Monday, November 28, 2011

The journey begins....marathon #4, err #5 I guess.

I never know whether to say I've run 3 or 4 marathons when someone asks my running history.  I've run 3 stand-alone marathons and one marathon during the Ironman.   Does the Ironman marathon count in my marathon tally?  Well, regardless of the number, I am officially embarking on my journey to my next marathon.   This week is the first week of training for my upcoming Austin half marathon and  OKC Memorial marathon plan.   I am 12 weeks out from Austin and 22 weeks from OKC.  It's a little early to be officially starting my training for the OKC race, but the slower build-up of the half training plan will help ease my legs back into training mileage.  Plus, I'm really in need of some structure at the moment so having a schedule will definitely help the type-A personality wanting to come out and play.   I haven't actually registered for either race, but I plan on registering for the Austin race in the next couple of weeks.
I have no real goals for Austin except to have some fun and use it as a good measuring stick for the OKC full.  I don't plan on a PR there but we'll see how things develop the next couple of months.   The great news about both races are that my friends from Austin are going to run both of them.  It's awesome to see my friends adopting the running lifestyle and when I go visit we have another thing in common.   Although we didn't run much this past weekend, we sure talked about it a lot.  We are officially on board for a great 2012 though.   I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving weekend.  Run happy friends.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ironman - It's hard to not dream

Today I've spent most of the day watching footage of Ironman Arizona online.  It's cold and cloudy in OKC today and I didn't really have much planned so it seemed like a perfect day to curl up on the couch, watch some Ironman racing, and keep track of a friend who's there completing his first Ironman.   Watching the races makes it really hard not to dream.   The World Triathlon Corporation does a nice job of strategically placing ads for the Ironman World Championship lottery and links to races that haven't sold out.  It's easy to get lost in the memories of race day and want to sign up again.   I clicked on the lottery application several times and then closed the window.  I clicked the link for Ironman St. George and read through the website.  I even went to Ironman's main website to see which races were still open for registration.   Each time I closed the webpage and made myself quit looking.  

I'm really, really trying to save some money in 2012 and stay focused on the marathon.  It's not going to kill me to wait out another year before I do another Ironman, but the urge to sign up is so strong sometimes.   Quite frankly, sitting out a year will most likely make me even more motivated for 2013.   I think I will bargain with myself and opt to maybe do two 70.3 races next year.  Redman 70.3 is a definite since my employer pays for the entry fee and I may throw in an earlier Ironman 70.3 race like Kansas or Buffalo Springs since they are relatively easy trips for me.   Another option is to do a later season 70.3 such as Austin.   We shall see how the season unfolds.   We all know I've never been one to stay healthy throughout the entire season so injuries will definitely be my limiting factor.  I'm hoping all this yoga, pilates, core, and strength-training work this offseason will help in alleviating some of those problems.  Keeping this weight off will also go a long way in keeping my joints/tendons/ligaments happy.   If the holiday gathering yesterday was any indication of my ability to avoid overeating at Thanksgiving and Christmas then we are in for some big trouble.  Apparently I decided to make up for 7 weeks of good eating by eating everything in sight.   It's obvious why I can't keep cheat foods in my house.   Out of sight, out of mind.  Back to work tomorrow.  I'll try to be good for 3 days before Thanksgiving II occurs on Thursday.  The good news is that I'm Austin-bound for a few days after that with full intentions of being active and healthy.  It's hard to go to Austin and not want to run and play in the fall/winter.   It's going to be beautiful weather!

I want to wish everyone a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.  I hope you eat well, stay active, and spend time with those important to you.   As evidenced by another horrible plane crash that affected my Oklahoma State family, we are never guaranteed another day.   Embrace life and make the most of it.   We will remember : Kurt Budke, Miranda Serna, Olin Branstetter, and Paula Branstetter.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ironman Louisville Highlight Video

I was surfing around Facebook today and noticed that someone had posted a highlight video of Ironman Louisville 2011.   Apparently Ironman just posted it to their site within the past couple of days.   As I watched the video it brought back so many emotions:  pride, joy, desire, eagerness, restlessness, envy.  The pursuit of the Ironman tested me on so many levels.  I miss it.  I envy those who are about to do Ironman Arizona.  I'm proud of what I accomplished.   I still get tears of joy when I think about those last few steps.  I'm eager to do another one.  I'm also getting restless.

I'm getting to a point in my "offseason" where I'm ready for more structure.  I'm ready to have a schedule.   Something to help me improve.  The last 7 weeks or so I've been flying by the seat of my pants and just doing whatever I feel like.   It's mostly consisted of shorter workouts and not much swimming or biking.  I've been running at least 3 times a week.  I've been doing some strength-training.  I've tried to swim when I could force myself into the pool.  I've been oddly absent from the bike though.  I don't really have a reason.   It's just kinda happened that way.   My goal is now to get back on a schedule post-Thanksgiving.   I'll pick up my half-marathon training plan for the Livestrong Austin Half Marathon in February and really start focusing on getting back into a regular triathlon offseason schedule.  I'll still do yoga.  I'll still do pilates.  I'll still strength-train as well.  I also will make sure I'm adding back in swimming and biking as I strive to come out of this offseason faster and stronger in all three disciplines.

One area that's been highly successful for me is weight loss/management.  I'm now at a weight that I haven't seen since junior high.   I stepped on the scales on Monday and weighed in at 173 pounds.   I've lost 20 pounds over the course of the year, most of it coming the last 7 weeks as I've really buckled down on my nutrition.  I've been eating lots of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy.  I've limited alcohol intake and have virtually cut out all forms of junk food and mindless snacking.   It's been a huge boost to my motivation and focus.  I can see the results and know that when I start training again that running, biking, and swimming with 20 less pounds is going to make a huge difference.   The next month and a half will be a challenge with all of the holiday celebrations, but I'll do my best to come out on the other end in a good spot.   Boston qualifying isn't going to happen if I can't continue to lean up and stay on the right track.   I'm focused and ready.  2012 is really going to be a great year.

