Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reflection on the Year

My 2010 racing season was like a roller coaster. The first race was the marathon back in January. I knew going into it that it would probably be my last one. For now I am happy to say that I am still 'retired' from the distance. The only way I will commit to running 26.2 miles is if I sign up for an iron distance race.

My triathlon season was pretty successful. Out of 4 races, I placed in my division in 3 of them. My last triathlon in September didn't turn out exactly as I hoped, but I crossed the finish line with a desire to work on my shortcomings. And throughout the fall things started to turn around. In 4 different distances, I set 4 PR's. In all honesty, my good fortune caught me by surprise. And it motivated me to work even harder. Sometimes the stresses from my last semester prevented me from hitting all workouts, but I did what I could with the time I had. I am excited that even though I started 2010 on a downswing, it's ending with things heading up.

The 2011 racing season is right around the corner and my schedule is pretty much set. The bonus this year is I won't have homework or constant studying during the spring. I am also making a commitment to my swimming. 2006 was my best swim season and the reason was because I swam early and consistently. I signed up with a masters swim club and swam one session with them already.

So if I want to improve my standing in the races, I have to put in solid training in all 3 sports from the start. The past few years swimming took a back seat but not anymore. There are plans in place to improve all 3 disciplines.  This year will be a full blown assault on the season. Before each race I will set a goal of something to be accomplished. There is no more showing up and just 'participating' this year. I mentally feel ready to focus on what it takes to get to the next level in racing. So who's with me?!?!?!?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Working out the kinks

The last few days have been crazy. We stayed home Sunday while it snowed. I was forced to run on the hamster wheel treadmill instead of outdoors. That was two days in a row that I was indoors. Cabin fever set in big time and I was eager to get out of the house. Monday morning our neighbor came by and used his snowblower to clean our driveway and walkway. What a relief that was. Then we took the Element out for a ride just to get out for a little while. I needed a change of scenery.

We drove around town, grabbed lunch and Wingman dropped me off and then went to work. I grabbed a shovel and cleaned up the rest of the driveway. The hardest part was the end of the driveway where the plows leave snow. But since I didn't have to shovel the entire driveway, I wasn't about to complain. I just paced myself and considered it my weight training for the day.

Yesterday I drove out to Hewlett to visit with some friends. My 'little' friend, who's not little anymore :-( is almost 21. Zoinks! I could go on and on about with "I remember when she was this big"stories, but I will spare her from any public embarrassment. Her family and I went to lunch and then drove around a little while looking for places to take pictures. I had a few ideas for photos, but with all the snow, it made it hard to do. So we went back to their house and I swapped lenses, handed her the camera and set her loose on some stuff.  She did a nice job. Her stuff came out really nice and I gave her digital copies of all the pictures.  We had fun and it was great seeing her again. When the weather gets nicer we'll plan a trip out this way and head further east for some photo opportunities.

This morning the Wingman and I went out to run. We drove to another part of town where the shoulders are wide and clear of snow. Plus there wasn't a ton of traffic to deal with either. I had a 45 minute 'easy' run planned. It started out as anything but easy. But I am starting to learn to be more patient at the beginning of my runs. In the past, if I started sluggish or feel slow, I would get aggravated with myself and have a bad run. Now, I find myself a little more forgiving about it and it keeps me relaxed. By the 2nd mile, I was moving along with ease. Before I knew it I was at the turn around and heading back to the car.

We got home and I enjoyed a nice hot shower. Then it was off to the stores for food shopping and then home again. My shoulder was sore from the snow shoveling the other day. It's a little hard to work on your own shoulder, but I did some soft tissue work on my pec minor/major and that relieved a bit of my soreness. I whipped out my foam roller and massage ball to work out some trigger points near my right scapula. Then I did some stretches for my neck and shoulder. I also have some glaring muscle weaknesses to address.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Torte Reform

Well, maybe not that kind of torte reform. I decided to try my hand at making a torte for Christmas Eve dinner at Dolores and Lou's. Last year I made a triple chocolate mousse cake. Each year I like to do something new, so a torte was in order. The one I settled on was a Chocolate-Raspberry Torte.

 Always start with the best chocolate, never skimp

Mmmm, chocolate and butter melting

Chocolate, butter and espresso 

 Flour and almond mix

 Baking rounds filled with parchment

 Half of the torte assembled with raspberry mix

 Torte assembled prior to ganache

 Oh yeah, more chocolate and heavy cream

Raspberries totally make this healthy

Transferred to the cake carrier, ready for departure

The torte was a hit at dinner last night. Of course there are little things here and there I could improve upon, but I didn't hear anyone complain about. So now I have to start planning next year's dessert!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The things I do......

Tuesday was a bizarre day for working out. I got up with the Wingman and we went on a 60 minute run. I opted to go the route he had planned. The wind was howling, but I thought it wouldn't be too bad. What's a little wind, right? I could only wish it was a little wind. On the way out I had the wind at my back and could feel it pushing me a long. Even running up a hill didn't feel too bad. But then the inevitable turnaround was coming. I knew I'd have to run into the wind to get home. Running back up a hill into the wind is no picnic. It was like a treadmill workout. My legs are going, but I felt like I was stuck in place. The last 3 miles was brutal. I was working so hard to hold a super slow pace. I tried to run faster to get home faster, but that wasn't happening. I could feel my eyes tearing up from the wind and it streaking down my face. Good thing it wasn't too cold so it didn't freeze.

When I finally got home, it was such a relief. I hopped into the shower to warm up and then went about my busy day. Dropped the Wingman's bike off at the bike shop and did a little light shopping. Then I came home and continued my cleaning.

For the evening, I had something planned that would cement my status as HOTS. After not swimming since September, I went to a masters swim workout. Oh yeah, chalk up another notch in my HOTS belt.

When I got to the pool, I told the coach on the deck that I needed the 'slackers' lane. It was a slow night so I had a lane to myself. She then instructed me to do an easy 200yd warm up. Piece of cake I thought. Finish my 200, then she tells me the next set. I do that and still feel kind of OK. All throughout she was watching my swim stroke and offering me advice on how to correct stuff. First thing she wanted was for me to start breathing on both sides. What?!?! I only breathe on the right. When I try on the left, I sink. But I figured I should try it so I don't look like a pain in the ass on my first night. And what a sight I was. If they had a lifeguard there, he probably would have thought I was drowning and rescued me. What a pathetic sight I must have been. But the coach gave me some more tips and sent me out for the next set in the workout. Huh? It must be close to the end of the session, right? Wrong. Still plenty of time to add to my misery. 

The sets just kept coming. And I kept suffering. And I swear the pool clock at one end of the pool is faster than the other end. When I would stop for my 10 sec rest interval in the deep end, the second hand seemed to be moving too fast. When I had my rest intervals in the shallow end, the clock seemed to be moving slower. I like that clock.

Finally at the end of the night, I lost count how many yards I actually swam. I was more concerned with how I was getting out of the pool without using my arms. Thank goodness the shallow end is really shallow so I didn't have far to lift myself to get out. I went into the locker room to change. I can only imagine how ridiculous I looked trying to put my sweatshirt on without lifting my arms. I put the arms through first and then bent over at the waist to wiggle my head up into the shirt. I could bend my arms at the elbow, but over the head was not happening.

