Sunday, November 25, 2012

Deja vu

Again I find myself behind on my race reports and somewhat adrift with my fitness/running goals.  I still owe 2 race reports, one of which was my first ultra.  That being said, after putting together a marathon, a half, a 50k, and a 5k in the span of 6 weeks, I find myself pretty burnt out.  Coming out of Thanksgiving, I did little in the way of diet management and fitness continuity, so to put it bluntly, I'm feeling fat.  Tomorrow I'm hoping to hit the Y early and rekindle my workout spark.  I'm afraid that if I don't I will backslide so far that I won't be able to see my current fitness level for a long time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Middle Half Half Marathon Race Recap

Last Saturday was the 2012 Middle Half Murfreesboro Half Marathon.  This was the second year that I've run this race and if you've read last year's recap, my assessment of the race holds true again for this year's race.  It was a really great race on a fast, flat course with great support.  The first half of the race is particularly great as you get to see lots of scenic Murfreesboro.  The last half gets a little mind numbing as you're mostly out on the highway.  Like the Southern Plunge Marathon, I had backed off training to recover from said marathon that I had just run the week before.  The day of the race, I felt pretty good.  I wasn't feeling strong, but at least I wasn't still sore.  Unlike last week's race, I did not have the same pee pee issues as before.  I did have to make one pit stop at mile 3-ish, but that was the only one.  After that I was able to maintain a pretty decent pace around 7:40 ish until mile 9.  After that I got steadily slower as my legs started to hit their limit.  Around mile 11, I lost my ability to do math, but I didn't stop running.  Mentally it was important for me to keep pushing till I was done, which I did (Yay me!).  I ended up finishing with a time of 1:43:40, 7:55/mile and 27th out of 142 in my age group and 137th overall.  Not a PR, but I'm counting it as a Mental PR as I was able to gut out those last 4 boring miles.  

Notable about this race was the performance of my boy, Albert Cartner.  He rolled out a 1:39:35, 7:37/mile.  I know that he was hoping for better, but that was fast!  His buddy, Kyle Cook, managed a PR (without any tunes as his Ipod died on the starting line!) with a time of 2:00:49, 9:14/mile.  Congrats Kyle!  Congrats also to my fellow attorneys Bill Shick and Matt Bevins, who also ran that day.  I also saw a friend from high school, Amy Meyers, who was cheering on another friend of hers.  How random is that?  Somehow I managed to say hi to her and keep moving on.  She even managed to snag a picture of me at the end of the race waiting for my friends to cross.  Thanks Amy!
I look serious here, don't I?  I must
have been looking for Jim N Nick's cheese biscuits!

One final note...the Middle Half had great post-race grub!  Jim N Nick's barbeque was a sponsor and they had my favorite, cheese biscuits on hand.  I loaded up on them and headed home happy.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Southern Plunge Marathon Race Recap

Last Saturday, I was in rainy and dreary lovely Winchester, TN running my 5th marathon.  Since I grew up in Tullahoma, this was as close to a hometown marathon as I am probably going to get, so when I first planned to run this race, I was hoping to do well.  With that kind of thought, you would assume that I had trained long and hard prior to the race, to which you would be WRONG!  No, no.  Being the cocky jackass busy man that I am, I was not able to get in as much training as I would normally do.  Point of fact, my longest training run was 16 miles, and thanks to a will-sapping chest cold, I had not run at all the week before the race.  Because of these factors, I did not have dreams of Boston qualifier come race day, much less a sub 4 hour marathon.

The weather was rainy and cool.  Normally not a big deal, but it can be a bit depressing for such a long race.  Fortunately, the rain did stop just as we got to the line.  At the line, I saw/met Brent.  He had run the same Kidney Foundation 5K that I had run weeks prior to the marathon.  He had come in first, while I finished a distant second overall.  We talked a bit as we started out. This was his first marathon and he was looking at doing around 9:40's.  After mile 1, I picked up the pace I bit (I still had delusions of sub 9's).  I talked with another older gentleman who was going to run the Nashville Ultra in November, but eventually I left him back also.  This would have all been fine and good if I didn't have this nagging need to pee.  Fortunately the race had port-a-potties at every water stop, which was every 2 miles.

