Friday, February 27, 2015

TRT - V1

First off, let me explain the title.  TRT V1, simply stated is an abbreviation for Totally Random Thoughts, Volume 1.  I enjoy writing on my blog but often find myself rambling on about everything that has happened in over a month's time.  So, from now on, other than my training/racing updates, I will do my best to write up a quick and short TRT blog giving my a place to do just as the title says, throw down some totally random thoughts.  They could stretch as far as current events, politics (doubtful), things my family has been up to, etc.  I will try to get these out on or around my off days from work or whenever I feel like it...I'll just keep it totally random.... So, without further adieu....

Governor Scott Walker Compares Protesters to ISIS

First off, are you kidding me???  Evidently our very own "Beloved" Governor said that if he can handle thousands of union protesters he can handle ISIS.  What a freakin' idiot.  I seriously don't know what to say, how can anyone, let alone a potential presidential candidate compare terrorists to people who are basically peacefully demonstrating their opinions against a policy he is directly responsible for?  IMO, it just goes to show his complete ignorance and is a prime example why I can't stand politics.

Green Bay Police Officer Gets Stabbed Responding to a Welfare Check Call

This is just another example of the potential dangers officers face on a daily basis.  My heart goes out to all involved, and yes, including the family of the suspect that was shot and killed as a result.  Its a sad truth of the what an officer faces.  Officers never want to be the one who is put in the position to use deadly force, but they have to do what it takes to stay safe and protect the community they serve.  In the end, I am happy to hear the officer that was stabbed is doing well physically, and hope he can recover mentally after the altercation.  Here is a link to the media report:

My Birthday is Only Days Away!

Hard to believe, but in just a couple days, I will no longer be a 30 year old, but 31.  It's crazy how fast time goes.  I was looking at my kids the other night as we all sat around the dinner table and was taken back at what my life has become.  I am eternally grateful for what I have been given, but I wonder where the hell time has gone?  It feels like just a couple years ago I was living in La Crosse with my closest friends and living a "difficult life," full of homework and tests.  If only I knew what a busy/hectic/stressful life was really like....  One of my newest "things" I want to do on or around my birthday is to run my age.  Last year on my birthday, I ran 30 miles.  It was fridged and long, but I did it.  This year, I am struggling to find time to schedule a day to run 31 miles on.  Between Maya playing soccer on Saturday mornings and Harper's 1st birthday party and having only a couple weekend days available, its hard to dedicate 5 hours to only running.  Plus, the weather lately has just been bone chilling cold.  Like below zero cold.  I think what I might do, is run my age in the late spring when the weather is much more tolerable and I can get to a park and run on trails.  This way, it will allow me to be much more flexible in scheduling a date to do the run on and make it more enjoyable since it will be nice outside.  I still may get out this weekend or next weekend and pound the pavement for 31 miles, but we'll see....

For my birthday this year, we are going out with our families on Friday night for fish and then coming back to our place for cake and games.  On Saturday Sarah and I are going out with our friends to Houdini's Gastropub in Appleton, which is a restaurant I have been wanting to go to for a long time.  I'm just looking forward to spending time with my family and friends to celebrate another year in the books. 

This Damn Dress

Seriously, how dumb, but I have been looking at this damn dress all morning just trying to see a black and blue dress.  All I can see is a white and gold dress.  Evidently it is indeed a black and blue dress, which just pisses me off more, as I can not see it...argh...
The middle picture is the original photo and the other two
pictures are the same photo with an adjusted white balance.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Seroogy's Valentine's 15k - Race Report

Coming off a less than thrilling race in Milwaukee at the Icebreaker Indoor Half Marathon at the end of January, I was looking for a redemption-type race. Early on in my planning of my 2015 race season, I was eyeing up a race I have done before - the Seroogy's Valentine's 5k/15k. I did this race about 2 or 3 years ago and had a good time, plus you get free Seroogy's chocolate just for running. The race is held in De Pere, WI, about a 20 minute drive from our house and the weather was supposed to be ideal for an early February race. Taking all that into consideration, plus the fact that I was already off the night before, made it an easy decision to sign up for this race. In the past, I ran the 5k and this time around I wanted to try something different. I wanted to run a distance that I had not yet tried and with that reasoning, I signed up for the 15k opposed to the 5k.

Training for this Race

I did minimal training and zero specific training for this race during the two weeks following the Icebreaker Half Marathon. I did do some basic workouts, but nothing truly specific with the goal of improving my fitness for the Seroogy's Valentine's 15k. I did some pretty easy workouts with 2 indoor cycling workouts, 1 swim workout, and 6 running workouts with the longest being 7 miles on a treadmill. So like I said, no real specific workouts, just some basic lower intensity workouts with hopes of maintaining fitness.