This was an appropriate shirt for me last night

I bid the group farewell and said I would be back Thursday. I should be able to move my arms by then. Leaving the pool was another story. I get to the door that takes you out to the parking lot but it doesn't open. I push again. Not opening. Weird, I just saw people go out that door and there's another guy waiting behind me to leave. I had to lean into the door to get it to open. That's how pathetic I was after the session. I made my way to the car and drove myself home. Needless to say I slept like a baby last night. I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.

What I looked like after the swim session

Monday, December 20, 2010

My First Day Off

So this morning I still managed to wake up early, despite not having classes. I would prefer to keep my body clock on school time so when my clinical starts in two weeks it won't be a major adjustment.

With the holidays coming up I got a jump on my food shopping and meal planning for the weekend. I took a ride up island to Trader Joe's and was scared when I first pulled up. It was gone. Then I saw a note on the door that they moved to a shopping center behind the mall. Phew. I drove over and was able to pickup what I needed. The new store is nice and big. Very well lit.

From there I headed home and grabbed my gift certificate to PC Richards. I got it in my race goodie bag this summer and it was expiring soon. I've had my eye on a Blu-ray DVD player with networking built in. This one has wired and wireless ports. I got it home, unpacked and setup in less than 10 minutes. I setup my Netflix account and now I am streaming movies to the TV. Piece of cake. Right now I am watching "My Cousin Vinny". What a good film.

"Imagine you're a deer, you're prancing along, you get thirsty, 
you spot a little brook, you put your little lips down 
to the cool clear water.....BAM...a fuckin' bullet rips off part of your head. 
Your brains are lying on the ground in little bloody pieces.
Now I ask you, would you give a fuck what kind of pants the
son of a bitch who shot you was wearing.?"

I will spend the rest of the day cleaning and putting my books and notes away. I know, I lead an exiting life.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A bunch of ho's.......

Yesterday the Wingman and I went out to Bethpage for a 5k race. Wynn & Teresa came out as well to join in the festivities. It's quite the atmosphere since it's a holiday race. People come down dressed in costumes and sometimes we even get snowfall for the race. It didn't snow this year, but there was plenty of cheer. The weather was actually nice for this time of year. Probably around 32 degrees at the start.

The race consists of two loops with an added section on the 2nd loop. Prior to the start, I took my spot in the front 3rd of the pack. There were 1058 people in the race and I didn't want to get caught behind any walkers. When the horn went off, I started my Garmin and took off down the road. It's a bit of a narrow start so you have to be patient and wait for some open space. Well, one douchebag in a Team Runners Edge jacket clearly wanted no part of waiting. I felt his forearm on my shoulder and next thing I knew he shoved me hard out of his way. Now, I understand sometimes you use an elbow to maintain your position. But why would a grown man shove a woman out of his way just to get slightly ahead? I managed to stay on my feet, but now I was filled with rage. I chased him down the road and plotted my revenge. I seriously thought about jumping on his back and taking him down. Or pull his coat over his head and pummel him with a few punches. Or just trip him. I ran behind him for a little bit and he had no idea of what could be in store for him. Instead, I asked the running gods to let a boil appear on his ass and fester for a few weeks.

When we made the first turn I settled in and tried to let it go. I made it around to the back side of the course and when I approached mile 1, I hit my lap button on my watch. Or so I thought I did. I wound up hitting the stop button instead. Whoops. Realized it about 1 minute later. Started it back up again.

Came around for lap #2 and was flying by all the spectators that lined the course in front of the school. Then we had to cut into a small development and run around a circle. I stayed close to the curb to keep the distance that I have to run to a minimum. Problem was two small kids had the same idea and boxed me in. I had one in front and one to the side. Really?!? I debated what to do. I didn't want to slow down to drop back and then come around them. And there was no room to cut between them on the angle. Then I remembered a quiz I took about how many five year olds I can take in a fight. These two weren't five, but they were small. I could pick the kid up that was next to me and throw him at the girl in front of me and take them both down. But then again, I think I would have gotten a major ass kicking by the crowd. So I waited patiently and the boy dropped off and I was able to get out.

When I made my way around the back side of the loop, I could feel a massive energy drain. The last few weeks of school stress and decreased training volume were catching up with me. I knew I just had to hang on for another half mile or so.

With about .3 miles to go, I felt something hitting my ankle. I looked down and my show lace came undone. Crap! Decision time - stop to tie it, take the shoe off and run, or just keep running. I went with option 3 - just keep running. I knew the final sprint was out of the question with a loose shoe but I made the best of it. Crossed the finish line 20 seconds slower than my PR, but going into the race, I knew a PR was not even an option.

Wynn had already finished so I went back to stand with him and wait for the Wingman and Teresa to finish. Afterwards we went inside to grab something to eat and wait for the raffle. The food line was long but we managed to get in. They had the most wonderful looking cupcakes and they were HUGE!! Teresa and I stood there and drooled, but stayed strong and didn't get one.

The raffle was uneventful. None of us won the TV or the camera or anything else for that matter. Once it was over, we drove to Holbrook for a post-race/pre-birthday lunch at the diner for the Wingman. Teresa filled us in on her first marathon she ran last month. We reviewed each other's racing schedules and what is on tap for next season.

For now, I have two weeks off and then I start my clinicals. No more classes for me. Ever (except continuing education stuff). So I have two solid weeks to get ready to ramp up for my 2011 training to begin. I have a race in early Janauary (10 miler) that I am excited for. It's just a training race, but a good barometer of where I stand to prepare for my 1st 'A' race of the season in April.

Bring on 2011!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


"The individual nature of running appealed to me. You start at the same place with 
your fellow runners. You all finish at the same place. How you do is largely up to
you. If you win, you congratulate yourself. If you lose, you evaluate how
to improve. You can't make excuses like "he didn't pass me the ball" or 
"the coach didn't put me in." It's on you. That's the beauty of the sport.
                                                         - Meb Keflezighi

Hard to believe

It's been 30 years since John Lennon was murdered outside his apartment in NYC. Rolling Stone magazine is releasing the entire transcript from his last interview 3 days before he was killed.  In an excerpt I read, some of what he says is pretty eerie. His comment about the fans criticizing him for his 5 year hiatus:

"What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean," he said. "I'm not interested in being a dead f------ hero ... so forget 'em, forget 'em."

And his talk about touring again: 

"But there will be no smoke bombs, no lipstick, no flashing lights. It just has to be comfy. But we could have a laugh. We're born-again rockers, and we're starting over ... There's plenty of time, right? Plenty of time."

We only wish he had plenty of time. It would have been great to see him reinvent himself over the years. He was an amazing songwriter and musician.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust

Wingnut runs warily down the street with the brim pulled way down low
Ain't no sound but the sound of her feet, machine gun's ready to go.
Are you ready? Hey, are you ready for this?
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?
Out of the doorway the bullets rip to the sound of the beat, Yeah
Another one bites the dust, Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey  I'm gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust

OK, so the words changed a little, but you get the feel of the mood I'm trying to create here. I had a little swagger yesterday morning heading into the 5k Turkey Trot. I had the latest PR on tap. The string of PR's started with the 10 miler, then the 10k and 4 miler. 5k was left on my list. It felt a little cold out, but I knew once I was running, the flames from my shoes and the burning rubber would keep me warm.....OK, OK, so I'm not that fast but a girl can dream can't she?

