Monday, August 30, 2010

Hotter 'N Hell 100K

My longest ride ever is officially in the books.  This weekend I traveled to the Hotter 'N Hell endurance ride in Wichita Falls, Texas, to ride the 100K course.  There were 4 options at this event : 25 miles, 50 miles, 100K, or 100 miles.  I decided to do the 100K route because it was a happy medium for me between 50 miles which would have seemed "easy" and 100 miles which would have been too much to add to the plate during my current training schedule.  My main focus right now are my 2 marathons, this was just an added treat and a way for me to keep building my bike base for next year's quest for the Ironman.  Speaking of the Ironman, go check out Big Daddy Diesel's post about bragging about the Ironman.  I am glad he shared because I was cracking up laughing!  

Once again, the company I work for paid for our entry fees for this race.  It's a great perk to work at a company that promotes healthy living and encourages participation in area events, doles out cash bonuses for staying fit, and has one of the best fitness centers I have ever seen.  It's a perfect fit for my active lifestyle and one of the reasons I initially took the plunge into endurance sports.  Without the free entry fee into the OKC Memorial race, I am not sure I would have taken the leap when I did.  Thank you Chesapeake Energy!

A group of friends from work, including my Chicago marathon partner, went down to Wichita Falls on Friday.  It is a quick 2 to 2.5 hour drive so it was just far enough away that we needed a hotel room.  Thankfully a member of our group booked a room last year about a week or two after the event so we had one of the coveted rooms in Wichita Falls proper.  It is tough to get a room in a city of 100,000 when you have 13,000+ cyclists invading a city at the same time.  We arrived in Wichita Falls about 4:00 pm which gave us a chance to beat the crowds and hit up the expo to pick up our bib, race packet, and shop around for a bit.  The expo was well stocked and I somehow managed to escape without spending a dime.  Shocker!  There were several "almost" purchases but the truth is I don't really need any bike stuff at the moment.  Plus, I have to pay for 2 big trips in the next 2 months.  Every penny is going to be needed!

After the expo we headed over to the pasta dinner to grab some delicious carbs.  I don't tend to eat at race dinners, but this was convenient and relatively cheap so we went ahead and took the plunge.  The meat wasn't anything to write home about, but it was decent and helped feed my never-ending appetite.  After dinner, we went outside to catch some of the crit races.  It's awesome to watch guys and gals flying around corners, riding so close together, and constantly planning their next move.  I can't imagine sustaining that intensity for such a prolonged amount of time.  They are cycling machines.

Saturday morning came bright and early, which is nothing new for the summer of 2010.   My body has finally gotten used to waking up before 5 AM and I was refreshed, ready, and excited to be at an event again.  I haven't participated in a sanctioned event since CapTex Tri so it was great to be back on the clock.  Everything the past 2 months has pretty much just been me and my own thoughts.  I love training alone, but the events are great.  Katie, my Chicago partner, and I decided to ride this one together and we found our spot among the masses of 13,000+ riders.  It was their biggest field yet, and I can only imagine the event will continue to grow as cycling becomes more and more popular.  The weather to start was absolutely amazing.  It was actually kind of cool starting out which was a welcome sign that fall is indeed just around the corner.

Imagine 13,000 riders trying to go in the same direction on 2 lanes of a highway.  The mess wasn't as bad as I imagined or had been told by previous participants, but there was definitely no room to really maneuver or set your own pace for the first 15-20 miles.  Dropped water bottles and reflectors on the surface of the highway were always obstacles of concern in a mass of that many people so there was a lot of shouting and pointing early on as people tried to help avoid a massive pile-up.   You also had no real way to pass people if you got stuck behind a slower rider so you had to put on your patient pants and just enjoy the company.  After the first 20 miles or so the races started to break up as the 50 mile group peeled off on their own route and then my 100K companions and I parted ways with the 100 mile crew.  

For the most part, our ride was rather uneventful.  We went out in the country-side to the north, east, and west of downtown Wichita Falls on a bunch of highway and farm roads.  The roads were in pretty decent shape, but many were the chip and pepper type surface that just vibrates you to death.  There was plenty of open road once the races split up and Katie and I had a chance to kind of settle into our own groove.  The terrain was a little hillier than I expected, but it wasn't anything too challenging and provided a great way to break up the monotony.  It was also entertaining to see the amount of people pulled off to the side of the road using the bathroom out in front of all the world to see.  I guess it's better than waiting in a line at one of the port-a-potties.  Flats also seemed to be a common theme, probably due to the nature of the road surface.  The rest stops were top notch and well stocked with water, powerade, oranges, bananas, pickles, first aid, and all kinds of other treats.  

