Monday, June 28, 2010

Rest Day w/ Dreams of Ironman Dancing in My Head

It's Monday so we all know what that means : REST DAY!!  It's been a great week back to training and it feels amazing to settle back into my routine.  I had a great time traveling and listening to country music, but I am back to my bread and butter.  Training makes me feel good about myself, keeps me motivated, and makes me want to be a better at everything.  When I am not training I have fun, but I always catch myself thinking about my next run or how nice it would be to have my gear with me to get in a workout when the weather is nice.  Some call me crazy, I just call me happy.

One great thing about rest days are they make me really focus on where I see myself physically and evaluate my routine.  Last week was probably the perfect training week for me as far as spacing out my workouts go.  I know it's not going to be possible to always plan them that way, but it is definitely my default plan.

Tues - Run
Wed - Long Bike
Thurs - Run
Friday - Swim
Saturday - Long Run
Sunday - Bike

It works well for me and allows me to break up the week with different disciplines so I don't get injured or bored.  Mixing it up has definitely kept me fresher and I don't really dread any specific discipline.  Swimming is by far my least favorite, but I appreciate swimming.  I have a respect for it and know it's place in my routine.  It doesn't mean I really have to like it though.

One final note before I leave you.  This weekend was great for me mentally.  I spent an hour or so Saturday morning watching the finish-line cam of the Rock 'N Roll Seattle Marathon and it quickly made me remember why I battled through the nasty heat and humidity earlier that day to get in my long run.  Just watching the video brought back emotions from my first marathon finish.  Reliving those memories left me extremely excited and ready for the bulk of my training.  On Sunday, I was glued to my Blackberry following Twitter and all of the updates on Ironman Coeur d'Alene.  Following everyone's journey for the entire day really made me appreciate the beauty of the Ironman race.  It's a true test of dedication, will power, mental toughness, and physical endurance.  No part of it makes you think it's fun, but the true test of one's inner self makes it especially intriguing.  I was so happy to hear complete strangers had made it to the finish in one piece.  I can't even begin to imagine the feeling once you cross the finish line.  The only way to truly know is to throw yourself into the fire.  I will do it.  I owe it to myself to give it a shot.  

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back to Reality

Ok, finally back to the blogging world. Sorry for the long absence, but I was living in concert dreamland and vacation heaven. It was a nice break from the regular routine. My only complaint : It was way too short!

Here are a few highlights from the trip to Chicago:
  • Loved the city! Tons of active people, weather was great, met some cool new people.
  • Great time hanging out with my friend from college, Ray, and my music soul mate, Allison.
  • Dixie Chicks were amazing! The girls still have it after all these years out of music.
  • Eagles are just not my thing. Too many instrumental moments, too many slow songs, too much weed being smoked by the two old couples next to me.
  • Made my first visit to Wrigley
  • Drank too much, ate too much, and slept too little
  • Chicago is a LONG way from OKC
  • Sugarland never disappoints - can't wait to see them again in October
  • Traveling feeds the appetite for vacation. I am ready for another one.
So there are a few bullet points to highlight my trip. I really did have a great time and can't wait to go back and run a marathon in Chicago.

Since my return to OKC, I have been very busy training and catching back up at work. I talked with my coach and lined out a few weeks of workouts and started the serious part of my training. I am now back to eating well, drinking less, and getting as much rest as possible.

The weather right now is brutal in Oklahoma. It's hot and humid and nasty. I am not a fan, but you have to play the hand you are dealt so I have decided just to suck it up. I have a really hard time waking up early to run during the week so my evening runs have been in areas with as many trees as humanly possible. There is a really nice neighborhood about 2 or 3 miles from my house so I have been running there the past few days. There are sidewalks everywhere, huge trees blocking the sun, and plenty of areas for me to get in the speed portions of my workouts. Most of my runs are fartlek type runs at the moment. I spend 10 minutes warming up and then do 5 minutes fast, 3 minutes recovery, and 5 minutes fast again. I repeat until I get to my recommended mileage. So far the training has been going really well. I haven't gotten into any really heavy mileage yet, but it will be here before you know it.

