Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mush!

Had to get in a long run this weekend...with the ankle feeling better it simply had to be done. Before I had sprained my ankle I was up to 70 mile weeks and damn my running was good...like it was before I started all this triathlon business!
So...major snow storm on the horizon
(which turned out to dump a record snow on the DC area) I had to decide which day to go...Saturday or Sunday...
With an eye to weather reports I figured Sunday could be an icy mess, so Saturday it was...
Couldn't run the usual routes as the Park was closed and I needed to run roads not trails because of the ankle. So nothing for it but to run in the neighborhood. Laps. Lots of laps. Now I don't mind laps on a short course because, to paraphrase this other endurance type, I can crawl into this little corner of my mind and not come out.
Made it easier, too, to have the house for an aid station complete with warm air and smiling wife.
When I left the house the storm wasn't too bad although we already had about six inches on the ground. The plows had been by so the road was only covered by a thin snow pack. Run much in snow? Well, it can be like running in sand, which is tough. It changes your gait and has you working harder than you might normally. Add to that , my neighborhood has no flat areas. None. I looked for them. Nada. It's either UP or DOWN. Period.
The storm picked up in intensity...at times you couldn't see more than a tenth of a mile. cold...windy and ...well, it was a blizzard! I've been in blizzards where you'd expect them...Maine, Colorado, Canada, a Kansas wheat field, places like that. Saturday was a blizzard.
One foot in front of the other, stop at the house every 40 minutes or so for for an unfrozen water bottle, some Gu Roctane, a smile and a smooch and go.
Finished 19 miles in 3:16 which was slower than normal but, duh! To honest, my legs were trashed...like I'd just run a 50 miler or more. While a run of over 20 would have been good, I figure with the extra work involved...19 was just fine.
Starting the taper for Disney..will keep the runs easy ride the bike indoors and treat the ankle gingerly and just use the weekend with the mouse as a training weekend!

Oh, today is the 8th anniversary of Mom's death.
Yes Mom I'l still running. No, I'm never going to stop and no that's not why I lost my hair...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ankle update

Three weeks ago I sprained my right ankle while out on a casual 12 miler...Oh man it hurt and since I have a high pain threshold...it must have REALLY hurt! (It's been said I could give birth to an elephant through my nose and would wonder what the big deal was.)
I've been very diligent in rehabbing it and today I got out for 12 miles and while sore...it didn't suck! Wore the ankle brace and went easy till I warmed up...now I finished the last hour in the dark which meant that last hour was a really paranoia fest! "Is that an acorn/pothole/sidewalk crack?" Afraid to turn the ankle again and really muck it up this time! Got home with no problems....
I'll push the milage a bit this week. Can't make up for lost miles while I was getting the joint back in working order, but I'll feel MUCH better going to Disney for the Goofy Challenge a bit back on form.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Haunted

On Thursday of this week, I'll be 55 years old. It's time to give voice to this:


Haunted


To give you an idea of what the early years of my life were like, I had two stuffed animals whose names were Needles and Ether.


People often ask me why I run a lot and bicycle a lot and compete in Ironman and other things like that and the answer I give is always trite. For years I’ve been asked why I’ve worked with challenged kids, when I could make more money doing something else. The real reasons are much deeper, both light and dark.

I am haunted by the faces of boys who would never run and bike or hear their name at a finish line. Boys who had no one to help.

Keeping it simple, suffice it to say I was born with what used to be called birth defects. Like all medical conditions there are big Latin rooted words that tell you exactly what the problem was. By the time of my last surgery at age eleven I knew a lot more about medicine and what could go wrong with the human body than most adults do now.

A series of surgeries starting at age two would put everything right.

There isn’t much I remember about those early trips to the hospital but of the later ones at age nine, ten and eleven, I remember every detail.


At Kernan’s Children’s Hospital there was a ward of across from the nurses station where the boys would be. We were boys of all ages, some younger than eight, others sixteen or older. Twelve or more of us.

It was a place where we were repaired for in all cases, in one way or another, we were broken. Physically, we were not normal. They did a lot of reconstructive surgery there.


When I went back for my last trip in the summer of 1966 there were other boys there I recognized from previous trips. We were brothers of a special darkness. I won’t say I remembered their faces, because some of them had no faces. Others, no legs. A few, no arms. Some laid on their stomachs all day in hard body casts. Quite a few had multiple problems capped off by faces better left to Picasso.


Usually it would go like this: Mom and Dad would make the long drive from Cumberland to Baltimore on a Saturday. I’d have surgery on a Monday and after making sure I was fine they would go home. The next weekend they would return to pick me up, the back seat made into a big bed because I wouldn’t be able to stand or sit for any length of time. I’d spend some weeks in a bed in our TV room reading comic books with friends. “Classics Illustrated” were a favorite but only because I wasn’t allowed to see other kinds.


On this trip, I arrived at the hospital and after my parents left for the evening I would join the other boys and we would talk and watch TV and laugh and play games and just be, well...broken. If you couldn’t walk, others would get things for you. If you couldn’t feed yourself we would take turns doing it. It was no problem to dump out a urinal or empty a bed pan. If you could walk, you wheeled the legless around the floor. Some of the boys were always alone. During visiting hours no one came to see them and they kept to themselves.


Having seen each other before and being friendly I spent time reading with The Boy with No Face. There really is no other way to explain him. There was a gaping hole in the front of his head, a few teeth, and two eyes in places eyes should never be. He wrote since he couldn’t talk and we’d read comics and laugh at each other, his laugh being more of a flexing of the throat that made a “Gaa” sound. He read by holding comic books up by the side of his head. Another lad, Legless, brings us drinks from the nurses station and shares his comic books.


Monday came and off I went to surgery. It took quite awhile according to the records and it was afternoon before I came into recovery. I stayed the night there with Mom. The next day I was wheeled back up to the ward where the boys checked me out and looked at the stitching and drain tubes and the gauze. (We were always keen to see each others work)

Mom and Dad left for the drive home and were reassured I would be fine even though I was still a bit sick.


Drifting in and out I was feeling more alert by evening although I still felt ill.

The evening calms down and the TV goes off. We boys settle down as best we can.

During the night (I have no idea of the time) I get sick. Real sick. I start to heave and it’s everywhere. It doesn’t stop... I’m retching and heaving and before long I’m ripping stitches and there is blood mixed in with the vomit.

I remember yells for a nurse, words I can understand and throaty yells by those who can’t make speech. The night nurse doesn’t come. There are no bells to ring, no buttons to push.

It’s hurts in ways I can’t describe.


Suddenly there is an arm around my shoulder and someone holds my head. Another has grabbed a basin for me to throw up into. While the retching doesn’t fade for a bit a calmness comes and soon the vomiting passes. There are hands with folded towels that stop the bleeding. I am not alone. Lifting my wet face, It is Legless who holds the basin and the arms I feel belong to The Boy with No Face.


The nurse arrives and is quite upset. She yells for help and I’m wheeled out of the ward on the way to get cleaned up and re-stitched...I leave the ward to the sound of Faceless yelling at the nurse in a way I am sure she has never forgotten.


There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think of them. They would all be my age or older, some a tad younger. Some lived through a hell I can only imagine. Years of surgery. Pain of many types. Some would be gone by now.


When I stand at a starting line, I think of my parents, now long gone. I think of my wife and how lucky I was to find her. When I cross a finish line, however, it is the boys I think of. It is they I have carried across the finish line all these years.



Sunday, November 29, 2009

Well...that was hard.

