Sunday, December 29, 2013

First You Have to Admit There is a Problem

This will come as a surprise to anyone that knows me.  After much thought and careful introspection I have now realized something about myself.

I'm an addict.

This morning was so difficult.  I couldn't get myself out of bed.  My stomach felt all messed up.  I just wanted to go back to bed and sleep.

Lethargic and feeling like I was going to puke I gathered my things together.  I had a responsibility ahead of me that I wish I could have handed off to someone else.  But I had to keep the facade going. 

It would be okay.  It was only a 90 minute spin session. 

I could tell people what to do and for how long.  I could hide under the mask of being the leader.  No one would know how hard I was working because I knew they would be distracted by their own suffering.

I've had this feeling before.  So tired from the days prior.  It reminded me of the Sunday mornings at Triple T when 70.3 miles lie ahead of me.

I hate feeling this way, but I still find myself in this position.

We made it up to Coca Crossfit and started getting our bikes set up. 

Slowly the people started to arrive and bring their gear into the gym.  The smiling faces and warm good mornings started to wake me up.  Three new faces to the group seemed to lift my spirits. 

Okay,  I can do this.  I have the workout in front of me.  It was time to do some work.

Once I started spinning the pedals and listening to the music, the bloated feeling in my stomach started to go away. 

90 minutes.....I can do this.

I counted down the reps and seconds.   Told people to gear up/gear down and stay strong.

I seemed to be saying the words for my own benefit as well.  It would have been easy to hide.

.....NOT push as hard. 

.....NOT add that extra gear.

.....NOT push my cadence beyond 100RPM.

But there I was feeling the burn in my legs and watching the sweat roll down my arms and drip off my hands to the floor.

Standing next to my bike when it was finally over I realized what my problem was.

I am an addict.

Addicted to the running, swimming, cycling, Crossfit, and anything else I might be able to fit in.

I need this to feel normal.  It is my drug.  It is so much a part of my lifestyle I am lost without it and occasionally I don't feel right until I get my fix.  And 90 minutes is one hell of a fix.

I guess I am fortunate that Aimee and many of my friends are willing enablers in my addiction.  They make it fun and worthwhile.

Game On.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Running with Joe

Yesterday was one of those HTFU days.  Aimee and I were scheduled to run with our friends Dale and Tina for 1:30.  But the weather was super crappy with non-stop rain.  Friday night it was already in the 50's so I figured I would be running in shorts for sure.

Saturday morning the rain was still coming down but no so bad to dissuade Aimee from running.  I gathered my gear and we headed out.

Boy am I glad to have Aimee.  She gave me the right HTFU motivation to lace up the running shoes.

The rain wasn't that bad but the temperature was cooler than I thought.  I ran in a different direction than the others.  The solitude allows me to get lost in the run.

The rivers were very high from the rain and I had the trails to myself.  The only company I had was the dozen deer grazing along the side of the path.

When I turned around a friend joined me for the rest of my run.

Joe found me 45 minutes into the run and kept me company for the final 30 minutes.  It was very nice to have the company.

I wish I could remember how long I've known Joe.  Aimee and I were introduced to Joe and Anne at one of our friends house.  Joe always struck me as a well rounded guy.  He could talk on many different topics.  A wonderful husband and father, his faith was evident but not pushy.  He was always interested in what you were doing. 

Joe and I didn't talk during our run together but we shared some memories. 

Joe died just over one year ago on November 21, 2012.  At 48 years old his body, ravaged by cancer, decided it couldn't go on any longer.  I wish I could have gotten to know Joe better.  But having him in my life for even a short period of time is priceless.

I'm not sure why Joe decided to join me for a run but I'm sure glad he did.  He had no problem running by my side.  He even helped push me along as I headed straight into the wind and rain.

I'm not sure when Joe will join me for another run, but I sure will enjoy spending some time with him again.

Game On.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ironman Wisconsin 2013 - Pre Race and Swim

It was five years ago when I first did Ironman Wisconsin.  In 2008 I completed the race in 11:03:36 with a sub 4 hour marathon.  Five years later, and older, I was planning on going sub 11 hours.

I never thought I would go back to Wisconsin but this time it would be slightly different.  The talk amongst the Cleveland Tri Club had a lot of people going and I blame....was coerced...joined Aimee in making the decision to join the Cleveland crew of almost 30 people.  At least there would be plenty of people to train with, including two of my Snakebite Racing teammates...Mark and Tiffany.

Training over the summer went well.  I remained injury free, felt strong, maintained my Crossfit training and mentally in a good place.  I created training plans for Aimee and I which I think we followed pretty well.

Aimee and I had a tight schedule race weekend.  We didn't arrive in Madison until Friday morning.  We got in a short ride on the course, drove the bike course, ate lunch, checked into the hotel and headed to registration.

