Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Downward Spiral

I woke up in the middle of the night a week ago Monday with a terrible sore throat.  The throat is somewhat better, but I still have a nasty cough and a cold of some sort to go with it.  Things have started draining so I hope it's coming around, but it's all but terminated any thoughts of training over the last week.

Thursday, prior to the last snow, it was warm(er), clear skies, and no wind.  I forced myself out on the mountain bike.  It was nice enough to be out, but I was miserable.  Sunday I attempted to run, made it about 1-mile out, turned around and walked home.  Haven't even thought about swimming.

Bad thing about being sick for me, I tend to fall back on old habits.  Habits like say, poor nutrition.  And I'm not talking an occasional slip, we're talking full blown typical overweight lazy American eating habits.  No breakfast, fast food, fried food, ice cream, etc.  Check, I bet Burger King stock is up over the last week.  And now, to top things off, Easter candy.

Sick + bad diet = ambition and energy levels in the toilet. 

The trump card is the weather.  Eight inches of snow the day after I'm out riding my bike.  I'm tired of riding in the basement, tired of wearing every piece of clothes I own to run. I want spring, I want warm, I want to wear shorts and a t-shirt from now until fall, and I will.  Give me 50 degrees and sun and I will all but abandon pants for the next 6-months.

I need something to get me out of this funk.  The 10-day forecast starts to come around next week.  I may just wait and take this week off as well.  We'll see.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Last planned event for a while, the 10k Madison Shamrock Shuffle. Good weather. Hard course. Out and back, the four miles in the middle were as flat as one could ask, and included most of the V-Day course from last week. The first and last miles were hell. Start down State Street, then up and out Observatory Drive. Going out wasn't terrible, coming back, another story. At one point coming back up the hill my heart rate was 187. This is the same hill I'll have to run twice for Ironman Wisconsin, oy.

Mile 1: 8:51 / mile (too fast, thought I slowed it down some, guess not)
From 1 - 3.1: 8:47 / mile ( I don't know how I always miss a mile marker)
From 3.1 - 4: 9:11 / mile (just trying to hold on)
From 4 - 5: 9:24 / mile (good long walk break at last water stop)
From 5 - finish: 8:55 mile (no chance I'm running anyone down, another walk break coming up Observatory as well)

Total Time: 55:40 - 8:59 / mile

Couple interesting facts. First, my time at the turn around today was 31 seconds faster than my 5k time last week. Second, total time today was over 18 minutes faster than the Jingle Bell 10k we did back in December. Who knew running 3-4 times a week for a couple of months could lead to such improvements?

You can put your hands down.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Good Morning

No, not really.  It's not that I'm not happy with my swim this morning, it's the simple fact that morning workouts suck.

Something about getting up at 5:00am to swim, run, whatever, just doesn't work for me.  I have no problems getting up early if work demands it.  And every now and then a trout in some stream 90 miles away calls and I'll happily get up at 4:00am to go look for him.  I've even been known to leave home at 3:00am to chase pheasants (and the dog) in Iowa.  But swimming, first thing in the morning, not for me.  Running or biking are even less appealing.  I'll take nice warm bed for another hour or so thank you very much.

As training builds over the next months the sad realization is I will need to schedule more of these morning workouts.  Not looking forward to it.  Scheduling and time management are easily the two things I spend the most time thinking about in regard to IM training.  It's hard.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


I did a somewhat impromptu 5k saturday morning to satisfy the first 1/2 of my shave-your-5k challenge over at Half-fast. The event was the rescheduled UW-running club V-Day 5k.

The concept of the challenge is to improve your 5-k time over the next 8-months or so, i.e. slow time now, fast time later. Sandbagging is apparently not my forte, cause I ran faster than I've ever run before.

Race morning was cold, maybe 10 degrees F, but the sun was out and there wasn't much wind. Maybe 150 runners so not much congestion at the start. Except for maybe 1/4-mile in the middle, the course was also clear of ice and snow. This is how it shook out.

