Saturday, July 30, 2011

Race Prep Week - Swim and Bike

As I inch ever closer to Ironman Louisville, my training is now shifting to race rehearsal type workouts.  The week itself is a stepback week for the run so I haven't had to endure the countless hours on the elliptical which has been nice.  The brief respite came at a great time because I was growing weary of the elliptical after the last 2 weeks.  Thankfully I only have a couple more weeks of really long sessions to put in on the elliptical.  I really wish I was running, but I know it's not time.

Overall this week has been pretty productive on the training front.   I knocked out a really nice bike ride after work on Tuesday.  It was 105 degrees and 15-20mph winds which normally would have put me in a bad mood, but I've gained some confidence on the bike the last few weeks and I enjoyed the challenge.  The bike is a funny instrument for me.  All year I've really felt like my bike has the most room for improvement and most potential for time improvements in triathlon.  I'm pretty happy with my run when I'm healthy and my swimming is what it is.  I'm never going to be a fast swimmer and even if I was I think there are minimal time benefits in the grand scheme of things.  The bike to me is where I'll focus my efforts on becoming a faster triathlete.  Riding by myself I tend to underestimate my pace potential so I've played it pretty safe all summer.  Riding with the group the last few weekends has allowed me to step out of my normal comfort zone and realize I have a lot more in my bike than I previously envisioned.  While I still plan on not killing myself in Louisville and play it safe with my pace, the last few weeks have allowed me to see the potential of better things to come on the bike.  I like the fact that through this training season I've continued see areas that need my attention and give me something to focus on during the offseason.  As all endurance athletes know, I'm already thinking about what's next.  We are definitely a strange breed.

Thankfully this week I also managed to get in my first open water swim without a wetsuit.  The local triathlon club hosted a Splash and Dash on Thursday evening.  I snuck in my elliptical workout before work so I could head out Arcadia Lake for some open water fun.  There was probably a group of 50 people or so at the "race" and the course was a 500m swim with a 2 mile run afterwards.  Due to the Achilles, I opted to do the swim course twice and skip the run portion.  I was pretty pleased with the results from the swim.  I felt calm and controlled in the water.  The water was a bit choppy due to the wind so it was good practice even though I don't expect to have to worry about that in Louisville.  I'll probably try to get in a few more open water swims the next few weeks, but if the schedule doesn't allow I won't be too overly concerned.  Friday after work was also my trial run for the 2.4 mile swim.  I have to be at work between 7 and 7:30 AM so doing my workouts before I head to the office isn't realistic sometimes.  Due to this, I headed to the pool after work and basically had the pool to myself.  I popped a gel before I hit the water and then just tried to keep my mind focused for the duration.  To me, the biggest challenge with this swim was keeping count of my laps.  It's hard to keep your mind from wandering when you are staring at a black line for an hour and a half.  The swim went about as expected.  It took me 1 hour and 32 minutes to get in the full 2.4 miles.  Pretty much right where I expect to be in Louisville.  Mentally it's nice to get that swim in the books and know that the hardest part will be to stay focused on form and sighting in the water.   I can definitely say I'll never want to be an ultra-endurance swimmer.  I can't imagine staying in the water much longer than that and actually enjoying it.  Ultra-marathoner?  Sure, I can see that in my future.  It's no secret where my true allegiance lies. 

Tomorrow is the big 6 hour adventure on the bike.  I'll report back tomorrow after it's over and let you know how it went.  The plan is to get out and riding by 6 AM for a lap around Lake Hefner by myself before joining up with the the Redman crew for 3 or 4 hours.  I'll tack on an extra hour or two by myself after they finish up and hit my 6 hour goal.  Thankfully the next time I need to ride 6 hours I'll be doing one of the local century rides with a big group of people.  It always helps mentally when you have others with you the entire ride.  Tomorrow will be a good test.  I'm looking forward to the challenge. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ten Commandments of Endurance

Hey gang.  It's been a busy week so not much time to write.  I wanted to post something that I saw on a friend's Facebook page.  I think it's pretty relevant given everyone's training schedule at the moment.