I also am biking twice a week and swimming once a week to keep up my base. The biking is also in place to help me prepare for the Hotter N Hell bike tour in Wichita Falls, Texas, in August. I managed to get in a nice 32 miler last night after work and felt pretty decent considering the lack of biking I have done since the triathlon. Overall, I really can't complain about training. It's started off really well.

I will try to catch up on everyone's blogs this weekend when I have a chance to sit down for a bit. Right now I am off to do more laundry and continue to play catch-up. Thanks for sticking around while I was gone!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I am alive...

No time to really update at the moment, but I did want to let everyone know I am alive and back from Chicago. I had a GREAT time and really didn't want to come home, but work duties were calling me back. I will update tomorrow when I get a chance to actually spend some time at the house. Hope everyone is doing well!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Concertpalooza - Stage 1

The first stage of Concertpalooza has been completed. All I can say is, WOW! It far exceeded my expectations and the whole process of taping for a television show was a really neat experience. It was truly an unforgettable trip.

Tuesday started off with a 620 AM flight out of OKC so I could get to Nashville with plenty of time to spare. I got into Nashville around 11 AM and grabbed my rental car and headed downtown. This was my first visit to Nashville so everything was new and fresh. I parked near the Country Music Hall of Fame and walked up and down the rows of honky tonks and listened to the afternoon performers. I grabbed some BBQ, enjoyed some good music, and then made my way to the Ryman. It definitely goes to the top of my list as a concert destination. I loved the layout and the intimacy and can't wait to book a trip back to Nashville for a show. Next I made my way to the Hall of Fame and spent an hour or so wandering through the exhibits. Truly a great experience for a first time visitor. After visiting the HofF, I made the trek south to Franklin where the CMT Invitation Only series was being taped that evening. I went in expecting this to be a good time, but I left even happier than I imagined.

For starters, I showed up right in the middle of the 1 hour window they gave us for arrival time. I was one of the last people to show and for this reason, I was one of the last people to be escorted into Liberty Hall for staging. I actually think this may have worked to my advantage. The fact I was by myself was also to my advantage. When it was my turn to be escorted in, the production manager asked if I was alone and I told him yes. He then promptly took me to the very front row of the audience and sat me on a wooden block, about 2 feet tall, merely feet from the stage. I immediately started beaming and couldn't quite believe I had scored such a premiere spot for the taping! The next hour or so was spent trying to be all cool and collected so they wouldn't think I was a lunatic and try to move me further away from the stage. As they started going through final production staging, I knew I was golden. I was concerned my height would become an issue b/c those of you that know me, know I am not short. I was afraid my head would be in a camera angle or that someone couldn't see and I would get moved. It turns out this was just meant to be for me.

After the final instructions, the band took the stage and Miranda soon followed and started her set. The production people insisted that we have a good time and sing, dance, smile, and clap as much as we could without being stupid. I had no problem having a good time from my viewpoint. I was giddy happy the entire time and pretty sure I may look like a fool on camera. I don't care though. I had an amazing time and left loving Miranda even more than before if that's possible. It was amazing to share that experience with only 100 people and Miranda. I am pretty sure I will never get another opportunity like that again. For those of you that have Dish Network, it premieres there on July 25th and will be aired on CMT nationwide at a later date to be determined. I am excited to see the finished product and relive the memories.

Today was a very long travel day followed by a run, a 1/2 day at work, and then dinner with customers. I am beyond tired, but am glad I still managed to get in my run for the day. I am now fading fast and will be hitting the hay very quickly. I hope you guys have a great weekend. I will be out of commission for the next several days as I finish the 2nd stage of Concertpalooza. Happy training to everyone! I will try to keep up on your blog posts from the Blackberry while I am on the road.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

5K Time Trial and Red Coyote Grand Opening

The first full week of marathon training is off to a really good start. Well, I haven't actually gotten in a long run yet, but I don't think I will miss it. The plan is to start my long runs next weekend. I am dedicated to not running on back-to-back days so I will have to compromise my long run this weekend. My body hates me when I try to squeeze in too many runs during the week. The whole goal of this training plan is to stay healthy. A healthy man is a happy man.

