Monday, February 27, 2012

I want to go fast!

A Guns and Hoses 5K Race Report

This was Dee Dee's and my third time running the Guns and Hoses 5K.   The venue is right down the street from my house and actually runs on the road in my neighborhood.  It doesn't get any more local than that!  I had been watching the weather all week, hoping that the temperatures would be warm.  I intended to run this race in my Vibrams, and the thought of cold hard asphalt was not a pleasant one!  Predictably, Mr. Murphy shows up and gives us a race time temperature of 39 degrees.  Brrrrrrr!  Now that that's settled, nothing left to do but get our race on!

I set the alarm for 6:20 AM, which is the usual time I get up to take my son to school.  On race day, getting up at 6:20 AM is a luxury.    Still, Dee Dee and I didn't drag out butts out of bed until sometime after quarter till seven, just enough time to grab a quick bite to eat, take care of the pre-race formalities, and get out the door in a most unhurried like manner.

We arrived at the park later than normal, as expected, and it was packed.  We scored a parking spot next to the van carrying Dee Dee's co-workers from Cobb County.  Like a lot of people, they were sitting in the van, staying warm, until it was time to start the race.  Dee Dee had picked up our race packets the day before, so we too stayed in the car until 10 minutes before race time.

The air was every bit of 39 degrees cold.  I had on tights, a thermal long sleeve shirt, and my long sleeve race shirt.  I had also decided to go with the Vibrams after all.  Dee Dee and I jogged around a bit before joining back up with her friends.  It seemed like the race got started a little late.  We were all still chatting when the horn sounded, and the crowd began to move.  Since I wasn't trying to PR this race, I was OK with starting the back.  I went ahead and start on my Garmin and joined the crowd.

The first couple of minutes, I spent a lot of time dodging walkers and slower runners, looking for my own space.  A quarter of a mile later, I found myself on the outside edge with plenty of room to run.  The race starts out on a long gentle down hill till it meets the road that runs into my neighborhood.  I felt the spot on my left foot start to complain.  I think there's something that goes on in there with the nerve between my tarsals (?).  It usually acts up when I get my mileage over thirty or so.  In a few more minutes, it had calmed down, and my feet felt fine and snug in the Vibrams.

Once the course hits my neighborhood, its a flat out and back to the water treatment plant.  The race course had changed this year, due to new construction on the park, and the Garmin beeped for the first mile, shortly after turning down the road towards the plant.


In order to get to the required 3.11 miles, the race course went up the hill and behind the school before coming back down the hill and rejoining the old route.  That first sharp little climb was quite a tester.  The real struggle, however, began as we made our way back up the road towards the park.  The nice smooth downhill on the way out turned in to a gradually increasing climb on the way back.  Even after crossing into the parking lot, we had to go slightly uphill to the top of the baseball fields, before making a right then a left on to the walking path.

The good news at this point:  there was only half a mile to go, and it was almost all downhill.  At the back of the baseball fields, we deviated off the walking path down by the amphitheater and behind the tennis courts.  As we passed the tennis courts on our left, we emerged onto the lower parking lot, and there to our left was the finish line.  I kicked it in and crossed the line in 25:49 for an 8:13 over all pace.

I was pretty happy with that.  I pushed myself pretty hard, and my heart rate data corroborated this nicely.  My miles came in at 7:51, 8:26, and 8:29, with a 7:10 pace for the final 0.11.  That was a pretty even effort.  I grabbed a banana and walked up past the amphitheater to wait on Dee Dee.  While I was watching the runners come in, I saw the cutest little girl, all of 6 or 7 running with her dad.  As they get next to me, I hear the dad say:  "There's 200 meters left to go, what do you want to do?"  The little girl answers:  "I want to go fast!"  It was just so cute, and appropriate.  Watch out for that future champion!

Dee Dee finished the race four minutes faster than last year.  Due to the cold, we didn't hang around very long!  Warm coffee and breakfast was but two miles away!  Over all, I was pleased with my race results, and pleased that my Vibrams went so well.  I don't know if I'm ready to go all out in them yet, but I'm thinking about it!

Wes

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Coming Home

I'm coming home
I'm coming home
tell the World I'm coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they've forgiven my mistakes
I'm coming home, I'm coming home
tell the World I'm coming

Back where I belong
I've never felt so strong eh
feeling like there's nothing that I can't try
and if you feel me put your hands high, high, high, hey
and if you feel me put your hands high, high, hey

Every couple of months, I’ve been trying to get back home to see my father.  It’s been 10 months since he came down with bacterial meningitis.  He’s been in the hospital or an extended care facility for that entire time.  It’s been hard for me to be 375 miles away.  My older brother, my step-mother, and a few of my father’s brothers have bore the brunt of his care.  Still, I do what I can, give my step-mother a break when I can.

