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Karen sent me this little message today. Hard to believe these little miracles turned 3 on Sunday.
I’ve been under the weather for nearly 4 solid weeks now. I’m afraid “under the weather” is a gross understatement though. About a month ago I came down with what initially felt like the flu (body aches, alternating chilling and sweating, etc). One day off of work turned into 5 solid days off of work and subsequently 2 1/2 additional weeks of violent coughing, ear infections, and dizziness. Now I’m finally ever so gradually regaining my health and strength. At the end of this week I’ll be 4 solid weeks with no exercise.
In my world though that’s actually a good thing. I trained for an competed in 3 Ironman 70.3 events, in addition to some smaller events in the last 10 months. My fitness level was pretty high and for the first time in many years I was enjoying training again. My last race was August 7th in Boulder, but I kept training at a high volume – even taking off from work on my birthday and going for an easy 50 mile ride. The last weekend of September I went for a 10 mile run with my buddy Chris Blaylock. Something didn’t feel right though. I kept asking him to slow down. I just didn’t have my usual energy (although we eventually ran a pretty fast 10 mile time). The next day the bug hit me. I was going to get the rest I needed whether I liked it or not.
Enter the forced offseason: I coach endurance athletes on the importance of a solid offseason: just good old fashioned laziness for a few weeks to let your body and mind recuperate before the rigors of next season’s training and racing. It’s imporant to let your legs and lungs recover. I think it’s just as imporant for your mind. Sometimes its just not fun getting up at 4:45am to go swim in the middle of the winter or bundling up in 14 layers to go for a 3 hour ride in the sleet. Your mind has to rest from those demands. I didn’t do a good job of shutting myself down after my last races of 2011 and I paid for it. Your body will shut you down eventually and mine did.
The first week I was sick I didn’t think about triahtlon or training at all. I just laid in bed and watched baseball (an entire playoff triple header one day!). By week three I was reading training plans and articles, mapping out possible racing schedules for 2012, planning my restrengtheing regime, setting goals, etc. My mind was healing. Now, I’m dieing to train. I can’t wait to get back out there! I did my first workout in several weeks today during lunch – I made it through half of my lunch time yoga class. It’s a start. One more week off from swimming, biking, and running and hopefully I’ll be ready to go again physically. November holds lots of easy trail running and lifting. By December…it’s time for a 20 week half-ironman plan. First race? Tentatively Rev 3 Knoxville HalfIronman May 6.
Bonus! New pic of the kiddos:
Sunrise on race day
View from atop Flagstaff Mtn.
Our crew (Me, Karen Nikazy, Bill Hampton, Emily Tardy, Amanda Hampton – Daniel taking the picture) in front of the Village (the best breakfast in Boulder)
The South Boulder river – hidden deep within Walker’s Ranch at 8000ft.
Walkers Ranch trail head. This was a long day.
Yours truly trying to smile before the race with a sprained shoulder
Me and Daniel Tardy prerace
Descending Flagstaff the afternoon before Boulder 70.3. Crazy.
GOOFY FACES ALERT!!!
Daniel Tardy, Bill Hampton, and I with our age group awards after Boulder Sunrise Tri in June. Check out my face!!! I promise I was happy.
Here we are after Boulder 70.3 looking pretty sunburnt. We’ve taken to calling Daniel “Photo Shop Daniel”, because he generally looks like he’s been photoshopped into pictures. Whats with that creepy grin?
I’ve now raced the Old Hickory Lake triathlon in 8 of the 10 years its been run. Year in and year out it’s my personal “super bowl”. Racing in my home town, my dad riding with me to the race before the sun rises, and my mom, Karen and the kids all being at the finish line have always made this race special to me.
This year I woke up early – 5:00am. I expected to be awake before dad for once, but when I walked into the living room there he was, fully dressed, drinking coffee, and watching TV already.
We got to the race site early. That allowed me to take the very first spot on the bike racks – right next to the bike in and bike out. Bill Hampton and I went for a short warm-up ride before walking down to the swim start. We were numbers 2 and 3, so we’d be starting at the very front end of the race.
A 20 year old kid hit the water #1, followed by Bill, and then me, and then a swarm of guys with good swim speed. We rounded the dock after the start with Bill still a few feet in front of me. Within 25 yards I came around Bill and set my sights on #1. As we got to the first left turn at the big yellow bouy I caught him, swam a few strokes in his wake, and then passed him. I swam alone for the next 200-250 yards in the very front. In the final stretch towards the ramp I was caught by a single swimmer. I noticed he was #10, so this guy was flying to have started that far back and still caught me.
I exited the water satisfied with my swim, quickly pulled my shoes on and started the one mile run to the bike transition. There were now two guys in front of me. I ran calmy up a long hill not wanting to blow up too early in the race. Once the course leveled off I caught them and ran just off their shoulders. One of the guys faded as we picked up the pace, so #1 and I ran into the transition area still the virtual leaders on the road.
Once on the bikes I followed him for the first mile, easing into my pace. We climbed an on-ramp onto Vietnam Veterans parkway. I’m usually strong going uphill so I seized the opportunity to pass him and take the lead spot on the road again. What an awesome feeling! I was the first person out there…just the lead motorcycle in front of me. I stayed in the lead until I was finally caught by the eventual overall winner at about 5.5 miles. He was going so fast that I didn’t even try to go with him. I stayed calm. I was riding fast at 22.5 mph, so he was flying. I saw Bill at the turnaround, so I rode hard up the long climb back up Vietnam Veterans.
We came into the transition area again in that same order. Sean Torr leading the race wearing #19 and then me. I was still 2nd on the road – hoping I had distanced some of my old rivals a bit. The first mile of the run felt like 3 miles. I kept waiting to see Torr heading back, but it took forever. He eventually crested a hill in front of me heading the opposite direction. There was no hope of catching him. About a 1/4 mile after I made the turnaround I saw Bill again – running strong. Shortly after I saw my old friends Javier Rodriguez and Brian Waller both running smooth. I felt better headed back towards the finish line and eased into a 6:50 pace…not hurting, but not quite loafing either. With about a 1/4 mile to go I ran past Karen, my mom, and the kids.