Me and my target (I'm on the right in case you were confused)

Wingman and I hung out in the car for a little while before the race and went through the goodie bag. I did this race last year and knew the race organizers always put some nice stuff in there. And this year they did not disappoint.

Once we got closer to the starting time, I changed into my running shoes, put on my gloves and made my way out to the starting line. I found a nice place closer to the front. My only gripe was the race start was 15 minutes late. That meant I was standing around for an extra 15 minutes waiting. I kept looking at my HR on the display and it would not stay up. I kept hopping in place to keep it elevated and was worried that I was wasting energy. I didn't want to leave my spot because there were over 1,000 people at this race. 

When the gun went off I was flying down the road. This race is really short so there's not much strategy that I can use. Just go out fast, hard and try to hold it. I weaved through a few people and stayed out of harms way of the faster runners passing me. There were a few turns on this course, but not nearly as many as last weeks race. We cruised down towards the Great South Bay and then back north. When I came up to the 1 mile marker, I saw what my split was. I really wasn't sure what my pace would be for this race so I just figured I would keep running as hard as I could. I also looked over my shoulder (which I usually don't do) and what do I see? Wingman is right behind me. I did a double take as I was surprised to see him running with me. Not only was I chasing my own PR, but I was looking to break the House Record that he happens to hold. Panic set in. What if he stayed with me the whole time? Would he keep quiet behind me and then pounce near the finish line? Oh no, not on my watch! I was now running scared.

I knew now I could not slow down. I kept going and a little further down the road I looked back again and I didn't see the Wingman. But I didn't rest easy. I didn't look far over my shoulder so he could still be lurking. When we rolled through mile 2, I knew I was still making good time. I did some quick math to see what time I would possibly finish in. I knew, barring a meltdown, I could PR, but would I steal the house record as well? Only time would tell.

The last mile was hard. It started with a slight decline so I used it to get some free speed. The it flattens out and goes around the block. The around the block section disoriented me. I was tired and when I was running down the last straightaway, I swear I kept thinking we had to make one more left turn to get to the finish. I kept running down the road and then about a few hundred yards from the finish, I saw the finish line. No left turn necessary. 

I put my head down and just hammered it home with whatever gas I had left in the tank. I knew the PR and house record were in the bank. I crossed the finish line and felt a little sick from the effort. At that point if I bent over to take off the timing check I would have taken a header. I walked it off a little and then took the chip off. Wingman came over a little after me and had a great race as well. We both had finishing times better than we expected.

It's been a wild month of running for me. 4 PRs for 4 different distances. I am excited with the progress I've made and how it will play into my plans for next season. It's been a long time coming. Over the summer I was growing frustrated with my running times. 

" doesn't get easier, just faster."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

On the hunt

When we last left the PR hunter, the 10 mile and 10k PR's went down without much of a fight. Today, I lined up on the starting line for the 4 Miler in Lynbrook. Would I be able to line it up in my sights and take it down? Would a PR prove to be too elusive and escape from my grasp? Only time will tell.

It was pretty cold at the start. I had to put on some gloves to race in just to keep my fingers warm. I had two shirts as well. I took a spot somewhere near the front as I didn't want to lose much time from the start. Once the gun went off, I was flying down the road. I was able to get a clean start and was off and running without wasting energy weaving in and out of people. The course was a little different from last week's 10k course. This one had about 512 turns in it. Well, maybe not 512, but it sure felt like it. There was never a long straightaway so I was OK with all the turns. The race director does a great job on the course. At every turn, there is a volunteer holding a sign with an arrow that says "Turn Right" or "Turn Left". Each intersection was well protected. Even the people that live in the neighborhood were out and cheering the racers on.

As I turned off Merrick Road, I found my rhythm and settled into my race. I had no goal pace since it was such a short race. I just went out hard and focused on hanging on. As I made my way towards the park I noticed a guy running on my right. He was running my speed and coming closer. It was rather odd. I am not sure why he was running towards my line since I was on the left side of the road and there was a right turn coming. I made sure I held my line since I was there first and just put my elbow out a little as I ran to let him know I wasn't going to budge. I think he got the sign, but he stayed with me the next ~2 miles.

I was so focused how I was feeling that I completely missed the 1 mile marker. I wanted to record my splits on the watch. Oh well, I will get it at mile 2 and the rest of the markers. With my 'shadow' running with me, I continued onward. When I got to the 2nd mile marker, I was shocked at my time. I came through about a minute faster than I thought I would. Zoinks! Now the pressure was on. The PR was up ahead and I was lining it up in my sights. Would I be able to take the shot and bring it down? I had to hold on for another 2 miles to find out.

It was at this point that I realized something. In the past, I always looked for my Tony. I always tried to find that person that I wanted to beat so I could be motivated. But this time something was different. For the last few races I didn't look for Tony. Somehow I became Tony. I was now running myself down. I was the one to beat. I've changed my whole mindset when it comes to running and it is paying off. A breakthrough.

As I rolled into mile 3, I noticed my 'shadow' dropped back a little. He slowed down for water and I opted to keep on going. For a 4 mile race, unless it's hot, I don't need anything to eat or drink. I knew I couldn't let him make it back up to me. I marked the split and knew this last mile had to count. The only trouble in the last mile, besides my legs hurting, was the wind. We finally had a headwind to deal with. I knew I had to work harder now to maintain my pace and keep the 'shadow' at bay. I had the PR lined up and was ready to take the shot. I was getting disoriented on the race course with all the turns we were making. I had no idea what direction I was heading in. I just followed the crowd and the volunteers that told me when to turn. I guess you could call the volunteers my human GPS system.

I got to the final straightaway that was ~1/4 mile long. I could see the finish line and was plotting out when I would pick it up. When I made my 'move' I ran hard to the finish. I held off the 'shadow' and more importantly, I took down another PR. This time I shaved 3 minutes off my 4 mile PR. The PR hunter was victorious again!

After I crossed the finish line, I met up with my friend Jennifer. She lives in the next town over and came down to cheer the Wingman and I on. She also doubled over as the 'official' photographer. Once the Wingman crossed the finish line, we went into the gym to warm up and then we went out for breakfast. The food was good and conversation was great. The only downer to the breakfast was they were playing Christmas music. Really?! It's not even Thanksgiving yet and we have to be subject to this torture? Bah humbug I say.

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer C.

So, what's next for the PR hunter? Hey 5k PR!! Yeah you. I'm talking to you. You can run, but you can't hide...........

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Interesting Quote

"It's very hard to understand in the beginning that
the whole idea is not to beat the other runners.
Eventually you learn that the competition is
against that little voice inside you that
wants to quit."
                                        - Dr. George Sheehan

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The PR Hunter

This morning I was in hot pursuit of the elusive 10k PR. Last month my attempt at the Entenmann's 10k came up 6 seconds short. I worked hard over the last month honing my speed skills while focusing on the 10k today. After a great run at the Army 10 Miler, I had a bit of a swagger going into this race.

