Monday, February 10, 2014

persistance and goal setting

Well, well, well...

look who's back.  It's me.

I may have been gone for a while but I have never stopped thinking of topics that should be blog posts.  That shouldn't surprise anybody who knows me.  I still have the goal of being a successful writer (as in somebody pays me something to read my words) even if it takes me many years and many restarts.  Long term goals are ok by me.  For instance it took me 4 years to run my first marathon after I decided one December that I need to live up to my genetic potential and run a marathon.  It was a New Years resolution that need several years of starting and restarting.  A few years ago, after finishing my first sprint distance tri, I decided I will use that same 4 year plan in order to train for and complete the Ironman.  That was a planned progression but it worked.  Maybe my body likes the 4 year plan thing because it seems like it will take me that long to run again as much as I want to.  That's a long time but it's no problem.  I'm an endurance athlete, that's what we do, we endure, we persist.  I'll get back to the marathon and the ironman one day.  Right now I'm more excited to enter and complete the GW Parkway 10 miler this April.  A local area run in which I sustained a stress fracture last year.  In the distance I'm looking at a half marathon, and I'll maybe enter a few 10k's during the summer.  Right now for me to tackle anything big would be to set myself up for failure.  Not because I'm afraid of big goals or big accomplishments, but rather I'm realistic about the amount of time I have to train and the amount of time my body will hold up to the rigors of training for such an event.

Remember as you work towards your goals, both big and small, to simply keep working.  Some days you'll have a lot of time and energy to give so use it.  Other days you'll have very little time to give so use what you have available.  Just do something, anything, on as many days as you can.  Eventually you'll reach the point where you were meant to be.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

23 millimeters of rubber

I am a relativity sane and normal 44 year old man and I am in love with my bikes.  I have two rides and I love them both with equal intensity.  I actually have a fondness for all bikes but my girls are special.  Millie and Forrest (they are my bikes and I can name them anything I want) have both saved my life and put my life in peril   Both of my girls have had a hand in changing and shaping my life.  Both of my girls and I have spent a lot of time, and a lot of miles, together.  My girls and I have been in relationships longer then most of my people relationships.  But to be fair, I put more time and care and love and effort into my girls then I do with most of my people relationships.

TOP 10 REASONS WHY MY GIRLS ARE BETTER THEN REAL GIRLS (except for my wife, she really is the coolest girl I know...and my daughter, she's a little angle.  When she smiles at me first thing in the morning...fugedaboutit!!!! It just makes my whole day)

1. They don't get jealous of each other.  I can ride Millie all day and Forrest will just sit at home and wait her turn.

2. They each know their place and they don't try to be someone they are not.  Millie is my road bike, she and I have been on some epic long rides together.  She was with me for both Ironman's and all 6 half iron's.   We've ridden from our home base in Bethesda, MD to exotic ports of call like Frederick, MD and Sugarloaf Mountain, Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah and Harper's Ferry, WV.  Millie gets to go to the beach with me and ride from the northern tip of Ocean City to such diverse and charming little hamlets as Dagsboro and Selbyville.  Millie is fast and smooth and well mannered.  Forrest is my daily commuter.  A single speed cyclocross bike, she is tough and durable and very stable but sorta nimble too and surprisingly fast.  Forrest is perfect for running errands and getting me around the city.  Forrest gets to go to exciting destinations like Nationals ballpark, the gym at Friendship Heights and The Giant.  Forrest, I rarely ride for more than an hour at a time, usually only :15-:20 minutes per commute.  Millie, I have rarely ever ridden for less than an hour at a time, usually 2 or more.

3. Both my girls have taught me lessons about life purely with my best interest at heart.  Lessons about overcoming obstacles  lessons about expecting the unexpected curves life throws at us, lessons about being aware of your surroundings, lessons about planning, and lessons about what to do when those plans go south.

4. My girls never lose interest in me.  They are always ready for any adventure or mundane task I may call upon them for.  They are also willing to wait months or even years for their next adventure.