We arrived just in time for the athlete meeting.  After the meeting we participated in the fourth event of Ironman....waiting in line.  We stood in line for around is one hour fifteen minutes.  it was good to get our stuff and get out.  Back at the hotel we showered and made arrangements for dinner with some Cleveland friends.  We skipped the athlete dinner and went to a local Italian place recommended by a co-worker who lives in Madison.  It's good to have local contacts.

After dinner we tried to relax for the evening.  The Friday night rest would be the most important sleep we would have.

Saturday morning we ran over to the Monona Terrace to see how the sun would rise on race day making sure we wore the right goggles for the swim.   Running back to the hotel for breakfast we stopped by the local farmers market.  It was a relaxing morning. 

I still wanted to get into the water and loosen up some.  I have a session with the witch doctor, acupuncture/massage, on Wednesday and I was still feeling it.  He might have gone too hard on me.  I was also feeling a little bit of pleural effusion in my left lung.  Friday night I could hear the gurgling if I was on my left side and also when i bent over at the waist.  I wanted to make sure the pressure of the wetsuit wouldn't cause any issues.

We dropped off our bikes in transition, after waiting in line, then deposited out transition bags in the ballrooms.  We hooked up with half of the Cleveland crew for the swim and I was fine.  Aimee and I took off for lunch when we were done with a group picture.  After lunch we retreated to the hotel for some afternoon rest.

Dinner Saturday night was with Aimee's family, Mom..Dad..Sister, who would be our fans during the race.  it was another nice Italian meal before we called it a night.  We finished preparing our bags special needs bags and nutrition for the race.  Finally it was time for bed.

4AM the alarm went off and we woke up from a decent nights sleep.  For me it wasn't as fitful as previous races.  This year I was mentally relaxed and felt in control.  I reviewed my race plan and felt I was ready.   At 5AM we met Tiffany in the hotel lobby and started the walk over to Monona Terrace.

We dropped off the special needs bags and then checked on our bikes.  We pumped up tires and I changed the batteries in Aimee's computer/sensor to be on the safe side.  Once we were done with the bikes I checked on my transition bags before getting my arms and calf marked.

Walking down the helix (parking garage ramp) there was a person with a big sheet cookie and a sign that said "last chance for nutrition".  I was game so I grabbed a small piece of the chocolate chip cookie and they cheered.  The crowd on the helix was going to be crazy. 

We saw Cleveland Pro triathlete Jim LaMastra getting ready for the swim.  We wished each other good luck.  Unfortunately Jim would pull out of the race after the swim due to a bad stomach that started the day prior.

As Aimee and I put our wetsuits on we happened to be standing next to Team Evo Tri's Rural-Girl...Michelle.  We connected on Facebook that I would be competing and she was wetsuit stripping.  We hugged and talked for a moment before she wished up good luck.  I was hoping to have her strip off my wetsuit later.

As we were being herded across the timing mat and into the water I gave Aimee a quick kiss for good luck.  I had my goggles in place and dove into the water.  I swam to a small buoy and saw Mark, Jeff and Ryan.  We all started at the same spot.  We didn't wait long before the national anthem was played...then the start cannon blasted.

I didn't take five strokes when the panic set in.  FUCK ME!!!!  I had perfect swims all season and here I was acting like I had never been there before.  Each time I tried to force myself to swim the breathing was too short and labored to let me swim.  I treaded water and tried to stay out of the way of everyone else.  I once again made my way to the far outside, where I should have been in the first place, and finally found my comfort zone.  I didn't look at my watch because I didn't want to see how much time I had already lost.  In the words of Eric Bank's..sorry ladies...I didn't want to see how much of a vagina I was.  Eric was also the guy who gave coined my favorite phrase Push The Mind and the Body Will Follow.  Well the body and mind were freaking out.

Three for Three on panicking during the Ironman start.  If there will be a next time, I'm waiting a couple minutes on shore before I swim. 

I tried to move forward several times and get swimming but I couldn't control my breathing.   I tried to tread water and move out of the way at the same time.  I was trying to slide in between swimmers and swim to the outside.

After I don't know how long, I finally was able to swim.  I was able to find my stroke and head to the first turn buoy.  After the first two left turns the course headed north and into the wind.  The chop was bad and impossible to any type of rhythm.  I had to adjust to the sudden rise of fall of the waves and breath quickly or hold my breath.  But many times I was sucking in water.  The waves were also pushing us around quite a bit.  I would pass one buoy on the left, like we were supposed to, and the next buoy would be on my right. 

Halfway through the swim I got kicked in the left goggle they were pushed down a little in my eye socket.  The seal was still good but not as comfortable.  The second half of the swim annoying. 

I was annoyed with the choppy lake.  I was annoyed with my goggles.  I was annoyed with how the race started. I tried to get these negative thoughts out of my head and focus.  The swim is just a small part of the race and I couldn't let it define the rest of the day. 

