Monday, April 27, 2015

The James Joyce Ramble 10k...I forgot how to race

I'll admit it, I've been anxious about racing. It's been a while since I've toed a start line and with all the health and life issues and my being more fluffy than normal, I've had no desire to get back to it. But racing is something I love and I've wanted to get back to it.

Enter my friend Lisa and her Zoom Multisport Racing Team. Before I knew it I was talked into racing and on the hook to hang with the team on race day. The fact that one team member's house was maybe a 500m walk to the start line was a bonus! So, I got there early (duh, of course) and spent some time chatting and getting introduced to some of the team.
What an awesome group of folks!
We all headed over to the start and I realized I didn't want to be anywhere near the front of this race field. This is a big race and there were plenty of gazelles loping around the start warming up. So I seeded my self about 2/3 of the way back in the field. That would make me start slow and give me people to run down...or if I blew up and died, less embarrassment when the field passed me (yes, real thoughts in my head). I had heard the course was challenging but I didn't look up the profile. I mean, ignorance is bliss right?! Chatting with Andy, owner of said awesomely placed house, he said the course wasn't bad, just the climb from 3-4 miles. Ok, well nothing to do now but race.

Mile 1 - 7:15
So the gun goes off (not that I heard it, the race is so big that the herd of people moving me forward let me know we'd started) and rather to stick to the plan of just "seeing how it goes", I start darting between runners moving up in the field. A quick glance of the watch let me see I was going WAY too fast. The start was downhill and that helped too. Then I thought to myself "we run back this way so the finish is uphill?!" Oh crap. Ok, well nothing to do but settle in.

Mile 2 - 7:25
Race done, phew!
There's a climb to mile 2, it wasn't enjoyable but doable and I'm thinking well maybe that was the hill everyone was taking about. That wasn't bad maybe this race won't be so bad.

Mile 3 - 7:31
Oh crap! Here was that hill climb everyone was talking about. I know it wasn't a mountain of a climb but for a guy that doesn't train on hills and hasn't raced in sure as hell felt like one! I just kept focusing past the top of the hill as my target. But the one good thing is no HR spike! Don't get me wrong, I was dying...just from the effort not from a heart attack. my heart. LOL
 Mile 4 - 7:55, Mile 5 - 7:40, Mile 6 - 7:45
I was dying by the time I hit Mile 4! All I could think was "keep breathing, focus on form and foot turnover and you're almost there". What weird weather! At some points it was windy and others it was calm and warm. I was hoping it was downhill to the finish (literally) but instead I was greeted with a series of little kicker hills to the finish. I pride myself on having a strong finishing kick...but not today friends and that last mile pace proves it. I could just feel the speed drain out of my legs. I was feeling the effects of not racing for so long...and that this was the longest I've run I've done in like 9 months (yes, I know) so it was all about getting to the finish.

I think beer might make everything better 
I crossed the finish line in 47:49. Not great, not terrible. Yes it's an unrealistic expectation to think that with the layoff, the health issues, the life issues, that course and everything else that I should or would be anywhere near my PR pace...but when had that ever entered in my thinking before?! Bwahahahaha

After the race I hung out with the Zoom folks some more. We chatted about the race, race gear, shoes, supplements...oh ya and drank beer! I'm trying to do different stuff and I never drink beers post race but I haven't to admit, those IPAs went down pretty smooth and quick!

All in all, not a bad foray back into racing. Decent race and great new peeps to hang out to get to the track and work on some speed drills.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dutch 3.0 (although I think I might be on a higher number version by now)

Same skin but 2 completely different people!

My friend Zule suggested I do a side by side image with the one fat picture that exists of me, compared to "me today" after I posted the picture of me on the right this morning before I started one of my briefings for work.  I honestly can't think her enough for suggestion it! It made me stop and look at how far I've come. The image on the left is me from some 6 years ago. I was in a bad way back then...bad marriage, terrible pain from Army injuries, no self worth, 245 pounds (I might have been more but when I hit 245 I stop getting ono a scale and I have no clue what my body fat was back then...but I was REALLY fluffy) and I was "medicating myself" with a sedentary life, medications and all the food I could get my hands on. I was living on the "I was a Ranger/athlete my whole life so know I can relax and just enjoy life" mantra. It was by no means the truth. I had given up on life and decided I didn't care about much of anything anymore, least of all myself.

Fast forward to today...much healthier and finally happy with where my life is headed. Make no mistake, the journey from then to now has be riddled with bad decisions, missed opportunities, self destruction and maybe more importantly...doubt and fear. Doubt in myself and fear that I wouldn't be able to become or have the tools necessary to become the person I want to be. I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel (I mean there HAS to be right?!) but I had no idea that I would ever reach the end of the tunnel to get past; a bad separation, lawyers, courts, money worries, training hard (too hard) racing (too hard and too often), injury, surgery, family death, a bad divorce, a difficult home sale, family death, bad relationships and the lot...but I'm finally there. 