5. Although usually very predictable they sometimes like to be unpredictable, just to be silly.  Like the time that Forrest decided to loosen her rear wheel so the chain came flying off.  Then there was the summer that Millie flatted 6 times in 8 weeks.  I really learned how to change a flat that summer, got my time down to about 5 minutes.

6. Nobody is more dependable.  Sure, Forrest lives in my car and Millie resides under the stairs with the furnace and old cans of paint.  But when it's go time, they are ready.

7. Forrest helped me find a condo to move into.  Millie helped me find myself.  When I first got Forrest my home search was limited to a half mile radius from work, I didn't want to have to drive everyday.  She expanded my search to a more affordable 5 mile radius.  Millie and I have ridden over 11,000 miles together, including 9 separate rides of 100+ miles, usually solo, but never alone.  If you don't learn something about yourself during a century ride then you are just not paying attention.

8. They taught me a little bit about how the body works.  Think about this for a bit.  If you went to the "body parts store" and bought a hip bone and tried to balance it on the saddle of a bike it would fall off.  If you got a complete skeleton and placed it on a bike it would still fall off.  If you were able to see a working model of the human body in motion while peddling and controlling a bike you would see every muscle in the core working to either stabilize the hip bone or shift the hip bone into a slight tilt forward or back, left or right to help control the bike.  It is those slight variations in position that steer the bike or provide power to the peddles.  It all starts from the core.

9. I love the potential they hold.  What will the future hold for my girls?  Will Millie and I ever go more then 100 miles at a time?  75?  50? If we move to a new home will Forrest ever get to do the daily commute?  Will she be regulated to errands and blowing off steam around the 'hood.  When my daughter starts to ride how will that start?  I suppose in a bike trailer behind Forrest, then a third wheel trail-a-bike.  When she get's her own bike what adventures are in store for us then?  I can't wait to find out.

10. These girls are part of my past, my present and my future and I will never get rid of them.  Unless I unexpectedly come into a large sum of money, then I can see a new race bike in my stable, and a re-purposing for Millie and maybe Forrest as well.  But they will always be here for me if I need them.  Because I will always, to some extent, need them.

See you on the road friends

Saturday, January 5, 2013

random thoughts

Hello everybody, and by everybody I mean my five followers.  I know it's been a good little while since I've posted but as you are aware I've been a bit busy with little Maddie and with work.  Call it excuses, call it reasons, call it lazy, whatever.  So let's see if I can start getting a little momentum back.  It's never too late to start over.

I'm running again!  I've been pretty consistent since early November, getting out there about twice per week for about 3-5 miles at a time.  It has taken me a little time to adjust mentally to this new reduced workload and the new pace.  You see, back in my marathon/ironman days I would routinely run about 20-40 miles per week, depending on where I was in my training for a particular event.  I would do these miles any where from an easy recovery pace of 8 min/mile to tempo runs of 8 miles in under an hour to hammering out some track intervals at top speed, usually 8x800m in 3:15 each (1:00 recovery).  Now I have finally grown content with cruising along at an easy and relaxed 9 minute pace.  I feel like I have fully converted to the "natural" style of running.  I don't really have to think about it anymore.  Is the Plantar F gone?  Not really, I'm starting to think that this injury never really goes away, it just sort of lingers at a low level of discomfort forever.  I don't feel it when I run, I feel it a little bit in the morning.  I usually do all the right stretches and strengthening moves.  Do I have goals with my running?  I used to think about my next marathon, now I just am happy to get an hour of peace and quite and meditative solitude.  So no I don't really have any goals.  The thought of a  marathon is intriguing though.  What would that feel like?  To run a marathon "naturally."  My guess is that it would take me about 4 hours, maybe a little more. In the spirit of not setting myself up for failure I'm going to put that dream on the back burner for a few years.  Since a goal is nothing but a dream with a deadline, I'll pick a dead line later.  Maybe as a reward for earning my Masters, but that is for a another post.

