Monday, April 27, 2009

Pulling the Trigger

First off, thank you to those of you that inquired about the web site work and offered suggestions.  I should probably have noted that I am handling the majority of the construction, and what limited funds I have is going to be spread out over a four to five month period and primarily go to graphics work.  Le sigh :-)  I do appreciate you one and all...

Have you heard the old saying, "Trouble/bad luck comes in threes"?  Friday was my last and least favorite fitness test for the beginning of the season.  Yup, you guessed it:  the dreaded run test.  I really liked the idea of conducting this test in a controlled environment.  I opted to get up early and get to work and do my test during lunch.

As lunch time approached, I found myself procrastinating at my desk.  Well, I needed to wait until three hours after I last ate, AND I was not looking forward to the pain.  With a sigh, I finally caved in and headed down to the basement gym.  I beat the rush.  There was nobody else there.  I changed my clothes and climbed onto the treadmill.

A rerun of Desperate Housewives was on the TV...

My instructions were to warm up easy for ten minutes, then build to a moderate pace for ten minutes, reset the heart rate monitor, then game on...

About half way through my build, two women joined me, one on the treadmill next to me on the right, the other on the elliptical to my left.  By the end, sweat was starting to pour from my body.  I questioned the wisdom of doing this indoors.  I reset the HRM and pressed the go button.

I started the treadmill at 8 mph on a 1% incline.  I felt that this was a sustainable pace for me for twenty minutes.  I was wrong :-)  I held that pace for 8 minutes before my oxygen deprived mind requested, no demanded, that I slow down.  WEAKNESS!!  I reached up and lowered the speed by 0.2 mph.

This became a pattern over the next eight minutes.  It worked out well.  As I my body tired, my speed decreased but my heart rate stayed in a very tight pattern.  I would learn later that my cadence averaged 89, nearly perfect.  The two women left my side in the 15th minute.  I'm sure they thought I was nuts.  My face was red, breathing was labored.  I looked like I could suffer a melt down at any particular moment.  By now, I was counting down the seconds.   I can do anything for five minutes.  I can do anything for three minutes.  I can...  etc...

Nothing feels quite as good as pressing the stop button during lactate hell.  I clutched the side rails and stood perfectly still as my heart rate dropped from 178 to 156 during my recovery minute.  This drop indicates I need more aerobic work.  I walked around the small gym cooling down.  I evidently missed the memo on the twenty minute cool down jog.  This is why I have a reputation an an absent minded professor!  Even after showering, my core temperature was way too high.  I sweated profusely for the next thirty minutes or so.  This did not make me happy!  Being a sweaty mess for the rest of the day was no fun!

My test results came back.  My running heart rate zones did not change from last year, but I ran faster.  My pace improved by almost twenty seconds per mile.  I am getting there...

A special thank you to my beautimous wife who has supported me in registering for Ironman Augusta 70.3.  How can you resist an inaugural Ironman event in your own state?  I am really enjoying the fact that I can actually treat these races as "A" races instead of training races for Ironman.

Let the quest for a sub 6 half ironman begin!

Friday, April 24, 2009

I Need Skillz

I am using my superior coding obfusication powers to create a professional website.  Unfortunately, my graphics and creative skills are hard to, ummmm, comprehend.  There to fore, I am in need of someone with excellent graphics skills to help me design and create this webite.  I do not believe it will be a lot of work.  The time line is gray and fuzzy, just the way I like it, and the pay is cold hard cash.

If you know of somebody and/or would like to pony up, leave me some comment love.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Put a Cork in It

My poor, poor anal sphincter....

How's that for a segway?  Hmmmm :-)

Saturday was the big bike test day.  I woke up a wee bit hung over.  Dee Dee and I were kidless Friday night and took advantage of it.  It wasn't so much that I had a few cocktails.  It was the fact that I had to get up early Saturday morning to take Matthew to his soccer game.  Late night + a few drinks + an early wake up = less than optimal body state.

After the game, I hemmed and hawed over whether or not to put off the test until Sunday morning.  By lunch time, I was feeling downright chipper.  I ate, waited the requisite two hours and then prepped my bike for the test.

Last two times I took this test, I went to Columns Drive by the Hooch (its a river).  This time, I wanted to see how it would go on the trainer.  I started out by warming up for 10 minutes or so, then did a few spin ups to get the legs ready for racing.  After the spin ups, I did a slow build up to race pace.  Yes, this testing stuff is serious!  Once the build up was over, I reset my heart rate monitor and I was off...