I crossed the finish line 2nd, but ultimately was 13th overall and 3rd in my age group. Not bad out of 400 racers. It was a new PR time for me by 5 minutes at Old Hickory Lake. It wasn’t my best overall finish there (12th in 2008), but 13th against a stacked field was still great.
Read about my special day in 2008 here
2011 Race Results round up (so far):
Hell of the South bike race – 17th overall
Country Music Half Marathon – 1:39
Florida 70.3 – 5:33
Boulder Sunrise Triathlon – 6th overall / 1st Age Group
Old Hickory Lake Triathlon – 13th overall / 3rd Age Group
Boulder 70.3 – ? Still to come
Izzy started swimming 3 summers ago and has really started to show a talent for it. Here she is at her very first triathlon.
Wow, has it really been since the fall that last posted? Life is just busy with the work, the kids and training for my second 70.3 half ironman. On May 15 Bill Hampton, Daniel Tardy, and I completed the Florida 70.3 in Orlando after a long cold winter of training. Here’s a couple of pics:
I finished this time in 5:33. It wasn’t the time I had hoped for all winter while I was training in the dark, riding in the snow, running on icy roads, and dragging myself to the pool two hours before sunrise…but I’ve learned that in Ironman racing “just finishing” is enough sometimes. You can be at your best on race day and things can still go wrong.
So, I’ve been a lazy blogger for some time now. I’ll try to catch you up on the month of October in pictures:
Me – shortly after our arrival in Austin for the Longhorn 70.3. I came ready to party, or ride a bull, or…do a half ironman.
One things certain; I killed this bee. It’s a long story, but here’s the short of it: he was a buggin’ us, kept flyin around pesterin’ the women, I swatted him with my hat, he wasn’t happy, I cussed him, threw punches at him, and then smashed him. Tardy laughed – hard.
me and Bill before the swim start. Notice – we’re still smiling. Ah, so young and naive. Hours of pain still awaited us.
Swim start. See me? Trust me. I’m out there somewhere. Swimming.
me, Tardy, and Bill in front of Mellow Johnny’s that night after the Ironman Austin and 3 large pizzas.
Oct 22 was Kate and Max’s 2nd birthday. I thank God for my 3 miracle children everyday.
on a hayride with “Papaw”, Max and Kate
Me and Max hayridin’
Izzy was a pretty witch for Halloween.
Papaw and Izzy on the hayride. And no, we don’t let her wear makeup when it’s not Halloween
Karen and I took out first weekend getway since Max and Kate were born this weekend. Karen was so disappointed when we missed the Jimmy Buffett concert because of the flooding; I knew I had to do something to make it up to her. I immediately realized the only thing that would do that was a Jack Johnson concert.
I was able to get tickets to see Jack in Atlanta. I have a great friends down there and several of our friends from Nashville were headed down as well. We left on Friday morning as soon as Izzy went to school. My mom and dad came down from Hendersonville to stay with the kids Friday and Friday night. I had scoped out a couple of climbs along the way to ride, so i brought my bike. We stopped near Chattanooga where I rode Elder Mountain Road and Raccoon Mountain. Each climb was 3 miles long at an average gradient of 8+%. I didn’t preview the climbs, so I was shocked at how little shade was available. I suffered big time in the noon heat, but loved every minute of it. Karen snapped this pic at the gas station where I changed clothes. I looked much worse afterwards:
After my hour long ride we drove into Atlanta and checked into the Georgian Terrace. We were thrilled with the luxury of the hotel. We needed a getaway bad, so we spared no expense. After freshening up we went to dinner with my buddy Moebes at the Vortex:
Karen had some sort of Hawaiin chicken sandwich and sweet potato fries…with Marshallow dipping sauce! So good. I had the “Hell” Burger. It comes with a disclaimer stating “this is not for wussies. there are no returns.” It arrived covered in Habenerno relish, pepperjack cheese, and a grilled jalapeno. The tattoed waitress simply said “good luck with that” when she put it on the table. I love my hot stuff, but to simply call this creation “hot” would be an understatement. Half way through the burger I could feel the insides of my lips blistering from the habenero relish. As an act of defiance I went ahead and finished it. I rank it #2 or #3 on my list of favorite burgers now.
After dinner we headed to the show, in a downpour. I had brought along ponchos for us to wear just in case, so we were prepared. We met up with our friends from Nashville and had a great time singing along with Jack under the stars. Most importantly, Karen had a great time. She needed the break from the kids. Someone shot this video of “Taylor” at the show:
Saturday morning Karen and I had breakfast in the fancy Georgian Terrace Hotel restaurant. I won’t tell you what I paid for a single Belgian waffle. It was worth it though. I took Karen to IKEA to look around after that. We left with all this stuff (table included):
We had no plans after that so we debated going to Dahlonega, GA, Nantahala, NC, or Chattanooga. We ended up deciding on Chattanooga. I drove downtown and found a suite at the Marriott Residence Inn right on the riverfront. We decided to eat at Taco Mac. Sounds crazy, but their wings are the best! We walked around late into the evening in downtown Chattanooga – stopping by the river and Ben and Jerry’s. It was so nice to just have some quiet time for the two of us.
Sunday morning I rode my bike over to and up Lookout Mountain on Scenic Highway. The climb is nearly 4 miles at 7% grade, but the views along the way distract you from the pain. Here’s my view from the top that morning (above the clouds):
Karen picked me up at the top as the road was too wet to make a high speed descent down the twisty mountain road. After a nice breakfast we decided to drive up to Rock City, Point Park, and Ruby Falls. Here’s a pic I took from Point Park atop Lookout Mountain:
While at point park I learned some interesting stuff about the Battle of Chattanooga. Round numbers here, but 300-something confederate soldiers were killed, 2000-some wounded, and 4000-some “missing. Really? 4000 “missing” on Lookout Mountain. Where did they go? Interesting stuff.
It was a great weekend! We won’t wait 2 years to do it again!