We've gotten in the most wonderful habit of spending Thanksgiving in Medina, Ohio with friends...family really, of my wife. Several years ago Mary Lou got the idea she'd like to do a race on Thanksgiving day. I took a look around and found the Run for the Homeless in Akron, just down the road from Medina.
ML had done the race twice now and since I didn't do the JFK 50 Miler this year I, well, I had no excuse.
Now ML had told me it was hilly...but well, to be honest I wasn't worried....this is northern Ohio, right? How bad could it be?
The Run for the Homeless is a nice affair but no frills...still, this year they pulled in three thousand runners all for a good cause!
The race got off to it's start a few minutes late and it took me a minute to cross the start line but the street was still so packed I couldn't open up...If I do this again I'll be nearer the front.
Downhill start...then flat then the first hill...an on ramp to a local throughway with a great view of downtown Akron. Down a bit then into the Glendale Cemetery. There are audible gasps from the crowd and in unison many folks yell "OH MY GOD!" Look to the left and it looks like the race is going up the side of a building! The whole cemetery is like that...UP...down...UP down...The UPs are steep and the downs steep and the roads packed so, while you are having fun, but can't make great time. Before too long though we are through it and up one final steep hill before we head back through a residential area and to the downhill race finish...
A stiff four miler. I finish in 33:46 (my time). Chip time 34:44. ML finishes in 44 and I hand it to her...kudos for her third finish of this race!
The picture is of one of the grave statues in Glendale Cemetery. Founded in 1839 it is the resting place of many of Akrons notables, including two women who had survived the sinking of Titanic. It really was quite beautiful.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dr. John


No, not the Dr. John of "Night Tripper" fame, but Dr.John Sarno.
That's him in the picture.
Tiny, 83, Head of Rehabilitation Medicine at NY University. This guy is no slouch.
But what he has to say may kick your athletic ass.

I read about him first in a Runners World article titled "The Big Hurt" by Ben Cheever.
He goes on about a problem with his Piriformis and his inability to run...and then he gets to Dr. Sarno. The Good doctor examines him, tells him there is nothing wrong and that his problems are coming from his head.
Having been through a bout of pains this summer, my foot my neck and left shoulder, this really made me come to attention.
I surfed a bit and found several books by Dr. Sarno. "Healing Back Pain" and "The Divided Mind". Both books deal with an idea of his, TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome). The sort version of this is that often the pains we suffer are due to rage and anger we carry inside of us. Anger over any number of issues or problems or things that have happened in life. This anger manifests itself in physical pain...pain that can be debilitating. His ideas are discounted by a doctors schooled in a era when the power of the mind in illness has been givin short shrift. (This is so far outside the mainstream of medicine, that even Runners World buried the meat of the article in the back pages and the only letter to the editor they printed on the subject though it was irresponsible for them to have printed the article in the first place.)
Having a Masters Degree in Counseling I have to say that saw this almost immediately as a real possibility of my recent pains. Over the years I've seen the power of the mind do some really strange stuff. I'd had pains that had led to a sub par Ironman finish and having to drop out of another race as well as all the money I'd spent on PT this year on my neck and shoulder.
I read the books, thought about them and was thankful I'd finished Anatomy and Physiology last year as it gave me a good back ground to understand how Dr. Sarno's ideas work.
All I needed to do was test it out.
Several times in the past weeks since I was able to return to running, I've had a few issues pop up during a run or a bike ride...I asked myself, out loud even, What was I angry about. I even answered myself...sometimes out loud. The pain went away almost immediately.
More reading to do, but as far as I'm concerned...nuff said!
I'm back up to running 50 mile weeks with no problems.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Civil Twilight


They're out there. I'm not. At 7:00 this morning just about Civil Twilight the Triple Ironman got off to a start. I really wanted to be there but it wasn't to be.
Now I realize I was WAY too wrapped up in the "injury" and let it get the best of me. Stopped running because that's what I supposed to do. And now basically, I have to start again. Slowly and get the running legs back that I had.
No biggie...just time and as you know" Time" is the avenger...it lays everything low and that will include me. I have a whole list of goals I have yet to achieve...all I need is time.

Listening right now to an alternative band "Civil Twilight." Good stuff....power trio and I LOVE power trios!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Rain,Rain Go Away!

They say it rains "Cats and Dogs" which always makes me remember that line from that fun movie "GhostBusters" where Dr. Venkman is explaining what will happen if the evil forces at play get control... "Dogs and Cats living together...mass hysteria!"
While mass hysteria wasn't prevalent at this years 24 Hours of Booty...the "Dogs and Cats' were very much falling from the sky...
The event, a fund raiser for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Ulman Cancer Fund was scheduled to start at four this past Saturday afternoon and indeed it did...albeit a few minutes late. It started just about the same time the rain proceeded to come down in earnest. It rained in earnest for the next 19 hours.

I had visions of riding at least three hundered
miles but my training had been lacking due to a foot injury and time off. I surely had less milage in the legs than last year when I rode the three hundred on the trainer when Booty was canceled. This time out it was just a spin and a time to ponder the past present and future...

At about 4:10 the cancer survivors and major fund raisers were off in a lap of honor and the rest of us waited a few minutes. We began our first lap of the course...a 2.5 mile loop in a business park outside of Columbia, Maryland. The first time the Booty folks have done an event away from the original "Booty Loop" in Charlotte.
The loop is a combo platter of flats, slight up hills, and a good descent with a 90 degree turn at the bottom. One easy climb. Overall a fun and safe course...

Every type of rider is there. Little kids on BMX...a hoot to watch, once in awhile bikies and some hammer heads. Most are in teams and take turns doing loops while the others on the team sleep, snack and hang out. There are a few solo riders, of which I'm one..but they don't make themselves obvious till late in the evening in the pouring rain and you notice they haven't gone in for a break either.
There is one guy on a Unicycle. A woman, a cancer survivor, being pulled along in a pedi-cab.
Bikes worth thousands of dollars and rusty clunkers squeaking along. No ego here, which I liked...just folks riding together for a cause. Rusty Clunker chatting with Mr. 5K Cervelo about the rain, cancer and their families.
I ride pretty consistently even though the rain just comes down in sheets at times I roll in for water and snacks and to smooch the wife who has come to support me...bless her. Standing in the rain, sleeping in a wet tent and all the time a smile...
About eight p.m. ML heads for the tent and I head into a cold night. The rain picks up and the temps drop after dark. It's obvious. I'm wearing three layers, one water proof, and if I stop moving...i get cold. As I talk to folks I find it doesn't matter what you're wearing...plastic, rubber or Gore-Tex...it doesn't take long until you're wet. It reminds me of Spanky, who told me quite a long time ago, "Rain gear is only meant to keep you dry till you can get the hell out of the rain."
The laps zip by and after awhile you notice who to avoid because of sketchy bike handling skills and who it's OK to ride next to. On the descent with the turn, in the pouring rain, some are confident and others a screaming mess quite gripped with fear.
As the evening wears on the rain picks up and just pounds folks. By ten p.m. numbers on the road thin and by eleven the riders have thinned even more. It's cold, as in see your breath cold, raining and a bit windy. By midnight I'm alone with the exception three, maybe four other riders.
I'm starting to have trouble staying warm. Calories don't help and dry clothes would be useless in a few minutes. I'm at 128 miles ( 12:30) and decide it's time for some solid food from the midnight pizza party. I don't make it back out. Shivering I head to the Honda get into some dry clothes and go over to the tent and the somewhat sleeping Mary Lou. I decide to wait two hours and see which way the wind is blowing. As I zip up the tent, another solo rider is getting into her tent nearby. She's had enough too.
One o'clock, two, two- thirty...it just pours and the wind picks up. Finally about three I'm up and about and the rain is better but only just. Dry clothes on, food and I'm back out. The forecast calls for clearing, but that must be in some other state, because it rains here all morning.
By ten, I'm wet, shivering and just about had enough...ML left for home at sun up and can't say as I blame her!
I decide that I'll go another 122 miles to make it a round 250 and then bag it. At 11:30 a.m., DONE and MAN! It feels good to get dry clothes on. I chat with a few folks, get breakfast, and some are just heading out to ride...with a good number just arriving to ride. They told me they didn't want to ride in the rain last night so they decided to come in the morning.
Lots of riders there wearing "I'm riding in Memory of..." signs and I thought about what I was riding for while there. Was I riding in memory of someone? Mom and Dad? Mary? UJ or anyone else I know who has had to deal with cancer?
I decided I was riding for everyone who hasn't been stricken yet and considering how cancer has hammered my family, probably myself.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pain, Pain Go Away


