Thursday, April 17, 2014

Being a Cop

If you are a regular follower of my blog, you may already know this.  But, if you are new, or just a casual reader, I am a full time Patrol Officer.  If you would have told me 4 or 5 years ago that I would be employed full time as a cop, I would have told you that you were full of crap.  I never even considered going into law enforcement when I was researching careers and colleges.  Honestly, as soon as I learned that there was such a thing as an "Exercise and Sports Science" degree, I stopped searching and just knew that was what I wanted to pursue.  As I was attending UW - La Crosse, I think I considered about a half dozen (if not more) different careers either at UWL or another university or tech school.  I debated becoming an electrician apprentice, electrical engineer, fire fighter, physical therapist, and various other engineer and electrical type fields.  I even officially changed my major from fitness, to physical education, and then finally to sports management which I ultimately graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in.  It's not that I was ever not interested in health and fitness, but more that I was just never 100% sold that it was what I wanted to do for a career.  After graduation, I was hired as the Health and Fitness Coordinator for the Neenah-Menasha YMCA.  I was thrilled to actually find a full time job in the health and fitness field so close to home.  After about a year or so of working there, I had a feeling that I could do more, that I was unfulfilled, if you will.  I once again, started looking else where for possible employment, both in the health and fitness field and in anything else I felt was qualified for.  Then, in 2009, Sarah was told that her hours were going to be cut in half.  She would be going from 80 hours on a pay check to 40.  Ouch, that one hurt.  We had just started a family and Maya wasn't even a year old.  We tried cutting expenses anyway we could.  We gave up cable, put loans on hold, and tried finding short cuts financially anywhere we could.  That was when Sarah and I decided that I should consider looking for a new job, to help our family financially.

Sarah found a job opening at Fox Valley Metro Police Department and their major requirement was just 60 college credits.  I applied on a whim, thinking what's the worst that could happen.  I then applied for the City of Appleton Police Department a week or two later.  If you have never gone through a hiring process for a police department, let me enlighten you.  They are long....very long, and often times include 6 or more steps along the way, and they eliminate candidates along the way after each and every step.  Some of the typical steps include a written test, physical agility tests, a panel interview, an interview with the Chief, an interview with the community's Police and Fire Commission, a psychology evaluation, and sometimes even a polygraph test.  Often times a single hiring process can take up to 6 months or more.  So, as you can see, saying they're stressful is an understatement.  While I was in the middle of both processes, I chose to participate in each agency's "Ride-Along" program to see exactly what I was considering getting myself into.  Turns out, I fell in love with the idea of becoming a cop.  I would get to help people, protect others, serve my community, be outside, and interact with people each and every day.  I did a total of 3 ride-alongs, 2 with Appleton PD, and one with FV Metro PD.  After each and every ride-along, I was convinced I would be happy working as a law enforcement officer.  As each of the processes went on, I made it to the final step for Metro, the Police and Fire Commission Interview.  I was in the final four, but ultimately was not selected.  For Appleton, I made it through the first 3 stages and again ultimately was not selected.  I met with the Chief of Fox Valley Metro to discuss why I was not selected and what I could have done differently.  Turns out, what held me back in both processes was that I was not already certified - I was not certified by the State of Wisconsin as a Law Enforcement Officer.  Basically, I did not have a degree in criminal justice and I had not attended a Police Academy.  It was at this point where Sarah and I had many long conversations discussing my future.

Sarah and I agreed that I would take a leap of faith and put myself through the Academy at a local Technical College.  Just as the general hiring processes for individual agencies is competitive, so too is the application process for the Law Enforcement Academy.  The local college hosts 4 individual Academy classes a year, each with about 25-30 students.  About 20 or so of those spots are already spoken for by area agencies wishing to send new hires or current employees through, leaving just 5-10 spots for the general public, which is why they have a separate application process.  Luckily I was selected on my first attempt at going through the Academy and just like that I was "all in."  I quit as the Health and Fitness Coordinator at the YMCA and I cashed out my entire retirement account, which wasn't a lot of money, but literally just enough to pay for the Academy.  There was no turning back.

It was a huge risk, who knew if I would find a job, let alone a job close to our house that we had just purchased a couple years prior to quitting my job....all with a 8 month old.  I applied to any and every job opening within a 60 mile radius of our home.  I was involved in about 3-5 or more hiring processes at any one given time.  I was hired as a part-time officer for the City of Omro Police Department while I was still attending the Academy, but continued to seek full time employment.  I continued to study and attend classes every day from 8-4pm and during that period I learned all about the constitution, criminal law, report writing, driving emergency vehicles, and was even pepper sprayed and tasered.  In August I graduated from the Academy, and began the training process with the Omro Police Department.  A short while later I was hired full time with the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office and officially started on November 1st, 2010.