A word about the course:  On any other day, this is a great course.  Lots of rolling hills to break up the run, but nothing terribly steep as to destroy you.  There was a one hill near the end of the race that I could have lived without, but otherwise a decently well laid out course.  On a sunny day, it would have been great to run by/over the lake, but on a cool, rainy day it was hard to enjoy the sight seeing.  They had lots of aid stations, nearly every 2 miles, but the crowd support was a little sparse.  They blocked off one lane of traffic for the runners, which was generally all we needed, but some cars did get a bit close for comfort.

Back to the race:  I did my business, jumped back out to the course and sped up to reclaim my spot in the pack.  Fine, good, great.  I should be good for the rest of the race, right?  Nope.  My nagging pee issues harassed me all the way to mile 15, so every 2 miles or so, I was making a quick pit stop.  My lovely wife has said that if I'm not willing to pee on myself to win a race, I must not be very dedicated and these words haunted me at every pit stop.  Sadly this meant a lot of stopping and starting, which I was sure was going to shred my legs.

About mile 15, I had a wardrobe malfunction.  I wear a race belt that holds my bib number and my phone for my tunes.  After switching playlists, I was trying to stuff my phone back in my belt, when I ripped my bib number so that it was hanging by only one corner.  I tried to ignore it and keep running, but my OCD wouldn't have it.  So I jumped off to the side and tied my bib number up with my waistband and got back on the road.  That was probably at least a good 3 to 5 minutes wasted. 

With my past marathons, mile 18-20 is where everything starts to go into the crapper.  I'm not sure if it was the cool weather, my slow pace, my over-hydration or a combination of all three, but it didn't happen this time.  At mile 20, I saw my son with my friends, the Hamilton's (who were graciously housing me at their lakehouse for the weekend) and again at mile 21.  They were cheering me on, and I think that helped pick up my spirits too.  Sensing that I might not be able to survive the run, I started to run on the grassy shoulder instead of the road where I could.  Under this strategy, I was able to make it to mile 24 before I started to feel the cramps edge into my calves.

It was about this time that I stopped being able to do math.  Runners/racers do math all the time in competition.  What pace do I need to maintain to make this time?  How many people do I need to pass to get that spot?  What tangent/angle optimizes distance and speed?  These are the thoughts (when I'm lucid and actually thinking about the race) that run through my head at various points of the race.  When I can't do stop doing math, that means I'm now on autopilot.  On autopilot, I can keep putting one foot in front of the other for about a mile or two.  After that desperation sets in.  That's when I NEED to see the finish line soon, or I know, I just know, that I will either die or quit (and frankly to me quitting is about the same).  That's when I start bargaining with myself.  "Just hold on a little bit longer, and you won't ever have to do this again."  Or "Finish this, and we can give up marathons.  Marathons suck anyhow. It's unnatural to run that long and that far."  After another mile, the cursing starts.  "Hey Asshat!  Are you gonna quit now and prove to everyone what a gigantic p**censored**y you are?!?  Maybe they will give you a bag of s**censored**t to take home too!  How about we find a 70 year old to push your sissy ass up this hill?"  My head is a messed up and confusing place towards the end of a race.  I admit it.

Thankfully, it didn't last much longer and I crossed the line.  Of course I was shedding heat like crazy, so I grabbed a thermal blanket and waddled over to the pizza table.  I asked the very nice volunteer to open my carton of chocolate milk as I wolfed down my slice of pizza to satiate my snarling gut.  I guzzled down my milk and then waited for my time to be posted.  I finished 4:06:30, 9:25/mile.  That was good enough for 9th out of 18 in my age group and 40th out of 115 marathoners overall.  Could I have done better?  Probably with a bit more training, less potty breaks and no bib repairs, I might have gotten under 4 hours again.  Still I was happy with the finish (any marathon finish is better than no finish) as I maintained a reasonable pace and held "it" together for most of the race.

