Monday, March 30, 2009

Good luck to Ellie!

OK, you need to take a minute and go over to my friend Ellie's blog and wish her luck. On Wednesday, she is undertaking a hike on the Appalachian Trail, starting from Georgia and ending up, well, wherever she ends up after 6 months. I was lucky enough to meet Ellie and run part of the Austin marathon (I ran the half, she finished the full) with her last February, and I can honestly say that she has changed me for the better. She has a unique no-nonsense, no-frills perspective, she is completely real and down-to-earth, and ultimately what makes her so special is that she truly understands the important things in life. She's completed Ironman and a countless number of marathons, but this will undoubtedly be her most challenging endeavor ever.

Her last post before she leaves is on her blog here:

Go, wish her well. She doesn't need the luck, because she's been preparing for this physically, mentally and spiritually for the past year, but I'm sure she'd appreciate it anyway!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Executive Decision

So, I went for a run today. Eight miles, toward the gym where I met Hub, and then another 2 miles on the incline climber there. Now that's an awesome machine, I have to say. But, the 8 miles on the way there were good, solid miles, into a kinda strong wind, and uphill for most of it. I felt strong for most of it, and managed to average about a 10:40 pace over the whole distance. The weather was nice and cool, but with the sun shining. It was a good time for me to think. About a lot of things.

One of the things I thought about is the need to get my house in order. Literally and figuratively. I need to lose weight -- this has been a recurring theme on this blog since it was started back in the '' days, because it has been a recurring theme in my life. I need to stand with my spouse and get our financial house in order -- we work too hard and sacrifice too much to have money flowing through our hands unchecked. I can't continue to spend 4 days a week away from my family, and not be getting any traction on our family goals. I'm willing to do it as a means to an end, but not long-term -- my family is too important to me. The more I think about the situation with the house last year, I think it was a move in this direction. It just wasn't meant to be. There's a lot going on right now, both in our household and in the economy, that require some all-around belt-tightening, so that's what we're doing.

All of this, sadly, requires some choices, and for this summer, I choose to pay for hockey camps and gymnastics sessions for the kids instead of TI swim lessons for me. I need a new bicycle if I'm going to do anything more than sprints, and I'm not in a position to buy one right now, not even an entry-level road bike. I want to train for triathlon when I can throw my whole self into it, and have the energy and money to do without guilt. That's not going to happen this summer, and it's not fair to my family for me to spend the time and money required to do so when both are at a premium right now.

So that's the executive decision that was made this morning, on my 8-mile run to the gym. I am not going to do the OKC marathon in a month. I'm not in any better shape right now than I was for Cowtown, and I can't spend the money involved and travel the 3 hours each way just to crash and burn like I did at Cowtown. I don't see that I'm prepared for any different result right at this moment, to make that investment and potentially be disappointed again. So, for now, until I can really get into better race-ready shape, and until I can spend the money involved without feeling guilty that there is something else that could be done with that, I am not going to be racing marathons, triathlons, or anything else (our son's school fundraiser 5K being one notable exception).

I do plan to keep weekly long runs of about 10-13 miles throughout the spring and summer, but I just won't have any races on the calendar for now. If I get into NYC this year, then I'll train for NYC and attack it with all I've got. But OKC will be there when I'm ready for it. And triathlon will be there when I'm ready for it. And I am making myself ready for it, physically, mentally and financially. This is not coming off my radar by any means. I am just coming to terms with the reality that it's not in the cards for this year, and maybe not for next year, either. And that's OK. Because when the time comes, it will have been SOOO worth it. I believe that with all of my heart. I have faith that this is the right thing to do right now, to put things on hold for a while while I work on some other stuff. So, the OKC countdown is coming down. For now. And that's OK with me.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I did run

on Tuesday night, on the treadmill, while watching the Biggest Loser. It was just like when I travel, except not. 'Cause I was home. on the treadmill in the playroom, and I was able to put the boy to bed first. It was awesome. And then, when I was done, I did week 2, day 1 of the 200 situps challenge and repeated week 1 of the 100 pushups challenge.