This morning Kate gave me one of her sweet little side-ways smiles; she bats her eyes, turns her head, and melts my heart. I couldn’t help but notice how much she is beginning to look just like her big sister Izzy. It seems like yesterday that Izzy was our only child. Time flies though…it was hard sending her to Kindergarten last year…and it was hard sending her to first grade two days ago. Here’s the big girl on day 1 and day 2 of 1st grade. She’ll always be my baby:
1st day of 1st grade
First day with her best friend Ryan and an Allendale Alligator
2nd day looking like a little teenager
It was a long cold winter, but now the signs of spring are here…including the pro peloton embarking upon their first grand tour of the season! While many familiar faces, like Lance and Levi, will instead race the Tour of California in June there are still intriguing names riding the Giro – including 4 former winners.
Last years champ Denis Menchov will sit out this year opting to focus on his July aspirations in France. Menchov’s top lieutenant Robert Gesink will also be absent. Seems Rabobank is banking on the Tour de France. The rest of last years Giro podium Di Luca and Pellizotti (ahem) will also sit out. High profile spanish riders Alejandro Valverde and Sammy Sanchez will also skip the Giro. Others key riders sitting out are Frank and Andy Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, Mark Cavendish, and of course the white elephant in the room Alberto Contador.
We will, however, be treated to seeing current world champion Cadel Evans ride the Giro for the first time since 2002. He’ll be rivaled by likes of Italians Damiano Cunego (former winner), Ivan Basso (former winner), and last years King of the Mountains Stefano Garzelli (former winner). Former TDF winner Carlos Sastre will also ride to win. Other interesting names are last years TDF surprise Bradley Wiggins riding for Team Sky and recent Liege and Giro del Trentino winner Alexander Vinokourov. Linus Gerdemann, Vincenzo Nibali,Christian VandeVelde and Marzio Bruseghin also bear watching. Former winner Gilberto Simoni also returns to the Lampre squad for one final run at the pink jersey before retirement.
The riders will climb such key mountain passes as the Mortirolo, the Gavia, Monte Zoncolan, and a time trial up the brutal Plan de Corones.
Here they are…my total guess work predictions (I reserve the right to change these of course 🙂 )
1. Cadel Evans – He’s the strongest rider in the race, and although I suspect he’s riding in Italy to prepare for July in France, Evans says he’s riding to do well. He wore the Maglia Rosa in the 2002 Giro before blowing up and losing the jersey and race. Time has shown that he’s better when he does 2 grand tours back to back so if he does well in Italy watch out in France. He’s showing more aggressiveness in his climbing of late and he’ll win the Giro in the Time Trials.
2. Carlos Sastre – Sastre wants to win the Giro. Its not simply a TDF tune up for him – in fact, he’s not even sure he’ll ride the TDF this year. He’s still strong enough to ride away in the mountains as we learned with 2 stage victories in last years Giro and as we learned in his TDF victory a couple of years ago, he can ride a strong enough Time Trial to hold on. He still feels the disprect he was given at last years TDF in the midst of the Armstrong-Contador fued. He won’t be able to lose Evans more than once in the mountains though.
3. Alexander Vinokourov – I’m going out on a limb here. I know he’s making a comeback from his doping suspension – I know most of us don’t want to see a doper do well, but he’s looking simply awesome lately. He won Liege. He won Giro del Trentino. Turns out the “clean” Vino is still among the best.
4. Basso – won’t time trial well enough, with the exception of the Plan de Corones, to keep up. Turns out the “clean” Basso is also still very good.
5. Wiggins – training ride for the Tour de France
6. Garzelli – King of the Mountains again.
Big Sis “Flootsy-Dootsy” and Little Sis “Peedle-Piedle” in matching St. Pats outfits
Izzy, Max, and Kate getting into the drink bucket (coke, pepsi, and sierra mist in case you’re wondering!).
It’s that time again! Time for The Figurehead’s “best of albums (2009 edition)”. I base my rankings on how I often I listened to it this year AND how often I think I’ll listen to it in the future. I do my best to ignore the indie blog influences. Yes, I know I have 2 live albums at the top. Here we go – starting with #15.
15. Beirut – March of the Zapotec
14. Dead Weather – Horehound
13. Built to Spill – There is No Enemy
12. The XX – XX
11. Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything to Nothing
10. The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love
9. Dinosaur Jr. – Farm
8. Pearl Jam – Backspacer
7. Ben Harper and the Relentless 7 – White Lies for Dark Times
6. Mastodon – Crack the Skye
5. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
4. The Swell Season – Strict Joy
3. Mew – No More Stories Are Told
2. Nirvana – Live at Reading Festival
1. Jack Johnson – En Concert
This morning I “suffered” through a 1000 yard swim workout. “Suffered.” I used to swim a 1000 yard warmup! Of course, that was a different time in my life. I had no kids…and triathlon was my focus (outside of my wife and God, of course).
I ran into a older guy I hadn’t seen in years in the locker room. He’s uber-fit and super fast for any age – much less his own. He doesn’t race much anymore – maybe once a year. He’s wise now. He looked at me quizically and said “I haven’t seen you in a LONG time. You have a family now, right?” He’d seen it before. I told him that I have 3 kids now. He asked how everyone is doing, so I informed him of the last couple of years. He said “Wow, sounds like you’ve been through the ringer.” I agreed. I said “But everyone’s healthy now. So I’m here trying to get myself back together too.” I thought about that afterwards: “getting myself back together.” Alot of people would tell me to shut up – after all I still race near the front of my age group when I race (just 4 times in the last 2 years). It feels different though. I’m racing on whats left of my ability now and not on training.
I’m training for the Country Music Marathon in April. It’s only December and I’ve already dealt with achilles tendonitis, a sore hip flexor, and on- going knee pain. Some have suggested that the stress of the last couple of years have done a number on me both mentally…and physically. I think they’re right. I feel much older than 35. I wonder if I can ever be who I was before (melodrama alert). Mentally I know the answer is “no.” I’ll never erase some of the images in my head. Physically? I’m really beginning to wonder.
I’m a prideful guy (unfortunately). It’s difficult for me to train “right” and accept my new place in the pecking order athletically. This year I have no choice though. Everything is slow. I’ve slowed my running pace down to a “back of the pack” pace until I’ve built a base. We’ll see if the speed is there when the time is right. I get tired swimming 1000 yards. I’ll ramp up the distance very slowly towards summer. Cycling….doesn’t exist. Eventually I’ll get back on the bike. I have my eye on a new indoor trainer that will give me better feedback (speed, power, distance, etc).