Look, I'm not where I want to BE yet nor am I in MY race shape but I'm pretty happy with where I am... know it's a great starting point to go where I want. And, and, and I know that I have SO much left to achieve...even at the ripe old age of 43. LOL! Remember, that you have to transform your MIND as well as your BODY. It is important to take the time and realize where you want to be, how you're going to get there...and ENJOY it when you get there! I can't let anyone (even myself) take away from what I've gone through and endured to get here...but I have LOTS more work to do. I have plans for this body, for racing, for my endeavors (I might even get into coaching, personal training, writing and/or more artistic projects) and my future is wide and bright. It's awe inspiring to finally see that. I am a firm believer that you have to make the most of your life and I'm excited that moving forward I will be able to concentrate ALL my efforts on doing so! Never surrender and keep on fighting my friends!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Saucony Triumph ISOs...comfortable, light and FAST!

Disclosure: FitFluential provided me the Saucony Triumph ISO to opinions, which should come as no shock to you, are my own...

As we head into the winter "base training" time of year...building those miles that will lead to happines and PRs in 2015, we're always loking for shoes that will get us through the cold weather, long miles and dare I say it...treadmill runs required for the winter.

Well, lucky enough for me, I got this awesome pair of to the Saucony Triumph ISOs in the mail. Ok, can we just talk about how AWESOME this packaging is?! When you open the actually says "whoa" from this little embedded music chip in the box. Hilarious!!!

The shoes themselves just look fast. I love the color combo and I LOVE the construction. Saucony built the shoes with an inner sleeve (read no tongue) out of this stretchy mesh. When sliding your foot into the feels less like a shoe and more like a sock. The interior sleeve molds around your foot. Rather than a traditional "outer shell" with lace holes, Saucony went with a "support cage" over the 1 piece sock-like interior.  What does that mean for the wearer? It means it makes one darned comfortable shoe!

The shoe has a number of key features to give you better "run feel": the support frame of the shoe locks your heel in place (no sliding front to back in the shoe while your running which means no more blisters on the front of you toes while maintaining a snug fit!), the 8mm offset heel to toe helps out us mid foot to heel strikers (with cushioning built in to better absorb impact), and the shoe ONLY weighs 10.3 ounces! Add all the aforementioned up...and the result is a cushioned shoe that's light weight and forgiving...which leads to a comfortable foot strike...with allows quicker turnover...which equals a FASTER YOU!!!

Ya, that's my WHOAface right there. Not a bad 10k time at all.
Now if you've been following me, you'll know that I haven't been able to run the distances/times I want, or even run outside because of some heart issues...and I been hamstrung to...the...dreadmill! However, I found that the Triumph is the ONLY shoe I've ever worn that is as comfortable on the treadmill and it is on the road!!! Speaking of, there's a 10k I run every year and in spite of what I feel like has been the lack of mileage I normally have at this point and the heart stuff, I just couldn't bear to miss it. How'd I do? Well, I didn't run a PR (45:32 isn't slow, but its slower than my usual) but I did run faster than I thought I would given the breaks in my run training. I attribute a good portion of the to the shoes. The snug, comfortable fit coupled with the lighter weight meant I got my feet up and down quicker and maximized my effort. That meant all I had to do was focus on pushing myself to the finish. I'm looking forward to seeing how these shoes perform at longer distance (I really think the cushioning will pay off on those high miles weeks and at the 13.1 and 26.2 distances) and how much faster the make me as my fitness comes back.  Certainly a shoe I'd recommend to other runners...and more importantly...a shoe I'd go out and buy with my own hard earned money!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I look legit! Thanks to lululemon.

I consider myself extrememly lucky to have been selected as a lululemon ambassador two years in a row and now enjoy the title of "alumni ambassador". I prefer to think of it as regal title moving forward...instead of a nice way of saying I as put out to pasture. LOL. I still stop by the store and keep up with people and product but lululemon has moved on to a new set of ambassadors, all awesome in their own way.

Well, imagine my surprise when I was approached to do a photo shoot for an upcoming product newsletter. Honestly, it couldnt have come at a better time. Dealing with all my heart issues and not being able to train the way I'd like, but still trying to train hard nonetheless, I've been a little down in the dumps lately and have been struggling with the way I look and my "return to form".  I was taken aback that I'm still considered "picture worthy".

Screencap of the email that went out
We shot pictures out on the trails at local Wellesley College. Which I have to admit is a great area to run in. The trails are normally groomed/cleared year round and its a little gem just off the 135 Boston Marathon route.