Ten Commandments of Endurance- Marshall Ulrich

1. Expect a journey and a battle
2. Focus on the present and set intermediate goals
3. Don't dwell on the negative
4. Transcend the physical
5. Accept your fate
6. Have confidence that you will succeed
7. Know that there will be an end
8. Suffering is okay
9. Be kind to yourself
10. Quitting is not an option

I thought this was a great reminder of what's to come over the next few weeks.  Hope everyone is having a great week.  I'll have a full update soon.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer of '11

It doesn't have quite the pop as "Summer of '69", but the summer of 2011 is stacking up to be a beast of a summer.  It's brutally hot here in Oklahoma.  I know it's brutally hot around a lot of the US right now, but we're now at 32 days of 100+ degree temperatures this summer in Oklahoma City.  The all-time record for Oklahoma City is 50 days in 1980.  According to the local weather guys, we are well ahead of pace to beat that record and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.  The reason I bring up the weather is because I've tried really, really hard not to complain about it on my blog.  I am fascinated by the weather though so it's hard for me to let it stay off these pages for too long.  I thought I'd at least share a little weather info with those of you not living in Oklahoma.  I hope it's cooler where you are training.  I'm just excited I picked the hottest summer on record to train for my first Ironman.  Mother Nature knows how much I love the heat.  She must have ordered it up especially for me.

Today was my long bike session for the week.  Again, as expected, I hit another new mileage personal best.  I ended up riding a little over 4.5 hours and logged 86.14 miles.  I teamed up with my coach and one other guy and we headed out from Lake Hefner about 6:30 this morning.  We biked a similar route as last week, but did it in reverse order to break up the monotony.  We had several glitches in our ride today.  Cadence sensor problems, flats, dropped CO2 cartridges, a little wind, and a lot of heat.  We all noticed that by 8 AM it was noticeably hotter than last week's ride and thus adjusted our hydration stops to be more frequent.  I went through nearly 14 bottles on this ride.  I'm a very heavy sweater and it's essential for me to take in fluid frequently, especially when it's 104 when you stop riding.  I also have been trying to avoid switching over to bike shorts/bibs for my long rides which hasn't been a problem until today.  I was very happy I decided to take an extra deal of chamois butter with me on this ride.  I think I would have been walking funny all week if I hadn't applied some extra at the halfway point.  Overall it was a pretty solid ride for me.  Riding with other guys has made me push my pace a little more which will only help me in the end.  I ended up averaging 18.6 mph today which is much faster than I expect in Louisville.  I'm hoping when I settle into a groove at Louisville these days of pushing the pace will make the 112 miles a bit easier when I settle into a slower pace.

This week also ended up blowing last week out of the water as far as total mileage goes.  I logged 132 miles this week so I'm inching closer to actually completing that 140.6 in one week.  Next week I'm sure I'll get close because I'll have my 2.4 mile swim rehearsal and a big 6 hour bike next weekend.  I'm still going to lay off running and substitute the elliptical.  My Achilles is showing some signs of improvement during the week and then I blow it up again on the weekends when I do my long rides.  I have 3 more big weeks ahead of me and then it's taper time.  I'm hoping the taper will help heal it even more and I'll show up on race day with a little pep in my step on the run.  We can always hope, right?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Too Much?

Sometimes I wonder if I write too much about my injury.  Today while I was in the pool I started thinking about my blog and it's purpose.  Part of me worried that documenting every ache and pain made me seem like a hypochondriac or just a whiny baby.  The other part of me thought that documenting my aches and pains might actually help others who might be in the same situation.  In the end, my purpose for this blog is to connect with other endurance athletes, allow family and friends to stay involved in my training, and provide myself with a training journal I can look back on in a few years.  Through my experiences and writing about them it allows me to relay the ups and downs of training.  It's not always sunshine and roses when you are logging miles and my hope is that my blog will help someone else who has hit that trouble spot in their schedule.  I'm proof that injuries don't have to sideline you from reaching your goals.  Sure, I've had to adapt and change goals several times because of lingering issues, but to this date I've yet to miss a big race because of an injury.  I hope that someone who stumbles onto my blog will find solace in knowing they can still make it work.  I wish I was someone who wasn't injury prone, but it's not the case.   This year has been much better than my first 2 years, but I still have room to clean up my weak spots and become a healthier athlete.  I know my personality hasn't done me any favors when it has come to injuries either.  I'm a sort of an all-or-nothing guy.  I'm impatient when it comes to something I really want and I've always jumped into things quickly.  Case in point, Ironman Louisville will be my 3rd triathlon ever.  I skipped the sprint altogether and did the Olympic as my first.  After getting a taste of the sport I wanted a bigger challenge so I decided to dedicate 2011 to my Ironman dream.  Triathlon number 2 came in June at Kansas 70.3 and now I'm five weeks out from my first Ironman and third triathlon.  My impatient, all-or-nothing attitude gets me in trouble when it comes to staying healthy.  Ideally I would have focused on more Olympic and 70.3 races this year and attacked the Ironman in 2012.  I think it would have helped me stay healthy, but even then, I think I would have tried to add in a marathon or two and toed the line of injury still.   I know my all-in lifestyle isn't for everyone, but it doesn't allow me to sit back and doubt myself.  It makes me work harder so I can develop the confidence to succeed.  "Dream Big.  Work Hard.  Make It Happen."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ups and Downs