I rounded the third turn buoy and was happy to be heading back to shore.  However, I forgot we had to swim 300m to the final turn buoy.  I wasn't heading back to shore just yet.  I finally adjusted my goggles and kept swimming. 

The fourth turn buoy put us on course toward shore at an angle.  Once I sighted the exit arch it still looked a long way to go.  My stomach also started to feel....gross.  I saw a boat and a paddle board with safety people.  I made my way to the boat.  The lifeguard asked it I wanted a float but I opted to just hang on the side of the boat. 

While trying to collect myself my stomach heaved twice trying to eject the lake water I had swallowed.  I wasn't trying to keep it in and actually wanted to puke.  I finally checked my watch and I was 1:09 into the swim.  Time to keep moving.

I left the boat behind and wanted to get to shore.  I was convinced that I would puke on shore.  I stopped to tread water again and heaved.  I'm not positive if anything came out, but I eventually burped twice and felt much better. 

I kept swimming toward shore and was finally able to stand up and cross the timing mat.  I was so relieved to be done with the swim.

I made my way to the wetsuit strippers.  I wanted to find Michelle but found two people waiting and headed toward them.  The wetsuit was off fast and I was back on my feet.  I saw Michelle and gave her a high five.

Up the helix we ran towards transition.  I heard my name called several times from the massive crowds watching. 

I grabbed my bag and entered the men's changing area.  I sat down and dumped out my bag.  A volunteer helped me sort out my gear and started shoving stuff back into the bag.  While putting on my socks I looked up and saw my friend Jeff entering the changing tent.  He was looking good and ready to get on the bike.

I finished getting my gear on and tossed my bag in the growing pile.  I carried my shoes out the door and would be putting them on near the mount line.  I heard my name a couple more times and saw Paco Velo sitting on the wall spectating.  He was there to watch the Cleveland crew have a good day in Wisconsin.

I grabbed my bike and started running to the mount line.  Someone was yelling behind me that I dropped something, some of my food dropped out of my Bento Box.  My front wheel turned on me and the bike went down ejecting a bottle in the process. 

The volunteers were great.  One guy picked up my bike, the second guy handed me the food.  I stood there with my bike resetting myself.  Why was I rushing through transition during an Ironman? 

I started running towards the mount line and found a volunteer to hold my bike while I put my shoes on.  All of a sudden Katie, another Cleveland peep, was running next to me across the mount line.  We were excited to be heading out on the bike. 

Swim time:  1:18:02
T1:  07:18

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A busy and confusing thoughts about the Boston bombing.

This is truly one of those times I just don't know where to start.  It's in my nature to start at the beginning and it always takes me longer to write these words because there is so much to say.

Let's get started.....

As part of our training Aimee and I scheduled a trip to Athens, OH for some good long course tri training.  The hills in southern Ohio offer some great riding and preparation for some of the races we would be participating in.

We scheduled it for the weekend of 4/13 -14, because it was also the weekend for the Athens Marathon/Half Marathon.

I advertised it as a group training event for anyone interested in joining us.  We had a total of 6 people go south for the weekend.  Mike, John, Ray and Jen joined Aimee and I.

We gathered Saturday morning at the "traditional" starting point for Tom's Trillium Tour.

Aimee and I had ridden this tour in 2010 when she was training for Ironman St. George.

It was a cool windy day but everyone did a great job covering various distances.  The planned loop was 56 miles but I managed to squeeze in a solid 66 miles as I rode back to check on people before major turns.

We finished the ride and drove the rest of the way to Athens.  We checked into our hotels, picked up our race packets and had a fun dinner together.

Sunday morning greeted us with cool temperatures which were perfect for running a half marathon.  Jen was going to run hard and see how her training was progressing.  I wanted to at least negative split the out and back run.  Everyone else was in it to train for upcoming events.  Ray was running with his daughter who is a sophomore at Ohio University.

Everyone was very satisfied with their results.  Jen was smokin' and took fifth overall female, won her age group and set a PR of 1:31 for the Half Marathon distance.  She is one woman I don't mind being chicked by.  I was 7 minutes back from Jen but crossed the finish line completely satisfied with how I ran the race.  My legs were toast during the last 2 miles but I pushed through it all.

After the race Jen and I were waiting for the others to finish.  As we walked to our cars for warmer clothes we talked briefly about the Boston Marathon.  Jen has qualified and may decide to run in 2014.

My feelings about Boston are a little different.  I'm a runner without a doubt.  I love it and if I'm on the trails I can loose myself to the run.  But I just don't consider myself a marathoner.  I've completed three marathons.  Ironman Lake Placid (2006), Grand Rapids Marathon (2007), and Ironman Wisconsin (2008).  I will complete my fourth marathon this fall when I return to Ironman Wisconsin with Aimee and my friends.

I have no desire to try and qualify for Boston.  I am completely amazed by the people who run marathons and qualify for Boston, sometimes year after year.