I’m swallowing my pride for awhile and becoming “that slow guy.” I keep reminding myself of what Scott Tinley said about ultra-runners (what I eventually want to become): “Ultra runners have 2 speeds: slow and asleep.” For now, I can get with that.
A year ago at this time Max and Kate were both in critical condition at Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital with RSV, Karen was home sick with Strep, and Izzy had a stomach virus. Needless to say the Christmas spirit was slow to catch hold at our house. This year is different though; Max and Kate both have a cold, but that’s actually a good thing – they’re strong enough to get colds and not need hospital stays. The rest of us are decorated and have the Christmas music cranked up. We’re blessed…very blessed to have come out of the eye of the storm (mostly) unscathed.
I’m personally looking forward to 2010. I have lots of ideas and goals – maybe I’ll share them later.
Training is a struggle right now. My injured achilles turned into an injured hip flexor, and now I’m having some trouble with my knees after mid-distance runs. Comes with the territory though. Big mileage means big risk – also means big rewards if you survive.
The “running-less” streak ended on Saturday. I put on my trusty old Louis Garneau tights – the one’s I’ve had since 2002 – the ones with the ratty frayed butt from countless bike miles – and headed out for my first post achilles injury run in 2 weeks. I took the first few steps gingerly as my mind kept saying “Oh, what was that? Was that your achilles you felt? Or your calf muscle. Take it slowwww. Go easy.” I went slow. Very slow. Out of fear. When it was over I’d run 4 miles…and I could definately “feel” my achilles. I soaked my leg up to the knee in an ice bath to reduce any possible inflamation. No problems since.
This morning I logged 4 more miles, slightly faster, but still slow. I felt nothing from the achilles! Happy days are here again! I went and bought a pair of Zensah compression sleeves to help me ward off new lower leg woes as my running picks back up. My plan wants 20 miles from me this week, but I’ll have to play it by ear. I’m wearing my compression sleeves as I type this. Sweet recovery! They feel great. I can’t wait to run in them on Thursday.
I realized yesterday that this is probably the longest I’ve gone without running in nearly 20 years. As a teenager I ran to stay in shape in the offseason and to cut weight during the wrestling season. In my 20’s (even when i was a little “chunky”) I ran almost every day.
I’ve had running injuries before, IT Band Syndrome after the 2003 Country Music Marathon, plantar fasciatis a few times, and even my current ailment – Achilles tendonitis. I was younger back then though – still in my 20’s. Somehow being 35 seems to make the recovery process a bit tougher. I’ve never had to go cold turkey on the running. I am this time though. Achilles Tendonitis is nothing to mess around with. I definately don’t want to have achilles surgery because I wouldn’t give it rest when I needed to. So I’m resting it.
I put on a flotation belt and went for my first “water run” a couple of days ago. It was “fun.” They say it’s great for runners who are rehabing or need to log more “miles” without injury. I’m also trying to do some swimming and am riding the bike when my achilles feels okay. It’s getting better. In fact, I think I could probably run at this point, but with maturity has come patience. 11 days and counting; hoping to run by the weekend.
I’ve really fallen in love with trail running in the last several months. It’s the perfect break from the humdrum of road running. If road running is a measure of efficiency then trail running is an expression of creativity.
Chickasaw Trace down in Columbia is my favorite place to run trails. It’s an 8 mile loop that gains nearly 1700 feet of elevation. Most of the trail is densly forrested and runs along the Duck River. It’s pretty technical with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns, etc.
I ran 10 miles on the trail this past Saturday. Unfortunately, my achilles tendon started bothering me 3 or 4 miles into the trail. I think I started favoring that leg, because around mile 5 I twisted my ankle badly. It hit the muddy trail spewing expletives – no one around to hear them except for the many deer you see there. I thought “Oh no, a broken ankle 5 miles deep into this trail.” I had my phone, but knew it would be a real chore for anyone to come and get me. Eventually I stood, putting more and more weight on the foot, I began to hop on one foot, eventually limped, tried to walk normally, and finally started a slow jog. I had to get off the trail somehow. Honestly, this is what I love about trail running – the adventure. This kind of thing won’t happen on my normal road training loop. And what’s the fun in that? I prefer the unknown at this point honestly after many years of running in circles seeing the same old stuff over and over.
The ankle is still a little sore – as is the achilles, so I took it easy the rest of the weekend. I got my 10 miles in though.
Here are some pictures I’ve taken of Chickasaw over the last few weeks:
cabin near the trailhead
the Duck River
the beginning of a pretty dangerous descent – on a muddy morning
She’s growing up so fast!
Here’s my boy!
…and of course, Baby Kate:
Tomorrow marks the 1 year anniversary of a day that changed my life forever. Karen had already been on home bed rest for a few weeks at the time. She was still only 20 weeks pregnant and we were scared to death.
We went in for a routine checkup on Friday morning, the 29th of August 2008. Making a long story short, it becamse evident very soon that it wasn’t going to be a routine checkup at all. The Dr. checked Karen out and left the room. Through the closed door we heard her say to a nurse down the hall “we’re going to need a wheel chair in there.” Mine and Karen’s eyes met. A tear rolled from hers. 8 months before we had lost a child to miscarriage. We were devastated.
I’m skipping the real miracle of the story by skipping ahead to this day in August. In between God answered the prayers of a broken hearted mother and a 4 year old little girl.
Karen was immediately admitted to Williamson Medical Center in preterm labor, transferred a few hours later to Centennial Women’s Center, and a few days later to Baptist Hospital. That was the beginning of the longest year of our lives. She stayed there for 10 weeks protecting Max and Kate. The doctors destroyed her body with medications to halt the labor. We knew what we were doing – and begged the doctors to do whatever they had to to protect our babies.
Izzy and I lived as a single father and daughter for those 10 weeks. It wasn’t easy for either of us. Karen eventually grew very ill with a mysterious infection and Max and Kate were taken by C-section 10 weeks early. They spent the next two months in hospitals.
