a sharp pain occurred under my knee cap.  He told me that my knee cap is slightly angled to the outside of my leg as opposed to flat/flush like most people.  He said that every time my leg or knee moves out, it's causing my knee cap to hit bone or irritate tissue b/c it's not properly aligned.  He then explained that with most people you can easily move their knee cap like it's floating on water and mine are very rigid and don't move much when he's manipulating it.  Basically he told me he's surprised I haven't had problems before now.  There really isn't an easy way to "fix" it, but I can manage it.  He said it's probably an issue I'm going to have to deal with all the time.  He told me to use self-management techniques such as icing, anti-inflammatory meds, and stretching as much I can and then when I need assistance to come and see him again.  He also told me that it's inevitably going to hurt during Ironman training.  He said if I'm going to be putting that many miles on my legs, it's going to hurt.  He said he would provide further treatment (i.e. cortisone injections) if it became necessary as my training volume increased throughout the summer. 

After our talk about my knee, the subject turned to future races and what I should expect for the Ironman.  He said it's a lifestyle choice and it will consume all of my time.  He told me to be prepared for 8 hour workouts on the weekends and that my social life will be non-existent.  He said he loves it, but you have to be committed.  He also spoke highly of Ironman Buffalo Springs 70.3 which is in west Texas in late June.  He said he enjoyed it much more than Ironman Kansas 70.3 which I'm already registered for next year.  I wish I had known that about 3 months ago.  Oops.  He then told me about some bike shops down in Dallas that I may road trip to go see at some point.  He talked to me about some tri bikes since I'm currently on the lookout for a new one and then he told me good luck and he expected he would be seeing me again in the next 8 months.  Ha, I hope he's wrong, but I think we both know it's going to be a tough year!

All in all it was a pretty good visit to the doctor and I'm glad to have a fellow endurance junkie on my side.  On a bad note, I'm sick currently so no training for me today as you can probably tell from this long post.  I'm bored and really wanted to ride my trainer tonight.  Rest and cold meds are the only thing on the agenda for me though.  Kids are like incubators for communicable diseases.  I see my niece and nephew for 2 days and I come home with a cold.  I guess they are helping me build up my immune system for the cold/flu season ahead.  I hope to be back to the gym tomorrow but we will see how tomorrow goes at the office.

Monday, December 27, 2010

It could have been worse I guess...

The title of this post pretty much sums up my thoughts on my swim today.  It could have been worse I guess.  I've been a real slacker in the pool lately.  I don't enjoy it so it's one of those things where I have to make myself go and swim.  I think it's boring and I generally leave the pool with a head full of water, eyes that make me look like I'm on crack, and skin that smells and feels like it's been in chlorine all day long.  I just don't find it that appealing.  I think I finally have come to terms that I probably won't ever like it, but I'm going to have to suck it up and get over it.  Maybe I should invest in a waterproof mp3 player to pass the time?  I hate listening to music when I run, but maybe it would help soothe the pain of the pool. 

The day off from work was great.  I had to work from home for a couple of hours this morning, but I could really get used to this lifestyle.  Work for a few hours, go grocery shopping while sipping on some Starbucks, go home and eat lunch, head to the gym for a swim and weights, and then come home for dinner and some Monday night football.  Not too shabby.  It sure would make it a lot easier to train for the Ironman with this much time on my hands.  Heck, I was looking at a mock training schedule for the HALF-Ironman last night and started getting tired thinking about how I'm going to squeeze it all in.  I don't know how you married folk with children do it.  You all are impressive.  I didn't even peek at the full Ironman plan after those feelings crept into my head.  I want to ease myself into this and not look too far ahead.  I know it's going to be an immense undertaking. 

I rewatched most of the NBC broadcast of the Ironman World Championships last night for motivation.  I get emotional every time I think about crossing the finishline myself.  It's even better knowing how excited my family is about going to the race as well.  Every time I see them they are talking about it or asking me questions.  My little brother keeps telling me how he's going to run through the finishing chute and tackle me after I finish and how he's going to cry seeing me cross that line.  It's moments like those that will make all the training worthwhile. 

I feel like I'm getting back into a routine.  I have about 3 or 4 weeks left of offseaon workouts before I dive into my Ironman Kansas 70.3 prep.  It's just around the corner.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas - Can't believe it's already over!

Is it really already the 26th?!  I really can't believe that Christmas has come and gone so quickly.  It's also been 5 days since my last post.  Shame on me. 

Christmas was pretty relaxed this year.  I had a great time hanging out with my family on Christmas Eve.  It was casual, laidback, and we all had a great time opening gifts and hanging out all day.  My mom made some awesome meatloaf (per my request because I LOVE meatloaf) and we exchanged gifts with my parents, two brothers, my sister-in-law, my younger brother's girlfriend, my niece and nephew, and myself.  Everyone pretty much knew what they were getting from me because of this blog.  I ordered Brooks gear with my Brooks ID discount during their friends and family sale and outfitted everyone with some great Brooks outerwear.  I really liked everything I ordered and it seems like the family agreed.  I ended up bringing home a new Under Armour hoodie, gift cards to Starbucks, iTunes, and Outback, a new iHome alarm clock, an Oklahoma State 6-pack cooler, socks, candy, Wizard of Oz glasses and movie (it was my favorite movie as a kid), and some of my mom's homemade salsa and relish.  I was very happy with the haul and grateful that my family has been blessed with another good year.  We are all employed, healthy, and happy....can't really ask for much more than that right now.

Christmas day was spent down in southern Oklahoma with my dad's side of the family.  We had a great lunch and exchanged one gift with someone determined by a name draw.  My little brother actually got  my name down there because our family makes up the bulk of people in the family.  He picked out a new George Foreman grill for me which I desperately needed because I just broke mine.  It was the perfect gift because I really like getting things that I hate buying.  I don't like buying kitchen stuff so if someone else can buy it for me it's a bonus.  I'd rather spend my money on traveling, endurance sports, and things I enjoy.  After leaving my grandparents, my brother and I made our way to OKC to catch the Thunder play the Nuggets.  His girlfriend and one of my friends also joined us for the game with tickets provided by my employer.  We had great seats and the game was up-tempo and entertaining.  It was a great way to end the holiday and start the countdown to New Year's.

Today was a catch-up day for me at the house.  I spent a lot of time doing laundry, picking up around the apartment, and watching NFL football.  I'm in the finals of my fantasy league and if I win this week I get a nice little sum of cash to supplement the tri-bike fund.  While I was watching football today I also hopped on the trainer for about an hour and ten minutes.  I used an old bike workout in my TrainingPeaks account because I'm not currently paying for a coach.  I think I'll probably rejoin forces with Ryan on January 1st and have him lay me out a plan.  I also need to sit down with him and plan out my race schedule for 2011.  A lot of the local race calendars just came out so it should be easier to plan.  I'm hoping to have a race a month beginning in March, but we'll see if that plan actually comes to fruition.

Tomorrow is officially a day off from work, but I still have to get up in the AM to log on and do a few things for next-day business.  It will be good for me to wake up early tomorrow and take advantage of the full day.  I'm planning on hitting the gym, running a few errands, and may even go start lusting after tri bikes.  I hope to buy one sometime in February so I want to start looking and get some ideas.  The rest of the week will be pretty abbreviated because we only have to work Tuesday-Thursday.  I still have my appointment with my sports doc on Tuesday.  The knee has felt ok lately, but I still haven't been running much.  We'll see what he says and then I'll go from there.  I'm expecting it will be a non-event, but maybe I can get him to give me the number to his bat phone so I don't have to wait 2.5 weeks next time I try to get in to see him.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Breaking the habit

This week I've made it a point to get back into a routine.  So far it's been working out well, but we are only 2 days into this thing.  I have a feeling that the upcoming holiday will throw a kink in my plans, but at least it's only a minor hiccup.  I really don't have a ton planned for Christmas at the moment.  We did my mom's side of the family this past weekend.  I'll go down to my parents house on Friday and celebrate then because my mom has to work on Christmas day.  Evidently hospitals don't shut down for holidays - go figure.  On Christmas, I'll go down with my dad and brothers to my dad's side of the family and spend the afternoon down there before trekking back to Oklahoma City for a Christmas evening date with the OKC Thunder and Denver Nuggets.  All in all, not too hectic of a schedule.  I'm almost positive my gift count will be pretty small this year, but I like it that way.  My apartment is extremely cluttered at the moment and the less stuff I get, the better.  I really need a maid or something. 