I thought I did a good job of being consistent.  Last year, when I did this, I did not push myself hard enough.  We found out at Callaway that my zones were way to low.  I kind of knew what to push for and push I did.  There was only one problem.  At the end of Ironman training, it became apparent that I was getting too strong for my trainer.  I had to put my bike into the hardest gear and really spin (~100 rpm) to get my heart rate going.

Squiggly line on top is cadence.
Bottom line is heart rate

I actually surprised myself with how well it went. I was sweating up a storm, but I was able to maintain a very solid pace. My max HR ended up being 163 (I think), and my average was 159. This is five points lower than last year and more realistic, I believe.  The drop off at the end is my recovery rate.  In one minute, my HR dropped 20 points.  Evidently, this is a sign that my aerobic engine needs work (I already knew this!)

Sunday, the rain held off long enough for me to ref my first youth soccer match in a long, long time.  I ran the pitch hard and gave them my best game.  I came home long enough to eat split pea soup and pea salad (pea, pea, pea!) before heading back out for my adult games.  After running the center on two adult matches, I was exhausted.  I am definitely counting reffing as one of my runs for the week this year.  I came home, ate red beans and rice, drank three beers and went to bed.

The next day, Monday, I woke up not feeling so well.  Evidently, the combination of pea soup, red beans, and beer did not bode well for my recovery after the weekend.  I spent the next 36 hours off and on in the bathroom.   It was so bad, I ended up skipping my swim workout for Tuesday!  I don't believe I've ever missed a workout due to not feeling well.  I guess there's a first time for everything.

Good news is starting around lunch yesterday, I felt better.  Today, I have a brick at lunch.  I'm going to ride and run by the Hooch near work.  Today is a ten on the Melish meter (know what that is?).  It's gonna be a beautiful day...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Our Anthem

I am not a Hannah Montana fan.  I do like Miley Cyrus though.  This song is for all my peeps out there training hard and struggling to achieve break throughs and new distances.  This one's for you.

An Anthem for The Back of the Pack

* and if this doesn't apply to you, that too, is cool...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chillaxin: Triathlete Edition

There are those amongst us, and you know who you are, who has signed up for early season triathlons.  Even in the south (way south!), these triathlons are wet suit legal this time of year.  This brings a few brave souls to the Beginner Triathlete forum in search of open water swims.

I am an intrepid soul...

My first race, as of right now, is not until the end of June.  Water should be plenty warm by then to get in multiple open water swims.  Do I let this stop me?  Of course not!  If there's an open water swim in my vicintiy, I am there.

Multiple calls to the lake line kept the forum up to date on conditions.  The water temp stayed at 58 degrees pretty much all week.  I tried to remember my first open water swim at this time last year.  It wasn't bad.  LOL...  How soon  they forget.  Back then, I was still relatively new at this tri stuff, and open water swimming made me skairt.

I pushed my Friday swim to Saturday.  I got up early and went to Dallas Landing in Acworth.  The gates were closed, and the sign said that the City of Acworth had taken over administration of the site.  This did not bode well for our little excursion.  I parked the car back by main street and went out for my fifty minute run.  For forty-five minutes, I practiced high cadence and low heart rate.  It's not easy doing an "easy" run with a cadence of 180 steps per minute.  I followed the route of the Acworth Women's Triathlon for a bit, and I enjoyed running along the lake.  I arrived back at my car with five minutes to spare and shot back down to Dallas Landing.

There were three cars waiting when I arrived, and I followed a fourth in.  That made five of us all together.  The gates were still not open.  We hung around a bit to discuss our options and waited for any late arrivals.  There were none.  I volunteered to lead the group to Red Top Mountain the back way.  Off we went in a group and arrived at the lake in no time.

The lake was at full pool.  There were a few fishing boats in the cove.  One of the triathletes remarked on this, and my response was:  "It's a big lake.  They can go someplace else!"  Yea, I'm nice like that ;-)  Boats weren't brave enough to venture far into the cove during the drought.  The water receeded far enough to where the bottom was like walking in a mud pen.  With the lake at full pool, the bottom was actually very firm and nice, but the water was freezing.

