Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Delaney Turns 4

I am almost positive I say it every year, with every birthday, but I can't believe Delaney is already 4.  This year is a special birthday for me.  It is the first year that I am off of work, not only on her birthday, but the days before and after it.  Normally, I am stuck working Country USA, which always falls on her birthday.  I have always felt guilty working on her birthday, but never more will I have to work out at Country USA.  In fact, Delaney was even born during the festival, which pulled me away from the festival that night.  Delaney is the most selfless, caring, and passionate little girls I know.  She is a spunky, quirky, and energetic kid, who simply loves the art of music, dance, and acting.  It never ceases to amaze me how many songs this kid knows all the words to and how she can act out entire scenes from movies with ease.  She is truly one of a kind!
  1. FAVORITE COLOR?  Purple 
  2. FAVORITE TOY?  Ellie the Elephant  
  3. FAVORITE CHARACTER?  Anna & Elsa 
  4. FAVORITE SUPERHERO?  Batman Girl 
  5. FAVORITE FRUIT?  Blueberries 
  6. FAVORITE VEGETABLE?  Broccoli with dip  
  7. FAVORITE BREAKFAST?  Eggs sandwich
  8. FAVORITE CEREAL?  The squares (Golden Grahams)
  9. FAVORITE LUNCH?  Turkey sandwiches  
  10. FAVORITE DINNER?  Breakfast for dinner
  11. FAVORITE DRINK?  Juice  
  12. FAVORITE SNACK?  Cheese crackers
  13. FAVORITE DESSERT?  Cake with strawberries and cream (Strawberry Shortcake)
  15. FAVORITE TV SHOW?  Frozen
  16. FAVORITE MOVIE?  Lion King 
  18. FAVORITE SONG?  Forever in a Moment by Rome da Luce
  19. FAVORITE SINGER/BAND?  Taylor Swift
  20. FAVORITE BOOKS?  Disney book 
  21. FAVORITE BOOK SERIES?  Pout Pout Fish Books 
  22. FAVORITE OUTFIT?  New jeans and my super hero shirt
  23. FAVORITE GAME?  Sneaky Snacky Squirrel
  24. FAVORITE SPORT?  My T-Ball
  26. FAVORITE PLACE TO GO?  Camping
  27. FAVORITE THINGS TO DO?  Play with Kona
  28. FAVORITE SUBJECT?  Animals  
  29. FAVORITE STUFFED ANIMAL?  Ellie the Elephant 
  30. FAVORITE DAY OF THE WEEK?  When it rains, because we step in puddles
  31. FAVORITE MONTH?  Wednesday
  32. FAVORITE SEASON?  Winter
  33. FAVORITE HOLIDAY?  Halloween
  34. FAVORITE THING MOMMY DOES?  Play with me
  36. FAVORITE VACATION?  Going to the cottage
  37. FAVORITE MEMORY? Going Camping 
  40. WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?  When you hug me...and Ellie the Elephant 
  41. WHAT SCARES YOU?  A big spider
  42. WHAT MAKES YOU SAD?  When you go off to work
  43. WHAT DO YOU WISH FOR?  Guinea Pigs
  48. DISLIKES?  Carrots

Monday, June 15, 2015

Elkhart Lake Sprint Triathlon - Race Report

I last raced the Elkhart Lake Triathlon in 2013 in preparations for Ironman Wisconsin.  It quickly became on of my favorite triathlons and it was easy to figure out way.  The race venue is damn near perfect.  The race is very well run and organized.  It has a large number of volunteers who know what they are doing.  Finally, it draws a good number of participants from top end to novices, so no matter your experience level there will be some sort of competition, if you are looking for it.  This year has been an interesting year to say the least.  It started out with me making a half-assed goal of doing at least one race each month of the year.  At first, it sounded very doable and easy.  Then came March and April, when I began applying for a new job, which I ended up accepting and starting in May.  This threw a total wrench into my plan.  Honestly, it's most likely my type-A personality which is to blame for my stubbornness and inability to give up on a goal - even when the circumstances say the better idea is just to bag it until my schedule is more apt to allow a race every month.  But, none-the-less, here we are, 6 months into my goal, and I registered for the Elkhart Lake Sprint Triathlon for my 7th race of the year.  The race date was a scheduled off day for me, but I ended up getting scheduled to work a music festival in our city from 5:00pm-3:30am the evening after the race.  In and of itself, that isn't terrible.  Honestly, it was the month or so leading up to the race, which made the decision to race on this Saturday a questionable one.  I was on Field Training for the past month working nearly every day with minimal time off.  When I did have time off, it was spent cramming in other family events that we had scheduled before I accepted the new position.  So, to say I have devoted ample time for my family would be an understatement.  But, like I said, because of my inability to let go of a goal, I registered for the race and sacrificed some much needed family time.