Today was my second ride on the trainer and I really enjoyed it.  I popped in my newly acquired Spinervals DVD that previews the IM Louisville course and settled in for an hour ride.  I would love to think I could just hop on and go for hours, but we all know I'm far removed from my peak training shape so I'm easing my way back into it.  The DVD started out at the transition area and takes you out of the city into the hill country.  I only made it an hour into the ride, but from what I can tell this course is going to be TOUGH.  The rider who made the tapes kept talking about how brutal the heat is going to be for the ride and how tough the course is for an Ironman event.  It was a great reminder of what I'm getting myself into in 2011.  The guy stressed that you will have to put in the miles to get through the race.  You can't sneak your way into this one and still manage to make it out unscathed.  I'll have to be focused and dedicated with my training and seek out some hot, hilly courses during training.  I guess I better get ready to buckle down and get to work. 

Another thing I really enjoyed about the DVD is the advice and tips he gives throughout the video.  I know I'm only an hour into it, but it's good for me to hear how many calories I should be taking in each hour (at least 200-300 calories), the advice on how to properly prepare for hills, the techniques I should be using for hills, and all the other bits of information he interjects along the way.  I can tell I'm really going to like this video and will make it a part of my training routine when I can't get outside to train.  The plan for the rest of the week is to hit the weights again tomorrow and probably do 30 minutes or so on the elliptical.  I think I'll still try to stay off the knee for a little while longer.  No reason to push it now.  I'll either do another trainer workout on Thursday or maybe go get in the pool.  My pool of choice is drained right now for yearly maintenance so not sure I'll make it to the downtown YMCA to fight the crowds.  It's a zoo at the pool. 

Lastly, I'm still waiting on word from Brooks about my 2011 status.  I've heard from several people that they have received letters updating them on their status so hopefully I'll get a letter soon.  They are sending them by snail mail so it's anyone's guess when it will actually show up.  Hopefully they like me and keep me around in one of the upper levels of the ID program for 2011. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December - Month of Gluttony

Saying that I'm experiencing some offseason weight gain doesn't even do it justice.  I've effectively managed to pad my midsection with an extra 7-8 pounds since the first week of November.  I know I haven't lost all of my fitness yet, it's just not possible, but what used to feel easy now seems laborious.  I guess that's what happens when you skip about 6 weeks of working out regularly. 

Tomorrow is the start of my pre-Ironman base building phase.  I'm making myself get back into a routine.  No more holiday party excuses.  No more college football weekends in Stillwater.  It's time to get serious.  I'm sure watching the Ironman World Championships on TV yesterday probably helped kick this into gear, but I have been antsy to get back into the swing of things for a while now.  This last week provided no opportunity to get back into any sort of routine.  I was traveling for business on Monday/Tuesday, went to the gym Wednesday, had 2 Christmas parties on Thursday, went to a Thunder game on Friday, and then had family Christmas events this weekend.  I did get in one decent workout on Wednesday and actually ran about 2 miles on Saturday morning during my Team-in-Training coaching duties.  The knee actually felt pretty decent...go figure.  I finally called and made a doctor's appointment and the first run after I made the appointment was one of the better feeling runs I've had in a while as far as pain/discomfort goes.  I'm still going to keep my appointment for Dec 28th though.  I figure it can serve as a end of the season check-up/preseason assessment of my body.  I want to go over my plans are for the upcoming year and see if he has any advice and a hotline available for me to get in to see him quicker.  I guess having the end of the year deductible scramble, he was mostly booked up until after the Jan 1st.  I'm hoping that's not going to be the case every time I try to go see him now.   He's an ex-marathoner turned cyclist so he's been through all the aches and pains before himself.

Now it's off to catch up on laundry and get ready for the shortened work week ahead.  Only 4 days this week!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Indoor Trainer : Cyclops Jet Fluid Pro

My company has a very generous Living Well program that allows employees to gain bonuses if they stay active and healthy throughout the year.  Basically the requirements are to maintain a healthy weight range, participate in local races or corporate activities, exercise 3 days a week, and record certain vital stats (blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, etc) within recommended ranges.  Basically it's free money for any endurance athlete or semi-active adult.  It helps them lower insurance costs and we reap the benefits of a healthier lifestyle and a little extra cash.  We received those bonuses on this last paycheck and I decided to "invest" part of that bonus into a piece of equipment that would help me to continue to live well.  In other words, I finally bought an indoor trainer for my bike!

I've been wanting an indoor trainer for a while now.  I kept putting it off last year when I bought my bike because I knew the weather was on the verge of getting better and I didn't have a need for it when the spring/summer started.  This fall I pretty much retired my bike for a few months when my knee started hurting and focused on just trying to stay healthy for the marathons.  Now that winter is settling in and I need to get back in bike shape, I went ahead and pulled the trigger and bought my first indoor trainer. 

Based on recommendations from several people, I opted for a fluid trainer versus magnetic or wind.  The brand I ended up buying was CycleOps because my local bike shop carries that brand and was offering 20% off through the holidays.  I have heard that the fluid trainers are much quieter than the other types of trainers and provide a more realistic feel by better mimicking actual road conditions.  I'm sure my neighbors in my little four-plex apartment building will appreciate the quieter ride.  Assembly of the trainer was next to nothing because the CycleOps Jet Fluid Pro comes already assembled.  I took it out of the box, replaced the back skewer of my bike wheel with the provided training skewer, placed the wheel in the notches on the trainer, and locked the resistance unit against my back wheel.  Easy money.  After set-up I flipped on the tv, set up an oscillating fan, put on the cycling shoes/bibs, and settled in for my maiden voyage.  Being that this was my first time back in the saddle of my bike in nearly 3.5 months, I took it easy and just did a quick 30 minute ride to get back in the flow.  I can tell I'm going to get some good use out of the trainer over the next couple of months and have already ordered the Spinervals "On the Road" DVD that previews the IM Louisville course.  All in all, I am very happy with my purchase and am ready to sweat and suffer in my apartment when the weather turns nasty outside. 

This coming week is going to be a tough week for me to get in much training.  I'm still not fully back into the meat of my schedule so I guess the busy social calendar isn't a huge issue yet.  Plus, I finally am going to break down and call for a doctor's appointment to have my knee checked out.   It's time to get serious about it and take action.  Keep your fingers crossed it's nothing bad.  All I know is that every time I think it's better, I tweak it again and it starts hurting.  I need to get the problem resolved before Ironman training begins in earnest. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Yes, I swam....

Last night I ventured into the basement of my work's fitness center and reacquainted myself with my arch-nemesis : the pool.  I hadn't missed swimming.  It wasn't one of those things that I was longing to get back into my routine.  It's not like biking and running where I entertain myself by looking at the scenery, waving and smiling at people passing by,  and enjoying sunrises and sunsets that only an Oklahoma sky could produce.  No, it's boring.  It's just me staring at a long black line at the bottom of a pool, sucking water, struggling with my form, and constantly wishing I could swim faster so the suffering would end sooner.  I wasn't forced back into the pool yesterday.  I chose to go there.  I count that as a sign of my commitment to crossing that finish line on Aug 28, 2011.

My workout in the pool was nothing special.  I basically just wanted to get in, reintroduce myself to the suffering, and try to get back into some sort of triathlon routine.  I could tell early on that being away from the water for 2 months wasn't a recipe for success.  It was a struggle and one that will serve as a reminder that I have a lot of work to do in the next 9 months.  The one bright note was that I met another Ironman-in-training who was having about as much fun as I was in the water.  He's signed up to do the local Redman full-iron distance triathlon in September.  He's also signed up to do the same race as Patrick, over at The Road, in June : the Ironman Hawaii 70.3.  We exchanged contact info and plan on doing some of our long runs and rides together when we both start hitting it hard in late January.  I'm a little worried he's going to run and ride way too fast for my liking, but maybe on a good day I can keep up.  The reason I say this is because he just got back from Dallas White Rock and ran a 1:28 half marathon....yeah, he's a little faster than me.

