Friday, September 26, 2014

Maya's Big Accomplishment

I realize that many of you may have seen Sarah's post on Facebook last week, but personally this is too big for me not to follow up with.

At the beginning of spring I told Sarah that my ambitious goal for Maya was to have her riding her bike without training wheels before her 5th birthday in October.  This was actually pretty ambitious and I honestly didn't think it would happen.  She started riding her bike last summer and we started on square 1....literally.  It started out with me rotating the pedals with my hands as I walked/jogged along side her.  This past spring we bought her a new bigger bike since she has been growing faster than a weed.  This spring she was right back at square 1.  She some how found a way to regularly fall off her bike WITH the training wheels on...yea, don't ask me about that one.

Both Sarah and I made it a point to go on walks as often as possible this summer and have Maya bike along to practice riding her bike.  She progressed quickly and loved it.  About a week ago, I had to work all weekend while Sarah was on call throughout the weekend.  On weekends like this, we send the girls over to Sarah's parents due to our difficult work schedules.  On Saturday evening, Sarah called me with the good news... Maya had officially learned to ride her bike without her training wheels!  Sarah's mom worked with her a lot on Saturday and by the end of the weekend she was riding confidently on her own!

Now, I just need to start training her so her legs can get used to running off the bike, because I know next summer she will be doing her first ever triathlon!



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Game of Catch Up

I really need to write on here more often. It seems as though I say that at the start of all my posts lately. I find that every time I start writing a new post, I feel overwhelmed, because of everything I want to talk about. Just looking at this post, I want to talk about so many things. I guess I should have seen this coming since it's been nearly a full month since my last actually post. Obviously, I am not counting my last post of my end of summer video, which was a secondary recap to my previous post "Squeezing Every Last Drop from Summer." As it turns out, I am constantly wanting to do a write up as things in life present themselves, but for one reason or another just put it off, as more and more things come up that I want to write about. Finally, when I get around to doing a blog entry, I feel overwhelmed by how many things I want to write about and feel as though I am just rushing through topics. It's as though I'm selling some of these topics short.

So here we go....

Since mid-to-late August, Sarah and I have been doing as much as possible with what little time remains of summer. The weekend before Labor Day Weekend, we went camping in Door County at Peninsula State Park, which is one of the nicest State Parks in Wisconsin, which also makes it one of the most popular. We got into Peninsula Friday evening and set up camp for the week. For the first time ever, we camped in a tent, opposed to a pop-up camper as we used to. Early Saturday morning it poured. It rained hard for about 1-3 hours, but once it stopped, the day ended up being nearly perfect. We spent much of the day at the beach with the kids swimming and playing in the sand.

Coming off our weekend at Peninsula State Park, Sarah and I both worked shorter weeks at work and spent most the week packing for an extended weekend up at my in-laws cabin in a tiny northern Wisconsin town called Cayuga. We always spend an extended weekend up at their cabin, usually over Memorial Day Weekend. But, this year that weekend was booked with a wedding, so we made plans of going up there over Labor Day Weekend. Their cabin is in the deep woods of the Chequamegon National Forest, about 25-30 miles south of Ashland, WI. The weekend was a nice get away from the busy summer we have been having. We really didn't have any specific plans throughout the weekend, but made plans as the weekend came to us. We spent the weekend riding around the trails on 4-wheelers, enjoyed a day at "Glidden-Fest" (a small town festival), going out to dinner, and just enjoying a weekend with the family. The crazy thing about our 4 day stay in Cayuga, is that we some how managed to cram 8 adults, 6 kids (all ranging from 5 to 6 months), and 3 hyperactive dogs, all into a small 2 bedroom cabin.



Since coming back from our weekend in the north woods, both Maya and Delaney began new endeavors in school this year. Maya began 4k which is a half a day, 5 day a week school, while Delaney began preschool at the YMCA, just as Maya did the year prior. It was easy for me to let Maya go to school as being my big girl who seems to excel in anything intellectual. Delaney on the other hand, I had a harder time letting go, even just to a short, couple hour, 2 times a week, preschool. She has always been my little sidekick since she was able to move. So seeing her with a backpack and watching her go to school was a weird moment for me, almost a slap upside the head reminding me of how fast kids grow up. Both kids absolutely LOVE school and look forward to going each day. They both regularly ask, "when do I go back to school," immediately upon picking them up.