Since becoming a patrol officer, I have experienced a lot.  I have seen things you don't want to hear about.  I have been on scene of incidents that look like something out of a horror movie.  I have been involved in some extremely stressful situations, all of which I am expected to remain cool, calm, and make careful, thought out decision.  Since becoming a cop, I have always thought that this job is the easiest, yet most difficult job out there.  The sad thing is, not too many people really realize what it takes to be a patrol officer.  I hear people say how stressful their day at work was, because, maybe they had to go through literally hundreds of emails, or got yelled at by an upset customer.  I often laugh to myself when I hear this.  Imagine going to work, and your first contact with a person is during a traffic stop.  You stop a vehicle for speeding, lets say 84mph in a 65 mph zone.  You issue them a citation and they complain to you and then call your supervisor and make up a story that you where verbally abusive, even though you remained calm and polite even while they ridiculed you and argued with you while you issued them their citation.  Your second contact is with a family who literally just lost a loved one unexpectedly.  Now, you have to investigate the death, all while consoling a family who is experiencing a tragic loss.  After you complete your assignment with the death investigation, you have a break, so you quickly type up or call in your report from the last incident.  As soon as you finish your report, you have a break and log out on a meal break to eat a lunch you packed.  But, shortly after you take your first bite of your sandwich a call comes in of a disturbance with a weapon and the suspect leaves the house with a gun threatening that if any cop attempts to stop him he will shoot them.  You throw your partially eaten sandwich back in your lunch pail and take off with your siren blaring and red and blue lights flashing.  Your weaving in and out of traffic driving with the utmost attention looking out for anyone who may not hear your siren or see your lights.  Your nervous, running various situations through your mind of what you're going to do if you find the car.  You briefly think about your family and then immediately go back to focusing on the situation at hand.  After about 5 minutes of high stress driving, you find a car matching the description.  You and another officer attempt to stop the vehicle.  Suddenly, you are giving commands to the driver of the vehicle all while you have your duty weapon pointed down range at the subject.  You and your partner safely take the subject into custody without incident and no one got hurt.  You put the subject in the back seat of your squad and bring them back to your department for an interview and the entire 15 minute drive, they yell at you, telling you how terrible of a person you are, calling you names you never dreamed of being called, saying things about your family, your kids, and there is nothing you can do about it.  After all, your a police officer, you should expect that, right?  You need to be respectful and caring, no matter what, right?  I mean, that is your job.  Turns out that you end up being forced to stay at work 3 hours after your normal quitting time and you miss your kids soccer game and by the time you get home your kids are in bed.  So you shower and go to bed yourself, just to get up early and do it all over again tomorrow.

Granted, that scenario may not truly be an everyday occurrence, but by no stretch of the imagination is that out of the ordinary.  Hell, it could even have been worse.  This kind of stuff happens literally every single day, in every single state, and in just about every single community.  Rarely do you hear of this stuff.  Why?  Honestly, because 99% of the time this stuff ends peacefully, without incident.  But sometimes it doesn't.  That's just the way it is.  Sometimes the subject is hurt, injured, and sometimes even killed.  Sometimes the police officer is hurt, injured, and sometimes killed.  It's part of the job, it's what we all signed up for.  Unfortunately, when these incidents don't go as planned, the media reports them.  That's when suddenly people are experts and know exactly what should have been done.  It's done everywhere, everyday.  The media and general public are suddenly arm chair quarterbacks.  They say things like, "If that where me, I would have _____."  Or, "The officers should have just ___________."  Or even, "There was no reason for that to happen like that, they could have __________."

Being a police officer is a thankless job.  I'm not complaining, I love what I do.  I know each and every day that I did what was right at the time in the situation that I was in.  It's not hard to see why most veteran cops are jaded.  They have been scrutinized, ridiculed, challenged nearly every day for 20 or 30 years, sometimes even more.  I'm not here saying that every single police officer is perfect, we aren't, hell, I'm not.  And don't even for a second try to tell me that you have never made a mistake while at work.  I also realize that there are some police officers out there that are rude, mean, and have poor priorities.  I know those cops exist, I've met them, I've seen them at trainings, I've been on calls with them.  I'm not saying every cop is the nicest person out there.  Fact is, there are jerks out there everywhere, I'm sure you have people at your work that are not nice people.

Personally, when I'm working, I make it a goal to try and change peoples' perception of cops.  Will I change everyone's view of us, absolutely not.  But, if I can make one person think, "hey, that was one of the nicest cops I've met," then I've met my goal.  No, this is not always easy, especially on days/nights when I'm tired from working one of the most stressful schedules known to man, stressed about issues from home, or on days/nights where it's been crazy busy and your hungry and can't even find time for a snack.  But, I do my best.  No, I am not out there looking to "get" anyone.  I do not "enjoy" bringing people to jail.  I do not "enjoy" issuing people hundred dollar citations.  I do, however, know that everyone makes decisions and for ever single decision a person makes, there are consequences to those decisions.  It is my job to enforce rules, to impose consequences to peoples actions.  I take my time, I do thorough investigations, I want to make sure the decision I make is the right decision, because I realize that each and every decision I make directly effects another person, sometimes very significantly.  Regardless of the situation I am making contact with a person, I treat them with respect, with dignity, and treat them like a person.  I do not talk down to them, I do not belittle them, I explain to them what I am doing and why I am doing it.  I owe it to the community that I work for.  So often people do not realize what being a cop is like - nor should they.  Some people have seen Law & Order, NYPD Blue, or say they watch the show Cops, so they know what it's like being a cop.  Truth is, there is so much more to it then what is depicted on TV.  We work odd schedules, we work a lot of weekends, holidays, nights, and work no matter what.  I am required to be at work regardless of the weather, no matter what event is going on, and most times, when the weather is at it's worse, or there is a tragic event, that is when I am expected to be working.  On top of working odd hours and at times when most folks are not, I am expected to be in court regardless of my work schedule, attend trainings regardless of my regular patrol schedule, and I am expected to be on the top of my game at all times.