Since my last update, I have done two 5Ks but both were unofficial and don't count towards my racing history. However, they were both fun in their own right. The first one I did was a 5K time trial for my new coach so he could get an idea of where I was currently and we could configure my zones for my upcoming training. I haven't ran a 5K since last August and overall I have only ran three 5K's total. One was my first race ever and the other two were coming off injuries or a bigger race. I am not very happy with my PR at the 5K distance so this was a good test of what I could potentially do if I actually raced one sometime soon.

I ended up doing the time trial in my neighborhood on a 1-mile loop course so I could keep an equal pacing and use it to track my progress throughout the season. I woke up at 4:50 AM Thursday morning to get this in before the heat of the day settled in and to hopefully avoid any traffic. It was still mid-70s and 93% humidity so it wasn't ideal, but it was much better than 95 degrees and 60% humidity like it would have been after work. Pacing-wise I wasn't really sure where to start since it had been so long since I had ran a shorter race. My current PR had me paced at around a 7:30 min/mile. I knew I was stronger than that, but wasn't quite sure by how much. I ended up starting myself out at a 7:15 min/mile and figured I could at least make that happen. I ended up having negative splits on all 3 miles so I think I may have started a little too conservatively, but until you actually get out there and race, you never really know what to expect. I ended up clocking my 5K Time Trial at 22:12 which gave me a 7:08 min/mile average. I was pretty happy with this result since I was running by myself in my neighborhood so early in the morning. Under ideal conditions, I am confident I can push that even lower. Progress.

Yesterday was also my Brooks I.D. event in Oklahoma City. Red Coyote celebrated their official grand opening yesterday and as a way to gather up the local I.D. members, we also put on a 5K Fun Run. We ended up having a great turnout from the local running community and also had a few I.D. members present to showcase our love for Brooks. The run started at 8 A.M. from the Red Coyote store in NW OKC. We had a group of around 100 people there from numerous groups including Brooks I.D. members, Team-in-Training, LandRunners, and several Chesapeake Energy employees. It was a good mix of runners and everyone seemed to have a great time with the laid back nature of the run. It was very informal and allowed me a chance to chat with my fellow Brooks I.D.'ers and enjoy a nice, leisurely run. Our area Brooks rep was also there to show off the Brooks shoes and brought water bottles for us to hand out to other runners who were wearing Brooks gear. All in all, I think it was a great way to showcase the Brooks brand and continue to build the customer base in OKC. I am still amazed at how many people don't know about Brooks, so the more I can wear my gear with pride and share the Brooks love, the more happy runners we can have in OKC. Run happy my friends!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Well, as mentioned in a previous post, Concertpalooza is upon us. I am beyond excited. I am actually on YouTube at this very moment listening to videos from all the artists I will be seeing next week.

I am a HUGE country music fan. I grew up on country music. I have zero recollection of 80's pop music because I grew up on George Strait, Reba, Tanya Tucker, Alabama, The Judds, Pam Tillis, and every other country artist from the 80's and 90's. I have always been a country music fan and always be, it is just in my blood. On that note, you can only imagine why this upcoming week is hands down the most exciting week of concerts in my life.

For starters, on a whim, I decided to apply for the casting of the CMT Invitation Only series when I received an e-mail saying Miranda Lambert would be filming her episode on June 15th. I really didn't expect to get picked, but regardless, I sent in a picture of myself and rolled the dice. About a week ago, I received an e-mail from a casting agency in Nashville, TN, alerting me that I had been selected to appear in the taping of Miranda Lambert's CMT Invitation Only show!! One of my first blog posts on "A Whole Lotta B.S." was about my fascination with Miranda Lambert. She is by far one of my favorite artists and I have seen her in concert several times. The fact that I get to see her in a venue with only 150 people is something I am sure I will never, ever forget.

To top it all off, this is also the week I am traveling to Chicago with my good friend Allison to see, arguably, our favorite band of all time : the Dixie Chicks. Allison and I are music soul mates. We have always shared the love of the same music and have hit it off from the first time I met her in 2006 when we worked together for the first time. I even think she loves concerts as much as me, which is pretty rare. Starting next Friday, we will make the perfect road trip together.

