Tracking

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Yeah, about that blogging resolution....

It's pretty obvious by now that one of my resolutions isn't going to happen this year.  I've been extremely bad about posting on my blog and I'm willing to admit that resolution has been a big FAIL.  I am happy to note that all of my other resolutions are intact and on schedule.   We'll see if I can get back on track with the blogging, but it seems to be the hardest to do.  Sitting on the couch or at my desk at home hasn't been high on the list of things to do lately.  I've downloaded the Blogger app for my iPhone, but I always forget it's on my phone.  I promise I'll try harder.  

As far as running goes, everything is on track for OKC Memorial.  I'm now 6 weeks out from the race and feel healthier than I've ever felt at this point in my training.   Last week was a pretty light mileage week for me because I went skiing in Utah, but I've always been a big believer that a week or two "off" during a long training schedule isn't always the worst thing in the world.  It kinda gives your mind and body a chance to recharge before you hit the home stretch.   In the midst of my low mileage week, I ran a local 5K upon my return from skiing and set a new PR at the distance.   The shorter distance races definitely aren't my strength, especially during a marathon training cycle, but I was pleasantly surprised with my effort.   I also paced with two people who I thought would easily out run me that day and gained some confidence along the way.  I ended up running a 20:48 which averaged out to be about 6:41 min/miles.  Not too shabby.  It also continues to point me in the direction of a big PR at the marathon in a few weeks.

One of the unsung benefits of the Ironman last year is the change of perspective it provided.  Before the Ironman, marathon training seemed much more demanding.   Now it seems even more fun than it was previously.  I've always loved the long runs, but now it just seems so much simpler.  Not that it isn't hard, it just seems more relaxed.  I don't stress about the schedule as much.  I've learned to enjoy the ride more.  I've learned to just appreciate my body's ability to keep doing something I love.   The Ironman training was a gauntlet.  I tolerated the swimming and learned to like the bike.   Marathon training allows me to just run.   It allows me to truly focus on the sport that's changed my life.   The Ironman has allowed me to appreciate it even more.  It's amazing how the Ironman just keeps paying dividends on the time invested last year.   It's one of the reasons I'm looking forward to tackling it again in 2013.   You get out what you put in.  That statement has never been more true.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Countdown to OKC Memorial

This weekend brought me one week closer to the OKC Memorial Marathon.  After Austin, I felt pretty confident in my training and each passing week has kept adding fuel to the fire.   I'm gaining more and more confidence in my running and the training schedule I've laid out for myself.   A few months ago I made a conscious decision to attack this marathon on my own.  I wanted to save some money this year so I opted to go without a coach for the first half of the year to see how I would like it.  Now that I'm entering my 4th year in endurance sports, I felt more confident in my ability to manage my training on my own and still come up with the desired results.  The results I'm seeing in training so far are proving me right.  I know there is still a long way to go until marathon day so I'll keep assessing and adjusting my schedule as we go.  I don't want to peak too soon.   The next 5 weeks will be crucial.  I need to make sure I mix in a few recovery weeks and continue to build mileage the other weeks.   This past week marked my first 30+ mileage week of the training schedule and my legs feel great today.  I knocked out a very nice 18 mile run yesterday morning.   I started out conservatively and then opened up my legs at the end of the run.  I felt awesome at the end and knocked out some sub-8 minute miles to close out the run.   Overall my pace averaged out to be 8:30/miles which is perfect for my training runs.   The focus for the week ahead will be to recover, step back the mileage, and then get ready for the step up to 20 miles in a couple of weeks.  My schedule will be a little off due to some travel, but it won't hurt to give the legs a break at this point in the schedule.  I hope you all have a great start to March.   Run happy friends.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 2012 Charity of the Month : WomenHeart

In memory of my late grandmother, Forrest Nye, I chose WomenHeart as my charity of choice for February 2012.  Forrest fought two tough battles with heart disease before it eventually took her life in July 2002.   I always look back at my grandparents, Jack and Forrest, and hope that one day I find that perfect person in my life, just like they did.   They were the true portrait of true soul mates.   They laughed, loved, and cried together.  They gave life and love to nine kids with limited financial resources.   They both exited this world loving one another with the same fire and passion they shared when they first met.   I can't think of a better charity to chose for February 2012.   If my donation can provide resources for research, patient care, and education for women's heart health, it will have served it's purpose.

