Monday, December 31, 2007

Slowing Down

2007 Year in Review

This year has been a great year, a year of so many firsts. In March, I ran my first half marathon. I really pushed myself hard for that race, harder than I had in a long time, and the rewards were well worth the effort. Shortly after that, I began training for my first sprint triathlon. To this day, I remember the cold shock of hitting the water, despite the wet suit. The concern over my less than stellar swim was short lived as I absolutely rocked my second triathlon. Hitting that one on all cylinders was just what I needed to get permanently hooked on this tri stuff.

Then, it was on to Hiawassee, where I was plagued with yet another poor swim and a burn out on the bike. This was my first international distance triathlon and proved that I had a lot to learn about pacing myself for each part of the race. I put this knowledge to good use at my first "official" Olympic distance triathlon at West Point. To swim almost a mile in open water, far, far, far, far away from shore was such a monumental achievement for me. I practically floated on auto-pilot through the rest of the race.

On September 15, 2007, I returned to a small Lutheran church in Marietta, Georgia for my first repeat race ever. The McMillan pace chart said I needed to run at an 8:06 pace, so I ran at an 8:06 average pace, coming in 4:24 seconds faster than my same time last year. I followed up this awesome performance with my first ever DNF. I let my fears get the best of me. I'm sure it won't be the last time. Determined not to end my tri season on bad note, I co-oped my marathon training for one last triathlon. I had a good swim. The bike and the run were just gravy :-)

Now that I had finally settled my triathlon season, I was able to concentrate on training for my first marathon. At the last minute, I was able to squeeze in the Chickamauga 10 Miler as a training race. I felt this was a very important step in my training, and as an added bonus I got to meet up with Nat and new blogger friend Brian, who completed his first marathon!! Then, my darling wife talked me into doing a half marathon for a turkey trot! LOL!! I won't forgive her soon for that one, but I did have a great time, despite the cold and the rain.

To end it all, the big one. As far as over all race experiences goes, it was my best race ever, followed by a close second at Callaway and West Point. The race itself was the toughest I had ever completed, and I learned so much from it. It will serve me well for a lifetime ahead. I wouldn't trade the experience for the world.

What does the future hold?

Next year, I am going for quality instead of quantity. My race schedule is pretty much fixed for 2008. I have some incredible firsts in there as well. My first half ironman. My first 5K open water swim. My first century. My first Ironman. I'm sure Dee Dee will want to add a few races into that, and I will do the ones with her that I can. If I can't then I will be her biggest cheer leader. I may or may not decide to add another half iron distance in the September time frame.

I've also decided to take off the training wheels next year. Instead of running further than what is called for in my training plan, I plan to do away with my walk breaks. I'm not ruling them out, mind ya, just planning to only take them if absolutely necessary. I think that's a great goal, especially since it isn't focused on time.

There you have it, my friends. I wish you all a wonderful 2008. I'm looking forward to stalking you all at least as much I did in 2007. Thanks for not running me off :-)

Wes

BTW: Dee Dee and I ran 16 miles on Saturday. Her first 16 miler!! :-)

ORN: 16 miles, 3:45:52, long pace, R2/W1, 14:07 mmp

Friday, December 28, 2007

Multisport Ponderings

As I began my run yesterday, it became rapidly apparent that my little funtastic kick drill I did in the pool Wednesday had done a number on my legs. I didn't really "feel" like running until after the walk break at the end of my first mile. A lot of times, my running is just like that. I don't feel it until a third to half way through my run.

I had mentioned before that I would like to maintain my run fitness during my half ironman training. For me, that means running longer than the amount of time currently allocated on the plan. I tried to do this last summer as well and failed miserably. Now, I think I'm beginning to see the light and/or have a sudden realization.

It's going to be tough to run as long as I would want to and build up the swimming and cycling at the same time. I might add a little here and there, but sticking to the plan sounds like a better idea. Focusing in a lopsided manner on running could be detrimental to my success.

Hmmmmm...

Wes

BTW: Thanks Steph for the heads up on the aquatic center. That looks like a much better deal than I am currently getting, and its not that much further from my house.

ORN: 5 miles, 50:56, normal pace, R4/W1, 10:12 mmp

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Drillin n Chillin

I am getting pretty consistent with this "going back to the pool" thing. I had pretty much entered recreational mode in September and really swam not at all during October, November, and much of December. While I was researching paddles and fins yesterday at work (between builds), I came across a really good swimming website: Go Swim. There are a number of good articles there on different paddles and how to use them, as well as information on training fins.

