Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Review: New Balance 768

For most people, its find a shoe you like and stick with it. I liked my Brooks Adrenalines. I love my Mizunos. I love my Zoots, and yes. I like my New Balance 768(s). Am I bad that I have yet to find a shoe that I DON'T like? LOL!!


Anytime anyone wants to come by and offer me some free shoes, I got more space on my side panel :-) Trying out new stuff for free is FUN though. I had a hard time deciding what kind of shoe I wanted to get. My left foot pronates, but my right foot does not. I've always gone with stability shoes, and so far, I've been fine.

My initial reaction when the shoes arrived in the mail was a good one. They looked like good quality shoes. The first thing I did after opening the box was replace the insoles. This is standard fare for me. Step two was to begin the process of breaking them in. I read some other reviews of these shoes on the internet, and I totally fell on the floor laughing when I read about some joker going off and running 12 miles in new shoes, then having the gall to complain about his poor feet. You have to break shoes in gradually, even if they are the same exact model.

The 768 comes with cushion in both the pad and the heel. I thought that the added insole may be too much cushion, but I didn't think so (more on this later). One thing I did notice was that I felt the extra cushion in my right shoe. There was like a valley where my arch was. I don't know about you, but I love's me some cushion, but I don't want to FEEL it. Not to worry. The shoe eventually conformed to my foot and vice a versa and now feels just fine. Thus, re-emphasizing the importance of breaking in your shoes SLOWLY...

One thing I have noticed with these shoes is some strain on the muscle on the outside left back of my calf. I'm not sure if this was strained at Lake Logan or whether the shoe is causing it. I'm going to do some experimentation over the next couple of weeks to figure it out. I plan to run in my old Mizunos and put the original insoles back into the shoe, just in case my insoles are causing an over correction.

Over all though, I'm very happy with the quality of the New Balance 768. Hopefully, I can get this calf thing figured out so these can be my shoes of choice for Ironman.

Wes

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fall Down Go Boom

In this two year journey to become Iron, there have been things that I've needed to check off my list:
  • Run a marathon
  • Do a half Ironman
  • Swim 3.1 miles (didn't happen)
  • Ride a century
  • Crash
Unfortunately, that last one I was trying to avoid.


The lovely Fay decided to throw in some rain to go along with the wind and doom and gloom for my Sunday ride. As long as its not lightning, rain doesn't bother me. I hit the Silver Comet Trail about 7 AM, a little later than I wanted. Matthew had a game at 2 PM, and I needed to be there.

I managed to get off onto the ride about 7:15 AM. I figured that gave me 15 minutes of crap time, should I need to get off my bike. I'm cruising along taking it easy. I had a long way to go. The wind was whistling through the trees, but for the most part, it was sheltered. About mile thirty, I needed to fill my aero bottle. I put my elbows in the pads and unscrewed the new bottle. About that time, I hit a bump and went careening off the path. Using my hips, I regained my balance, only now, I was riding on a sloping hill in wet grass. I grabbed the handle bars and rode back up onto the trail.

Down I went. My tires hit the trail sideways. Because my hands were full, I didn't try to lift up the front wheel, and just like that, I was down on my side.

Bloodied and shaken, I stepped off the trail and took stock. My arm was a mess. The adrenaline was making my head pound. My leg was burning but there was no blood. My shorts and shirt were scrapped up but not torn. My shoulder hurt and my hip was complaining, but it wasn't a sharp pain, just a dull ache. I sighed and poured the remaining two ounces of water from my bottle, which was still in my hand, into the aero bottle. I grabbed my back up water bottled and poured that in too. When I tried to wipe the blood off my arm in the grass, I was rewarded with a serious stinging sensation. Well, I wasn't going to let a little scrape keep me from my epic ride. I figured I was good for 94-96 miles, so off I went.

After getting back on the trail, the first order of business was to inspect the bike. I stopped for a minute and realigned the front brakes. The scraping noise went away. The tape on my aero bars was torn, but it wasn't falling off. It seemed fitting that both Aerowyn and my arm now had "character". It became quickly apparent that getting into aero hurt like crazy. I therefore spent the next two hours sucking wind.

I stopped in Rockmart to clean my arm. It was ugly, but the scrapes weren't deep. As I passed my previous longest distance on the trail, I knew I was making good time and would reach a hundred miles. At mile 45.6, the trail came to a halt. I could see where they had started construction on the last 2 miles of the trail, but for me, it was on the roads. Luckily, some kind soul had painted arrows on the pavement to direct people on the detour. I made it about another five miles before I decided that was far enough. It was going to take me longer to get back.

The full force of the wind was blowing in my face as I turned around. The rain started to pour down at mile 43, and I rode through a torrential downpour for the next fifteen minutes. I smiled when I reached my favorite wooden bridge. I still felt strong. I knew I had this ride in the bag. I was able to get aero for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. I just couldn't stand having the wind slow me down.

On the way back, I confirmed that it is definitely more hilly. I was having a good ride though and didn't struggle until I reached the 18 mile marker. Then I dug deep but kept a positive attitude. My nutrition was spot on as well. I ate gels, fig newtons, peanut butter crackers, a PB & J sandwich, and my stomach was much happier than when I was on a pure gel diet.

As I pulled back into the trail head, people were staring at me and getting out of my way. I was covered in dirt from my feet to my knees. My jersey was a mess, and I didn't know it at the time, but part of my helmet had come loose and was hanging out. I don't think I was weaving. I slid in next to the car and managed to dismount without keeling over. A guy a few cars down asked me how far I went that day. I told him, "A hundred". He asked me some questions about the detour that only someone who had been there would know. I think he was testing me for the truth. When he was satisfied with my answers, he said: "You have a good day. You've earned it!"

I responded:

I definitely will, Sir...

Wes

OCN: 100.2 miles, 6:02:18, 16.6 mph

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Got Fig Newtons?

The winds from the tropical storm whistled through the trees and pushed the deck furniture around all night. While we haven't gotten any much needed rain, the temps have been good. I woke up early, before the alarm, wondering if my open water swim was going to be canceled because of the storm.