The race start time was scheduled for 8:00am, which is great, it would allow me to get an extra hour of sleep compared to a 7:00am start time, which I have grown accustomed to. My goal was to be on the road around 6:00am to give me ample time to officially register for the race and get a thorough warm up in leading up to the race start. I woke up around 5-5:30am and poured myself a cup of coffee, took care of business.  I left shortly after 6:00 and got to Seroogy's Chocolates around 6:45ish.  I was able to register right away and found that I had a ton of time to spare until the 8:00 start time.  Luckily, the church across the street from Seroogy's Chocolates opened it's doors for the runners to stay warm.  I found an empty room there and just chilled for a while until 7:30, when I wanted to start my warm up.  I got in a short and easy warm up, with some easy running with a few short strides thrown in to work on leg turnover.  By 7:50 I started making my way to the start line.

Nutrition Plan

After completely forgetting my nutrition plan during the Icebreaker Indoor Half Marathon, I really wanted to be diligent with my nutrition during this event.  It started at about an hour before the race, when I took 2 Race Caps Supreme, 2 Mito Caps, and 2 Anti-Fatigue Caps.  With just 5-10 minutes before the start of the race I took a single Nocciola Hammer Gel just to top off my fuel stores, since I did not take in any nutrients since the night prior.  The Nocciola flavor is seriously the best tasting gel I have ever had, and I have had my share of gels.  My plan during the race was to take a single tab of Energy Surge as needed and rely solely on race course water for hydration - and only if necessary.


New Balance 890v4
Garmin 901xt

Miles 0-9.3

Right after the gun went off, I started with what I thought was a conservative pace.  It was difficult to find a good grove since both the 5k and 15k races started together.  So, even though I felt like I was starting slower, based on the lead pack of runners, in fact, I probably started out a little too fast.  I found myself started just below my normal 5k pace.  It took me until the first mile, or so, to settle back into a good pace.  I had a predetermined goal in my mind of finishing in under an hour.  That pace would translate to an average pace of 4:00 per 1k.  I opted to set my Garmin to go off every 1,000m to help me keep an accurate eye on my pace.  I knew if I could keep my pace at or around 4:00 I would set myself up for a successful race.  The two routes split just shortly after the 2 mile mark.  It was at this point were I realized exactly how many people were racing the 5k and how few people were running the 15k - at least relative to the number of runners ahead of me.  The 15k portion of the route was a simple out and back through a local city park.  I continued to just push as hard as I could and tried to keep the uncontrollables out of mind and focus on what I can control.  I shoved out the thoughts of pain, discomfort, and focused on my breathing, my foot plant and toe-off.  It seemed to work well, since I ran pretty steady splits and never really fell off.  I ended up finishing the race in 1:00:06, right were I was hoping to be.  Luckily for me, the course was a tad bit shorter than a full 15k (9.3 miles), it ended up being 9.18 miles according to my Garmin.

Post Race

The post race is probably one of the best parts of this race.  Why?  Simple, free chocolate.  But not just any chocolate...good chocolate.  After a few free samples of Seroogy's Chocolate, I quickly made up my bottle of Hammer Recoverite and then stuck around to see if I was lucky enough to place in my age group.  Unfortunately, the 15k results got completely screwed up - at no fault to the race directors.  A whole group of runners who registered to run the 15k, decided to run the 5k instead and never told anyone.  And since both races were run concurrent to each other, their 5k times registered in with the 15k times.  Sure, it would be pretty obvious at first to sort through the times, but once you get into the 5k walkers (who typically finish in around an hour) it gets a little tricky to decipher who ran which race.  It took literally about an hour after the initial awards ceremony, but it all got sorted out, and I took 3rd in the M30-34 age group and 11th overall.

The Day in Music

What's on Tap

The next race that I am eyeing up isn't until March 15 at the St. Pat's Fun Run in Kimberly, WI.  It has also been a good 2-3 years since I last ran this event, but it is put on by the same company who organized the Seroogy's run.  Plus, the race starts at 9:00am which makes it easy to get to after working the night before.  They again off a 15k option along with the traditional 5k distance, which is tempting.  I found that I really like the 15k distance, as it is still a quick race, but more challenging than both a 5k or 10k.  I think I will play it by ear since I will be working the night prior to the run and will see how I am feeling physically that day before I commit to a 15k race at 9am.

As for my training and such, I have started training with a multisport focus and significantly more intensity.  I have been implementing the principles of the Furman University studied, FIRST Program.  It has been marketed quite a bit by Runner's World Magazine.  FIRST stands for Furman Institute of Running and Sports Training.  Along with Runner's World, the experts of FIRST wrote a book entitled, Run Less, Run Faster.  Now, I haven't ordered the book just yet, but have read up on the program extensively online and bought the app...yes, they even have an app for that.  As I am sure you could have figured the entire philosophy of the FIRST program is to improve your race times after cutting your weekly mileage significantly.  The basic are that you "cut the fluff" out of your current program and do 3 very focused runs each week; a track style workout, a tempo run, and a long run.  Not one of these runs would be classified as "easy."  In fact they are all physically and mentally challenging.  The long runs, which are typically done at a slow and easy pace for me, are now run at a minimum pace 45 seconds faster than pace which I had previously thought was "fast."