Long story shorted again: they’re fine now. There were long months when we weren’t sure though. No one will ever understand the agony we endured as we watched over them during their illnesses – machines breathing for their tiny premature bodies. We were helpless, but God was there.
They’re perfect little babies now. Izzy started kindergarten and is loving it. The damage that was done to her has faded. Karen is struggling to recover still. Seems like she should have bounced back by now, right? It’s not that simple. As I said, we made decisions that we knew would harm her long term. I say “we”, but I mean “she” made decisions. She was brave and strong beyond measure and put the lives of her unborn children before her own.
Karen badly wanted to do the McMinnville City Triathlon tomorrow to honor the anniversary of when our long year began. It wasn’t meant to be though. She became ill again and that halted her training. Just when she recovered Max and Kate got sick again. So instead of her honoring the day, I’ll take her place tomorrow morning.
Lately I’ve been racing with others in mind. I did the Old Hickory Lake last year thinking of Karen, Max, Kate and Izzy. I did that race this year thinking of my mom’s struggle with cancer. While they will all be on my mind again tomorrow, this one is for me. I’ve had a trying year. My body has tried to shut down on me, but I won’t let it, not yet. Tomorrow I’m going to make it hurt. I’m going to enjoy the pain, like the pain through my whole body, it’s going to feel like home.
Today was a big day for us. Izzy started her staggered days at Kindergarten. I was definately harder on Karen and me than on Izzy. She was ready. Here are some pics:
That’s Izzy’s teacher, Miss Ramsey, in the green sweater comforting one of Izzy’s nervous classmates.
I know I’m a few days late on this, but cut me some slack. I did post my top 3 prediction on twitter a few days ago. Here’s the short of it….I’ll believe Lance can be beaten when I see it.
3. Andy Schleck – the younger Schleck brother is a born climbing machine. After the stage 1 time trial, in which he finished 17th, it seems he’s improved his time trialing enough to be a legit contender this year. Young Andy will have the help of his equally talented climbing specialist brother Frank once the road tilts upward.
2. Alberto Contador – Yeah yeah…he won the Tour in 07, the Giro, the Vuelta…yadda yadda. And Andy Roddick would have won Wimbledon if not for Federer. Lefty would have won (name the tournament) if not for Tiger. Lance is back! Alberto has added time trialing (2nd on stage 1 time trial) to his repotoire to go along with his freakish climbing ability, but ultimately his lack of savvy will not allow him to match “Mellow Johnny”.
1. Lance Armstrong – Gasp…he was only 10th in the opening time trial?! Yes – and he’s been retired for 3 years. He beat many of the GC contenders. He also went early in the day and admits “I went out a little too conservatively.” Lance’s savvy allowed him to latch onto the stage 3 breakaway with his old buddy Hincapie and the Columbia crew. He’s now sitting 3rd on GC. After tomorrow’s team time trial he’ll be back in yellow. With his own team mates nipping at his heels he may hold onto it most of the way. I can see him letting it go at some point before an epic race up Mont Ventoux on stage 20 against both Schleck and Contador.
Levi Leipheimer – he’ll have one mediocre day in the mountains and then be content to help Lance/Contador.
Andreas Kloden – see “Levi Leipheimer”
Cadel Evans – the team time trial will dash his hopes. He’ll hang tough (sort of) in the mountains, pull slightly closer on the final ITT, but it won’t be enough.
Denis Menchov – his legs are toast after his Giro d’ Italia win. He’ll pull himself back into the top 10 before reaching Paris though.
Kim Kirchen – nope.
Carlos Sastre – last years champ’s improved time trialing still isn’t good enough to beat Lance or Contador or the new TT ability of Schleck. He’ll win a mountain top finish and finish top 10.
Roman Kreuzinger – the 2008 Tour of Switzerland winner is a future great, but not experienced enough this year.
Nibali/Pellizotti/name another Italian – great riders, but overcook themselves at the Giro.
Izzy recently went on her first fishing trip with Nana, Papaw, and Aunt Lora. Here she is with one of her many fish.
Here’s Izzy’s first official swim team picture. The little fish swam 500 yards this morning during their swim-a-thon. That’s a long way for a 5 year old!
I realized on Monday morning what a great father’s day weekend I had. I spent Friday night at Daniel Tardy’s house, because we had to get up at 5:00am on Sat. morning to drive to Bell Buckle, TN for the RC Cola and Moonpie 10 mile run. We met Bill Hampton down there and enjoyed the run – keeping the pace nice and easy instead of racing it like I’ve done in the past.
Saturday when I got home Karen gave me my Father’s Day present; an old fashioned wooden homemade ice cream maker. I’ve been wanting one for years, but have always been too cheap to buy it. That night we had her mom and dad, brother, and two nephews over for a cookout. The first batch of homemade ice cream turned out great! Afterwards we enjoyed watching Izzy, Max, Kate, Thomas, and Alan all splash in the little pool in the backyard.
Sunday after church we went up to Hendersonville to have Father’s Day with my parents. Same deal…cookout…icecream…kids playing. Another great day to wrap up the holiday weekend. Here’s a pic of “Papaw” with Izzy and Kate:
It’s race week this week. I have the Old Hickory Triathlon coming up on Saturday. As some of you know, that’s my top priority race of every season. It’s normally early in September, but this year they moved up to late June. That prospect makes me a little nervous as it usually takes me until mid August to get in top shape. Last year, I finally won my age group out of 40 something guys despite a challenging year (to say the least). The crowd is fast this year, so I’m hoping for a top 3 finish this go around.
I have lots of motivators these days: the strength of my wife who endured so much more pain and suffering than anyone will ever realize – she took 3 solid months of Magnesium straight to the vein. Research that – you’ll find out that most women can’t bear it for longer than 24 hours. I have Max and Kate who have both been through so much in 8 months of life. We almost lost them multiple times, but they have shown the strenght of God and are now strong and healthy. I have my mom – who just had breast cancer surgery last month and beat it! And as always I have my angel, Izzy. She found some of my old race medals last night and asked if she could wear them. Later we found her like this:
Karen has always said that I’m Izzy’s hero. I know it’s true, but the truth is she doesn’t really know when I win and when I lose. She’s just proud that I’m out there. She does know that my medals mean something. Glad she likes them. I want to win more for her.