It's amazing the range of emotions that you go through when training for an endurance sports event.  It seems like the last 2 or 3 weeks I've run the gamut of emotions several times.  Every workout leaves me with something different.  Some days I feel strong and dream of a very successful day on the Ironman Louisville course.  Other days I limp away from a workout wondering how I'm ever going to make it work.  My injury has forced me to really search inside myself to find that guy who never gives up, never quits, and mentally punishes anything standing in front of me.   I've always thought my heart and mind were my two biggest strengths in endurance sports.  Physically I'm not extremely gifted.  I rely on my love of the sport and my mental toughness to power me through the low spots.  The mind is a powerful instrument.  Once you learn how to harness it and apply it positively, you can truly accomplish whatever you desire.  The last few weeks have reminded me of that inner strength that will carry me on August 28th.  I may not be at the starting line healthy, but my mind and heart will be in it for the long haul. 

The magnitude of the Ironman event really is something that humbles me when I think about it.  Last week I had my highest mileage week I've ever had during my 3 years of training, 117 miles.  The sad part was that my week's worth of training didn't even add up to the 140.6 miles I'll be doing on race day.  It really put it all into perspective for me again.  Each week I'm hitting new personal mileage records on the bike and the swim.  Prior to this year, the longest bike ride I had ever completed was a 100K tour last August.  My longest swim had been 1500m last May.  Coming into this process, many people told me I'd get burnt out toward the end of my training.  I honestly expected it to happen too.  In a way, my injury has prevented that inevitable burnout.  I think it has kept me focused and hasn't allowed me to hit that point where I'm tired of training.  I know I need to focus and treat every workout with the respect it deserves.  Any slight lapse of concentration or slip-up could result in further injury and I can't afford to lose the next few weeks of training.  Due to this, I think I've successfully navigated the burnout phase.  That's not to say that sometimes I wish I didn't have to train.  Take tomorrow as an example.  I'm not going to lie and say I'm looking forward to 2.5 hours on the elliptical.  Am I dreading it?  No.   It's like I told my coach.  I don't mind hammering it on the elliptical for 5 more weeks.  To me, it's all part of the journey at this point.  It's all part of my Ironman Louisville story that's being written.   It's crazy that the prologue is nearly 9 months long.  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Long Bike - Mixed Bag

As far as long bike rides go, today ended up being a really good day on the bike.  The aftermath is what made this day a mixed bag.

The big test for me today was how my Achilles would react to a long ride.  I skipped my long ride last weekend.  The weekend before that I had to cut my ride short.  I had doubts about how it would react today, but I'm at a point in my training where I'm going to have to suck it up and just deal with it.  I also decided to try something different today.  Probably not the smartest idea on a long ride, but I think it did help me get through the ride today.  In order to further reduce strain on my Achilles, I decided to use my heel cups from my Achilles brace in each cycling shoe.  It ended up helping a lot I think.  I did have pain, but it wasn't unbearable and was much better than the last couple of rides.  Overall I ended the ride pretty pleased with how it went.  However, I can't really imagine hopping off the bike and running a marathon the way it felt today.  We'll leave that to another day. 

Let's start with the ride.  I met up with my coach and 3 other people at the parking lot used for transition for our local 140.6 race, the Redman Triathlon.  We decided to ride out of town on the Redman course and then follow Waterloo road all the way into Okarche.  In Okarche, we made a pit stop and refilled the bottles before heading south on Highway 81 to El Reno.  My coach's parents live in El Reno so we made another stop to refill the bottles and jumped in the pool to attempt to cool off for the remainder of the ride.  The water wasn't cool by any means, but the wet bike jersey and tri shorts made for a refreshing few miles before I dried out again.  From El Reno we headed east back to OKC and made a half loop around Lake Hefner before getting back to our cars.  All in all, it was a nice 76ish mile ride in a little over 4 hours.  I really enjoyed riding with this group because everyone was about the same pace and we pushed each other too.  I still felt strong at the end of the ride so this was a big confidence boost in my overall fitness.  I feel like I'm right where I need to be even with the setbacks the last few weeks.  My run fitness obviously isn't there, but there's really not much I can do about that aspect right now.  My swim and bike feel great so I'm happy with 2 out of the 3.  For my first Ironman training cycle, I'll take it.