I am not following the FIRST program to a "T," which calls for just 3 days of running...NO MORE, NO LESS, and 2 intense cross training days, and then 2 days of rest.  My current program sticks the 3 running workouts, that are specific for a 10k, into a multisport training plan leading up the Neenah Duathlon on May 3rd.  I am currently swimming 3 times a week, and cycling 3 times in a week.  I also threw in 2 other optional run workouts, that are done at an easy cool down pace following either a cycling or pool workout.  So, like I said, I am not exactly following the FIRST program but just using the shorter, high intensity workouts along with my other sports throughout the week.  This fall, I do plan on experimenting with the FIRST program as it's written to train for the Whistle Stop Marathon on October 10th.  I want to really give the FIRST program a fair shot at being successful and want to follow it and their "3 plus 2 plus 2" philosophy (3 days running, 2 cross training days, and 2 off days).  But for now I am focusing on just balancing my life with my multisport training for the upcoming multisport season, which kicks off May 3rd.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Icebreaker Indoor Half Marathon - Race Report

 Immediately after getting home from Ashland and the Whistle Stop Marathon back in October, I knew I needed an break; an off season of sorts, even though I wanted no such thing.  I took a brief break with no training, no planning, or anything else.  It was a break, a forced break, but a break none-the-less.  After my break it was right back to planning, strategizing, and training.  I'll be completely honest, I once again, became selfish, foolish, and unrealistic with the life that I live.  I had all the grandiose plans.  They all started with a full marathon in January, which was to be run on an indoor 445 meter track.  It was run at the Petit National Ice Center, which is the official Olympic Speed Skating Facility and called the Ice Breaker Marathon.  I immediately registered to save some bucks on an early registration.  But, after only a week break, I started training for this indoor marathon, just to find my calf acting up again.  I knew I needed a true break to allow my calf to better heal.  I emailed the race director asking for a transfer into the half marathon event held on the Saturday before the marathon.  It was approved and I was good to go.  Since then, I had posted a blog article about my goals and resolutions for 2015.  I'll be completely honest - I have given up on all my goals and resolutions.  Maybe "given up" is a bit too strong.  Maybe, redirected better fits.  So, lets go that route, I have redirected my goals and resolutions for 2015.  My goals and resolutions were ambitious, sure, they were also unrealistic.  Unrealistic in that my goals were simply unattainable considering were I am currently at in my life.  I have 3 beautiful daughters who are currently 10 months, 3 and 4.  So without going too much into my reasoning and my personal life, simply put, I have redirected my goals to focus more on my family and my kids and bettering my marriage with my wife, Sarah.  Yes, I still plan on racing and training, but will take life as it comes and race when it works with my work schedule and my family schedule.  So as the weekend of the Ice Breaker Half Marathon approached, we changed our original plans for the weekend.  Originally we planned on spending the weekend in Milwaukee with the girls and taking them to the Milwaukee Children's Museum after the race on Saturday.  But our vehicle had some major unexpected repairs and we felt that spending a weekend away from home probably wasn't the best decision.  So, we opted to stay home to save a few bucks. 

Training for This Race

My training has never been more inconsistent than it was for the race.  Originally, I had started my training with the idea that I was running a full marathon.  Then, like I said, my calf started tightening up as it did earlier in 2014 and I had to take some time off from running to make sure it properly healed.  Once I felt recovered, I started training for a half marathon.  My training went OK with some minor breaks, because its never truly easy training throughout the holidays especially with a household of 3 kids.  Once the holidays passed, I was getting back into a rhythm, I had to take a full week off due to an outpatient surgery in early January.  So, the final 2 weeks leading up to the race, I ran a total of 3 times for a total of 13 miles - definitely NOT ideal. 


As I mentioned before, Sarah and I decided to not spend the weekend down in Milwaukee.  So, the day of the race, I woke up at 3:45am with the plan of driving down to Milwaukee for the race and then driving back afterward.  I actually got a pretty decent night's sleep, as I went to bed around 8:30pm.  My drive was nice with very little traffic.  I drank my travel mug of coffee and didn't plan on eating anything before the race.  I did pack a couple Hammer Gels in case I felt too hungry to eat before the start of the race.  After getting to the Petit, I checked in a got my race bib.  I got everything all set up and had plenty of time to kill before the 7am race start.  I took advantage of my extra time to get a thorough warm up completed.  I have never run at the Petit and wasn't sure what the track was like and I definitely had no clue what the atmosphere felt like - would it be cold, cool, or comfortable.  I ended up running a mile and a half and did my usual dynamic stretching routine.  After the National Anthem, it was finally time to race. 

