Moments of Zen

Both Frazz and Caulfield hit this nail on the head.  I defrag using both methods.

Travel this week threw any semblance of a training regiment out the window.  Managed to miss our flight out by 5 minutes, thanks to an extremely full parking area that forced us to park somewhere in Minnesota in order to catch our flight in Nashville.  By the time we got into the hotel in SC, it was 1230am.  Typically I’d get up at 430am to run, but that wasn’t going to happen since I had to be in a meeting at 7am.

Worked all day, had dinner with friends that I hadn’t seen in many years, then it was off to bed before getting up early to head to the airport.  And the whole time I was glad I wasn’t flying American.

Sipping coffee this morning, looking out the window and wondering why there were barricades up along the road behind our house.  Then the bikes started flying by.  It was a youth triathlon, based out of the indoor pool down the block.  So Goddess and I got out there to cheer the little ones on.  Age groups were broken up into 6-7, 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13.

The 6-7 AG, especially the women, was the best.  Flying on a schweet pink Schwinn, complete with matching pink corduroys, pink down jacket (it was cool and windy) and pink helmet, the lanterne rouge of the event did it in style.  She’ll be rockin’ the course for years to come.  Watch out Amanda!

School work and a long run is all that’s in store for this weekend.  Well, that and washing and repacking, since I’ll be traveling again this week.  Meh.

When will they put in lanes?

“I swam 4,000 yards today. It was only two laps.” 😉

Behold the world’s largest swimming pool. And no, it’s not a hoax. One lap would be the swim leg of a 1/2 IM! Click on the pic for the story and more pictures.

Although I find it funny that it’s a saltwater pool, separated by 40 yards of sand from more saltwater.

Personally, I’ll swim OW.

MS Blues Half Marathon: Race Report

In the words of S. Baboo Friday night as we ate dinner with him and GeekGirl – “Life is funny. You just can’t make up stuff this good”. But that doesn’t really have anything to do with this blog. We were already laughing and that line made me laugh even more.

It all started with checking in at our hotel in Jackson, MS. The guy in front of us, wearing his Boston Marathon Finisher’s Jacket, mentioned to one of the hotel staff that this race was going to be tougher than Boston, thanks to the hills. No one mentioned hills. Not in this race. The course profile showed some bumps, but certainly nothing to get concerned about, right?

So we check in to the hotel, grab a quick nap, then head over to the expo to sign in. I call S. Baboo and GeekGirl, who are out driving the course. The first thing he mentions are the hills. And it doesn’t sound good. Further discussion squashes any plans for a PR on this course.

Race morning turned out beautiful for a run, although a bit warmer than I like. But standing around before the start was pretty cool at 45F with a nice breeze. So I stood with Goddess, wrapped up in my sweats until just moments before the horn went off. Then I slipped into the pack, not 30 feet from the front, and started the run.

As expected the first 1/2 mile was pretty slow as everyone is packed together and shuffling along. It took a while, but then things started thinning and and I could move. The plan was to start out slow and throttle back for the first half, then pick up the pace. I planned this for two reasons: 1) with the hills, I didn’t want to go out to hard and blow up, and 2) this was always planned to be just a training run for me (definitely a priority B race, where I didn’t peak and taper like I would for a priority A race).

The first few miles were warming up, talking to Elvis (who invited me back to Graceland after the race), and working my way around the other runners. Not that I was flying, but it was pretty easy to pick out who had started out too hard. The first long uphill was between 3-3.5 miles and folks started drifting back. This hill even slowed my overall average pace a few seconds, but that was fine with me, especially this early in the race.

Through the mid-section of the race, I planned on keeping the pace nice and steady so I’d have something left for the last 4-5 miles. I actually ended up picking up the pace in the mid-section, shaving time off my average pace from miles 3.5-8. So far so good, but the hills just kept coming as we worked our way through the downtown business/capitol district of Jackson.

The last 5 miles started out quite hilly as we worked our way past the fairgrounds and climbed up into a residential area. This is where quite a few folks started walking, but that wasn’t in my plan. I started reeling in more runners as I picked up the pace, but now that I look at the data, I didn’t actually pick up speed. Matter of fact, over my last 5 miles, every 1/2 mile split was within 1 second of each other, either 8:45 or 8:46. How’s that for consistent? Here’s the pace chart and route (click on the picture to see the full image, which includes the full route):

MS Blues Half Marathon Pace n Route

I think the killer was the last 1/2 mile, where we made a left turn and went straight up. It sure felt like a wall at that point. I crossed the finish line at 1:55:46 , not a PR, but just 8 minutes off. Not too bad for a hilly course and a training run. If I remember correctly (the web site’s not updated), that made me 132nd out of 600. Also, I think they had me at 1:56:02, which would account for passing under a railroad track (more on that later).