Here's the disappointing part of the day though.  It's now 7PM in the evening, about 7 hours post ride and my Achilles is pretty sore.  I've also developed a little nodule on the lower outside portion of my right Achilles.  I had a similar issue before my first marathon and it made it nearly impossible to run.  I'm icing, applying the anti-inflammatory cream, and have my compression socks on to help ease the inflammation.  Right now the nodule is small so that's the plus side.  I will definitely be taking tomorrow as a rest day and will resume my elliptical substitution this week.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can continue to manage the Achilles and get in my long rides.  That's my main focus currently.  I'm taking it step-by-step and day-by-day for now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Doctor Visit - It's going to be a tough 6.5 weeks

Yesterday was my visit to my sport's med doctor.  It went just as expected.  The diagnosis was an achilles strain with all of the accompanying inflammation.  He said I didn't have any big nodules or "rice krispy" sounds which meant I wasn't to a point where I needed to be concerned about a tear or rupture.  We chatted a bit about a few options and my current situation.   I made sure he was aware I'm only 6.5 weeks away from Louisville and doing nothing really wasn't an option.  He agreed and said I would need to put in at least another 3 or 4 weeks of solid work before I headed into taper.  After talking a bit, we decided to mimic the regimen I used when I battled with left Achilles problems before my first marathon.  He gave me an Achillotrain brace to wear during everyday activity to ease the burden throughout the day.  He also wrote me a prescription for a topical anti-inflammatory cream and a prescription NSAID.  Basically I'll try to manage the best I can on my own and if conditions warrant, I'll go back in and see if there is something else we can do.  He was honest with me and told me it would probably get worse since the mileage is going to be high.  He said it may limit my training some, but he was confident I could manage it and get through the next few weeks.  I have a follow-up with him about a week and a half before the race and we'll see if we need to do anything else before race day.  He said it may suck and it may hurt, but I'll finish.  Finish is my goal so that's fine by me. 

Last weekend I also found a pace calculator and plugged in some mock times to see what I'd need to do to finish before the 17 hour cutoff.  If I hit my goals for the swim and bike, I can still walk the marathon and get in under the cutoff.  If all else fails, I'll walk it home.  The key is just making sure I get in my bike mileage the next few weeks and am prepared for the 112 mile ride.  Unfortunately, hills on the bike aggravate my Achilles even more so I'm going to skip the hills this week and just try to get in the 4.5 hours I'm scheduled to ride.  The good news is I only have 6.5 weeks until the race.  The bad news is I only have 6.5 weeks until the race.  I'll do my best and see what happens.  I'd appreciate all the positive vibes you can send my way.  I know it's not going to be easy.  No one ever said it would be though.  That's one of the reasons I signed up for this race.  Challenges make us stronger.  Learning to adapt and persevere is key to our success.  I'll learn from this experience and come out on the other end stronger and even hungrier to succeed.  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Forty-Nine Days

It seems so close.  I can't believe it's only seven weeks until my first Ironman adventure will come to a close.  The first seven months of the year haven't been perfect, but this weekend I've taken the opportunity to look back on the first half of 2011.  It's really given me a chance to look at the strides I've made in the sport and helps put my current injury in perspective.  I've set new PR's in several distances, finished my first 70.3 race, and am still at a point where I'm hungry and excited for more challenges.  To me, the eagerness to keep pushing the limits and the dreams of what the future hold are good signs I'm in a healthy relationship.  Sometimes I get so consumed with my training and races that I don't take a step back to examine my life as a whole to make sure I'm keeping a healthy balance.  This weekend has given me an opportunity to do just that and I have to admit I'm very happy with the inventory I took of my life.  I know as endurance athletes we become obsessed with our sport, but in some respects, I think it's necessary.  You have to want to eat, breath, and sleep training to be able to drag your butt out the door when the weather isn't ideal or you are having a bad day.  You have to have that burning desire to keep pushing your limits or you will never succeed.  It's not easy to run a marathon, do a triathlon, or become an Ironman.  A healthy obsession with success is key to your survival.  It's the oil that keeps the engine running.  I know at times we're not the easiest people in the world to be friends with or have in the family, but I try to make sure I share the joy and pain with those around me.  The best memories I have of the last 3 years are the ones where my friends and family have made an effort to get involved and join me on my race adventures: the smiles of my parents and brother after finishing my first marathon; a week in Chicago with my parents and two dear friends; a trip to NYC with my cousin;  a group of friends to share my first triathlon finish with; and a soon-to-be memory of a lifetime when I hug the neck of my parents at the finish line of Ironman Louisville.  I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it.  I'm actually crying right now as I type this entry.  To me, that's when you know you've found something special.  As of now, all signs are pointing up.