Nutrition Plan

I had a wonderful nutritional plan for this event, but honestly completely forgot all about it.  I had planned on taking Hammer Anti-Fatigue Caps, Race Caps Supreme, and Mito Caps an hour before the race, and simply forgot. So, all I took before the race was my mug of coffee and half a water bottle with a Hammer Fizz tablet in it.  During the race I wanted to take advantage of the nutrition tables which were positioned on the corner of the track and was accessible literally whenever you needed it.  So, I created a water bottle full of 2.5 scoops (250 calories) of Hammer Heed and would sip on it throughout the race.  I also packed a small baggie of Hammer Energy Surge to take throughout the race and a dose of Hammer Anti-Fatigue Caps, but once again forgot all about them come race time and they sat in my backpack right next to the pills I was supposed to take an hour before the start of the race....oh well I guess...


New Balance 890v4
Hammer Cool Tee Running Shirt
Hammer Cycling Socks
Garmin 910XT

Miles 0-13.1

The race started on the back half of the track, so our first lap was really a half lap.  So counted the first half lap as a full lap we had to tally 48 laps (total of 47.5 laps) to reach a final distance of 13.1 miles.  I was really unsure how the race would go, if it would be crowded or spread out.  The start of the race was the most crowded the track was the entire day.  As with any other event the start of the race is always the most congested.  But to be honest it thinned out quickly.  It was less than a lap until there was plenty of room to run and it never became an issue.  The general rule of the race was run on the outside of the track and pass on the inside.  It worked out extremely well.  Another key rule was absolutely no personal music devices - that's right - no headphones = no music.  But, they counter this well, by allowing every person to pick one song of choice to be played randomly throughout the race.  My pick was American Witch by Rob Zombie.  Simply put, the race organizers have this race down to a "T," as the number of participants seems to be just about the perfect number of runners to be running.  My goal for the race was to finish with a time between 1:30:00 and 1:24:00.  Yes, its a wide range but figured with my inconsistent training I should still be able to run a  1:30:00 half marathon, considering I have been training to run a 3:00:00 full just 3 months ago.  I figured it out that I would have to run a 1:47-1:55 lap to finish in that time range.  My first 20 laps or so were all in that range.  But then they started to fall short and I was running all my laps in the 2:00 range.  Initially, I had thought that this race would be perfect for pacing.  I thought I would be able to monitor my pace on a much more fine level opposed to pacing myself my miles during any other outdoor event.  Plus this event was completely flat, so I didn't need to worry about being slowed down by hills.  I have also run multiple 20 mile long runs on the track at my local YMCA which is a much smaller track (11 laps = 1 mile).  So I have run for hours to tally 220 laps.  I felt like my mental toughness wouldn't be an issue as I believe I have a good ability to just "zone out" and focus on running.  However, I found that racing on an indoor track is much different that running easy on a track.  I found myself focusing on the pain and discomfort WAY more than I ever do during an outdoor event.  It's like there was nothing else to focus on other than the negative.  Whereas, during a road race, there are literally thousands of things to distract you and take your mind off of the discomfort.  That, without a doubt was the most difficult this with this race.  I ended up finishing with a time of 1:32:19 or about 1:57 per lap.  This put me at 20th place out of 101 runners and 8th of 22 runners the M30-39 age group.  If I would have been close to my goal of 1:24 I could have placed 2nd in my age group and in the top ten, but oh well.  It just wasn't my day.  I'll live to run another day. 

Post Race

After the race, I quickly showered before other runners finished and I would have found myself in a long line waiting to use one of only a few showers available to runners.  After I showered and changed I stuck around to see the results to see if for some reason I was able to place high enough for an award.  As soon, as I realized there was no chance of that, I left to get back home to take the kids to a local indoor play park for the kids, which Sarah and I had planned on doing if I was back early enough.  The post race spread was small but good.  They offered homemade cookies, bagels, bananas, and chocolate milk.  All-in-all it was the event is extremely well run and well organized.  I am glad I did it, but don't think I will be doing it again, as this type of event just isn't for me.  I would much rather use the winter months as a true off season, as I have in the past.  Rather than force myself to continue training and race indoors in the middle of winter.

The Day in Music

How do you not choose Round and Round by Rat?