Slip inside the eye of your mind
Don't you know you might find
A better place to play
                               - N. Gallagher (Oasis)

On all my runs leading into this race, I kept seeing myself running fast, (OK, maybe not fast, but fast for me) feeling strong, and crossing the finish line in PR time. The course is super flat and fast, my preference for running. Wingman and I got to the race early to check in and find some parking. It was not hard to find the place. There were American flags everywhere, fire trucks all over the road, and the Patriot Guard riders parked on the side of the road. Check in was fast and smooth. We went back to the car to rest up a little and then made our way back for the pre-race ceremony. The race is run by the "Hope for the Warriors" foundation and helps wounded soldiers and their families when they return home from war. Once the ceremony was over, they explained the start line procedures and where to line up. Each starting line (5k and 10k) were marked by fire trucks on the road. The start of the race would be signaled by the siren on the trucks. We made our way down the road and waited it out. My goal was to start near the front but I wasn't too worried since I saw the race would actually be chip timed. Phew, no start line disasters. Well, there was one disaster. Remember when I said the fire engine sirens would signal the start of the race? Well, the "Hero of the Stupid" (HOTS) here lined up next to the fire truck. When the siren went off, I almost dropped to my knees while grabbing my ears. Holy christmas it was loud. I took off like a bat out of hell to get away from it. I thought I was safe until I passed through the 5k starting area and those sirens were blaring too. My whole head was ringing. I thought for sure what little hearing was left in my 'good' ear was gone. All I know was I was flying to get away from the sirens.

Once I was clear of the noise, I settled down a little. I didn't want to blow the race early. The first part of the race takes you down Sunrise Highway towards Wellwood Ave. It was pretty cool that they closed down some major roads for this race. As I made my way to the cloverleaf to turn onto Wellwood, I checked my pace and saw it was a little too fast. At this point I had to make a decision. Do I want to slow down and pace it right or just keep on going and try to hang on. I was actually feeling good and the pace that was set for my 1st two miles felt a little too slow but it would help me on the back end. Hmm, what would HOTS do? You betcha, I kept on running.

Wellwood Ave was nice. There were a lot of spectators out cheering the racers on. The police did a great job controlling traffic and there were more fire trucks out there. Thank goodness the sirens were silent now. Or maybe I was completely deaf, not too sure. I kept assessing how I was feeling and so far, so good. I knew with the current pace a PR was in the bag. As long as I don't do something stupid.

We continued south until Hoffman Ave. I turned left under the railroad tracks and headed east. I had checked out the course map prior to the race and this section concerned me the most. It was well over a mile of straight line running with not much to see. Thank goodness there were some spectators out cheering us on. I saw an aid station coming up and I was thinking about a quick swig of water to rinse out my mouth, but they ran out of cups and were handing out 16oz bottles. I couldn't be bothered trying to handle it while running so I passed up on the aid station. Before I knew it I saw the 3 mile marker. I did my first time check to see how I was doing. When I saw my time I had mixed emotions. I was happy that I was running so fast, but I was a little nervous about what the second half had in store for me. No time to worry, I was in hot pursuit of a PR. Tunnel vision was starting to set it. Eye on the prize.

The chase led me down to Great East Neck Road which would merge into 109. This time the aid station had cups. I grabbed a cup and took a sip then poured the rest down my back and ditched the cup. Right by the merge with 109 is the 4 mile marker. I again did a time check and saw my pace was still quick. Only 2.2 miles to go. I was seriously thinking that this pace was too hard to hold on to, but there was no way I could back down now. When I looked at the time again, I started to do my running math. The original time goal I set was changing as I ran. I had a chance to go ~2 minutes faster than I previously set my goal for. As long as I don't do something stupid............

I could feel my legs getting heavier with each step. It's like all the blood that was pumping out of my legs was being replaced with lead. I was never happier to get to the 5 mile mark. The end was getting closer. Actually, the hardest part of the race was coming. There was the overpass on 109 to climb to get over Sunrise Highway. With the fatigue setting in and less than half a mile to go, this small bump in the road almost brought me to a screeching halt. It was so hard to get to the top and all I kept thinking was how great the downhill will be and all the time lost going up will be made up coming down. At least that's what I was hoping for. At the top of the overpass you get into the cloverleaf to get onto Sunrise again. 

When I got to the highway again, I could see the fire trucks with the flags. The finish line was in sight. I could see people turning on the speed as they made their way down the stretch. I picked it up a little but could not match their speed. My lead filled legs had paid the price for my aggressive race. I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. I was stunned at the time. I had the PR in my sight and took the shot. The PR hunter was successful. I was over 5 minutes faster than the Entenmann's 10k only a month earlier. I honestly didn't think I would be that fast. I knew after today's race that I laid it all out.

Today's race was a solid effort. Maybe I went out a little too fast, but I think I managed to hang on and maintain my pace throughout. The running is coming along at a much faster pace then I anticipated. I have a few more fun races this fall before the serious work begins for next season. My goals for next year are constantly shifting right now. Each time I think about times I want to achieve next year, I surpass them this season. Sometime late in December I will sit down and plot it out. Looks like some good things are coming.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Well we all shine on.......

Like the moon, and the stars, and the sun.....

Great words by John Lennon. Today was a good day. I woke up without the assistance of an alarm clock and read in bed a little bit. I have no classes on Friday so I get to ease into the day on my own terms. When I was ready, I hopped out of bed and put on some running clothes. I had an easy 3 mile taper run on the schedule. I went down the road and came back. Before I knew it the run was over. What?!? I wanted to keep going, but I knew better and want to be sure I go into my PR effort on Sunday with fresh, rested legs. Last thing I want to do is leave my best race out on the training grounds.

The last tune on my iPod was "And Your Bird Can Sing" by The Beatles. Probably my favorite Beatles tune. It's such a large catalog that it makes it hard to call one a favorite. But what a way to end a good run.

After the run I showered and went to Target to do a little food shopping. When I got into the car, "Instant Karma" was on the radio.

What a good day this was turning into. And to add to my good fortune, it was over 60 degrees today. Bonus!!

I came back and did some reading for school before heading out for my haircut. Then I tempted fate and went to the bike shop. Unsupervised. I had to pickup some shotblocks and it's always dicey when I go alone. When Darren asked me if there was anything else I needed, I really wanted to say "Specialized Transition" but I quickly blurted out "NO" and then ran out the door. Sobbing. Wynn promises me there is a support group for this problem. I think I may be joining very soon. Seriously, you can never be too rich, too good looking, or own too many bikes.

"Hello my name s Wingnut and I'm a bike-a-holic........."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What a week

Ever since my wipeout Sunday, I have been having some stiffness in my sacral-pelvic area. No pain, but stiffness with movement. I was chugging along this week and after my run yesterday, I knew I had a problem. My right IS joint was incredibly achy. I could feel restrictions when swinging my leg. I tried every self mobilization and various techniques to relieve the stiffness, but nothing gave me any real relief. I did my usual 800mg ibuprofen and that took the edge off, but the problem still existed. I needed another set of hands. I sent my classmate an SOS email and she agreed to meet me early before class Thursday.

I got there early and was a good patient. I gave her my history and what I've done to try to treat it. She quickly went to work evaluating my innominates first. I heard a lot of "hmmm" and "wow" coming from her. I knew something was up, I just didn't think there was as much stuff as she found. My right leg was longer than my left leg (LLI). Normally they are the same length, so something was up with my right innominate.