After Goddess and I drove back to the hotel for a quick ice-bath and shower (Goddess refused to join me for either one), we grabbed the boy and headed back to the race. We sat at the finish “wall” and cheered the marathon finishers on, telling them it was the last hill. There were a few comments of “It sure as hell better be”.

We almost missed S. Baboo as he came sprinting up the top of the hill on his way to a PR! We cheered GeekGirl on as she went up the hill, but it was a few minutes later when we realized that it was her. She finished quite strong herself and I know she’s pleased with the race, especially considering the hills.

So we sat in the finish area, ate some food, listened to some blues and enjoyed the free beer. It was quite an energetic post-race. 😉

After a few relaxing hours in the hotel that afternoon, we met up at a local bar, which sponsored the race. They definitely threw in a great deal, with free entry to all race competitors, plus two free drink coupons. Very nice schwag there! The bands were great, as was the beverage and company. But it all had to come to an end, especially since we had a 7-hour drive home the next day.

I did learn a few things during this race:

1). Pay closer attention to the race profile. Goddess even asked me afterwards when I was going to pick a flat course. My Garmin gave me 1,300 feet of climbing during the 1/2 marathon; BIM Active calculates 839 feet (I believe that more).  Either way, I don’t want to think of what it was for the full.

2). Turn off the “auto pause” feature on my Garmin. We went under a train overpass at one point and it turned off for about 15 seconds. All-in-all, nothing horrible, but just an odd event that took my mind off of my run.

3). Fuel. Making the transition from getting ready for a triathlon and getting ready for a run was difficult. My first half-marathon last year, I ate my normal 600+ calories like I would before a triathlon; too much to run on right away. I scaled that back for my marathon and felt a bit better, although I did suffer from some gastro-issues during the last few miles. This time I drank one Ensure (250 cals) and everything worked fine. Also, a few weeks back I found the culprit of my stomach pains during the latter parts of my runs- my long-beloved Hammer Gel. I was on a 10-miler and popped a gel at mile 7. By mile 8-9 I had the familiar stomach pain that I had throughout all of my races last year; the rest of my run wasn’t good. So I switched to Clif Shot Bloks and they worked fine during my long run last weekend. They worked great during this race, too. No issues at all, either during or after. So I ran with my Fuel Belt, water and a package of Shot Bloks. I drank the water at the aid stations and took the occasional swig from my belt. Absolutely no issues.

Anybody need some Hammer Gel?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not slamming Hammer Gel. I’ve been a big fan of Hammer products for the past 12 years and will continue to use them. But I’ll just have to limit the gel use to long training rides and races. No runs.

Pardon the pun.

Would I recommend next year’s Mississippi Blues Half-/Full Marathon? Hells Yes! An excellent course, with bands along the way, plenty of aid stations, enthusiastic volunteers, a welcoming community, great schwag and entertainment make this a race that needs to be on your “must-do” list. Plus, if you live in someplace cold (it was 9-degrees here the morning before we left), a place like southern MS in January is pretty darn warm (and humid). A nice change of pace for a few days.

News You Can Use

Marathons Cut Risk Of Fatal Vehicle Crashes

So register, run and save a couple of lives.

Oh, but don’t sprint at the end. 😉

Not much news on the training front. I’ve mainly been running for the past month since my marathon. The work schedule has really kept me from the pool during lap swim times. And since the sun sets before I leave work, I haven’t been doing much on the bike. I abhor trainers, even rollers, but I need to get back on them. And with zero triathlons on the horizon, it’s a bit tougher to jump on the trainer, even though I keep telling myself that it’s good for the soul.

Just over nine days until the Mississippi Blues Marathon. I’m running the half, which I’ll treat as a training run for my next full, the 26.2 with Donna, in February. The half is just a good excuse to get out of town for a day and see another part of the country that we haven’t yet, plus get out and shoot some photos. I can certainly run the 13.1 from my front porch, but what’s the fun in that?

Here’s hoping the Holidays are everything you want them to be. We’re nice and relaxed here.

2008

Goddess, please don’t read this one.

—————————————————————————————————————————

Well, I watch with jealousy as everyone starts populating their blogs/websites with triathlons that they’ve either registered for or plan to race in 2008.

There will be no triathlons for me in 2008.

Instead, I get an all-expense paid trip to Baghdad, Iraq during the tri-season. But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be a slug.