What's on Tap

At this point I really don't know what's on tap.  I am looking at running a 5k (or 15k) in early February in De Pere, WI, but am not completely sure if I will or not.  After that, there are a few other races I may or may not do.  Like I said earlier, I really want to refocus some of my energy into my family and kids and really work on finding that balance between life, work, family, and fitness.  More than likely I'll do several shorter races throughout the year that require little to no travel and maybe a marathon or two sprinkled in where I can.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Looking Back and Moving Forward - 2015

First off, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and enjoyed the extra time with their families and friends.  I know Sarah and I had a great Christmas and even though it was hectic as hell, it was a lot of fun!  And now, It's hard to believe, which I think I say each and every year, but 2014 is officially in the books and we are already plunging into 2015.  But, here we are at the start of yet another new year.  You don't need to look far to read, see, or hear about some one's New Year's Resolutions.  They are everywhere.  Just try to scroll through your Facebook feed without reading "New Year, New You," or "This year will be different."  All too often people make goals, some are realistic, others not so much.  Most of these goals, probably in the ball park of 95% of them, fail, and fail miserably.  I'd bet that most people forget about them or just flat out give up within the first week or two.  But why?  I mean, most folks mean well with their goals.  They join their local health clubs, they sign up for memberships or classes.  They want to be successful.  I think the biggest reason so many people fail, is they fail to have a plan on how to achieve their goal, their goal is unreasonable, or they have a vague, unmeasurable goal - I mean how exactly do you measure eating better in 2015? 

While some people make goals and resolutions, others are against the whole idea of a New Year's Resolution.  The thought process here is that any day is a great day to set a goal or make a significant change in your life, why not start December 1st instead of putting it off until January 1st?  Another thought is that most people just make claims and goals because it is the "thing to do."  I mean, how many people ask "what's your New Year's Resolution?"

Personally, I believe if someone is willing to make a goal to better themselves in one way or another, who are we to discourage that, even if they are doing it for the wrong reasons?  It's a start and frankly, I would rather have someone make a goal, instead of just saying, "f*ck it - I'm going to fail anyway."  I also view the new year as a new season, a new beginning.  As an athlete, I plan each and every year beginning January 1st.  So, it's only natural to view the new year as an opportunity to make changes, goals, and resolutions.  For me, it's hard to say, today is the day I am making a change, especially drastic ones.  So, when there is a hard date, in the future, it makes it easier for me to wrap my mind around my goals.  It gives me a definite start date, no excuses, no "I'll start tomorrow," no if's, and's, or but's.  It starts the first of the year.

If you have read my last post where I took a look back at the year that was 2014, you know I have big goals and aspirations for 2015.  If not, take a look here: Looking Back and Moving Forward - 2014.   I after once again, not meeting my goal of running a sub 3 hour marathon, I am putting that goal at the forefront in 2015.  So, without further adieu, below are my goals, aspirations, and resolutions for the upcoming year.  As you read you'll notice, that not only am I laying out all my goals below, but instead of simply saying what my goal is, I am explaining exactly what my plan is to accomplish that goal.

1.  Get my body weight back down to 160-165 pounds.

I have been claiming to want to lose weight for racing efficiency reasons, but, like just about everyone else, fail.  I have found that losing weight is quite possibly the most difficult thing to do.  In order to finally get back down to the weight were I had my most successful race season, I am laying down some very strict ground rules for my diet.  Below are my ground rules.
  1. Absolutely no added sugars, sweeteners, artificial sweeteners, etc.  That's right, I am going sugar free for a full year (at least)!
  2. Minimal to no processed grains
  3. No processed, packaged foods
  4. Minimal dairy to no full fat
  5. Minimal to no legumes
  6. Only one single "cheat-day" per month with no carry-over.  This is to maintain some level of sanity.
  7. I am allowing beer as the one exception to all the rules....once again, for sanity and my love of good beer.  The one rule here is no shitty beer!  

2. Run a sub 3 hour marathon 

I have been saying for years now, that I want to run a sub 3 hour marathon more than anything.  so This year, I am going to do it....period.  In order to do it, I am going to run, run, and run some more. I am focusing all my race efforts on running this year.  I think my lack of running (yes I said, lack) has been limiting my marathon running.  Simply put, I do not think my running volume has been at necessary levels to run a sub 3 marathon.  So for this year, I will be putting cycling and swimming on the back burner to focus more time and energy on running, recovery, and strength training.  I figure, if I will be running higher volume throughout the upcoming year, I will need to focus on rest/recovery and strength training in order to stay healthy throughout the season.

3. Run 2015 miles in 2015

This is just a small sub goal that, theoretically, should be pretty easy to achieve, assuming I am able to stay healthy and train throughout the year.  In order to run this distance, I would need to average 38.75 miles per week.

4. Run at least one race for each month of the year

My reason behind this goal is to encourage consistency of training throughout the year.  The race can be any distance and just needs to be an organized event.

5. Run both a 50k and 50 mile ultra marathon

I have wanted to run an ultra marathon for a couple years and with my increased focus on my running fitness, I figured this year will be the year I go beyond 26.2.

6. Strength train at least once a week, except during a taper

In order to insure I stay healthy throughout the year with an increased volume, I need to stay strong by strength training.  Adding some strength training to my weekly regimen will also make me a stronger, faster runner.

7. Do not be so quick to yell at my kids

I won't lie, I can be very quick to yell and get upset at my kids.  Let's face it, racing kids gets frustrating.  I want to raise my kids in a loving, caring atmosphere, and feel like I am often yelling at them when it may not be necessary to do so.  So, from now on, I will take some deep breaths and/or step away for a short period of time to gather my thoughts before yelling.