First item up for fixing was my pubic symphysis. This was easily corrected with a shotgun technique. But getting it to snap was no easy feat. I could feel it wanting to pop, but it took a slight change in position to get it to go. The pubic alignment was better, but the LLI was still present. Time to address the right innominate. She did a few techniques that got it moving again. Phew, 2 down, 1 to go.

In sitting, she looked at the position of my sacrum. It was bad. The right side was completely stuck. When she tried to mobilize it, I could feel it did not want to budge. I told her I was OK and to keep pushing through. After ~20 oscillations, I could finally feel it move. She did a few more and then I sat up for her to re-assess. It was now moving as it should. I could tell just from changing my posture that it was freer than before. I thanked her profusely and bought her a Starbucks coffee. It was so worth the price!!

I spent most of the morning on and off the ice pack to try to keep the joint calm. She offered to mob it one more time before I left for the day, but I felt it was still OK.

I have a short taper run tomorrow before my race on Sunday. I am eager to race so I can see where I am at in terms of the 10k distance. Barring a catastrophe (I am staying off the MTB until after the race), I feel confident a PR can be had. My run early this week was pretty quick and I wasn't even going at race pace. I just have to remember Sunday to start closer to the front so I don't get caught in race traffic. If I am going to miss setting a PR, I don't want it be because of congestion at the start. I will go over my pacing for each mile Sunday morning in order to meet my goal.  I can feel a good race brewing inside and I'm going to leave it all out there.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Go Big or Go Home

This morning the Wingman and I went out to Cathedral Pines to meet up with Tom for a MTB ride. It was pretty chilly this morning, but we were eager to ride. The last time we rode with Tom he snapped his chain and then we took a little time off from riding because of some races. But now it was go time!

The main loop is 6 miles and you can add some additional mileage on if you do any of the black diamond sections. We decided early on to stay on the main loop for the first lap. The very beginning of the ride is uphill and then it flattens out and has some rollers in . The sun was hidden for most of the loop so I had no trouble seeing the trail. The only trouble were the leaves covering the roots. Made for a bumpy ride. I felt at ease and paced us well first time through.

When the loop was done, we circled the parking lot and then went back for the 2nd loop. This time it was a little more difficult. The sun was a little higher in the sky and made for some difficult sighting as we made our way around the trails. I was still out in front but I tried to slow it down a little. We crossed over a fire road and I heard a loud thud behind me. On a turn, the back wheel of the Wingman's bike caught some leaves and came out from under him. He lucked out that he hit some 'soft' ground so the fall wasn't too bad. We all breathed a sigh of relief and continued on. Less than 2 miles left in the loop, I was coming around a turn and tried to navigate through a heavily rooted area. It was hard to find a line, especially since I was coming out of a turn. The roots are big so it was best to hit them straight on. I wound up clipping it on an angle and next thing you know I hit the ground hard. My 'cat like' reflexes did not kick in. Not even my 'non-cat like' reflexes. When I hit the ground I was still 'on' the bike. Couldn't try to break my fall. All I felt was pain from smashing my leg and elbow on the roots. After ~10 seconds my PT brain kicked in and I started an evaluation of my pain and range of motion. I was hoping for no tibial plateau fracture  since that is where most of the pain seemed to be coming from. But once I got up and walked it off, I felt better. But I rode the rest of the course like a big chicken, but I made it to the car without another incident.

Next ride I'll be fine again. I would have forgotten just how much it hurt to hit the ground and will be able to ride without worry.

Once we got home I changed into some warm clothes, grabbed an ice pack, and we started watching the NYC Marathon. Liliana and her sister Raquel are running today so Wingman and I are glued to the TV trying to see if they are on TV. Run Lil, Run!!!!!

Raquel and Liliana, a couple of Badass Women!! 
(photo courtesy of Liliana)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Army 10 Miler

Sunday was the Army 10 Miler down in Washington DC. Wingman and I arrived on Friday for the race. I spent a good portion of the weekend studying for my midterm and practical. The packet pickup went smoothly and we cruised the expo for some free stuff. The Army Special Operations group brings out all the cool toys during the expo as they try to recruit people.

Get them while they're young

Wingman and I talked a little about goal times for the race. I told him what I thought I would finish in and was even a little worried that I might not make that time.

I had some trouble sleeping the night of the race. I kept having bizarre dreams about 'outcome measures' and PT. But once the alarm went off at 5a, it was go time! I got up, had my breakfast, took a shower and relaxed a few minutes. Once Wingman was ready, we went down to the metro. We stayed close to the race start in Arlington so we only had two metro stops to get to the Pentagon. We checked out bags and Wingman made one last port-a-john stop.

We had no time to spare and had to move quickly to get to the race start. It was like the warrior dash all over again as we climbed over railings and dividers. We were up on the highway about 5 minutes before the race start. We chatted a few minutes and then we heard "BOOM!!!" The Army cannon went off and we were NOT on our way. There were so many people in our wave it took 8 minutes to get to the start. I wasn't worried as my clock didn't start until I crossed the mat. We walked together and then we were separated by congestion near the actual starting line. Once I started running, I tried to settle into my pace which is hard to do. I always go a little too fast, but at least I recognized it and tried to slow it down. But then I looked ahead. What do I see? The Wingman is ahead of me. How did he get up there? I looked at my watch and realized he was running ~2 minutes/mile faster than his goal pace. I picked it up a little to catch up and let him know to slow down. We waved goodbye and I made my way down the highway.

1st mile was pretty easy. I just focused on my pacing. I had a goal to finish strong and I really wanted to meet that goal. Once we get off the highway we are running towards the back of the Lincoln Memorial. It's amazing that they shut down parts of our capital so we can run through the streets. I keep checking my watch to be sure I an on target. My goal was to run the 1st 5 miles at one pace and then pick it up for the last 5. So far, so good.

As we ran alongside The Mall, I was reminded of why this race is run. There were quite a few people running with shirts on that had pictures of family members killed in action or currently serving. As I came up on wounded soldiers in the race, I thanked them as I ran by. It's very inspiring to see these men and women out there competing. They are braver then I could ever be.

Between mile 2 and 3, the Army Brass band is out there. It's a help because they are positioned at the start of the first hill. This course is not really hilly, but because it's so flat, any incline looks like a hill. I kept the pace going and made my way to the top easily. Now the fun part - DOWNHILL!! I let it rip and made up some time. Before I knew it I was at mile 3 and in front of the Watergate building. I observed a moment of silence for my man, Richard Nixon. Next up is the U-turn to take you along the Potomac and the Kennedy Arts Center. Here I passed a man running in a tuxedo shirt, bow tie and shorts. Strange combo. I also remembered coming up between mile 3.5 and 4 was some road construction. They warned us at the expo about rough road so I knew to run looking down.

Just before the construction zone, there was a guy saying you could go right or left. So I went left. Well, the left splits again and I was in the middle. There were 3 lanes divided by concrete barriers. The middle lane had most of the rough road. Naturally I wound up there. The surface wasn't bad so I opted to stay. Then I had to slow down to climb around a bulldozer. I started thinking, is this the Army 10 Miler or another Warrior Dash? I ran a little more and then decided to hop over the wall and go back onto the pavement. I knew all that warrior training would pay off!!