Training for This Race

To say I had been training for this race would be a flat out lie.  To be honest, I don't think I have actually "trained" for any race since the Whistle Stop Marathon last fall.  I have been just winging it.  Basically, I would plan out my training about 2-4 days out based on time available and how I feel and what I actually feel like doing.  It has been difficult to actual sit down and plan out even a month with the unknown of a new job.  On top of the new schedule and the uncertainty of the new position, my off time has been crammed full of family adventures, which have included trips to La Crosse, Point Beach, and a Brewer game.  I have been keeping my weekly running mileage up in the 25-35 mile range since the Neenah Duathlon back in the beginning of May.  My cycling mileage has increased quite a bit since the weather has finally warmed up to a comfortable level to get out early in the mornings without freezing my ass off.  As for my swimming, I think I could count on one hand how many times I have been in the pool since April.  I have been in the pool 3 times total since May 1st and only 9 times since April first.  So in a nutshell, I have been staying active, but to say I have been actually training, like I said, would be one big fat lie.


One of my single gripes about some races, is the requirement of picking up race packets and bibs the day/night before.  I understand why it's done, but I still find it to be an inconvenience to sacrifice more time just to go and pick up a bib.  But, it was something I had to do, so on Friday evening Delaney and myself made the short trek to The Osthoff Resort for the race expo and packet pick up.  The expo itself is small and simple.  Packet pickup is well organized and goes quick.  We were in and out in under 10 minutes.  That night I made one of my favorite prerace meals of butternut squash with brussels sprouts fried up with some diced up chicken breasts.  I was in bed and sleeping shortly before 10pm.

I had set me alarm for 4:30am with hopes of getting on the road around 5:00 as the drive to Elkhart Lake was around 50 minutes.  Prior to leaving I tested my heart rate variability or HRV which is a great test for stress on your adrenal system.  The higher the HRV the more recovered you theoretically are.  My HRV this morning was over 100.  Typically, the range for HRV is 1-100.  On average an HRV for a typical day would be 75-85.  After testing and getting ready, I wound up leaving shortly after 5:15 and got into Elkhart Lake around 6:10.  I honestly don't remember if we had assigned bike rack locations in 2013 or not, but this year we had assigned sections for transition.  I like this concept a lot.  Basically they would assign a few bike racks for bib numbers.  So I found the rack section for 750-800 and found a nice spot to set up shop next to the edge of the rack.  It doesn't take me long to set up my transition area, as I subscribe to the idea of less is more.  It probably took me a total of 5 minutes to fully set up and organize my transition area, then I just wanted to get my wetsuit on as it was kind of chilly and damp.

The temperature that morning was around 50-55 degrees with a light misty-fog that was just lingering around.  It was breezy which didn't help matters either.  All I wanted to do was get my wetsuit on to help stay warm.  After getting my wetsuit on I walked down to the beach to get into the water to get acclimated to the water temperatures and start a swimming warm up.  It was roughly 6:30 and I still had about 45 minutes until the start of the race.  The reported water temperature was 67 degrees, over 10 degrees warmer than the air.  I walked in and started to swim.  The water was cool, but comfortable.  I honestly was a little afraid to get out as the air temperatures were so chilly.  So I just stayed in the water and kept moving for about a half hour.

The water conditions in Elkhart Lake are damn near perfect.  The lake is spring fed and is always around 55-70 degrees.  The water is crystal clear and you can see the bottom even in 5-7' deep water.  I saw several small fish swimming near the bottom of the lake while I was warming up.  The swim start is slightly different from most triathlons I participate in.  The race starts with a time trial start, meaning each individual participant starts by themselves in small 3-5 second increments.  