Overall I was very impressed with this event.  The route was great minus the stretch on the service road of I-44.  It was incredibly boring and directly into the wind so that stretch kind of sucked.  The best part of the course was the stretch through the Air Force base.  Only the 25, 50, and 100K folks get to make that trek through the grounds and get the honor of being cheered on by cadets lining the streets.  The support on the course at the rest stops was amazing.  Crowd support was pretty thin, but you don't really need it when you are riding with that many other cyclists.  I will definitely be making a return trip in the future and will more than likely do the 100 miles next year as a training ride for my fall Ironman.  I had a great time and am glad to continue to push up the mileage ladder.  My first year of cycling has been a success.  It's now time to retire the bike for a week or two as I let my knee rest and focus on running.  

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Unscheduled "Break"

I guess not all marathon training plans can go without a hitch.  As you all know, my left knee started acting up last Thursday after my 8 mile run.  Everything up to that point was going really well.  The weather sucked, but my body felt great.  I guess it only takes one "bad" run to put you on the injured list.  I went ahead and did my 15 miler on Sunday and made it through, albeit not comfortably.  The knee was screaming at me the next few days so I opted for the elliptical on Tuesday and an easy bike ride on Wednesday.  Today was my first crack at running this week and it didn't go so hot.  I got a few steps into my run and I knew immediately it wasn't a good idea.  It wasn't unbearable pain, but it was not fun.  I stopped and walked for a bit, massaged my knee, and started up again.  Same story.  It is lateral knee pain with some tenderness towards the patella tendon as well.  I am going to go ahead and give it a rest for the rest of the week and try to run again next Tuesday.  Hopefully a few more days off from running will do wonders.

In other news, I am packed and ready for my trip to Wichita Falls, TX, this weekend for my 100K bike ride.  This will be my longest ride of my short cycling career.  It should be a neat experience with nearly 12,000 riders participating in the event.  The knee held up fairly well on the easy ride yesterday so I am hoping all goes smoothly on Saturday.  I will probably go ahead and use KT Tape to my advantage to provide some support.  I will report back on Sunday and let you know how it all went.  Happy training to everyone.  Send some good knee vibes my way!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Breaking News : Ironman Kansas 70.3

While it's nowhere near as cool as Patrick's announcement since he is going to Hawaii and all, I am still super excited to reveal my big news!  I am officially registered for Ironman Kansas 70.3!!  

Kansas 70.3
After talking to my coach on Monday, I figured I would go ahead and take the plunge before the race sold out and secure my spot in the mass of people competing in Lawrence, Kansas, on June 12, 2011.   Mark your calendars and make plans to come watch if you need something to start off your summer!  

This will be my first Half-Ironman distance triathlon, and a stepping stone race to my ultimate goal of the Full Ironman distance triathlon next fall.  For those of you not familiar, here is what I will be tackling next year at this race:
  • 1.2 mile swim
  • 56 mile bike
  • 13.1 mile run
I am excited to run this race due to the amount of pros who make the trek to Kansas to compete in this race.  I hope we get lucky enough to have Chrissie Wellington as part of the field.  She is an absolute beast and arguably the most gifted female triathlete ever.  I am a huge fan and hope to some day meet her at one of these Ironman events.  I also chose this race because of the proximity to Oklahoma which should cut down on travel costs and allow my family and friends to attend.  I hope to be able to have a cheering crew along the course so it will keep me motivated and moving in the right direction.  

A few other criteria came into play for this choice as well:  
  • I don't want to swim in the ocean
  • I don't want to fly with my bike yet
  • I wanted one of my big triathlons next year to be an Ironman-branded event
  • I wanted one within a bordering state  
  • I needed it to be in June or July to fit in my training schedule
After looking over the calendar my choices were narrowed down to Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3 in Lubbock, Texas, and the Ironman Kansas 70.3 in Lawrence.  My coach actually raced the Kansas event a few years ago and said it would be a great event for me.  I don't know anyone personally who has done the Lubbock race, but the trip would have been more difficult and I have heard it is a very difficult course.  After looking at the two races, Ironman Kansas 70.3 took home the prize.  I think the pictures of racers finishing with characters from Wizard of Oz sealed the deal.  I loved that movie when I was a kid.