When the alarm clock finally went off at 6:40 AM, I lay there in a dream state, wondering what to do. I decided to go ahead and try the open water swim, and if it was canceled, head to the gym to do my swim. I realized with a start that it was 7 AM. I must of dozed off during all that thinkin. I jumped from bed, packed my gear, and headed out the door.

At one point, last year, I had actually ridden my bike to Red Top Mountain. I knew that I could get there in about fifteen minutes or so. I followed directions to the lodge. There were quite a few tri-peeps in the parking lot. Immediately, I knew the swim was on. I grabbed my swim bag and followed the paved path down to the lake. An old gentlemen was standing there, by himself, waiting for us. Evidently, this dude is the Masters Swim Coach and a tri coach at a local triathlon club. Little did I know, he puts on these open water swims twice a month, and they are open to everyone. By twos and threes, the athletes drifted down to the water, until at least 45 of us were present.

Having done this plenty of times, the coach's instructions were clear. We were to swim across the cove and gather on the far side. Then, we were to swim to the second marker. By that time, we should be paired up with people our speed, then it was off to the landmarks at whatever distance we wanted to swim.

When the coach said go, we all went into the water like a herd of elephants and paddled for the far shore. The main purpose of this first short dip was to get acclimated to the water. The water temperature was awesome. With the wind, I think it was actually warmer in the water than out. Once everyone gathered, we set out for the second marker. I found myself at the back of the lead group. I tried drafting off of some chicas, but I STILL suck at it. Time at the second marker was very short. Basically we paused, grouped up, and took off for the dock.

The dock was the 600 meter turn around. The group I was in was not turning around and immediately pushed on for the "No Wake Buoy". This was the 1200 meter turn around. Still pushing on, we headed out of the cove and out into the lake. The water changed dramatically. The wind was blowing towards us and the water was slapping us in the face when we tried to breath. It didn't very long to reach the rocks, which was our 1.2 mile turn around. I looked at my watch and immediately suspected the course was short (it was). After regrouping again, we set off on the return route. This time, the wind was at our back and the waves were pushing us into the cove. We flew. I wrapped up the total swim in about 34 minutes, feeling mighty fine.

Some of my group were going to do the route again, and some of the others were swimming under the watchful eye of the coach inside the cove. I needed to run for two hours. I went back to the lodge and changed into my running clothes. I filled up my Fuel Belt, drank the rest of my Tiger, then took off down the trails. The first trail I took was paved and along the lake, but it was only 0.7 miles long. I then tried the Sweet Gum trail through the woods. It was fun, hilly, and rolling, but it was only about a three mile loop. I was intent on re-running the same route again, when I noticed the marker said the Homestead Loop was 5.5 miles. Bingo! I loved this trail, hilly though it was. For a major portion, it weaved in and out of the coves along the lake. I paid extra attention to my heart rate this time, and I didn't allow it to drift up into Zone 3 unless absolutely necessary. I finished the two hour run with 10.25 miles, not a great pace, but a comfortable one.

Feeling icky and sticky, I made the one hour trip to Matthew's soccer game, arriving just before the start. Matthew is on his first "official" travelling team, and this was his first tournament game. I was very excited for him to win his first game. On the way back, I stopped at Target on the way home to pick up some supplies for tomorrow's six hour ride. I got gels, fig newtons, some new enduorlyte powder, and cliff bars. Liz says I need people food for tomorrow's ride. I think one PB & J sandwhich, 2 Cliff Bars, some fig newtons, and six gels will do the trick nicely!

I hope everyone is having a funtastic weekend!

Wes

Friday, August 22, 2008

Boing!

I woke up this morning and realized that I have a little more than two months until my Ironman. LOL... Talk about being zoned in. I have been so focused on training and my family that time has been sneaking up on me. It has a way of doing that.

Training is going well. I'm trying to get used to these back to back long weeks. When I was solely training to run, I focused on plans that alternated long run weekends with easy weekends. It just suited me and helped me build my base. The plan I am currently on is more traditional, three progressively longer weeks followed by a recovery week. If you throw in the taper (and I assume Liz will let me taper for Ironman ;-), there just isn't much time left.

After my day off this week, I had a tough time on the bike Tuesday (19.5 miles), then a recovery run and swim on Wednesday. The swim was probably the last one I'll be able to do in the open water around here. The swimming holes are all dried up as the lake drains at the end of summer. I was starting to feel a bit recovered just in time to do hill repeats yesterday. LOL!! I climbed mount doom six times, smack dab in the middle of an hour and ten minute run. That one really tuckered me out. I did a recovery ride at lunch (30 minutes), then a 3750 meter swim this morning. Phew! Now the long stuff comes :-)

This is all part of the process. Push the envelope. Make me the best I can be. I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't know if I'll finish with my best time or whether I'll just finish at IM Florida, but either way, the result will be the same.

I will be Iron.

Wes

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Big Fat Zero

or

How I Scored Zero on a Test (and loved it)

Sunday, after my run, I went back to the house and relaxed for a bit. First order of business was to feed my tummy! I thought I would be starving, but my diet has been good. I ate one sandwich, some chips, and some pickles. Rather healthy, I say. The rest of the afternoon was spent catching up on some house work and fixing a nice family dinner. My daughter and her beau came over. It was nice for all of us to get to sit around and enjoy each others company.

I thought I'd get to bed at a decent hour. I was pretty tired, to be expected, but not overly sore from my workouts. Dee Dee opted to stay up and watch the Women's Triathlon. I slept good until she joined me. Then the fun started. One of my furry children was having bowel issues. Dee Dee blamed it on me, as I was the one feeding the hounds table scraps after dinner. Feeling guilty, which I wasn't, I was up on the hour every hour all night long letting the critter out the back door. Needless to say, my sleep sucked.

The alarm clock went off early, and before 6:15 AM, I was in the car heading to downtown Atlanta. I had made my appointment to have my heart scanned. This was the final installment of my pre-Ironman promises to Dee Dee. I arrived at Crawford Long - Emory Hospital a bit early for my 7:30 appointment. I was the first one there.