Nutrition Plan

With my finishing time goal being around an hour, my nutrition plan was to not take in any calories until after the race was done.  On the drive down to Elkhart Lake, I drank my usual tall travel mug of dark coffee.  About an hour out from race time I took 2 caps of Hammer Anti-Fatigue Caps and 2 caps of Hammer Endurolytes.  During the race, I had no water on the bike and had no intentions of slowing for water on the run.  I also ate no breakfast or took in any calories before the start of the race as I knew I would have ample fuel on board from last nights dinner and had no need to "top off" my fuel stores.


400m Swim (5:40)

My strategy for the swim was to start out harder than goal pace and after the first 100-150m settle into a challenging pace for the final 300m or so.  As you can see I totally forgot to start my Garmin at the start of the race.  I guess I just got caught up in the atmosphere of the time trial start and the only thing on my mind was gaining ground and coming out of the water ahead of as many people possible.  As I came out of the water, I won't lie, I was kind of dizzy, I'm really not sure why.  The best I can explain is it was like I had my "sea legs" after coming off the lake.

T1 (1:48)

We had quite the long run to get into the transition area after swimming.  Based on my Garmin data it was about a quarter mile.  Taking that into consideration, I would expect a longer T1, but honestly, not as long as I ended up with.  After getting to my transition area, I was still struggling to get off my wetsuit.  At first I was struggling to get it off over my Garmin, then it was my right foot.  Finally I wasted time trying to get it off my left foot.  I felt as though I got more and more frustrated as I continued to struggle just to take off my wetsuit.  As soon as it was off, I was golden.  I finished getting ready for the bike and was out.

12.4 Mile Bike (34:13)

As soon as I got clipped in, I began to hammer down.  My mindset on the bike was to leave it all on the bike course.  I knew I am a strong running and would be able to put together a solid run even if I ride hard all 12 miles.  One thing I forgot to take into consideration, was how hilly the course was.  None of the hills were overly challenging, but the entire course was rolling hills.  There really was never a flat section.  One benefit from having a time trial start, was the consistent flow of people.  There was never really a pack of athletes.  I thrived on this.  There was constantly  some one ahead of me to focus on.  As soon as I passed one person, there was someone else ahead to be passed.  It kept me focused on a single task opposed to focusing on the wind or the hills.  One thing that I still am surprised with is the fact that my bike split was the fastest time of the entire race.  Cycling was never my strength, but somehow, on this day, my bike leg was clearly the reason I won the race.

T2 (1:04)

I don't know what it is about the bike to run transition, but I have become very efficient at this transition.  I had the second fastest transition time of the race.  When I first got into the transition area, the very first thing I noticed was the lack of bikes in transition...and that's a good thing.  It was at this exact moment I stated thinking about putting together a strong finish for a high placing.  Personally, I take pride in my transitions and practice them.  In my eyes, it's free time.  You do not need to be a freak of nature or metabolically efficient to be good at transitions.  You just need to be calm and efficient.  Keep things simple and know what you need and what you don't need.

3.1 Mile Run (19:24)

Coming off the bike, all I wanted to do was get into a comfortable groove and just maintain it.  I started out coming out of transition at a high turnover rate.  I took note of another guy in front of me about a half mile ahead or so.  I started to focus in on him and made it a goal to pass him as soon as possible.  After the first half mile or so, I started to settle into a more manageable pace for the remainder of the 5k.  After passing the first guy I saw another athlete further ahead and at this point I was already over a mile into the race and wasn't sure if I'd be able to catch up to him before the end.  But I knew I was going to try.  The run course was one of the hardest 5k courses I have ever run, even including open 5k's.  The first mile or so is at a very slight incline, then you make a left hand turn and you are stuck running almost straight up hill for the next mile or so.  This hill made it extremely difficult to catch up to the guy ahead of me.  I remained focused on my form and breathing.  I especially concentrated on my foot striking and made sure to maintain a high leg turnover rate, all while listening to my breathing, making sure to take deep breaths from my stomach.  The last mile of the race was the fastest, as it was mostly downhill.  I put the hammer down at around the 1k mark and tried my hardest to pass the guy that was ahead of me since the first mile.  I ended up coming pretty damn close, but never officially passed him.  I ended up finishing with a final time of 1:02:11 and I knew I had run a great race.