After reading the articles (during lunch :-), I found a couple of drills of the week I thought were interesting. Technically, I'm not training for the half Ironman yet (I punted the 26 week plan, but more on that later), and I didn't want a drill that was three to four thousand meters. The drill of the week for last week caught my eye. It was basically three different sets: kick, free style, fins and paddles, going as far as you could go on two minute intervals. That sounded good and would give me the opportunity to try out my new fins and paddles.

Even after a full year, there's still something a little odd about swimming in winter. The initial shock of the cold water is disconcerting. I guess I expect to stay cold because it is so cold outside, but the water temp is 82 degrees. I checked. I began my first series of six intervals by kicking, and I about killed myself on the very first interval. Despite completing fifty meters in 1:20, my legs were so traumatized that I decided to switch to fins. I had read this was OK in my Total Immersion book. Every time my watch beeped at two minutes, I started another interval. Once the kicking was complete, I took off the fins and switched to freestyle. Since I don't kick much when I freestyle, it felt good to glide across the top of the water. I finished the second set of six in 12 minutes as well, coming in around 1:40 for each one hundred meters.

Finally, it was on to paddles and fins. It was a lot easier than I thought. The paddles basically force you to slice your hand through the water at the right angle, reach, then pull. I found myself swimming at a much easier and relaxed pace, yet coming in at the same time as I did during the freestyle portion. Since the paddles and fins help with propulsion, this makes perfect sense.

I'm hoping to put my bike computer on Aerowyn today. Its going to be warm enough to get a good bike ride in this weekend. I'm also hoping to get in five miles today and three tomorrow.

Happy Thursday, fellow peasants :-)

Wes

OSN: 1600 meters, 6x50 kick, 6x100 free, 6x100 fins and paddles, 1x100 c/d

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

and He answered...

It pretty much rained here off and on from Sunday to Tuesday. Not the torrential drought busting rain that we need, but better than a drizzle this time. The rumor mill rumored that the lake rises one foot for every inch of rain we get. I thought we "might" have gotten more than an inch over the past couple of days. We'll see.

There was more under our Christmas tree this year than I had expected. Due to the fact that we were staying at home this year, most of the out of town presents came in as gift cards and cash. Totally OK with us, it just makes for a slightly less normal amount of presents under the tree. After opening presents, Dee Dee and I cooked up some monster omelets for breakfast. I out did myself this time :-)

The weatherman had predicted the rain would stop around 10:15 AM. It didn't. After lunch, I decided that since the rain would stop, I would go ahead and get my run in. I mean. Shucks. I DO run on Tuesdays after all. I decided I wouldn't do a full five miles and did four instead. When I got to 3.5 miles, the rain started to come down in buckets. I got soaked. It was only after I got home that I realized it was forty degrees out. Stupid weatherman :-) I'll take it.

For Christmas dinner, we had honey baked ham, Dee Dee's decadent mashed potatoes, my (Paula Deen's) corn pudding, salad, and crescent rolls. I made my first cheese cake for desert! It was splendid and went really well with the martinis!!

For us hourly wage earners, its back to work! Have a great week y'all!!

Wes

ORN: 4 miles, 44:04, normal pace, R4/W1, 11 mmp

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Chasing the Setting Sun

In Search of Christmas Present(s)

I've spent all weekend wrapping up my Christmas shopping. Dee Dee and I had promised each other that the trip to Disney was going to be our present to each other, but how could I let Christmas go by without having anything under the tree for my Dee Dee. We spent the first part of the day, Saturday, spending gift cards and visiting all3sports. We purchased some really nice glasses and bowls from Williams Sonoma with a gift card my father and step-mother gave us. I scored some fins and paddles at the tri store. I'm just about all set to give this tri stuff a serious run next year :-)

Then, it was off to the malls for the kiddos. I think I dun good for my youngest. He has some things he wanted, and a few surprises to boot. My oldest, not so good. He has just been so hard to buy for this year. I don't want to spend money on him for the sake of spending money. I want him to get what he wants, what he needs. He's been real trooper, and said that IOUs are fine with him. My oldest, my daughter, has been the easiest. Some make up, a few things here and there, and she is happy. She really has been a joy.

All day today, I've been itching to get out there and get my run in. Due to some last minute running around, it wasn't until after four that Dee Dee and I finally got to dress out and hit the streets. Unfortunately, Dee Dee wasn't feeling well, and she turned back after the first mile. Due to my "itch" I poured it on and watch my per mile rate drop from 12 to 10.5 minute miles. That's not too shabby at all, given the hills I run on. I have to admit though, I was tuckered out by the time I took "The Test", but I managed to pick it back up at the end and finish with a 10:32 average pace for 10.1 miles. That's a solid run for me. As I took the final turn home, the sun finished setting and the temperature dropped below forty degrees. It was getting cold! I want to do a sixteen miler next weekend, and then its full speed ahead for Disney.