It was in the high 30's so perfect for winter running gear. I was wearing: the Sweat Session 1/2 zip with reflectivity on the neck and arms which you can see in the photo (a cool aspect is the reflectivity is built into the seams so you don't see it unless struck by light) with thumb hole sleeves to help keep the cold out, the Surge reflective tight (which is the best fitting, most comfortable tight I've ever owned with a brushed interior, pockets on both hips AND a zippered pocket in back) and the Pace Gloves which not only are perfect for the around 30's temp but also feature 'tech friendly fingertips' so you can use your smartphone for tunes or to catch the perfect run selfie.

Huge props to lululemon photographer Melanie because in just a short amount of time she amassed some pretty awesome shots and made me look like a rockstar!

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's disheartening...ya, that's the best I got

So the day after Thanksgiving finds me at a new cardiologist. Seems that I'm suffering a "tachycardia upon re-entry". That means my heart short circuits after extended high level use and that's what kicks off the rapid heart rate spikes I've been suffering from....until I either stop and the heart rate slowly comes down...or while I run the heart eventually "resets" itself and returns to normal.

After a lengthy discussion with my new cardiologist, I have two courses of action: take medicine and stop being active (ya, like I'm gonna do that) or get the event recorded and have it ablated. 

The cardiologist says it's a positive thing that these HR spikes haven't done any damage...or killed me. If I was suffering from any syndromes or were in poor health this would be a much different discussion. However, I'm in great shape (and so is my heart) the doc thinks I'm ok short term. Now we need to "catch" the event. For the next seven days I get to wear an event monitor (think pager hard wired to me, that connects to its own cellphone to transmit my heart rate data to the docs). "Catching" it allows the docs the ability to confirm the type of tachycardia and where it's located in my heart.

Sadly, that's not the end. Next stop is to have the tachycardia ablated. That means I go in for surgery consisting of snaking a device through my femoral artery, up to my heart and with an electric shock they burn out the short circuit. 

Ya, I'm more than a little agitated about another surgery...but to wipe this thing out for good and let me get back to training and racing is worth the effort. Now to make as many spikes happen as I can over the next week...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The 30th annual Army 10 Miler...ya, there was NO way I was missing this one.

Pre-race as the Golden Knights jump in

I went into this year’s Army 10 Miler with loads of anxiety and trepidation. It would be my first race post surgery (and not at the fitness level I wanted to be at because of it) and I’ve been dealing with these heart rate spikes but there was no way I was going to miss another race this season, much less the 30th anniversary of one of my favorites. I resigned myself to the idea that I’d walk it if I had to but there was just no way I wasn’t completing and getting that cherished finisher coin this year. All I could think to do was focus on proper form/body position/gait and listening to my body while trying to run a decent (hopefully) time.
One thing I do have in my favor is that I know this course pretty well (except for this year’s last 1.5 miles but we’ll talk about that later) so I just needed to focus on the running, not the course. A funny side note, as I walked into my corral I ran into my friend Steph who has run a few Army 10 Milers herself but is usually seeded WAY behind me. The charity she runs for gave her a number in the first corral and the childlike glee/wonder she had from "being upfront" at the start of the race was a welcome change to the nerves and second guessing myself that normally transpires. I just kept trying to focus on going over the course in my head...until the cannon goes off and we start the race.

Miles 1-7:22, 2-7:08, 3-7:21
I would love to say that I was gonna start out easy and jsut "see how it goes"...but if you know know that'd be a flat out lie. Instead I took off at the start and tried to settle into a pace I thought I could hold. I hit the 1st mile on a 7:24 (30 seconds slower than last year...CRAP) and I felt ok so I figured I'd pick it up for the 2nd mile. I hit that second mile on just over a 7 and realized I would not be able to hold that pace. Ok, ok...lets get comfortable and focus on passing folks for the next few miles.

Miles 4-7:18, 5-7:19, 6-7:31
Post race realizing I did my best
I know as I hit mile 4 there'd be a slight rise to mile 5 (and a cacophony of sound from supporters and bands because this is a key are to watch runners) then the "loop" to pickup another mile then it was all down hill from there (figuratively of course). I didn't feel good...but more importantly I didnt feel bad. As I hit mile 6 and the 10k mark I could feel myself slowing down and whatever speed I did have was bleeding off. My mind just started racing. Was my heart rate about to blow up? Was I out of calories? Was I overheating? Is this the first sign of onset of Ebola I picked up on the flight?! What?! At that point I wasn't ruling anything out!