Some of my friends have raced Boston at the elite level.  Some have busted the ass during their qualifying race to sit back and relax during Boston in order to soak in the atmosphere.

I get it.  I understand it.  I just don't have it as a priority on my list right now.

By the time we got home Sunday evening I was tired from the traveling and solid training.  Thank goodness the following week would be a recovery week.

I was working in a computer room Monday when the first text reached my phone.  My friend Ken sent me, "Bombs at Boston finish line."  I first thought he meant some celebratory fireworks.  But when he follows it up with....

"Holy fuck"....I knew it was serious.

The first thing that popped into my mind was this picture.

That is James and Andrea LaMastra.  A Cleveland husband, wife and parents.  Jim is a pro triathlete and Andrea is a damn good athlete as well....smiling on their way to the Boston Marathon start line.

All I could think of was how a happy event could turn so horribly wrong.  I knew several other people from Cleveland who were in Boston.  Fortunately they all made it back home safely.

One of my close triathlon friends was at mile 26.1 when the explosions occurred.  I was so relieved to hear that she was okay.

Just like everyone across the country, and around the world, I was trying to get as much information about what happened.   I knew I just needed to wait because details would surface on their own.  Was a group responsible or some crazed individual?  Was the attacker foreign or domestic?

Waiting for information to surface my feeling were all over the board.  As I thought about what must have happened it made me sad.  Hearing the reports about what the carnage was like deepened the agony.  And then everything changed to anger and outrage. 

I don't know if my current reading list contributed to my anger but I thought about it.  Two books I had read before the Boston Marathon were American Sniper and Lone Survivor.  Both books were written by former Navy SEALs who had served in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

I won't go into details about the books but I would highly recommend them to anyone wanting to understand what the American military was up against in the Middle East.  Both books are excellent. 

The only thing I can figure is that the books renewed my allegiance to the US of A and fueled my anger for anyone wanting to attack us. 

I kept reading the news reports and it wasn't until the next day when the anger would finally be replaced with tears.  Because despite everything that went wrong during those 15 seconds when the bombs exploded, what happened before the smoke even cleared stands out in my mind.

America, specifically the residents of Boston, sprang into action. 

Helping the injured.  Comforting the confused.  Controlling the chaos.

Reading the stories and seeing the pictures of people in action brought the tears to the corners of my eyes.  People running towards the smoke and blood.  Carrying people to the medical tents.  People using their clothes to stop the bleeding and sometimes even using their bare hands.

The residents along the marathon route who brought in the cold, huddled masses of runners who could not reach the finish line or hotels.   Restaurants offering food, water and shelter while everything was being sorted out.  These people didn't need to be asked to help.  They knew it was their responsibility to help...their fellow humans.

And then the actions of the different law enforcement agencies as they came together to hunt down those responsible. 

Yes....America sprang into action as it always does. 

Locally we all wondered how to spring into action.  We started hearing about group runs in other cities to support Boston, the runners who were in Boston, the spectators of the race (and tragedy) and the victims.

Our friend Amy suggested a group run Thursday morning.  I turned it into a Facebook event and invited everyone who could make it.  I knew a 5:15AM run would be a tough sell but the response was amazing. 

We had 23 people show up on a 50 degree morning.  Some even wore their Boston best.   Jocelyn ,who is front and center, was one of the Cleveland athletes who ran the marathon on Monday.  She wasn't going to let it stop her from running with us.  We had a good time and remembered that running is what binds us together and make us better people.  Look at all those great smiles. 

Two days later.....Saturday.  Both bombing suspects were found.  One dead and the other critically wounded.  Perhaps now we will find some answers.  But what I saw Saturday night helped me understand "reaction" to such momentous events. 

Aimee and I were watching National Geographics The Decade That Made Us.   It is a six part mini-series about the 80's.  It is a very good show that describes how the 80's helped launch the world into the future and triggered how we live today.

My son Andrew and his wife Jessica had stopped over.  The current show was about the mid-80's and the new Space Shuttle program.  We were watching the events unfold on January 28, 1986.  I remember the date because I was on the campus of Bowling Green State University wondering why the flags were at half mast. 

The four of us watched the Shuttle lift off from the platform at Kennedy Space Center and rise into the clear blue sky.  Andrew wasn't born yet and Jess was maybe 6 months old. 

All of a sudden the Shuttle exploded and I heard Jess gasp.  This was the first time she had seen the 1986 explosion.  I quickly looked at her face and saw the shock from the explosion.  The same shock  that must have been on the faces of those people near the Boston Marathon finish line.  The same shock that must have been on the faces of everyone around the world when they heard the news of the bombing.  The same shock that settled into my gut when I first heard of the bombing.

It was at that moment I realized that life if full of shock and awe.  In this day and age we are more readily exposed to it now because of cable TV, the internet, social media and all sorts of ways to keep "up to date".  But it goes back deep into the history of our country.