Around 7:30 the staff arrived. I filled out my paperwork, and by quarter to eight they were taking me back. I changed my shirt for a hospital gown and had blood drawn. They then took me into the scanning room. I laid down nice and comfy on a bed. The attendant gave me instructions and pressed the button.

All of sudden, I felt like I was in a Star Trek movie. The bed began to rise up off the floor and slide between the big circle. Laser lights made lines on my body and worked their way up my legs and chest. I smiled and relaxed.

"Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Hold it!", the voice said.

I did this two more times, and just like that, it was over. The attendant had told me fifteen minutes. It was more like five. Either that, or I fell asleep, but I don't think so. A few minutes later, the attendant came in the room and handed me my results. She said I got a zero. The range is zero to two hundred, and I had a zero. No blockage for me.

Deal.

Ironman, here I come...

Wes

Monday, August 18, 2008

Down Range!!

I'm pretty sure, with the exception of mock tris and races, that I've never had a double workout scheduled for a Sunday. The plan yesterday called for a forty-five minute swim and then a one hour and forty-five minute run.

I stayed up late Saturday night to wait for Dee Dee to get home. I got back late in the afternoon from riding, and she had to be at work at four. That didn't leave very much "us" time. Even after getting up at 5:50 AM, I managed to stay awake till after midnight. I needed that. We both needed it.

Originally, the plan for Sunday was to get up early and be home in time for breakfast. Dee Dee and I, however, found ourselves kidless. I was able to sleep in until 8 AM (yuck!) and hit the gym by 9. I've always loved how the pool refreshes my legs. I can almost feel the lactic acid flushing from my legs. The swim was moderate, and I felt wonderful. I climbed from the pool after 1900 meters in about 38 minutes, ready for my run.

Since I was close to Kennesaw Mountain, I decided to hit the rolling trails there for my run. It was getting hot after 10 PM, but lucky for me, most of the run was in the shade. My heart rate jumped all over the place on the rolling hills, but I had a good run and managed 9.75 miles in my allotted time. I was amazed at how well I felt during most of the run. I never would have guessed I could do that as recent as January. I didn't get fatigued until the last couple of miles, then it really started to hurt.

As I was coming out of the woods along the trail, I saw a group of Civil War soldiers gathered around some cannon. The metal beasts were pointed out into the field along which I was running. I kept looking at them, and as I got closer, I followed the trail towards the cannon. I heard this man's voice yell:

SIR!! YOU ARE DOWNRANGE FROM A LIVE FIRE EXERCISE! PLEASE RETURN TO THE ROAD!!!

I raised my arm to signal that I had heard him and headed back up to the road that runs to the top of the mountain. As I completed my run, the cannon went off with bang.

Thanks boyz! I appreciate you not filling me full of grapeshot. Also, thanks for putting up the (non-existent) warning signs along the trail. I am sorry if I interrupted you while you were playing soldier :-)

Wes

OSN: 1900 meters, 38 minutes
ORN: 9.75 miles, 1:45:20, 10:48 mmp

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Did I Do That?

Massive workouts for this weekend. Well, massive if you look at my prior months. About right if you see what is coming up on my schedule soon. I had a 5 hour bike for today, and tomorrow, I get to swim and run. Woot!

The plan called for rolling hills with six five minute hill repeats. I love the Silver Comet Trail, but I would not characterize it as rolling. Gentle might be a better word, but definitely not rolling.

Now, I'm a pleasing kind a guy, and I like to keep coach happy. When she says rolling, by God, that means I go do rolling. My recent ride at the Bud Plant was definitely rolling, a little hilly even. I decided that was the place to go. I would go out there and try to do two loops of the 45 mile route.

Last night, I printed out the cue sheet, packed up all my gear, and hit the bed at a decent hour. Is that even normal with the Olympics on? The alarm went off at 5:45 AM. I was slow to get up, slow to eat breakfast, slow to pack the car, just plain slow. I thought the last minute that I should print out a map, just in case, you know. I finally got out the door around 6:30 AM.

I wasn't really excited about riding in the dark. First light was the right idea for me. I also, to be truthful, wasn't excited about riding this by myself. I was afraid that I was going to get lost. I pulled into the parking lot at the Bud Plant shortly after day break, and the place was full of cyclists. I had no idea the place was this popular. A group of 12-15 riders took off in a group as I prepared my bottles. By 7:10 or so, I was off.

This ride was totally different than my last ride. There was no immediate hell bent for leather start. There was no struggling to keep pace with the fast group. I rode my ride, and I enjoyed it. The first couple of hours was familiar ground. I got chased by the same dog as last time, but now, there were no tri-chicas bringing up the rear to distract him. I honestly think he just wanted to run with me. He never barked, never tried to bite me, and let me go rather quickly. He needed to conserve energy you know. Lotsa riders coming through today.

After my little adventure with the dog, I refocused on finding a hill for hill repeats. Coach wanted me to do 5-10 minute hill repeats with 5 minutes of recovery. I finally settled on a hill, the longest I could find, and did my repeats. The hill was only 3 minutes long, but it was one of the longest around. By the end of the last repeat, my snappy feeling legs were, well, feeling less than snappy.

When I came to the spot where the route split, I decided to go ahead and do the 65 mile route. I figured, with the repeats, it would take me about 4 hours to do the ride. I could then do as many loops of the 12 mile route as I wanted to make up the time. Feeling brave, I set off on the sixty-five mile route, without cue sheet, without map. Everything was going fine until I ran into a section of newly paved road. The little spray painted symbols were no longer there.

I came to a three way intersection and had to pull up. A group of twenty riders or so was coming in from the other direction. I figured they had ridden out of Cartersville. Right behind them was another group of 15 riders. After they passed, I fell in behind them. I couldn't keep up, and they soon disappeared. Along this stretch of road, I got attacked by another set of dogs, but luckily, none of them tried to bite me. The poor little weiner dog was just a runnig and barking. He was so cute.

Where the road dead ended, the other riders were long gone. I didn't see any symbols at the intersection. I decided to take a right. Yea. That ended up being a mistake. When I got to the next intersection, there were no symbols either. I thought I better turn around. Back up the hill I climbed to the turn, and then I saw them. The symbols were a little ways up the hill. Back on track!