Along with starting school, Maya started Ballet classes once a week along with swimming lessons and flag football through the YMCA. Delaney started gymnastics through the Y and swimming lessons. Maya enjoys football and seems to enjoy the company of other kids more than the actual sport of football. Delaney has been excelling in gymnastics, especially for being so young. She has great body control and awareness and seems to have decent relative strength. Now, with the kids into a routine with school and classes, Sarah and I have kept busy with work. We have been extremely fortunate to have a lot of time away from work with the birth of Harper and spent most of the time together as a family. With summer pretty much gone, we have been back to the normal life of work and just the routine "weekends" as they come around.  



One of the biggest updates for Sarah and I is our recent adventure with the Whole30 (need a reminder of what exactly the Whole30 is, READ THIS - Program Rules). Prior to leaving for Cayuga, I had the idea in my head that once we returned from our extended weekend, I would commit to eating better and dropping as much expendable weight as possible leading up to my marathon on October 11th. As I have discussed before, much of August was spent on vacation, which typically means eating like crap and drinking excessive beer. This was exactly the case for me. It all kind of started during our week long vacation in Rhinelander the week leading up to the USAT Age Group National Championships. I stayed committed to that race solely by avoiding alcohol, but still ate terribly. This continued throughout our weekend in Cayuga. I drank a ton of beer, ate a lot of processed foods, along with just about anything you would classify as "junk food." If you have been following my blog since the beginning, you can attest to how many times I have written about "making a change for the better in my diet." I struggle with maintaining healthy eating habits. Sure, I eat pretty healthy foods, but often find myself snacking and binge eating on processed, sugary foods. And this doesn't even take into consideration the amount of beer I drink. So, I am not here to go on and make claims of how I am going to change and make these extravagant changes to my diet. Anyway, I knew I had to make some changes to my diet patterns if I really wanted a shot at running a sub 3 hour marathon in October. I made the decision to embark on my second stint on the Whole30 after coming home from our weekend up north. But, instead of just me doing the Whole30, I mentioned the idea for Sarah to join me. Initially she shot down the idea immediately. I challenged her and really encouraged her to try it, and offered to help her out along the way. Eventually I was able to persuade her into joining me for 30 days of truly cleaning up our diets with hopes of establishing some new healthy habits.

As of writing this we have made it through 3 weeks (21 days) without any major slip ups. I have noticed that completing the Whole30 is a ton easier when you have your family doing it with you. My first go at the Whole30 was just me, while the remainder of the family ate what they wanted which made it that much more difficult With Sarah doing it along with me, we have cleaned out our house of all non-Whole30 foods and completely restocked our home with real foods. If you are considering doing a Whole30, I highly recommend doing it as a family. I also feel as though, since we are doing this as a family, we have the better chance of making positive changes to our daily diet that will stick, opposed to going straight back to the way things were before even starting the Whole30, which was pretty much the case from my first go at the Whole30. I do plan on writing a review of the Whole30 in the end with some perspective from Sarah, who I would consider a "normal" person, who when left on her own, would have never done the Whole30. I will also include our plans as a family for post Whole30. Below are some of our favorite recipes from our second round of the Whole30 (click on each title for a link to the recipe):

1. Avocado Stuffed Burgers
2. Balsamic Glazed Chicken Kabobs with Strawberry Salsa
3. Pumpkin Spice Lattes
4. Venison Bacon Sweet Potato Sliders
5. Macadamia Nut Chicken Tenders
6. Stuffed Green Peppers
7. Cauliflower Hummus (even better than traditional hummus!)