8. No texting and driving and to stay off my phone while driving in front of my kids.

In the past, I have always used the excuse that. "I am good at multitasking while driving."  And regardless, even if I may be just a fine driver while using my phone, it sets the wrong example for my kids.  Even though we are 10+ years before Maya even starts the think about driving, I do not want to be the parent that tells them not to use their phones while driving when they have been watching me do just about everything on my phone while I drive.  Sounds quite a bit hypocritical....  Sarah is on board with me on this one too.  We are going to lead by example for our kids and how to be a good driver.

So there you have it, like I said, most of my goals are pretty ambitious, especially going sugar free and grain free this year.  But, I just need to get into a grove and I should be just fine.  I do well with rules and plans, so I am confident I will be able to go sugar and grain free all year.  Below is my preliminary race schedule for 2015.  And with that, I want to wish everyone a safe and prosperous 2015!  I hope you are able to stick to your own personal goals and have a successful new year!

My Tentative 2015 Race Schedule

January 24th - Ice Breaker Indoor Half Marathon, Milwaukee, WI
February 7th - Seroogy's Valentine's 5k, De Pere, Wi
March 15th - St. Pat's Day 5k/15k
April 25th - Jailbreak 5k, Wautoma, WI
May 2nd - Wisconsin Marathon, Kenosha, WI
June 20th - High Cliff Sprint Triathlon, Sherwood, WI
July 11th - Dances with the Dirt 50k, Merrimac, WI
August 16th - Race the Lake, Fond du Lac, WI
September 19th - Fox Cities Marathon 5k, Appleton, WI
October 11th - Whistle Stop Marathon, Ashland, WI
November 7th - T-Bunk Challenge 50 Mile, Eagle, WI
December 5th - Race for the Light 5k, Oshkosh, WI

Monday, December 22, 2014

Looking Back and Moving Forward - 2014

After have arguably one of my best years ever in 2013, I had no idea what to expect for 2014.  It seemed as though after my post Ironman high wore off, I was left with a mild depression.  Almost a feeling of emptiness.  Now, I totally realize that this sounds absurd and over-the-top, but I have talked about this at length before.  Completing an Ironman had been at the forefront of my mind ever since I became involved in endurance sports, hell, it was the reason I got involved in the first place.  It was the reason I woke up and trained at 5am in subzero temperatures in January.  So anyone should be able to under stand there was going to be a feeling of void after crossing off your top goal.  After taking some time off, I wanted to start planning my 2014 race schedule, but honestly had no idea where to go with it.  What races should I do?  What distances should I race?  I kept telling myself that I wanted to race shorter distance races, but it took me a while to convince myself that it was OK to do sprint distance races.  Regardless of what distances I choose, I knew 2014 would be a challenging year, as we would be adding our 5th addition to our family, baby Harper.  Also, after neglecting my wife and kids for the better part of all of 2013, I really wanted to make the most of 2014 and for a lack of better words, make up for lost time.

Knowing that I wanted to spend more time with my family than I did in 2013, all while continuing to race competitively, I was struggling to come up with a race schedule.  I didn't want to just do 1 or 2 races, but at the same time I didn't want to do too many races.  I tried coming up with some goals for the upcoming season.  First, the goal that will remain in the forefront until I can cross it off, will be running a sub 3:00 marathon.  Now, I just needed to find a goal race for my triathlon season.  I saw post of Facebook about the 2013 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, which were held in Milwaukee, that they were voted the best race of 2013.  The post also mentioned that they race would be returning to Milwaukee for 2014.  I immediately had my goal race for 2014.  

After doing a little research I learned that the Age Group National Championships is the qualifying race for the 2015 World Triathlon Championships.  I looked into how realistic it would be for me to qualify for Team USA for 2015 by looking at the 2013 results.  During a normal year, Team USA takes 15-18 athletes per age group, but during a year when the World Championships are held in the United States, Team USA is allowed a few extra athletes as the host country.  The 2015 World Championships are scheduled to be held in Chicago.  This will be the first time the race will be held in the US in several years, let alone the fact that the race will be held within driving distance from my home.  Based on times from last year, I figured that if I were to finish the race in under 1:08:00 I would be sitting in a great position to qualify for Team USA.  And just like that, I had a goal for 2014 - I would focus my training towards qualifying for Team USA for the opportunity to represent The USA at the 2015 World Triathlon Championships.

So, to start 2014 off, Sarah and I planned a final get-away trip to Chicago in January.  This was our last trip as a family of four.  We stayed right in downtown Chicago and planned on just having a relaxing weekend.  We went to Shedd Aquarium, Ed Debevic's, and to Millennium Park to see the "jelly bean," and even did a little ice skating in the park.  It was a great weekend away and something different for the kids.  Both Maya and Delaney still talk about our trip to Chicago.