Tonight, the boy had a scout meeting, but since we no longer have to stay at the meeting with them, I was able to take a 4.8 mile run around the neighborhood near the school while the meeting was going on. And then I came home and did my ab work and some pushups, then had an orange smoothie for dinner (a full navel orange, some protein powder and ice). And now, at about the time I would be arriving home from the airport, it's time to read to the boy and call it a night.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

really, I should go for a run

it's tough to get out and run when I'm home instead of traveling for work. so many other things demand my attention. Like the boys. and Hub. and the cats. and the dishes. and the DVR. and. and. and. You get the picture.

I've updated the countdown to OKC over there on the right. I have some work to do before then. At least I should do my pushups. Finished the first week and lived to tell about it. And yet, there are so many other things that I'd rather be doing. Sigh. I should get off the computer now, although I'm not even going to be thinking about running outside until the temps drop below 80. Ugh.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Workout

It was fun, it was tough, and I can't wait to do it again...

We met at the church where our regular group runs have been starting, and hit the road right after 7:00 am. We took an easy pace out to the 2-mile mark, to where we found a little patch of green off the side of the levee. We ran down, then up, then back down for a while on the edge of the levee (a nice 60 degree or so angle), then settled in for some sprints, push-ups, jumping jacks, ab work, and squats. We ran back to the hill (yes, THE hill) for more ab work, plus more squats. We were spared the lunges, thankfully, but then did a few hill repeats before coming in and heading out for breakfast, where we traded war stories about Cowtown and other races. It was a beautiful morning and a nice way to wrap up the workout.

Today, I am sore. It hurts to sneeze, it hurts to sit down or stand up from sitting. As one of the group said yesterday, I feel muscles in my butt that I didn't know existed. We all laughed when she said that during the workout, but now i know exactly what she meant. Ouch.

Got to get some of that weekday mileage in this week, while I'm home. I don't know yet if it is going to be easier or harder to do this while I have to juggle family & home duties with work. All I know is that OKC is just about a month away, and I got some work to do.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Be afraid, be very afraid....

Here is an email from my running group leader about a Saturday workout we have planned:

we'll do our special "boot camp" workout this Saturday if y'all are up for it! ...

Looks like the weather will be nice, although it could be warmer.... ;) We'll only be doing 3-4 miles probably, but you'll be doing stuff like running hills, push-ups, crunches, crab crawls, squat leaps, lunges and jumping jacks so you'll get a good workout! If you're not sore Sunday, I didn't do my job.

Remember to wear something you don't mind getting dirty!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009


it's all about making the right choices. I have not been making the right choices lately. This must change.

That is all.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Two words

The first: kettlebells

The second: OUCH!

I've seen the infomercials, I've read all the online articles. I need something to change up the routine AND focus on core strength (not to mention get these t-rex arms in shape -- haven't I always been searching for something to get my t-rex arms in shape?). So, I was at Academy getting TDP DinoBoy his 4th pair of shoes for the school year and they had a Danskin kettlebell. 10 pounds. Not as big as the authentic ruskie ones, but a start. I tried is Sunday morning while all the boys in the house were still snoozing and thought, hmm, that was fun. Different for sure. And then sometime between getting off the airplane yesterday and arriving on site (about 25 hours after the workout), the soreness hit all at once. All over my body. It was harder to walk yesterday than it was the day after Cowtown. So it did something. Just not sure what yet!

I brought the kettlebell on the trip this week, the idea being that I'll do that in the mornings and run in the evenings. I didn't work out yesterday (see note above about soreness, plus one of the team members is going away for three weeks so we had to send her off in style with dinner out) but I just hit the second of the three workouts this morning. And yeah, something is going on there. Followed it up this morning with the tests for the 200 situps thing and the 100 pushups thing. They've improved their site tremendously since I was last on there, and now have a tracker online. sweet. Nothing an OCD exercise buff like me loves more than a way to track my activity. So, we'll see if these two six-week programs 1) stick this time around -- I tend to think so -- when I feel myself wavering, I will just remind myself of miles 17 to 24 of Cowtown; and 2) help with the performance at OKC.

