Monday, September 27, 2010

Chasing a Dream

I spent the majority of my energy this year chasing down a dream - the Ironman.  I planned, trained, and prepared to the best of abilities and went out there and did it.  And it was good.  Not one to just sit idly by, I needed something else.  So I took on working with my buddy to get him to a sub-2:00 half-marathon (his first half BTW) in Hartford, October 9.  In the process/planning, I factored in a fall 5k (or two).

On Sunday, I slipped on the Newtons, and went out to do the Fall Fit 5k in Northampton, MA.  The race was put on by the Smith College Athletics and Recreation Department and the Northampton Education Foundation - who partnered together to raise money to support our local schools.  I'm always up for supporting education - who isn't really?  Plus, given the beautiful weather that we've been having in New Enland, I didn't have much choice. 

The bonus with this 5k was that it would give me the opportunity to chase down another dream, a sub-20:00 5k.  My PR is a 20:26.  I knew that I had a chance - a slim one given the type of training I've been doing this year - but a chance is a chance. 

It was a warm day here yesterday and with the race not starting until 1:00 p.m. ET, I knew that I would be warm.  I knew, too, that the course wasn't as flat as the course was in Hatfield when I PR'ed the first time.  But, I was going to go for it.

A few minutes before the start, we all got a nice thank you from the race organizers and a brief overview of the course (they weren't closing any roads and we'd be on our own on the sidewalks and shoulders).  Definitely not my favorite way to race.  I pushed my way up as close to the front as I could and waited for the gun.  Bam!  We were off. 

I set out at a pretty quick clip - around 6:40/6:45 - and did the uphill into downtown.  I found my groove and felt good.  I saw Coach Martha - who gave me some nice inspiration.  I focused on the people in front of me and did what I could to stay as close to the leaders as I could for the first mile.  By 1.594 mile (thanks Timex Global Trainer), we were about to round a few corners when I saw it - a long, slight incline.  It might as well have been Everest.  My legs were burning.  I focused as best as I could on turn-over and cadence.  I also tried to keep my breathing in check. 

I was doing everything I could to keep from being passed - when one, two, three, four people passed me.  I tried to not let it get to me.  I could hear some steady footfalls behind me when another friend, Lisa, passed me at 2.14 miles.  Staying on her hip, I used Lisa as motivation to keep up the pace.  The finish is down a very steep hill that bottoms out before a flat 500/800 yard stretch to the end.  Somewhere in there I passed Lisa back and sprinted to the finish.  I crossed the line and went into the finishers shoot - 20:51.  Not what I was hoping for, but definitely not disappointed.

My 20:51, a 6:43/mile pace, was good for 29th overall and 7th in the M30-39 age group.  To further put it into some perspective for me - the average finishing time for the top 50 was 19:16 - yeah, this field was stacked!

Like I said, not disappointed, just not as good as I had hoped.  I still have a return to the Hatfield Harvest 5k to look forward to next week.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Allergy to Exercise?

Not so much… Earlier this month, I wrote about how my running partner had a close call with anaphylaxis while we were out on a run.  Never having had an allergic reaction to peanuts or peanut butter before, he was stumped.  He needed to get allergy tested, but because he took a Benadryl, he had to wait for it to leave his system. 

Fast forward to yesterday when he got the diagnosis – he has exercise-induced anaphylaxis.  At first I thought that maybe he said he was allergic to exercise, but he quickly cleared that up for me by scheduling a run with me for later today.  And, we're still on for this Sunday's Fall Fit 5K and the Hartford Half Marathon on October 9th.

So, what does this mean moving forward?  He has to run with an Epipen, he should always run with a partner or in a very public place and we all need to know how to give him the injection.  Also, no more peanuts two hours before exercise.  Should be easy, right?  My requirement and my future gift (I don’t think he follows my blog) is to give him a RoadID.  I wear one and definitely think he should too!

Have you guys ever heard of this?  His doc says it is super common.  The interweb resources I looked at said different.  For more information and to learn more, you can read up on it at eMedicine and

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Mini on my Timex Global Trainer

Well, I've had my Timex Global Trainer now for a few weeks. So far, I think I really like it.  It was super easy to set-up and is super easy to use.  The TGT gives me all the data that I need and the included software, integrated into Training Peaks, is pretty slick.  I still haven't put it through the gauntlet to write a complete review - that will come - but I did want to get this out there since I referenced it a while back.

On the track, it does a fantastic job of helping me keep pace of laps and splits.  Out on a long run, just turn on the auto-lap feature and bam!, you've got average pace and total distance, etc.

It isn't all roses, though.  I can't, for the life of me, figure out why it take so danged long to find satellites.  My running partner wears the Garmin Forerunner 110 and his watch finds satellites about 2-3 minutes before my TGT.  Hmmm...

Anyone else out there use the TGT?  What are your thoughts?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Finding My Own Way

8 days. It has been 8 days since my last post. While I've done a few workouts, I really haven't felt motivated or committed to getting anything done.

I looked for inspiration online. I looked for it in my magazines - Triathlete, Inside Tri, Runners World, Men's Health, Texas Highways (dude, I'm a Texan and BBQ can be inspirational) - damn, how many subscriptions can one guy have. I feel like I’ve been searching everywhere for motivation/inspiration and have come up empty.

Until I finally decided to look within myself. I had to travel for business Tuesday/Wednesday, which gave me ample time to reflect and take stock of the first three quarters of the year. It has been a great year. From staying healthy during flu season (yes, this is a success) to staying to committed to my training plan (thanks Martha), and from finishing my first Ironman to getting promoted at work, there is no reason I should/can feel bad about where I’m at right now.