First 1/2 mile: 9:30 / mile pace
there to 2-mile mark: 9:17 / mile pace
there to end: 8:20 mile / pace

Total race time: 27:49 - 8:58 / mile pace

The first time I broke 11:00 per mile was 2/1. I figured it was a fluke, error in measuring the distance or something. It took me 3 weeks to break 11 again. On 3/1 at the Bock Run I broke 10 per mile for the first time. I havn't come close to doing it again, until of course yesterday.

Now the bar is set at sub-9. I don't know how much faster I can go. Sub-8 seems crazy, that's almost fast.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Seven Wonders

So Min tagged me last week. Now I get the wonderful task of talking about myself for awhile. Not one of favorite things to do. Unlike Min, I have no prepared speech or strapless dress, if I did, I'd have at least one interesting thing to talk about.

1. According to my daughter, I work at "that stinky place", the Dane County Landfill. I'm a solid waste engineer for the county. My office is near the coliseum, but I try and spend as much time as possible at the landfill. I like it out there. I also manage the county's compost sites, which gives me the pleasure of working the Garden Expo and talking to various gardening groups and at other random conventions. Most interesting part of the job is giving tours at the landfill. Kid's can ask the strangest questions. If you ever want a landfill tour just ask, I'd be happy to do it.

2. My wife says I'm a food snob. I'm not, I just like good food, a lot. Two of my favorite shows revolve around it. No Reservations, which I'm actually watching now, and Bizarre Foods. I like to think I'll try anything once, but that guy is just plain nuts. I like to cook, but it comes primarily from my want to eat. The last two non triathlon related books I've read have been cookbooks. Thai is probably my current favorite.

3. As long as we're on food, I prefer locally grown whenever possible. I'm not an organic nut, I think sustainability is much more important. It drives me up the wall when I'm in the local grocery and I see, for example, apples from washington, potatoes from idaho, and winter squash from mexico. We grow all this stuff in Wisconsin, there is no good reason to keep importing it from across the globe. I don't refrain from citrus or seafood or anything else that we don't produce here. I just believe in supporting the local economy whenever possible.

4. I'm not anti big business, maybe I am, I don't know. It gets back to supporting the little guy, the local shop, the mom and pop type stores. Walmart and the likes top the list of stores I don't voluntarily enter. Roundy's type grocery stores are probably next on the list, but it's hard to completely get away from shopping at them. Chain restaurants are close behind, although I frequent them much more regularly, it's hard not to with kids.

5. If it weren't for my wife, very few people would actually know about my Ironman plans. None of my coworkers are aware. I don't like drawing attention to myself, and I don't do things just so I can beat my chest and pretend I'm all that. This blog runs somewhat contradictory to that, but I keep it more as my own personal log. Turns out it's also a good way for me to actually avoid talking about it.

6. I love me a good nap. Even more so if the dog joins in. I could nap on a daily basis, and I actually think it would make me a better person if I could.

7. Deep breath, we're almost there. When it comes to email, I don't forward anything, ever. Doesn't matter if 14 years of bad luck will follow, some third world country will fold, or if death is certain to come quickly and painfully. If you forward some sappy story, heartwarming fable, or miraculous tale with a plea to forward it to my 76 closest friends, it's guaranteed to find it's way to the trash. End of story, my wife on the other hand, another story all together.

There you have it, seven things. And for reason number 7, I will not be tagging anyone. It falls way to close to forwarding email. Thank you, please come again, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spring Fever - Part 2

I really didn't want to go out and ride today, but my desire to get on the trainer was nonexistent. I pretty much dropped the ball training wise this week, so I felt somewhat obligated.

After a brief early afternoon nap I bundled up, rolled the bike over to the air compressor for a spring top-off, and headed out. It was cold but not unbearable. Biggest mistake was going around the state park (out by Springers). The roads out there still had lots of snow, ice, and puddles. I only lost the back wheel once, managed to stay up without any real problems. Taking the mountain bike turned out to be a good choice. We both got a nice saltwater and sand shower.