And last but not least, I wanted to write a little about my training for the Whistle Stop Marathon in Ashland, WI on October 11th. I have been following a generic plan created using the Smart Coach program from www.RunnersWorld.com. The reason I chose this opposed to creating my own plan, as I normally do for races, was two fold. First, I wanted something different from how I normally structure my training plans. And secondly, I only had 8 weeks coming off of the Sprint Triathlon National Championships in August, so I wanted to get a lot of bang for my buck with the limited time. I have been running the most I have run (weekly mileage) since 2011. I have really been focused on my runs and have been taking more off days to ensure recovery and have really limited my swimming and biking. I haven't been scheduling any swim or bike workouts, I've been just sprinkling them into my schedule based on how I feel on each giving day and what is going on in my life on that specific day. Majority of my day to day runs are 9-12 miles long at a pretty aggressive pace with weekend long runs ranging from 16-20 miles, also at a relatively aggressive pace. This has been the first time since starting my career with the Sheriff's Office and working a 6/3 rotation that I have followed a 5/2 training schedule (9 day training week vs a 5 day training week). It really hasn't been an issue as I had initially though back when I started working shifts, especially 3rd shift. The Whistle Stop Marathon is a point to point marathon with all of the race on an old rail road track that has been converted to a recreational trail. The surface is a firm crushed limestone type surface and is mostly downhill or flat. Because of this I have made it a point to do majority of my training runs and all of my longs runs on some of the recreational trails throughout the area. I did 2 of my long runs at State Parks, 18 at Peninsula and 20 at Copper Falls. This is my first time ever taking my training runs off the streets and running on trails. I must say, I have found them to be significantly more relaxing and enjoyable, not to mention the noticeably softer running surface, which my joints have enjoyed.




On September 2nd when I started following the Whole30, I noticed an obvious change in my running. I noticed that I was tiring sooner, and just couldn't sustain a normal steady up beat pace over 8-10 miles. But, after sticking with my training and sticking to eating whole foods, my body has adjusted and my training has been going great! I have been hitting most of my prescribed paces and getting in all of my scheduled mileage. I have been feeling considerably more optimistic for my chances of finally finishing a marathon in under 3 hours. Regardless of how well my training may or may not being going, I will need to have a great day all together and stay extremely mentally strong, as it will be a very tough task no matter how fit and fast I may be at the start of the race. So, at this point I have just under 3 weeks until race day and all I can do is continue to eat healthy and focus on fueling my body and continue to train my ass off and keep a priority on recovery as much as my training.

So, from here on out, I am going to do my best to continue to post on here on a more regular basis and my next post will be a final recap on our Whole30 experience and a final update on my training leading up to the Whistle Stop Marathon.

Until then.... Stay fast, stay strong, and carry on!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Summer to Remember

Here is a (somewhat) short video with a bunch of pictures capturing one of the best summer's my family has had in a while.  We did just about everything possible and then some in the short 3-4 months of summer here in Wisconsin.  As sad as we are to see Summer go, we are all looking forward to what fall has in store!

If the video isn't working on the website, here is the link: http://youtu.be/u7E9Qk0qDO8 


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Squeezing Every Last Drop from Summer

Last summer was, shall we say, a stressful one, especially on Sarah.  Last summer I spent all of my personal days off training or racing.  All while, Sarah and the kids went off and did their own thing.  We were a family only in the technical sense of the word.  Beyond that, we were literally two separate entities.  Without a doubt, this summer has been a complete 180 reversal.  Literally every singe day that both Sarah and I were off from work together, we made plans.  Whether it was taking the kids to Mulberry Lane Farms, a Timber Rattlers game, the pool, or just to a park for a picnic.  Below are some pictures from our adventures.

June

June saw our first camping trip where we spent Father's Day Weekend at High Cliff State Park.  We brought the girls to Mulberry Lane Farm, Maya started Tee Ball, a Timber Rattlers baseball game, and then a trip to the Menominee Park and Zoo in Oshkosh.  At the end of the month, we celebrated Delaney's 3rd birthday.












July

In July, we brought the kids to the Green Bay Packers Kid's 1k Fun Run, Maya continued tee ball, Sarah and I went to a Brewer's game with Ben and his girlfriend Mandy, and our second camping trip to Harrington Beach State Park.


















August

We took a long family vacation right at the start of August in Rhinelander with Pat and Melissa and their two boys.  Immediately at the end of the week we went down to Milwaukee for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships.  After that we spent a few days at my family's cabin on Lake Poygan and then went on our third camping trip to Peninsula State Park in Door County.