Off to the left here, I saw something and did a double take. There were a few goats and flock of turkeys in the pasture. Damn turkeys!! I hunted them for years (15) and never shot one. They are much smarter than I am. I relaxed when I made the turn at the point where I ran off the road and into the barbed wire fence. Oh yea, that didn't happen. I forgot. Plausible deniability and all...

As I made a left turn onto the main road, I fell in front of two groups of riders. The first group passed me by and kept going straight at my next right turn. The second group fell in behind me and joined me in teh turn. They too passed me by. Everybody was really friendly. I wasn't trying to, nor could I match their pace, and they soon left me behind. I could really feel my thighs as I grinded my way back to the Bud Plant. Every little rolling hill seemed to suck a little more life out of them.

I pulled into the intersection near the Bud Plant with 4:10:00 showing on my bike computer. OK! I could take it easy and do one 12 mile loop, and that would get me pretty close to 5 hours. Coach said not to worry about pace. I set back off down the route.

There is something mental about seeing the finish line, but still having fifty minutes to ride. Let me tell you. That 12 miles hurt. It didn't hurt nearly as bad as my last ride at the Bud Plant, but I had to do the entire loop this time. Somebody told me this route was flat. Well, once again, it is not. My definition of flat is a piece of paper. LOL!! I quickly reached the turn off from the other routes, and made a left back to the west. The roads in the area were fairly quiet, but I soon found myself on a main road, heading north.

I let out a big "geesh" as an eighteen wheeler came barrelling by me in the other lane. Up ahead, I could see the symbols in the road. I was shocked, literally, when I came up on them, and they were directing me down this crap road on the left. With out even thinking, I banked left and took off down the road. The road looked like it had recently been grated. It was rocky, bumpy, and generally sucked. It is not the kind of road you want your crotch riding on in its fifth hour.

About a half mile down this road, I realized, suddenly, that I had made that left turn without even looking to see if anybody was coming up behind me. I could have been killed. I sucked in my breath, swore, and vowed to refocus my attention on being safe. I could not believe I had done that!!! Being tired is not an excuse for getting killed...

The crap road eventually ended, and the path, like all paths, led back to the car which took me home. I did a little recreational riding in the parking lot to make sure that I reached the required five hours. I assume that I did good. I rode for 84 miles, the same distance as I did in 4.5 hours at the Silver Comet, but threw in the hill repeats. My legs are little tired, not overly sore, and I think I'm ready for my 45 minute swim and two hour run tomorrow.

That, my friends, is a solid training day :-)

Wes

OCN: 84 miles, 5 hours, ~17 mph

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Working Hard

Work is crazy busy right now. I've got a bunch of stuff that I need to get done by Monday, although its becoming increasingly obvious that this is unlikely to happen. Not great timing for my first week of Ironman training as well.

It is what it is.

While I have time to read blogs while my code compiles and my server restarts, I just don't have time to think about much else, including posting.

Y'all hang tough. I'll be back soon.

Wes

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Eight on the Eighth (Tenth)

A Virtual Race Report Celebrating the Olympic Games

Who needs an alarm clock when you have a dog that snores? It was a three dog night last night cause the l'il black dog needs Prozac, and we haven't found her a doggie psychiatrist yet. Oh, and the fact that Dee Dee went out of town and left me at home by myself certainly had something to do with it.

Yea. The dog snores, but you guys knew that already. Good thing for me, I didn't notice until it the sun had come up, or the beer had worn off. Which ever.

Yea. I said beer. My friend David was in town from Greenville, SC, and we entertained each other up at the restaurant for a good four hours last night. I, however, have been good. I've had very, very little to drink the last month, and I've been feeling great, and the sleep has been even better.

So, yea, the dog was snoring then the phone rang at 8:30 AM, and when I answered it, one of my neighbors was looking for their teen age son.

As if I would know ANYTHING about where to find lost teen agers. I mean, really. I usually find mine in the trunk of my car. I have no idea how those cement cinder blocks got tied to his ankles.

I tried to call eldest son. His phone went straight to voice mail. I left him a message and decided now. Now would be a good time to go for my run.

I haven't done a road race in forever. Virtual or otherwise. I Garmined up. Grabbed the heart rate monitor, slipped on the new shoes, and was out the door at 9ish. It was still relatively cool. My training plan called for an hour fifteen in zones 1-2. I figured 8 at a moderate pace was good.

Slapping the start button on the Garmin, I took off to challenge the hills of my neighborhood.

It's been a while since I whined about my neighborhood. Here. I'll make it quick. Hills. Blech! Hills. Whine! Hills, hills, hills. Boo freakin hoo....

After climbing out of my subdivision and onto the main road, I felt pretty good. I decided to carry a bottle of Tiger with me today, rather than wear my Fuel Belt. I picked up the pace long enough catch the down hill then enjoyed the easier pace to mile one. I was happy to see 10:20 as I crossed the first mile marker. Shortly after that, the route levels out for about six tenths of a mile. The second mile ends with another big hill, yet I still managed to negative split the sucker, coming in at 10:18.

It was around here that my intestinal issues began to manifest themselves. It would seem there is a direct correlation between alcohol, my nose, and my intestines. Just sayin...

Opting not to stop at Publix to use the restrooms, I soldiered on. About a half mile down the road, I realized that this was probably a mistake. Never the less, I enjoyed the absolute flatness of mile three. If I lived in the neighborhoods along this stretch of road, I could run mile loops forever :-) My third mile came in at 10:07. So far so good. My heart rate was creeping up, but I wasn't too worried about it.

At the end of mile 3, I made a right turn out onto a major four lane road. No matter which way you go, left or right, you get to go up a big hill. I opted to go right today. I wanted to do an out and back, rather than go left and do the hilly 8.3 circle I usually take.

Yea. That's a joke, but really. It IS less hilly. On the down side, there is no shade either.

I knew at the top of the hill there was a gas station where I could make a pit stop. Unfortunately, my mind tricked my body, and I had to stop and walk up the hill to keep myself under control. We were reaching a crisis. Lo and behold, I spied a port-a-potty on the side of the road. Touchdown!!! I ran over, opened the door, and let out a healthy sigh. The inside was clean as a whistle. Thank God for the construction going on this road.