This past weekend, I got the welcome news that Dad was coming home.  There just wasn’t much more they could do for him at the extended care facility that could not be done at home via outpatient.  I was actually in Mobile this past weekend, and the entire family is very excited about this great news.  He still has a long road ahead of him, but we all know that Dad will be much much happier being at home, and it will be so much easier on everybody else to help with his care.

I put in two of my Trainer Road workouts last week before heading out of town.  I took my running gear with me, and figured I could make up my long ride sometime on Monday, after I got home.  Before I went to see my father Saturday, I got up and did three miles on the treadmill.  During that run, I finally came to the realization that all this working out stuff at this time was just BS.  I canned my 10 mile long run on Sunday and instead optimized my time with my father.

After driving home Monday, I took my gear with me to work, and put in 10 miles at Cochran Shoals along the Chattahoochee River.  The mini-taper gave my legs some excess energy, and I put in 10 miles at a 9 minute pace.  It felt so good to be out in the cool clean air, running on flat ground.
The plan for now is to take my swim test today (done!), repeat the last Trainer Road workout I did last Thursday, then pick back up where I left off this weekend.  I have a little ole 5K I’m planning on running this weekend, the annual Guns and Hoses 5K.  I planning on doing that one in my Vibrams.  We’ll see how it goes!

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Wes

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Inspiration

I have to admit I’m loving my little Android phone.  Right now, I’m using it as an MP3 player to stream music to my harmon kardon speakers.  While it doesn’t have much room for apps, I’m able to do a hundred times more stuff on it than I could on my old little prepaid touch phone.  Perhaps, one day, I’ll grow up and get a full Android phone, but I doubt they’ll ever get cheap enough for this no contract boy.

My Trainer Road workouts are proceeding as planned.  I don’t have a clue as to why their base plan would follow up the 8 minute test with a hard VO2 set, but the workouts after that have been more manageable, more base.  I’ve actually had a little something left in the tank at the end, which is nice.

My friend Marni, is a registered dietician, and an Ironman with a masters in exercise physiology.   She loves to fill her blog with healthful and helpful advice, as well as lots of interesting recipes.  Recently, she posted a recipe that Karel made for her with one of my favorite vegetables:  Brussels sprouts.

Admit it, you love them…

I had seen a video on the NY Times website featuring Mark Bittman, the man who cooks everything.  He pulsed some fresh Brussels sprouts in a food processor and made a vegetable dish with it.  I thought that I might combine that technique with Karel’s recipe and come up with my first very own concoction, inspired by Marni!

Orzo a la Karel

1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts
1 lb extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
16 oz Orzo
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt
pepper
olive oil
juice of one lemon
parmesan cheese
vegetable or chicken stock

I pulsed the Brussels sprouts in my food processor until I was happy with the consistency.  I wanted them leafy, but not mulched to nothing.  I left some of the bigger chunks in there as well, and I was fine with that.  You could just half or quarter them if you want.

Cook the orzo according to the directions on the package.

Heat a pan on medium-medium high and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the garlic and sautee for 1-3 minutes, careful not to let it burn.  Slice or dice your onion, matters not to me.  I basically cut mine in half, then sliced it. Add the onion to the pan and sautee until translucent.  Added the tofu, and cook for 2-5 minutes.  I never know exactly how long to cook tofu!  Add the processed Brussels sprouts.  The idea here is to wilt the Brussels sprouts down.  I added some vegetable stock to mine until I achieved the tenderness that I wanted.  Salt and pepper to taste.

For my sauce, I made a lemon vinaigrette.  I got about a third of a cup of lemon juice from mine, so I added 2/3 cup of olive oil, a teaspoon of salt and pepper, then blended well.  I then dumped everything into one pot, the orzo, the Brussels sprouts, and the vinaigrette, and heated through.

Serve garnished with parmesan cheese to taste.

This dish didn’t overwhelm me with flavors, although it tasted good.  What I did enjoy about it was the subtleness and cleanliness of it.  Since I’m the only one in my house that would eat it, I’ve been enjoying it for four days!

I hope you enjoy it too!

Wes

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Games We Play

As you well know, I am a digits person.  I love keeping track of what I’m doing, how long I’ve been doing it, and what affect it is having on things like weight, resting heart rate etc.  OCD?  maybe :-)

This Trainer Road stuff is feeding my addition.  Case in point:  my Thursday workout.