Lincoln assassination.  Kennedy assassination.  Shuttle explosions.  Hurricanes and tornadoes.  9/11 and many more.

And now Patriots Day 2013 at the Boston Marathon.

Unfortunately this is the world we live in.  But as long as we keep a firm grasp on our humanity....our compassion...our love of life....the evil in this world doesn't have a chance.  Evil manages to rear it's ugly head reminding us to be vigilant.  But we as humans, not just Americans...but people of the earth, always find a way to push it back down. 

I pray for those that need closure from the events on April 15th.  I hope they find it because they are surrounded by a country that cares more than they will ever know. 

Game On.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Have you seen my toy?

Yeah....I'm talking to you. 

I'm Zoe and I can't find one of my favorite toys.  I think those two "people" that live in my house are hiding it. 

I is one of my favorite toys.  I've had it ever since I moved in. 

Here's a better picture in case you have seen it somewhere.


You still haven't seen it? can't really make out what it is?

This is what it used to look like.

Yeah, I know.  I ripped off the horns, arms, legs.  The stuffing and squeaker are long gone.

But it's my favorite toy.

You mean they bought me a new one?  Why haven't they given it to me!?!?!?

Happy Dog, Happy Dog...I'm a Happy Dog.

Look at squirrel.......

Friday, March 22, 2013

We Live Where?



Not Florida.  Not Arizona.  And not Southern California. 

The past couple of days I have been hearing the same thing everywhere I am. 

"I am so tired of this weather." 

I heard it when I was in Wisconsin. 

I've heard it on the news and I've heard it from friends here in Northeast Ohio.

I'm sorry my friends but it may be spring on the calendar but this is still March.  And to me March means crappy weather.

So I'm not letting the new snow or grey clouds get me down.  I'm heading outside for a run or maybe even a bike ride. 

This shit makes us tougher and prepared for when the crap hits the fan come race day.  

So for now keep on bitchin'.  I'm just going to silently shake my head and wish you would HTFU.

You don't hear my friends in Michigan racing Barry Roubaix complaining.  Of course some of them are drunk tonight......go figure.

Game On my friends. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Verona.....

My day finished around 5PM so I decided to visit Madison's sister, Verona.  Verona is where the double loop of the Ironman Wisconsin bike course begins. 

I would be remiss not driving the bike course and getting a little refresher from when I was last there 5 years ago. 

It was nice to see some familiar portions of the course.  It also provided me with some reminders of how to train for the route. 

Or course the roads will look much better in 6 months.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Dear Madison

......thanks for the warm reception tonight.  I drove in last night to a beautiful sunset on the western horizon as I drove from Milwaukee.

However today, Monday, you placed a 3 inch blanket of wet snow on the city before the colder temperatures arrived.

I knew what you had in store.  I had done my research and packed accordingly.  I would swim at the Dane County Y in the morning and get in an evening run before the temperatures plunged overnight.

I just didn't expect so much snow.  And wind.

29 degrees with 15 MPH winds.  Brrrr.

My run along the Capital City Trail was very picturesque with the new layer of snow covering everything including the grass, trees and icy patches on the trail. 

I followed the single wheel track of the Surley Pugsley and even went down on the same icy patch that the rider did.

But that didn't deter me.  I was enjoying my run of solitude.

However, when I reached the end of the trail I turned around to feel your chilling deception.  No wonder the run was feeling so nice.  Your winds were pushing me along through the snow covered trail and slushy intersections. 

As I made the turn to make my way back to the warm confines of my hotel room you smacked me in the face.  Your winds plastered my wind breaker against my chest and sliced through my two layers of gloves.  My fingers could feel your icy grip despite my efforts.

But you underestimated me.  There is no surrendering.  There is no stopping my resolve to return to the hotel, fending off the cold biting wind.

Sure you can give me a little respite in the woods but rounding that corner I could feel your winds again pushing me back forcing me to give more than I wanted to during this recovery week.

The tracks I had made only 30 minutes prior were already disappearing under the fresh snow sweeping across the open fields.  Were those my footprints or someone elses from an earlier walk?  Even the groove left by the bicycle tires was filling in.

But my dear Madison, this is not the first time I have encountered your bitter cold.  I have felt that sting before.  I have also felt the warmth that you provide during the early fall months.

You must remember that I come from Cleveland.  We share the same love/hate for the seasons.  The cold gives way to the warmth or spring and summer.  Then the cold returns in the late fall.

So I am wise to  you Madison and I respect you.  But you must also respect me.

I am Goruck Tough.

I am an Ironman.

And come September 8th I will become Iron again.

Game On Madison.  Oh...and I'm bringing some friends too.

