Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Some facts about the Wingman

So I have talked about my Wingman in my posts, but I am not sure I have given much insight into how important he is to me. Perhaps you can gather that from my posts, but just in case, here goes:

  • He hasn't complained that almost all of our vacations over the last 6 years have revolved around races....
  • When I decided to stop working and return to school full time, he stood by me........
  • He has an uncanny ability to know when I am about to get myself into trouble (such as walking into a bike shop alone) and calls me. I swear I think he's psychic.......
  • He spends his weekends running or riding with me as I train for races.....
  • He gets up early on race days and packs my bike and bags in the car (and only occasionally reminds me that I made him get up early on his day off)......
  • When I come home from school or work too tired to cook, he takes me out.......
  • When I am sick, he brings me my favorite pillow and quilt so I can be comfortable on the couch.....
  • He's smart enough to know that power tools and I are a bad combination so I have been forbidden from touching them.......
  • Even though many of my ideas are probably crazy, he will rarely tell me so......
  • He reminds me daily that I can do anything I set my mind to......
  • He greets me with a smile each morning when I wake up and each night when he comes home.....
  • He laughs at my stupid jokes......
  • When my legs, back or neck is sore, he will rub them until I feel better.....
  • He understands my needs for new toys (as long as he is the recipient of my hand-me-downs).....
Hopefully now you have a good idea of what a wonderful person my Wingman is. I probably couldn't do 1/2 of what I do without his support.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Stop me if you've heard this one......

What goes "Run, cough, walk.......Run, cough, walk....."? That would be me this morning. I met up with my fellow training partners - Wingman, Teresa, Ian and Joan (Wynn was already out running) - for a 1 hour trail run. After yesterday's ride, I felt really wiped out and thought about bailing before the run today. But when I woke up this morning I thought "wow, I feel great!" So at High Noon we met up and headed out for a 1 hour trail run. Teresa led the way. Once we got to the trail, we started to "run". We went nice and easy, but the coughing started immediately. I would stop to walk at each ice patch in the trail to ease my throat and then resume running. But when running resumed, so did the cough. I think I actually lasted ~20 minutes at most. Phew. The rest of the time was spent walking the trails. This was the 2nd workout that I fell off the back of the pack. I just don't have it yet, as I was reminded last night in a 'scolding' email from Jen. She reminded me to not go out so hard and just ease into the workouts. And I figured that out after 20 minutes of attempted running. See, I can catch on quick.

I had a brief scare at one point. I stopped to turn around to see where the Wingman was and I saw him standing with his pants down around his ankles. My first thought was "WTF is he doing?!?!" But then I realized he was taking off his sweatpants and had running shorts underneath. How a real warrior runs.

One thing I forgot to mention about riding yesterday with the crew. Joan doesn't take kindly to Wheel Suckers. So consider yourself warned if you ever go riding with them. She won't give a warning shot. You have to ask yourself do you feel lucky, well, do you, punk?

After the run, we bid adieu to our friends and hit the supermarket and then home before the Jets game. Now I am on the couch bundled up waiting for my beloved Jets. If they can win today, and that is a big if, they will play in the superbowl in two weeks. Hopefully this week will bring me better health. It's my last week off before school starts. Zoinks!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Warriors on Wheels

Today we went out for a ride outside. The weather was nice (for January) and we rallied our fellow warriors for a ride. Poor Teresa was under the weather today and unable to ride. We went to Ian and Joan's house to meet up with Wynn. Ian had a ~20 mile loop planned out for us. I was thinking "I haven't really been riding for a while. But I can manage 20 miles easy."  Famous last words. For the last week I have been battling a cough while recovering from the marathon. I wound up struggling to stay with the group and quite often was off the back.

We started out nice and easy. And then I heard a crack sound. My jacket pocket was open and my cell phone fell out. So Wingman and I stopped to pick it up. The group waited ahead for us and we caught up again. I could feel a little fatigue early on and my nose was running like crazy. But otherwise I was doing OK. Wingman showed some early promise. He stood up and blew right by me. I thought I heard his sonic boom as he broke the sound barrier (or maybe it was just gas).