Well, that's the big news of the week!  I am now looking at narrowing down my choices for the full Ironman distance race and hope to have updates on it soon.  I am not necessarily concerned about it being an Ironman-branded event due to the extremely expensive entry fee.  For those of you who don't know, the cost to enter a full Ironman event is $575 and they sell out almost a year in advance.  You have to be ready and willing to commit to a event the minute registration opens.  There is a local race here in OKC every September that I am closely monitoring as my final choice.  I will be making a visit to the event this year to see how it looks and decide if it's the "one".  I know when I choose my full Ironman race, it will have to be fairly close to home.  I will need a face, a smile, a word of encouragement, a shout out from my dad, the look only a proud mother and father can give, and someone else to believe I can finish when I am at the end of my rope.  Plus, I want it to be special and share it with those who will have to listen to me whine, rearrange schedules, make excuses for me when I can't show up to a family function, and truly make sacrafices for my selfish pursuit of being an Ironman.  It's not something I can do alone and I want everyone who was a part of the process to be able to share the journey and the end of a unbelievable ride.  

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thank you Mother Nature!

Oh it's so sweet to walk out at lunch and after work to a cloudy day and north winds!  That  my friends is the sweet taste of Fall just around the corner.  Today we were treated to a nice cool front which dropped our temps from a high of 104 yesterday to a nice, comfortable 73 when I walked out of the office.  Although I didn't get to run in the fabulous weather due to the knee bug, I was still happy for all of my fellow OKC runners who got a taste of the months to come.  We earned this day!

As for me, I was VERY tempted to give running a shot, but the "coach" side of me won the argument in my head and I opted for the elliptical instead.   Go figure, right?!  All of this complaining and whining about the hot weather and the first time I get a break I go inside and use the elliptical.  Five miles on the elliptical isn't very fun for me, but I did discover that the ABC show, Wipeout, is a great way to distract yourself.  Ha, it's so much easier to slug through those workouts when you are watching someone else get pounded in the face with big, moving padded objects.

For those of you who like country music, or just want to see me on TV, tune in to CMT this week and watch Invitation Only with Miranda Lambert.  You can catch my mug on the screen several times.  I am sitting to her right on the front row and they show me singing some of the words on a couple of songs.  It was a great experience.  For those of you who have followed my blog from it's birth last year, you are well aware of my love for Miranda.  I even dedicated a full post to the subject in my early blogging days.  It was this country music lover's best concert moment ever.  You really can't get much better than having one of your favorite artists a few feet away in a very intimate setting.  There were literally only about 100 people at the taping.  I am not sure I will be able to top that one.

Now it's off to stretch, ice, and repeat.  Hopefully I can get in a solid 30 miles on the bike tomorrow and give running a shot on Thursday.  It's still only supposed to be highs in the 80s on Thursday so that will still be quite pleasant.  Take care everyone!

BREAKING NEWS ALERT : I have some big news to share in a few days.  Hopefully you will stick around to see the exciting update!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Weekly Recap

I guess I am turning this blog into a weekly update.  This is not intentional, but it's just the way the schedule has been lately.  Another crazy busy week, another week closer to Chicago/NYC.  I have started a daily countdown at my office on my dry-erase board.  It's crazy to see the numbers just continue to tick down.  I am only 49 days away from Chicago.  Wow!

This week's training has been bittersweet.  I really felt like I was running strong and I continue to gain confidence in my ability to do well in Chicago.  Tuesday's run was awesome.  Wednesday's long ride went without a hitch.  Then Thursday rolls around and all hell broke loose.  I knew going in Thursday was going to be rough.  I did my long ride on Wednesday after work.  The nature of long rides after work are that I never get finished until sunset and then by the time I stretch, eat, and shower it's late.  This was the precursor to a very rough Thursday morning. 

I had customers in town Thursday, so my evening was booked up and I needed to find a time to run.  Being the dedicated (aka stupid) runner that I am, I set my alarm for 4 AM on Thursday to get in my 8 mile run before work.  One bad thing about my job is the inflexibility to roll in a little late.  My job requires me to be on the clock by 7 or so because I have to do the majority of my daily transactions by 8 or 815.  I knew I needed at least an hour and fifteen minutes for the actual run, time to warm-up, time to shower/get ready for work, and still be there on time.  I also was covering the trade desk for another guy on vacation so I really couldn't afford to be late.  Recipe for disaster. 