Before we knew it Harper was born.  As I write this she is just 9 months old.  It's kind of odd, but a part of me feels like she was just born yesterday, while on the other hand it feels like she's been a part of our family for much longer.  I will say this though, a third kid is much more taxing then I imagined.  I had no clue what to expect going from 2 kids to 3, but my free time has dwindled to just about none and our lives seem to be just that much more stressful.  It has been such a change to our family.  Suddenly, simple errands have become larger undertakings, getting ready for bedtime has become a project, and just about everything takes considerably longer.  It's funny because when it came out that Sarah and I would be having our third child, people would joke saying that we would need to switch to zone defense.  Since Harper's birth, life is just not as simple as one parent dealing with one kid, it is now a full team effort.  It is truthfully a zone parenting scheme.

It was shortly after Harper's birth that I realized that my training and racing would take a hit.  I knew it was going to take extra planning in order to get in my longer workouts.  Either way, I was still determined to train just as hard as I did in previous years.  I jumped right into training in January with hopes of finally nailing my sub 3:00 marathon at the Green Bay Marathon in May.  Unfortunately, my training took a huge hit in February when my calves started to give me issues.  I had no idea specifically what the issue was.  I even saw a sports medicine doctor thinking it was a possible stress fracture in my right calf.  After my appointment he assured me that it probably was not a stress fracture.  I took a couple weeks off from running and started back up easing my mileage back to where I wanted it.  After my break I was able to ease back into training and ran in the Oshkosh Half Marathon in April, finishing 12th overall and 2nd in my age group with a time of 1:24:31.  It was the day after the Jailbreak 5k (one week following the half marathon) I suddenly had a new issue in my left calf.  It was right in the belly of the muscle and felt like a giant knot, almost like a painful cramp.  This occurred during an attempted long run the day after the Jailbreak 5k in April, just a few weeks before the Green Bay Marathon.  The good news is I, once again won the Bloodhound Challenge as the fastest Cop in the race, for now the 3rd year in a row.

With hopes of still toeing the line at the Green Bay Marathon, I was desperate for just about any quick fix to help my calf heal.  I made an appointment to receive some Dry Needling treatments at a local physical therapy office.  It definitely helped, but I think the damage was done just a little too late.  I was able to at least try finishing the race, but fell just short and pulled out around mile 17.  This was my first ever DNF (Did Not Finish).  It was hard, but I think know it was the right decision, regardless of how much it sucked walking off a marathon course.  My choice to walk off proved to be the right decision, because after just a few days of rest and recovery from the marathon, I slowly eased back into running with sprint triathlon specific training.  Even though I was unable to finish the marathon, I still think the Dry Needle treatments helped immensely.  You can read more about my experience with Dry Needle treatments here.   

Once I started my triathlon specific training I was getting used to being a father of three.  Sarah and I were starting to figure things out.  Basically, for the two of us, I would generally take care of the older two girls, while she focused on caring for Harper.  It seemed to be working.  As for my training, it didn't take me long to realize that just because I was training for a much shorter race, the training didn't necessarily become any easier.  Yes, the training was shorter, much shorter, but it in no way was it any easier.  I feel in love with this style of training.  Majority of my weekday workouts were between 45-90 minutes and pretty much always included some intensity.  My weekend workouts were anywhere between 1-2 hours.  It was perfect.  I enjoyed the balance of intensity and duration.  My weekend workouts fulfilled my love of going long while the weekday workouts were challenging enough that I was glad they were shorter than my usual workouts.

My first multisport race of 2014 came in June, with the High Cliff Sprint Triathlon.  I was a bit hesitant going into this race since it was just a few weeks after I pulled out of the Green Bay Marathon.  I was worried that the intensity of the 5k run would bring back the issues in my calf.  I was especially concerned because the first half mile of the run was straight up a steep hill.  The race went great and I had no issues with either calf.  I finished the race in 1:22:14 and placed 10th overall, 1st in my age group.  The best part of this race was my age group award of a screen printed pint glass!  This race was held over Father's Day weekend and to take advantage of the opportunity, we camped right at High Cliff State Park for the weekend.

The very next week I scheduled a race in Pleasant Prairie, WI.  It was going to be my longest triathlon of the year.  I raced in the Olympic Distance race and would be my first time racing this distance since 2008, when I was first getting started in triathlon.  I was excited to race this distance as it is very indicative of your ability as this is the most competitive race distance out there, IMO.  The race ended up being postponed about an hour or so due to dense fog.  Once the race started, I gave it everything I had with hopes of placing in my age group.  I ended up falling short placing 5th in my age group but 14th overall.  It was a competitive race at the top, but I was extremely pleased with my race.  I finished in 2:04:39, but the bike course was cut a mile or two short due to road construction.  Here is my race report.