At 9:30 AM in the morning it was starting to get hot out. I had worked up a healthy sweat and drank about half of my Tiger. Inside the vacating station, it was 140 degrees. The sweat just poured off. By the time I was done, I felt like I was stepping outside into air conditioning! LOL!! It felt so good.

Feeling much relieved, I enjoyed the flat stretch of road at the top of the hill, hit my fourth mile in 11:00, then turned around and headed home. Going back down the hill was a lot of fun, and I actually passed three or four runners that were out this morning. I reached the five mile marker where I made the left turn back into the neighborhood: 10:11.

By now, I realized that my legs were getting tired and perhaps, perhaps I was going too hard. Between miles five and six, I knew I was. My legs were just plain tired. I climbed the small hill back by Publix and turned in a paltry 11:20.

Then it was down the steep hill to the entrance to my subdivision. I love this stretch of road. I picked up the pace, knowing that this would be one of the last stretches of road I got to enjoy before the test. Evidently, my time didn't reflect this: mile 7 came it a 10:54.

Today, I admit it. The Test beat me. I don't like getting beaten by Mount Doom nor Ass-Kicker. Hell, they haven't beat me in so long, but today, I caved. I had to walk up each of them. Once I crested Ass-Kicker, it was all flat and down hill to the house, and I tried to pick up the pace a little bit, but my legs were just so tired. I cruised into the house with a total time of 1:24:42, for an average pace of 10:42.

My oldest son was home when I arrived. Evidently, the neighbor boy had lied to his Mom and Dad. Go figure. My little angel got to go back to sleep in his own bed. No trunk of the car for him today :-)

Wes

ORN: 8 miles, 1:24:42, 10:42 mmp

Friday, August 08, 2008

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Breathing Deep

I felt very proud coming off of Lake Logan, proud of my race, proud of my season so far. I've been working hard since January, and its paid off in a lot of fun.

When I looked at my training plan this week, I saw that coach had loaded me up with an Ironman in Training week. I was a bit surprised, as several times, she had mentioned that this would be an easy week for me, with the "real" training to begin August 11. I released the inner child and sent her an email that said, in essence:

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!

She being the mature individual in this relationship, responded with a positive change to my schedule. I am now enjoying a lighter week with one workout a day and a lot of time spent in Zone 1. My run this morning reminded me that this is a good thing, as the stabilizing muscles in my ankles were still a bit upset with me. Such is the life of an endie*...

Less physical activity means extra time to think... I've been warned I might be an over thinker. I've been pondering the last two years, where I've been and where I want to go. You see. I've been getting passed a lot by other people in my age group at the tris this year. I admit it. It bothers me. A leeeetle. I don't like finishing in the middle to front of the pack on the swim, and the back of the pack over all.

I have so much of which to be proud. I've been racing almost two years. I've avoided, really, any injury. I'm in the best shape I've been in since I ETS'ed from the Army (do they call it that anymore?) twenty three years ago. I've been patient, content to let things happen when they happen, and now is not the time to take risks. November is the biggest risk I've taken ever.

So, I'm taking a deep breath. I'm refocusing. I'm drawing on my reserves of patience.

Come Monday, let the fun begin...

Wes

* Endurance Athlete

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Different Perspective

A Lake Logan Triathlon Race Report

There are two sides to every story... Please welcome guest blogger, Dee Dee "The Bug", returning to grace us with her presence, yet again!

Blew outta flip flop! Stepped on a pop top!

Ok not that bad but close. You all know the trip experience down there, except Wes didn't tell you I was doing the Simpson thing by saying, "Are we there yet ?" LOL.

I had not slept very well for the last three nights heading into my trip to North Carolina. I kept dreaming that I was drowning. I guess you can say I have a lot of respect for the water. I wasn't born with gills. I have no fins, and I am suppose to swim 1500 meters? Yea right.


We ate dinner, and for once it was a very nice Italian restaurant. The food was yummy! We got back to our room at the hotel, and there were a few people still running around the trailer park. I mean hotel! LOL!! They had no respect for other people trying to sleep. The room was clean, but it was just that, a room with a bed, and we had a bathroom, shower, and tub. Other than that, there were a couple of rocking chairs out on the front porch if we wanted to sit out there and get eaten by NC mosquitoes! The peeps next door kept running in and out of their room all night. Bunch of jackholes. I wanted to drive down to the 24 hour McDonald's and buy a box of hot french fries so when I got back I could go next store and stab them in the eye with a hot french fry!! {editor's note: I DO NOT KNOW this woman ;-)}

I woke up at 4:15 AM, dragged my butt into the shower and said to myself, "Self, are we really doing this?" I dried my hair and peeked around to see if Wes was up yet. He was stirring. He got up. I ate about a half a muffin and drank some Gatorade. That was about it. I have a hard time eating race morning. We packed up the cars and headed over to the site.


We got our stuff unpacked and Wes and I for the first time had numbers together. We racked our bike side by side. I looked around and noticed that here was another fine Blue bike on the rack next to us and made sure to point that out to Wes. He said sweet but was getting in the zone.


I was feeling nervous and my stomach was starting to ache. Yep thats it! Typical nerves and a trip to the port-a-pot. Wes and I walked over to the swim start. It was a 1/2 a mile from the bikes. The race director suggested that we bring shoes and put them on the grass at the second transition spot for the run back over. I wore my flip flops, and I began bitching all the way down there, saying that I should have brought my Zoots. Well, it was too late to go back an get them. I had to put on my wet suit and have a quick swim warm up. For some damn reason, my hands began to shake as I looked out over the water at the buoys. I thought holy crap, that is far! I put some suit juice on my legs, neck, and arms, but only managed to get one foot in. Wes offered to help. I was really on edge and was a bit shaky. My left arm felt funny, and I had to take the top off again. Wes wanted to get in the water. It was getting close to staring time. I told him to just go and managed to get my suit the way I wanted.