My best wishes to all of you for a very merry and blessed Christmas. My thoughts and warm fuzzines will be with you all (but that's all you're gonna get ;-)

Wes

ORN: 10 miles, 1:45:20, tempo pace, R4/W1, 10:32 mmp

Friday, December 21, 2007

Drizzle Drazzle

I think God has it in for us, or maybe He just doesn't care. I sit at my desk all day, watching the little weather gadget on Google Desktop. The line of clouds began to form in Texas and stretched the entire width of the southern states. I watched with glee as the colors turned from green to yellow with spots of red, indicating heavy rain fall. As the line of clouds moved across Mississippi and Alabama, my heart excited with anticipation. Then, just as the storms arrived in Georgia, the clouds split. The heavy rains moved off to the north and south of Atlanta. We got a drizzle. *sigh*

That's what I ran in. I almost pushed the run off till today, but I could not let myself do that. Part of this process of becoming Iron and a better marathoner is mental toughness, doing the things you have to do, no matter. I dug my old torn up Under Armor shirt out of the closet, along with my Banana Nike rain coat and took off in the drizzling rain. The two bowls of Red Beans and Rice I had eaten thirty minutes before sat heavy in my stomach. My legs felt heavy and leaden. In honor of these two things, I opted for a run 4/walk 2 cycle. It really is one of my favs, even though I don't use it that often. On the way out, I felt like I had dressed too warmly. I was sweating and the Under Armor was rubbing me raw in the wrong places. Once I turned around though, the wind at my back was now hitting me head on, and I felt every bit of the forty plus degree temperatures.

As my food settled in, so did my run, and I picked up the pace, coming in a mere fifteen seconds per mile slower than my run on Tuesday, despite the extra minute of walking. As I walked down the driveway to my home, the rain stopped for good, and I wondered if we'd ever get the rainfall we so desperately need.

Wes

ORN: 5 miles, 55:51, normal pace, R4/W2, 11:10 mmp

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Spread

I'm not sure why, but this title insists on recycling an old memory of mine from basic training. I was in the army, training in Fort Sill, OK. If there ever was a place that could be titled "Butthole of the World", Fort Sill would be it. Any who... One of the things you have to do in basic training is get certified as a marksman. Now, I grew up with guns. I was shooting innocent flying critters out of the sky as early as seven. Then it was on to bigger and smarter critters until I quit in futility and accepted the fact they were smarter than me.

Oh yea, basic training...

After getting the lecture about always pointing our rifles down range and always checking them to make sure we were empty, we all lined up on the range to begin the process of calibrating the sights on the M-16s. The idea was to fire three shots at the target and have all three shots end up in a spread as close together as possible. Since we were adjusting the sights, hitting the center of the target wasn't a problem.

I worked very hard to relax my breathing and make my three shots count. I was scared to death of spraying my shots all over the target and having my arse chewed out. After everyone was finished, one of the drill sergeants went up and down the line, looking at everyone's targets. When he got to mine, he turned around and looked at me, looked at the target, looked at me again, then continued walking. I had no idea what he was up to until I went and looked at the target. I had placed a perfect quarter size spread about six inches from the bulls eye at about 2 o'clock on the target. I smiled and beamed with pride. One of these days, I'll tell ya how my certification went on the M-60 machine gun. Let's just be glad in that case, that there were no civilians within 3 miles downrange of the targets :-)

What does that have to do with anything you ask? Well... Yesterday, I went to the pool to swim 1500 meters. I decided that I would "practice" for my test next week by swimming 4x300 as my main set. After my warm ups, I just decided to go ahead and take my test anyways. I was surprised and pleased to see my times come in at 4:59, 4:58, and 5:02. Now, that's what I call a tight spread!! It's amazing after 12 lengths of the pool that my times could be so close together. That gives me a what, 1:40 100 meter time? I think that's pretty darn good. No where near my race time of 2:00 per 100 meters. Very encouraging indeed.

Got another fiver on the books today. The weather is a little warmer but a lot wetter. We'll see how it goes.

T'il tomorrow!

Wes

OSN: 1500 meters, 33:20, 1x150 w/u, 4x300 free, 1x150 c/d

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum... I have, for the moment, lost my desire to care about my time. Last night, I wanted to run. First it was 4 miles. Then it was five miles. Six, eight, ten even. It was a cool forty degrees as I stepped out the door. The sun had long since set, and Christmas lights lit up the neighborhood.