So the next you have police contact, no matter the situation, say "thank you."  We are doing our best, I can guarantee it.  A simple thank you goes a long way - more then you can imagine.  All to often we are looked at as "bad."  How often do you hear (especially from parents), "if you don't behave, I'll have the police bring you jail."  Or something similar.  All this does is instill a perception that cops are bad, they take people away.  We are here to help.  We are here to protect.  We are here to serve you, the community.  Almost 100% of the time we are viewed as the bad guy until we are needed, then we are your everything, just to be forgotten immediately following the situation.  So, next time you see a cop on the side of the highway with their lights on, move over, slow down.  And the next time you see an officer walking their patrol area, or at a special event, say thank you, sure, they are there as their job, but they are also there for you, willing to do whatever it takes, even if that means sacrificing their own life so you can go home safely with your kids and family.

I'll wrap up this post with an excerpt from Lt. Col. Dave Grossman who is an internationally recognized scholar, author, soldier, and speaker who is one of the world's foremost experts in the field of human aggression and the roots of violence and violent crime. Col. Grossman is a West Point psychology professor, Professor of Military Science, and an Army Ranger.  About a year or two ago, I had the opportunity to listen to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman speak. During his presentation, which is geared toward soldiers and law enforcement personnel in the topic of the possibility of using deadly force. During his presentation he compared the role of a police officer to that of a sheepdog. Below is an excerpt from one of his books, On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs:
One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: “Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.” This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. 
Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million. 
Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep. 
I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin’s egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators. 
“Then there are the wolves,” the old war veteran said, “and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.” Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial. 
“Then there are sheepdogs,” he went on, “and I’m a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.” Or, as a sign in one California law enforcement agency put it, “We intimidate those who intimidate others.” 
If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath--a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Oshkosh Half Marathon - Race Report

I have made it no secret that my ultimate goal for the marathon is running a sub 3 hour marathon, especially since qualifying for the Boston Marathon in 2010.  Ever since running the Boston Marathon in 2011, I have focused majority of my efforts toward triathlon.  This year is going to be different.  My main focus for the spring of 2014 is the Green Bay Marathon.  In preperation for the GB Marathon, I scheduled the Oshkosh Half Marathon as a race to gauge were my current fitness is.  I did not plan on treating this race as an "A" race, but a "B" race.  I definitely wanted to put up a fast time and do the best I could, but I honestly had no clue as to what type of time I was capable of.  The last half marathon I ran was in 2008 and I finished with a time of 1:38:43.  My latest marathon time was last year's Green Bay Marathon with a time of 3:10:32.  I often use McMillan Running (www.mcmillanrunning.com) to help predict race times and help set realistic, yet challenging goals.  I first put in a goal marathon time of 2:55:00 and according to their calculator I should theoretically be able to run a 1:23:09 half marathon.  So, just like that, I had determined a goal time for my first half marathon in nearly 6 years.  

Training Plan

My training plan has been geared around one goal in mind.  Running 26.2 miles in less then 3 hours - period.  That simple.....but it's always easier said then done.  Ever since running 30 miles on my 30th birthday, my training plan has focused on strictly prescribed pace workouts.  I have been doing mile repeats, goal marathon paced workouts, long runs, and tempo runs.  Each of these differing workouts have a specific goal pace.  My mile repeats have been done around 5:20/mile, long runs at an easy 7:45-8:00/mile, goal paced workouts are at or below 6:50/mile, and my tempo runs at 6:20/mile.  The days leading up the Oshkosh Half were far from being a taper.  The Saturday before I did an 8 mile run with 5 mile repeats, followed with a 14 mile goal marathon pace run on Monday.  On Thursday I had a track workout consisting of 6x400m sprints with a total mileage of 6 miles.  I took Friday off and then a short 2 mile run on Saturday.  I honestly felt really well on both Saturday and Sunday morning leading up to the race even with my higher training volume/intensity.