I also have started up a strength-training workout that I will be doing 2-3 times a week to help with injury prevention.  It's going to be key for me to stay healthy this year to be able to keep up with the training.  I'm hoping I can learn from my mistakes and make it a full season without any major hiccups.  My knee has felt much better the past week and I think the strength and cross-training has definitely helped.  The goal for the next few weeks is to start getting back into a routine and try to rein in the nutrition.  I don't want January 1 to be a complete shock to the system when I make the transition into an Ironhead (that's my name for those of us taking this journey together - we're stubborn, dedicated, and dumb aka Ironhead)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Brooks ID Race Series

Today I received a nice little surprise to help curb the Monday blues!  Here is the little nugget of joy that showed up in my e-mail inbox today:

Hey Bryan,
Congratulations, you are the OK State Runner Up for the Brooks 2010 ID Race Series! You can expect to receive your Hoodie in the mail soon. The following code can be used on the pro site for one free pair of shoes.
Obviously I removed the code because I wanted to be selfish and use it for a new pair of shoes for myself!  One disclaimer, there are only a handful  of Oklahoma Brooks ID members so it wasn't like I beat out 100 people to get 2nd place, but I'll never complain about a free Brooks hoodie and a free pair of shoes.  I didn't race a ton this year, but evidently I raced just enough to win some gear.

As far as next year goes, I'm not really sure if I'm in the Brooks ID program again or not.  I love the program and I love the Brooks brand so I'm hoping they see me as an asset and keep me around for another year.  The program is transitioning from an application program to an invitation-only program.  The first round of "sponsored" athletes were notified sometime last month and I wasn't on that list.  I'm pretty sure you had to be referred by someone to be included in that group and I don't know of anyone with a direct connection with Brooks who would have put in a referral for me.   Our last ID e-mail indicated that a second batch of renewals would be sent out sometime before the end of the year if we were invited back for 2011.  I really don't know what the likelihood is that I will be invited back, but hopefully the 2nd place finish and the Brooks ID event I hosted in June give me an edge on some of the other folks waiting to hear back.  My schedule is going to be very triathlon-heavy next year, but I still plan on throwing in some road races as part of my training.  I can't quit running cold turkey!

Today I actually hopped on the bike at the gym for a bit.  I still am sans-trainer at my apartment so I'll have to use the stationary bike as a substitute for a couple of more weeks.  My plan is to have an indoor trainer by the end of the year.  My local bike shop is having a sale on them until January 1st so I definitely want to take advantage of the discount.  I also ran across a Spinerval DVD of the IM Louisville course yesterday when I was shopping online.  Score!  I can preview the course and prepare myself for the hills.  I wonder if turning up my heater in my house will count as heat-acclimation training.  I am going to need all the help I can get.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Team-in-Training : First Run

Today was my first attempt at running since the NYC Marathon.  I was on-duty with our local Team-in-Training chapter.  My main duties are to provide a water/fuel stop and be course support for the participants.  I really enjoy my time with this group and am glad I have been able to stay involved.  I was set up about the 1.5 mile mark today.  We are early in our training schedule for OKC Memorial which is on May 1st so the half marathoners ran 3 and the full marathoners ran 5 miles.  It was brisk this morning.  Winter finally decided to make a trip to OK.  It's been very mild here so far this fall/winter so the cold temps were a reminder that we actually do have winter on the horizon.

I didn't wear my Garmin or even really plan on running today, but when I got out there I just had to try it out to see how it would go.  I basically just ran up and down the course with participants as they came up to my water stop and then let them go on their own after 1/4 of a mile or so.  I would say I probably ran at least 2 miles of varying paces.  It felt good to run again.  I've really missed training.  It's definitely time to get going again.  The knee still isn't 100% percent, but it's so much better than it was 4 weeks ago.  I figure if I can get back in a routine and focus on swimming and cross-training I should be back to running before I know it.  I'm still considering going to the doctor this coming week.  We will see how work goes and if I can get a timely appointment. 

I also used my Brooks ID discount to buy Christmas gifts today.  Although my family isn't a bunch of runners, they are going to get some quality running gear for Christmas.  I know they read this blog so they just found out what they were getting, but oh well.  I tried to get things that were multipurpose such as jackets and hoodies.  I think they will like it.  I just hope it all fits!  It feels great to knock out the bulk of my shopping from home.  Thank goodness for Friends and Family discount day at the Brooks ID site!  Run happy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Motivation - Starting to Return

Well, the good news is that my motivation is starting to return.  The bad news is that after 2.5 miles on the elliptical yesterday it was very apparent that all was not well with the knee.  I'm sure it's probably a combination of not doing anything for 3 weeks and not being fully healed.  I'm going to see how it goes for a few days and if I'm still concerned I'm going to see the doctor next week.  I have plenty of time to get healthy so I'm not overly worried about the long-term ramifications.  I just need to get it taken care of and move on.  I have been focused on strength training for now and hope that helps to alleviate some of my injury prone tendencies.

I'm still messing around with the race schedule for 2011.  There are so many things I want to do, but I know I need to limit my races and focus on staying healthy.  Patrick, over at "The Road", recommended that I look at the Rev3 series to see if any of those events fit my schedule.  Unfortunately it looks like the closest to OKC is in Knoxville, TN, and I'm not sure I'm going to have the available vacation time next year.  I'm already planning on taking nearly 3 weeks next year so I don't really have many days to spare.  I am currently looking for some other triathlons or duathlons within a few hours drive.  The TRI-OKC group has a decent schedule of events so I think I may be able to stay local and plan out a pretty productive season.

One final note : I really wish all my family and friends were runners and triathletes.  Buying Christmas gifts would be a breeze!  Unfortunately that's not the case.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Where did I go?

I'm not really sure where I went honestly.  I just pulled up my blog and realized I hadn't posted since Monday.  What a way to encourage people to keep coming back...

Nothing really special going on, just more and more of the same.  I'm starting to get restless now that I am almost 4 weeks removed from NYC.  I plan on starting to add back some light training to my schedule this week to see how everything feels.  I'm sure I will feel extremely out of shape, but it was nice to recharge the batteries.

I have also started looking at my calendar for next year to start planning out my races.  I only have 3 must-do races at the moment :  OKC Memorial Half Marathon (May 1st) ; IM Kansas 70.3 (June 12th) ; and IM Louisville (Aug 28th).  I think I will try to add one or two more half marathons to the schedule and will throw in some cycling events.  I am also looking for sprint and Olympic distance triathlons that will fit in my schedule.  I really need some more practice in the triathlon.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  I'm back from my hiatus and ready to get going again. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

ING NYC Marathon Lottery

Yep, I did it.  Why not?  I threw my name back in the hat for the 2011 ING NYC Marathon this weekend.  I think it's very unlikely that I win a spot two years in a row, but if I do, I will make a determination after Ironman Louisville if I actually want to race it.  I've already made it clear that I love the marathon and already miss it not being on my schedule.  This gives my running side at least some hope that a marathon will be on the calendar in 2011. 

One more week of complete rest and then it's back to training.  I'm definitely ready.  I feel pretty healthy and can't wait to hop back on the bike and lace up the shoes. I can't say that I miss swimming, but I know I need to get back in the pool. 

On a final note, I just have to say that I love Chrissie Wellington.  Watching her race yesterday at Ironman Arizona and pulling out a top 8 finish in the overall field was amazing.  She has so much joy in her heart and truly loves her sport.  She is everything that is good about triathlon and Ironman racing.  She came back and helped greet age group finishers several hours after she had finished and she never lost that trademark smile.  It's so hard not to like her and hope that she continues to improve, dominate, and push the limits of the women's field.  She is a special athlete.  I keep holding out hope she returns to Ironman Kansas 70.3 next year so I can race with her and hopefully meet her at the finish.  Kudos to Chrissie for another record-breaking performance and "chicking" many of the male athletes. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Team-in-Training Resumes

Today was the first of my assistant coaching duties with the OKC Memorial/Vancouver marathon teams from the OKC Team-in-Training chapter.  I actually missed the kickoff meeting for the winter/spring season last weekend while I was traveling.  It's early in the training schedule so basically this is just a chance to start building a base and provide an opportunity for the coaches and participants to meet each other.  It was a nice morning here in Oklahoma and being out there helping out sure made me want to go run.  I resisted and only jogged a couple of blocks here and there as I was helping people along the course.  I love helping out this chapter and am thankful I can give of my time to help others raise money and chase their dreams of a marathon finish.

Next week will be turkey fest 2010 and I'm sure I'll effectively pack on another 2 or 3 pounds before I refocus and start my offseason training plan.  I'm currently going to the gym, but basically just using it as my social hour so I'm not a complete hermit.  I may run a 5K or something in December just to see how it goes.  It's been a while since I have done a 5K, it would be nice to test the waters again.