Well...When last I had time to be here and post something it was all fun. In the post about Lake Placid Ironman you'll recall that I had major foot problems...which lead to stress fracture worries.
I was able to get out for a great ride In Lancaster, PA and keep up with my riding, even though it was painful at times. After a bout of physical therapy for some neck problems I was able to swim more...but running? Completely out of the question. This led me to make a tough decision: Pull out of the Triple Ironman for the third year in a row.
This coming weekend I'm looking at the "24 Hours Of Booty" a biking event. It's the largest 24 hour fund raiser in the country with proceeds going to The Lance Armstrong Foundation, The Ulman Cancer Fund and Johns Hopkins.
I'm really looking forward to this since last years event was a literal wash out with a tropical storm and I rode the event...at home...in the car port..on the trainer! It will be nice to actually do it!
Now the foot is questionable, but money was donated and promises made, so at least a good faith ride is in order.
We start at 4:00 in the afternoon on Saturday and plow through till the same time on Sunday.
Hopefully all will go well, but if the foot bothers...I'll bag it and head home. Everything right now is about getting the foot back in order and getting back to running since as many of you know is my first love.
I've had a fair amount of pain issues the past year and have been drawn to some of the pain management books by Dr. John Sarno. "Healing Back Pain: The Mind Body Connection" and "The Divided Mind" He feels that much of our pain...foot pain, back pain, trouble with the piriformis or the IT band. is psychlogical. The pain came from rage and anger that we carry in us. (That's the simplistic version of course) Interesting for me, since I had a professor in college, Denis Lindberg who felt the same thing and from him I developed the felling that it was probably true...
I'll let you know how the 24 Hours Of Booty goes and some more stuff about Sarno later.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Man! That was buggy!

The 2009 Covered Bridge Metric Century
I love this organized bike ride...I've been half a dozen times and it's always a great morning...
Pulled out of here at 4:30 this morning to drive the few hours to Lancaster, PA to do the ride which is sponsored by the Lancaster Bike Club.
Inexpensive at $20 with good food great views and 3,300 other people...
The ride s supposed to start at 7:30, but it's "Show and Go" so after registration and getting my wrist band I pulled out of the parking lot at 7:05. 65 degrees and misty and almost as soon as you leave the lot, you're in Amish country... Quiet on a Sunday morning, until the buggies start making their way to meeting. The Amish are always friendly to cyclists and I've often pulled up along side and chatted about the horses or the buggy or the speed at which those things can move! A crack of the whip, a snort and some flaring nostrils on the horse and you will be hard pressed to keep up!
I fell in with a group of riders of various ages a few miles out and ...well riding in group is ALWAYS faster than going it alone , so I jumped in and took some pulls at the front and drafted when I had the chance...the group seemed to be getting along fine and we got to 20 miles in an hour, on a rolling course....
Two of the group , big strapping lads, solid bikies for sure, (Note: team uniforms and big meat (legs) are always a dead give away that they're serious) decided to shred the group and so went to the front and hammered the pace. Five of us dropped the group as we flew off the front. I was able to hang for a few more miles finally getting buried on the big lump of the day. No worries...they're probably 25...I'm 55. Lets see if they 're even still riding in 30 years!
The next twenty miles found me in a gap so I had the road to myself with no one passing me and no one to the front...nice! Just an exquisite morning to be out.
Rolling into the "lunch stop" at 9:00 was fun...just a few folks and lots of food, no lines for the port-o-john and quiet...Later in the morning the place will be packed with riders. I like it this way better.
After the stop (10 minutes, maybe) I pick up a "buddy." Now I don't mind riding with folks ...but this guy. Oy! The bike course is so well marked the Three Blind Mice could follow it. Signs and arrows painted on the road. HE'S following the cue sheet, the written directions.
At EVERY intersection he's like, "Are we still on the course? Are you sure this is right? I didn't see an arrow!" If I said "Just follow the arrows" once, I said it a dozen times and that's NOT hyperbole! Several times he went ahead of me and at clearly marked intersections...went off course. The first time I yelled for him. The second and third time..I left him to his own devices.
He'd realize his mistake at some point and come back up chattering, talking to me long before he got near enough for me to make out clearly what he was saying. At 58 miles the Metric Century and Half metric ( that's 62 and 31 miles respectively for the metric impaired) He zipped ahead and I never saw him after that...
Arriving back at the start at 64 miles ( the course is obviously long) I was a bit cooked, but that's ok...an 18mph average and a 3:45 elapsed time (not bike time!) was just fine by me! I haven't been working on speed recently so going harder than normal was great.
Got some ice cream...chatted with a few vendors then toweled off and headed home....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Post Placid Plague...

Post Placid Plague... or Hygiene, how are ya?
Ugh...the Tuesday after Lake Placid Ironman...that's the 28th we're driving home. I'm feeling worse and worse as we go. Finally, getting home I confess to the spouse that I'm sick. Off to bed and a fever check and sure enough I'm spiking at 100.9. Yes I know that the standard human temp is 98.6, but if you've spent anytime around the medical field you also know that base temps vary from person to person. I'm usually 97. So ...yup...I'm sick. The next two weeks were a drag especially because ML came down sick a few days after me...We are just now coming out of the funk and are both sporting a bit of a cough...
Why did I get sick?
Iron Hygiene or lack there of. When I look back to race day I possible to see SOOO many places you could pick up a virus. (I'm sure it was because a virus because of it's sudden onset, the fever and a number of other symptoms that point that way.)
How many little kids did I high five or fist bump? No idea, but you know kids...there is NO telling where their fingers were just before you made skin to skin contact. At Ironman, on hot days, they had out nice cold, sopping wet sponges. You toss them on the ground when you're done swabbing yourself ...the volunteers pick them up and re-soak them so they can be again handed out. YUCK! I am sure that cold water is not doing much to inhibit bacteria or viruses.
You don't think of it at the time but lying in bed with a fever you sure do!
Grabbing cups of liquid from aid station volunteers who's hand cleanliness might be questionable...bless 'em they work their asses off and it's hard to keep yourself clean.
And finally...the swim. An article at Slowtwitch.com recently suggested you shouldn't get anywhere near the swim course until race day because of all the foul stuff you can pick up in the water...even a nice cold Northern New York Lake. And race day! 2,300 people all taking the opportunity to pee in Mirror Lake, even though the Mayor reminded everyone not to!

Any way back on the up swing except I made an appointment to get back to the podiatrist to see about managing my metatarsalgia. (right foot pain that's keeping my running in check right now.

Friday, July 31, 2009

IMLP Geek-o-meter!

Time for the IMLP 2009 Geek-o-meter!
The sole purpose of this entry is to spit out numbers for those of you who get a throbbin' bobbin over anything that involves digits.

(As you may have read in the previous post I did Ironman Lake Placid with an injured foot...that said, here we go!

Finish time: 15:38:51
Swim time: 1:24 (in my usual ball park)
Bike time: 7:23 (includes pedaling the last 20 miles on one leg.)
Run time: 6:29 (that's an average 14:50 per mile)

I wore a Qunitana Roo Ultra Full wetsuit and Aqua Sphere goggles for the swim.
My bike is a 2001 Specialized pro edition frame, alloy, 54cm, zebra stripped.
Drive train is a combo platter of Dura Ace and Ultegra with Zero G brakes.
Bontrager wheels with Conti Competition tires.
Thomson seat post, Bontrager stem and Salsa Handlebars
Seat is Teri Fly
Computer is Cat Eye Strada and the Orca Squeaky toy was made in America by Co-Union.
On the run I wore Nike Vomero size 11.
I wore the same outfit all day...A nice orange/white and grey number from the 24 Hours of Booty. It was my way of helping to bring awareness to a bike event that raises money for the Livestrong Foundation and the Ulman Cancer Fund.
No hat...too damned hot.

The most frustrating part of the day was that I had tons of energy as my nutrition was spot on.
I went through 30 servings of Gu Roctane and water (7 bottles on the bike) all day with a little solid food on the bike (PB and J) and soup and cola on the run (walk). One Succeed! Capsule (electrolytes) per hour but none on the run. I never really flagged all day.

There were 2,531 registered athletes.
2,258 Finishers
140 DNF's (did not finish) for Men
68 DNF's for Women
65 DNS (did not start)

There were 93 starters in my age group (55-59 Yikes! am I that old?) and 84 finishers. I was 67/84
In the Year leading up to IMLP my training consisted of:
105 Kilometers of Swimming (about 64 miles)
4220 miles on the bike
1,278 running miles
615 hours worth of my time.
Toss some time in the weight room and yoga in there too.
Totals are from my paper training log and may vary slightly from my on line log. My paper is more accurate, but when it comes to this kind of thing I tend to not be wrapped that tight.