Again, I chose this charity after researching women's heart health on www.charitynavigator.org.   It was the highest rated charity I could find in the category.  Here is a brief synopsis of  WomenHeart's mission:

WomenHeart is the only national organization dedicated to promoting women's heart health through advocacy, education and patient support. As the leading voice for the 44 million American women living with or at risk of heart disease, WomenHeart advocates for equal access to quality care and provides information and resources to help women take charge of their heart health. Since our inception in 1999, WomenHeart has been at the forefront of providing support services to women with heart disease and educating policymakers, health professionals and the public about the urgent need to make women's heart health a priority. WomenHeart's mission is to improve the health and quality of life of women living with or at risk of heart disease.

I hope you all had a great February.  It's been a February of loss and love for my family.   We said goodbye to my Granddad Kenneth Sloan on February 10, 2012.   It was a month where we mourned the loss of a loved one, but were able to rekindle many family bonds with family near and far.   Here's hoping for a joyous and happy March.  It'll be a month where I turn the page in my own life.  I'll say goodbye to my 20's and welcome in a new decade.  I'm excited for the many new memories to be made.  Until then, run happy friends.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Livestrong Austin Half Marathon

My apologies for the prolonged hiatus.  The last two weeks flew by and I wasn't home more than a few hours at a time.   With the funeral, travel for the Austin half marathon, work obligations, and training, I really haven't spent much time at home.   It's times like these that I'm happy I have a small apartment and no pets because it would have just added to the list of things to do.   Spring always seems to be the busiest time of year for me.   I think it may finally start slowing down after the marathon.  Until then, I'll just have some fun, train for OKC Memorial, and work my way into a more normal schedule when summer hits.

Last weekend I traveled to Austin, TX, to run in the Livestrong Austin Half Marathon.  I used this as a training run and a gauge for where I'm at in my training.   I left Austin with a renewed confidence in my goals for OKC, but the race itself left a bit to be desired.  I don't know if I'm spoiled from OKC's half marathon but I felt the race wasn't very well ran.  My friends and I got caught waiting in line at the port-a-potties before the start of the race because there were not nearly enough for the amount of runners in the race.   Due to this I started the race way in the back, about 12 minutes after the gun.   I was stuck in a pack of runners who were running around a 2:10 half marathon pace and it forced me to spend most of the race trying to pass people.  I ran most of the race outside of the course so I could have some running space.  I felt really comfortable and controlled when I had some room and felt really strong.   The course is a lot hillier than my normal running routes so the fact I managed a 1:45 with pretty easy effort shows I'm well on my way to running a PR in April.   Another complaint was the lack of warning for water stops.  There were no big signs or visual cues for upcoming water stops and many times I was forced to slow and cut across the course to pick up hydration.  It was another factor in a less than ideal race.   The course was really crowded too.  It rivaled Chicago in the lack of open running space, but you expect that in Chicago where they have nearly 40,000 runners.   Overall I think it's a decent course, I just wish they would address a few issues.  I love Austin so I could see myself running it again, but next time I'll make sure to get there a lot earlier to get in my proper pacing corral.

Yesterday was my most recent long run.  I ran 15 miles at Mitch Park in Edmond, OK, which is a nice trail with some rolling hills.   It was the first time I had run there and I was pleasantly surprised.  It's about a 30 minute drive from my house so it's not a convenient place for me to run, but I definitely see myself going up there on weekends when I need to get in a long run by myself.   You can pretty easily make a 5-mile loop out of the trails system.  The run went really well.  My calf muscles are starting to show some perpetual tightness, but overall I feel pretty healthy.  I'm trying to stretch and foam roll my calf muscles to alleviate some of the tightness, but it's only a small concern at this point.   We're now 8 weeks away from the marathon so the next five weeks will be crucial when I hit my heavy mileage.  I'll start inching up that ladder this week when I am scheduled to run 33 miles.  I'm going to try to squeeze in at least one bike and one swim this week as well.  I have a few evening obligations this week so it may require a few early morning sessions on the trainer and in the pool.  