Good luck to everyone running Philly and Tulsa marathons tomorrow and kudos to all those competing at Ironman Arizona.  I'm trying to not be overly obsessive about reading Ironman training plans, articles, and race reports.  It's hard not to get excited though.

Oh yeah, one more thing.  I'm needing some recommendations on tri bikes, tri tops/bottoms vs one-piece suits, and indoor cycling trainers.  If anyone has any recommendations or things I should look for, please let me know.  I'll probably buy my trainer as my Christmas gift to myself and start looking at tri bikes after the first of the year.  Thanks in advance for the input.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's official - Ironman Louisville

As of last night at 9:07 PM CST, I am officially registered for my first Ironman!  I took the plunge and submitted my application and paid the hefty entry fee to make it official.  

Ford Ironman Louisville

It took me quite a while to finally come to this decision.  I was heavily debating several races and I finally came to the conclusion that this one made the most sense for me.  I really struggled with the fact that I had an independent race in my own backyard in the Redman, but the fact of the matter is, I like the big races.  When I went out to Redman as a spectator it just didn't have the feel I wanted for my first Iron distance triathlon.  I think it's a great event and one I will do in the future, but I wanted my first to be bigger.  I wanted to be out there with 2,000+ other people all fighting together to make it to the finish.  I struggled with the money I would have to spend to do an Ironman event.  The fees are hefty.  Travel and lodging won't be cheap.  It would have been much easier to sit at home and wake up in my own bed and head out the door to the race.  The course would have been much easier, the heat would have more than likely been less of a factor, and I could have gotten one-on-one attention from volunteers.  There are a lot of things that would have been easier, but I wanted something more.

I am confident I made the right choice for myself.  My parents are excited.  I am excited.  I hope my brothers can make it.  I hope some of my friends can make it.  I have already requested off work and will start looking for lodging options in the near future.  The wheels are in motion.  I know it won't be easy, but I'm excited, nervous, and ready for the challenge.

On August 28th, 2011, sometime before 12 midnight, I hope to be crossing the finish line to become an Ironman.  I hope you will continue to follow along and join me in my journey.

Swim - 2.4 miles
Bike - 112 miles
Run - 26.2 miles
140.6 miles to an Ironman finish

Here is a quote I have borrowed several times from another blog I follow, Frayed Laces :

"There will be a day when you can no longer do this......TODAY is not that day."  This quote has really resonated with me over the past year and a half.  I chase my dreams because I can.  If not now, when?

Monday, November 15, 2010

ING NYC Marathon Full Report

I'm now back at home and had a chance to get my life back into work mode today.  If anyone knows how to replicate last week over and over and over again and still make money, please tell me.  I had an absolutely amazing time in NYC and the marathon was the best out of the three I have ran so far.  It was my worst time on the clock, but the best experience hands down.  I went in with no time expectations and the mentality I was just going to have fun, enjoy the ride, and soak it all in.  NYC didn't disappoint.

First off, I have to say that organization of this race was top notch.  They made it seem easy to get 45,000 people from Manhattan and surrounding areas over to Staten Island.  My ferry was supposed to leave at 7:15 AM, but when I got to the South Ferry area it was apparent there was going to be a delay.  There weren't any ferries present, but everyone was just hanging out and enjoying the shelter from the cold.  About 7:30 or so, two ferries showed up and we made our way through the crowd to get on a ferry.   I say we, because on the subway ride to the station, I met a woman from Sweden and we stuck together until we got to Staten Island.  Along the way, we also ran into a Brooklyn native who was also running the Chicago/NYC double, so we all hung out on the ferry.  The ferry provides a great view of the Manhattan skyline and takes you very near the Statue of Liberty.  It's a great opportunity to snap a few photos and relax with new friends.  After the ferry, the race organizers had lines of buses waiting to take us to the start corral.  The lines for buses were painless, quick, and organized.  It was about a 10 minute ride to the start area so it gave me a chance to eat my 2nd breakfast in the warmth of the bus.  After arriving at the start area, there were lines and lines of porta-potties everywhere so the wait for the bathroom was very painless and I found a spot on the ground and sat down for about 30 minutes.  I actually took my iPhone with me on this trip too because I was expecting a lot of downtime waiting on the start.  This happened to not be the case.  I did snap some pictures and post to Facebook/Twitter, but really I didn't even need my phone for entertainment purposes.  About 30 minutes before my wave started at 10:10, I made my way to the start corrals and found a spot on the ground there to wait out the remaining time.  All in all, a very painless, organized start to the world's largest marathon.  Kudos to the New York Road Runners and volunteers for making it so easy.

A little before 10:10, they started walking us to the base of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge where they did the usual announcements, hoopla, and singing of the national anthem.  After the national anthem, they fired the starting gun and immediately started blaring Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York".  It was awesome seeing everyone smiling, singing, and enjoying themselves before setting off on a 26.2 mile journey together.  It only took me 4 or 5 minutes to cross the start, and then it was straight up the V-N bridge for the first mile.  The immediate hill was a little unnerving because it was hard to tell how fast I should be running, how much effort I was putting forth, and just the overall state of my legs.  I hadn't ran since Chicago, so it was a leap of faith that everything was going to work correctly in the first place.  I had concerns about my knee and my right foot that had developed arch pain the last week leading up to the race.  I used KT Tape on both areas and crossed my fingers that all was going to go smoothly.  The bridge didn't do me any favors, especially the long downhill portion, but I left Staten Island fairly happy with the first couple of miles.

The first part of Brooklyn was not overly packed with spectators, but there was support throughout the course except on the bridges.  The good thing about NYC, compared to Chicago is that all 3 waves also had 3 corral colors.  The first 8 miles of the course had all 3 colors separated onto their own course before all joining together at mile 8 near the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).  This provided a little breathing room and I didn't feel like I was dodging people the entire run like I was in Chicago.  Nothing really special to note on the course at this point, but the spectator participation and water stops were all huge pluses throughout the course.

After BAM, the course took a turn into a fairly lengthy hill that was packed with runners as far as the eye could see.  The noise level and spectator involvement on this section was very uplifting.  There was music blasting, cow bells ringing, fans cheering, and runners interacting with everyone along the way.  At this point I also ran into two fellow Oklahomans who were wearing their OKC Running Club t-shirts.  I didn't know them, but introduced myself and made sure to catch their name so next time I saw them in OKC I could strike up a conversation.   After the noise zone, we made our way into an area of Brooklyn that was a little rundown and the crowds thinned out a bit.  There were several makeshift music stations set up by local artists ranging from hip-hop, folk, bluegrass, and rock on this stretch.  The ethnic and cultural diversity you encounter along this course makes this marathon a very special journey.  You see people from all walks of life and they all put their special mark on this marathon.

I made a pit-stop about mile 12 and burned about 5 minutes waiting in line for the bathroom.  As a tip for future runners, if you can hold it until mile 16 when you enter Manhattan, there is a line of about 20-30 porta-potties under the Queensboro bridge that had no one waiting in line at them.  The nature of the start of this race requires you to hydrate quite a bit beforehand, due to the time between waking up and actually starting.  This required more porta-potty adventures than usual, but I was definitely much better hydrated for this race compared to Chicago, although the weather was nearly perfect in NYC - 40s, sunny, and only windy in certain sections.

After Brooklyn, we made our way into Queens following another bridge that was much less painful, but still one of those many hills thrown into this course.  The nature of this course is a constant undulating course.  It was never really flat.  I had heard many people compare it to a cross-country type course as I was reading up on it beforehand and I would say that is a pretty accurate description.  There weren't any really killer hills, but when you combine them into a 26.2 mile journey you could definitely feel it in your legs.  Queens was pretty uneventful as we were only there for a couple of miles.