Day/Night Before

Saturday was a busy day/night for my family and I.  It started immediately after finishing my short 2 mile jaunt.  Sarah brought the three girls, with her parents, to a Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at the Local YMCA followed by an Easter Egg Hunt.  I left to get down to Oshkosh to pick up my race packet and then met up with the family shortly after their breakfast.  After the Easter Egg Hunt, we went to the grocery store for their annual "Bunny Hop."  It's nothing special, kind of a trick-or-treating style day but Easter Themed with the Easter Bunny.  When we finished making our rounds at the grocery store, we went to the same hospital Harper was born at to visit our good friends Pat and Melissa to see their new son, Connor.  We spent about 45 minutes visiting and then we returned home to get the kids down for an afternoon nap.  Later that evening we had plans to go out to dinner with the entire extended family from my dad's side to celebrate the birthday of my deceased grandfather.  This has been a tradition with my dad and his brothers and sisters for the past 10-15 (or more) years.  My dad came from a family of 12...yes, 12!  So, any time they are able to get most, if not all, together, its pretty special.  We went to a local supper club for dinner and I did my best to eat as close to the Whole30 rules as I could.  I drank water, had a salad with tomatoes and eggs and no dressing, and a broiled piece of haddock for dinner.  My only flaw with dinner was the cup of rice which was served as a side.  I figured it was my best option, and certainly better then the other options of white potatoes (fried, hashed, baked, etc.).  My biggest flaw was having 2 small squares of the cookie cake for my aunt's birthday.  Oh well, you need to enjoy life every now and again.  Don't worry, I won't dive into the number of beers I took down Friday night while playing Cards Against Humanity with my in-laws or the number of handfuls of M&M's that I ate with the beer.  :)  Either way, I was in bed and sleeping around 10pm with my alarms set for 4am.....ugh.

Getting to the Start Line

Without fail, my alarms went off when I told them to...4am sharp.  I was tired, but excited to get my 2014 race season under way.  I finally got my butt out of bed around 4:15 and immediately poured a cup of coffee and ate my traditional prerace meal of boiled sweet potato topped with natural honey and almond butter.  The weather was at the front of my mind all week.  It had been forecasted to be a cold and wet weekend ever since the extended forecast came out.  Saturday was a cool and wet day and rained pretty much all day.  The forecast for Saturday morning called for temperatures near 40 and a 30-40% chance of showers.  That morning it was not raining when I woke up, but the roads and everything else was wet from all the overnight rain.  I immediately jumped onto Weather.com and saw that the rain had a chance of holding off until later in the morning.  Either way, there was little I was able to do about it, at least that's what I told myself.  After a little relaxing and stressing over the radar, I was on my way to Oshkosh (about a half hour drive south of my home) by 5:20.

After getting to Oshkosh, I eventually was able to find my friend Bob and hung out with him until about 15 minutes before the race.  At 6:15am I took my new standard pre-workout supplements from Hammer Nutrition; Race Caps Supreme, Mito Caps, and Anti-Fatigue Caps.  We stayed inside the convention center where the race was based out of to stay dry and warm.  Around 6:45am I started a brief warm up just to get the legs moving and to loosen up.  It was nothing what I would have liked, but hey, it was cold outside and I valued standing indoors in the warmth over being outside in the dreary weather.  By the time I got to the start line it was about 6:55 and I took an Energy Surge for a final boost of ATP just prior to the race starting.  After the National Anthem we receive a pre-race briefing in regards to the current course conditions following yesterdays rain.  No shocker, but there were parts of the course that were flooded, especially the sections that were located on the a trail section of the course along the river.
  

Miles 0-7

Immediately after starting the race, I decided I would make it a goal to go out and just run based on feel and try not to look at my watch for split times.  I wanted to do this because I honestly had no idea if a 1:23 half marathon would be way to hard for me or way to easy and I didn't want to ruin a race by crashing in the final 2-5 miles or by holding back for fear of crashing and burning.  Shortly after mile 1, I had realized that I had gone out way to fast.  My breathing was pretty labored and I knew I had to cut my pace or I would never be able to survive the final 12 miles.  I slowed my pace a bit, but it really wasn't until miles 4 or 5 that I really started to feel like I was at the right pace.  The first 4 miles were ironically the wettest.  This was the section of the race that was run along the lake and river that goes through the City of Oshkosh.  There were sections of the course that were under a good 3-6" of water that were completely unavoidable.  It was at these sections of the course that I tried to make my gait as wide and quick as possible to try and stay as dry as possible.

Miles 8-13.1

I continued to count down the miles to get to mile 10, because at that point I knew I would just have a 5k to the finish line.  Miles 8-10 were the worst miles, mentally.  I had no one in front of me to chase and no one behind me to push me.  I was lonely.  I tried to continuously assess my breathing, my gait, and my overall general feeling, wondering if I needed to slow down, or if I could pick up the pace based on how much of the race was left.  By time I got to mile 10, I was in a comfortable grove.  I knew I could hang on with just enough gas in the tank for a strong push on the final mile.  After the 10 mile mark, I took a final Hammer Nutrition Energy Surge for a little energy boost to get me to the finish line.  I continued to slowly pick up the pace until I passed the 12 mile mark.  It was at that point that I picked up the pace.  There was still no one visible in front of me, but I was able to see another guy behind me.  With about a quarter mile to the finish line I really opened up, I am not sure if it was adrenaline or the Energy Surge, but I felt like I had a whole other gear and pushed hard and finished with a final time of 1:24:31.