My third race was my last race before Age Group Nationals and was going to be final tune up race.  The race I scheduled was the Ripon Medical Center Sprint Triathlon.  The race was 2 weeks before Nationals.  My hope was to literally go 110% throughout the entire race with hopes of having no energy left at the end.  I wanted to use this as a practice race to see how hard I can go and how it will feel having the throttle wide open for an entire race.  My biggest concern was how hard the run would be after mashing on the bike.  Turns out, the race went WAY better than I ever imagined.  I ended up placing 1st overall and it honestly wasn't even close.  I won by over 6 minutes!  At no point in this race did I ever take it easy.  This was my first ever overall win in a triathlon.  I was stoked!  You can read my race report here.

Coming off my first ever overall win, I was feeling fast and confident.  The week before the USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee, we had a family vacation in Rhinelander with the Nissen's.  I went into the race feeling fresh and fast.  On race morning I was the most nervous I think I had ever been for any race.  No, it wasn't going to be a long grueling race, but there was so much at stake.  This was my first race were there was no real joy in simply finishing.  I had a very specific time goal in mind and even if I achieve my time goal there was no guarantee that I would qualify for Team USA.  My strategy for the race was to do the same as I did in Ripon and give 110% the entire race and never let up.  The race went well, it was one of my favorite events I've done to date.  I stuck to my plan and felt pretty good all day.  I ended up finishing with a time of 1:07:08, nearly a full minute faster than my optimistic goal of 1:08.  I was most impressed with my effort on the final home stretch of the run, where I had an average pace of 4:52/mile throughout the final tenth of a mile.  My race report can be found here.

Unfortunately I did not qualify for Team USA.  I finished 28th in my age group and missed qualifying by about 30 seconds.  Evidently my estimate of finishing with a time of 1:08 would leave me sitting pretty fell a bit short.  But after thinking about it after the fact, I think this year saw a much more competitive race for several reasons.  First, I think the success of last years race lead more people to racing it in 2014.  Secondly, the 2015 World Championships are held in the USA for the first time in several years, bringing out a ton more athletes.  And finally, I truly think the proximity of the 2015 World Championship (Chicago) to the National Championships (Milwaukee) brought out more people too.  This is due to the belief that if you're able to race in Milwaukee, you should be able to race in Chicago the following year.   Comparing the two years, 2013 had a total of 55 finishers in the M30-34 age group while 2014 had 114, over double!  So in short, I am not at all bummed with my finish.  I am actually pretty proud of myself.  I know that I did the best I could and gave it my all.  I finished just outside of qualifying for Team USA and was the first guy from Wisconsin to finish in my age group....for what that's worth.  

Initially, my race season was going to end after the Age Group National Championships.  But, as I mentioned, I pulled out of the Green Bay Marathon, therefore obviously, not achieving my goal of finishing a sub 3:00 marathon.  So, immediately getting home from the Green Bay Marathon, Sarah jumped online to find a redemption race for me to complete sometime down the road.  She found a race in Ashland, WI in October.  Conveniently, her parents have a cabin in a small town about 20 miles south of Ashland and I was already off the weekend of the race.  She gave me the almighty blessing to register for the race that day, literally just hours after walking off the Green Bay Marathon course.

Coming off the National Championships, I took a few days off to just kick back and relax at my family's cottage and then jumped into my marathon training plan.  My training plan was very run heavy (imagine that!).  My training better than expected.  More than ever, I felt like this was going to be the time I would run a sub 3 hour marathon.  I was hitting all my predetermined marks in training and feeling great throughout.  We had made arrangements to spend an extended weekend at my in-laws cabin the weekend of the Whistle Stop Marathon.  The race was on Saturday, so we would then celebrate my daughter's birthday that weekend with our families on Saturday night.  It was a great plan and everything was all shaping up to be a perfect opportunity to meet my #1 goal.

Once again, unfortunately I did not achieve my goal.  For one reason or another, I once again blew up in the later miles of the race after sustaining an appropriate pace for more than half the race.  I finished in 3:16:28 and placed 4th in my age group.  I was left with a feeling of confusion.  I honestly do not know what I need to do, or what I need to not do.  I do know that I want, more than just about anything, to run a sub 3:00 marathon.  The race itself was a great race and was extremely scenic, especially during that time of year with the fall colors at their peak.  

2014 was a much better year than I had expected coming off the year I had in 2013.  I was able to experience some great new races and found new ways to challenge myself without sacrificing a bunch of hours away from my family.  I have become even better with my time management skills.  Our family took some great trips both short and long.  So, with no doubt, I would say 2014 was a great year, even when I thought it would be impossible to even come close to the year I had 2013.  

In the next week or two, I will be writing Part 2 of my Looking Back and Moving Forward.  My next post I will look ahead to my plans, goals, and resolutions for 2015.  I have huge plans for 2015 that I have been working out the details for.  I want to really work on not only becoming a better athlete next year, but more importantly a better father, husband, and person.  So, until then, I hope you all have a great holiday season!