I set off down oft trodden paths. My running was strong. My breathing was labored as I struggled to deal with the influx of cold air. I settled into a easy R4/W1 rhythm, but I ignored the Garmin for everything but interval timing. As I reached the end of my sub-division. I made my decision. It would be five. The lower half of my body felt like Pop-Eye, me looking all suave and athletic in my black tights and black Mizuno shell.

As I hit the three mile mark, my legs began to remind me of my marathon. My heel began to ache. My knees started to complain a bit. As I struggled up Mount Doom without nary a walk break, I was thankful that for just one more time, I was smarter, not hard headed. I pulled into the doorway at the end of my five miles feeling spent, wholesome, grateful that my life allowed me the luxury of this time to myself, and that my body was capable of carrying me on my journey. I do love running at night. The stars are glorious, and the cold weather pretty much guarantees the solitude and peacefulness I find so rewarding.

My wish for you all this holiday season is to find your comfort zone, that happy place, where the troubles of the world are pushed aside for a short time. Revel in the Miracle of Life my friends, and let not your heart be troubled.

Wes

ORN: 5 miles, 54:10, steady pace, R4/W1, 10:50 mmp

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Funkification

Sounds like a dirty word, doesn't it? Say it. F-U-N-K-I-F-I-C-A-T-I-O-N. LOL! Reminds me of sex (wonder why) and that song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Everybody sing!! Californication...

But, oh, woe is me... I basically stuck to the plan last week. I went swimming, twice. I ran one extra day with Dee Dee. Then, she promptly left me to go out of town on Thursday and everything went to hell in a hay basket.

I had a few beers Thursday. Then, I had a few more beers Friday. Then Saturday, I got up and ran with the running club. Then I had a few more beers. In between all this, I was spiking my nervous system with coffee. *sigh*

Sunday really sucked. Monday too. Sleep has been pathetic. But I learned a good lesson, or maybe I reinforced a known lesson I choose to ignore. Drugging your body with a depressant (beer) and then drinking copious amounts of coffee in the morning to compensate is primarily responsible for the sad state of affairs I find my body in these days. Grrrrrrr!! Mood swings... Me? Hmmmmph...

I've been coming back to Planet Normal. No beer Sunday. Nor Monday. And I skipped the one that I normally have with breakfast :-) Second day without coffee to boot, and I'm almost jovial. Which is a good thing, cause last night when I came home, Dee Dee was cleaning the muzzle loader in the den with a gleam in her eye.

Now?! I WANT TO RUUUUUNNNNNNN :-) I'm thinking of trying to get in twenty this week. Depends on what Ms. Dee Dee wants to do. She really only has two more weekends to get her mileage up there. Sooooooo.... It'll either be twenty, or more.

Wes

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Holiday Treat

Open the Gates of Hades... Here comes Wes, driving the bus!! Dee Dee made (white) chocolate covered pretzels over the weekend. I told you she was inherently evil! I just sat there and popped them into my mouth like they were zero calorie pop corn. Oh the insanity!

Then... she made me... RUN! and I did. for 3 miles. I held up surprisingly well, I thought. Just some slight soreness re-manifesting itself towards the end of the run.

But I was slow. and Dee Dee was slow (She ran 12 on Monday). It was all good.

I got poked by Pokey to do a Christmas meme. Without further ado, my treat to you:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bag?
Wrapping paper. I hate wrapping gifts, but that's the way Santa does it.

2. Real tree or artificial? Love the smell of a real tree, but I hate having to dispose of it and clean up all the needles. We have an artificial tree, but go with a real one every now and then.

3. When do you put up your tree? I don't. Jimmy has taken on that responsibility. He put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take down your tree? Usually the first or second week of January.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes! especially with bourbon in it :-) but I can't remember the last time I had bourbon in my egg nog. Maybe I'll rekindle that tradition this year!

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I have NOOOOO idea...

7. Do you have a nativity scene? We have a south western themed nativity scene. Somehow, a plastic velociraptor always ends up in the scene...

8. Hardest person to buy for? It used to be Dee Dee. Now that she is into tri and running, its gotten easier. Now, my oldest is getting harder to buy for.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Matthew. Anything to do with the computer is good for him.

10. Worst Christmas gift you've ever received? In sixth grade my secret santa gave me match box cars. I was thinking, "What kind of idiot would give a sixth grader toy cars?" I successfully fought to appear grateful.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? What? We're supposed to send out Christmas cards? Oops.

12. Favorite Christmas movie? It's a Wonderful Life, Friday, December 14th, NBC, 8 PM EST.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Sometime next week...

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No. I have returned them for something else, but I would never re-gift something.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Big fat chocolate chip cookies my grandmother makes. and her fudge.