Oshkosh Half Marathon - Garmin Details

Post Race

After finishing I was very happy to see my wife and kids (as always) at the finish line and we spent some time chatting about the race and stuck around to watch Bob finish the race.  It was special to see my wife and kids at this race.   I could have been the fact that the weather was cruddy and my wife still lugged 3 girls all 4 and under out to the finish line by herself.  It could have been the fact that we are now a family of 3 with a one month old.  Or it could have been the fact that this was Harper's first ever race.  Either way, It seems like since the Ironman and having our third daughter my family has meant even more to me then before.  I am truly the luckiest guy out there and I wouldn't trade my life for anything.  Shortly after Bob finished, they held the awards ceremony.  I was fortunate enough to finish in 12th place overall and 2nd in my new age group of 30-34.  I was thrilled.  

Other Notes


I was very happy with my time.  No, it wasn't the 1:23 I was shooting for, but really who knows if that was realistic.  Maybe if I had trained specifically for a half marathon and tapered and peaked for this race I could have run a 1:23, but I really don't care.  For me it isn't about this individual half.  It's about the Marathon, specially running that marathon in under 3 hours, and that race is now 33 days away.  I have been training hard for the marathon and ran this race in the heart of my training, so I am very pleased with my time of 1:24:31.  Plus, now when I input my official race time from this race into the McMillan Calculator, it predicts a theoretical marathon time 2:57:52.  Sure, I wouldn't mind a little cushion but that is a definite confidence boost.  A boost that I will take into the final month of my training.

Lessons for Future Events

There are few true lessons that I will pull from this race when it comes to the specifics of the race and strategies.  But I will say, this was the first race that I ran since strictly using Hammer Nutrition products and I will not change anytime soon.  This was also the first time I used Energy Surge and Anti-Fatigue Caps and I am extremely impressed with the results.  I can't wait to continue to use them in future races and triathlons.  I debated what I would eat or drink for my pre-race meal.  I have made a decent effort to eat a diet higher in fat and protein and lower in carbohydrates in an effort to become more fat adapted.  So, I debated drinking coffee with pure coconut milk in it was opposed to my traditional high carb meal that I ultimately ended up eating.  I think I will still eat my sweet potato before the Green Bay Marathon, but might experiment with just coffee and coconut milk for my triathlons and other races this summer.

What's Next

It's time to kick my training into high gear the next few weeks before my final taper before the marathon.  I am scheduled to take Monday off from training in an effort to properly recover before jumping back into pace specific workouts.  I have one more real long run on my schedule of 24 miles and then a final 20 miler before my taper.  I have 2 more goal marathon pace workouts and a couple of shorter, more intense runs on the schedule.  I also have the Jailbreak 5k coming up on April 26th, which has the Bloodhound Challenge for Law Enforcement Officers.  I have won it the past two years and have some high expectations to win it a third year in a row.  I will do my best, but like I say every year, it's only a matter of time before another quick person shows up and steals the traveling trophy from me.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sauteed Sweet Potatoes with Apples

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a full week in a classroom for a Crises Intervention Team (CIT) training in Appleton.  For that week I followed a typical Monday through Friday, 8-4 schedule.  Every now and again, I get the opportunity to go a full week with this type of schedule, and I take full advantage of it when it comes around.  During this week, I had my alarm set at 4:45am so I could get up and get my workout in before each day of training.  Since finishing my Whole30 last month, I have been more aware of the damaging effects of grains on my digestive system.  In stead of my usual morning ritual of oatmeal, I have grown to love a concoction I came up with during my Whole30.  I ate this for my morning breakfast each day of my CIT training at the beginning of each class.  It was funny, the first day, before anyone really knew anyone, I just got some weird looks.  But on the second and third day, I got questioned as to what the hell I was eating.  My concoction is rather simple and takes about 10 minutes to whip up, plus it tastes as good warm as it does cold, so you can make it the night before and bring it with you when you're on the go.  It's just a single sweet potato with an apple, sautéed in butter topped with coconut flakes and cinnamon.  It is obviously not low carb, but it is sugar free and is relatively low on the glycemic index, meaning it will not rapidly spike your blood sugar.  Plus, cinnamon has a natural anti-inflammatory effect and has a positive effect on insulin and glucose, meaning it will help control your blood sugar levels, lessening the spike when consuming sugary/starchy foods.  One of my friends at work as also at the CIT training and he wanted to try my morning staple and asked me to make him a bowl for work some night, which I did.  After he tried it, he wanted the "recipe."  I laughed and told him, how simple it was, but insisted that I set him up with some directions.  So, I told him I'd put it on my blog....so here it is.