On the bike I saw 6 folks with flat tires. It was obvious that some of them had no idea how to fix it. Witnessed 2 bad crashes. And 3 folks who were DQ'd although I can only find one on the record. Saw a number of folks pinged (penalized) for drafting but not sure how many....I saw at least 5 in the penalty tents.

This was my 4th Lake Placid, my fourth Ironman and my Ironman PW (Personal worst) and I told Mary Lou that if I ever want to do Lake Placid again, she has permission to beat me senseless with a ball peen hammer.
I enjoyed this IM better than the other three...it was fun even though it hurt, and I think that's because I was real good about my training...got to experience some new stuff, like finishing late,
and just how dark it can get on the River Road. I was also witness to the legend of Matt Long become even deeper and richer...a very special part of the day.
All in all...No complaints! It's just Ironman.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wanna Squeak my Whale? IMLP 2009


Even though some of the kids at school call me "Mr. Serious", I am anything but. I've learned through time that life is too serious to take seriously and that a sense of humor is what is often needed to get through the day. With an eye to Ironman Lake Placid this year I wondered what I could do to take the "Land of the wrapped too tight" (Ironman) and spin it, just a bit, on it's ear. (Some of you may remember I wore a kilt at IMLP 2007.)
It hit me in a bike shop a few weeks ago. A bell! Better yet...a squeaky toy.
Here it is mounted on the handle bar of my bike fresh off of my fourth Ironman.
Race day comes, as it always does, way too early. This time at 3am. No rushing for me or our friend Janet or May Lou for that matter. When you're staring at a long day you want to ease into it. Mary Lou is volunteering and Janet, the Iron Virgin, will find out what she's made of.
Breakfast, a shuttle ride, body marking, a last check of the bike then waiting for Godot at the swim start. Scott and John, Trifuelers, show up to breathe in some of the big grip. They'll spend the day volunteering at the Boat House aid station (Best aid station EVER!) then stand in line on Monday to sign up for next years bru-ha-ha.
Janet and I and our new friend Sylvie, wetsuits high and tight, stroll into the water and wait for the gun. In short order the cannon fires and we don't move. I've learned to wait about 40 seconds after the gun...keeps me out of the "rugby match in a washing machine." Then we're off...and swim through many of those folks who were cudgeled at the start. while some folks look like a windmill I remember that slow is smooth and smooth is fast. I glide through the water and finish the first lap of the the two lap swim. I take a second to accost the crowd ("Hey Everybody!) pee in my wet suit and slide back into the water for another lap...it goes well and I have NO idea how slow or fast my swim time is...It simply isn't important. Stripped of my wet suit I see my sweety at the rail and get a smooch...the run on carpet to the transition area and I know how the day is going to go. It's going to get ugly, but that's Ironman.
I've been dealing with Metatarsalgia in my right foot and it seemed to have gone away only to resurface two weeks ago. It's an inflammation of the distal head of the third metatarsal. It feels like a hot poker being rammed into your foot by gremlins. By the time I hit T1, the Gremlins are shoving away...hopefully it will calm down on the bike.
On the bike and facing the first lump of the day (see the bike course elevation in a previous post) I feel great...light and steady. I scream down the drop into Keene at 58mph. Bike handling skills or hospital bills. No room for error here. Through Keene and on to Jay on the flattest section of the course...with a tail wind I'm humming at 24 mph. Passing folks I squeak the whale on my handle bars and get laughs from other racers, volunteers and spectators. A few folks look at me without smiling and shake their heads. They must be taking this seriously. Upper Jay, Black Brook, Wilmington all slide by. I pass Janet on an out and back section (she's a wicked swimmer!) spin the eleven miles uphill into Lake Placid to start lap two of the bike.
I squeak the whale going through town and the crowd erupts and cheers..."Go Orca Go!" someone yells.
By mile 70 I'm feeling the foot. Nothing to do but smile, squeak the whale and keep moving forward. On the 10 kilometer "Drop" into Keene a lad screams by me low in his aero bars. A mile later he is laying on the surface of the road, contorted, helmet smashed blood running from his nose others cyclists already lending a hand...an ambulance wails in the distance.
I pass Matty Long on the climb towards Wilmington. He looks rough. I squeak the whale and he laughs. As I pull away I tell him "Hang in there Matty, there have been worse days than this." Matt was dead a few years ago. Now he's alive. He will finish the race with two minutes to spare. I can't complain about my foot, it's just what it is. It's Ironman.
Around mile 90 my foot is done. Can't put much pressure on it and so the last 20 miles into town are mostly on the left foot and leg. The gremlins have moved on to filling my foot with lava. Despite that, my energy is good thanks to Gu Roctane and just plain old water.
Into Placid now and off the bike...Volunteers cheering as one takes my bike I ask him if he wants to squeak my whale...he does then a whole pack of Vols jumps on to squeak it...howls of laughter, a few pats on the back and a "Man, that whale is AWESOME!"
I manage to run a good portion of the first six miles...but it doesn't last. The pain in my foot smacks me down to a walk with running breaks...but I keep moving forward. I miss the whale.
Frustrating because my stomach is good, I've got tons of energy, it's just my paddles won't work right...I'm walking on the outside of my right foot, which changes my gait and causes a huge blister on the bottom of my left foot.... That's Ironman.
Passing Janet going in the opposite direction and we high five and giggle...even though we're going slow, I'll finish number four and she'll become an Ironman. Ironman is about finishing, even when things get bad.
The dark quiet of the River Road is replaced with the yells and cheers of all the folks on Mirror Lake Drive...Scott walks with me toward the finish and then changes direction to walk with Janet. Harangued by the crowd I run the last half mile down the street and onto the oval..I am alone. I've never finished this late before. I've never had the oval to myself. Eric had this finish line to himself when he won all those gold medals and now I have it that way. In the past there have always been other athletes around me... a pace or two behind or just in front. Looking back, no one there. I come to that last fifty yards and the music is pumping and the crowd is cheering, yelling. They are yelling and cheering...for me. That's Ironman.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Torque

This is me cleaning "Torque." My 2001 Specialized Aqua and Sapone zebra stripped bike.
All good machines have names. Dad always referred to the car, no matter which one, as "Bessy." I have no idea why. Cold winter mornings:
"Come on Bessy!" Up a steep hill: "Come on Bessy!" On the side of the road: "%$#(*&*^%@# Bessy!"
It's not easy to come up with a name for a bike. You don't buy it then name it. It takes time to show itself. I've had lots of bikes and have found that if I don't have a name for it in a few weeks, it usually ends up sold. It shows I'm not in love with it the way folks fall in love with mechanical objects. Of course, any real bikie will tell you a bike has a soul and a personality.
Torque does.
Torque is short for Tomas de Torquemada. He's the monk that organized the Spanish Inquisition.
It's named Torque because I suffer on it so.
Not a (insert whiny voice here) "oh my legs hurt and lungs are going to bust" suffering. But emotional, gut wrenching, soul laid bare stuff.
It's a pro quality frame that I bought from a friend some years back. The whole bike, with race wheels, weighs 15.5 pounds. It climbs like a machine possessed and descends like it was born for the 9th circle of Hell. It's comfortable to ride and springs to life when I get out of the saddle and kick it with the spurs. Sometimes..it won't let me stop. A ride comes to an end and it calls to me and demands to be ridden more and I give it a few more miles. I've ridden it all night and all day in sleet and rain and baking sun and it still demands to be ridden more...On it, I have been frozen and wet and cold and hungry and miserable and sad and angst ridden. On it, I have actually cried. On it, I have been tortured. The two wheeled rack of pain. Like "The Machine" in the movie "The Princess Bride" it can suck the life out of me. In the end though, I am "only mostly dead."
I love cycling, and I love Torque...the way that humans can love machines and I wouldn't have it any other way... even though I suffer on it so.

One week to Ironman Lake Placid. and the training is over pretty much. A few more evenly spaced workouts and rest days and that's it...hence the bike washing today before a final trip to The Bicycle Escape for a last mechanical check. I always like a shop to look over the bike one last time, in case there is something I've missed and the guys there are always spot on.

I'll post again on Tuesday with a few final thoughts before next Sundays tomfoolery!