16. White or colored lights? both

17. Favorite Christmas song? O Christmas Tree (Charlie Brown)

18. Traveling for Christmas or stay home? Staying home this year. Last year we traveled.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Not really. Rudolph, Donner, Blitzen Prancer, Comet, Cupid, Vixen, Dasher, I think..

20. Angel or Star on top of tree? Angel

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The crowds at the mall.

23. What I love most about Christmas? An official reason to give back..

In keeping with tradition, I don't tag. If you wanna do this meme, consider yoself tagged!

Wes

ORN: 3 miles, 40 minutes, very easy pace, R2/W1, 13:30 mmp

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

After the Marathon

I'm still glowing, and healing, and feeling that tingling sensation of pride when I think about it. As I lay in bed Sunday night, I remembered my conversation I had with my father Friday night. It was his birthday, and I called him late, worrying the whole time that I would have missed him. He goes to bed early and gets up at some ungodly time in the morning. I left him messages on both his home phone and his cell phone and resigned myself to doing "my best". To make a long story short, he called me back about thirty minutes later. Seems he was out Christmas "partying" and was glad that I called. He didn't keep me long. He knew I was focused on the marathon, even though it was his day. He's humble like that. As I was lying in bed Sunday night, I realized that my family knew that I had run a marathon. They didn't care what my time was, and any disappointment I may have harbored over that admittedly tiny slice of my trip to Huntsville flew out the window. All was good in the world.


Sunday itself wasn't too bad. I was sore, but it was bearable. Monday, the knots in my calves were really sore, especially the spots where they had cramped. I went for a nice slow 1.5 mile walk Monday night, and Tuesday, I went to the pool for a 750 meter swim. Both of these small amounts of exercise have left me feeling pretty good today, not ready to run, but pretty good.

My race schedule for next year is laid out. My plan right now is to maintain my run fitness and execute a 12 week training plan for the half ironman in May. It's actually a 14 week schedule if you toss in the week before and week after the Olympic in April. Between now and the start of training, I'm going to start swimming and cycling again.

After we do Disney in January, I basically have one opportunity to become a marathon maniac! I would have to run the Alpharetta Marathon in March. Not sure if that's a go or not. We'll have to wait and see how I'm feeling after Disney.

OK, peeps... If you have any advice on how much to run between now and Disney, lay it on me. That Hal Higdon multi-marathon plan is nuts. Ain't gonna happen. For now, I'm spinning my own wheels.

Wes

OSN: 750 meters, 20 minutes, 1x150 w/u, 10x50 w/20s, 1x100 c/d

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Marathoner or Bust

A Rocket City Marathon Race Report

What an absolutely amazing weekend! It was definitely one of those once in a life time events, made all the more special because two of my blogging friends, Darrell and Joe were there to share it all with me. Big shout out to you guys for a great weekend!!

Now that Jimmy is driving, I had been able to bank some time at work and get off at 12:30 PM on Friday. I stopped off at Wendy's on the way home to pick up Matthew some lunch. Poor guy had been sick and out of school all week. Unfortunately, I missed Dee Dee's call because I keep my cell phone on silent. After packing up, we got out of the house around 2:00 PM and stopped off at Wendy's again to get Dee Dee some lunch. This turned into a trial of patience as it took almost twenty minutes to get her food and get out on the road.

The ride over to Huntsville was very pleasant. We decided to take the direct route rather than go up the interstate to Chattanooga then back down. Coming out of the mountains and down to Lake Weiss/Tennessee River was just awesome. There must have been about 10 gazillion critters on the lake. I guess they all moved there from Georgia. About fifteen minutes out, Darrell called. Joe and Darrell had just gotten through with the tour run and were getting ready for the pre-race pasta dinner. I told him we were about thirty minutes away and would be there soon. We were a lot closer than I thought. By the time thirty minutes had passed, we had arrived, checked in, and got our race packets. We finally managed to hook up with the guys and it was truly just like meeting old friends. I'd heard about this phenom from other bloggers, and its true.

We headed down to the pasta dinner, and it was the usual affair. We had salad, a big ole plate of spaghetti, unsweet tea, and afterwards, some cake. After eating, we hung around to listen to the guest speaker who was none other than Jeff Galloway. He gave a great speech about the run/walk method. I plugged my ears when he talked about "The Wall" and "Being against Death". I just didn't want to hear it :-) But it was a good speech, and reinforced a lot of the practices I have been following for the past year.