Gingerly, I walked out into the lake, muttering a few choice curse words.  A fine film of pollen floated on top of the lake, broken here and there by floating sticks and pine cones.  I gasped as cold water seeped into the back of my suit.  My core warmed up pretty quickly, but my hands and feet were freezing.  I encourage the others to get moving.  Action would certrainly warm the body.  When I put my face into the water, my reward was instant pain.  The area where my goggles touched my face felt blistering!  I tried everything, water polo stroke, side stroke, etc.  I made it about 400 meters before having to stop and catch my breath.

The group reformed and set off down the cove again.  We stopped to regroup again at the pier.  This was a real treat as there was some kind of Easter event going on.  A crowd made its way down onto the pier to gawk at the crazy swimmers.  One of the triathletes said, "Yea, this seemed like such a good idea at the time!"  The good news was that the water was actually a tad bit warmer out in the cove.  I learned this at Florida as well.  The less water circulating underneath, the more cold the water absorbs from the air.

The group made its way out of the cove and across the inlet.  Swimming was becoming easier now.  My face no longer felt on fire and I could actually breath.  The distance to the white rocks on the other side is just about 650 meters.  We rested for about five minutes before turning back.  This was a bad idea as it allowed our faces to get warm again.  The minute we started swimming, the pain entered round two!

Still, the return trip was much easier and fluid.  We only paused briefly for everybody to regroup and catch their breath.  I think we made the entire 1500 meter trip in about 40 minutes, which isn't too shabby for freezing cold water.  

As we dried off and changed out of our wet suits, the squeals and yells of excited children could be heard in the background.  The parking lot was chock full of cars.  Evidently, we had just beat the crowd.  Over all, I had a great time swimming, despite the cold.  I am hoping that my enthusiasm for open water will carry over from last year, and this irrational fear of swimming will be behind me.

Here's to keeping our fingers crossed.  The signs are good.  I am ready to go again :-)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Amongst Friends

When I first started blogging, over two years ago now I think, I truly felt out of place.  I was mostly a quiet soul (and probably still am a little) with very little desire to express myself to other people.  It was fun connecting with like minded people.  I sensed (more in my imagination) who amongst them were "old school" and who, like me, was new to this blogging business.

I'm not sure how I found Brooke.  It might have been through Runner Susan, or maybe Juls, or even Run for Chocolate.  My vivid image of Brooke is of her backside as she climbed those stairs for what seemed like years :-)  She finally changed her profile pic and we got to see her front side.  LOL...  As with so many of my bloggy peeps, we managed to strike up a lasting friendship.

Brooke let me know through facebook that she was passing through Atlanta with her family on her way to a romantic vacation.  She wanted to know if Dee Dee and I wanted to meet up for dinner.  Did I?  I always jump at the chance to meet up with my friends, virtual or otherwise.  I almost let time get away from me.  With just a few short days until their arrival, I managed to make arrangements to meet Brooke and her family at the Houston's restaurant by Lenox Mall.  This was just about half way between us.

Dee Dee was upstairs getting ready to go when those nasty thunderstorms, tornados and all, began to make their way into Georgia.  Even though it was a bit early, I grabbed Matthew (who graced us with his presence) and Dee Dee and got the hell out of there.  Evidently, Canton is officially a tornado magnet.  This is just a little too close for comfort.  Lucky for us, south was away from the storms.

We got to the restaurant a little early and scored a place at the bar to hold down the fort until Brooke and Ken arrived with the girls.  I was in a festive mood, opting to drink gin and tonic while we waited.  Having not drank any alcohol for a while, I can tell ya.  My liver is OUT OF SHAPE.  I was buzz buzz buzzing by the time they arrived.  I managed to take control and hopefully not make a total fool out of myself until we got a table.  I know pretty much how eating out is in Atlanta, and I felt bad for the girls and Matthew that we were eating so late.

The conversation and dinner was wonderful.  Matthew enjoyed talking with Ken about helicopters and the Marine corp.  We shared stories about running, blogging, and serving our country.  The girls were so adorable and well behaved.  Brooke might beg to differ :-)  It was exactly like most of my blogger meet ups, like long lost friends getting together again.  As dinner wound down, we declined desert, paid our bill, and got up to leave.

I had these images in my mind from times long past.  When I was in the Army, seargents and officers were older men, gruff and stern.  You really did your best to go unnoticed when you were in their presence.  I wasn't sure what to expect with Ken.  Certainly, he and I had not communicated as much as Brooke and I had.  In the foyer of the restaurant, I gave Brooke one of my patented Georgia bear hugs.  I tried to hide my surprise when Ken pulled me into a hug like we were best friends.