PS....I was in Madison for work and met with one of my co-workers Ed.  I told him about my run and he agreed that it was cold out.  In fact, Ed was the guy on the Surley.  He hit his head so hard that if it wasn't for his helmet I might have found him there dead on the trail.  AND...Ed will be doing IM MOO for the 10 year in a row come September....this is his last IM.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Girls With Sole Swim-a-Thon.....kindof

Today was the annual GWS swim-a-thon.  Two hours of fundraising fun with Liz and Harlan.  Unfortunately I couldn't make it.  The swim time conflicted with my regularly scheduled spin sessions. 

But I didn't want to miss out on trying to help raise some money for GWS.  After I refueled from the 2 hour spin session I headed to the Y for some pool time. 

I had a lane to myself, set down my water bottle and Gels for 2 hours of swimming.

I broke the swim in 1000 yard sets.  I alternated doing 10 x 100 then 5 x 200. 

I saw two of my tri friends Lori and Julie during my swim and it helped break up the monotony with a little bit a chatter with them.  Julie shared the lane with me for my final 45 minutes.

I decided to go with 2 hours of swimming by the clock on the wall since that was the pool time Harlan had arranged at the Rocky River pool.  I was shooing for as much yardage as I could in the time allowed.

On my last 1000 I miscounted and was excited to finish up so it was a weird amount of yardage.

My watch shows that I had a total swim time of 1 hour 52 minutes taking into account a couple of breaks to refuel and hydrate.  So 8 minutes of down time is actually pretty good.

The 1:20 on my watch is the final 100 yards I did.  I was happy with that split having completed 6,8000 yards averaging 1:30/100 with 10 seconds rest. 

Yep, with the final 100 I reached 6,900 yards.  I didn't realize my "shortage" until I got home and reviewed my splits.

It doesn't matter because that is $69 I am donating to Girls With Sole.  One dollar for each 100 yards.
Well worth it.  This money is used so Liz can keep her Game On with what she does through GWS.

Anyone want to match my donation?

Friday, February 01, 2013

CTC Swim Challenge - 2013

Last Sunday I participated in the Fourth Annual Cleveland Tri Club Swim Challenge.  This is the third year for me since I had to work on the day of the Challenge in 2012. 

In 2010 I swam 8k yards.
In 2011 I swam 10k yards.
2013 was going to be a repeat of 2011 as I had my eye on the 10k yard mark.....or in Swim Challenge terms it was 100 x 100.

I didn't do anything special for the build prior to the Challenge but I felt confident in my technique and fitness to get me to the end.

My longest single swim had been 5,000 yards a couple of weeks out.  However I have been swimming an additional third day each week with a Masters swim on Saturdays.

So I showed up intending to crank out my 20 x 500's as in previous years.  This year I was placed in lane two which was for some faster swimmers.  When I signed up the form asked what intervals I would be swimming.  I had circled 1:40 because that was the pace I was expecting.  However, the people in my lane were starting each interval on 1:40 meaning they would be swimming faster than that.

In fact, it meant the pace would be more around the 1:20/100 yard pace with 20 seconds rest.

I didn't make it through first 500 when it was apparent that my plans and their plans were going to clash significantly.  So I bailed on my plan and decided to follow what the others were doing. 

My first set with the group would be 10 x 100's.  I settled into the last position and tried to stay in the draft.  Yep...sure enough we were hitting 1:20 to the wall with 15 - 20 seconds rest.  I could do one of two things.  Drop down to another lane or suck it up and hang with the group as long as possible.

I stayed put in lane two with Larry, Melissa, Ed and Courtney.  That first 1,000 together actually went by quickly.  We changed things up to straight 500's and even a straight 1000, which I didn't want to do again.  Swimming 1000 yards straight is just more mind numbing than usual.

The 500's were pretty good early on because we were holding around 7 minutes for each 500.  But the later 500's were a struggle. 

At the 5k mark we took a small break to use the bathroom and fuel up for more swimming.  During the second half of the swim the magnificent 3 (Larry, Melissa and Ed) decided to kick 5 x 200.  Unfortunately I didn't have any of my swim toys like pull buoys, paddles, fins or a kick board.  Since this was a swim challenge I was going to swim the entire 10,000 yards. 

I took the rear of the pack again and swam freestyle behind the kickers. As long as I was starting and finishing with the group we were swimming the same amount and could verify the distance with each other.

And don't worry about Courtney.  She was still swimming with us....only faster than us.  Being a college senior, and a swimmer since age 6, she was just motoring along.  At one point we were swimming along and I felt her catch my feet.  I pulled as close to the lane line as possible in order to let her pass me before the wall.  I buried my head into the water so I could watch for her pass on my left side.

All of a sudden she was swimming underneath me with a powerful dolphin kick.  I slowed way down to let her surface and reach the wall.  When I talked to her after the swim she said that someone was coming the other way and she couldn't squeeze between us, so she went under me.  I was quite impressed by her underwater pass.  She finished her 10k yard well before we did.

With 2000 yards remaining Melissa said we could finish before noon if we kept a 7:20 - 7:30/500 split.  We only had the pool reserved from 9 - noon but I knew finishing before noon wasn't a priority. 