I walked straight down and hopped in the water. I said, "Wow! I can float!", and I didn't think I would drown. The race director told us to get out so I did. I was looking for Wes, and I found him . I told him to go get with his wave, and I would catch him! No way in hell, but it sounded good! I ran in to the 2 girls from NC in my wave start, and Andrea was shaking her booty to the music that was playing. I laughed and calmed down a bit, and next thing you know we were in the water, treading, waiting to go. Fifteen seconds shouted the race director, and then I was off. I began to swim. It was nice. No one crawling over you or kicking you. Wes told me to start slow. It was a long way so that I would not get out of breath. I made it to the first 2 buoys pretty good, except for some reason, I like to zig zag, and it seemed like forever. My wet suit was choking me a bit, and I grabbed the middle of it and pulled it away. I rounded my first 90 degree turn to start to head back, and I thought wow, there are a lot of people catching up to me. I started back and for some reason, I got a bit disoriented! I felt like I was swimming in circles and going now where. I just kept swimming. I looked at my watch and said, "Damn! 38 minutes so far. I suck." I kept going and headed to the last 90 degrees buoy. I was almost completely alone in the water now. Then, I heard a voice say, "Ma'am!" I looked up and there was a lady in a kayak. She said, "You didn't go around the yellow buoy with your right shoulder!" I said, "WTF! Your joking! Right?" I was a 100 meters away from that now. At that time, I had a vision fromm the movie Jaws. I was waiting for the shark to come by and flip her right over into the water, kayak and all!!!! I turned around and went back to the friggin buoy and then turned around again . I was thinking to myself, stupid be-yotch. I managed to get out in 53 minutes.

I headed over to get my shoes, peeled off my wet suit and put on my flip flops. I started the run towards the bike transition, then stumbled a bit, only to realize I had a flat flip flop and then stepped on a rock!! I said, "Yea, I think I'll just walk." I reached the bridge where there were no pebbles, took my shoes off and hauled ass to my bike.

I noticed my bike was all alone in transition.

I put on my helmet and shoes and took off. The mount area was a good 100 feet outside of transition. I ate a few sports beans and then jumped on my bike . I knew that from miles 1-3 there was a big freakin hill to climb. I took off and heard a car behind me. I moved way to the right, and the car pulled up to my left! He said, "Hello! I am with the race, and I am going to follow you all the way out on the course!" I thought, no freakin way! I said to him, "I'm not planning on you keeping up with me after I get past this hill, and I am not going to be the last bike. Good luck!" I creasted the top of the hill and took off like a bat outta hell, passing 3 bikes going 35 mph and never saw that jackhole again!

I was feeling good. The ride was pretty, and I was traveling along at a good speed. I saw that blue bike I mentioned earlier in my report, and we played cat and mouse for about 8 miles. The young guy yelled at me when I passed him on the one down hill. I told him that I weighed more then him. That is why I was faster. I think I pissed him off a bit and that was the end of my carrot chasing on the bike. He threw down the hammer and disappeared! I was alone. I was getting tired, and I was having a one sided conversation with myself. I was worried about my time and didn't think I had enough time for my run when I got back. I was recalling my swim, and my stupid mistake that cost me 10 minutes in the water!!!! Still wish the shark would have got her and her stupid kayak ! {editor's note: I DO NOT KNOW this woman :-)}

I made my final turn back towards the lake and was looking forward to the big hill at mile 21-23!!! I managed to get up the damn thing and then it was a nice long downhill to the bike transition.

I was proud to see Wes was already done and waiting for me! He said, "How do you feel?" I said, "My tummy is a bit upset but I'll be okay." He ran with me a bit, and then I headed into transition. I dropped my helmet, racked my bike, grabbed my visior and sun glasses and a water bottle off my bike. Then headed out.

Wes said that the run up is hilly but its all down hill on the way back. I said, "Okay! Thanks!", and I'm off to run. He said that I would be fine. I had a 1:45 to do the run in.


I took off and ran for a bit and then decided to power walk some here and there . My damn stomach kept acting up, but I just kept going, and I kept drinking my Gatorade I took with me. I was passing a few people on the way back and we were all exchanging words of encouragement to each other. Good job! You rock!! Not much further. It's all down hill on the way back. I ran into the 2 chicas from NC, and they yelled at me, and I yelled back. That was cool. There were a ton of butterflies on the run. They were everywhere. I made it to the turn around and decided I needed to kick it up a bit. I just kept running and while I ran I chased butterflies!!! I had to do something to keep me busy! I looked at my time, and I was excited. I knew I was moving but had no idea. I saw the final 1 mile marker and just kept cruising. I made the turn across the bridge to the finish line. I was looking for Wes. The awards ceremony was going on in the background. I heard a girl shout my name. I looked over. It was Andrea from NC, and she was cheering for me. I just smiled. She said, "I want to run in with you!" I said, "Okay!" She tried to run with me but only managed a few feet. She was stiff. I said, "Thank you! You're awesome!! I got this!!!" I heard Wes, and I just kept running.


I crossed the finish line! I did it! I completed my first Olympic Tri !!! I had a personal best on my 10k 1:11!! I averaged 16.5 on my bike, and the swim? Well, you know what happened!!!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Betwixt the Mountains

A Lake Logan Triathlon Race Report

Dee Dee and I didn't know what to expect for this one. We were leaving the general vicinity of Canton, Georgia and traveling through the mountains to get to Canton, North Carolina. I was totally able to find some humor in this situation.

We managed to slip out of town around 3 PM on Friday. Racing on Saturday is an odd experience for me. We traveled familiar roads up to Hiawassee and made a left turn into North Carolina. I admit feeling a bit of nostalgia. The Summer Sizzler was this weekend, and I passed it up in favor of Lake Logan in honor of Dee Dee's first international distance triathlon.

The ride up was everything I hoped for. We were treated to spectacular views of the mountains. Up and down and around, we went. Dee Dee has this thing with her ears, and I got a report every time her ears popped :-) Once we were through the mountains, it was a straight shot to Waynesville, NC. We were staying at the Oak Park Inn there. We arrived late, but thought we could shoot down to the race site and pick up our packets. On the way over, Dee Dee and I laughed. We were wondering, where were they were gonna find routes for this supposedly flat course? We got there right before closing time, only to find out that packet pick up was back in Waynesville, ten miles up the road! LOL...