That is an honor I will not soon forget...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Life's Hard Lessons

forgive me bloggy peeps, for I have been neglectful...

My heart has been heavy lately.  Nothing serious, mind you.  It's just one of those dips that anybody who does serious training would recognize in an instant.  The little things are amplified a little bit.  Damn you, Extreme Home Makeover!  LOL...

My daughter had the opportunity recently to fall in with major restaurant company here in Atlanta.  She has been graduated from college for over a year now, but has not had much luck landing a job.  If you are going to work in the service industry, then this is the type of restaurant you want to work for.

Jess worked hard to help this company get their new store open.  It's a fairly popular place.  The first week, they were deluged with customers.  They took advantage of her willingness to work hard.  She closed, turned around and opened the next day.  Came in when they called.  They worked her so hard as a matter of fact that she got sick and was out six days.  After she managed to get better, she took a planned and approved weekend off to see her grandmother.  When she returned, she suddenly found herself, persona non grata.

After being treated badly, she left and starts a new job today.  This whole episode saddens me.  Bartenders and waitresses make $2.35 an hour, and unfortunately, they are treated as expendables.  It really takes very little effort to replace them with the next warm body that walks through the door.  If that doesn't merit approval, on to the next.

I encouraged Jess, indirectly through her mom, to stay and slug it out.  You can't solve your problems by running from job to job.  Yes!  The restaurants also know that server's jobs are a dime a dozen.  The respect, and lack there of, is a reciperocal thing.  Sometimes, you have to stay and fight, to prove to yourself and others that you can beat their shit, and laugh.

Thus my facebook status for that moment:  Wes does not support people who suck!

and with the thunder clouds rolling in my mind, an unsuspecting aquaintance pops some stuff up on facebook about Obama's recent trip to the G20 summit and Turkey.  I won't go into details about what was said, but it piqued my curiosity enough to do my own research.  What I found was that he was repeating a lot of rhetoric that was being posted on conservative blogs and news organizations.

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't like it when people make stuff up.  The thought processes that got them from point A to point B had to look like the biggest hair ball in existence.  They then go proselitizing it from the highest roof tops so that you and I can make the connection with a slash of our sword.  They say it over and over again until they believe it to be the truth.

I don't care too much for the Democratic party, and I'm fairly neurtral on Obama.  I will not, however, stand idly by and listen to a bunch of made up bullshit about anybody or anything.  And then the kicker?  I'm supposed to "thank a veteran" for fighting (and dying) for my rights.

Those of you who have actually strapped on combat boots gather round, and we will discuss.

It was funny how that conversation got deleted and reposted without my comments.

My friend, Marit, lamented on facebook the fact that her husband had to fly in at 1 AM (he's a Marine (booya!) pilot) then report back for duty at 8 AM.  I commented that that "was nuthin".  She deleted my comment.  I think I pissed her off :-(  It was probably the "hahahahaha" I put in front of it.  Wo!  I am on a roll!

Sometimes, I expect people that I have a relationship with, yes, even a virtual one, to just get me, and that's not really fair, is it?  It is certainly not wise to assume that someone is going to know what I am thinking in one short sentence.  This little incident has reminded me that facebook and my blog is not part of a contest.  I am here primarily for me, and you second.  If the "you" part doesn't work out all the time, that's OK.  It's only fair.

I've got a lot more stuff I want to talk about, but it's time to end this bitch-fest.  I woke up this morning to the howling wind, driving rain, and the crack of thunder.  Through the noise, I heard the birds singing.

They were telling me, "It's going to be a beautiful day"...

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Call Me Stupid

Cadence training went well yesterday.  I went up to Hobgood Park for a thirty minute run around the soft ball fields.  I thought that I would use the first lap to recalibrate my Garmin Forerunner 50.  The distance has been a little long since I've shortened my stride with this cadence training.

On faith, I went ahead and set the metronome to 90 beats per minute.  This is actually a huge jump from 84-85, and I would have been wiser to stick with plan of 88.  Even with the shortened stride, the 90 steps per minute had me gasping and clawing for breath.  Um, warm up anybody?  After one lap of the track, I stopped and tried to set the Garmin.  Something strange happened.  It didn't "set".  Off I went again and did another lap.  This time, I was careful.  I set it, then I went back to review it.  The calibration was set to 1.0.  This is the factory default.  Arghhhh!!!  I decided to give it one more try.  After I did  the loop, yet again, I was very careful to make sure the Forerunner saved the actual distance.  Yes, it told me saved.  When I looked at the calibration, it was 1.0.