I have run one race recently, it was the annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day.  It's a great race, one of my fav's.  This was the 30th annual incantation of the event and it just gets bigger every year.  It's a lot like every other Turkey trot/chase all across the country.  I love it because there are always lots of friends and family doing it as well.  You see little kids running with their parents.  You see semi-impromptu reunions on course. You see serious runners pushing for a PR and first timers pushing for the finish line.  I do this race most years, one year I was injured and another I was 4 days post marathon so I cheered those years.  But 8 of the last 10 years I toe'd the line.  There is always a lot of friendly chatter at the starting line, the normal stuff you'd expect to hear.  People talking about their training, about the weather, about the fiscal cliff and the inability of congress to do anything meaningful, talking about their jobs and their families and their lives, usually good natured and light hearted and laughing.  One noticable difference I found between the front of the pack runners and the mid pack runners is when the chatter stops.  When I was fast and would line up at the front and push myself I noticed that the chit chat would stop as soon as the gun went off.  Maybe a quick, "here we go!" or "good luck," but usually all I hear is beeping of the timing chips flying over the start mat and cherping of our watches as we start the timer.  Then it's 40 minutes of breathing hard and running fast.  But back with the 50-60 minute runners, the chatting never really stops.  It might slow down a bit in the second half but I learned a lot of interesting facts about some total strangers.  One guy felt as if he was mislead by the Realtor whose sign we just ran past, another joked about turning our 6 mile run into a 2 mile walk, I found out where one lady got a great deal on her running top and I learned whose husband likes to share and whose doesn't.

I was just handed a baby that I am told looks a lot like me so I gotta go now.  Until next time, keep moving

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Injury as a path to inner discovery?

So maybe I'm a cyclist after all.  My planter F is back right where it was back in November when I got a cortisone shot.  I've been here for about a month, it sucks.  But this past weekend we went to the beach and, of course, I brought my bike.  I had only one day at the beach since we also had to get back early for Mothers day.  So what do you do if you only have one day at the beach?  You go for a long ride!! 50 miles on glassy smooth freshly paved County highway and their bike lane shoulders.  It was wonderful, I loved it.  The ease of riding is very soothing to me.  As opposed to the violent crashes I take when I was trying to run.  I used to feel like running was 5 times harder then riding.  A (easy) ten mile run felt about as hard as a (fast and hilly) 50 mile ride.


So I am just now adding to a blog post that I started back in May.  Some of you might be wondering where I've been lately.  Weeeellllll I've been a bit busy, you see it seems as if we are going to have ourselves a little addition in about 9 weeks and we are in heavy prep mode.  What are we going to do?  stay or move? move where?  how to turn that room into a baby's room, blah blah blah.  Not to mention I have a new motivation to get more useful and more arduous PT certifications.  So I haven't had time to blog.  I have hardly had time to workout.  I had a few weeks lately in which I could only count my daily 3 mile commute and 2 spin classes as my workouts.  I was getting fat as well, I know right?!?!  ME!!  I didn't actually weigh myself you see, mind you.  I just could tell I've got about 5-10lb's extra.  So what did I do?  I started hitting the Crossfit real hard, upping it from once per week to 3-4.  The metcon stuff and the heavy lifting.  I also made a fateful decision.  I've fully committed to Millie (that's my road bike.  Forrest is my daily commuter but Millie is my first love).  I am a cyclist first and I don't run.  I may run once per week to strengthen my cycling but not for a long while.  Not until the PF is fully gone. 
So the question you must be asking yourselves is this.  Am I really born to run?  The is too soon to tell.  I've got a lot of life left, 56 years or so.  I'll get to this JFK50 thing after a while (believe it!!), but for now the adventure will be the as yet to be named and gender mystery tiny little person. 

But I would like to share that I had big miles on the bike 2 weeks in the last 3.  I was at the beach over the Memorial Day weekend and I rode all three days.  135 miles in all, it was wonderful.  Just this last weekend I got up early on Sunday (6am!! Dedication!!) just to squeeze in 25 more miles.  It was one of those mornings that was just brilliant out.  Clear, crisp, coolish air.  I was riding hard and was really driving the bike, pushing myself and Millie to our was fun.

So let's see where this adventure takes me.  Logging off for now but stay tuned.

Friday, April 13, 2012

AARP and the unleven abs

Forgive me my flock, happily I can say...I"M BAAAAAACK!!!