My results will be a bit of mystery this Saturday. I haven’t raced since last September. so I don’t know where my lungs are. My legs are leaning out though, because they are starting to look gross:
Izzy won her first race yesterday at her 2nd swim meet of the season. She won the 1st heat of the 6 and under girls 25 yard freestyle. Here she is looking cute with her heat winners ribbon:
I’m still keeping up my training. I got in an early morning bike ride yesterday. This morning I ran 4.5 miles and included a mile of lactate threshold work. I have another indoor bike session on tap for lunchtime today. Tomorrow is a rest day…a short swim on Friday…and the RC and Moonpie Festival 10 mile run on Saturday morning.
Izzy and daddy at Tardy’s cookout
Daddy and little Kate
Mommy and big Max
Decent workout this morning. I swam a mile and then immediately headed for an easy 3 mile run. On the heels of yesterday’s lactate threshold workout today’s swim and easy run felt great.
Map My Ride is offering a cool program during this year’s Tour De France that I’m going to participate in. I’ll ride every day along with the Tour riders, while Map My Ride’s GPS tracks me through my iphone. Somehow they’ll compare my results to the tour riders and show me where I’m placed each day among the peloton. Sounds interesting. For more click HERE
I squeezed in a 1:40 ride yesterday morning with Tardy and the Verner brothers before the final day of the June Counselor Training. We climbed the front side of Lynewood Way (the mountain) on the way out and the backside on the way back. My heart rate hit 179 on the front side and 185 on the back as Stewart Verner drug me up the climb – and eventually dropped me. Been awhile since that’s happened on a big climb. The guy can climb.
I did a 40 minute run this morning that included a 20 minute lactate threshold field test inbetween a 10 minute warmup up (156hr) and a 10 minute cooldown (158hr). I ran the 20 minute segment at a 6:55 pace that yielded an average HR of 179. For now, I’ll use that number as my lactate/anaerobic threshold. That means I can train up to that number and remain aerobic. I’ve tested my LT as high as 183, so I have some room for improvement this summer.
The Dauphine Libere ended today. Spaniard Alejandro Valverde defended his title. Cadel Evans was second and tour de france favorite Alberto Contador was 3rd. I’m still counting on a Lance to win the tour though. Just a few more weeks of waiting.
Valverde in yellow with Evans on his wheel at a last years Dauphine
The final Tour de France tuneup, the Criterium du Dauphine Libere, is in full swing after 5 stages. Last year’s winner Alejandro Valverde of Spain took command today on the climb of le Mont Ventuox – a climb that Lance Armstrong called the hardest climb in France. Valverde, currently under suspicion in the same doping scandal that earned Ivan Basso a suspension, flexed his climbing prowess on the lunar landscape to the summitt finishing right behind Sylvester Szmyd. Valverde won’t participate in the Tour de France this year, so the Dauphine Libere is his chance to show the cycling world what he’s got. He attacked the leaders, namely Cadel Evans (2nd at the 08 TDF) and Alberto Contador (1st at the 07 TDF and 09 favorite). Neither had an answer for the Spaniards acceleration to the summitt. Those men now sit 1,2, and 3 on the general classification.
Evans, who is a capable but not a pure climber, could not respond to Valverde finishing 6th on the stage. Contador, who is a superb climber, seemed content to hold onto Evans wheel for dear life and finished 8th. Perhaps both spent too much on yesterday’s time trial. There are still plenty of big climbs to go though, so at :18 seconds ahead its far from over.
Izzy had her first official swim meet this morning. She’s swimming for the Spring Hill Sea Dragons! She had a blast. Check her out:
Max and Kate really enjoyed it too:
Yep, that’s my girl.
I had a nice training weekend. Daniel Tardy, Branden Verner, and I rode 25 miles at a decent clip covering a few big climbs on Saturday morning. I’m trying to push the pace a little to prep for race season. We did a 2.5 mile BRICK run immediately following the ride. It was Branden’s first experience running right off of the bike. He did great, but asked “is it normal for your feet to tingle?”. Yes, it is.
Sunday morning I ran 9 miles at a very easy pace keeping my heart rate under 160. It’s amazing how easy running can seem when you keep your heart rate in check. My average HR for the run was 155. I’m thinking I’ll run the RC Cola and Moonpie 10 miler aerobic as well. My PR there is 1:14, but considering the year I’ve had I don’t think this is the time to go for a new “personal record”. I’ll probably just run with Tardy and Hampton nice and easy and consider it a training run. I got another 2 mile run in late yesterday afternoon making the daily total 11 miles. Been awhile since I’ve logged that many miles in a day.
Still thinking about the San Antonio Marathon in mid November.
Izzy’s first swim meet is tomorrow! I can’t wait! She’s so excited. She’ll swim 25 freestyle, 25 backstroke, and the freestyle relay.
3 answers (pictured below). Perhaps I’ll start posting again soon.
Apparently My Morning Jacket is releasing a live EP on “Record Store Day (April 18)” to indie record stores only. After the disaster that was their last LP I don’t care that much – unless the live stuff is older MMJ. I do, however, like this cover. Cool colors. Reminds me of some of the “Mule Day” shirts from Columbia, TN:
Today was a decent training day…not too hard…not too easy. It helped that it was 75 degrees outside. I swam 2000 this morning as:
2 x 250
5 x 100
2 x 250
After my swim I spent some much needed time stretching. I stretched for around 30 minutes. Felt great.
During lunch I ran up “The Mountain” with Bruce. The mountain is a 9% grade for 1 mile – pretty tough. The entire run took 35 minutes with an average HR of 170. My hr pegged out at 188. I probably could have pushed it to 190 or more, but chose not to try. Not a bad effort for our first trip up the mountain of the season. We’ll do it every other week as a way to build strength and earn some “free speed”. Hill training is a great way to build the muscles that allow you to run fast without actually having to run fast during training (although we do alot of that too).