Thursday, July 9, 2009

Upsey-Daisy


When I was a kid, my Dad or Mom would often pick us up or throw us into the top bunk or hold us up to put the star on the Christmas tree with the words "Upsey-Daisy." I used it through out my life from time to time and now it's snuck back into my lexicon because of bicycles and hills.

I'm sixteen days away from my fourth Ironman National Championships in Lake Placid. I've been riding in the hills a lot and found myself at the bottom of a long climbs saying..."Upsey-Daisy!"
Got back several days ago from Lake Placid from a few days of training...which included riding the course. (That's the bike course profile above) At the bottom of the big lumps it just seemed to pop out on it's own..."Upsey-Daisy." And I was sort of reminded of all those times as a kid when someone bigger than me, could lift me up, and say the words. I have to say them myself now but that's ok. It's life. Life is full of Upseys and downseys.

Training in Placid went well. A great week with 221 miles on the bike, 48 running and about 10,000 meters of swimming. Not all of that at Placid, of course, but it sure helped the totals!
In the midst of a three week taper right now...decreasing amounts weekly till the last week is damn near nothing. Not easier, just shorter.

In 16 days and change about 8:30 in the morning, when I hit the first lump of the day....

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Goin' Up the Country...


I used to know this guy many years ago who was on the USA Biathlon team. You know...cross country ski so hard your heart rate is plastered to the roof of your mouth, then pull a snugly slung rifle off your back, drop your heart rate to nada and shoot at 5 targets, skiing off again and repeating the process for some insane distance. He used to train at Lake Placid.
I'm off To Lake Placid, NY to train for a few days on the Ironman course! Swim the swim, bike the bike and run some... Leave tomorrow and back on Wednesday. Looking forward to getting away and bashing around the High Peaks region for a few days. I find it quite relaxing to get out in the middle of Mirror Lake, stop and look around at the trees and the sky line of the town...
Contrast that with long climbs and white knuckle descents at 60 mph on 1 inch tires.
Running is well, running it's part of me so I enjoy it anywhere in any weather...
Maybe as I ride by the Biathlon range I'll stop and for a fee take a few cracks of the old .22 and see if I have an eye left for it. I used to shoot well.
Training rehash when I get back.
Keep turning those cranks, putting one foot in front of the other and get busy livin'!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why I have an IM tat...Redux.


This is a post for 2006 when the topic came up on the Trifuel website.
I've added a few things and adjusted some of the writing. Maybe it's better, but really I don't GARA if it is or not:

After I did my first Ironman in 2003, I got an Ironman logo tattoo. The one you see here.
It was just a few days after the race and I fell asleep in the chair. Some folks thought I was bragging, self-focused and big headed to have that thing on my calf. "Oh! Look at me! I'm an IRONMAN!

They don't know me.
Getting the tat had NOTHING to do with finishing Ironman. It did have everything to do with getting to the start line in one piece and with some sanity. The previous ten years of my life had been tragic and I mean that in the classic sense.

Tragedy: Noun Dealing with a serious theme, typically that of a noble person whose character is flawed by a weakness which causes him to break moral precept and which inevitably leads to his downfall or destruction.

My Dad died and for awhile I lost my moral compass. My marriage shattered, I ended up in a relationship I should never have been in, lost everything including my self respect and almost didn't make it. There were days I wanted to jump off of something really high.
Little by little, I started to come back.
I started to train for Ironman Lake Placid in 2002, but my Mom became ill and died. My sisters and I cared for her. It was ugly. With the help of family and a good therapist I was able to leave a horrible relationship, get myself righted and see my situation for what it really was.
"Re-called to life" if you read Dickens.
I signed up for IMLP 2003 and, despite some brief mis-steps in my personal life, was able to get back what I had lost.
My dignity, self respect, and the goodness inside that had been lost too long under an bad influence.
Training was hard...there were days I didn't want to get out of bed, but did, because Ironman was the path back to myself.
Standing there on the shore on Mirror Lake the morning of Ironman I knew...the kid was alright.
The Tat was a symbol of all that, of being back among the living, of being whole again, of being better than the darker angels we all carry inside of us.
Things have come together, now, and as I prepare for Ironman Lake Placid on July 26th of this July, my fourth. I am back to who I always was.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Time. Time. Time.

Where does it all go?
Mom's birthday was this week. She would have been 86. This is the 65th anniversary of Dad being drafted. It's been 17 years since we buried him.
Mary Lou and I have been together for five and a half years, every minute a hoot!
I'm ending my 19th year in my current position.
I started running 40 years ago this fall, and biking not long after.
This July, about the same time I'm doing IMLP, will be the 4oth anniversary of when I started climbing...while I don't get out much now due to time constraints, it still calls to me and I miss it. It's just too hard to find climbing partners in my age group and, sorry to say, I don't have the patience with youths the way I used to.
Classes are done for the year at the high school. Finals Monday. The long looked for break is here. I'm tired. The kids are tired. The other staff are tired. This school year has gone on about two weeks too long.
Suddenly,too, there are 6 weeks till Ironman Lake Placid. Where the other 20 weeks of the training schedule went, I am not sure...
This is currently a low volume week. Well needed. I was cooked at the end of the last training cycle. But that's the point isn't it? Not complaining...as I tell kids at school: "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it."
Have 2 centuries (100+ mile rides) under my belt this 3 week cycle with weekly totals around 200.
The long runs are building and 3 hours now is easy. Swimming still seems to be a problem. Doing ok, but losing the high school pool was a blow. Now I have to swim with...people! Share lanes and all that. Now my momma taught me to share but having a pool to yourself sure is nice!
Heading off to Placid at the end of the month to train for a few days.
Medical terminology class is going well. Learning tons, but If you've been around awhile and have had some of the procedures we talk about it helps. "Why yes. I know exactly what a cystoscopy is! And yes, they do put you to sleep." Also good that I've already had Anatomy and Physiology.
In fact, time to go study...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Training on the Hamster Wheel


Must be a BIG wheel!
For some folks when they are training for an endurance event, they go for long bike rides or long runs in an out and back format, running or riding to hell and gone.
I Like that too, but I'm not afraid of "The Wheel." Riding or running a shorter course in loops...one after another, after another, after another....
This weekends training is a case in point.
Saturday I rode 106 miles. All of it on a 7 mile rolling course. Some good little climbs and descents and NO flat areas. 
Took the first hour easy, getting out the kinks and making sure all felt well. Brought the pace up for four hours, sticking to a revamped eating and drinking schedule. and just hummed along.
The beauty of a loop course is that you can gauge how you're doing from lap to lap. You can go easy one lap and hard the next...you see the same big hills each time and can gauge your performance 6 hours into a ride... I know what some of you are thinking. No, I don't listen to music while riding..that's just stupid. One must be aware of what's going on all around, with cars, dogs, walkers and who knows what else.
The real benefit of this kind of riding , for me anyway, is that it gets me ready for two fall events on the schedule. The 24 Hours of Booty, a fund raiser for the Lance Armstrong foundation, is ridden on a 3 mile loop for 24 hours. Several weeks later The Triple Ironman.   The bike portion is 336 miles on a 5 mile loop. I have found from years of training for Ultra marathons that the mental game is most important. Now, loops drive some folks insane, but I've learned to not even notice the loops anymore...I just ride.
A good point to point trail run is fun...Fastpacking large sections of the Appalachian Trail is just too cool...but stiff mental training can be found running a two mile loop for hours on end.
Running through the day and watching the light change and seeing wildlife drift in and out of the scene. Today's 2 and a half hour run in "The Park" next door ( a 6,300 acre state park and wildlife management area) was on trail and road loops...saw two fox, some deer, including the smallest button buck I'd ever seen, Some Great Blue, Turtles galore and the odd ground hog...and I mean odd. He at up to watch me run by. They usually tear off in another direction.
Loops rock.
Training is going well...the big bummer this week was that the school at my high school (where I can swim alone) is closed for repair. Now I HAVE to go to the local aquatic center to swim...laps.  My nutrition for the the longish ride yesterday was spot on.  
Taking a Medical Terminology class this summer which has started, so I've shifted my training week to run from Tuesday to Monday. Tuesday off for class and additional course work. Career change here I come.
One more week in this three week cycle. IMLP in 8 weeks.
12 days of school left until summer vacation. Wa-HOO!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Where's the fork...