Post Race

After the race it started to mist ever slightly and I started to get cold.  I grabbed a couple bagel quarters and a bottled water after the race to refuel with and began wondering around aimlessly to kill time.  Knowing that I had to work that night at 5pm, I wanted to get home as soon as possible, but knowing I had at least placed in my age group, I wanted to stick around for the awards ceremony.  It was roughly 8:30 at this point and according to the race's web site the awards ceremony wasn't scheduled to begin until 10:00.  So, I had some time to kill.  I decided I would at least clean up my gear and load up the car, so I would be able to hit the road as soon as the awards ceremony had concluded.  As I was waiting to take my bike out of transition, another racer approached me, he was the first guy I had passed out on the run course.  He came over to congratulate me on the race and we began chatting.  He was an older dude who focused a lot of his efforts on his bike.  He was telling me how he just finished racing an 8 stage race in California.  It sounded really neat, maybe a bucket list item for further down the road???  After grabbing my free sandwich from the concession stand and loading up my car, I hung around the awards tent until the official results were posted.  As soon as they were posted, I weaseled my way up to the board to check the results.  I won the whole damn race.  It took a few seconds for it to actually sink in.  But I checked again, and I had won, I took first place overall.  I finished with an official time of 1:02:11 and the second place male finished in 1:02:27, just 16 seconds behind me.  I was thrilled, but it sucked, as I had no one to share the joy with.  I immediately called Sarah to tell her the news.  I wanted to put my time into perspective, so I quickly checked the race results from 2013, the last time I did this race.  In that race, I finished 6th overall with a time of 1:05:29.  I improved my time by over 3 minutes.  I took over a full minute off my bike split and ran about the same run split, my swim time improved as did my transitions.  A short while later the awards ceremony began and the overall winners were announced first.  I received a very nice etched glass/crystal trophy and had my photo taken on the top podium.  It was a great feeling.  To me, this was my best race to date.  I know the Ripon Medical Center Triathlon overall win had a larger margin of victory, but this race had a competitive field and has always drawn some fast racers.  After receiving my award, I felt terribly guilty leaving immediately to so I could get home and get to work.  I felt like a guy who was selfish and didn't give a crap about the other racers.  I wish I could have stuck around for the rest of the awards presentations, but I just couldn't.

What's on Tap

It's hard to describe the feeling you are left with after winning a race outright.  You feel unstoppable, motivated, and inspired.  Part of you feels like you deserve a day off with celebrating, while the other side of you says, "hell no, get your ass back out there and pound some pavement!"  You immediately start dreaming of future races and what the future holds.  It's contagious, this sport.  I guess that's why I love the sport of endurance racing.  It's a constant battle and the only thing holding you back is yourself.  Sure, their are other people out on the course racing, but no matter what your skill level is those other people motivate you.  They inspire you.  You see people who are better than you.  You see people who are first timers who are racing with a smile on their face because they are accomplishing something they never thought possible.  It's a great sport.  For me, other people on the course are a threat, they are my competition, even if they don't view themselves in that light, that is what I make them out to be.  Other people see others out on the course as company.  It's a party, like one large group training ride/run.  But in the end, regardless of your finish time, you are only racing against yourself.  You can never control who else will be racing the event or how many people are racing.  You control the one thing you can control...yourself.  You do the best you can do on that day in the given conditions and you can only look inward and ask yourself, "did I do my best?"  If you can answer, "hell yea!" Then and only then can you say that you had a successful race.