I'll pick my February charity in the next two days and report back with my choice.   I hope you all have a great start to the week.   Run happy friends.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Running is Therapy

On Friday morning about 9:05 AM, my grandfather took his last breath on this earth.   While his passing was expected, losing a loved one is never easy.   What's even harder is watching those you love in pain.   It broke my heart to see my dad and my granny crying and mourning the loss of their father and their husband.  Hearing my granny asking if it was real when we went to the viewing at the funeral home was one of the toughest moments of this weekend.   My heart broke for her as she realized again that her life was changed forever.   The man she loved for nearly 62 years was gone forever.   No words can help.  You feel powerless.  You just hope that she can find peace and comfort in knowing he's better off now.   You hope that she can get used to her new normal.  You hope she finds a new happy over the coming weeks and months.   The funeral is set for Tuesday when we celebrate his life and mourn his passing.  

Today I set out for a bone-chilling 14 miles.   It was an opportunity for me to clear my head.   Mend some wounds.  It was a time for me to be thankful for my life.   Thankful for being able to breathe in that crisp, cold air.   Thankful for a healthy body that allows me to run.  Thankful for my time to myself when everything makes sense.  I love running.  I love the peace it gives me.  I love how it makes me search deep inside and examine my innermost thoughts and feelings.   Today was one of those days when I came out of my run with a renewed sense of peace and calm.   It helped me grieve in my own way.   I grieved by sweating out my tears.  Pounding out the pain on the pavement below me.   Running is therapy in it's finest form.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Time to Swim

I've waited long enough.  After nearly 3 months of no swimming, I've decided to add swimming back into my rotation next week.  I'm going to use this coming week as schedule prep so I can try to fit in my swims and not give up any of my current workouts.   I'm leaning towards swimming two times a week using my old Team-in-Training Olympic distance training plan with anticipation of doing the Route 66 Olympic triathlon at El Reno, OK, in June.  It'll be a great segway from the OKC Memorial Marathon into the summer triathlon/cycling season.   As much as I haven't missed swimming, I know I need to get back in the water.  It'll be great cross-training and get me ready to cut back on running after the spring marathon.  

On the running front, everything is going really well.  I feel incredibly strong at the moment and am excited about what may happen in April.  I'm trying to be cautious though because I know the next 6-8 weeks are the time when the injuries will try to creep in.  Currently my longest run has been 13 miles this training season so I have a lot of miles left to go.  I'm hopeful I'll continue to stay healthy so I can really show what I can do at the marathon distance.  Please keep sending positive thoughts my way.  Time to finish watching the Super Bowl and get the gym bag packed for pilates and strength training tomorrow.  Run happy friends.

Monday, January 30, 2012

January 2012 Charity of the Month : Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

One of my goals for 2012 is to be more charitable.  Each month I'll pick a different entity to donate money to in an effort to help organizations, events, or causes that have personal relevance.   

The organization I chose for January 2012 is a no-brainer.  My Granddad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2005 and has slowly been losing the battle to the disease.  Our family has watched as his mental state has slowly deteriorated over the past few years to a point where his mental state and ability to function became dangerous to himself and my Granny.  I made a gift to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in an effort to help fund research to find a cure for this horrible disease.  It is such an ugly disease that steals the memories and identities of too many people.   I chose to donate to OMRF because I wanted my money to go directly to research.   For the basis of most of my charitable donations this year, I'll use the CharityNavigator.org website to filter through potential recipients.   When I did a search for Alzheimer's research, the OMRF received one of the top ratings in the US and ultimately received my money due to location and rating on the site.   After working through the OMRF website, I realized that they have made several promising advances in their research.   In an effort to be brief, here is an excerpt from their site:

OMRF is at the center of this struggle, and its scientists are battling Alzheimer’s on multiple fronts. Led by Dr. Jordan Tang, a team of OMRF researchers identified and cloned the enzyme believed to cause the disease, then created an inhibitor to halt the enzyme’s action. Today, an experimental drug based on those discoveries is progressing through human clinical trials. If those trials prove successful, the new drug, known as CTS-2116, could offer the first effective treatment for Alzheimer’s.
OMRF researchers also have achieved promising results from a pre-clinical study of a potential Alzheimer’s vaccine. And they have uncovered a molecular mechanism that provides important clues why certain people are at higher risk for developing the disease.

Results like these are what make my gift meaningful to me.   I want to fund research to help other families who have loved ones that may be at risk for Alzheimer's.  I want to fund research to help fight the disease in my own family if the genetic predisposition to developing this disease has been passed on to others.  I never want to have to go through this again with someone else in my family.  Hopefully a cure will be found soon.