Here’s a pic of me and my lifelong friend Moebes (we’ve known each other since we were 10 – 25 years!) last week after Dave Ramsey’s certified counselor training. I have a pic from ’92 of us that looks identical to this one except we’re wearing our wrestling team warmups instead.
This has been a great, but looong week. We do Dave Ramsey Certified Counselor Training (I promote and fill it up) every 6 weeks. We have 55 people in town this week including my buddy Moebes. We go about 12 hours a day from Tuesday-Saturday; lots of stuff to teach people who are going to have the chance to change lives. I’ve tried to squeeze training in where I could this week. I knocked out 4000 yards in the pool between Monday and Tuesday. I’ve also gotten a couple of runs in. I did my first “mile repeats” of the season in today. I kept it conservative and did just 2 of them.
I did a warm up mile at 7:50. The first true “mile repeat” of the season clocked in at 6:15 into a pretty vicious headwind (in one direction at least). Not bad, but not where it will be by late spring. That wasn’t wide up, but rather the pace I think I could sustain for 5k or so. The second mile ended up being 6:35. My pacing isn’t great yet obviously. I should have done that first one in 6:20 or so and then the same for the second one. One thing is for sure….OUCH!!!!
Seems I’m spending alot of time apologizing for the lag between posts lately, but . . . sorry, I’ve been busy.
Chugging away at my training. I’m still swim focused right now and will likely shift over to a cycling focus in the next week or two before shifting to some run focus as summer approaches. I’m going to try to periodize my trianing by sport this year. This winter I’m training like a swimmer and cross training with some time on the bike and some run time. I’ll shift and start training like a cyclist with some cross training in the pool and on the run…and so forth until I shift to a more balanced training plan in the heat of the summer.
Here are some cute new pics of the kids:
Mama said knock you out!
the little Cherub looking as angelic as ever
Izzy enjoying the first and probably last snow fall of the year
I’m still taking it easy, trying to fend off a cold. I swam 1500 this morning as:
2 x 250
5 x 100
10 x 50
I ran for 30 minutes during lunch at 158 average heart rate. I think I’m gonna take tomorrow off. I’m feeling crummy and I need some rest before a big week at work next week.
I’ve become addicted to TWITTER since getting my new iphone.
I’m sure I’ll be twittering all sorts of instant updates from my bike rides in the coming months, complete with pictures. Very cool technology.
Sorry, no new posts lately. Busy Busy.
Here’s what the last few days have looked like on the training front:
Sat: 2 hour ride at 149 average HR
Mon: Run 30 minutes (30/30/60 x4) workout with fast portions at 6:15 pace / ez portions at 8:30 pace.
Tues: Swim 2000 (1500 straight time trial in 22:03)
I love that 30/30/60 workout. This time I warmed up for 5 minutes then went into 4 repeats of that sequence. Do it like this:
30 sec FAST
30 sec Easy
60 sec FAST
repeat the sequence as many time as appropriate for the time of year. Right now that was 4 times for me.
I was pretty pleased with that 22:03 considering its only February. I wasn’t sure if I could even make it 1500 without stopping so I went at a very moderate pace. I probably could have taken :30-1:00 off of that time. My goal by June is to swim 1500 in 20:00 or less.
I finalized a new sponsorship for the season yesterday with a cool product called “Stuffitts“. I’ve been using them for about 6 months now and am a big believer in the product. Here’s a blurb from the stuffitts site:
Moisture is your shoes’ worst enemy – making them wet and smelly. Simply place these soft, foot-shaped forms in your shoes after work or work-outs to eliminate wetness. The pure cedar filling starts absorbing moisture in minutes and renews your shoes. Use them every day to keep your shoes in work-ready, race-ready, every day life-ready condition!
Here I am on their “sponsored athletes page (you might have to click on “sponsored athletes). That’s some pretty fast company there so I’m very honored to be a part of that team.
I’m enjoying a nice reduced training week. I’m chomping at the bit to start training hard again next week though. That’s the way an easy week is supposed to make you feel.
I had a nice comfortable 45 minute run on the treadmill out in the garage this morning. Average HR was 157 (low zone 2). I averaged a 7:45 which is still slow, but it felt very comfortable (ala zone 2 the whole way). The goal is to get back a 6:15 pace for 5k and a 6:45 for 10k by summer. It’ll happen; I can feel it already. I’m training with a chip on my shoulder these days, so I’m trying to restrain that energy until I’m fit enough to unleash my anger on my own training schedule and eventually in races.
I had a great shuffle going this morning on my old school nano. Among the highlights were: Blaze of Glory by Bon Jovi, Satin in a Coffin by Modest Mouse, New Year’s Day by u2, and If You Fear Dying (Then You’re Already Dead) by One Day as a Lion.
While reading tonight I came across a passage I like, and I can identify with these days, in “Every Second Counts” by Lance Armstrong. Enjoy:
“Suffering, I was beginning to think, was essential to a good life, and as inextricable from such a life as bliss. It’s a great enhancer. It might last a minute, or a month, but eventually it subsides, and when it does, something else takes its place, and maybe that thing is a greater space. For happiness. Each time I encountered suffering, I believed that I grew, and further defined my capacities – not just my physical ones, but my interior ones as well, for contentment, friendship, or any other human experience. The real reward for pain is this: self knowledge”
This morning I went to the ISC to get in 1500-2000 yards. I did a 400 yard time trial in 5:25. Just as I finished up 900 yards the facility sirens went off. Staff members scrambled telling everyone to get out…including those of us in the pool. I grabbed my towel and headed for the doors. I stepped out into the grey morning to the stark realization that I was dripping wet, naked except for my tri shorts and a towel, and barefooted – as were the rest of the swimmers. It was 24 degrees. They kept us out there for about 15 minutes. A kind triatlete in Ironman gear eventually handed me a jacket. Others followed his lead and started pulling clothing and shoes from their bags to give to other shivering swimmers. Well, that’s one way to get out of a workout.
Yesterday I went and ran with Bruce C. We did a total of 30 minutes as follows:
5 min warmup
30 sec fast/30 sec ez/ 60 sec fast / 120 sec. ez – repeat x 4
8 min cool down
Average HR was 171. The fast portions were at 6:30 pace / ez portions at 8:00 pace
Here are some new pics: (sorry, some are blurry for some reason)
Izzy on awards day at gymnastics
Kate’s first pair of blue jeans
Max “out of pocket” feels better
little sister is happy to have brother home
Sorry for the delay in posting last weekends ride pics. These are from a 2:30 long ride through Theta and Leipers Fork.