As always, thanks for reading!
Be fast, be strong, and carry on!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Spring Dance Recitals

Yesterday we had our 3rd dance recital for the girls. This was Delaney's first ever performance. This was Maya's third performance. Maya signed up for tap dance and absolutely loved it. Delaney took hip-hop and loved it. Delaney was born to perform. Below are the videos from their performance.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy Birthday Sarah


Today (May 25th) is your 31st birthday.  I really wanted to do something special for you today and I truly feel terrible that no one is around to be with you on your day.  I know the girls are all up north with your family and my family is gone to the lake.  Then there's me, who is stuck working 4:30pm-3:00am.  I doubt we'll actually physically see each other, other than the couple hours we get to spend together in bed sleeping before you wake up.  I wish I was there with you with you wake up to make you your favorite breakfast of eggs over easy, toast, and bacon, served with a warm cup of coffee.  I wish you didn't have to work, on Memorial Day, on your birthday.  I wish the girls and I could spend the day with you spoiling you and making hand made birthday cards for you.  I wish I could take you to the moon and back to show you how much I love you.  The truth is, you're stuck at work, I'm either sleeping or at work, and our families are all out of town.  So you are stuck alone on your very own day.  I feel terrible.  So other than the tangible things I got you for your birthday this year, I got you one thing that will last forever - Your very own song.  Over the last few months or so I have been working along with singer/songwriter and all around talented musician, Rome da Luce.  I gave him the story of us and our family and described our relationship and how much you mean to me.  Rome took it from there and came up with this....I hope you like it....and HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEAR!!!!

Forever in a Moment - Rome da Luce

Long before I met you
We were such a pair
Two birds held in Amber
Even god wouldn't dare
To tear us apart

I got so excited
We could not ignore
We came to play this out
This life we've been living for
Right from the very start

I could hold forever in a moment with you
Forever in a moment

Don't let's be too hasty
Don't let's be too brash
Don't let a moment wasted
A lifetime in a flash
But with you I transcend

And as we watch them dreaming
The angels that we made
There's nothing more I'm needing
But to know how to remain
In a love that never ends

I could hold forever in a moment
With you Forever in a moment together

So when will we meet again?
Two fish in the sea, unlikeliest of friends
I will be there when you need
I will find you. You'll see.

I could hold forever in a moment
With you Forever in a moment together

Check out more of Rome da Luce's work HERE

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Neenah Duathlon - Race Report

Usually every year I find some way to race the Neenah Duathlon.  This race was one of my first ever multisport races.  It used to be called the Paper Discovery Duathlon and was hosted in Appleton.  It then moved to Neenah and retained the title of Paper Discovery Duathlon.  Last year it was changed to the Hope for Kenya Duathlon as a fund raiser for providing food and water to citizens of Kenya.  This year it officially became the Neenah Duathlon.  When I realized I would be able to race this years duathlon I jumped at the opportunity...even if this would be my third race in just as many weekends.

Training for This Race

As I mentioned in my last race report from the Jailbreak 5k, my main goal going into the week between races was to recover enough to feel fresh, yet ready to race hard.    So, the day following the Jailbreak, I took a full rest day and then was back out running on Monday.  Tuesday was a short brick workout, followed up with a swim on Wednesday.  Thursday I was back out for a 5 mile run and then was feeling good enough to go for a bike ride that evening.  Friday was just an easy day with 4 miles of running in the morning.  Saturday was a full rest day, but not only in terms of exercising.  With my recent change of work places, some guys from work took me out for dinner and drinks on Friday night which left me feeling a little sluggish on Saturday.  On top of feeling sluggish, it was also a day full of coaching 5 and 6 year olds flag football in the morning followed up with yard work and "Healthy Kids Day" at our local YMCA.  It was a busy and slow moving type of day.  A perfect day for a day without working out.  


That morning my alarm went off at 4:50am with hopes of getting on the road around 5:30am.  I ended up rolling out of bed around 5:15am and leaving about a half hour later.  I got my race bib and packet and then went to get my transition area set up just the way I like it.  With a duathlon the transition area is rather simplistic - all you need to have ready is your bike and bike gear as you start the race in all your run gear.  I did my usual 15 minute warm up and was ready with some time to spare leading up to the start of the race at 7:30.  I was placed in the first wave and was warmed up and feeling surprisingly good considering how much adult beverages I drank on Friday night.  

Nutrition Plan

My nutrition plan was pretty simple but actually had some consistency to it compared to my recent shorter races.  My goal was to finish in the 1:15-1:17 range, so I wanted to take in some fuel.  I started my taking in 2 Anti-Fatigue Caps an hour before the race.  Once the race started I planned on drinking about 100 calories worth of Hammer Heed during the bike leg.  During the bike I also took one tablet of Hammer Energy Surge right before one of the only climbs on the bike course.  During the final run leg, I took a second tablet of Hammer Energy Surge to give me a strong final kick.