Despite the weather, I would recommend this race to anyone interested in a marathon.  It had lots of regular support, but not much of a crowd.  The field was small so there wasn't a ton of pressure to blow it out and the course was fairly interesting.  I probably could have used a few less hills, but in the end it all worked out.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

6.30.12 Update

Not much to report.  After the KY Warrior Dash, I decided to go easy this week (actually work and the unbearable, blistering heat decided it for me), so I haven't gone crazy.  I still have a long run that I need to bang out tomorrow, and then I can move all-in into my new training program for the next month or so.  Basically I'm still building my base mileage and my endurance with running 4 days out of the week with a long run on the weekend.  2 days at the beginning and end of the week, I'm working on doing strength workouts at the gym.  These will be full body workouts to maintain my strength as opposed to bulking up like I was before.  I'm at a good place right now, and I just need to maintain my physique without hurting myself.  I have noticed a slight pain in my left elbow, so cutting back now seems like a good time.  Then 2 days in the middle of the week, I'm working on my core and flexibility with a mix of body weight exercises, stretching, plyometrics, and yoga.  My flexibility is for crap, so I really need to focus on this.  Other than that, I've signed up for the Firecracker 5k in Franklin, TN for the Fourth, which should be fun.  This is the first time I've run this race, but I'm expecting plenty of competition since it's a Nashville Strider Race.

The Warrior Dash 2012 Lebanon, KY

As I've been saying, I have loved racing obstacle races. I love the physicality of testing my strength (the guns need firing after all!) and fitness as well as my speed. My first Warrior Dash for the year was in Lebanon, KY.   What was great about this race was that I was doing it with some friends. The obstacles were your normal fare of climbing walls (ho hum) and barbed wire-hard dirt-belly crawls (crawling sucks!) along with the WD signature fire jumps (Booyah!) and mud pit.  The real challenge of this race was the course itself (Wicked hard, bro).  The course directors made fine use of the rough and hilly terrain in KY as runners had to navigate several winding cut-backs and single lane trails.  More than once, I was facing a morale-busting (like getting punched in the junk, chief) uphill climb after crossing an obstacle.  When we did have a downhill avenue, it was either through a rocky dried gully bed or down a slick single lane trail congested with traffic.  For instance (story time!), one time I had finished climbing a wall and crested a hill, when I caught up to a group of young ladies walking ahead of me trying to make it down a series of cut-backs.  The trail was slick with mud from runners' shoes and there were large roots and stumps protruding up dangerously in the middle of the trail.  I couldn't go around them even though they were moving single file or I would have likely caused an accident sending them or myself tumbling down the hill.  Granted I needed the break, but I was irritated that I had to stop running.  I realized that I was right though, when I had to gently catch (Watch the hands, chief!) the young lady in front of me when she slipped.  If she had fallen, she would most likely be in the hospital today picking out the wood splinters from her back as there was jagged stump right underneath her (Ouch!).  Still I had a good race and ended up finishing 34th out of 421 in my age group with a time of 33:39.05, 9:49/mi.
Now, I'm not sure what everyone was drinking that day, but there were a lot of wrecks around the race area and it made getting to and from the race more than difficult at times (read:  backed up for hours).  Since I was in hurry to get home (my lovely wife had a ladies night planned), I decided to hoof it back to the car  (tack on another 4.5 miles) instead of waiting for the shuttle buses which were taking forever.  Heading back to the parking area, I saw the reason why.  Several ambulances were blocking the road to the race site because a tractor pulling a trailer had flipped leaving several people in need of emergency care.  It was a nightmare.  Lucky for me that after a mile, I was picked up by a nice gentleman that was taking other runners back to the parking area.  It was a crazy day.

Early on in the race, feeling good, running with my boy, Albert.

Near the end, feeling spent, Albert ditched me about a mile and 1/2 ago.  Bastard.