I was worried because coming later on in the ride was my nemesis, 'Mt. Ventoux' (CR 51).  I have to say I was a little worried about the hill. It would appear around mile 14/15 in this ride. But as Wynn told me earlier in the week, I had to HTFU and just ride up. Before we got there, I could start to feel the heat. I was dressed well for the weather, but I started to heat up now. I stripped the gloves and put them away. I even unzipped part of my jacket. And there it was staring down at me, Mt. Ventoux.

Oddly enough, I made it up OK. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. But needless to say, I was getting pooped. At this point the rest of the ride was flat, but I felt bad because I felt like I was slowing the group down. All along CR 51 I was coughing and it slowed me down. I just had this nagging feeling like a tickle/irritation in the back of my throat and it would force me to cough to clear it. I think after a few more outdoor rides I will be ready to roll with my fellow warriors! It was impressive to watch Ian and Joan on the tandem. They looked so smooth and effortless in their pedaling. I am trying to convince them to get this bad boy:

Badass Tandem

We made it safely back to Ian and Joan's with no mishaps or flat tires. We avoided all loose debris on the rode and we kept the rubber side down. Ian and Joan prepared lunch for us and Teresa stopped by to join us. She was feeling a little bit better and said she will be ready to run tomorrow.

Warriors (l. to r.) Wynn, Ian, Joan, Wingman, me

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Showdown with the beast

This is the shirt the Wingman got for me for the big showdown. 3 months ago it really did seem like a good idea. Then life happened and the idea went south. School was more challenging than I thought. My running motivation was just not there. My training schedule was modified/simplified to try and get me basic fitness and through the showdown in one piece. My longest run was 3 hours. I had to hope that would be enough for me. It was the best I could do under the circumstances.

The alarm went off at 3am. I hopped out of bed and started to eat breakfast. Once that was done, I got dressed. I wore my running tights, cold gear shirt under the race shirt, gloves, hat, sweatshirt and sweatpants. The sweatshirt and pants were just to get me to the race start. Those would be ditched prior to the start.

I found the pace group that I wanted to start with. I was getting a little nervous about the showdown. The marathon is a daunting beast. It's a long way to go if you are suffering. When the fireworks signaled the start, I was on my way. The pace was nice and easy. It gave me time to size myself up against the beast.

I was feeling good and hoping for a PR today. I knew if I just went out easy, not too fast, that it was possible to hang on. The first theme park you go through is Epcot. We made our way into the main entrance and saw the big silver ball lit in purple. (I have no idea what that thing really is). Before I knew it, we were running through the world pavillion. First country up was Mexico. Then we took a left at Japan. If you look at a map, the distance between Mexico City and Tokyo is ~7,000 miles. Wow, that is a lot of running before the sun comes up.

The early miles flew by and before you knew it, the sun was coming up. Now we were running in the light. The next few miles are boring. It's basically the highway system between the theme parks. The pace group I was with was running from mile marker to mile marker and walking for 1 minute at each marker. I did not train this way, but I knew I would be OK following along since I got some walking breaks.

Next up, the Magic Kingdom. We ran through the entry way and at this point I needed to use the bathroom. I knew Disney would not be setting up porta-john's in their theme parks so I found a bathroom. A real bathroom. There was a bit of a line, but I was out of the cold and wind. Overall the pit stop cost me four minutes, but unless I was wearing these:

I needed to stop. This meant I would lose the pacing group and would be on my own.

When I came out of the bathroom, I settled in to my own pace now. It was just me against the beast. There would be no more help.

I had a few good moves and felt confident in my fight. I made my way up Main St USA (a long way from Japan in less than 1 hour), through Tomorrow Land, and through Cinderella's castle. All along the way the Disney characters were out and you could take pictures with them. There was a disposable kodak camera in the race bag, but I didn't bring it with me. I didn't want to make more stops than necessary. After a brief run through Frontierland, we were back out into the highway. Somehow I made it unscathed to the half marathon point. I looked at my watch and saw that despite my bathroom stop, I was making good time. Not too fast, not too slow. But then, the beast reared it's ugly head.