After the first 500 I was really starting to feel the loss of energy in the arms.  They were a little heavy and the pace was beginning to get out of my ability.  Ed opted to put his flippers back on to keep the pace.  I slid down to an open lane and finished my last 1,500 yards on my own. 

I finished just past 12:00 but I knew my actual swim time was less than 3 hours.  Probably more around 2:45. 

Overall I was happy with the swim.  Aimee did the swim challenge as well and completed 5000 yards.  That is the cool part about the challenge, everyone can come down and swim as many yards as they want.  People swam anywhere from 2,500 - 12,000 yards.  The people in lane 1, which held some superstar swimmers, went above and beyond the 10k.

I was most satisfied with the swim because I went outside my comfort zone in the pool.  I have been swimming 1:20/100 in the pool thanks to the Masters swim I've been going to on Saturdays.  But to maintain that type of pace was the unknown.  I wasn't sure if I would burn out well before reaching 10,000 yards.

I won't be swimming another 10,000 yards any time soon, until next years challenge.  Unless you are a top level swimmer this type of yardage is not necessary, but the challenge and bragging rights is just another way to show what you are capable of.  If you can do this what else can you do?

Game On.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Running with a friend.

Aimee had made arrangements for her long run to be with a couple of friends down in CVNP (Cuyahoga Valley National Park).  I wanted to get in a long run as well so I tagged along for the two hours of running.

However, I had plans of my own.  I was going to get re-acquainted with a friend I hadn't seen in a long time. 

Aimee, Dale and Deb headed towards the Towpath Trail and I headed in the opposite directions towards the Buckeye Trail.  The trail goes into the Cleveland Metropark Brecksville Reservation then heads into the CVNP.  This section of trail finishes at Snowville Road where I could catch the Towpath back to the parking lot.

I haven't run this section of the BT for a long time so I was excited to be out there.  The powdery snow was fresh and lightly covered the footprints from the day prior.  The only other tracks were from various woodland critters like squirrels, deer and possibly fox or coyote. 

The peace and quiet of the woods was only broken by some birds or cars when the trail went close to some roads. 

But I had the entire trail to myself.  I could clear the mind and think either about the swim challenge, tasks I needed to take care of or absolutely nothing.

The majority of the time I was thinking was nothing since I had to watch for roots buried under the snow or was simply enjoying the scenery.

The two hours almost went by too fast.  I could have stayed on the trail longer but had to get back to the parking lot.  I'll have to revisit this friend of mine come spring and watch the forest wake up.

Game On.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Baby is it cold outside?

Depending upon who you talk to the answer is probably yes.  Ohio has been covered by a cold mass of air thanks to our friends to the north....and I don't mean Michigan.

Overnight lows have been into the single digits and when the wind kicks up it starts to feel well below zero.  I've been spinning and swimming as normal but getting outside for a run is another story.  And I haven't broken down and used the treadmill yet.

So after work today I decided it was time to get outside for a run.  Temp reach a high of 15 and the wind was light.  I've ran in much worse conditions than this so I grabbed my cold weather gear and suited up for a nice 5 miler.

If you never thought you could over dress for 15 degree weather I am here to prove you wrong.  As I stood looking at my options I grabbed my Pearl Izumi winter wind breaker.  But as I looked outside again and the temp on the thermometer I put it back and grabbed my slightly heavier Nashbar cycling jacket.  Yes you read that correctly...Nashbar.  I haven't been to their website in years so I was surprised they are still around. 

I've had this jacket since around 1999 and the plush lining has kept me warm in some brutal conditions.  So I put on my jacket with a short sleeve base layer and a mid-weight long sleeve tech shirt providing some layers for the cold.

As soon as I stepped outside and closed the garage door I knew I was overdressed.  Usually I follow the 10 degree rule when dressing for a run....dress for weather 10 degrees warmer than it is.  Within the first 2 miles you should warmed up and comfortable for the remainder of the run.

As I said I was overdressed and I didn't feel like going back inside to get my other jacket.  My shoes were muddy and I didn't feel like taking them off.  So I headed out, overdressed.

The first 2.5 miles were comfortable and I couldn't feel the cold on my upper torso.  My legs could feel the biting cold a little and that's what I really wanted all over.  On my return trip home I did a couple of small pick-ups and then I could definitely feel the sweet forming on my body.  For a short run like this it's not a big deal but on a longer run I would want to avoid the sweating and subsequent chills from the cold. 

I made it back home satisfied with my outdoor run.  This weekend will be two hours on the trails and I'll dress more appropriately.

Have fun out there in the snow.....if you have any.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Push It Real Good

Back in November my friend Chris offered up a challenge on Facebook to perform 10,000 pushups during the month of December.  He calculated it out to 322 per day with 340 on the final day.  I'm usually up for a challenge and this one sounded interesting.