Dee Dee and I checked out the race site a bit, then travelled back to Waynesville to find our hotel. We had driven right past it without realizing. While we were checking in, the owner suggested we go to a little Italian restaurant down the road a ways. We asked him if we could walk, and at first, he said no. Then, he said that "people like us" could probably walk, but it was about a mile down the road. Dee Dee and I thought that sounded good to us. After dumping our stuff in our hotel room, we set off on foot to find this restaurant.

Yea, bad idea! Note to self... Never walk somewhere in a strange town without checking it out in the car first!!

We walked for about twenty minutes and no restaurant was in site. We weren't really sure how much further this place was. We opted to turn around and get the car. We walked another twenty minutes back to the hotel. We definitely got our pre-race exercise in!! It turns out, the restaurant was 1.5 miles from the hotel, and we were about a quarter of a mile away when we turned around. It was no big deal. When we got there, we were fourth in line for a table. A threesome of triathletes from North Carolina came in behind us. They wanted to sit outside. When their table was ready, they asked us if we wanted to join them. Dee Dee and I thought that was just grand, and we had a very nice dinner with Dan, Katie, and Andrea from Raleigh, NC. Dee Dee had her usual pre-race spaghetti dinner, and I had a nice piece of fish. We sat outside on the patio and had a gorgeous view of the mountains, highlighted by the setting sun.

After dinner it was back to the hotel to try and get some sleep. The hotel was nice, but definitely not worth the money. A Sleep Inn or Best Western would have been comparable. I guess we paid for location this race. Neither Dee Dee nor I slept very good. Evidently, Dee Dee had not been sleeping well for three days. She said she had been having dreams about drowning! LOL!!! She was up before the alarm went off, as usual, and I dragged myself out of bed around quarter to five. You'll be happy to know that I had a decent breakfast this time. No Krispy Kreme donuts for me!!! We packed up all our stuff, loaded the car, and headed off to the race site in the wee hours of the morning.

We weren't one of the first ones to arrive, but we were pretty early. The transition area was fairly well lit. Dee Dee and I avoided the rush at packet pickup then went and got body marked. I'm pretty sure we were one of the first ones on the rack. We were able to setup side by side. While we were setting up transition, Danni came by and began setting up her space in the rack behind us. It was great getting to met YAB (yet another blogger)! It is so much fun going to races all over the south and basically having people you "know" at the races. Danni was sporting a really HAWT tri bike. She looked like she was ready to get down to bidness!

Dee Dee and I grabbed our wet suits and headed over to the line to the port-o-potties. We did our thang and began the walk to the swim start. Due to the drought, the lake is 5-6 feet below normal. Normally, the swim started on the other side of the bridge. You did an out and back, swam under the bridge and came out right by transition. This year, they had to move it a half mile down the lake. They set up a little transition area there for our shoes and swim gear. Dee Dee and I put on our wet suits there. Danni was already there, suited up and ready to go. I slipped into my suit with no problem, but Dee Dee was like a high schooler going to her first prom. She couldn't get anything right with her wet suit, and she pretty much admitted to me that it was nerves. LOL!! This was a good thing, as it really made it easier to deal with the tension. I was a bit anxious to get into the water for my pre-race warm up, and time was running out. We got Dee Dee situated, and I ran down to the lake and jumped in. I hadn't been in my wet suit since Langley Pond. I felt like a cork! I had swum a short distance out into the lake when the race director announced it was time to get out of the water. I swam back in, then down the shore a bit and was happy with that. The water was warm, but not too warm. It would definitely be a comfortable swim.

The RD counted down the minutes to the first wave and started them off with a horn. I was in the third wave. The second wave got into the water while I waited with Dee Dee. I gave Dee Dee a kiss and got into the water after the second horn sounded. Liz had told me to make sure I had an "out" on the swim. Since it was an in water start, everyone would go vertical at the same time. I made my way out into deep water at the end of the line. The RD had instructed us to go around the yellow buoys. The orange ones didn't matter. They just marked distance. The RD sounded the horn for our wave and we were off.

The first thing I noticed was that I was getting left behind! LOL!! These North Carolina peeps are really good triathletes, and they can swim. I put my head down and focused on my race! I started out a little faster than I usually did, but not fast enough to get out of breath. Once I got into a rhythm, I picked up the pace. Out in the center of the lake where I was, I had plenty of open water to swim in. I kept pulling to the right, but every time I sighted, I made the adjustments to stay on track. Before long, I began to catch up to and pass the peeps in my wave. Things got a little crowded at the first turn around, but I managed to swim across somebody's legs without getting kicked. Once I turned around, I swum out wide to stay in open water.

At this point, for some reason, my goggles decided to start leaking on me. I think I scrunched up my face or something and broke the seal. My first attempt to flip onto my back and reset them failed. A few minutes later, I had to do it again and finally got it right. The really fast chicas from the wave after me (Dee Dee's wave) came passing through, and I tried to latch on to some feet, but they were just too fast. I settled for the feet of some guy who was swimming about my pace. It didn't last long however. I ended up having to pass him. At the final turn to shore buoy, I got hit by a blast of refreshingly cold water. The lake is fed by streams that run down out of the mountains. I noticed that the lake was only 2-3 feet deep at this point, and I almost laughed. It wasn't long though, before I was back out into deep water and heading for shore. I swam until my hands touched the bottom, stood up, and climbed the bank up onto dry land. My swim time was 28:53, in line with most of my times for that distance.