I needed some time to do a big pile of Honey Do's.  I have another big pile to do tomorrow and I didn't want the weekend to get away before I shared with you some thoughts and for whatever crazy reason, I feel like you want to hear my thoughts.

I must have jinxed myself, last time I mentioned getting on the podium at my little trail races that I like to do.  Well for the first time ever in this particular series of trail races, about 15 races in all over the last 3+ years, I did not finish in the top 5, I did not hit the podium.  I mean it's no big deal, right?  I ended up going a little slower then I felt able to do because my feet started to really hurt.  It was a combo platter of the Plantar Faciatis and lots of sharp rocks to step on.  Besides, my goal this year is just recovery and stride transition.  Then why am I still obsessed with it 2 weeks later.  Maybe it's partially due to the passing another birthday last week?*  Maybe it was the weakening of my immune system, as demonstrated by a viscous stomach bug that ripped me inside out for a few days?  Maybe it's because, according to my feet, I'm not as fast a healer as I was 10 or 15 years ago.  Whatever it is, I know I didn't lose my competitive streak, and that's a win for me.

Another thought bouncing around my noggin is my bone headed stubbornness.  I refuse to take my own advice.  I refuse to learn from my vast collection of mistakes.  I feel like my body is talking and I'm not really listening.  My feet have been tender for about 3 weeks now as a result of the natural trail running yet I refuse to stop or change shoes.  I'm the yin and yang of malehood, a tired and whiny old man and a little boy all wide eyed and innocent.  A strong and silent leader of men and a pimply little teenager.  Oh well, such is my life, I'm not going to change soooo.....

Finally, I went to a passover Seder last week.  The matzoh reminded me of my body as few 5 years ago, all flat and ripply and stuff.  Now I'm more like a good sized Matzoh ball, getting round and mushy and maybe even a little smelly and ripe.

*sidenote: I found out last weekend that the age minimum for AARP membership was 50!! WTF?? 50?!?! Sure, they offer great discounts on life insurance, bus tours of Miami Beach and the blue plate special at the Denny's but now that I'm a mere 6 years from AARP-age I feel like I can wait a while before I get to the back half of the inning.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

first day of spring run

originally written 3/19:

Those of you in the DC area this past weekend may remember, Spring officially sprung on Friday.  At least it did for me.  I know that the first day of spring is officially on the vernal eqinox which is on March 20th every year (as far as I know).  But my first day of spring is on a different day each year, I'm never for sure which day it's coming but on the day it arrives...AHHH!!! It feels like I haven't felt the sun in my whole life. It's one of my happiest days all year.  I tend to celebrate that day instead of March 20th.

What makes a day, a particular day like any other day and like no day before it for about 3-4 months...WARM SUNSHINE (accomponied by gentle breezes of dry, pine scented air).  For me the first day of spring is loosly defined as the first day of the year that it is warm, warm enough to run early in the morning, mid day, early evening or late at night and be equally comfortable.  Everybody has a day like this in their personal calanders.  But what do you do with it?  You go outside, we've been couped up all winter, it's time to get out!

So I did what I naturally wanted to do, go for a run.  I laced up my Barefoot Merril Trail Gloves and I took off down the trail, my mind was sort of all over the place when I started.  I was thinking about work and I was thinking about house issues and some family things and I had no idea how far I wanted to go and how much time I had to get there.  Then I remembered that I had a few errands to do so I grapped some papers for my realtor (we finally sold my old place, whew!!), and a small sport sack I would need to pick up some things at CVS and a charger at the Apple store.  As I was headed into town I started thinking about the National Marathon that will be taking place the next day.  I ran that marathon every year for the past 4 and some kind of spring marathon every year for 6 years.  It's just what I do...or did.  Not this year because I was injured most of last year and didn't want to rush my body back to fast, I may have decided to do a fall trail marathon if I find one close.  I started thinking about how much work and fun and work went in to doing a marathon.  They can be grueling but they can be very rewarding.  You really learn a little more about yourself when ever you do one, when ever you pass any test for that matter.