Put a fork in me..I'm done. Busy week and all went well...sort of.
Managed to get in 215 miles on the bike in the last eight days and I'm quite happy with that...hit the other Ironman training stuff, pretty much. 27.5 miles instead of 30 running and got in 3 swims with the longest at 1:15. Also was out for three hours of Trail work on the Greenway Trail Saturday with a crew including ML. (That's her in the pic) Lots of heavy lifting and digging and general manual labor.  The trail is the site of the Greenway Marathon and 50 K each spring. ML and I run on it often and we are overseers for a small section down by the Potomac.  We can reach it easily from our front door. Anyway, all that work made for a very interesting 76 mile ride in the afternoon. Todays 2 hour run just sucked. That's running...somtimes you have to "carry the bear."
Looking down the pipe line at a rest week this week. Will drop form 16 hours to 8. Yeah! Now don't get me wrong: I knew the job was dangerous when I took it, but rest weeks are great! Lower volume, a bit of a mental break and a chance to catch up on everything that slides by the way side when training is like a second job.
Mothers Day, today...what can I say. Mom has been gone since 2001. I miss her at times but more often that not, I don't.  To each their own relationship with their parents, I guess.
27  days of school left and it can't come too soon.
Signed up for the 24 hours of Booty this week...a fund raiser for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Ullman Caner Fund. September. Two weeks before the Triple Ironman and perfect for a last loooong ride before the taper.  If you'd like to donate to my total you can do so at www.24hoursofbooty.org  Thanks!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Weak 14 (sic)


Week 14 of the current Ironman training cycle....was more like "Weak 14."
I'm feeling much better after having had a cold since the 24 hour run but am still building back up. Glad I was sick well before the piggy flu hit or I would have been off to the doctor and probably stuck in the house. Not a lot of energy at times.
Had some good rides this week for a total of 135 which isn't anywhere near where I wanted to be this week, As to running, I still seem to be a bit congested and running, while better isn't the best. Swimming was fine with a long swim on Thursday with a main set of 2000 meters sustained.
All in all, while I feel weak, I had no ill effects, muscle wise from the 100 kilometers I ran two weeks ago...no soreness, no aches and pains and the feet healed up wicked fast!
The coming week will have swims at the 1 hour 30 minute mark and I hope to crack 200 miles on the bike. Running will still be modest. Hour total for the week should be 16 to 20.
On the advice of one of the students at school I downloaded some Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and 12 Stones to the ipod. Not bad...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Foot Lab


While it didn't turn out the way I would have liked, I really can't sneeze at the results of my attempt at the Virginia 24 Hour Run for Cancer. When you do endurance sports for a long time you end up in this sort of rarified atmosphere.  When you hang out with folks who do this sort of thing all the time you end up in this sort of rarified atmosphere.  "What do you mean you only got in 18 hours of training this week? Lightweight!" That sort of thing.
I was reminded of that today when co-workers asked how the race went..."Oh, Ok..I didn't do as well as I had hoped. I only made it 16 hours and 60 or so miles." Blank looks, quiet faces all around. "Only?"
I wanted to go back to the race this year and try and better my last years milage and use the event as a sort of lab for getting used to dealing with my feet and blisters and what not. After 25 Ultra marathons, 15 marathons and some Ironman events, I'm starting to have foot issues. Odd. Well...things change, we change. Adapt or stop. Stop is dead. No choice...figure it out.
Got into VA on Friday with Mary Lou along. Her schedule cleared and she was able to come along which made me feel just aces. Her presence and attitude and kindness help me see just how lucky I am to have found her. Made the race easier, too.
Saturday Morning comes early at 4:30. Break camp and get some food down walk over to the race start and set up an aid station.  Food, fluids and the aforementioned Blister Kit, extra clothes, shoes and odds and ends.
After a brief talk by George Nelson, the RD, in fine Ultra fashion, at 7:03 he says "Go!" and we are off.
Things go well at first and I'm running 5/1. Run five minutes and walk one. As the morning is cool I feel cool and smooth. I hit the marathon in under 5 hours.  The day warms up into the 80's which I am NOT prepared for, having had nothing but 50's and 60's here for weeks. 50k in 7 hours. The next 50k will take 9 hours. Despite pushing plenty of fluid, my pee is the color of 10W-40 Motor oil. It takes awhile to get it back to pale yellow. I'm able to remain chipper though...how can you not? It's a warm, sunny day, whatever distance you go is good and my baby is there every 3.75 miles when I go by the aid station. Besides, as I always say, "Any day you wake up on this side of the dirt, it's a good day!"
Steve Kirby, the RD for the Double and Triple IM, drops by for a howdy and it's good to see him. 
At dark out come the head lamps and well...it must be me, although  lots of folks complained about their head lamps. The LED kind? No shadows. Almost impossible to see the tree roots on the trail portion as they blend in well in the flat light. I stumble a number of times. 
At eleven PM I'm not feeling right and sort of weaving around a bit...but I got what I came for. Blister experience. I pull the plug and feel bad about it afterwards, but with Ironman and then the Triple in the fall, this was not the year to push it. Other fish to fry.
Now the Lab part:
I began the run with feet that I had body glided very liberally, covered with Injinji socks and then covered again with Thor-lo. Wore the Brooks shoe. The night before I used New-Skin to cover blister prone parts of my feet. At 50k I was getting hot spots on the balls of my feet. Stopped. Peeled everything off  and took a look. Nothing. No blisters, but developing hot spots. I covered them with 2nd skin and tape.  The remaining 50k they gave me no problem.  I did have two blisters develop. One on the sole of my left foot which popped on it's own and didn't bother me anymore and another on the heel of my right foot UNDER the callous! Not bad then but it's sore today! No blisters on any toes and that I think was because in the Injinji toe socks.
I changed socks every three hours, tried powder once to soak up sweat. (didn't work)
A little more practice and I'll get it. The next long run I'll try pre-taping to see how that goes. All the experienced loooong distance ultrarunners I know seem to swear by it. Also tried Compression socks (CVS $14:95) Post race and for the drive home. They did seem to help  with leg soreness and my lower legs do feel better than they normally do after an ultra. Drew up a "foot map" on getting home to keep track of what happened to my feet and how it was or wasn't fixed...that's it above.
Eating and drinking went well..at the 12 hour weigh in I was down by 2.5 pounds. (8 pounds or 5% would have gotten pulled from the race. 4.5 pounds or 2% would have been enough to hurt performance.) Ate well and even had a P&P break at 50k! (Pepsi and Pringels)
Thanks to George for a great race. Kudos to the male and female winners. (120 and 82.5 respectively) 
Now, if  I can just shake this cold!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

3 pounds of prevention...


You know the adage...An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?
A year ago I ran the Virginia 24 Hour Run for Cancer...but I didn't make it the whole 24 and pissed off at 11 hours and 52 miles...due to blisters I couldn't manage. I went light on the prevention, because I'd been running 50k and 50 miles with no problem....but as I've found out, blisters cannot be told what to do or when to show up. What works fine now might not the next time...
Long story short, At 48 miles, at the pit area (It's a loop course) I felt some hot spots on the balls of my feet...told myself I'd take a look at the end of the next lap...by the time I got back I had full blown blisters...big juicy suckers right between my metatarsal pads..Yuck! Toes too. Both Feet. That was it...done.  I tried a fix but on the next lap it was obvious it wasn't going to work...things were getting worse...lesson learned. Be Prepared. A lesson I should have NEVER forgotten.
After picking up a copy of "Fixing Your Feet" and reading a lot about blisters and what causes them, this time I'm ready. I'm a master at Hydration in long events but still get nailed from time to time. This time I'll be more diligent with my fluids and electrolytes, dehydration being one reason for blisters. My blister kit weighs close to 3 pounds! Pads, tape, ointment, needles, duct tape, mole skin, Body Glide, Vaseline, 2nd Skin...you name it. This, and practice about what works and what doesn't in the prevention department  as well as methods to deal with big blisters and keep moving...
This year...this weekend, as a matter of fact, I'm going down to do the event again. As I do with any distance event I have no expectations. Start at 7 this Saturday morning and just keep moving till Sunday Morning...Currently working on the ipod for the wee hours. Red Jump Suit Apparatus, Neil Young, David Bowie, Midnight Oil, ELP...new U2. Eclectic tastes.