After the speech, the four of us, Dee Dee, Joe, Darrel, and I retired to the atrium for some chit chat. We had a nice hour or so talk. It was great spending some time with everybody. It didn't take long for us all to realize we had had a long day and head off to our respective rooms. I laid out all my stuff for the race in the morning and then hit the sheets. Dee Dee stayed up a little while watching television. I had a rather fitful sleep until 1 or 2 AM in the morning. That was when the drunks came in and beat on our door. I just ignored them and went back to sleep. I slept soundly until the alarm went off at 5:30 AM local time, 6:30 AM Atlanta time.

Dee Dee and I got dressed and went downstairs to breakfast. I had a pretty hearty breakfast. I'm kind of used to running with food on the stomach, but I knew eggs and grits wouldn't slow me down too much. After breakfast, we went back to the hotel room to pick up the fuel belt, Garmin, and race belt, then we headed down to the starting line. I took a slow jog around the lake about twenty minutes before the start. I realized I had to go to the bathroom one more time before the race. I grabbed the room key and headed back to the hotel one more time. Having a hotel room right by the race start and finish is just wonderful. After returning to the race start, I found my place in the 4:15-4:30 group and met up with Darrell and Joe. The gang was all here. It was time to become a marathoner.


Here we are at the start of the race. 33 seconds to the big boom. Can you see me? LOL! Don't look too hard!! With a boom the cannon went off and the small crowd of runners began moving forward. This was a small race. It didn't take long for me to cross the starting line, about 45 seconds. As I crossed the starting line, I hit the Garmin, and we were off.

The temperature at the start of the race was around 50 degrees. The humidty, however, was very high. Dee Dee and I had checked the weather channel before leaving, and there was two lonely rain clouds making a bee line for Huntsville. As we headed out on the loop around the hotel area, We all settled into an easy 9:00 - 9:30 pace.

Here comes Darrell showing us all how marathoners get it done :-) Joe and I were tagging along close behind.

Joe and I were sticking to the plan of running 9 minutes then walking one minute. That pretty much meant we were walking one minute every mile. I found the going very easy at the first part of the race. I had to remind myself, and Joe, several times that our pace was too fast. We needed to keep ourselves under control. Still, we managed some 9:30 miles by taking advantage of some of the gentle downhills at the start of the course.

Around mile 4, Joe decided that he needed to use the restroom. When he stopped, I continued on without him. About this time, I began to realize that doing the run 9/walk 1 was probably not a good idea for me. I did a couple of more intervals that way, then I switched to a run 3/walk 1. This was the prescribed pace for 10 minute miles per Galloway. Around mile 8, Joe passed me. He was looking strong and in the zone.

At some point, around mile 7, we ran through a school parking lot where the local tri club had an aid station. After taking some Gatorade, we ran through a tunnel under the street. There was a beautiful lady serenading all the runners in the tunnel with an accordion. That was pretty awesome. I can't tell you how awesome this course was, especially the first part. The route was mostly flat, and the hills were so gentle, you hardly even noticed it.

After running the first part of the race through residential areas, we made a right turn onto a four lane highway. This was going to be the longest single stretch of the race. In several places along this route, there were crowds/teams of citizens trying to win the spirit award. I would run down the line high fiving all the great spectators. It was also along this route that I got to see Accordion Girl one more time. She was roller blading down the side walk, serenading the runners.

When I started the run 3/walk 1 pace, I had watched my per minute mile rate slip to 10:30. Between miles 10 and 13, I felt that uncomfortable feeling in the pad of my left foot for the first time. I silently prayed that it would slow me down. As it turned out, those were the least of my worries. Despite my slower time, I crossed the half marathon timing mat on pace at 2:12:?? and some change.

At mile 14, I felt the familiar twinge on the inside of my left calf and I cursed. I knew that if I got a cramp, I would be severely strained to finish the race. I trudged along down the long highway. I remember seeing a huge hill up ahead and groaning. Lucky for me, and everybody else, the route took a sharp right turn at the bottom of the hill, back into the residential part of town.


I was excited to see Dee Dee at mile 16. I was slowing down considerably here, trying not to let the cramps take over my race. By mile 19, I was toast.

Death Warmed Over

I told Dee Dee that I was cramping, and I wanted to off load some of my stuff, but I forgot. Between miles 19 and 20, my race came to a screeching halt. The pain was so bad that I entertained the idea of DNFing. Once I was able to walk again, I pushed all thoughts of DNFing out of my mind. I didn't come this far to quit. I vowed to finish this race even if I had to walk/crawl the entire remaining distance.