Miles 7-7:31, 8-7:31, 9-7:40, 10-7:21
The "loop" is the part of the course is where the race turns on itself and you quickly hit miles 5, 6, 7 before hitting the dreaded 395 highway. As much as I love this race...I HATE running 395! The elevated highway with no crowds and no noise, just makes you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere and it looks like it goes on forever. The last 1.5 miles changed this year and instead of coming off the highway and right to the Pentagon, it took a left off the overpass and made this circuitous stretch to get to the I jsut gave whatever I had left in my legs to get across the finish.
That coin finisher coin means a lot to me!
I can say this...I might not have been fast this year but as I crossed the line I had nothing left in the tank and finished in my customary bent over, dry ehavinig position. I crossed the line in 1:15:30. A whole 5 minutes slower than last year. I remembered when I finished last year's race I was so excited to get a new PR after having such a bad crash at Timberman 70.3 a few weeks prior that my mind was already racing about how fast I could be with better training and staying healthy. I was hoping for a 65min 10 miler this year...but then family illness, death, divorce, personal health struggles, a DNF at the Patriot 70.3, a DNS at Timberman 70.3, emergency appendectomy surgery, recovery and then this heart thing all put me on a different path. Wow, writing that and saying it out loud makes me realize what a crazy year I've had. You know what? I was happy to finish and get that 30th Anniversary "Finisher coin"...but now I'm proud to have it. In spite of everything over the last few months, the trials and tribulations and huge bouts of my own personal self doubt...I still managed to turn in a decent time and am working hard everyday to stay in track and get back to MY level of fitness, training and racing. Now for the Marice Corps Marathon...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Two sides of the coin...I should flip more often

The last few weeks have been difficult mush less the last few months. I've been battling health issues that have been attributed with causing my poor performance in training and races and resulting in my emergency appendectomy. I've been trying to get back on track with training but to be honest, life is kind of kicking my butt right now. 

Throw in that last weekend I had to stop at mile 8 of a 10 mile training run because my HR spiked up to around 230bpm and I was sincerely concerned I might be having a heart attack. WE won't even go into how angry I was that I had to stop before logging the mileage. This past week was spent with normal training and I had no HR issues other than having to go slow on the run and bike in order to keep my HR in the prescribed zones from my coach. So, flash forward to yesterday where I'm supposed to get in a 12 miler. I knew the run wasn't about pace or effort, it was all about mileage. J was out for an 18 mile run so I figured I'd drop in for the last 6 or 8 miles as company and then get the rest of my miles alone. Well that was a great plan until around mile 3 when had a HR spike of 230bpms again. No pain or numbness of the face and hands like last week, this time it just felt like there was a machine gun going off in my chest. Ok, well start walking and let it come down. My HR dropped quickly back to normal so I figured I was fine and started running again...only to have it spike back up to 230bpms within 20 or 30 strides. Sonuva! Nothing to do here but walk home. I saw that my HR was dropping quickly again so calling an ambulance or even going to the ER would be fruitless because I'd show up and my HR would be normal (I've had a few EKGs up to this point and they've all come back clean).  Well, time to call the docs again (I'm getting a little tired...and stressed out from trips to the docs) and schedule a stress test or another EKG or whatever tests they decided. I sat down, upset and beyond frustrated thinking that if I've had my "had two good years of training and racing" and now gonna start falling apart...I'm gonna lose my mind.

I went through the rest of the day trying to be positive and even managed a nap. I woke up to my mind racing. What the hell?! I went from this high speed-low drag-wired for sound triathlete who was fit and thin and doing 20+ races a season and could do this fluffy, filled with doubt, worried about my own mortality, not racing or training hard, "athlete". I'm heavier than I want to be...WAY heavier. The best way to explain it is its like the fact is this thick heavy coat of grime that I can never clean off. It weighs me down, mentally and physically and I'm not dealing with it anymore. I'm going back to being me, only two ways to finish...across the line or on a stretcher. I'm the guy that knew I was having a heat stroke but refused to quit an Ironman race because I was going to finish. The same guy that crashed and cracked ribs at another Ironman race but would be damned if I'd quit. That is my core being. I talked to the doc and yes while I need a follow up with my primary physician I have been been training with no issue except for last Sunday and on my first attempt of the run. I should be ok to keep training but if I have a HR spike or pain I should stop ASAP. Ok, that I can deal with. I went back to find the clothes I ran in earlier in the day (a terrible idea in hindsight because the salty clothes tore right into me...but I was trying to prove a point) reset, took a deep breath and went out for a run again. I have a 3 mile loop that I normally run so I figured I'd do one loop, see how I felt and watch my HR. If there were no issues, try another loop...then another with the goal of getting in 9 miles to complete my mileage on the day. The 9 miles went by without issue and while I didn't push hard and constantly watched my HR on my watch, I got it done and finally...FINALLY have a feeling of accomplishment.Ya, I got my 12 miles to get back to training like I know how...