As far as this weekend goes, I'm pretty happy with my progress.  The swim and elliptical yesterday really helped quench my thirst for training.  I decided to skip my long bike scheduled for today so I had some free time on my hands.  One goal I've had for the last several months is to make every day count in the road to Louisville.  Every day I make sure to do at least one thing that puts me closer to success on August 28th.  Today was no different.  My task for today was cleaning my bike.  I'm not really good at cleaning and maintaining my bike because quite frankly, I don't really know what I should be doing to maintain it.  They don't give you a lesson in bike maintenance when you purchase your bike so a lot of this I've just learned along the way.  I taught myself how to change a tire on YouTube (Team-in-Training tried to teach me, but I apparently didn't listen well) and today I cleaned my bike after going into my local bike shop for some tips and tools to use during the process.  I ended up buying a chain tool to clean my chain, lubed the chain, wiped down my frame, and tried to get all the sticky gunk off my handlebars.  Triathlon is a messy sport so it took several shop rags to get the job done.  Now I have a squeaky clean bike to take out for my next ride.  I'm hoping that next ride is on Tuesday evening, but we'll see what the doctor says.

I also had a chance to catch up on one of my favorite TV shows of all-time.  Second to ER back in the beginning, Friday Night Lights is hands down one of my favorite shows of all-time.  I absolutely love the show and am very sad to see it go.  Next week will be the final episode in the series.  I'm not sure why this show never caught on with the general public, but it's been a show I haven't been able to stop watching.  My guess is that scheduling is why it never took off completely.  Friday nights aren't really prime time spots in TV viewing land.  It's a shame because it's very well written, touches on several interesting social issues, and always leaves me emotionally invested in the characters.  It's crazy how you become attached to fictional characters and laugh, cry, and cheer for them like they are your own family.  I guess that's what you get when you come across a good show.  The ending of Friday Night Lights will definitely leave a hole in my TV viewing schedule.  Hopefully someone will come along and fill it with another show just as spectacular.  If you haven't watched it, you should do yourself a favor and go pick up the series.  You will be glad you did.

Time to sign off for now.  I'm really going to make an effort to blog more often.  As you can see, I've given 3 updates in 3 days this weekend.  I won't be that active over the next 7 weeks, but I'll at least try to update a few times a week.  I think you'd get pretty tired of me if I updated every day anyway.  Talk to you soon.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

110 Degrees - Inferno

It's official.  Summer 2011 is going in the books as just plain stupid.  Today we broke another record and topped out with a temperature of 110 degrees.  Luckily, all of my workouts were scheduled inside today so I managed to escape the heat for the most part.  Fortunately we haven't broken the all-time record temperature for Oklahoma City yet, which currently stands at 113 degrees.  However, I would not be surprised to see many more records fall this summer.  We are stuck in a drought that's feeding the heat that's feeding the drought.  It's a vicious cycle that doesn't seem to want to end.  I know I said heat acclimation wouldn't be an issue in Oklahoma summers, but this is borderline absurd.  I keep checking the weather in Louisville and notice temps in the 80s/90s with light winds.  I know the humidity will suck, but I'm definitely getting my body ready for the gauntlet of a hot summer day in Louisville. 

Another one of the downsides of this hot, dry summer is that my local open water swim lake is now closed for swimming.  The heat and lack of rain are causing bacteria levels to get out of control and they have closed the beaches.  I'm not overly concerned about open water swimming anymore, but it would still be nice to get in some longer swim practices without a wetsuit.  I'll keep my fingers crossed the beaches open back up soon.  Otherwise I'll be making a little road trip somewhere to get in some lake swimming.  I'll have to make sure to get a volunteer to go with me to keep me safe though. 