NB: When Baden Powell was asked for what  Scouts should "Be Prepared" he replied:
"Why...any old thing."
See ya next week with the event report!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

8 weeks in.

Eight weeks into my Ironman Lake Placid and Triple Ironman training schedule...things are going well. Bike milage is coming up nicely and I'm back to a more fluid run and no pain with new orthotics. Swimming is...well, swimming. Although I have to say today's dip was smooth and fluid and I felt like it was through air instead of water. Time to up the meters.
Looking at a 20+ hour training week with a lot of run/walk milage as I get ready for a 24 hour run in April. Just coming off a rest week it should be fine. Man! Ya have to love rest weeks. At the end of the next three week cycle it will feel much different! (Ugh!)
The 24 hour run is a fund raiser for Hospice. The same Hospice folks in South East Virginia that helped with Mom before she died. I wouldn't miss it.
If the rain holds off...I be out in the lumps tomorrow afternoon. (Riding in the hills.) If not...another trainer fest! 


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Owls


Many years ago on a road trip flying low over the Interstate near Hayes, Kansas, we slammed into road debris form a dead semi. The van came off the ground slammed back down but my ex wife in a fit of denial  yelled "We're OK! We're OK!" I'd been sleeping, she was driving. All the warning lights ever put in a mini-van proceeded to blink and ding and holler, putting an abrupt end to her fantasy. On the side of the road I looked under the van...oil was spraying everywhere, gas gushed from the tank and my cut throat sign finally made her kill the engine.
It was 3:00 AM.
The lights of the now distant Hayes glowed, but out here on the road it was wicked dark.
We'd just spent three weeks in the West seeing where I had lived in Colorado and wandering through the Yellowstone and Wind Rivers. It's impossible to see these places, hear the tales and not think that the Souix and Nez Perce, Blackfoot and Crow were on to something.  The interconnectedness, the circle of life, spirits everywhere.
Standing on a dark road, feeling a bit overwhelmed  I ask my Dad for help. I'm not religious but knew my Dad, who had died the Winter before, had a loving spirit. 
I heard the owl before I saw him. A call that chilled me in the hot summer night. Then it flew over us. Broad winged, beautiful, even in the glow of the headlights. An omen. A spirit guide. Dad.
It wasn't ten seconds later that a car pulled up..."You folks alright?" A second car, a state trooper...whistled at the the sight of the under carriage and ushered us off to a nearby hotel, where breakfast appeared from  a closed kitchen. Tramp thankful we "crept off to sleep like refugees."
Ever since then when I hear owls I think of Dad and know he is near. 
On my run this evening, lots going through my mind...Home, work, Ironman Lake Placid and the Triple Ironman in October. I asked Dad to watch over me and keep me and Mary Lou safe in this tough time.
The hoot of an owl. Twice, three times, again and again. In the pines by the trail on the way home. I am followed through the trees and hear him till I turn out off the trail and onto the road.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Don't care what they say...Spring!


Out for a long-ish run this morning...15 miles, on a beautiful spring morning...
Yeah, I know, February 15th...but running through the park (Seneca Creek State Park) this morning there, in the meadows, were robins! Rushing around worming, bouncing along, head cocked to the side, looking for worm sign.
The poet Linda Pastan wrote."It is the light that tells us...Spring!" Too true, the days are longer, but the sight if a robin tells you that nature confirms.

Great run this morning...tooling along on the trails and roads in the park. The pace was at 70 to 75% of my maximum heart rate...a pace I can hold for hours. The best part...here in the middle of the Washington DC area, I can go for a 15 mile trail run and see two other people!

The week coming up is a low volume week in my training schedule.  WAHOO! Now, don't get me wrong...I love training for races and what it does for my body and mind...but MAN! One week out of every four with more time on my hands is great!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Pool at 5:00am

The Pool at 5:00am
A lane for myself.
Fluid that pushes back,
swimming downhill. Balance in the water. Catch and Release.
Arm down the sleeve. Pull. High Arms. Roll right. Left side breath. Catch, release, roll, breathe, sleeve, pull,roll, breathe...
Silence except for the muffled sound of the water and the bubbles underwater, breathing out. Swimming through a hole in the water heeled over like a sail boat for a split second, without the sails. Pull, pull,pull. No kicking here. No splash. Smooth is fast. Fast is smooth. Meters fly by. 200, 300, 500, 500, 300, 200 done. 
A whistled tune in a hot shower. 
The Pool at 5:00am.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Blizzard of '66

Was driving along yesterday and the weather guys on the radio were chatting about the impending snow storm next week...in the process they mentioned it was the 43rd anniversary of the "Blizzard of '66."
My head spun...one of those things that you remember very clearly but that gets shoved into some drawer in the grey matter to be pulled out when the time stamp gets triggered.

This photo is from the web of the Blizzard of 1966 posted by a fellow named "John. " Thanks! I looked but don't seem to have any pics around of the event...I was only in 6th grade at the time.
My parents, Tony and Stell, had gone off to an Elks convention somewhere on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for the weekend so we had been shunted off to one of my aunts. Asked Mom about that once and she said the only reason the convention finally broke up was because the liquor finally ran out! 
This being the days before  The Weather Channel or 24 hour news, when things were slower...it seemed to come as a surprise to everyone.
Mom and Dad didn't make it home till Wednesday of that week. I abandoned my Aunt Margarets house on Monday for the much more interesting Aunt Mea's. She was a little crazy and had a son about my age. There was a lot more freedom there. Down at the end of their street was a little Italian market and sometime during the whiteout we managed to walk there and bought a pizza to take back. It may seem crazy in this day and age, but it was my first pizza. You couldn't buy a frozen one and so if you wanted one you usually had to go to an Italian place, which where I grew up in Cumberland were few and far between.
You often hear stories of that time about how schools never closed in bad weather and people still got around OK. Well that's a bunch of tosh. We were out of school for more than a week, and being downtown I could see that streets were empty with folks having to travel on foot. I remember lots of storms like that.
I seem to remember the National Guard coming out with Duce and a half's (Trucks) to help essential personal get to where they need to be.
Now if only this storm on Monday night materializes...so I can enjoy yet another weather induced free space! It will be fun to hear..."We never closed schools..."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Free Space!


Ya have to love a snow day!
Well actually two...
I WISH this was a picture of my house! Alas...
This is the second day in a row my school system has been off due to poor weather...Snow yesterday and today it's ice, so everything is slicker than snot.

The training cycle for Ironman Lake Placid started on Monday... So things are cranking up as far as that's concerned..trying to get to the pool, running, biking ad pushing metal around...
I was going to focus on just Ironman this year but am having just too much fun right now doing long stuff, so Im trying to do a long distance event of some kind every month this year...sounds like a lot, but really it isn't. A Marathon/Century or better every month. No big deal really when you consider for Ironman I'll have to ride that long, at least, once every week before too long.
Swimming is the problem...just not hyper motivated to do it, but I'll get in enough to go 1:20 at Placid...I do plan to get in much more time on the bike and up the running some.
Mary Lou and I are still coming off the Disney High...it was such a great time. We'll go back and run there again next year.
Today's workout: One hour on the bike (indoors) and a lifting session. Was supposed to swim but school's closed and I don't feel like schleping over to the swim center...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Old Dog...New Tricks