Ingredients:

1 Medium Sweet Potato Diced
1 Apple Diced (Gala, Pink Lady, Honey Crisp, or Similar)
1-2 Tbsp Grass Fed Butter or Ghee
1 Tbsp Cinnamon (or to taste)
2-3 Tbsp Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

Directions:

1. Saute sweet potato with the butter/ghee over medium-high heat.  Add apples and cook the two until soft.
2. During last 1-2 minutes of cooking stir in cinnamon and coconut flakes.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Outnumbered

It's been a while since I last wrote, so now seems like a good time to get caught up.  Harper is now approaching 3 weeks, which sounds like no big deal, but to any parent, it's crazy.  To think that our last baby is already 3 weeks old.  Yes, I said last.  We get asked quite often if Harper will be our last and both Sarah and I, without hesitation claim, "oh yea!"  Not that we don't or couldn't handle a fourth child.  It truly comes down to logistics and finances.  Raising a kid is not cheap (ahhh....duh).  If you would have asked me just one month ago and asked me, personally, if I wanted a fourth kid, I would have laughed, asked, "are you serious," and come right back with a short two letter answer..."NO."  But, with Harper here, and most of the "honeymoon period" over and done with.  Having a third kid around the house isn't half bad.  Sure, it helps having Super Mom around the house all the time, but Sarah and I have adjusted rather nicely to being a family of 5 from the previous family of 4.  Sarah has been at home since Harper was born and will continue to stay home with her and the girls until the beginning of May, at which time, I have taken some time away from work to help out around the house and to keep Harper at home just a little longer, before sending her to childcare.  It really hasn't been all the bad around our house.  Hectic?  Yes.  Loud?  Sure.  Messy?  Oh yea.  Enjoyable?  You bet!  Sarah and I have helped each other out when needed.  Sarah is and always has been the baby whisperer of our relationship.  And truthfully, I don't really "do" babies.  Sarah and I have each taken on our own responsibilities based on our strengths.  Sarah cares for Harper and her around-the-clock needs, while I handle the two older girls, who don't have the same constant needs, but seem to have their own frustrations.
Cousins!
Grandma and Grandpa Kohl
Raising a baby will take a lot outta ya!
Simply adorable
As my title clearly states, Sarah and I are now officially outnumbered, 2:3.  3 munchkins to 2 adults.  It's not fair, not at all.  But that isn't the only way I am currently outnumbered.  There is also a current ratio of 4:1, yes, four to one.  That ratio is girls to boys.  As Three Dog Night infamously wrote years ago, "One is the loneliest number."  But honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.  I love having my little girls.  Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have one teammate on my side, but, as I often say, everything happens for a reason.  I think if money was not an issue, Sarah and I would definitely try to have a 4th kid with hopes of my elusive son.  But, let's be honest, money is most definitely an issue and our house is not going to be growing overnight with the size of our family.  So, we are only able to have as many kids as our paychecks will allow.  Trust me, we are really pushing the limits of our paychecks to see just how many kids we can support every other week.  But I know neither Sarah nor I would have it any other way.  We are happy, all 5 of us.  


The first 3 weeks have come and gone so quickly.  Last weekend, we brought Harper and our family to Jennifer Lee Photography in Downtown Little Chute for our family pictures and Harper's newborn pictures.  We have only seen a couple of photos so far, but can not wait to see the rest of them.  That same day was Maya's Preschool Family Night at the YMCA.  For a dish to pass, Maya and I made little fruit bowls that were made to look like dolphins.  It was something I saw on Pinterest earlier that week (shared by my mother) and I must say they turned out pretty cool.    Harper has had a ton of visitors ranging from family, friends, and coworkers.  She is truly a blessed kid and lucky to have the family she does!  



Short Training Update

With it being so long since my last post, it has been even longer since I last wrote about my training.  I have registered for just about all my races for 2014 which means my race schedule for this year is just about complete.  I still need to register for the Door County Fall 50 Ultramarathon, but the registration period for that does not open until April 1st, so I still have a couple days until I even have the ability to register for that race.  There are a couple of other local races I have had my eye on that I have not registered for yet, those being the Neenah Duathlon on May 3rd and the Green Bay Triathlon on June 1st.  There are a couple of stipulations as to why I have not registered for either of these races yet.  First, the duathlon, it falls on the day after my cousins wedding.  Yea, not the best atmosphere to be in the night before a race, but we will see.  As for the GB Tri, I am scheduled to work the night before and the race starts at 7:00am in Green Bay.  I am done with work at 6:10am in Oshkosh, an hour away.  So, once again, it falls into a "we'll see" category.
As far as my training, it has been right where I want it to be for the end of March.  I am on track for the Green Bay Marathon on May 18th.  My shin/calf has been a non-issue ever since I took the three weeks off between January 6th and the 26th.  Since my 30 mile run on my 30th birthday, I have changed gears from a volume focused training plan to an intensity based training plan.  Each of my runs has a specific prescribed pace and purpose.  I have done Goal Marathon Pace workouts (6:50/mile), Tempo Runs (6:20/mile), Mile Repeats (5:30/mile), Long Runs (7:30-8:30/mile) and Easy Runs (6:50-7:50/mile).  I have still been doing intermittent bike and swim workouts between my running.  Today was actually the first day I was able to get my bike outside and actually ride outdoors.  It was about 36* when I went out the door this morning but was windy as hell.  It's always fun to do that first outdoor ride of the year, because it is always a rude awakening to remember the challenges of hills and wind.  It's so easy to forget that when your stuck indoors for hours and hours throughout the winter.