Today was supposed to be a run and swim day so I turned it into a swim and elliptical day.  I let myself sleep in a bit this morning and then headed to my work to get in a swim before they started swim classes today.  I've been feeling really, really good in the water lately.  I've actually even gotten to the point where swimming is becoming enjoyable.  It's an odd little thing happening to me here.  I think the injuries and the heat have made me appreciate the cool water and no-impact exercise.  It's something I can do that keeps inching me towards my goal and not negatively impacting my recovery.  Today I swam 2200 meters total and then rinsed off and headed to the elliptical to get in an hour there.  Mentally I dread the elliptical sometimes.  I usually connect the elliptical to injury so I have a negative feeling about it.  However, today was different.  I was in a good place mentally and I enjoyed sweating and listening to my music.  It was nice to get the negativity of Wednesday night out of my body and focus on what I can do.  I'm really trying to not think about my lack of running.  There is absolutely nothing I can do about it now except keep working hard in my other disciplines and focus on recovery.  The faster I can get healthy, the better off I'll be on August 28th.  I've been religiously icing and applying my anti-inflammatory cream to my Achilles.  It's feeling better today, but I'm a long way from healthy.  I'm officially deciding to skip my long bike tomorrow, something I probably should have done a few weeks ago, and will let it rest a few more days.  My doctor visit is on Tuesday afternoon and I'll proceed with caution from there.   It's not an ideal spot in my training plan for me to be injured, but I'm not sure there ever really is an ideal time.  I'll have to bite the bullet and get back on the bike next weekend.  My hope is that taking this weekend off will put me in a better position to tackle the next 7 weeks though. 

Last night a friend shared this video with me on Facebook.  It was the perfect video to get me out of my mental slump and refocus on my goal.  I'll see you in 49 days, Ironman Louisville:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Injuries are frustrating

There's my Captain Obvious quote of the day.  Injuries are frustrating.  Sadly, I have nothing good to report on the injury front.  By this point, I had hoped to be able to share some sign of improvement, but I'm actually going in the other direction.  After altering my bike fit, my ride on Tuesday went fairly well.  I still had some discomfort during my ride, but it was manageable and an improvement.  Wednesday night I went for a quick swim after work and then headed home to give running a shot.  I talked to my coach and we thought it'd be OK to go for a short run to test out the Achilles and see where I stood for my scheduled long run the next day.  I was not very optimistic based on how my Achilles felt all day, but I figured I'd give it a shot anyway.  After 2.75 miles I had to stop running completely and gingerly walked my way home.  It was pretty frustrating to realize how far off I am from actually being able to run and run well.  I really thought I would see more progress, but unfortunately it wasn't time yet.  After limping out of bed on Thursday, I decided it was time to call the doctor.  I now have an appointment with my sports med doctor next Tuesday and will see what my options are for the next 7 weeks.  Fortunately, my sports doc is a multiple Ironman finisher so he knows where I'm coming from when I say I really need help.  I'm hoping he can conjure up something to help speed the healing or at least calm my nerves about the race.  I unfortunately let the negative thoughts creep in on Wednesday night and Thursday.  For the first time since I started training, I began doubting myself and my ability to pull myself together before Louisville.  I have talked myself off the edge, but I know I have a long road ahead of me.  I'm going to have to get really familiar with the pool and the elliptical and hope that I can get in my long rides without too much of a problem.  It might not be pretty in Louisville, but I'm stubborn enough and committed enough to do what's necessary the next 7 weeks. 

Today was also my turn to log my volunteer hours for my company.  Each summer our company gives us 4 hours of paid time off to go volunteer at a local organization of our choice.  This year I teamed up with a few other people from my group and went to an Equine Therapy Center just north of Oklahoma City.  The Center focuses on helping at-risk or disadvantaged kids by having them interact with horses, learn responsibility, and provide a positive environment where they feel safe and can work on their problems.  It was a really cool afternoon.  We cleaned out the horse stalls, bathed and groomed the horses, and put them all in their stalls for the evening.  I could definitely see myself going back up there to volunteer on my own time.  I know they could always use the help and I am able-bodied and willing.  I'm glad our company encourages us to get involved and show support for our local organizations.  Volunteer work definitely makes the world go round.