We made our way out of Rock Creek Park and up to Independence Ave. The street is lined with spectators and runners going out and back. When I crossed the mat for the 5 mile marker I looked at my watch and saw my pacing was good. In fact, it was a little faster than I planned, but I was feeling good so I decided to pick it up a little. I made my way down Independence Ave towards the Capitol building. I was hoping none of our elected officials would be out cheering as I didn't want to run with extra rage!!

When I got to the 6.5 marker I picked it up a little more. My thought was to bring up the average now, because I will slow down between miles 8 and10 because of the rolling hills on the highway. When I got to mile 7, I was running back up Independence Ave and started to look for the Wingman. When I spotted him, I went over and we high fived. He was looking good!! The further up the road I went, the closer I was to finishing. My legs were getting a little tired and I was worried about the highway section. But I kept thinking about why I was running the race and all the wounded soldiers that were running as well. I passed a few guys with bilateral leg amputations. If they can keep it up, then a big HTFU was in order for me.

I made the turn towards mile 8 and the highway. It looked so lonely. All the spectators would be gone. It was just me and the clock. I looked at my watch and knew my goal time was easily achieved as long as I didn't do something stupid. Now I started to think of a new goal time - 5 minutes faster than I planned. I knew it would be a real push to make it, but I was going to try. I ran up, across and down several times and soon could see the Pentagon from the highway. the finish line was near!! I had my finish strategy planned out. When I exited the highway it's a hard right turn and then there's the finish line. I had to start my 'sprint' before the turn. I picked it up and went around the corner hard. I looked around and thought "who moved the finish line?" Then it set it - there was another right turn I forgot about. That was the turn I had to plan for. The only thing that went through my head - motherf*^#&$!! Now I was out of gas. I did my best to hang on, but of course I slowed down a little. I crossed the line and stopped the watch. I was 4 minutes faster than the goal I originally set and ~8:30 faster than last year. Wingman kicked some serious butt too and finished ~6-7 minutes faster than last year.

Overall I was pleased with my race. It was complete from start to finish. I had no regrets about how I ran. There were things that were out of my control (construction) but I adjusted and kept going. I've been waiting a long time for a race like this one. Normally I am a BOP (back of pack) racer, but when I looked at my stats for this race, I was a MOP (middle of pack) racer. I finished in the top half of my gender and division (more like the middle, but better than 50%).

For my fundraising efforts, I passed 8,288 people in the race and I raised a lot of money. Thank you to everyone that generously sponsored me for the race. I had Michael on my mind the entire race and I was focused on passing everyone out there!!

My racing season went pretty well. I have some nice things to build on now for next year. The rest of the fall will be fun stuff. Then it's back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The hay is in the barn

My big race is in a few days. This will be the 3rd year we've gone down to Arlington for it. I like the distance - not too long, not too short. The extra bonus is they moved the race this year 3 weeks later than previous years. This buys me extra time to recover from my half ironman race and better prepare for the 10 miler. All the work is done, the hay is in the barn. Now is the delicate process of not burning it down. I've done some hard work over the last month to put myself in a place to have a great race. The weather looks good, my shoes are broken in, and the clothes are ready. I can't control what happens on the course, but I will make the best of the day. I have received a lot of donations from sponsors for my "Run for Michael" campaign. Thank you to everyone that pledge money or made a donation already.

I went out Sunday for a run with Teresa as she prepares for her first marathon. She had a 16 miler on her calendar so I joined her for the final 8. The run was along Dune Rd in Westhampton. I was a little hesitant to run straight out and back, but the time flew by and I didn't even notice the distance. We were too busy yapping and picking out which home we wanted. After the run we all went out for breakfast. Then it was home to study.

Tomorrow night I have to pack for the trip. Basically I will be camped out in the hotel room studying for a midterm and practical that I have to take when I get back to school. We'll hit the race expo on Friday and pickup our numbers and see what good free stuff there is. Then it's back to the books and I will practice on the Wingman for my exam.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Kona weekend

Yesterday was the big Ironman in Hawaii. I would never want to race there (not my ideal weather conditions) but I enjoy watching the pro's race there. Julie Dibens was making her Ironman debut. She's an incredible swimmer and can crush it on the bike, but Mirinda Carfrae is just too strong on the run. Wingman and I watched the footage live on the Universal Sports website. They did a nice job with the live coverage. Watching Mirinda run was truly amazing. She can fly and make it look effortless. I can only dream of being half the runner she is.

Before the race started, Wingman and I met his cousin to go mountain bike riding. We hit the trails again in Rocky Point. The main loop is 12 miles. We planned on doing the main loop and then heading back in to tack on the "West Loop"for another 4+ miles. I lead the way into the trails and it was tough to see. The angle of the sun coming through the trees made the trail hard to see. We were going through at a nice speed and just past mile 7 I heard a bang/snap sound and then "Uh oh."  I knew it wasn't me but I stopped to look back. Wingman's cousin's chain broke. We didn't have a chain tool and asked a rider passing by if he had one. No luck. We couldn't fix the chain so we started to hike it back to the car. At one point we told Tom to wait in the parking lot and we'd ride back and get the cars. It was ~4.5 miles on the road back to where the cars were parked. We loaded the bikes up and then went back to get Tom.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading my notes for school. Then in the evening we took a ride up island to Trader Joe's. We then stopped into the mall. While walking around, Wingman stopped at Starbucks and gave me the "I really, really, really want a coffee" look and the "can we please, please, please go in" look. I couldn't say no. I'm not a coffee drinker (I HATE coffee) but I was looking over the drink menu and found something that looked interesting. It's a Vivanno Smoothie. It has no coffee in it. I picked the chocolate smoothie. It has chocolate, banana, milk and whey protein in it. When I took my first sip, I knew I made a good choice. Problem now is I might be an addict!! Thank goodness there are no Starbucks near us!

This morning I went out for my run. With the weather cooling off, I am running better. What is also helping me is I have a nice offseason now. The Army 10 Miler is coming up, but after that, I don't have any big race scheduled. It's nice to get out there and run because I want to, and not because I have to. Mentally, it makes such a huge difference. I run with such ease compared to just a few weeks ago. I'm looking forward to the short races in the fall. Wingman and I already have November planned out!!

I'm currently planning my 2011 race season. I'm always looking for new challenges to push myself.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Running For Michael

In my last post, I mentioned about my cousin Michael and his relapse of leukemia. He starts his chemo on Monday and it will last ~4 months. Then he will need a bone marrow transplant. Michael is a tough guy so I know he will fight through this.

I've been trying to figure out a way to do some fund raising for him and after a few days of working it out, I've got the idea. The Army 10 Miler is coming up. What I am looking for is people to sponsor me for the race. The sponsorship is tied into how many people I finish ahead of. If you want to sponsor me, you would pledge an amount of money per person I finish ahead of. Using last year's race as a reference, I passed nearly 5,000 people (it's a big race). Obviously people are not going to give me $1/person. But here is an example of a breakdown (using last year's amount):

  1. $0.005   $25
  2. $0.01     $50
  3. $0.02     $100
  4. $0.05     $250
  5. $0.10     $500
The actual race day amount will be slightly different, based on how many people I finish ahead of. If I have a bad race, the amount will be less than what's listed above, but if I have a great race, then it could be more. Have some faith in me that I'm going to have a GREAT race. After all, I will be super motivated to finish ahead of as many people as I can. If I set a PR, you can add a bonus on the amount ($5, $10, whatever you want). 