Crawling out of the mud to the finish.  I'm cooked and covered in mud.  I may be too old for this stuff.  Dumbass.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

6.18.12 Update

This Saturday, I'm running my second Warrior Dash.  This time I'm heading to Lebanon, KY.  I can't wait to hit the course, though from what I've seen of the course map, it appears that I'll be getting bit wetter  (and not in a good way) than when I did it last year in Manchester, TN.  Still it should be a blast as I'm doing it with some friends this time.  Nothing like a little smack talk to make a fun race even more fun.  All-in-all my training has been progressing well, but the summer heat is always a bear.  I'm keeping my mileage generally low during the week and hitting my long run on the weekend.  Still I'm getting over 25 miles a week along with my trips to the gym, so I'm pretty happy (I damn well better be, or what the hell was all that work for?!?).  FYI, for this Warrior Dash, I've decided to go all out.  Warrior costume (of sorts), and even a minor faux-hawk, thanks to my barber.  Now I just need to find some grease/body paint.   Hmmm.....

Friday, June 1, 2012

Current 2012 Race Schedule

As I've said before, I'm not running as many races this year, and it appears that I'm not running a few of my mainstay races either.  This year's Wilma Rudolph 5K and 10K is giving way to the Kentucky Warrior Dash on June 23.  Yesterday I signed up for my marathon for this year, the Southern Plunge Marathon in Winchester, TN on October 6.  Today I also managed to snag a spot in the Murfreesboro Middle Half half-marathon on October 13.  That race sold out within hours of opening up.  It is crazy that a Tennessee half-marathon sells out that fast, but it is a really good, flat, fast race.  I'm also considering the Tennessee Warrior Dash on September 22 and the 50K (that's 31.1 miles for the metrically challenged) Nashville Ultra Marathon on November 3 for my birthday race.  So while the number of races that I'm running has dropped, the one's that I've picked have a fairly high degree of difficulty attached to them.

On an endnote, I really am digging the obstacle course races.  I just did the Ridiculous Obstacle Course Race in San Diego, and I had a blast.  I finished that in 29:08.  Personally, I thought it was harder than the Warrior Dash that I did last year, but then again the difficulty may have been enhanced by my lack of sleep (only 2.5 hrs) and my slight hangover (which contributed to my lack of sleep).  Still it was a fun race and I really enjoyed it.  The fact that the volunteers got into it and tried to slow you down made it even more fun.  It really added to the game show mentality of the race.  Here are a few pics from the race:

After the foam bath, running towards the tube carry.

Riding the tube down the slide!

Gotta get back on my feet and into the race!

Monday, April 16, 2012

4.16.12 Daily Updates

I've decided to do most of my micro-blogging/diaries on  You can look up my profile there under lawmonkey13 or if you're on Twitter you can follow me there @lawmonkey13.  Most of my posts will contain my daily workouts and some random thoughts.  Over here, I'll try to keep it to some observations about my training, or training in general, and the occasional review.  On that note, the Boston Marathon was today.  Since I've started running, I've had a not-so-secret desire to earn my place into Boston.  It is the holy grail of marathons.  However, as I've gotten older, I'm not sure how attainable it is for me, even at my current running level.  Honestly, I start to lose focus after more than 30 miles a week and to qualify for Boston, I figure I'll need at least 40-60 miles per week along with cross training.  I still want to do it, but I may have to face the fact that it may be out of reach.  So that's why I'm now starting to eye the world of obstacle races!  Yeehaw!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

4.15.12 Training Sucks

Life is funny.  I've been pretty bad (eating wise) this weekend, but I'm still probably lower in weight than I have been since high school (humblebrag).  Still I feel bad for not sticking with my training and my diet plan (I bought half a mango key lime pie this weekend).  Tomorrow, I get back on track, but I have to start my tapering for the Country Music Half-Marathon on 4.28.12.  I'm still debating throwing out the pie, but honestly, it feels like a crime to do so.  Sometimes being healthy/training sucks.  Run of the Day.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