Our first stop will be in Kansas City, MO, to catch Sugarland at the Sprint Center. I have never been disappointed by a Sugarland concert. I have seen them 3 times now and every time I leave smiling, happy, and ready for more. Their love for music is infectious. It's impossible to go to their show and not have a good time.

After Sugarland, Allison and I will continue our journey north to Chicago. On Saturday, we will hit up Soldier Field and finally see the Dixie Chicks after a 7 year hiatus. The last time either one of us saw them was in 2003 on their Top of the World tour. It's been way too long. Not only do we get to see the Dixie Chicks, but I will also get to see the Eagles for the first time and Keith Urban for the 4th time. I really can't complain about the week of music ahead. It is truly the perfect week of concerts. I wouldn't change anything about it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chicago - And It Begins

Today was my first official training day for the Chicago marathon. It seems a little surreal to actually be starting this journey all over again.

Last year when I started my long trek to the Dallas White Rock Marathon, I often wondered if I could do it. I had never ran over 13.1 miles and I knew the real challenge would be to stay healthy. I was concerned that the overlap with football season would be too much of a time conflict and that my training would suffer. It turns out some of my concerns were legitimate. I struggled to stay healthy and the mix of running for several hours and then going to tailgate and attend OSU home games was not the best recipe for success. I made my fair share of mistakes, but I still ended up making it through marathon #1 rather unscathed. Many people say you can't run another marathon until you forget about your first one. I have to say that even though it was the most painful experience of my athletic career, I wanted more. I knew that day that I would be back. I was happy to finish, but I knew I could do better. I had found my niche in adult life. I was becoming an endurance athlete.

Today started the next chapter. Although I don't know my exact training plan yet, I know my goal for this season is to not run on back-to-back days in order to stay healthier. The back-to-back-to-back running days really broke me down. I learned my body couldn't take the consecutive days so this time around I will be alternating run days with cross-training days. My cross-training days will consist of cycling and swimming in order to continue to build my Ironman base. The goal is to have 3 run days with 3 cross-training days (alternating bike/swim workouts based on weather/availability/desire).

So, after a successful start this morning, I am ready to tackle another great 18 weeks of training. Keep your fingers crossed that I stay healthy. Keep your fingers crossed that I don't die of heat stroke. Keep your fingers crossed that we get an early Fall.

Day 1 : 3.02 miles in 26:21 (8:43 pace)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What's Next?

I have effectively managed to not do any training since I returned from Austin. My required rest has been tough. I find that I have a ton of extra time on my hands when I am not training so I went and took in a night at the Women's College World Series, attended my 10-year high school reunion, finalized the plans for my Brooks I.D. event next weekend, and generally just relaxed. It's allowed me to baby some of my lingering aches and pains from tri training and realize that I am not meant to sit still any more. All in all, it's been a nice week, but I am definitely ready to get after it again.

So, what's next? Well, most of you that have been following along know that I am registered for Chicago and NYC this fall. I already have places to stay in both locations and a flight booked for NYC. The next item on the agenda is to book that flight to Chicago and start back up with marathon training. This coming week (June 7-11) will be exactly 18 weeks from Chicago. It's definitely time to start training!

That's not all I will be up to over the next 18 weeks though! I also will be fulfilling my duties as an Assistant Marathon Coach for Team-in-Training Oklahoma. We have a great group of women who are training for Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco, Dublin Marathon, and Disney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon. I am so thrilled to be able to provide support, advice, and motivation to others who are raising money and accomplishing personal goals with Team-in-Training.

Finally, I have officially taken the step of hiring a coach. I start work with Ryan Ellis of Conquer Training this week. I met Ryan through Team-in-Training as he served as the triathlon coach for our Team this season. I really enjoyed working with him and felt he provided me with the tools to succeed and make myself a better all-around athlete. I have already PR'ed in the half marathon this year and set a nice mark in my first-ever triathlon. The reason for hiring Ryan is basically two-fold for me. My more immediate goal and focus this summer is to train smart and efficiently and break the 4-hour mark at Chicago and run NYC four weeks later. The ultimate long-term goal, which is where Ryan will really come into play, is to start building my base for the Full Ironman distance triathlon. I have circled late next year as my goal for completing my first Ironman event. Ryan will provide a base of knowledge and training experience that I could never even begin to supply myself. I want to start building my base now so I can turn the calendar to 2011 with the tools needed to ramp up my training for the Ironman. I know it's not going to be easy. I know it's going to be one of the greatest physical and mental challenges I will ever encounter. I want to make sure I provide myself with the best tools available to make this an experience of a lifetime. Countdown to being an Ironman starts now!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