So if you are interested, please email me and let me know what level of sponsorship you would like
heygoalie31 at

The race date is Sunday October 24th.

Please feel free to contact me with questions about the donations.

UPDATE: The actual amount you are donating will be determined by how many people I pass in this years race. The dollar amounts above are based on last year's race.  You would pledge .01, .02, .05, or .10 and then muliply it by how many people I pass in the race.  I will report on Sunday the 24th the number I passed and then I will collect the money. Hope this clears up any questions!

Michael (in blue) helping Nico

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Whatever gets you through the night.........

Saturday was a loooooooong day. We got up at 6a to head out to Montauk to go mountain bike riding with Wynn and Teresa. Our day was tight so I knew we could do ~3 hours of riding and then head back. We packed the bikes up Friday night so that cut down on the morning prep time. We were on the road at 7a and made decent time out there. We met up with Wynn and Teresa and made our way to the park.

I haven't been on the MTB bike in months so I was a little nervous about the trails. During my regular racing season, I stay away from higher risk workouts so I don't get injured. Now that my tri season is over and the rest of my races are mostly fun stuff, I got back onto the bike earlier. Wynn had a few trails picked out for the time Wingman and I had to ride. Overall, the trails in there are nice. A little too much sand on some of the trails for my liking so next time in there I might avoid that track. There are plenty of other trails that I would definitely check out. Hopefully soon I will not be such a big chicken on the trails. I am my own worst enemy. I always think about the worst case scenario. At one point late in the ride, we had a slight downhill with a lot of loose rocks. I stopped at the top, paralyzed in fear. My breathing got a little heavy as I thought "oh man, if I wipe out and break something, I might not be able to finish the semester." The fear of not finishing school was overwhelming. Wingman waited behind me as I gathered myself and made my way down. This happened twice on the course. I couldn't enjoy the moment and instead focused on the big picture. I had mentioned my fear to him on the way home and he assured me that I was not crazy. He said I have invested a lot of time and money into my schooling and it's OK to have some fear about getting hurt.

The last hour was brutal. I was sweating profusely and it was dripping from everywhere. My heart was in my throat and every time I stopped a wave of nausea came over me. I was drinking everything in sight to be sure I wasn't getting too dehydrated. Even though I can ride for hours on the road, the trails are another story. You never have a nice rhythm and your whole body is working hard to power through the trails. At times I seriously wanted to get off the bike and lay down. Tunnel vision was taking over. My eyes only focused on a small area of trail in front of me. I was over my limit and completely spent.

We finally got out of the trails and back to the cars. I was never happier to be on paved ground again. Don't get me wrong, I loved riding in the trails with the Wingman,Wynn and Teresa, I just wasn't in MTB riding shape yet. Wingman and I will do some rides to build up endurance and then head back out when the weather is cooler and we have more time to ride. Then I should have no trouble following Wynn and Teresa on the trails.

Best part was after the ride, we stopped at a local burger place in Montauk. Of course who knows how badly I smelled after the ride, but I didn't care. I stared at the menu and we placed our orders. When the food was ready, I swear, I don't remember eating it. I just remember it was really good. I'm not sure how quickly I ate it, but I think it was pretty quick. It was so good, I forgot about the suffering I went through out there in the last hour of riding. We sat around for a little bit and chatted about the ride. As usual, sitting down afterwards, the ride didn't seem so bad.

We soon bid farewell to Wynn & Teresa and headed home to get ready for the second half of our day. We were heading to Levittown to pick up two friends and then head into the city to Radio City Music Hall for the The FAb Faux performance for John Lennon's 70th birthday. At home we showered and napped then headed west. The show was nothing less than spectacular. We've seen this group 5 times now and each show is better than the last.

Here is the set list from last night's show:

1st Set
Tomorrow Never Knows
Whatever Gets You Through the Night
Nowhere Man
I'm a Loser
Across the Universe
Come Together
Watching the Wheels
Jealous Guy
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
Happiness is a Warm Gun
No Reply
I Feel Fine
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
Strawberry Fields Forever
Cold Turkey
I Want You (She's So Heavy)

2nd Set
Working Class Hero
Power To The People
Instant Karma
Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Mind Games
I am the Walrus
Yer Blues
In MY Life
A Day In The Life

All You Need is Love
Give Peace a Chance

Friday, September 17, 2010

Chapter 3: Running on Empty

T2 was a pretty quick transition. I changed shoes, dropped the helmet, grabbed my hat, race number, a few flasks of infinit and headed out for the run. I was actually feeling pretty good at this point. The run course is two loops so you never really have to head that far out. At least that was what I tried to convince myself. I was no more than 1/4 mile out when I realized I forgot something.

Yes, I forgot my sunglasses. Unless it is pitch black out, I like to keep my eyes covered. I also don't want people to see that I am really suffering so if I wear dark glasses, they can't see the pain in my eyes. At this point there was no turning back. I knew exactly what happened. I had them in my hat in T2. When I grabbed my hat they fell out and I never picked them up. So they stayed behind with my bike stuff. 

This run course is super flat and two loops. There were aid stations every mile so there was no worry about not having enough water. Part of the course loops through a trail and is shaded. 

I found a nice pace (aka slow) early on and focused on keeping the feet moving. The first part of the run is along a multi use path and is smooth. I tried to find someone that was moving at my pace so I could just follow their lead. I did find one guy and he was moving a little bit slower, but I decided to stick with him for a while. I matched him stride for stride and finally pulled up alongside him. We started chatting and he was telling me that he hoped to be able to run the whole thing. He recently got a cortisone injection in his hip. Naturally I went into DPT mode and asked him what was the shot for. He said he couldn't remember what the doctor said. My first thought was "Wow, you let a doctor shoot you up with something and you have no idea what it was for." Instead I started my eval right there. I asked him some history questions. Since I couldn't ask him to stop so I could do some tests, I had to go by questions alone. After a few, I asked him "Did the doctor say you had an impingement?" He then excitedly said "Yes, that's it. That's what he said." Phew, I am getting better at this stuff. I had him diagnosed in less than one mile. 

We ran along together for a little longer. The trails were killing my foot. My running shoe does not have a lot of forefoot padding so the trail section had some gravel that was digging into my foot and creating a hot spot. I had to alter my stride a little in the trail section to avoid landing on a small rock with my right foot.

While I was happy to be running in the shade, I was happier to get back out onto the path again. There was another aid station and this one had some ice. I put some into my hat and thanked the volunteers. So far, so good. I continued plodding along by myself now. I had walked through the aid station for the ice and the guy I was running with kept on running. At this point I needed to run as far as I could and just think about hanging on. In the course write up, they said just after the aid station that I passed through, there would be a misting station and ice towels. I was excited thinking about the towels. But I saw nothing ahead. Hmmm, must be around the corner that's coming up. I get to the corner and try to contain my excitement for the towels. But when I turned, there was no one there. It's like thinking there is a surprise party waiting for you and you open the door, waiting to hear everyone say "surprise", but it's an empty dark room. There were no towels, no misting station. Damn it, I can't have nice things.