As I said, my training has been going great so far, but I find myself needing to keep myself in check.  I find that am I constantly saying, "Hey, you aren't training for an Ironman this year!"  It's like I am always wanting to do more, go longer, add an additional bike ride or swim when and where I can.  Especially now, I need to just stay focused on my primary goal of running a sub 3 hour marathon, which I think I have been doing a good job of so far.  Tomorrow I have my third Marathon Goal Pace (MGP) workout.  I have been doing these workouts with a total distance between 12-16 miles with built in longer intervals completed at MGP.  For instance, tomorrow, I am scheduled to run 3 repeats of 3 miles done at MGP with 2-3 miles rest/recovery between intervals.  My total volume is 14 miles, so I am planning on running a 3 mile warm up before my first interval and end with an easy 2 mile cool down.  These are challenging, but very rewarding workouts.  I have high expectations for these workouts and hoping that they will properly prepare me for the Green Bay Marathon in a month and half.

My first race of the year is coming up in a couple weeks with the Oshkosh Half Marathon on April 13th.  My goal is to finish around 1:23 (6:20/mile pace).  If I am able to run a 1:23 half, I will feel very confident in running a 2:59 marathon a month later.  The only caveat is that I work the night before and after the race.  So fatigue will definitely play a factor.  I will still go out and try to run a 1:23 race, but my expectations are not nearly as high as they would be if I was not working the night before.
Our SWAT Team did a Photo shoot with a local newspaper
to recognize our SWAT Team of the Year Award.
This was one of the pictures taken.  Yes, that's me on the left.

With everything falling in place with our family and Sarah and I getting back into a routine, I plan on writing a little more regularly about my family and training life.

So....until next time!
Be fast, be strong, and carry on!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Full House

It's hard to imagine exactly how you're going to feel when you get the call from your significant other when they call to say they think they are going into labor.  Especially being a guy.  I'll be completely honest, I have never grown to feel the love of a child before they were born.  It was always hard for me to feel that emotion when there is nothing tangible there.  Don't get me wrong, I obviously love the idea of the unborn child and I absolutely adore the child that will be coming, but I have never grown attached to the unborn child.  I have now gone through 3 pregnancies, 3 labors, and 3 births.  Each and every one was just as different as the child that has come as a result.  I still remember the exact details of when Sarah called me to tell me she was pregnant with each of the 3 kids.  I recall getting the call of her telling me either her water broke or she thought she was going into labor.  And I vividly reproduce the births of each of my daughters.  I'm not claiming to be a birthing expert or a pregnancy pro, but I feel I can at least say, "been there, done that."

During each of Sarah's past 3 pregnancies, she has always asked me, "do you love our baby?"  Referring to her enormous baby bump.  I would be upfront with her and simply say, "honestly....no."  I totally understand the love of a mother and her unborn child.  I could never imagine going through a pregnancy, let along labor and giving birth. I give every single mother out there so much credit and will never second guess a women when she talks about her labor or the pains and discomforts of being pregnant.  Women are amazing creatures.  But, for a father to say they love there unborn child, I feel, is a lie.  Sure, we love the idea of whats yet to come, but I have always found it difficult to have a true love for each of our daughters while they resided inside Sarah.

I have found, though, that all goes right out the window the second you see your new child.  You are overcome with joy, you smile from ear to ear, and your heart overflows with love.  It's the coolest feeling in the world.  One second your a husband, the next second your a father.  For me, this time around, I went from a father of two, to a father of 3.  I have been fully honest and forthcoming with my feelings and reservations about having a third child.  Sarah, I, and our daughters were happy, we were content.  Our lives were great, simple, and we had a routine.  Our lives worked.  We had things figured out.  Our family was complete....or so I thought.  Then the entire "I want to do an Ironman" thing happened, which brought on the whole "if you do an Ironman, you're giving me a third kid" thing.  I was happy with a family of 4.  Three kids scared me.  But I really wanted to do that damn Ironman.  I agreed to the deal and then right in the heart of my IM training, we learned that Sarah was pregnant...again.

Over the next 9 months, I would have mental debates with myself figuring out if having a third kid would be as easy/great as Sarah made it out to be or if it would be an absolute hell.  I kept telling myself that I was crazy for agreeing to have a third kid and that the Ironman wasn't worth the life of miserableness.  As the due date approached the reality of having our third kid became more unavoidable.  We bought a new car to handle the bigger family, we moved Delaney into Maya's bedroom with new bunk beds, we put together a ton of new baby furniture, and we bought all the new baby "stuff" to be prepared for when the new baby arrived.