4.14.12 Sarcasm

I've missed blogging...sort of. Oh, I don't miss the endless hours of coming up with the funny to make my hobby (lifestyle? Sounds a bit much, right?) (Sport!) seem fun and dare I say, interesting to anyone but me or the repetitive recollections of glorious (in my own mind) battles, and occasionally victories, on the race course (Seriously, how many different ways can I mess up a race? For me, I'm pretty much a specialist at going out to fast and collapsing near the end). If I miss anything, it's the self-indulgence in focusing on myself and everything that I do. Still my inherent has consistently won out lately and I have neglected this space of my life.
So again, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I'm returning to this space with a new agenda. Let's see if inspiration strikes again as I attempt to chronicle my daily workouts.
Let's summarize: I've been pretty lazy and I'm changing stuff. Sounds good.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The App Review

I've been pushing my training up a bit this year, trying to get slimmer and stronger at the same time.  Owing to my techno-geek roots, I've been road testing several apps on my phone to help me out with my exercise and dieting.  For the record, I'm rocking the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, however the apps that I've used are also available for the IPhone.  In a moment of weakness, I also picked up an IPad 2, because I really wanted a tablet.    Sorry Blackberry users, I haven't missed my Blackberry ever since I moved over to Android.

My goto app for the last month has been Calorie Counter by fatsecret.  It is available for Android, IOS, and Blackberry (BB users don't say I never gave you anything).  I LOVE this app.  I use it to record what I eat every day.  It has a large database with tons of brand name foods as well as foods from popular restaurants, making recording my meals simple.  Throw in the bar code scanner, and it takes nearly no time to record each food.  It also has an exercise diary, so that I can make sure that I'm burning more calories than I'm taking in.  It also has a weight loss diary, journal and recipe ideas for some added functionality.  Essentially I use the food and exercise diaries the most.  What's nice is that the app syncs across all my devices, so I can review my progress on either my phone or my IPad.  This app is perfect for me, because it helps me stay accountable to my weight loss goals.

As far as workout tracking goes, I've been using my Garmin 610.  I've loved having a GPS watch to record my running, since I first learned about them.  The 610 is great as a watch and as a touchscreen run recorder.  It is pretty accurate, syncs quickly with satellites (usually), and can sync with multiple devices (like my heart monitor) and programs.

However, I have been trying to get to the gym more to build my upper body strength and work on my flexibility.  Along those lines, I've tried a couple different apps:  Endomondo and Mapmyfitness.  They both work on Android, IOS, and Blackberry.  Both share many of the same features, such as GPS tracking, workout timers, site integration, and social networking.  They also offer voice feedback and live tracking.  Mapmyfitness has a basic food diary, but Endomondo makes use of fun statistics to compare your workouts.  Of the two, Endomondo seemed to be a bit more touchy on my Nexus than Mapmyfitness, sometimes switching workouts from random swipes at the screen.

For those who have difficulty putting together a workout program, there is Workout Trainer by Skimble.  This program offers GPS tracking along with specific programs designed for various training goals like weight loss or muscle building.  What's nice is that they use pictures and videos to show you how do the exercises.  Be warned that while the app is free, some of the workout programs do cost as much as $10.  It does offer plenty of free workouts to help you design your own program.  I use it mainly to add some new exercise to my routine and spice things up every so often, but even then I rarely use it.

For those of you needing a basic health/wellness/medical/fitness all-in-one app, you may want to try out MyHealthTablet by the Fenway Group offers you a one stop shop for recording your information.  It is currently only on the IPad.  As a journal, it does a pretty good, albeit very basic, job of things.  This provides a lot of flexibility, but sometimes makes it seem a bit simplistic.  For the less technically inclined, this is a good thing, but I consider myself a power user so I would welcome more options.

On the non-mobile side of things, I'm currently using Daily Mile to record my running workouts.  It has a clean looking interface, syncs with my Garmin and shares the results on my Twitter feed and with my Daily Mile friends.  Before Daily Mile, I used the Runners World Training Log to record my workout sessions.  Both are pretty good, but I prefer the Daily Mile interface over the detail of the RW Log.  Garmin Connect  offers lots of detail but is tailored to sync with your Garmin Watch, so it lacks some of the flexibility and detail for other workouts.