If you have any interest in donating to the OMRF, here is a link to their website and a link to their rating on CharityNavigator.org's site:




Saturday, January 28, 2012

2012 - A Year for More Reading

Another one of my personal goals for 2012 is to read more.   In the past few years, I've read a book here and there, but I've never really considered myself an avid reader.   I've decided to focus more of my free time on reading rather than surfing the internet or watching TV.  As a natural result of Ironman training, my TV viewing has decreased dramatically the last couple of years.   I've paired down the number of shows I DVR and find myself not just mindlessly channel surfing very often.  Instead I've accumulated a number of books I want to read and even pulled out a list of "must-read" books compiled by my favorite college professor at Oklahoma State.  I've hung onto the list all these years because I knew one day I'd want to go back and make an effort to read them.   Currently my goal is to read at least 15 books this year.   I decided on 15 because it will force me to read more than 1 a month which seemed a little too easy.  I've already finished my book for January which was "Catching Fire" the 2nd installment of the Hunger Games trilogy.  Although the Hunger Games books are not hard reads, they are enjoyable and are a good place for me to start as I get back into the habit of reading.   I already have the next few books lined up and eventually will probably get a Kindle or Nook to allow for more convenient access to a variety of books.

On the training front, all systems are a go at the moment.  I just finished up my long run for the week with the local running club.   I ran a little over 13 miles along the Oklahoma River near downtown OKC.   It was a cold, crisp morning with light winds which is nearly perfect for marathon training.   I've been having a little bit of tightness in my right calf so I'll get out The Stick and the foam roller to help loosen it up before Tuesday when I hit the streets again.   The running feels strong though.  I'm pretty happy with where I am currently.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Operation 2012 is in full effect

I know I owe you a post from last week.  I only posted once, so shame on me for missing one of my goals already.  I'll try to make up for it and post three updates this week.  

One of the reasons I was MIA from the blog this week was because I started hammering out (literally and figuratively) one of my big goals for 2012.   One of my main goals was to declutter my apartment and make it a more inviting place.   I had a couple of vacation days I had to burn before my anniversary date (February 1st) so I took off Friday and today to work on my project.  I ordered all new bedroom furniture, a buffet, and a desk from Target a couple of weeks ago.  I wanted something affordable and Target was running a 15% off promotion on all furniture so I ended up with a nice batch of furniture for under $1000.   I bought two six-drawer dressers, one five drawer dresser, a nightstand, and a headboard for my bedroom.  It replaced the current furniture I had in my room and gave me a lot more storage space for my ever-growing collection of triathlon and running gear.  The buffet gave me an area to store my glassware (pilsners, wine glasses, goblets) and wine bottles and make my breakfast nook area more organized.  It also forced me to organize all my bike accessories, nutrition, and miscellaneous endurance sports items.  The desk just gave me an area to organize my computer accessories and give me a place to work when I have to log in from home.   Overall I really like the new space.   The construction/cleaning/organizing process took every bit of 2.5 days.  Finally today I was able to put the finishing touches on everything and can now sit down to write this blog from my new desk.

After 2.5 days of extreme apartment makeover, I finally had a chance to get out and enjoy having the day off.  The weather was beautiful today in OKC so I shook out the legs with a nice 5 mile run at Lake Hefner.  Running in shorts and a t-shirt makes me thankful for the current weather, but also makes me wary of the summer months ahead.   Last summer was brutal for training.  I hope this summer isn't a repeat.  I may officially pack up and move to Colorado if we have another blistering summer.   Other than that, I just cleaned up a bit around the house, went grocery shopping, and enjoyed some downtime.   It's back to work tomorrow for what will undoubtedly be a very busy week.   I'll update again later this week as I pick my charity for Jan 2012.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2012 : A Year for Organizaiton