I had read many things about Queensboro bridge prior to the race so I knew it was coming.  Mile 15 to 16 was a very lonely stretch of the race because no spectators are allowed on the bridge.  Basically you run on the lower portion of the bridge and all you hear are the moans, grunts, and heavy breathing of those around you.  No words are being spoken, no cheering, just the focused effort of runners trying to shove past the constant uphill battle of the bridge.  The uphill wasn't too bad for me, it just seemed like it took forever to get to the crest of the hill.  The downhill portion was definitely a sharper grade and this caused my knee to scream in agony.  I actually came off mile 16 into Manhattan limping.  My knee was throbbing with pain.  It was interesting to find out this was exactly when Haile Gebrselassie withdrew from the race because of knee pain. I know exactly what he was filling.  That portion of the course tore up my knee.  I was really concerned at that point that the last 10 miles was going to be a complete sufferefest.   Luckily enough, 1st Avenue in Manhattan can make you forget all of your pain and struggles.  The course is lined 4-5 deep with spectators and it's your first taste of Manhattan.  I also found my cousin around mile 17 and stopped for a photo-op and a quick hug.  First Avenue was a long, slow climb which helped break up the downward pressure on my knee so I think it was a blessing in disguise.  By the time I reached mile 18 or so, I started to feel better and began to soak in my surroundings.  It was at this point, that I also passed the Chilean miner.  He was in pretty bad shape when I saw him.  He had ice on both knees and was at a slow walk at that point.  Everyone was giving him encouragement though and trying to push him forward.

Between mile 19 and 20, we headed into a more desolate area of Manhattan, but there were several bands along the way and I saw several people holding up "Beer Ahead" signs.  I made sure to engage everyone who held one of those signs and I got several smiles and laughs along the way.  I really was craving a beer, and although I have never drank one on a course, I would have taken one at this point if it was offered up.  I was having such a good time out there.  Bronx was next on our list and they provided another shift in demographic and motivation.  At around mile 20, there was a big cheer zone and they were blasting Alicia Key's "Empire State of Mind".  I really like this song anyway, but now I will forever have that section of the course etched in my memory when I hear that song.  I danced and sang my way through the block with all of the spectators and left energized, smiling, and happy.  At mile 20 of the marathon, I was smiling, having fun, and loving life.  That should give you a pretty good indication of this whole journey for me.

After leaving the Bronx, we entered Harlem on the north side of Manhattan and got another taste of life in NYC.  It was such an interesting contrast of lifestyles.  Young, old, black, white, and everything in between.  After Harlem, we made our way down 5th Avenue bordering Central Park.  This portion was all uphill and it felt like it.  Again, it wasn't killer, it just seemed like it took forever to get to the turn into Central Park.  The crowd support along this section was again overwhelming.  I can't even begin to explain the masses of people shoving onto the street to see runners.  Cops were having to push people back because the spectators were overflowing into the race route.  It was also shaded and cool, which was nice after running 23 miles.

Just before mile 24, we made a right turn into Central Park.  Oddly enough this was my first time ever in Central Park.  I never got the chance in college to visit Central Park because I was there as a part of a college course and our free time was limited.   It was worth the wait.  Running through a crowded street in Central Park was the perfect cap to an incredible race.  The rolling hills of Central Park provided a challenge, but we were so close that you could taste it.  As we made our turn out of Central Park onto the last stretch before heading to Tavern on the Green, I was all smiles.  Ear-to-ear.  I made sure to make eye contact with every spectator I could along the way to share my joy and excitement.  I was handing out high-fives to anyone who offered up a hand and thanked everyone for coming out.  The people of NYC made my 3rd marathon very special.   I had never let myself just soak in the experience and just roll with the punches at a race.  I didn't sprint to the finish. I made sure I slapped the hand of the kid reaching through the security barrier, smiled at all those cheering, and casually made my way across the finishline in 4:22:47.  It may have been my slowest time, but definitely the most enjoyable of the three.  The only thing that could have made it better was having my parents there again. I'm not sure they fully realize how special it is for me to see them on the course and to have their support.  They have become so actively involved in my endurance sports life.  They are always asking about my training, inquiring about future races, planning trips around my schedule, and always making me feel like I'm doing something they are incredibly proud of all the time.  It would have been nice to share this moment with them in person, but I know it's not possible to have them at all of my races.

After finishing, I felt great.  I didn't want to die like I did in Chicago.  I was tired.  My legs were heavy, but I was smiling, walking fairly normal, and talking with everyone around me.  After grabbing my goodie bag from the volunteers, I made my way through the finishing chute with all the others.  I actually ran into my new OKC friends and we shared stories and our backgrounds.  It turned out that both of them were very experienced marathoners and were pretty actively involved with the club.  I look forward to running into them again.  I called my mom and dad as soon as I got cell phone reception and was beaming with excitement. I then called up my coach and shared my results.  He said I sounded extremely happy and commended me for another marathon finish on my limited running schedule and short span of time between Chicago and NYC.  He then granted me the rest of November off to do whatever I wanted before we shift our focus to the triathlon.  I have definitely followed through on that end of the deal by indulging in lots of bad food and beer.  I'm sure I have gained some weight, but it's nice to relax for a bit.  I already do miss training, but I know the rest is good for me.  I'm a little sad the marathon will not be on my schedule for next year, but I know the next time I tackle another one, I will have learned a lot, appreciated the distance, and can give it my best effort.  I feel like I have come full circle in a year.  Three full marathons in 11 months.  I still haven't broken 4 hours, but I know it will come with time.  I learned to appreciate endurance sports for something other than constantly chasing PRs.  NYC Marathon was an amazing experience.  I will be returning.  It had the feel of a big-time athletic event.  It didn't disappoint either.  I still haven't watched the NBC broadcast, but I have it DVR'ed and can't wait to relive the journey.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Last Day in NYC

It's now been 3 full days since the NYC Marathon and I'm spending my last day in NYC.  I have really enjoyed my stay this week.  It's been very relaxing which I wasn't expecting in Manhattan.  The good thing is I spent a week here in college so I did a lot of the tourist stuff then so now I am just exploring, eating, and drinking.  I have been given 3 weeks off to do whatever I want from my coach and then I will settle into an offseason training plan to shift focus to the triathlon.

I have read several race reports from the marathon already in the blogosphere and am excited to sit down and write my own.  I'm hoping to sit down Sunday or Monday night to put it all down in writing.  I'm still beaming from a great experience and am even considering throwing my name into the lottery for 2011.  If somehow I actually get selected again, I can either add it to my schedule or defer to another year.  I don't think I will get lucky enough to win a spot 2 years in a row, so it won't hurt to start building up those denials for a future race.

Off to explore Manhattan for one more day.  It's off to Austin, Texas, tomorrow.  I absolutely love Austin and can't wait to spend some time with my fellow Cowboys on a big college football road trip.  Go Pokes!

Monday, November 8, 2010

ING NYC Marathon - Simply Amazing

I just wanted to send out a quick update.  Marathon #3 is officially in the books.  I really had an amazing time out on the course yesterday.  I knew early on that my time wasn't going to be anything to write home about so I settled into a nice, comfortable pace and just enjoyed the ride.  I took every chance I could to soak in the experience and have fun.  I fell in love with this race yesterday.  I was smiling ear-to-ear the majority of the course and really just fed off the huge crowd support, appreciated all the diversity of the five burroughs, and reminded myself why I fell in love with this sport in the first place.  I highly recommend this race.  It's a tough course of constant rolling hills, so I wouldn't come here for a personal best or to qualify for Boston, but it should be on everyone's list.

I will give a more in-depth race report when I return from my travels.  My plan this week is to enjoy the city and then fly to Austin, TX, to watch my Oklahoma State University Cowboys take on the Texas Longhorns in college football action.  It's going to be a great week and a perfect way to start the offseason.  My body is ready for the break.  The knee gave me fits yesterday, especially on the downhills, and I am looking forward to getting healthy and shift my focus to strength-training for a few months.

Official time : 4:22:47

I love NYC marathon.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

3 Days - Nervous

I'm nervous.  Not going to lie.  I think the culmination of not running since Chicago, my body is achy, and it's almost time to fly to NYC are all adding up to butterflies and uncertainty.  I'm hoping my fears will be calmed when I hit the streets on Sunday.  In the last few days I have developed arch pain in my right foot.  I am guessing it may be from doing elliptical in a different pair of shoes.  I typically don't wear my running shoes on the elliptical so I didn't really think it was a big deal.  I wore my Brooks Glycerin shoes the other day and a day or two afterward it started hurting.  These are the same shoes that caused my arch pain after the CapTex Tri.  The plan now is to just try to stay off my feet as much as possible the next couple of days, but being in NYC will make that pretty tough.  We shall see. 

I am now off to bed to get some rest before flying out early tomorrow morning.  I am taking my laptop to NYC so I will try to blog from there as well.

My bib is #25501 if anyone wants to track me this weekend.  Hopefully all goes well!  My start time is 10:10 EST so it will be a semi-late start.   Talk to you all soon!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Countdown to NYC : 7 Days - What Should I Expect?