With the diet, health and fitness industry booming, there are a ton of apps, programs and devices out there to help you reach your fitness goals.  These few that I use are pretty good, but I've barely scratched the surface of what's available.  Everyone has an app or feature that they love, and if that's the case, stick with the app you're using.  However, no app in the world will help you lose weight, tone up or stay fit, if you don't do the hard work of diet and exercise yourself.   Remember these are only tools, not shortcuts to being a better, more fit you.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Race Realization

Yeah...It occurred to me to me yesterday that I have signed up to run a 1/2 marathon (the Tom King Classic) in 2 weeks.  It also occurred to me that my longest run since the first has been 8 miles with the majority of my long runs being between 5 and 7 miles.  My speed work has been practically non-existent.  Yeah...I think I'm screwed.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Negligence Reaction

To say that I've been negligent with my blog postings would be a....I don't know what it would be, but it wouldn't be nice.  So from the first sentence, you can see why my blogging efforts have been less than  stellar.  On the plus side, basketball season (5th grade basketball season, that is) is over and now I have some free time to devote to my training, and presumably this blog.  On the negative side, soccer season (5th and 6th grade soccer season, that is) starts up in about 2 weeks, so my rest will be short lived.  I've got a general outline for my race year, and frankly it is looking pretty sparse.  With all my anticipated coaching duties, it appears that I won't have that many free Saturdays to rip off a quick 5K, much less train for a long race.  Still I should get in 2 or more half marathons and hopefully a full this October.  The races that are on the short list so far are the Tom King Half, the Country Music Half, and the Southern Tennessee Plunge Marathon in Winchester, TN.  If my schedule works out, then I'll also try to slip in the Middle Half in Murfreesboro, but I'm not betting the farm on it.  I'll probably pick up my usual round of 5K's and 10K's this summer, but as it stands, I'm not sure when I'm going to get in all those long runs.  

In a bit of gluttony-for-punishment news, I've started doing long runs again at Percy Warner Park.  I haven't gone over 8 miles there yet due to the weather (it isn't winter all week till Sunday when I have to do a long run in the morning.  Damn global warming!), but I should be tackling the Main Drive soon.  I'm sure that I'll cuss and whine about it too.  I'm not sure when I became a gigantic sissy, but I sure do find plenty of reasons not to do those long runs.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Pinewood Derby Obstrution

So I still haven't figured out my race schedule for the year, and we're already into the middle of January.  It's not for lack of looking however. I've gone through the regional marathons for the fall, but nothing is jumping out at me.  I keep toying with the Tupelo Marathon in September, but damn, I'm betting it's gonna be hot.  Throw in that it does not play to my strengths as it is not a big marathon, so I'm really iffy about this one.

Official Pinewood Derby car kit.
Image via Wikipedia
Meanwhile, I've been neck deep in activities with my kids, and I have not had much time to do anything else.  For example, today I had 5th grade basketball practice (which I love (We're 3-2, so not too bad so far.)) and kids marathon training after practice (which helped with my weekly mileage, so that's all good).  When I get home from work tomorrow, I promised the boy that we would start on his pinewood derby car (Ya know, there's a reason that I'm not a woodworker).  Nevermind that he didn't want to use the skill saw of the nice man at the scout meeting because he wanted it to be handmade (Did I mention that nothing in my skill set includes woodworking?  Just wanted to make sure we got that straight).  If I haven't managed to saw off my thumb by the weekend, it will be a frakkin' miracle.  On the totally random plus side, I've re-discovered Coolio thanks to Rachel vs. Guy Celebrity Cook Off.  1-2-3-4...Get your woman on the floor!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Cheddar Accompaniment

Why can't I get motiviated to prep my race schedule for this year?  The only race that I'm officially scheduled to run is the Country Music Half-Marathon this April.  (There is also the Disney Goofy Race in a couple days, but due to RL, I've decided to drop out of that one.  Lame, I know, but frankly, I'm not upset about it, because I just wasn't ready for it.)  I have a vague idea that I will try the Tom King Half again in March and possibly the Middle Half in October.  I need to pick a full marathon for the fall, but beyond that I can't muster the energy to do the leg work.  I'm sure that it's just the winter/post-holiday blahs, but I really need to get my head out of my ass and get back to work.  And yes, I do like cheese with my whine.

Flag Counter

free counters