CapTex Tri Weekend - Austin, TX

Well, it is time to relay the events of Memorial Day weekend and my first ever triathlon. I have now had a few days to let it all soak in and just like any other endurance athlete out there, my mind has already shifted to something bigger and better. We just can't quite please ourselves, can we? It's always about the next goal or the next race. We are constantly wanting to improve and push ourselves to see just how far we can go. I will take a moment to reflect on a great weekend though.

My weekend started on Friday as me and two of my friends made the long trek down the holiday traffic clogged I-35. That really has to be one of the most dreadful drives in America. There is always construction. What is normally a 6 hour drive ended up being a 7.5 hour drive. Granted, we did stop and eat for about 20-30 minutes, but it still wasn't quick. The good thing is I got a chance to catch up on some of my music and prepare myself for Concertapalooza (more details to come soon) in June.

After arriving in Austin, I shacked up with my two friends in their room for the evening. Sleeping on the floor a few days before your big event isn't ideal, but hey, I needed a place to crash and they had an open floor. On Saturday, I opted out of the river floating experience on the Guadalupe to conserve some energy, avoid a sunburn, and just enjoy the city like old times. I didn't do much of anything other than walk around downtown, grab some coffee, and people watch. Austin is a great city for people watching. Saturday night the rest of the TNT crew rolled into town and we grabbed dinner as a group before hitting the nightlife for an hour or two.

Sunday was pretty much all dedicated to TNT and tri stuff. We started the day off going to the expo and picking up our multitude of numbers, bracelets, chips, and ID tags. A couple of hours later we took our bikes over to the transition area and found our wave's racks and picked our transition spot. After leaving my bike, a few of us went to the pool at the hotel and enjoyed a little relaxation time before we headed to the big TNT pasta party.

The pasta party was a really neat experience. All of the TNT groups at the event gathered together to celebrate the end of training and reflect on why we committed our training, time, and money to their cause. It was truly inspirational to hear stories of those directly impacted by blood cancers and learn that what we did the past 4 months actually made a difference. As a group of TNT volunteers, we ended up raising $550,000 that will help fund research and provide patient services to those affected by blood cancers.

My alarm started beeping at 4:15 AM bright and early on Monday morning and it was time to get my game face on for my first tri. I wasn't entirely nervous and had actually grown a tad confident as I envisioned myself going through the event. I knew I had prepared well, now it was time to go put it all together. We headed downstairs to meet up with the group and do our body-marking. I have to admit, the body-marking of the tri is pretty cool. I am a huge fan of the calf marking. I don't know why, but it just makes you feel legit when you start putting your age, race number, and wave all over your body. It was time to go!

The unfortunate thing about my age group was that our wave didn't actually get into the water until 8:20 AM. Yes, four hours after I woke up. The first step after leaving the hotel was getting my transition area set up and making sure I didn't leave anything vital to my race in my room. After checking and triple-checking my area, I made my way out of transition to find some of my fellow Oklahoma TNT'ers. I found a spot in the grass near the water and just watched wave after wave start their journey. It wasn't until about 20 minutes before my wave that I started to feel the slightest twinge of nerves. It was short-lived and my attitude changed back to confident and ready. It was just a completely different scenario compared to my first marathon. I was a bundle of nerves and emotion before White Rock. I knew I was going to do well here. I just felt it. Funny how things change in a week.

It was finally my time to enter the water. The swim start was in deep-water so a few of us waited until the very last moment before we jumped in. Luckily the water was a cool 68 degrees so wetsuits were allowed and it sure took the bite off the dreadful heat. After treading water for a minute or so, the gun went off. I had positioned myself towards the very back of the group so the whole mass start was pretty uneventful. I was able to settle into a nice groove and only had a few minor run-ins with people for the majority of the course. The final turn back to the swim exit was a bit precarious as several waves were bunched together. I got kicked several times and fell out of my rhythm. I had several guys cut me off and then stop which really didn't make me happy. If you are going to cut me off, at least be fast enough to stay in front of me and let me draft!