This introspection gave me some insight that may help me find my own way through this. It is all about reminding me that it is okay to not be on all the time – that it is okay to have down days, even if they are strung together. What I figured out…and I probably do this every few months…is that I am in a good place – better than almost any other time in my life – and that my bad day (yes, even really bad days) are still probably better than my best good days when I was “having the time of my life.”

So, today at lunch I went to the gym and did a hour – of a bunch of different stuff. I was just trying to keep moving the whole time. I warmed up with a mile on the treadmill and then spent about 10 minutes on the rowing machine. From there, I walked some kettle bells downstairs to the TRX lab and just beat myself up. Skull crushers, hamstring curls, lunges, squats, I was a sweaty mess and I loved it. I feel like it was just what I needed to get out of this funk.

I’ve got a long run scheduled this weekend and I can’t wait. I think it will be good to get out and push myself. I’m also really looking forward to putting together an “outseason” plan. I know, I know…I should just be and do and not follow a plan, but I’m honestly afraid that if I do that, I’ll balloon and let myself go…

Thoughts, comments, motivating sayings…I’m all ears.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Triathlon Goes Mainstream

Last night, after dinner, I sat down to catch up with a show on the DVR. I normally forward through the commercial breaks, but I needed a water (gotta stay hydrated, right?). So, I muted the set and went to the kitchen. Imagine my surprise when I returned to the couch to see a triathlon. Confused, I hit rewind and unmuted the TV.

I love it! Triathlon is becoming so "commonplace" that a company is using it in a commercial. I know that Amica is a major sponsor of triathlon - Amica 19.7 Triathlon Series - but to have triathlon make it into a national commercial spot...awesome.

Is this a first? Does anyone know of other mainstream brands embracing triathlon to this extent? I'd love to know...

Below is what I saw... Click here if the video doesn't appear.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Anaphylaxis and Running - Not to be Combined

Since finishing Ironman Lake Placid, I have been "training" a friend to help him get to the finish line of his first half marathon at the ING Hartford Marathon weekend.  The goal is to get him to a sub-2:00 finish. 

Over the course of the last few years, I feel like I have developed a pretty solid understanding of what it takes to get to and through various events.  I have trained and competed in a variety of races and distances.  I know what works and what doesn't for me.  I am not qualified to do anything but coach myself...and I'm not even that good at that - which is why I enlist Coach Martha's help.

That all said, I want to help my buddy get there and I will run the race with him.  I took the plan that I wrote for myself, shared it and we are working through it together.  It has been going pretty well.  The speed and tempo work has been fun.  We've struggled on a few of our longer runs.  On Sunday, we were supposed to head out for a 14-miler.  It wasn't supposed to be anything crazy, but it also wasn't supposed to be a long slow run.  We made it a little more than three miles before disaster struck.

Running together is always a little back and forth - we don't always have to be in lock-step.  We are always right on each other's six most of the time if not side-by-side.  Around 3.14 miles (thanks, Timex Global Trainer), I felt alone.  I looked over my shoulder and he wasn't there.  My buddy was 30 yards back, hunched over and he looked like he was calling the dinosaurs.  I slowed to a walk, turned around and started meandering back - you've got to give folks their space, right?  Anyway, I get closer and he raised up - "damn...what's wrong?  you okay?"

He looked at me and then went back down.  Finally, he was able to get some words out, "My throat feels like it's closing and I have a real tightness in my chest."  I panic.  Then, regained some composure.  I did a mini check on his vitals and kept him talking.  His lip started swelling, then his eye.  I remembered that before we left, he was eating a peanut butter sandwich and thought, anaphylaxis.  I was concerned.  He drank some water and then some of my HEED.  We started walking back to his house.  I kept one eye on him and the other on the passing cars - just in case I needed to throw myself in front of one so that we could call 911.  We finally made it home and while we called his doctor his wife went to get an antihistamine. 

I'm not sure if it was the drug or just time, but he started showing signs of recovery after we got back to his house.  The swelling went down and he no longer felt tightness in his chest.  His doctor came by that afternoon (I later found out that they are good family friends) and pretty much cleared him.  Thank you!

In hindsight, I know that I should have stopped the first car I saw after getting back to his side.  I know that we should have taken him to the emergency room immediately.  Thankfully it all worked out, but I know it could have been worse and that we were very lucky.  I'm using this experience as my "get out of jail free" card.  I know that I may not get another close call and the next time...well, you know.

So, do you have any crazy training stories?  Callers, the lines are now open...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Patrick's Rant & a Youth Movement

Over at The Road, Patrick posted a really great rant about the excessive number of products that are introduced to market everyday that allow people to cheat good health by just slipping on some "slimming garment" or taking a magic pill.

I totally agree.  I didn't get to where I am today (still not where I want to be) by just kicking back.  No, I worked (sometimes really, really hard, sometimes not), made a number of sacrifices and spent thousands of dollars on equipment, entry fees, etc. (this I did by choice, you don't have to spend lots of money to get fit, I know).  I've made it my mission to be fit and healthy - not just for me, but for my family.  I want to set a good example for those around me.  I just wish I would've started earlier... 

Like Hunter Lussi.  He is 16, has completed 33 triathlons (including 3 of the 140.6 distance), written a book, "America, Get Off the Couch," launched his own fitness program and lobbied Congress to have Labor Day named America's Tri for Health Day. 

Amazing!  Seriously amazing.  Read about him at Runner's World -

Hunter is an inspiration. I hope that his efforts pay off and we can do something about the childhood obesity epidemic.  Imagine what could happen if kids started getting fit - do you think it could rub off on parents/adults?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

See you in 12 hours, 23 minutes, and 43 seconds.

A really nice thing just bike fitter, Carl at New England Bicycle Consulting just emailed me and asked if he could do a little write up of me on his blog.

Check it out - pretty cool stuff.  Maybe I should write up a piece on my Trek...cause she is beautiful!