Fresh off the “joy” that was the Flying Monkey, I’m starting to ramp up for a 1/2 marathon right after the first of the year and a full marathon in February. After that remains anyone’s guess, since I’ll have only March and April here in the states before I go. And my goal is to be at the starting line for the 2008 Flying Monkey.

On January 5th will be the inaugural Mississippi Blues Marathon/Half Marathon. I’ll be doing the half-marathon and then some sightseeing around Jackson, MS. If anyone’s got any suggestions for sights, please let me know.

Then in February, I’ll be doing the 26.2 with Donna, a full-marathon in Jacksonville, FL. Unlike the Monkey, this one’s flat! Plus, the bonus is that I’ll be able to visit with family. A destination vacation and visit rolled into one. Gotta love it. Plus, my sister’s name is Donna, so how could I resist? I’ve egged her on enough that she’s started training to walk the 1/2 marathon. I’m proud of her, since she’s had many health issues and hasn’t been very active for quite a few years.  Plus, Goddess is planning on walking it with her for company and motivation.

Another great reason for me to run this race is that it’s a fundraiser to fight Breast Cancer, with the funds going to the Mayo Clinic and women living with breast cancer. It’s something near and dear to my heart, since my mother is a survivor. I look forward to hugging her after I cross that finish line.

If you are interested, please consider clicking over here and donating a few dollars. Your donation will go straight to the fund. Thank you!

Everyone, keep bragging about your races. I look forward to each and every countdown and race report.

PSA

For those of you hitting the malls hard tomorrow, set a bit of money aside. IronMin clued me in to a great deal going on right now, as long as you’ve been eyeing the Garmin Forerunner 305.

Garmin’s pushing a rebate for a cool $50 off the 305 that expires at the end of November.

Coupled with Amazon’s excellent price of $205.99, after rebate it’s only $155.99. Not too shabby, eh?

I pulled the trigger.

Yeah, I’ve got a Suunto T6 also. One that I bought in January. But it’s been futzing up on me (won’t detect HR, even when I can feel my heart jumping out of my chest). So it’s going back to the factory for some work.

But this is a different toy (erm, I mean tool), right?

Goddess loves me!

Or at least she tolerates me, holding out for the insurance money.  😉

Shirt Rules

Should they apply to swimwear too?

 Let me explain – I’m working a slow, slow night shift.  So I’ve plugged in to EndurancePlanet.com to catch up on podcasts.  The one I’m specifically listening to right now is from September 26th and relates to Race Shirt Etiquette.  It’s an interesting one, since I’ve thought about whether or not I should wear my pullover from my DNF.

Anyway, at about 9:37 into the commentary, Ben brought up a point that got me to thinking about the start of my DNF.  Ben states “…Never wear a shirt that is so old, thin and threadbare that you can see the color of your nipples or chest hair through it.”  Good rule, don’tcha think?

So why did the rule immediately make me think about the guy at the start of my DNF, standing in the lake, just deep enough that his coin purse could get wet, in a Speedo that was so thin you could actually see the color of his ass hair?

Why?

New Directions

Well, recovery is done.  It’s time to start focusing on dodging the flying monkeys on November 18th.

And that race gets me to wondering about my sanity.  Why can’t I pick a relatively flat course for my first time at any distance?  Especially since I’m not light, bordering on Clydesdale at times.  I’m not what you would consider a climber.

But that’s part of the challenge, right?  😉

The last couple of weeks since my DNF have been interesting.

– Juggling three college courses.  For some reason I decided that I could handle three at once, since IM training was done.  All three are keeping me quite busy.

– Last weekend saw by brother-in-law and his family visit.  We had a wonderful time with them, although the time was short.  The photos I posted last week were from a trip we took with them.

– Working on my new photography web page.  I had sold a fair bit of my photos online over the past couple of years, but I’m no longer comfortable with the company that I was using.  So I’ve switched companies and am starting the web page development.  It’s a work in progress, but if you’d like to browse over and have a look, please do.  It’s billanders.smugmug.com.  I’ve got quite a few more photos to upload as well as working the layout.  And if you see any that strike your fancy, there’s a purchase option, if you’d like.

– Last week and this have my schedule flip-flopped, covering 12-14 hour night shifts, so I’ve been sleeping the day away and missing the beautiful weather.  At least I’ll be done Friday morning, right before my two long runs this weekend.  Then my work schedule is back to normal.

So what does this mean?  Six weeks of focused running, with a swim and bike thrown in each week to keep the muscle memory alive.  Lots of stretching, lots of miles, but quite a decrease in weekly hours compared to IM training.  So it is a break.  Of sorts.

Hope all is well with each of you!