After hitting the exit steps, I struggled to my feet. I had never jumped out of the water that quickly after a long swim before so the sea legs, drunken feeling was quite amusing. I stumbled a few times before I got my balance and off I went to transition. My first transition left a lot to be desired honestly. It was over 4 minutes and could have definitely been shorter. I did help one guy unzip his wetsuit and the run from my bike rack to the mounting area was quite a jump. Running in cycling shoes isn't the most comfortable or practical way to move through an area.

After hopping on the bike, I took a second to get adjusted and started taking in fluids to help prepare myself for the heat. I knew it was going to be a hot, miserable run so I was trying to stay as hydrated as possible. The odd thing was that my stomach was on the verge of cramping the entire race. It felt like it was in a knot and never really got comfortable. Due to this, I really backed off on my gel and Gatorade intake so I wouldn't upset it even more. I did manage to get down 2 Clif Shots and half of my Gatorade bottle, but even that made me worrisome that my stomach might revolt.

The bike ended up being really strong for me. The course was a 4-loop course around the state capitol building. The upper portion of the course was hilly and the bottom portion of the course was flat and fast. After my first loop, I settled into my strategy of hammering it home on the bottom portion of the course and just maintaining a decent clip on the hills. I was confident I could make up for any lost time in the long, flat straight-away so I tried not to fret the hilly portion. The strategy seemed to pay off because I came off the bike feeling relatively fresh heading into the run. One complaint about the course was the congestion. Since my wave started so late, the last lap or two of my bike was littered with sprint and first tri distance racers. There was a huge variety of speeds and ability levels mixed in together and the streets made it difficult to pass at times. It's not a major issue, but one that could affect a more seasoned racer who wanted to really hammer it home.

After the bike, it was time to knock out my run. I went in pretty confident in my run, but I knew the heat would play a factor. The heat was miserable actually. I am not a fan of the heat, especially when running. I hit the run pretty hard at first judging by my mileage splits. I progressively got a little slower each mile and I could definitely feel my body telling me it was time to get it over with as I got closer to the finish. This was by far my hottest race ever. I have never thrown so much water over my head and in my face than I did on Monday during the run. Having my coaches, Ryan and Megan, cheering me on at every lap of the bike and run definitely helped push me forward and the fact that I could see my goal being accomplished on that day was particularly motivating. Finally I made the final turn to the finish line and it was time to celebrate. I ended up clocking in at 2:55:35 and met my goal of being under 3 hours!

Overall it was a great weekend in Austin, TX. I have many fond memories of my Team-in-Training experience and owe it to all of you for donating and supporting me along the way. I am extremely blessed and am thankful every day for the health I have been given. I have truly found my athletic love. Endurance sports are here to stay. I hope you guys will continue to follow along as I move on to my next goal. More details to come soon on the next step and the big picture dream I have in my head. It's going to be a great ride.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Triathlete - It's Official

Yep, it's official! I am now a triathlete/marathoner. Thanks to everyone who has followed along during my journey. I had a great time in Austin and met my goal of completing the Olympic distance tri in under 3 hours!! Overall it was a great first triathlon experience and I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to train with along the way. I have nothing but good things to say about my Team-in-Training experience and hope everyone gives it a shot at some point in the future.

Here are the official results:

Overall time : 2:55:35
Swim time - 1500 meters in 39:18
T1 time - 4:16
Bike time - 40K in 1:14:03
T2 time - 2:26
Run time - 10K in 55:30

I ended up 437th overall and 46th in my age group. I was really happy with all aspects of my race and have already started noticing areas I can improve on in the future.

Due to time constraints, I will post a full race report tomorrow or Thursday. I have a ton of stuff to catch up on before work tomorrow. Thanks again to everyone who has followed along and helped me with advice, supportive comments, and donations to my TNT campaign. I count my blessings every day.