Stupid me...  Evidently, at a cadence of 90, the factory default is the correct setting.  Hahahahaha!!  I finished up my thirty minute run.  I did two more loops at a cadence of 90.  I was able to keep my HR in Zone 2, at about a 10 minute pace.  There is still work for me to do there.

I got up early this morning to meet the Outspokin Bike guys for the 8 AM Hickory Flat ride, described as intermediate to advanced.  I got there early, but managed to find a few of the early birds.  The 7 AM beginner's ride was obviously still out on the streets.  It was about 43 degrees this morning.  I was very glad that I had gone back inside to get my tights.  Some of the riders, about 14 all together, looked like they were set to ride the North Pole.  I had on two shirts, gloves, bike shorts, tights, no socks, shoes, and arm warmers.  This was actually perfect.

The group left the Publix parking lot and headed out.  I found myself pulling up behind the front three riders.  Josh, the guy from Outspokin, is a great cyclist.  He was pulling the group.  Honestly, I didn't know what to expect from this ride.  I knew nothing about the pace, the route, nothing.  After a couple of miles in, we hit the first set of hills.  I managed to hold my place in the group without much trouble.

At mile 10, we hit Mount Doom's great great great grandfather.  In my exuberance to stay with the group, my heart rate hit 177.  This, my friends, is the very top of Zone 5a for my runs.  Ya...   I know.  Shortly after that, I was dropped like a rotten sack of potatos.  Lucky for me, there were a few other guys that didn't see the need to leave my ass behind.  I was not worried though.  I had my cue sheet.

At mile 16, my stomach started to rumble.  Evidently, two granola bars is not enough fuel for a two hour ride.  Are we starting to see a pattern here?  I valiantly rode on with my new found friends.  Near mile 20, one of the guys sez, "This is where I turn into a mouse.  I hate this hill."  Oh great, I thought.  As I neared the top of the hill, in granny gear, I thought, this isn't too bad.  Then, I made the right turn, and the hill kept going.  Straight up.  By the time I reached the top, I was beating myself, screaming in my mind.  You idiot!  ROFL...  My left quad was cramping.  After resting for a few minutes, I managed to continue riding.  The quad was fine as long as I didn't try to straighten it out.

The next 11 miles were easier.  I struggled to keep up with the self admitted slow guy.  By the time we pulled back into the Publix shopping center, I was ready to eat my tire.  I thanked the gentlemen for keeping me company, packed up the car, and headed to the nearest gas station.  I rushed inside and grabbed some apple juice and what ever else appeared appetizing.  On the way home, I stuffed my face and drank my juice.  It was only afterwards that I thought to check the packaging and see exactly what the hell it was that I ate.

That was the best 1000 calorie breakfast.  Ever.  

Friday, April 03, 2009

A Month of Running Tips

Coach Patrick, from Endurance Nation, has started a series of blog posts.  The idea is to post one tip every day to help improve your running.  I signed up for the email updates, but I have yet to see one in my box *hint* *hint*.

Imagine my surprise when I went by there today, and three were already posted to the blog!  Argh!!!  LOL...  What's really cool is that the first one is on cadence.  I've already got my 84-85 cadence range nailed.  I think I'm going to take it up to 88 on my run today and see how I do.  It should be fun!

You can find the blog here!  Enjoy!!


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Detoxing, de-bloating, and debriefing

Funny thing happened on the way to the church...

I think I've had like two beers since I can't remember.  I've had a little bit of alcohol, namely for my anniversary.  Then there was that bottle of Barcardi Razz that Dee Dee and I polished off last weekend, but take my word for it.  My consumption of alcohol has taken a serious hit.

Even more than when training for Ironman.

Significantly more than when doing P90X.

I have this tolerance for nausea.  I learned this skill in the army.  Go out.  Get drunk.  Party till 3 AM.  Get up at 5:30 AM and run 4 miles.  What's the big deal?

All that weight I was holding onto during the winter has started to exit stage left.  My love handles are shrinking.  I blame the chlorinated water.

I feel strong.  I feel good.  I am waking up at 5:30 AM in the morning and cannot get back to sleep.  No!  This is good!!  I am actually sleeping well until 5:30 AM and am not tired.

Makes me wonder what I could have achieved last year by eating healthy and not drinking my calories.

Makes me wonder what I can achieve this year, and next, by doing the same.

Wanna find out?