The run itself wasn't too bad.  The weather was semi-decent, but it was pitch black.  I could hardly see on certain sections of my route.  I even picked out a really nice neighborhood with street lights, but I guess even those don't illuminate everything.  I misstepped several times and I think this was part of the reason I am in the situation I am in now.  The second reason I think I am in my current situation is that I was running a bit late and didn't get a chance to properly cool-down and stretch.  I literally stopped running, jumped in my car, headed to the gym at work, showered, changed, and went to the office.  No stretching.  No ice.  Straight to my desk.   Ouch.  I knew at that point I was going to have some problems the next few days.  The situation has returned.  What situation you might ask?  The knee bug has struck again!  AHHHHHH!!!!  Just when I thought everything was going so well! 

After sitting at my desk for a few hours, I got up to go get some water and a snack, and BAM!  That all-too familiar feeling of lateral knee pain.  Dang it!  I knew it immediately.  It was the exact same pain I had back in March/April.  The only difference - this time it was the left knee.  Crap.  I was hoping I could manage to get through this stretch without any major hiccups.  Marathon training isn't easy though.  I guess this is just a bump in the road.  The good thing is that I am not freaking out like I did last year during training.  I am bummed, yes, but as of now it's manageable.   I think it's just IT band issues.  The great thing about IT issues are that they are the type of injury that you can run through if it's not crippling.  However, I want to keep it from getting to that crippling point so I am trying to play it safe. 

Friday I went to the pool and got in a really great swim workout.  After helping out with Team-in-Training practice on Saturday, I spent a lot of time on the foam roller, icing, and stretching.  Surprisingly the knee felt pretty good Saturday evening so I decided to go ahead and give the long run a shot.  I used the old trusty KT Tape to tape up my knee for lateral knee pain and hit the streets this morning.  I made sure to make plenty of time for warm-up and started off on my run at a pretty slow clip.  I had some minor discomfort at the start, but nothing crazy so I pressed on.  I was doing an out-and-back course today which probably wasn't the brightest idea, but my normal route was being used for an IronKids triathlon.  About 6 miles into my run, my knee really started to scream at me.  I think it was due to the bank of the road so I tried to stay in the middle of the street when there wasn't any traffic.  I also really had to shorten up my stride on any sort of incline.  It was the only way to keep pain from shooting up  my leg.  After a grueling 3 or 4 miles though, my knee loosened up again and the last 5 miles were fairly decent.  I would still get a twinge of pain when I stepped wrong or went up a hill, but it wasn't awful.  I actually felt really good at the end of my run.  The mileage was about as routine as a 15 mile run can be when it's 80s and humid.  I was absolutely soaked after the run.  Shoes, shorts, shirt, hat, fuel belt, and socks were all wet.  There was a not a dry spot on my body because of how much I was sweating.  I continue to think of how great it's going to be when I get to run in cooler weather. 

The knee is now back to its old tricks after a few hours.  It's not horrible pain, but I can definitely tell it's not 100%.  I hope taking the next couple of days off will put me back on track.  My plan is to rest tomorrow, throw in some elliptical Tuesday, bike on Wednesday, and try to run again on Thursday.  This coming weekend is also my 100K bike ride down in Wichita Falls, TX, so that means my long run will have to be Thursday if I get one in this week.  I have 16 miles on the schedule, but I think I will switch next week's 12 miler and move it to this week.  Hopefully I can use RICE to my advantage the next few days.  The one thing about having this injury before, I know what to expect.  I ran the OKC Memorial Half Marathon with the same issue.  It's doable, but not nearly as fun as it would be if you are healthy.  Off to foam roll the crap out of my IT band!  It's going to hurt so good.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rest Days and Good Weather

Oh Mondays.  I love them because it means I can take a breather and catch up on items I have put off for days/weeks/months or I can just do nothing.  Basically it's my free day.  No schedule.  No obligations.  I just do whatever feels right.  They always seem to come at just the right time too.  I guess I am different from some of the hardcore bloggers out there.  I take my rest days.  I don't even flirt with the possibility of doing a workout.  I think 6 days of training requires a full day off of doing nothing.  I just don't know how people do the 7 days a week thing like some of you crazy folks I read about in the blog world.  More power to you.  I would be a jumbled mess of injuries, mishaps, and overall crankiness.  Not to mention my apartment would be an even bigger wreck than it already is at the moment. 