Here is the Ironman Louisville 2011 Highlight Video.  Enjoy:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Oklahoma State is 10-0 ; Early Season Race Schedule

For the first time in school history, Oklahoma State is 10-0 in college football.  It's a great time to be a Cowboy fan!  As a proud alum, it's hard for me not to boast a little about my alma mater.  We are inching closer and closer to a very special season.  Two more games left.  Only two more games.  The tension and anticipation are mounting in Orange Country USA.  Go Pokes!

This week I also have nailed down my first few races of the 2012 season.   I've decided to run the Livestrong Half Marathon in Austin, Texas, on Feb 19, 2012, and the OKC Memorial Full Marathon on April 29, 2012.   I've wanted to run the Austin race for a couple of years and it finally is going to work well in my schedule.  I have a free place to stay in Austin so it will be an easy, relatively inexpensive trip.  I am finally going to run my hometown marathon this year as well.  I'm excited to train and race in OKC next year.  Lately I've been doing some runs on the last few miles of the course to help visualize myself shattering my old marathon time in the first steps towards my goal of qualifying for Boston.   I think my familiarity with the course and local weather conditions will really help me formulate a strong race strategy.   My coach really set me up for success this past year running the half marathon in OKC and I expect to fully utilize his knowledge in 2012.  

The back half of 2012 is coming into better focus.  I think I've decided to do the Redman 70.3 triathlon in OKC next September as a way to effectively utilize the summer months when running becomes less enjoyable. It will also help me continue to improve upon my triathlon base and set me up to tackle another Ironman in 2013.  After Redman 70.3, I may run another marathon if I stay healthy and there are several options that would be relatively easy trips:  Route 66 in Tulsa, White Rock in Dallas, Prairie Fire in Wichita, and Kansas City marathon.   I'll also throw my name in the hat for the NYC Marathon again and try my luck.  The rest of the year I plan to fill in with some local races I normally do like Run for Lucky 5K, Redbud 10K, Route 66 Triathlon, and a couple of cycling tours.   It should be a good way for me to stay active and not break the bank after two pretty expensive years in 2010 and 2011.   This sport can get expensive in a hurry if you don't watch out.  It's time to take advantage of the free race entries provided by my employer.

It's time for me to get back to watching some college football and trying to sift through some old training plans to get some workout ideas for the next couple of weeks.  I'll officially start my training for the Austin half marathon the week after Thanksgiving.  I'm excited to get back into a running training program.   It's been way too long.   Run happy friends!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


During this offseason, I've really had a chance to evaluate my current state of mind as it pertains to endurance sports.  I've been able to do a little soul searching with the extra time on my hands and really start thinking about the future.  I feel like at this point in my endurance sports career I'm at a crossroads.  I've conquered most distances in running and triathlon outside of ultra-endurance events.   I do have a desire to do ultra events in the future, but I feel like I need to get a few more years under my belt before I even think about attempting one.  That brings me to a point now where I need to decide what my goal is over the next few years.  Do I just want to stay active and participate in marathons and triathlons or do I really want to get to work and push myself to reach new heights?   Do my goals become just a desire to complete certain races or do I really shoot for the moon and try to push my body?

I know as endurance athletes we live a life that's hard to keep balanced all the time.   Training takes priority over certain areas of our life and it's a sacrifice to stay healthy, active, and ready to race throughout the year.   It's no secret that to get better you have to put in the time and work.   This is where I decide I'm willing to put in that time and work.   I love this sport.  I love the way it challenges me and pushes me to expect better in all areas of my life.  The confidence I've gained the past three years was something I struggled to gain the 26 years prior.   Before endurance sports, I was constantly fighting an inner battle with myself.  I lacked confidence in many areas of my life.  I knew I was smart.  I knew I worked hard.  I just didn't know how to harness my full potential.  I was scared to make mistakes and scared to fail.  I rarely went out on a limb and threw myself out there to hurt, to fail, to really feel something.   This lack of confidence kept me from realizing my full potential.  I look back now and see many crossroads in my life where I took the safe route; missed opportunities to really do something special.  This time I'm not playing it safe.  I'm going all in.  I want to qualify for Boston.  I know I'll fall down and have to pick myself back up.  I know it won't be easy.  I know I'll put in the work though.  I know I'll make it happen.    

To some, this may seem easy.   Some people qualify in their first marathon.  I didn't have the luxury of a strong running background.  I grew up overweight and didn't run until I finally woke up in Feb 2009.   My current personal best at the marathon is a 4:02 in Chicago last year.   To qualify for Boston I need to run a 3:10 to even have the chance to register.  To actually get into Boston in 2012 I would have had to run a 3:08:46.   You can see I have a lot of work ahead.   I don't expect this to happen overnight.  I actually think it will take me a couple of years.   Realistically I can expect to run about a 3:40 marathon based on my latest half marathon results in 2011.  The road to Boston starts now.   Yes, I'll still be doing triathlons.  Yes, I still plan on doing more Ironman races.  For now, my goal for 2012 is to get faster and start chipping away at that marathon time though.  I'm working on my race schedule for next year as we speak.   I have my early season races pretty much nailed down.  It's the back half of the year that has me still looking.   More details to come soon.  

Dream big.  Work hard.  Make it happen.  - Boston or Bust