I ran to the swim transition area and took off my wet suit. I was not looking forward to the half mile trip back to transition proper. After putting on my shoes and grabbing my plastic bag (with suit juice and anti-fog spray), I began a slow jog down the dirt road. There were a few peeps (with kids) from the cabins out cheering us on, and that made me smile. Once I arrived in transition, everything went very smooth. Since I had run in shoes, my feet were relatively dry and no sand! Woot! I slipped on my bike shoes, grabbed my helmet and race belt and began the run back to the road. I hopped on my bike and started what proved to be a very fun ride. My T1 time was 9:56. That has to be a personal worst ;-)

On leaving the park, you were treated to your first and only "real" hill. I tried my best to save my legs. I stayed in the saddle and grinded my way up the hill. The true reward was on the other side. There was a really sweet long downhill. I hit 41 mph going down that hill, and the wind was whistling in my ears. I knew from the route report that I would have to climb that sucker on the way back. I looked out to my left as I sped down the hill and saw all the peeps still in the lake from the later waves. I knew my sweetie was out there swimming, and I tried not to let my nervousness distract me from the task at hand. I resisted the urge to shout "Go Dee Dee"! LOL!!

The bike route was delicously flat. There were a few hills to test your legs, but mostly it was pedal, pedal, and more pedal! I wasn't feeling 100%. Towards the end, there were a few spots where I just didn't have anything left in the tank. I dug deep, kept pedaling, and totally ignored the peeps passing me on the bike. We travelled out to Canton, NC, made the turn around, then headed back to the lake. At mile 23, the huge hill loomed. I gritted my teeth and vowed not to walk. After grinding for what seemed like an enternity, I crested the hill and began my decent down into the park. The signs warned us to slow down, and I heeded them. I know all about running off the road and into fences :-) I managed to pull my feet out of my shoes quickly before the dismount line. I hopped off the bike barefooted and ran down the path to transition. Total bike time was 1:15:06.

I had felt like I sucked the bike this day (I didn't). So, again, I took my time in transition. It's funny how time slows down when you are calm, cool, and collected. When I put my bike on the rack, my heart jumped for joy when I saw Dee Dee's bike was gone. I threw on my Zoots and hat, turned my race belt around, and was out of transition in 1:45. That's very respectable for me.

After the way my legs felt on the bike, I wasn't sure what I had left for the run. The route description described the run as "imperceptably uphill" to the turn around, then fast and downhill to the finish. Well, all I got to say is imperceptable my A-S-S. Sure, it was a one percent grade most of the way up, and two percent in some places, but it was ALL UPHILL the entire way. I had planned on keeping my heart rate in the 160-163 range for the first half of the race. I quickly established that zone and made my way up the race course. That's a good pace for me, and a little faster than the start of my run in Chattanooga.

Some jackhole was firing a gun and/or fireworks along the run route. The other athletes and I laughed as we ran by, pictures of Deliverance dancing in our heads. I walked for a few seconds at each of the water stops, but I basically ran the entire way up to the turn around. I was so happy when I finally reached the turn around. I was tired of going up and up and up!

On the way back down, I was flying! I could have easily kept my heart rate in the 160-165 range and enjoyed more speed with less effort, but that wasn't the deal. My goal on the way down was to keep my heart rate in the 165-168 range, and that is what I did. Going down hill was just a bonus. Did I mention I was flying? Most of the run route was shaded, and I was having a fantastic run. I saw Danni between miles two and three (my five and six), and I yelled at her. "Hey Danni! Rock it, girl!" She smiled, yelled back, and kept running. I knew she was having a good race.

Once I saw the cars, I knew that the race was almost over. I picked up my pace and my heart rate climbed above 170, approaching my lactate threshold pace. I crossed over the bridge, around the corner and headed for the finish line. I decided not to kick it in this time, as I was already running pretty fast, and I had pretty much left it all out there on the course. I crossed the mat in 56:45, a 9:07 average pace, and a total triathlon time of 2:52:23.

I grabbed something to drink and headed over to transition to see if Dee Dee was back yet. She wasn't. I started to walk down to the road to wait for her to come in when I saw her making her way down from the street. I shouted some encouragement to her and waited for her to come out of transition. As she started her run, I ran with her for a bit to give her the scoop on the run route. I relaxed and smiled as I watched her head out over the bridge and into the forest.

At this juncture, I knew I had at least an hour before Dee Dee made it back. I went and got some food. Sat for a bit, then headed over to transition to pack my stuff. I decided to take my bag back to the SUV. I saw my friends Katie and Andrea coming back from the run and I shouted at them. They told me Dee Dee was on her way as they had crossed paths out on the route. After changing my clothes and dumping my pack in the car, I headed back to the finish. I ran into Danni and her family one last time. They were on their way home. We said our good byes. It was such a pleasure meeting you Danni! I'm looking forward to seeing you and your family again in November!!

I knew that Dee Dee would be tired after her run. I went to transition and packed up all her gear and straightened out her wet suit. After cleaning up her transition area, I headed to the finish line and found a shady spot to wait. I helped the race peeps remove chips. About twenty or thirty minutes later, Dee Dee came running down the road. Andrea joined her for a short bit, and I thought that was so cool. Tri peeps are such a cool bunch. I took a few pics and cheered Dee Dee to the finish. She crossed the line in 3:59:59, well before the race cut off. I was so proud of her.

Dee Dee was definitely tired. She wanted to pack up and get the heck outta there! I obliged! LOL!! Dee Dee is the boss!! After Dee Dee changed her clothes, we packed up the car and took off. We filled up with gas in Waynesville, got some liquids and a big cup of the best boiled peanuts ever! Then it was back home to Georgia. The ride back was just as spendid as the ride there. We even stopped off at a scenic overlook to take in the sites and snap a few pictures. After stopping for lunch in Hiawassee, we made it home around 4 PM and passed out! Phew!! What a long day!

I've been thinking about this race quite a bit since yesterday. I did better than I thought I did. As a matter of fact, if they hadn't had to move the swim, I would have PRed fo sho! The swim went OK. The bike was good, and the run was fantastic! Even better than that, I had executed the plan again, flawlessly. It really doesn't get any better than that!

Dee Dee told me after the race that she NEVER wants to swim that far again. LOL!! Today, she's been looking at more triathlons, including some Olympic distances. It's funny how that works. Once you learn to respect the distance, going longer is fun!!

We left the camera at home. We ended up buying one of those disposable digital cameras from the drug store. As soon as we get the pics off, I'll get some posted for you!!

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. I know we did :-)

Wes