I had to make another bathroom stop. Unreal. This one cost me another 4 minutes. Now I've lost 8 minutes overall, but my time still is decent. I ran along and noticed something else that was odd. I was drinking water along the way. Not a lot, but sips when I came upon an aid station. I felt some sloshing in my gut. Plus a little cramping feeling after I drank the water. It seemed like my gut was not emptying. I didn't drink or eat anything more until much later in the race. But as I made my way through mile 17, I seriously gave some thought to going to the side of the road and making myself puke so I could empty my stomach. Problem was I was in the Animal Kingdom Park and I'm not too sure they would encourage that behavior. I opted out of the self inflicted maneuver and kept running. But at this point I was slowing down. By mile 19, I was dead in the water. The beast was circling and I was losing the battle. I was reduced to walking for a while until I could get it together. At this point I was thinking I should have worn this shirt:

I tried so hard to pull it together. I thought about Wingman and where he might be on the course.  I was hoping he would come up on me soon so I could try to run with him, but I never saw him. I soldiered on and made it to Disney's Hollywood Studio park. Once inside there, I heard the magic words "Candy ahead". Mmmm, candy. I went over to the volunteers (who by the way rocked today) and looked inside the box. They had Hersey miniatures. I analyzed the choices and went with the simple Hersey bar. I took two and quickly ate them. Now I needed something to drink. Found the next aid station, got some water and was feeling alive again. I guess my stomach needed more time to empty out today than usual. Perhaps it had something to do with the cold temps. But now, the beast better look out. I was on my game at this point.

I made a few good strikes in my attempt to slay the beast. From mile 23 on, I was running, slowly, but I was running. I just wanted this to be over. The last few miles are nice. You run from Hollywood Studios, through the boardwalk resort, and then into Epcot where it all began. I made my way through the world pavillion again, this time in reverse. I exited near Mexico. Wait a minute, didn't I start out near Mexico? I think I ran ~25,000 miles today. No wonder I was so tired out there.

The finish line was a welcome site. I have never been so happy to end a race before. I just hope the folks at Disney don't mind that I left his behind:

I managed to slay the beast, but it wasn't pretty. At this point, I believe my marathon career is over after 3 races. It's not a distance that suits me well. I prefer the half marathon as my longest running distance. So at this point, I bid farewell to the beast. It has been a good fight, but now I must step down and let others take the cape from me. I missed my PR by 4 minutes. Those two bathroom breaks and the walking did me in. If I was able to keep running the entire way, the breaks would not have hurt me. Nothing I can do about it.

On a happy note, Wingman kicked some serious butt today. He shaved ~33 minutes off his marathon PR. He shattered his record. He detonated it like an h-bomb. The mushroom plume could be seen for miles. (OK Wingman, did I say enough about your race PR?). Wingman's 'all-you-can-eat-buffet' marathon menu:
  • 3 bottles of gatorade
  • 2 Gu packets
  • 2 1/2 sleeves of Shot Blocks
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 an orange
  • 4 Hershey miniatures

I am excited about the upcoming racing season. I will take it easy this week and if I feel well enough, I will be back to easy running in a week. Hopefully I will improve my speed in the run. I will look at my half ironman run times and see what goal I can set.

Of course after the race today we made a pitstop on the way back to the hotel. Mmmm, salt and fat never tasted so good.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Less than a week to the big race. Oddly enough I feel calm going into it. My new sneakers arrived yesterday and I'll do all of my running this week in them to break them in. They are the same exact pair I've been wearing so it's just a matter of breaking them in a little. Shouldn't be a problem.

I spent a good part of the afternoon taking more photos. I've been looking through a few photo books, but the only way to really learn is to get out there and take tons of pictures. The nice thing about the digital camera is you can go wild. Yesterday I took ~200 photos. I didn't even realize it. Today I took ~120. I also purchased a 1TB external hard drive to store the photos on. The photos I take are large in file size and I don't want to eat up my system's hard drive. Wynn has been giving me some good feedback on my pictures. I have a lot to learn, but at least I have this month to practice. I can't wait until spring when there are more colors available in nature. Right now everything is covered in dirty snow.