Also, I am proud to announce that I cannot complain about the weather in this blog!  Yay!   I know everyone is getting tired of my whining and moaning about the heat so hopefully you enjoy the break.  I know I will!  Yesterday's (Sunday) long run was awesome.  I was delayed about an hour from my expected start time due to some stomach issues.....runner's you know what I am talking about.  I will spare those nonrunners who read my blog the juicy details, but I wasn't about to hit the trails before these issues were resolved. 

At 6:45 or so I headed out to Hefner to get in my 10 miles for the day and the sun was just starting to break the darkness.  It was a little muggy, temps in the low 80s, and there was absolutely no wind.  Not ideal, but manageable.  As I started my run, the sun peeked over the horizon and revealed amazing storm clouds to the north of OKC.  It would later turn out that these clouds would be like a message from God. 

Four or five miles into my run, I was chugging along, finishing my 2 sets of intervals, when clouds from the storms blocked the light of the rising sun and almost instantly cooled the air.  Next thing I know, a north breeze starts to pick up.  The wind brought with it cool, refreshing air almost like a fall breeze.  It was an answered prayer.  I instantly felt better and my attitude was extremely positive and joyous.  I remembered how much more enjoyable running is when the temps are manageable.  I felt light and strong all at the same time.  My stride felt perfect.  My lungs felt refreshed.  I wasn't dripping sweat.  My shorts and shirt didn't weigh 10 pounds.  I didn't feel like my head was on fire.  I was just running and enjoying it.  Oh how I long for those months when running like that is not the exception, but the rule.  My pace quickened.  My confidence soared.  It reassured me that my training is on schedule and is definitely paying off. 

The sad news is that it appears my euphoric running days are short-lived.  The upper 90s and low 100s are set to return in a few days.  Oh well, it was great while it lasted.  Thank you God for a reprieve.  It was much appreciated.  For now it's back to packing a towel and an extra set of clothes for every run. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Present and Accounted For

Hi friends!  It's been a whole week since I have checked in.  Sorry for the lack of blogging, but this week has just been nonstop.   I'm not sure how I made it through the day on Friday.  I was barely able to drag myself out of bed.  Luckily I had no plans last night (Friday) and I finally got a chance to sit at home and relax.  Thank goodness for a lazy evening!  I felt refreshed and ready to go today.  Rest does the body good!

Last Sunday I hopped on a plane and flew to Austin, Texas, to hang out at Lake Travis.  I stayed at an unbelievably nice house on the lake.  Here are a few pics:

View from the street looking down at the house
Balcony overlooking the pool w/ Lake Travis in the background 
I made a new friend and as you can tell, beer was involved - not on the training schedule   
I was definitely spoiled Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.  I really could get used to living in a huge house on the lake with a nice pool.  The great thing about my short trip was I left all of my training gear at home.  I decided to take a full break from training to have some fun and not worry about the marathons around the corner.  I drank too much beer, ate horribly, and did nothing training-related for 2.5 days.  I say 2.5 days, because I ran Tuesday night after I hopped off the plane.  I was starting to get a little stir crazy after not training for a few days and decided I needed to get in my scheduled run.  You can only hold an athlete-in-training away from his/her passion for so long. 

The rest of the week was a blur.  I ended up logging my longest bike ride to date on Wednesday night with almost 52 miles.  It was so unbelievably hot (temp of 104) and I completely bonked on my nutrition.  I only had gels that were caffeinated so I tried to get all of my carbs from my PowerBar endurance formula drink.  The reasoning was that I rode after work and I have a tough time sleeping if I drink caffeine after about 2 or 3 in the afternoon.  No gels =  bad idea.  You can only drink so much.  I was so tired and ready to get off that dang bike at the end of my ride.  I love the extended daylight during summer because it allows me the flexibility to do some of my long workouts during the week.  However, the heat is just a killer.  Nothing about riding, running, or even walking from my car to the office is fun in this heat.  Go away summer!  You are not wanted.  The great news : we are supposed to have a "cold" front come through Sunday night.  Highs are only going to be in the 90s next week!!  Woo hoo! 