In most areas of my life I'm fairly organized.  One area where I haven't been is my apartment.  I live in a small 1-bedroom apartment with very minimal storage space.  Anyone who is an endurance athlete knows that the sport is gear intensive.  Over the past 3 years I have definitely outgrown my apartment in it's current state.  I use the living room as bike storage.  I use the bedroom for shoe storage.  I use the breakfast nook for nutrition storage.  I use every square inch of my apartment for storage of some sort....and it still isn't enough.  One of my areas for improvement in 2012 is my organization at home.  I'm determined to declutter my apartment and make it more presentable.  Hiding my endurance sports lifestyle is not an option.  I'm proud of my hobbies/lifestyle and hope to showcase them in a more tasteful way.   To get the ball rolling, I've already purchased a few pieces of furniture which I'll start to assemble this week.  I'm going to gut my bedroom and get rid of excessive clothing, gear bags, shoes, and hats.  I'm going to organize my nutrition in a way that's more presentable and accessible.  I'm going to dedicate a spot for my two bikes where they can serve as both a reminder to get off my butt and a conversation starter when company visits.  I also want to make the living room a functional area for work, study, relaxing, and exercise.  After I'm finished I'm going to have a place that functions well for my lifestyle.  It won't be the nicest place you'll ever visit, but you'll never doubt what I consider a priority in life.  I'm excited to have a "new" home.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2012 : Year for Charity

Another one of my goals for 2012 is to be more charitable.   I donate to various causes throughout the year, but this year I'm going to make a concerted effort to increase my giving through regular charitable donations.  Each month I will select an organization of personal relevance and donate money to that cause.   I've decided not to limit myself exclusively to non-profit organizations, but rather organizations or causes that have personal significance.   This will allow me to openly explore areas of my life where I'd like to give without limitations.   I also will leave the amount open, but I'll set a minimum of $25 each month.   Some months I'll give more based on my current financial situation.   I think this will also allow me to share with you some of my favorite organizations and causes that are dear to my heart.   I hope you'll follow along throughout the year to see which organizations I pick.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012 : Improvement in Marathon Time

One of my main endurance sports goals for 2012 is to improve my marathon time.  Currently my personal best is a 4:02 at Chicago in 2010.  I didn't run a stand-alone marathon in 2011 so my personal best is outdated.   I feel like I have a sub-3:40 in me, but only time will tell if I can actually stay healthy during the training process.  For me the big limiter is my health.  I love to run.   Getting out the door to run is rarely an issue.  I always run into problems with my health.   My weak spot seems to be my Achilles tendons.  I've had problems with both my left and right Achilles tendons over the past 3 years.  The good part of an Achilles injury is that I know how to deal with it and I know I can elliptical myself to a marathon finish.  I'm never going to reach my ultimate goal of the Boston Marathon on an elliptical though.  It has to start with me being disciplined and listening to my body.   I've become a smarter runner over the years, but I still do things I know are wrong.  I toe the line between injury and pushing to myself to become better very closely.  I've yet to find the balance where I don't cross the line into injury during a marathon training schedule.   I'm trying very, very hard to make my 2012 OKC Memorial training program the best one yet.  I feel really strong as a runner right now.  My long runs have been fairly effortless and I seem to be gaining strength/speed thanks to my new workout additions : pilates, yoga, and core.   It's only a matter of time before I put it all together and have a good marathon.  My goal is to make that happen this year.  My original goal is to just break the 4:00 mark.  My big goal is to break the 3:40 mark.  Dream big.  Work hard.  Make it happen.  April 29th, 2012 will be here before we know it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 - A Year for Improvement

One of my goals for 2012 is to blog at least 2 times a week.  I'm trying to make good on that commitment starting now.   I spent last weekend spending time with two very dear friends in Austin, TX, by celebrating a monumental 2011 and ringing in a new chapter.   One of our many discussions centered around 12 in 2012 - our commitment to make positive changes in our life and those around us.  I really, really struggled to come up with 12 specific goals which is odd.  I wrote down 6 things and then left the other 6 open-ended.  An opportunity for me to examine my life and pinpoint areas where I need to be better and grow.   A couple of my goals are fitness-oriented, a couple are charity-driven, a few are personal development related, and the others are more personal matters which probably don't belong on this site.   Over the next few weeks I'll detail a few of my goals and try to track my progress throughout the year.   One of the main themes for 2012 is improvement.   I knocked off a lot of "firsts" the last few years and now it's time to continue to strive to better myself and challenge my mind, body, and soul.   I hope to come out of 2012 a much-improved man.  I hope you all have goals and aspirations for yourself in 2012 as well.   It all starts with taking that first step.   Dream big.  Work hard.  Make it happen.