Wingman and I got a nice deal today on a TV for the basement. I'll be picking it up tomorrow. Once we get that setup, we'll have to contact our training buddies (Wynn, Teresa, Ian, Joan) to setup a 'trainerpalooza' session after we get back from the marathon. I need to visit this website next so we all stay comfortable down there.

And on a final note, I did a successful upgrade last night of my Mac OS. I went from 'Tiger' to 'Snow Leopard' and was able to upgrade to iLife '09. Now my HD camcorder will work easier on the Mac. There was no Mac software for it and the previous version of iLife did not recognize the camera. I had to run Parallels so I could run Windows so I could run the camera's software. Not anymore. Boo Windows.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Running & Riding With Rachel

So even though this weekend appeared to be a bust because of the snow, thanks to Crazy Mark I still got my last long run in. On Friday we all made plans to run together Saturday morning. Wynn, Teresa and Mark were up for helping us along with our last run. We set a time and place after we saw Avatar Friday night.

Saturday morning at 6:30a my alarm goes off. Wingman tells me my phone chirped that there was a message waiting. He also informed me that it had snowed and was windy. I checked my text msg and Wynn wanted to know what we were going to do. I looked out the window, thought it out, and decided to bail on the run because I was worried about the roads and my footing. I texted Wynn back and told him it was no go. He called me to say he could not get a hold of Mark. We figured we would get out later in the day to run or perhaps on Sunday. I hung up and crawled back into my warm bed. No more than 5 minutes later the phone rings again. It was Wynn telling me that Crazy Mark showed up and was ready to run. What did I want to do. They were ready, willing, and able to run with me. Argh. I told them I would be over by 8a. I hung up again and spoke to Wingman. I asked him if he wanted to come out to run with us and he looked at me like I was crazy. So, I was heading out alone.

I made it to Wynn's and found out what it takes to cancel a run. Basically it is a category 5 storm. Today's snow doesn't even come close. Teresa and I headed out on our route. The guys would be starting out 5 minutes behind us. On the way out we were trying to find ways of hiding until the guys passed us and then doubling back to the house. But we knew they would be watching our footsteps in the snow. We had to run. Finally around the 3 mile mark the guys caught up to us. I brought my little camera with me and we snapped a photo of the crew:

This is what 4 Warriors-In-Training look like

We had a blast out there. The footing was a little tricky, but it was so worth it. You don't get many opportunities to get out there with friends and have one of those 'epic' workouts. Wynn didn't escape unscathed. He wiped out on the way back. His feet came up and down he went on his back. But in true triathlete fashion, he stopped his Garmin watch so it wouldn't mess up his workout averages!

Part of our route (you can see our steps)

When I got back home I told Wingman all about the run. He was still OK with the fact that he did not go.

We were supposed to go to my cousin's on Sunday but her kids were sick and with a marathon in a week, I didn't want to get sick. So we rescheduled out visit. We made the best of it when Wynn and Teresa invited us over for "Trainerpalooza." Ian was coming as well. 5 of us setup our bike trainers in their garage and watched a DVD. We kept the workout short (1 hour), but it was fun. We started out in gloves, long sleeves, hats and in no time we peeled the layers off.

The happy cyclists (Rachel is on the right) - Photo courtesy of Wynn

After the ride, Joan came over, Wynn made us lunch and we had some great conversations. I brought the dessert over (triple chocolate mousse cake) that I had made to bring to my cousin's. Hmm, something tells me that had something to do with our being invited over ;-)  Next time, Ian promised to bring his tandem bike and Joan will ride with us.

Wynn showed me some cool photos he's taken over the years and some things you can do with Photoshop. I am just getting started with my photography hobby so it was nice to see some stuff I can do down the line. We also talked about triathlon training plans for 2010. Wynn has a big race planned and was telling us about a book he's been reading about race planning. There are 3 plans in there based on your race experience. There's one for "Novice Nick", "Kona Ken', and "Runner Rachel". Guess which one seems to fit Wynn's experience? That's right, Runner Rachel. So from now own, we're calling him Rachel.

One week from today and I will be done with my marathon. Part of me is looking forward to getting it done and moving on to more training that involves all 3 sports. Today's group ride got me eager to get back on the bike. And now that Wingman and I have some great training partners, I think it will be a good year!!