Thursday I had an industry association luncheon and then a customer appreciation happy hour after work.   I had to get in my run so I opted for a late evening run after schmoozing for a few hours at the happy hour.  I was the lame guy drinking sprite and water and trying to stay away from the enormous buffet.  I knew my 7 miles was going to be brutal enough because the temps were in the 100s. I didn't need any added difficulty from drinking alcohol or eating bad food.  Sure enough, at 7:45 PM when I laced up my shoes, the temp read 98 degrees with a heat index of 104.  Ugh.  That's the only way to describe that run. 

Friday I decided to actually put myself in the pool and do an easy swim.  I actually had a pretty intense (for me) swim workout scheduled, but I just couldn't bring my body or mind to do it.  I was completely out of it mentally and my body was ready to quit the minute I hit the water.  I ended up just leisurely swimming 1000 meters and chalked it up as a success since I actually made it into the water. 

Today was my turn on coaching duties with Team-in-Training so I met our group for their scheduled 10-miler before heading out for my 1-hour bike ride.  I rode with a few TNT staff/coaches and took it easy since I will be doing my long run in the AM.  It's a stepback week on the run for me, so I only have 10 miles on the schedule for the morning.  After my run, I will be going to cheer on the TNT triathlon crew as they use one of our local tri's as a warm-up race for Nation's tri in DC and the Half-Iron here in OKC in September.  I almost signed up for the sprint distance tri last minute, but decided I should take a chill pill.  I have way too much time and money invested in Chicago and NYC marathons to screw something up now.  I will still go out and provide moral support though.  Maybe watching a tri again will motivate me to swim more.  OK, probably not.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Longest Run of the Year

Hmm...never even occurred to me that today was actually my longest run of the year.  I didn't even notice it until I uploaded my info on Daily Mile and was looking at my mileage for the year.  It makes sense now that I look back, but it still feels kind of odd.  It's amazing how my mindset has changed on running the past year and a half.  I now consider 13ish miles to be "light" mileage in marathon training.  I think this is why it shocked me this was my longest run of the year.  It feels like I have ran more, but I guess I really haven't.  I missed most of January and February recovering from a mean case of Achilles tendonitis.  March was spent trying to get used to swimming and biking and slowly coming back to the running scene.  In April, I increased my running mileage for the OKC Memorial half marathon, but never crossed the 10-mile mark leading up the race.  The race was 13.1 miles obviously and the rest of my running up until July was focused on the Olympic distance tri training.  Today I logged 13.3 miles as I crossed the half-way point in my Chicago training schedule.  Longest run of the year.  Kinda odd.

For today's run, I joined up with the Team-in-Training crew and ran with them since I wasn't on coaching duty.  Katie, my running companion for Chicago, also joined me this morning for our first long run together of the current training season.  I forget that most of the TNT crew is training for Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco and all of their routes revolve around hills.  I don't run hills very often.  Actually, not at all.  Chicago is flat so I haven't really spent a lot of time seeking them out.  Wow, for those of you who think Oklahoma is flat, think again.  We definitely have our hills.  My knees and calves hate me right now.  I think my knees hurt from curb-jumping too much downtown since OKC has no sidewalks.  Big FAIL for OKC.  That is why we passed the sales tax funding for bike and running trails last year though.  We will get there some day! 

Temperature-wise it wasn't terrible this morning.  I think we were in the mid-70s to low-80s for our run, but the air was thick with humidity.  I was wringing out the sweat from my shirt and shorts at the end of the run.  I was soaked.  Luckily, I have never really had a problem with blisters.  My shoes were wet, and are still wet after nearly 10 hours sitting out to dry.  Talk about disgusting!  Pace-wise we were running about 8:30 min/miles for the most part of our training, but we stopped at all of the provided water stops so our averaged ended up being closer to 9:30 min/miles when it was all said and done.  It's such a blessing to have water stops on the long runs during the summer.  I still carried my handheld bottle, but that wouldn't have even gotten us through 6 miles the way we were sweating today.  Thank you TNT coaches and friends!

I am now off to pack for my quick trip to Austin.  I am really looking forward to relaxing at Lake Travis and enjoying a few days off from training.  I know I will come back refreshed, motivated, and ready to tackle the last half of training for Chicago.  Nine weeks....can't wait!