This past Thursday, Harper Jean Kohl came into our lives, and every single feeling of doubt, fright, nervousness, anxiousness, and regret was immediately replaced with the feeling of love and joy.  It's an amazing transformation for the father.  We go from the idea of loving an unborn child to truly loving a new life that we are fulling responsible for helping bring into this world.  I believe that a women starts loving their new child as soon as they conceive, but the father doesn't truly love the child until the baby arrives.  It's a blessing that a mother gets the special bond and connection with the child before it's actually born, but a father isn't lucky enough to share that bond before hand.  I'm not complaining, but the process that a father goes through during birth is just as amazing as the birth process itself.  The emotions and the change that occurs when the father's child arrives is something I hope every man gets to experience at least once in their life.  It's an amazing feeling and there is absolutely no way I can truly explain it.

The Birth Story

Both Maya and Delaney were born at 38 weeks to the date, exactly 2 weeks prior to their scheduled due dates.  Harper's due date was March 26th, which had me convinced that she would be born on March 12th.  March 12th came and went with no signs of coming.  Harper would officially be the longest baby Sarah would carry.  I had SWAT training from 8-4pm on Thursday and Sarah also worked a full day of work.  At 4:00pm I was walking out of the Sheriff's Office after training was done, and I received a text message from Sarah, saying that she felt like she had been having contractions all day and that she was calling our family doctor for a suggestion on how to proceed.  Our doctor requested her to go to the hospital and get evaluated.  Sarah was just getting out of work, so she drove directly to the hospital from her job in Green Bay and I did the same from my work in Oshkosh.  We both arrived at Appleton Medical Center around the same time and went directly to the Birth Center.  The hooked Sarah up to a couple of monitors that record her contractions and the baby's heart rate.  It was about 5:00/5:30 and her contractions where about 2-6 minutes apart and she was about 4cm dilated.  The nurse said that she would recheck her in about an hour to an hour and a half and then call our doctor with the updates.  If Sarah would make any progress they would keep us there until the baby arrives and if not, they would send us home.  Sarah and I then walked the halls of the hospital for about an hour to help her cope with the pains of the contractions.  At 7:00pm, the nurse came back to recheck her.  At this time her cervix had softened up a little bit and they decided that they would admit her and have her stay until the baby comes.  We were told that our family doctor (who is also Sarah's OB) would be at the hospital around 7:45 and would come and attempt to break Sarah's water to help the birth process along.  We had the feeling that the baby would be born in the early morning hours of the 14th (1am-4am).  Knowing this, Sarah sent me home to get her bags and stuff we had all packed up for the actual day that Harper was born.  I left the hospital around 7:15am and went home to change out of my work clothes, feed the dog, and grab some stuff for the next couple days for Sarah.


While I was at home, I received a call from Sarah around 7:40, saying that her water had just broke, so I should hurry up and make my way back to the hospital.  I was just packing up the car with the stuff so I was just about to leave anyway.  I left our house around 7:45.  While I was on my way back to the hospital, my phone rang again, this time it was a number I didn't recognize.  It was our nurse.  She sounded frantic and a little panicked.  She asked me where I was.  I said I was on my way and be there ASAP, about 5 minutes.  She said, "well, Sarah's delivering, so hurry!"  I hung up and said, "Are you F@#*ING kidding me?!?" out loud with a large grin on my face.  I got there as quick as I could.  Sarah's parents also just got to the hospital just before I did and Sarah's dad and brother parked my vehicle which allowed me to just pull right up front.  They also brought all the stuff upstairs for me.  I ran up to the room as quick as I could.  It was 8:08 when I walked into the room and Harper had already made her appearance.  I looked at Sarah, laughed, and said, "are you serious?"  We just looked at each other and chuckled.  We didn't say anything else, we just both laughed at the fact that I had just missed the entire birth of our daughter.



Neither of us were upset though.  Sarah was seriously born to give birth.  She is an amazing woman.  She is notorious for incredibly fast and easy births.  Granted, easy is all relative.  I still can only imagine the pain of birth, but I digress.  Sarah's water broke at 7:38pm and Harper was officially born at 8:01pm, just 23 minutes later.  Amazing.  Literally everybody missed it- our families, Sarah's sister, our doctor, and yup, even daddy.  Harper was delivered by 3 nurses.  They didn't even have time to set up the room for birth.



Harper has been adjusting great to her new life and her family.  She weighed 7lbs 7oz, was 20" long, and had a 34cm head.  She has been struggling to eat which isn't as bad as it initially may sound.  Her nurse thinks that since the birth was so quick, she didn't have the opportunity to squeeze out all of the amniotic fluids which normally happens with "normal" births.  So they think that her stomach still has some residual fluids in it which typically leaves a baby feeling "hung over."  This feeling is what is keeping her from eating regularly, but should subside after that fluid is excreted through general digestion or by vomiting.  Either way, she has only lost 7oz in 36 hours, which is actually the least amount of weight any of our kids have lost in that same time frame.  So, there is little cause for worry at this time, it's just something we are monitoring.  Other wise, mommy and baby are doing well and looking forward to starting our new life as a family of 5!

Delaney Singing to Harper

video