Gayley

This little ride included 4x8 minutes at functional threshold power, or just below.  I was really happy to see those blue lines further south of the 200+ watts I was pushing on my test.  My elation lasted until the middle of the second interval.  I was wondering how on earth was I ever going to get through all four of these?  I began to question the sanity of starting a “cycling” plan having hardly ridden my bike since July of last year.

I gritted my teeth and worked through it.  Every ride, so far, has left my drenched in sweat, tired and noodle legged.  I’ve been working very hard to keep my watts on target.  While it’s not possible, even with smoothing, to match the straight lines, its fun to try.  Plus, it keeps me from going to hard or to soft on the prescribed intervals.

Case in point, Sunday’s long ride.

Baxter

This little jewel was a fixed gear workout.  All those ups and downs in power were accomplished through changes in cadence, not by shifting gears.  My engine held up well for the most part, but boy was my butt sore by the end of that hour-thirty ride!

Having taken Friday off, I swam early Saturday, then went to Boling Park in Canton for a flat 1 mile loop.  My legs help up surprisingly well for about 8 miles, but after that, I was feeling every minute of my swim and Thursday ride.  It was a good reminder that running well off the bike is hard work.

Have a great week, y’all!

Wes

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Bananagate

It’s been a very trying 10 days here at Chez Rose Colored Glasses.  First, my beloved boss and co-worker revealed to us that he has stage four pancreatic cancer.  He had been having medical issues for a couple of months, but never the less, it was still a shock to receive such devastating news.  Bossman’s last day was Friday.  He’s off to spend time with his family and knock a few things off his bucket list.

Then, last Thursday, a young and well loved coach at my son’s soccer club was struck by a car while running at 5 AM in the morning.  That particular day was unusually warm, and as often happens here in the south, the fog was thick and heavy.  Coach was running on the road, with traffic, which was unfortunate.  The driver that stuck him never saw him.  He died Saturday morning at the young age of thirty-two, leaving behind a wife and two children.  He will be sorely missed.

Due to a very ummmm hot date night Saturday, I shifted my weekend run to Monday.  I’m trying to keep my Vibrams run equal with Dee Dee’s long run.  She did seven miles on the treadmill, and I did six.  I wanted to do seven, but my ankles and feet were a bit sore.  There’s no use in rushing it.  I’m happy to be up to six miles in the Vibrams, and I will be adding more miles at a later point in time.

Tuesday, I started the Early Base training plan from Trainer Road.  I kicked off the celebration with the 8 Minute Test, which is eerily similar to the Bike/Run test in The Time Crunched Triathlete.  Basically, the test is 28 minutes of warm up, followed by two 8 minute all out efforts, with 10 minutes of rest in between.

CTS 8 Minute Test

As you can see from the graph, I didn’t do too badly turning in two consistent 8 minute efforts.  The instructions indicated that the test results would be suspect if there was more than a 10% discrepancy between efforts.  While my second effort was a little off, it is will within this margin of error.  Trainer Road automatically calculated my Functional Threshold Power at 174, and said my lactate threshold was 149.  This kind of surprised me a bit, as my LTHR from last year was more like 162.  Since I’m not really concerned with that number at this point, I’m just going to run with it and retest later.

Some of you may or may not know that I write software for a living.  My employer bought me this really powerful laptop to use and take home as needed.  The first couple of months that I had it, a poorly designed laptop bag caused the strap to come loose, resulting in my laptop crashing to the ground and damaging the hinges, not once, but twice.  The first time it happened, Dell was already on their way out to replace a bunch of hardware, so they included this fix in the mix as well.  The second time, I had to send the laptop back to Dell and have them fix it.  It was not pleasant, that whole fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me thing.  Needless to say, I went out and bought my own laptop bag.

Fast forward to last week…  I asked Dee Dee if she had eaten my last banana.  She looked at me like I was crazy and said no.  A couple of days later, I was taking my laptop out of my bag, when I noticed something oozing from the USB port on the side.  To my chagrin, I discovered it was melted banana, and the rest of it was in the bottom of my laptop bag.  Both USB ports and both ear bud ports were full of the stuff.  I spent about an hour cleaning them out to the best of my ability.  Since then, everything has been working sorta kinda OK, but I get into the office today, and neither of the USB ports wanted to work.  I fiddled with them for a while and finally got my external keyboard to work, but I’m thinking this can’t be good.  Dried banana is not a good conductor of electrical signals, evidently.

I don’t think my company is going to be happy with me about this…

Have a great week, y’all!

Wes