The base of the Les Robinson climb into Theta
a little less than half way up the same climb
following Brett down one of the slower descents out of Theta
As for today; I ran 45 minutes this morning at 159 average HR. I’m getting stir crazy doing all of this easy base training. I’m ready to RUN and stop jogging!
Bonus picture! Spidergirl at the kitchen table apparently working on her pre-K workbook. She sat this way for about an hour.
Sorry no new posts lately. Max was in the hospital again last weekend, so things have been crazy. Izzy went to Columbia to stay and Kate went to Hendersonville. Karen and spent days (and nights) at Vanderbilt with Max. He’s okay now and we’ll soon have both of our girls home as well. I did manage to train some, but that’s inconsiquential.
Here’s an old post from my other blog that I came across. I like it, so I’ll share it again (is it weird to quote yourself?):
“You gotta have confidence. The question is, what are you putting your confidence in: your own ability? And what do you believe about your ability? Do you believe you’ve done something to deserve it? Or is it a gift? I believe I have a gift from God. But then I also have to train really, really hard. So I see it as being a good steward of the gift God’s given me…it’s my obligation to God to develop this talent the best I can. So, I try and make that my focus rather than wanting to beat people. Not that it’s not fun to win, because it is…I think part of it too is just being content with whatever the Lord has for my life.”
-Ryan Hall as told to Runners World magazine
Good stuff, Ryan. I agree 100%. Although I’m not personally anywhere close to Ryan’s ability I feel the same way when I don’t want to get out of bed at 5:00 am on Saturday and Sunday mornings to ride or run. That little voice in my head telling me to get up is my gift. All of us have our own gift. Make sure you’re true to yours.
I’m a little under the weather from the stress we’ve been through lately – and I probably have whatever put Max in Vanderbilt. I’m motivated by reading my old training blog though. I’m capable of kicking some butt when I train. If you’re interested in those old blogs you can find them on Topstepfitness.com under “TS Blog” and “TS Blog Archive”.
I run for 30 minutes this morning at a 145 average HR then swam 1500 as 500 swim / 5 x 100 swim / 10 x 50 swim. I cut back my distances this week because I realize that external stress and a building training schedule don’t mix. I’m hoping to ditch the stress and the illness soon so I can “train like a madman” soon.
Thursday morning I cranked out another 2500 yards. I’m logging more yardage in the pool these days than I have since the summer of 2006. I used to overtrain my swim. Once I realized that I went the opposite direction and started only logging 1000-3000 yards in an entire month! I put 13,000+ yards in the pool in January and will exceed that this month. Swimming is the single sport of the three that I’m the most “naturally talented” in. I still don’t feel like I need to log endless yards in order to be among the top 5% swimmers at most races, but I do feel like it’s a good way to rebuild a base early in the season.
Now, for the story of the tortoise (weird word). I stopped training by heart rate a few years ago and decided to keep it old school by training by “feel” instead. Awhile back I had my VO2 max tested and my training zones set for me by my late friend Jon and his business partner Barry. This season I decided I would get back to letting science dictate my training. The early base building season is best suited for easy zone 1 and 2 training. For me, that means keeping my heart rate under 155 beats per minute on the run (and 142 on the bike). When I first started wearing the monitor again I soon realized that most of my running is done in the mid to high 160s…often in the 170s. Those heart rates don’t feel that difficult, but the simple truth is that for the early season it’s just too fast. You have to build an aerobic base to build your speed upon later. Today I had a 60 minute run to get in. I decided I would keep my heart rate in zone 2. Unfortunately that meant running a 9:25 pace the entire way. Trust me, it wasn’t easy. I would have rather run a 7:00 pace the entire. It’s just tough to run that slow when you’re not used to it. My race pace is still 6:15 or so, but for now on my “long” runs I’ll be a slave to my monitor and keep it slow…real slow…like a turtle…or a tortoise.
I was scheduled to only lift weights today, but I woke up a bit too early this morning. Since I was up I decided to go ahead and knock out tomorrow’s scheduled 30 minute run, so that I can focus on a good quality swim tomorrow.
I decided to go and run on Bill’s treadmill. I’m paying more attention to my heart rate zones this season as I’m hoping to have a good year. Here’s what I did (all at 1% incline):
10 minutes at 8:30 pace
5 minutes at 7:00 pace
5 minutes at 8:30 pace
5 minutes at 7:00 pace
5 minutes at 9:00 pace
During that second 5 minutes at 7:00 I hit 186 heart rate. That’s zone 4 (of 5) for me while running. I reached zone 4 while doing a bike time trial a couple of weeks ago, but this marks my first time this season in zone 4 while running. Honestly, it’s a little too soon for zone 4 and 5 training, so I need to back it down a bit. I was a little disappointed that I hit 186 while running what used to be an easy 7:00 pace. I should be running 6:00 pace in high zone 4 by late spring.
Tomorrow I’m scheduled for 2500 in the pool. Friday I’ll run 1:00-1:15. My plan is to stay zone 2 throughout (146-155bpm).
Off of the training subject, I’ve been listening the song “Isabelle” repeatedly lately. Great song by a great Charleston, SC band – The Blue Dogs. Check ‘um out.
I love the Silversun Pickups. They remind of everything that used to be pure and innocent about the Smashing Pumpkins in the beginning. Their latest critically acclaimed album Carnavas is everywhere and deservedly so. It rocks.
My buddy BT forwarded this article to me today though. I gotta be honest, at first I thought “yes! a new album!”, but then I thought more about what the article had to say. It sounds like the gang are planning to go big and try some new things – things that sound like the downfall of the Smashing Pumpkins. For a follow up album I’d rather they opt for the safe route and record some more songs that sound like Carnavas. Let’s hope the new one doesn’t “jump the shark”.
I cranked out 2500 yards in the pool this morning with no ill effects. I’m rounding back into swim shape nicely.