As the cramps eased, I tried to start a run one minute walk one minute pace. It kind of worked, but unfortunately, the cramps weren't on a run one minute walk one minute schedule. More often than not, I had to either walk or stop entirely. What was really sad was when I tried to stretch my calf, my outside thigh muscle would cramp. I was basically damned if you do, damned if you don't. The way I saw it, if I ran and cramped and had to stop, it was slower than just walking. Eventually, I strung together some one minute runs and managed to keep my pace below 14 minute miles. I was NOT excited about being out on the course for another hour and a half.

Eventually, the course merged back onto the same route we took on the way. Back under the tunnel and into the school parking lot. The tri club had put up a cute series of posters. It said:

What? You can't be tired! You skipped the 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike!

I personally thought it was pretty cute. I don't think many of the other marathoners were amused at this point. As I passed through a church parking lot and by another school, I saw Dee Dee waiting for me at mile 23.


This is Joe crossing the street in front of the school. I later found out that he had cramping problems as well, and he was 10-15 minutes in front of me.

Dee Dee took this picture of me crossing in front of the school. I tried to tip my hat and/or wave to all the people in the cars waiting for me to cross the street. While there wasn't a lot of spectators, community support for this event was just awesome. She actually caught me during one of my run one minute attempts. Usually, I felt good enough to run, but by the end of one minute, my legs were numb and tingling.

All that was left now was the final 5K of the race. My cramps had, by now, settled into a persistent state of tightness. I was able to string together a number of successful run 1 walk 1 cycles to mile 25, keeping my pace below 14 minute miles. As I hit mile 25, I began to "bank" some of my strength for that final push to the finish line. When I hit mile 26, I made a left hand turn, and there was the finish line two tenths of a mile away. I broke into a slow jog then a trot, and then I managed a run. I was cruising along, just praying that my legs would hold off long enough for me to make it to the finish line in style. Oh, no you don't!! Just as I entered the finisher's chute, a cramp brought me up stone cold.

Dee Dee captured the moment

At this point, I just wanted to cry, but I didn't. I was forced to stand there for several minutes, finish line within sight, rubbing my left calf to work out the pain. I started walking, then jogging. I heard the announcer say my name. Up ahead, I saw Darrell sitting on the curb, waiting for me to finish, and right behind him was Dee Dee with the camera. Darrell yelled at me, congratulating me on my finish, but by now, I was NOT in a good mood. I told him, "It is what it is!", and later I joked with him about trying to be all positive with me at the end of my agony! LOL...

Before the start of the race, Dee Dee had given me a bracelet with the words, Be Strong written on them. As I crossed the finish line, I put my wrist over my heart and raised my arm in the air, finishing in 05:13:54 clock time.


Dee Dee was a saint after the race. She helped me get water and Gatoraide. She took me to the banquet room and helped me find a place to sit down. She went back and and forth several times to get me more delicious vegetable soup. Darrell had gone up to check on Joe. After resting for a bit, I went back to the hotel room to take a shower and pack up. I musta spent twenty minutes in the shower. We took our stuff down to the car, then called Darrell and Joe to see what their plans were. They wanted to sit through the awards ceremony. Dee Dee and I joined them for a bit, then we all met up in the hotel lobby and went to have an early dinner together.

The star of our show!

We found a nice quiet little pub about a mile or two from the hotel. We got there kind of early. There was no waiting. We had a great post race dinner together, and I got a head start on re-hydrating myself with beer.


What a fitting ending to a fabulous weekend. I hated to say good bye, but Dee Dee and I had to get home to our sons, and I'm sure Darrell and Joe wanted to go back to the hotel for some much needed rest. I managed to stay awake most of the way home as Dee Dee drove, finally passing out within twenty miles of the house.

What else can I tell you about this race? On a personal level, it was not the race that I wanted. I didn't want to see a five in the hour slot of my time. I fully realize that the humidity and race conditions were beyond my control. Surely some of the blame for the results lie with me. There seemed to be a lot of people that were having cramping issues. Now, let the micro analysis of the race begin.

Over all, it was an absolutely fabulous first marathon experience. I wouldn't have it any other way. I got to spend the weekend with Dee Dee, and two really great runners that I am honored to call friends. I am now a marathoner!! I have a lot to look forward to as well. Like I told Darrell before dinner. I'm not going to let this race experience beat me. I will keep working hard to make it better. On to Disney! and after that, I think I've figured out a plan to become a Marathon Maniac! Ahhhh... The cycle continues...

I'm outta here...

First Half: 13.1 miles, 02:12:30, race pace, R9/W1 5 miles, R3/W1, 10:06 mmp
Second Half: 13.1 miles, 03:01:24, cramp pace, R3/W1 andR1/W?, 13:48 mmp
ORN: 26.2 miles, 05:13, 11:57 mmp

Friday, December 07, 2007

High (No) Expectations

Tuesday wasn't a good day. I got really nervous.