What should I expect from myself at the ING NYC Marathon?  That's one question I really can't answer at the moment.  I learned a few lessons in Chicago and am hopeful that I apply the lessons learned during my race in New York.  I'm still not healthy, but better.  I haven't ran since Chicago due to my left knee issues.  In the grand scheme of things, it's not that long of a break when you consider I have been training since late January.  I am hoping my endless hours on the elliptical and a solid year of training will translate into a body willing to take one more 26.2 mile race before I hang it up for the year.  I am going in with no real expectations other than I expect to finish.  I'm not going to saddle myself with the hopes of a 3:50 marathon like I did in Chicago.  I'm going to take the first few miles easy and see how I feel.  I am really dreading the downhills because it's usually when the knee hurts the worst.  I will get a pretty good gauge of my knee the first 2 miles....straight up Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and straight back down before I even have the chance to enjoy a few flat miles.  I am expecting it to hurt.  How bad will it hurt?  That's the real question.

Talking with my coach, he thinks I will be fine fitness-wise, but he does think I will probably run into more muscle fatigue problems towards the end of the race due to the 4 weeks away from actual running.  He said to make sure I nail my nutrition and pacing in order to be focused and ready for the tough stretch at the end.  He said I may flirt with cramping more than normal, and I think the hills will eventually cause some issues since I haven't really trained for a hilly course.  The hope is to be conservative and follow my motto in my Chicago race report : patience and humility.  Respect the course, respect the distance, and respect my body.  Hopefully it all boils down to an enjoyable experience and another marathon finish.

Today was my last long sufferfest on the elliptical.  I opted for a little over 2 hours on the elliptical for my final long workout.  In order to motivate me, I watched several videos on YouTube and Runner's World's website about the NYC marathon.  It was great motivation to get my butt on the elliptical.  The fact I only have one more week before offseason was also a great motivator.

Here is the latest forecast from the Weather Channel.  It's going to be chilly.  I need to start thinking about what I'm going to wear since I haven't had the chance to run in cold weather in a while. 

Day Night


Sunny
High
48°F

Precip
0%

Wind: From NW at 15 mph
Humidity: 59%
UV Index: 3 Moderate
Sunrise: 6:33 AM ET
Avg. High: 55°F
Record High: 68°F (1994)



Partly Cloudy
Overnight Low
40°F

Precip
10%

Wind: From NW at 7 mph
Humidity: 67%
Sunset: 4:45 PM ET
Avg. Low: 40°F
Record Low: 30°F (1962)

Last Updated Sunday, Oct 31, 3:12 PM Eastern Daylight Time

Friday, October 29, 2010

Countdown to NYC : 9 Days

Over the past few days, the tri community has been in an uproar about a recent move by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) who owns/runs the Ironman events.  Basically, they introduced and quickly rescinded (within 24 hours) a program (Ironman Access) that allowed you to buy yourself into a VIP-type membership, thus granting you early registration for events that normally sell out within hours.  As a newbie triathlete, it sparked an odd feeling in me because I don't quite know what to think.  I don't know the history.  I don't have the appreciation for the "old days".  I don't fully understand.  I get the fact people are angry.  I may be wrong, but from what I have gathered it is because they feel greed/money has driven the WTC to make several decisions that are not in the best interest of the sport of triathlon and the age groupers who make it go round; most notably the Ironman Access program and the recent addition of the 5150 series.  Having never raced an Ironman event, I really can't comment on the organization other than what I have gathered from reviews, blogs, and several friends who have raced in their events.  From what I have gathered, they are well-run events for the most part, but they take away the athlete-focused feel of the smaller, more intimate independent events.  To the WTC you are just a number, to the independents you are special.  It made me start thinking about the marathon community. 

What makes an Ironman/WTC event any different from a Rock 'N Roll series event in the running community?  They are both huge organizations who buy out local races and turn them into a branded, almost mechanical event.  Most races lose their local flair and become overly crowded and more expensive.  To me, they are near perfect parallels.  Why aren't runners throwing their hands up in disgust when Rock 'N Roll goes out and buys another race?  Or are they?  I don't know.  It's a legitimate question I think.  Is it due to the fact that there are more independent events to choose from in the marathon community?  Nowadays, marathons are around every street corner.  Has it always been that way?  No.  It all started with the growth of the sport. It used to be crazy to even think about running a marathon.  Now, people who don't have any business lacing up the shoes and toeing the start line are out there giving it a shot.  In my opinion, it sounds like this recent controversy is a sign of growing pains in the 140.6 and 70.3 triathlon event community.  In recent years, the sport of triathlon has experienced explosive growth and events are becoming harder and harder to gain entry into at this level.  The number of events to choose from in any given month can be counted on one hand most of the time.  Take for example my current predicament with next year.  I have a 4-month time frame open for my event, and only have about 12 events that even fit that window.  If you then consider that each event can usually handle no more than 2K to 3K people, you have a pretty small number of race slots available for a tri-hungry population.  If you take that same 4-month time frame and search for marathons, my options are nearly unlimited.  Not to mention, you have races easily accommodating thousands and thousands of runners.  My point is that the reason for the current predicament is simply supply and demand and the growing pains of an exploding sport.  Who knows if the WTC was actually making this move in an effort to free up more spots as they claim?  Who knows if it was purely a bottom-line enhancing move?  In my opinion, I could see the benefits for some people.  It would make sense to fork over the $1,000 if you didn't want to spend vacation time and money for travel, lodging, and food to go volunteer at an event.  In my case, it would probably be cheaper to fork over the $1,000 rather than travel from OKC to Louisville, Arizona, or Florida for a few days to volunteer.  Do I think it's the best answer?  No.

The recent controversy will soon come and go, and Ironman/WTC knows this all too well.   For the time being, people are going to have to deal with expensive entry fees, limited access, and sometimes ill-advised moves by the operating bodies.  Controversy will breed innovation and growth.  Someone down the line will start organizing more events, see the opportunity at hand, and start making money just like the WTC has done.  Until then, it looks like we are all in this predicament together.  Fork over the money gang, it's going to be an expensive season.  I still haven't decided which race I will call mine, but I do have to admit that this recent controversy will have almost no bearing on my final decision.  Between Rev3, independent, and Ironman events, my options are still pretty limited. 

Here is the latest update on the ING NYC Marathon weather:

Day Night


Few Showers
High
55°F

Precip
30%

Wind: From NW at 11 mph
Humidity: 58%
UV Index: 2 Low

Sunrise: 6:33 AM ET
Avg. High: 55°F
Record High: 68°F (1994)



Scattered Showers
Overnight Low
40°F

Precip
30%

Wind: From WNW at 6 mph
Humidity: 68%
   
 
Sunset: 4:45 PM ET
Avg. Low: 40°F
Record Low: 30°F (1962)
Last Updated Friday, Oct 29, 10:12 PM Eastern Daylight Time

Monday, October 25, 2010

Countdown to NYC : 13 Days

First of all, I want to say thanks to Big Daddy Diesel for the comments on my Ironman selection post.  You should click his link and go check out his blog as well.

It looks like I am going to have to have a "Come to Jesus" talk with myself and see if I can man up for the heat in Louisville or endure a long season if I choose Arizona.  Anyone that has read my blog this summer knows that I don't like the heat.  I am all fine and dandy for the heat on the bike, but when you put me in running gear and send me out in the heat I get whiny.  It's either going to be time "put up or shut up" or avoid it altogether.  Personally the thought of chasing my heat demons is kind of appealing in a sick, twisted way.  I know wherever I go it's not going to be easy.  I know there are a lot of elements out of my control.  Hopefully I can make a decision that I am happy with and move forward with my training plan.  It's all going to boil down to how much I am willing to put into my training.  Preparation will be key.

As far as marathon training goes, today is a rest day for me.  I am going to spend some time with the foam roller and ice my knees.  I will plan on jumping on the elliptical tomorrow and maybe even take my bike for a spin on Wednesday.  It's been nearly 2 months so I have ridden my bike.  I stopped because of the knee, but a nice, easy spin might be in order.

Here's the latest forecast from Accuweather :

Temperature History for November 7

Forecast Normal Record Nov 7, 2009
High 53° 56° 78° in 1938 53°
Low 43° 44° 29° in 1930 35°

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Elliptical, Again : 14 Days to NYC

Two weeks,  Two short weeks.  I finally received my official handbook for the ING NYC Marathon on Saturday.  I have already read it front to back and am well-versed on all of the in's and out's of marathon weekend.  I went to the local bookstore today and picked up my Streetwise Maps of Manhattan and have started doing research on what I want to do will in NYC.  My cousin has also decided to come with me for a few days so it looks like I will have some support on the course!  Woo hoo!