I will leave you with a comment I found last night while searching through Ironman videos on YouTube.  I found it to be very inspiring and one I will keep with me as I sit down and write down my New Year's Resolutions in a few months. 

"At what point do you say to yourself, 'this is too much....?' NEVER.  It is never too is never enough.  To continue to push beyond your limits is the true essence of humanity.  Never stop...never quit.  This is why I'm hard.  This is why I'm IRON."  posted by INGRox

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Semi-Nude Running Experiment

Disclaimer : No animals or humans were harmed in this experiment.

Today I decided to let it all hang out and just go for it.  Uninhibited. Pure.  Carefree.  My whole mindset going into this run was to just have fun.  Let go of your worries.  Leave your inhibitions and strict parameters at home.  Run free, run happy.

I really went into this run thinking it was going to be brutal.  My legs were dead from my 50 mile bike ride the night before in 100+ degree heat and wind.  I really was struggling to get motivated.  I knew I needed to get the run in because I had already substituted cross-training for my Tuesday run due to some lingering Achilles tenderness from last weekend.  The one saving grace was that the temps were actually about 10 degrees cooler and there was no wind.  It's amazing what a difference 10 degrees makes.

Since I went into this run skeptical of my ability to perform, I decided to run "naked".  A more apt way to describe it would be "semi-nude".  I wanted to just run and go with the flow.  I wanted to throw out the intervals, throw out the need to look at my watch every 20 seconds, and throw out the pressure.  I did want to keep track of my time and see how it stacked up when I finished so I strapped the Garmin to my wrist but vowed not to look at it.  I would just use it as a recording device, nothing else.  In essence, I went running "semi-nude".  All of my running friends will understand.  This was a big step.

I started off the run at what seemed like a pretty slow pace, just warming up and getting my legs underneath me.  After a mile or so I felt my legs started to come underneath me again, and I started to feel great.  I really concentrated on my gait and tried to shorten my stride so I could work on my running economy.  Everything just seemed to be flowing.  I just ran and ran and ran.  Mile after mile went and I never really felt tired.  It just went really, really well.  I ended up running 7 miles in 59:54 and it felt relatively easy.  Pretty good news when it was still 90 degrees out.

I may be off the grid for a few days.  I am heading to Austin, Texas, for a little fun on Lake Travis on Sunday.  I have 13 miles on the schedule for Saturday and then I will take a few days off to relax, have some fun, and not think about training.  Run happy my friends!

Monday, August 2, 2010

I'm over it....

I am over the heat.  Absolutely can't stand it.  Nothing about it appeals to me.  Anyone who says they enjoy 100+ heat is lying or I am convinced they don't do any running outside.

This weekend started the awful trend of 100+ degree days in Oklahoma for as far as the forecast can predict.  We are now surrounded by a heat dome, as the weathermen so affectionately call it.  Basically we are stuck in a hot, nasty stretch of weather that shows no signs of changing anytime soon.  The one saving grace is that the humidity has dropped so our heat indices are only about 5 degrees above the actual temp.

Yesterday morning I set my alarm for 4:30 AM which has become my weekend routine as of late.  I do this in order to try and run in the coolest part of the day.  As the alarm sounded, I rolled over to pick up my phone and check my e-mail, send out Facebook/Twitter responses, and I happened to check the weather.  Current readings at 4:45 AM:

Temperature : 81 degrees

Heat Index : 86 degrees

Humidity : 73%

Wind : 3 MPH

Heat index of 86 before the sun was up!  Seriously?!  The weather just puts me in a terrible mood.  I absolutely love running and long runs are definitely my favorite part of training.  However, training for a marathon in the summer has really made me question my desire to run a fall marathon again.  I find training in cooler, even colder, weather much more enjoyable.  It will definitely play a major role in the decision of what my next marathon will be after this fall.  I know for the Ironman I won't have much of a choice, but that's a completely different story.  I expect to suffer, endure, and persevere during that training.  That's what the Ironman is all about anyway.  It's not only about the race, it's about the journey along the way that makes you a true Ironman.

For now, I will keep trucking along towards Chicago and NYC.  I have told myself to suck it up because nothing is going to change anytime soon.  I am trying to think positively and realize the training in the heat will only make me stronger for my races.  If I can run in this weather, I can run in anything.  In a way, it's a blessing in disguise.  A guy can always wish for cooler weather though.