2 Mile Run (11:22.73)

The race started with a 2 mile run throughout Riverside Park in Neenah.  My main strategy was to hang with the front of the pack, no matter how tired it made me.  After the first mile passed, I was comfortably in 3rd behind two very strong runners.  I finished the 2 miles in just over 11:22 (5:51 pace), which ended up being the 7th fastest run split.  As we entered the transition area, I felt strongly that I had a chance to pass one if not both of them in transition.  I was wrong.   Even with a strong T1 (00:36, 9th fastest), I was still 3rd out of transition.

20 Mile Bike (0:51:06)

Coming off the bike, I once again just wanted to lay the hammer down, even if it meant blowing up during the second run.  Early on during the bike I was able to work myself into 2nd place.  I was actually able to hold that position for the first 5 miles or so.  That was the point where the guys with the nice, pricier bikes passed by me with ease.  The wind was tolerable with a head wind for the first half.  As we made the turn to the east down near County Hwy GG and Interstate 41 I was ready for a tailwind.  This was the point in the race I was not expecting.  The past years that I have raced this event when it was in Neenah, we would head north on the frontage road of HWY 41.  Not this year, we went straight east on HWY GG.  This was fine, until I started to hear a train whistle.  I got nervous, I knew there was a railroad crossing coming up and I did NOT want to get stopped by the train.  As I approached the crossing, I saw the stop bars dropping down and the red lights began flashing.  I said a few choice curse words and began to slow down.  The stop arms came to a rest as I reached the crossing and the train was still a ways away from the intersection.  I asked it it would be alright to continue through the crossing since I was able to do it safely.  I was granted permission and I immediately stood up and began to hammer down to try to quickly get back up to speed.  I had roughly 8 miles to go and I didn't want to loose any more ground.  I gritted my teeth, sucked it up, and just focused on maintaining a consistent cadence.  I finished with an average speed of 22.6 mph, a little slower than I had hoped, but I was happy with my time.  I then entered T2 with one goal in mind - get in, get out, and finish strong.  I ended up with a T2 time of 26 seconds, the second fastest T2 of the day.  I was extremely happy to see that, as transitions are free time.  Now to just hammer down for the final 2 miles.

2 Mile Run (12:04)

Coming out of T2, I was able to see the next runner ahead of me.  I guessed he was about a quarter of a mile ahead of me.  I knew it would take one hell of a run split to even make it close, but I immediately made it a goal to pass him.  As tired as I was, I knew that I am a strong runner and I am always able to make up ground during the run leg.  I stayed focus on my cadence and just listened to the steady beat of my feet striking the ground and tried to maintain an even rhythm.  I was able to catch the guy in front of me with about a quarter mile to go.  I finished the final 2 miles in 12:04 which was the 5th fastest split and a total time of 1:15:37 which placed me 9th overall and 1st in my age group.

Post Race

As I came in from the bike I heard Sarah and my girls cheering me on.  I believe that is what kept me going during the final run leg.  So, after the race, I spent some time with my daughters and shared the post race french toast buffet with them.  We stuck around for the awards ceremony, since both Maya and Delaney not only love me getting awards, they have come to expect me winning awards.  I really don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.  I guess, I'll take it as a positive for now....

What's on Tap

My future race schedule is truly up in the air at this point.  I realize that I have already scheduled out my entire 2015 year, but truly, that is simply just an ideal plan.  With me starting a new job at a new department, I have to take a realistic approach to my racing schedule.  Who knows if I'll be able to finish my goal of completing a race in each month of the year or not.  I'll do my best to do it, but if I can't make it happen, then it wasn't meant to be.  Simple as that.  I'd really like to race the Toughman Wisconsin Triathlon on June 20th, but we'll see if I can make that happen.  That would be my next race, but like I said, I really have no clue what my future holds for my race schedule.  I do know that I will be racing the Race the Lake bike race around Lake Winnebago in August and that's really about it.  For now.  :)

Thanks for reading!