It wasn't until I actually started doing the pushups that I realized how real the challenge was.  Would the arms get stronger or would they fall off.

I kept track of each day on a notepad and I'm glad I did.  It gives me something to review and see how the month progressed.

I mixed things up by performing a variety of "pushups".  I did the standard plank pushups on my toes. I also did them on my knees.  I used the rings at Crossfit low to the ground.  I threw in some hand stand pushups against a wall or kneeling on a chair.  The triceps were also worked with dips on the edge of a chair. 

The different exercises allowed me to use different muscles and avoid overuse injury and keep in muscular balance.

I pushed with sets of 10, 20 or 30 depending upon the exercise, and how tired I was.

Here is my day-to-day recap.

12/01    Started off strong with 292
12/02    212
12/03    50 - I was sore from the first two days.
12/04    380 - This included 30 Handstand PUs and 50 Rings PUs at Crossfit
12/05    400 - While I was swimming I did 100 press-outs on the edge of the pool
12/06    350
12/07    350
12/08    300
12/09    300
12/10    450 - Time to start catching up.  I was only 200 behind pace.
12/11    450 - 8 shy of goal pace
12/12    300
12/13    150
12/14    400
12/15    400
12/16    0 - Despite this being a Sunday I was busy with work all day
12/17    400 - only 290 behind pace
12/18    400
12/19    240
12/20    0 - This was a work travel day.
12/21    200
12/22    0 - A run/swim brick in the morning had me shelled for the rest of the day.
12/23    60 - Had the family over for Christmas dinner.  Barely time to breath.
12/24    0 - Tired and busy
12/25    400
12/26    0 - I was not 1,566 behind pace
12/27    600 - Time to start cranking them out because of several zeros.
12/28    1000 - I was on vacation but it felt like work to get all of them in and I was 1000 behind pace
12/29    400
12/30    516 - The 16 was to make it an even 1000 the final day
12/31    1000 - Did my final 10 as the countdown for 2012 began.

I woke up the morning of 12/31 and thought to myself....there is no way I'm going to get this done.  But then I remembered some comments posted on Facebook from various friends. 

Cristi.........if anyone could do it, it would be you!
Shawn.......You can do it Eric. You and Chris inspire me to do more...........You got this.
Eric B........If u r awake 12 hrs a day...u can set an alarm to do 33 every half can do it. PTMATBWF = Push the Mind and the Body Will Follow


Aimee and I ran two hours in the Cuyahoga Valley.  At different times I would drop to the ground and pump out 20 pushups.  During that run I did 400 pushups.

Back at home I did another 400 in the early afternoon.

Before heading over to our neighbors house for New Years Eve I did another 190...saving the final 10 for midnight.

I did it.  It wasn't the most optimal way of going about it.  With December being such a busy month between work travel and the holidays it certainly added to the challenge.
Once again there is proof that anything is possible.  Ninety percent of any challenge is getting on top of it mentally.  

How have you challenged yourself lately.

Game On.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy Freakin' 2013

Happy New Year everyone. 

First off you get the obligatory picture of my running into Lake Erie at the Cleveland Triathlon Club's annual Polar Plunge.  I bought a snazzy new swim suit to celebrate the new year.

Here I am counting down the final 5 seconds before everyone ran into the water.  I took my time and walked in.

As I was walking out of the water my friend Troy had just shown up and was just getting undressed.  Troy and I did Goruck Challenge together and one thing we learned....never leave your battle buddy.  Troy wasn't about to take his plunge all by himself. 

If you can't do these types of things without a smile on your face....why bother.   I'll also admit that I didn't dive in or go fully underwater. 

So what does the new year hold in store for me.  More than I could have imagined.  First off I don't like to call my statements resolutions.  They are simply things I should do more or better.

Aimee and I will be racing at Ironman Wisconsin on September 8th.  This is my second trip to IM MOO (third IM) and this is Aimee's second IM, St. George was her first.  There is a group of 30 people from the Cleveland area participating in the race so it will be some good times with friends.

Because of the IM MOO I have a full build-up of races.  Run for Regis, Athens Half Marathon, Triple T, Double Mussel, and a smattering of other races.

But wait there's more.......

I have come full circle with Snakebite Racing and am again the Vice President of the team.

But wait there's more........

I volunteered to be on the Board of the Cleveland Triathlon Club.  My first official duties were today at the plunge by being the emcee and media contact.  I was interviewed by Channel 3 and WTAM radio.

Both of these are my realization that I need to step up and be more active with the team and club.  No time like the present.

So with all of this stuff on my plate I need to blog more......about.....

  • Training
  • Racing
  • Balance
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork

I think one interesting part of this season will be the fact that Aimee and I will both be training for Ironman...the same event.  We know several other couples in the area who have pulled it off so I think we will be fine, but it will still be interesting.

Here's to a exciting 2013.

Game On.