I'm better today. Confident. Strong.

Ran twenty-two minutes last night. One last reminder from the bursa (heel) to listen and be strong. Rock on...

Two hours until I leave work early and begin the two to three hour commute to Huntsville, Alabama. The race sold out on Tuesday for the first time since 1981. Doesn't that make me feel special. It just does.

Since Joe is on the road and probably won't read my blog before tomorrow, I'll give him the good news in person! LOL!! My race strategy is "Run with Joe" until I decide not to any more. That officially makes my A goal for the race 4:15 (9:45 pace). This could last for one, two, or all twenty six point two miles. Don't worry, I'll have no problems waving good bye Joe if it is the right thing at the right time.

My B goal is to fall back on the old comfort goal and come in around 4:30. Imminently doable.

My C goal is to just finish. Don't be surprised if around mile 18, 19, 20, etc, I just say screw it and decide to walk the rest of the way (or hail a taxi :-).

See you guys on Monday. We managed a kidless trip to Huntsville. Dee Dee will be taking pictures, and no Marcy... There won't be any pre-race kanoodling.

Wes

ORN: 2 miles, 22 minutes, easy pace, R4/W1, 11 mmp

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Yaaaaaawn!!

Somebody wake me up when this taper thing is OVA!

Not much to report, but I'm sure to spit out a long blog post anyways. Miss me?

Let's see.

Ran Sunday for six miles. I started out with Dee Dee meister, but after the first mile, she told me to go on without her. I did my old 6.1 mile route with six glorious hills, including my two favs, The Test. I have no idea what my time or pace was, cause I shut my Garmin off at the turn around.

Last night, I tried to run on the treadmill for my alloted glorious thirty minutes of running, but I got tired of it slipping and trying to throw me into the Christmas tree. Instead, I suited up (another convenient excuse to wear my Mizuno shell), and headed out on my short route. Fifteen minutes out, fifteen minutes back.

The heel seems to be about 99%. It ached a little after my run Sunday. Last night, it ached every once in a while to remind me of my form. I am fully confident I will be ready to go on Saturday. All other body parts are checking in fine. As a matter of fact, they are all pumped up and ret to go!

The birthday celebration went well. I ended up a few drinks shy of total inebriation, but that too is a good thing. I'm not 22 any more. The abstinence from beer and coffee is coming along fine. I haven't had any beer since Thanksgiving, and just a wee amount of coffee on the weekend. I'm feeling great too. Not sure about this waking up at 5 AM thing and not being able to go back to sleep, but when I do wake up, I feel well rested and ready to go. More than likely, this is due to the acid reflux not waking me up at night. Whatever. I'll take it!

One more post before the big day. I have to set expectations, and this time, I promise to be more realistic :-) Weather is looking awesome for the race, a high of 69.

Wes

Sunday ORN: 6.1 miles, ~66 minutes, easy pace, R4/W1
Tuesday ORN: 2.75 miles, 30 minutes, easy pace, R4/W1, 11 mmp

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Another Year Passed

Well, another year has passed. I am definitely older. I am definitely poorer. I might be a little wiser. I am certainly more fit. There are a lot of things I am grateful for, a loving family, great friends, near and far, more earthly possessions than I deserve, improving fitness. The way I see it, I only have 8 more years to reach my goal of fifty. After that, everything is gravy :-) and I promise to quit teasing Dee Dee about knocking myself off at fifty! ROFL!!!


I did receive three particularly wonderful gifts this year. Number one is from me to myself. I achieved over 100 miles in November for the first time EVA! Number two is a mighty fine Blue Seventy wet suit. Being a December baby has its benefits. All of last years stuff is on sale! I would not have been able to afford a wet suit of this quality at full price. Forty percent off rocks! Finally, I've received an abundance of cash from fam that luvs me! Woo hoo!! I got a big wish list of triathlon related books to buy. Rock on!

I do appreciate all the kind comments about the heel issue. I can assure you that I know the difference between taper madness induced aches and pains and pain caused by a shopping cart :-) It seems to be getting a little better every day. I haven't even felt antsy until today. I've been at Matthew's soccer tournament all day. I tested the heel with a little bit of jogging on the soccer field in my jeans and walking sneakers... hee, hee.

Alright, homies! I am off to dinner and to inebriate myself. No carbonation though! LOL!! Beer is off the menu. That, of course means, SHOTS!!! Yummy... Now where did I put the Zantac ;-)

Which also reminds me, homies! I'm going to need some open water swimming partners for March and April. Is a wet suit on your Christmas list?! Got game?!?!

Have a great weekend!

Wes