Today was another torturous 2+ hours on the elliptical.  I am really just focusing on maintenance and recovery.  The knee still isn't right, but it is progressing slowly.  It may be one of those things where I don't actually run again until marathon day.  At this point I know the fitness is there, I just need to be healthier.  I may or may not try to run this week.  I haven't really decided yet.

It's now officially time to start looking at the weather forecast for Nov 7th in NYC.  Here's our first look ahead from Accuweather: 

Temperature History for November 7

Forecast         Normal Record Nov 7, 2009
High    57°            56°          78° in 1938                  53°
Low    49°           44 29° in 1930        35°

Friday, October 22, 2010

Louisville, Arizona, or Redman? That is the Question

I have really been struggling on picking "the one".  I am stuck at the fork in the road.  I have three options for next year's big Ironman quest and they all have their pros and cons.  I can't seem to wrap my head around one that is a perfect fit.  The problem is I can't really decide what is most important to me.  I have assurances from my parents that they will travel to whatever location I choose.  I have also been told by several friends they would be willing to travel for the Ironman to come cheer me on as well.  Now, I am not really sure all of them would follow through, and I wouldn't really expect everyone to spend vacation time and money on my selfish pursuit, but the more, the merrier!

Here is where you all come in.  I need some help.  If you have any advice or know anyone who has competed in any of these 3 events, please chime in.  Here is how I see it:

Ironman Louisville (Aug 28th, 2011) : 
  • Pros
    • Timing-wise it's great - before football season and about 11 weeks after my Kansas 70.3
    • Travel would be relatively easy - no direct flights but connections in Memphis/Houston/DFW
    • Know someone who raced it last year - tips and info would be easily accessible
    • Course isn't as difficult as some Ironman events - run is flat which is great
    • Ironman-branded event = large crowds, sold out entries, great support, spectator friendly, fun for everyone involved
    • General entry is still open as of today - not sure how much longer though
    • Time-trial swim start - I count this as a pro b/c you don't have to fight the mass start hysteria
    • Lots of local events and training groups to slug out long brick days during the summer
  • Cons
    • Will have to fly
    • Timing in the month is bad for my vacation time from work (last week of the month is hard to swing)
    • HOT - it is August after all (although avg temps aren't extreme) 
    • Not wetsuit legal
    • Cost - entry fee is expensive and have to sign up relatively soon.  Cost of transportation and hotel will add up in a hurry
Ironman Arizona (Nov 21, 2011) - Tempe, AZ
  • Pros
    • Great race by most accounts - online reviews and reports
    • Seems to attract pros after Kona 
    • Ironman-branded event : see above
    • Weather is supposed to be great that time of year
    • Relatively flat course and very spectator-friendly according to most
    • Flights into Phoenix are not too expensive out of OKC
    • Middle of the month so easier to get away from work
    • Cooler temps for some of my training (not all would be in the dog days of summer)
    • My parents probably favor this destination - at least that's what my Dad said
  • Cons
    • Timing - training would go all the way into November - loss of football season, daylight hours, and not as many people training around OK at that time.
    • Travel would be difficult for those not wanting to fly 
    • Maybe too long of a break between Ironman Kansas 70.3 in June
    • Cost - entry fee and travel/hotel (Ironman events are expensive!)
    • Mass swim start - don't really enjoy the cluster of the mass start
    • Sells out VERY QUICKLY - will have to stress about actually getting into this one
Redman Triathlon (September 24, 2011) - Oklahoma City, OK:
  • Pros
    • Very familiar course - live, work, and play here all year round
    • Flat and "fast" course
    • Weather is usually really nice this time of year in OKC
    • Friends and family could all come to support 
    • My company pays entry fees, no travel, no lodging - definitely cheapest option
    • Know a few people who have done the half-iron distance and loved it.  I am sure I could find a full iron distance person who has done it as well
    • Training groups in OKC - I could use them for Louisville and AZ too though
    • Non-branded event - I know I said this was a plus too, but the independents need some love
    • I have heard nothing but great things about the organization and course support
  • Cons
    • I think it would be anti-climatic to do my first one at a non-Ironman event
    • Course is a 4-loop bike and run - mentally I think this would be draining but some think it's a positive aspect
    • Spectator support is pretty minimal 
    • Participant count is low - only 150 full distance in 2010 and about 1000 total between the half, full, and aqua bike participants
    • I went after dark this year and it looked really lonely on the course at a time when I would think you need as many people cheering you on as possible
    • Probably will conflict with OU and OSU football games - will be hard to pull away friends and family from those games
    • Race doesn't give me the feeling of excitement and anticipation I have hoped for, but seems to be the most logical one to choose - not sure logic wins out though
So there you go.  This is why I am stuck.  The most logical choice is probably Redman here in OKC.  I really think doing an Ironman-branded event would be special though.  If you have any pearls of wisdom, please feel free to share.  Hopefully I will come to a decision soon!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Back at it : Countdown to NYC (19 days)

Life has returned to normal after the week of traveling.  I have settled back in at work and have resumed training.  Well, I have resumed cross-training.  I still haven't gone for a run since the marathon, but I don't know that my knee would have allowed me to before now.  The good news is that the knee is starting to feel better and I have become best friends with the elliptical.  I logged a torturous 2 hours on that dreadful machine on Sunday and just knocked out another hour today.  I am staying active so I should be good to go in 2 1/2 weeks as long as the knee still feels up to it.

I keep waiting and waiting on my ING NYC Marathon guide, but I still haven't received it.  Pretty much everyone I follow on Twitter that is running NYC has already received their info packet.  Most of them even got it last week.  Maybe mine got lost?  Hopefully it makes it way into my mailbox soon.

Nothing else really going on at the moment.  I am really just focusing on recovery, maintenance, and mentally preparing for the next marathon.  I am really going into NYC with a more laid back attitude.   I think the fact it's number two in only four weeks time puts less pressure on me.  If I run well, that's awesome.  If I don't, I want to enjoy the experience still.  It's still a little too early to be obsessing about weather because the 2 week forecasts don't quite reach marathon day.  The one thing for certain is that it will be cooler temps than Chicago.  Cool runners are happy runners!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chicago Marathon Race Report

Home - finally.  It's been a week full of fun, food, and laughs with family and friends in Chicago.  I had a great trip to Chicago and have had ample time to reflect on what was and wasn't on 10-10-10.  I really had mixed feelings about my result at first, but now I am fully embracing the marathon for what it is and what it teaches me every time I toe the start line.  It's not about the time on the clock that matters.  It's what you gain from the journey.  Sure, PR's and fast times are what we all crave, but in the end the whole reason we do this is because we love it.  No one is going to remember what time we ran in our races except ourselves.  Everyone will just remember that we are marathoners.  A label placed on people who are willing to sacrifice, endure, and conquer.  We are all fighters and I truly think endurance athletes possess a special trait that will never let us give up.  It's great being part of such a special community.

As far as the race goes, it's one that I will look back on and remember what it felt like to suffer.  I really did suffer in this race.  In the grand scheme of things, it's probably one that will help me grow as an endurance athlete and hopefully help me take that next step to a sub-4 hour marathon.  I learned some tough lessons on the course and learned that patience and humility are needed to reach your full potential.  My race strategy was a little too aggressive and I think I paid for it in the end.  I learned that tall buildings inhibit Garmin watches from accurately calculating distance and pace.  I learned that pace bands are a necessity of life in big city marathons.  I made some rookie mistakes in this race.  Something that only experience will help me overcome.  I have to remember that this is only marathon 2 and my racing career is very short-lived.  As much as I may think, I don't know everything.  Patience and humility.