I continued on the path and came across another woman. We chatted a little bit and then we separated. I got closer to the turnaround area. You have to be careful of your footing. You have to run across a grass field. I slowed down a bit so I could make sure I was on solid ground. Last thing I wanted was to roll my ankle. Wingman came along with me. That's the nice thing about this course. Spectators can see you come and go several times. I remember passing a woman that was sitting on the tailgate of her SUV. She was cheering everyone on and paying compliments. When I passed she called out my number and said I was "awesome" and that I was doing better than she would. When I turned to look, I saw she had on a walking boot and crutches. Seriously?!? Of course I am doing better than you. At the time I thought it was a dumb thing to say. I wanted to grab her crutch and hit her with hit, but that would end my race right there.

I got to the turnaround and went back across the field. Wingman was with me again cheering me on and talking to me. I bid him farewell as I crossed the road to start the 2nd loop. This loop was much harder. It was getting warmer and I was slowing down. I was dreading the trails because of my foot. If I had know, I would have worn a different pair of running shoes for the race instead of lightweight trainers. Oh well, nothing I can do now.

I stumbled upon another runner and we talked about different races we've done. He did a half marathon the week before this race. He was also wearing a Garmin so I asked him about our pace. I knew it was a little too slow for me so I picked it up a little. When I got to the trails, I was moving really slow. The looks rocks were bothering my foot. I kept moving, though. Seemed to take forever to get out of there. As I got closer to the end of the trail, I swear I could hear the music from the Wizard of Oz:

You're out of the woods
You're out of the dark
You're out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light

It was like the Emerald City was near. I knew the 10 mile marker was coming up soon. My hamstrings were getting tighter with each step. I crossed the wooden bridge again and started to battle mentally with myself. Finishing was never a doubt, but the speed in which I finish was an issue. I started doing the math and knew I had to maintain a certain pace to finish in a certain time. I knew I wouldn't make it, but wanted to salvage something here. Then something caught my eye to keep me occupied. They had trail markers and I saw a word that I had to say over and over in my head to get the pronunciation - Chickahominy. That is a mouthful, especially when you are exhausted. Seriously, I was saying that work over and over again for 1 mile. 

For the last 2 miles, I crawled along. When I made my way back to the main path, I knew the end was in sight. I saw the mile 12 marker and knew it was close. When I crossed the road I met up with the Wingman again. He was all smiles for me and that always lifts my mood. We chatted a bit and then he left to meet me at the finish line. I ran the rest of the way around to the finish line. Wingman was there and finally, this race was over.

I was starving the last couple of miles of the run and was looking forward to some free BBQ. I got to the tent and they were serving pulled pork sandwiches. Not what I had in mind. I looked at another tent and they served burgers and hot dogs but we had to pay. Wingman got me a hamburger and it was the best burger I ever had (I did say I was starving). At that moment, I wanted to be alone with my burger. I polished it off and went into transition to pack my stuff. Wingman put it all into the car and I finally got to sit down. We drove back to the hotel and I took a shower and a nap. We got up later and went out to eat.

It wasn't an overall great result, but my swim was not bad for getting lost and being in a current, my bike split was great, and the 1st loop of my run was good. 2nd loop was forgettable.

So a plan is being put into action for the offseason. I really want to kick some butt next season so it's time for a covert operation.

I noticed something about my finishers medal after I got home. As I had exited the swim, I thought it was a little long but now I have proof. According to the medal, the swim was longer than 1.2 miles.

If you look closely, you can see the swimmer calling for help.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chapter 2: Taking Care of Business

Last we left our superhero, the swim was over and the bike was about to begin...........

Once I exited transition with my bike, my mindset had changed. I was concerned about my energy level for the rest of the race after that hard swim. But I knew I had to get going on the bike and take care of business. I wasn't sure of a goal time for the ride because I knew it was a little longer than advertised. My focus was broken down in to blocks of mileage instead of one long ride.

This course is flat and fast. There is one 'steep hill' on it that basically is an overpass so I knew that played into my strength. Most of my riding is flat land because that is what is around me.

The elevation profile looks like it is rolling, but really, you never feel it. You are constantly moving on this course. I knew the aid stations were at mile 15, 30, and 44 so I had the ride broken down into those blocks.

As I made my way out of the park, my goal was to get into a nice rhythm early and work on my cadence. I figured if I had the cadence in the range I wanted, the speed was good. I waved goodbye to the Wingman and set out on my ride.

I had a lot of room to ride on this course. If there was any drafting going on, it wasn't near me. I was passing people and got passed by just a few. My new saddle was working out well so far. I was comfortable and settling into the ride. I had my nutrition timer set to go off every 15 minutes to remind me to drink. I started feeling really confident around 5 miles in. The soundtrack in my head was now on this tune:

I was caught
in the middle of a railroad track
I look 'round
And knew there was no turning back
My mind raced
And I thought what could I do?
And I knew
There was no help, no help from you
Sound of the drums
Beatin' in my heart
The thunder of guns!
Tore me apart
You've been

I was rockin' down the road now. There was an interesting disconnect between by upper and lower body. My upper body was at ease while my legs were spinning to the soundtrack in my head. I was firing on all cylinders. Bad swim? What bad swim? I was owning this bike course today. Like my cousin Carolyn told me earlier "to take this mother down." I felt like I had such a swagger now. Amazing how in the span of 40 minutes your whole mood can change. 

I got to the first aid station and called out for water. The volunteers on the course were incredible. The hand off went smoothly. I looked down and thought "15 miles down, 42 to go." I kept up my pace and my mood. I passed a few more people and checked on my cadence. I was humming along. Next song up:

It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down
I had the radio on, I was drivin'
Trees flew by, me and Del were singing little Runaway
I was flyin'
Yeah Runnin' Down a Dream

There was a section on the bike course that was ~6-7 miles of rough road. The bike was vibrating and taking a toll on my upper body. I had no idea how long it was actually going to go on for so I picked it up to try to get past it as quickly as possible.

I made it through the next two aid stations and was cruising. I started to feel a little tired, but was now focused on maintaining my cadence and average speed. My legs were spinning round and round, but I wasn't even thinking about it. They just went. I stood occasionally to give myself

There was a little bit of headwind the last few miles. Nothing that I couldn't handle, but I felt like it was starting to slow me down. I looked down at the mileage and knew I had 6 miles to go. Only 6 more miles. And then all I had to do was run 13.1 miles. But now is not the time to think ahead. I've made it through 51 miles unscathed and wanted to be sure I made it to T2 without a flat or accident.

Now I can see the promised land. A volunteer ahead waving me to make a sharp right turn to head back towards the transition area. Whoo hooo!! I made it. Or did I? I had one small scary moment. I was on a narrow path and there were spectators on either side of the path. I looked side to side to be sure no one did anything stupid. And then I saw something that chilled my blood. Two small girls playing next to the path. I was almost paralyzed with fear. I kept hoping as I approached they would stay off the path. Please little kids, stay off the path. I had my hands on the brakes ready to stop. But thank goodness it was a non-event. They never came out and I was able to avoid another unique bike crash. Imagine I had to tell the Wingman again "Don't worry. I hit some kids. I'll tell you about it later." But there was no story here, I'm happy to say. It was on to T2 to prepare for my run...............

Up next Chapter 3: Running on Empty