Running with "The Mouse" down in Florida is a different kind of day. Or, in my case days. Last weekend my wife and I decamped to Disney World for the WDW Marathon and Half Marathon.
It's always a good time. Mary Lou ran her third Half Marathon and I succumbed to the draw of my fourth "Goofy Challenge." Run the half on Saturday and then the Marathon on Sunday. Easy. It's not bad actually, the hardest part being getting out of bed a 2:00 am two days in a row!
We're up at 2:00 on Saturday morning to get going and get on the Disney supplied race transportation at 3:00...Just a quick spin over to the Epcot Parking lot (we stayed on the grounds at Disney)  a bit of a walk over to the race site and then settle in. My first Goofy the temps were in the 30's and windy...it was not good sitting out there on the blacktop waiting for the race start.
Ever since and especially with ML's first Half  three years ago,we sign up for the Race Retreat...carpeted, warm, with food and tea and coffee and Mickey Mouse and private Porta-Johns, expensive, yes and worth every bloody penny!
At 5:00 we start the walk over to the start which takes about 20 minutes and it's a good time to chat and people watch. It's 55 degrees and I can't believe the number of folks in tights and jackets.  Then you ask them where they are from and it's always somewhere in Florida. 
We're in different start corrals so we smooch up our goodbye's  and I wander up to my area...although ML moved up a corral this year based on last years time.
With Fireworks, we're off at 6:00...and I settle into an easy flow. The roads at the start are broad and still the road is packed. I actually run into some other "Goofy" runners I met last year and we chat a bit.  If you're going fast enough most of the race is run in the dark and heading into the Magic Kingdom is a huge change from the dark roads. All here is light and sound and action and fun! Characters abound...Piglet, Alice in Wonderland, Captain Hook, Jack Sparrow... "Storming the Castle" is always a hoot and it's fun to sun through it to the sound of trumpets and with waves from a bevy of Disney Princesses...Quickly, we're out of the Park and heading back toward Epcot and in what seems like a flash  are zipping back around Space Ship Earth, past that wonderful choir that's there every year and then the finish....1:59, Chip time.
Fine with me as I have to run twice as far tomorrow. I grab some snacks and wait for my sweetie....she arrives in 2:42 better than last year but not as well as she could have...she stopped for ten minutes to care for blister at mile 6...smart move. It turns out to be a big one and would have ruined the rest of her race not to mention another four days of having fun at the theme parks! We finally meet up, have our picture taken and head back to the Retreat for Breakfast...ice bags shoved into the legs of my shorts to mitigate some swelling.
I'm so proud of my girl...The next day,she tells me she feels like a runner. A big step.
We walk around the parks with our good friends Tim and Emily the rest of the day, but are off to bed early as I'm up again at 2:00.
Marathon day sneaks up on me. I'm sleeping and dreaming. I walk over to myself in the dream and say "Wake up! You have to go to a race!" I'm immediately awake and look at the clock...it's 2:00 and the alarm just begins to ring...
The same routine as the day before...Up, organize, bus,walk, Race retreat...
Training buddy and good friend of ML's, Janet, is already there...she's a denizen of the Disney Races, but we figure out it's her first full Mary in 7 years... We chat with others and eat bagels... Walk the walk at 5:00, into our starting corrals...
Now the title of this post is "Old Dog, New Tricks"... For the first time I'm going to run a race with an ipod. I know that just saying that will send some of the readers of this apoplectic.
I'm one of the folks that rails against folks running in races with headphones especially those who do it irresponsibly. (too loud, don't pay attention to what's going on around them...that stuff) How can I complain about them, if I don't know what it's like to run a race  with them...Know thy enemy, right?  
Off at 6:00 with better fireworks than yesterday....a loop around Epcot...through that park and off toward Magic Kingdom on the same course as yesterday although we'll get there at mile 10 instead of 6. Ipod on, I'm stoked with ELP, Kings of Leon, Pretenders, Cream, The Call, Incubus   and all sorts of other hair raising stuff. I am surprised at how fast the tunes seem to make things go...It keeps the mind off the pain at hand, and mind you now...Disney is a great production with lots of music and DJ's in the middle of nowhere...Music doesn't help with the GI problems though and I have to make two pit stops and lose some time...
Feel better and out of the MK and off toward Animal Kingdom... on the lanes that run through areas we never see as "guests." It's a lovely morning with the sun now up and temps heading up...again I see folks in tights and jackets. It's over 60 degrees now and they are suffering... (I'll count 7 people down in the last 6 miles...all wearing tights and long sleeves.)
Maintaining a steady pace, I'm slowing a bit but it's ok... Despite the headphones I chat with some folks and hear all the shouts of the water stop crews...years of biking have taught me to be hyper aware and I always look before I move right or left and point out my intention if I need too.
After AK the road hits a long empty bit before the Hollywood Studios...The music pumping in my ears makes this section easier, mentally, than the previous 3 years.
Through the Studios and down the path to Epcot...Walking a bit now the crowd is just stellar.
Before you know it I'm in Paris and mile marker 25...I wrap up the phones for the finish line pics...I have met the Enemy...and it's me! I won't train with music or run short races with one but long stuff? Oh, Yea!
No real "Wall" for me today...done in 4:34 by chip.
I recently read that listening to music while running (Runners World) increases endurance by 15%. I don't know if it does...but it sure makes it one hell of a lot more fun!
Disney is a slow race: of 14,940 finishers I'm 4,647 in the Mary. Average finish time 5:08.
                                       of 12,434 in the Half Mary I'm 1,902. Average finish time 2:35
While the Disney races aren't  for everyone...it's a great first time race for those not focused on time. Even the Winner, who seems to win there yearly (2:20 this year) does it because it's so much fun!
Thanks to the ever beautiful ML and to Tim and Em and Janet for making this an especially good trip...


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My Hero

Mary Lou is an accidental runner. She didn't mean it to happen but after we met, one thing led to another and she started. In her 50's she STARTED running. She went a bit at a time and took walking breaks and did her first 5 K and then did another... Three years and some months ago she said she wanted to try a Half Marathon...the one I do at Disney World. This weekend she'll be starting her third Half there...and I couldn't be more proud.
She says she's not a runner but she still gets out, even when the weather is bad. 
She says she's not a runner but she knows what kind of shoe she should wear and what socks work best for her.
She says she's not a runner but she knows where the body glide will do the most good.
She say she's not a runner but she knows she doesn't like Gu as well as which kind of blocks she prefers.
She says she's not a runner but she reads Runners World when it comes in the house.
She says she's not a runner but she'd like to finish the Half this year close to last years time.
I tell her she's a runner but she shakes her head and disagrees.
While she may not see herself as a runner, I do... others do too. 
It's easy for me...it has been since I was a kid.
It's not easy for her but she still goes. Some days it's great and some days it sucks. Just the way it is for every other runner. She stays with it and starts a training plan and sees it through even on days when she would rather do other things...
She wanted to do it because she wanted to understand me better, because it meant something to me. She also found out things about herself, things she is proud of.
She is a runner despite her best intentions...
She is also my Hero.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Goofy...


Life really is too serious to take seriously, hence: The Goofy Challenge!
Off to Disney World this week to run the GC for the 4th time.
It's a wonderful event and all about the fun.
On Saturday the 10th I'll run the WDW 1/2 Marathon (13.1) miles. Leaves Epcot and heads over to the Magic Kingdom and back.
On Sunday...I get to do it again but this time running the WDW Marathon (26.2). This race leaves Epcot and runs to hell and gone all over the theme parks. It's really a good time. Disney does an outstanding job of moving people ...even those that happen to be running.
Mary Lou is running her third 1/2 Mary on Saturday...In fact a repeat of these shinnanigans is her fault! I was willing to not go back the run there this year, but lo and behold, the announcement came in January that the races were open for registration and she said she would love to back...
This Year Emily and Tim will go with us and I'm sure that will provide even more fun.

Running at Disney isn't about negative splits and pace and such (although I am sure it is for some...it's not for me.) Doing a race there is about seeing Alice in Wonderland and doing the "terrorist fist bump" with Mickey and Minnie! Fireworks in the pre-dawn darkness and the sun rise over the Magic Kingdom.  It's about the church choir that comes out and the high school bands that play and cheer and the special needs kids who sit on the roadside and just hope for a high five from a runner...how can you pass them up?
If you run there and go head down,hell bent for leather you'll miss a lot. Better to stay home and run a race without the all the ...fun!
(Please note: Race distances in parenthesis  are for those folks who can't remember.)

Changes.


This is the third incarnation of a Blog I started years ago.
It started as "The Razor's Edge." Over on Trifuel.com
Way too serious of a name! I mean how many people do YOU know who've actually read the "Upanishads?"  It 's true that life is like walking the edge of a razor...but enough with the possible doom already!
Incarnation two was Aging Superhero." Jeepers...who am I kidding? After all the name just popped into my head while I was searching for a new name and wasn't intended for long term use anyway. I deleted that Blog...which was fun because life isn't about permanent anyway.

So here we come to Anton's Path. 
Some are rocky and steep and others are easy and flat. You never know what the day's path will be like until you're well on it.
Tolkein wrote something to the effect of: "When you go out your door, keep to your feet for there is no telling where you may be swept off too."