Race day arrived innocently enough.  We really didn't do much of anything Friday night or Saturday besides watch football, go pick up our race packet, and carbo load.  It was exactly as I had hoped and planned.  Race morning didn't come too early because we were really close to the start line.  The alarm went off about 5 AM and both Katie and I had our pre-run ritual of coffee, bagels, and peanut butter.  I had all my race stuff prepared from the night before so it was a pretty quick transition from sleep to being race-ready.  We took the red line subway to the start area and hopped off to join the waiting lines of runners at the porta-potties.  I really didn't drink much in the way of water, coffee, or sports drink at the apartment so the restroom break was more of a ritual and a way to release nervous energy.  After the porta-potties Katie and I parted ways as I headed to the seeded start corral to join my fellow runners.  The seeded start corrals were a cluster to get into, but once inside it was rather roomy so I plopped down on the pavement and tried to conserve some energy.  I stupidly threw away my bottle of Gatorade Endurance formula before I got into the corral and I really needed something to drink by the time the starting gun went off.  Oh well, another rookie mistake.

I lined myself up near the 3:50 pace group because that was my initial goal.  I should have adjusted when the temp was 70 degrees at 7:30 AM.  I should have been more conservative and stuck myself with the 4:00 group and adjusted as I went if I felt good.  However, I was dead set on the fact I could hit 3:50 that I stuck with the group.  Rookie mistake.  The starting gun went off and I crossed the start line about 7:35 so it only took me about 5 minutes to get to the start.  Not too bad in a mass of 37,000 people.

As we started, it was all I could do to try and keep myself in check and not run too hard.  The pace group was really erratic and dodging people made it nearly impossible to get into any sort of rhythm.  Also, being downtown and going underground in the first mile my Garmin was all kinds of screwed up and was worthless as far as keeping pace.  I was trying to run by feel and by the pace group, but neither was very helpful.  I should have pared back my pace.  Something I will make note of for NYC.  Start slow, Bryan.  The first few miles were all downtown and the crowds were amazing.  People were stacked 4 to 5 deep along the entire first few miles.  My parents and friend were waiting at mile 3.5 near our condo and I was super happy to see them so early in the race.  We really didn't know if it would be easy to spot each other, but they did a great job of being visible and I made an effort to get myself to the side of the street I thought they would be on at each point.

After seeing my folks, I settled in behind the 3:50 pace group and tried to run with them.  My plan was to stick with them and just see how it went.  Again, the pace groups were very unpredictable.  They would speed up, slow down, and go all over the street.  I guess when you are among that many people it's to be expected, but I eventually had to say screw the pace group and just do my own thing.  I could tell it wasn't doing me any good so why bother and stress about staying with the group.  The first 10 miles or so of the course were well-shaded, had great crowd support, and were entertaining.  Tons of stuff to look at and it didn't feel oppressively hot yet.  Our alert level on the course was raised to yellow (moderate alert) about 10 miles in and after we left the taller buildings I could tell why they had raised the level.  It was a glimpse into things to come and I really would regret that decision to try and stay with the 3:50 group later on in the race.

Up until the halfway point, I was feeling pretty decent, but even then I knew it was going to be a tough day.  It wasn't that I was struggling really, but I could feel that I may have went out too fast.  My time at 13.1 was 1:56:13 and I was still on pace to break the 4 hour mark, but the 3:50 race was becoming a distant reality.  After the 13.1 marker, the heat really started to settle in on the course.  All of the shade provided by the buildings and trees was gone and it was just us, the road, and the sun.  You would think that training and running in OK all summer would have helped, and I thought so as well, but apparently running a marathon in the heat is a bit different.  About mile 15 or 16, I really began to feel that I was in for a rough finish.  I was starting to feel like I had run a lot further than I really had and the doubts began to creep in about my ability to hit the sub-4 hour mark.  I knew I was still on pace, but I wasn't sure if I could actually keep my pace at that level.  I never imagined that I would struggle that much, but I did.  The positive note is that my Garmin started working properly the 2nd half so it was much easier for me to see how my pace was doing.   As you all know, when you are struggling with heat and distance, you feel like you are running a lot faster than actually are.  It was good to look down at my watch and see that, yes, in fact I was struggling to keep a sub-9 minute mile.  It was a reality check.  The last 10 miles were going to hurt.

It's funny in a way, and kinda scary in a way, that I don't remember much about the last 7 to 8 miles.  There are parts of the course in some of the race photos that I don't ever remember seeing and I couldn't tell you at what point we went through the different ethnic neighborhoods late in the race.  For those of you who don't know, that is one of the highlights of the Chicago marathon.  At this point I was also having to walk through every aid station and take multiple water and Gatorade cups to stay hydrated.  My sweat rate was really low which is scary for me because I normally sweat buckets.  It crept into my head that I might get into trouble, but I was going to have to be forced down before I actually gave in to any sort of heat issues. I was dumping water on my head every chance I got and was taking multiple sponges when they were offered.  I don't know why I was struggling so much with the temps.  They weren't extreme, but did reach the mid-80s very quickly.  I read in a report post-race that it was the 3rd hottest Chicago marathon in history.  It felt like it too.

The one shining spot for me from mile 20 on was seeing my parents and Holly at mile 23.  I knew they were going to be there and it kept me moving.  They had even went to make signs for Katie and I during their journey to the south side of the course!  It was great to see their faces and afterward they said I looked stronger at mile 23 this race, than I did in Dallas at the same point.  I laughed because I felt like crap.  I must have had a good poker face on.   After seeing my folks, it was only a few more miles to go and I kept bargaining with myself to try to keep from walking.  I was really, really struggling at this point and my pace just kept getting slower and slower.  I was walking through every aid station and even walked a little beyond the aid stations at times because I just felt like crap.  I knew I was getting close to the finish, but I also knew I was getting close to pushing myself over that slippery slope of heat-related issues.  I wanted to push as far as I could without jeopardizing my health.

As I made my final push to the finish, I kept wondering how everyone else was doing too.  I wondered if it was just me.  I looked around to survey the people around me and it wasn't just me.  Everyone looked like crap.  Ambulance sirens were going non-stop and runners were scrambling to find any slice of shade possible.  At one point after mile 16 or so, I heard one of the aid stations announce that the alert level had been raised to red.  Red meant we were one level away from extreme conditions.  Here is a snapshot of the alert levels for those who are not familiar:


EAS table


We were really at a point where it wasn't really a choice to slow down.  You were slowing down to stay safe.  I tried to keep up with hydration the best I could and when I hit mile 25 I tried to give it my all.  I knew I was so close, but it felt like I was so far away too.  I wasn't going to walk the last 1.2 miles.  It just wasn't going to happen.  I was pumping my arms and churning my legs as fast as I could get them to move.  It's very telling when 9:13 and 8:51 pace was the best I could muster at that point.  I knew sub-4 was out of the question, but a PR was definitely going to happen.  The last 800 meters really felt like an eternity.  Not only was everything in my lower body on fire, they decided to throw in a hill on the way to the finish as well.  The crowds were huge, but I was miserable.  I was so ready to be done.  I turned the corner on Columbus Drive and was so happy to see the finish line.  My body was done.  I had left it all out on the course.  As soon as I crossed the finish line, I got really dizzy and couldn't walk straight.  I found the first curb I could find and sat down.  If it hadn't been for that, I would have fallen down.  I took a while to gather myself and try to cool down before a very demanding race volunteer came over to me and told me to stand up.  I tried to explain that I was dizzy and couldn't stand up, but she forced me to my feet and told me to move along.  She said I would thank her later.  I didn't.  I was actually quite annoyed.  Regardless, I made my way through the chutes gathering up every ounce of water, Gatorade, and ice I could possibly find.  I put ice bags on my head and just tried to keep moving.   After about 15 to 20 minutes, I was finally back to feeling decent and made my way to our predetermined rendezvous point to meet up with Katie.  

So, all in all, it was a good experience, but a tough experience.  I continue to learn things about myself with each race I run and learned quite a few lessons out on the course.  I need to be more conservative with my race strategy when temperatures aren't conducive to fast times.  A 3:50 race would have been tough on a good day.  It was nearly impossible on a bad day.

Post-race recovery has gone pretty well with the lone exception of my left knee.  My left knee, which gave me fits all race, has been hurting all week and I am nervous that recovery for NYC is going to be pretty hit and miss.  It's only 3 short weeks until NYC Marathon.  At this point, it's going to be tough to get much running in between now and then and expect my knee to cooperate.  I am resting and icing all I can this weekend since the stairs of the subway in Chicago didn't do me any favors.  I already feel better after relaxing today and am hoping that a few more days of no running will help put me back in semi-decent shape.  I will go for my first post-marathon run late next week.  Until then, the elliptical and I will become close friends.

Sorry for the super long post, but a race report is never short it seems.  Thanks for following along and send some positive vibes my way for NYC.  Happy thoughts about the knee!