Stuck it out for 10.5-miles, never really intended for it to be a long ride. Was nice being out, a big red tailed hawk soared ahead of me for a bit on the way in. Haven't seen one of those on the trainer lately.

Between travel, a sick boy (pneumonia, pink eye, fever), and tired legs, training last week was hard. My two swims went well, 4,800 yards in total. There is a post brewing in my head to sum up my swim thoughts, just not there yet. I ran 13 miles, including the Bock Run yesterday, and I rode the trainer once.

Worse still, I think I'm going to need to take it easy this week as well. My legs feel completely trashed and I really don't want to risk injury. On top of that the pool is closed. Apparently someone decided to poop in it. It'll be interesting to see how quickly they get it opened back up. Will be extra diligent in trying to not swallow pool water.

The extra time should allow me to follow up on-being tagged by Min. Apparently I get to reveal seven things about myself. The concepts are there, and I'll likely start it following this post, but
I write slow. No slow comments necessary, I know.

In the mean time go read her blog, she's doing IMOO this year, and I hope to learn lots from her trials and tribulations a year in advance of my run at it. Her coach, elf, also writes an excellent blog. I'll link to it at right at some point.

Bock Run

Apparently time changes a lot of things. At this point in my life I realize now that running 5-miles is relatively easy, drinking on and off for 12-hours is not. Things were not always so. On to the story.

Headed up to Stevens Point Saturday morning for the 5-mile Bock Run. Before I go on, I must say this is probably one of the best values in running. $15, nice long sleeve t-shirt, well run event, typical post race food and drink, plus free beer for 2+ hours after the finish. How can you go wrong?

Met up with Wade and his friends and headed over to the brewery. Nice weather, probably upper 20's, low 30's, no wind to speak of, and the sun even made an appearance. Course was nice, relatively flat, first (and last) 1/2 mile or so were snow covered, the rest was clear. It was out and back which I liked. Watching everyone ahead of me on their way back, and the few I was actually ahead of on my way back was a nice distraction mid-race.

Nothing spectacular to report about the actual run. Some strange characters, a casualty or two on the side of the road, but nothing I suppose hasn't been seen before.

Clock time was 49:01, my watch time was 48:30 (9:42/mile). I'm going with watch time, I started it when I crossed the start/finish line, and it was roughly 30-seconds to get there. The race was chip timed, so I don't know why the discrepancy.

The only thing more impressive than my overall time (in my mind) were my splits.

miles 1-2: 20:16 (10:08 pace) I don't recall seeing the one mile mark.
mile 3: 9:44 - picked it up some, took a brief walk break at turn around for some water
mile 4: 9:22 - still getting faster, not sure where this is coming from
mile 5: 9:08 - damn I'm fast.

Prior to this, fastest I've ran is 10:20/mile. In theory I should be thrilled, and I am. But I also realize how slow I am relative to the field. I don't really care, I have no ego, but still, 44/57 in my age group is somewhat deflating.

Post race I was capitol H hungry. 3-4 bagel chunks (so good), banana, glass of gatorade, and cookies, lots of cookies, I didn't count. Then beer, mmmmmmm beer. They had 3 or 4 different Point beers on tap. The Einbock was the best, but the others were good too. We stuck around until they closed up at 3:00.

From there it was an afternoon and evening of drinking, eating, and more drinking. Good time, but I'm definitely not as young as I once was. The pizza at 1:00am was great. I don't remember the name of the place, but if you're in Stevens Point at bar time, just follow the crowd, seemed like everyone came in. Not many actually walked by.

Big thanks to Wade and the family for having me. It was good to see you guys again. But if I figure out which one of your cats crapped in my mouth in the few hours I actually slept, it's in big trouble.