So I was inspired that today, on this, the first day of Spring, I will run 6.2 miles (I'll leave the first 20 up to my marathon brothers-in -arms).  I had not run that far for 9 months and I run nataurally now so my feet might not even be ready for a run that far.  But I had to try and sometimes trying is enough because on this day I ran my 6.2 miles (maybe 6.5 really, I wanted to be sure) and it felt good.  I saw a lot of interesting things and I felt a lot of interesting things and I even composed a poem.

I am loving this perfect weather day!
what it does to my soul,
and what it does to my my spirit,
to be outside in it.

Runnin' and gunnin' and soaking it in,
I can't wait for his dreams to begin.
Climbing trees and hills and heights unknown,
together we run b'never alone


The run felt great even though the balls of my feet are really sore still from the races on the past two weekends all is well, all systems go!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

race report

Trail running is a great way to experience something old in a whole new venue.  I get to be up close and personal with rocks and roots and trees and streams and creeks and incredibly steep hills all with fairly unsure footing.  I love it, it's much more fun then running on the road.  Sometimes I fall, but usually not.  I use my stopwatch just to get a rough idea of how much longer I need to endure the suffering that comes with a race.  The actual race time doesn't matter much because all trail race distances are an educated guess at best.  The first race was like 5.5 miles and the second was 5.6 miles.  I got to strap on my new natural running trail shoes and mix it up with about 400 of my new best buddies. 

I was hooked the first time I did one of these races.  My good friend Sara (also a successful Personal Trainer) told me she likes to do them all and I should join her next time.  Gentlemen, if a good looking and athletic red head says, "come join me it will be fun!"  Do not question her!!!  Back then I was in the middle of an impressive, if not daunting, stretch of 11 marathons, 6 half-iron triathlons and 2 full Ironman in a 7 year period.  I was getting a little burned out by the road and was looking for a change.  So I signed up for the full four race series of 10 mile trail runs.  There is a 5 or 10 mile option but at that time going big was second nature for me.  I was excited because everything was new.  The gun went off and off I went, over the creeks and up the hills deep into my "dark place" and about an hour and change later I finished and headed towards the finish line buffet.  Pizza, cookies and a coke later and I was human again.  "Let's go check the results," she said.  We wondered over to the results page paper clipped to the finish chute fence.  I found my age group and started looking for my name.  I started in the middle and started slowly moving my eyes up.  I have never won a race before in my life.  So I was pretty shocked when I found my name atop the list. "I won my age group." I said quietly to Sara and anybody else in earshot.  I won my first pub glass.  I was very proud.  2 weeks ago I began my comeback trail, well, on the trail.  This time I entered the 5 mile race.  I was more concerned about how my body would feel then how many fools I could beat to the line.  I found a pace that was hard but sustainable, some people passed me I passed some other people, I was running and it felt great.  When I got to the finish I was pleased with my effort and pleased to see that I had placed 4th, doing the approximately 5.5 miles in 43:43.  Another race, another pub glass.  After the race my Plantar Faciatis really flared up.  I really wanted to put some arch support under my feet.  Next time I will bring shoes to change into for sure.  I was worried that the balls of my feet would hurt but they didn't, just the arches and the heel.  The rest of my body actually felt really good.  Because of the stress of the race and the stress of the work week I only had time to run one day in the week between the races, a pleasant and flat 4 miles on the Cap C Trail.

The second race was supposed to be the easiest on the circuit.  5.5 miles of almost completely flat and only two serious hills.  The main difference this week was that a great portion of the trail was made up of smaller, sharper rocks.  The balls of my feet really feel it this time.  I crossed the line in 41:40 but only managed a 5th place.  No worries, I was still able to take my 20th pub glass home, keeping my string of 20 straight podiums in 20 trail races.  I changed into more supportive shoes for the awards ceremony and pizza brunch.  This time my Plantar only was moderately annoyed but the balls of the feet felt bruised.  Nothing a good massage couldn't help.

Bottom line here?  I don't really have one, I suppose if I was creative enough I could have spun a tale about not losing sight of the forest for the trees.  Anyway, next race is in 2 weeks and I can't wait.