Gotta run -- breakfast with the team in half an hour. In the dark. and SNOW! It snowed in Denver last night -- WTF?? I had my a/c on this morning, for jiminy's sake! Ah, to be in Texas again -- two more days to go and I'm home again.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Recovery Week Over

So I've had a nice break from the grind of daily training after the marathon last week. I've had a chance to digest what happened, how it all went down, what went wrong, and what I could have done differently. It's done, and there were definitely lessons learned. I've recovered physically, at least it feels like I have, and I'm now more than ready to take on the training needed for OKC. I've got the schedule mapped out, and will be focusing on not only the long runs, but also on building some core strength and upper body strength. A big part of my discomfort during the race was in my back, which is completely related to the lack of core strength, so hopefully that will be motivation to keep up with planks, pushups and crunches.

I'm also focusing a little harder on paying attention to what I'm eating. Not dieting, per se, because anyone who's been around here for any amount of time knows that I'm severely anti-diet. But I have to find a balance that allows me to fuel properly for those long runs (good carbs) without falling into a routine of eating all those junk carbs. So we'll see if there are any results on performance for OKC.

So that's all there is for now. Gotta fold clothes now, and get ready for another week in the mountains.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


Mmmmm!, originally uploaded by ccervant_99.

So I do this thing after marathons, where I reward myself for one week, and don't worry about working out and I eat whatever the hell I want for that whole time. For most of this week, though, I've been craving mostly healthy stuff like shrimp teriyaki bowls with brown rice and veggies, or a salad or last night's chicken sandwich. But tonight, when I saw a section on the menu at The Corner Office in Denver titled "Breakfast for Dinner," I had really no choice. I HAD to order the strawberry cheesecake waffles. With graham cracker syrup. Had to. And damn. I'd run 26 miles in the wind every day if it meant I could eat this stuff with reckless abandon. Yikes!

I skipped dessert.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Tale of the Tape

or, rather, of the GPS. This is where my analytical side gets all hot & heavy, where I like to do the post-mortem on the performance, or lack there-of. I can tell you emotionally where I lost it, and it was right after we turned into the Botanical Gardens and I just couldn't keep up with the 5:00 pace group when the walk break turned back into running. And the data pretty much backs that up.

I'll start from the beginning -- I started at the back end of the pack, with the 5:00 pace group leader, Coach Joe. He's run 60 marathons, and his usual pace is about 4:00 or less, so he was slowing down for us. There were a couple of other guys running with the group, but it was a very loose and casual gathering. Joe was cracking jokes at every mile marker, and we were tooling along just fine through the first stretches of the race, through the streets that were so familiar from the Saturday morning training runs. The pack was thick until we split from the half-marathoners right past mile 8, then it was just the marathoners with a few ultra-runners mixed in. We were doing 6/1 splits, and it was very easy going. Even after 10 miles, I was still feeling strong and fresh. And then, the hills. From mile 8 to 11, it's all a very gradual downhill, which you don't really feel, but which is still giving your legs a big pounding. From 11 to 18, it's all uphill. And when combined with the wind, it became too much. I dropped back from the pace group coming up a hill directly into the wind, even though we were trying to draft in a straight line. And before I knew it, there went Joe and his silly jokes (I do hope they got better as the race went on!).

So, now all there was keeping me going was the thought of seeing the boys at mile 14. Except that they couldn't get through the traffic and find a place to park. So they kept going further south on the course until they could find someplace to stop. And I kept running, but by now I was walking some. And I was in pain. My hamstrings and quads were burning and my calves were alternating between cramping and burning. It was so windy that I couldn't take off my top layer (my jacket was already around my waist) but if the wind was not in your face, the sun was too hot to keep it on. So I was very uncomfortable and it was looking more and more like this was not going to be my day. And the boys were ahead of me, but it was all I could do to keep going. I kept thinking it might be OK to jump into the Mustang and head home. But then, they called and said they were at mile 19, so by then, it was stupid not to have finished. So, in a way, their getting caught up in traffic was what did it for me, what led me to finish on a day that I might otherwise have packed it in.

The wind continued past the area near campus, and the whole time I was running north on University, it was directly into the wind. I see on the map that it was only a mile total, but it felt like a lot more than that. Probably the most humorous moment of the entire race was right past the mile 22 marker, as I was running up toward the Trinity park area and a windblown piece of cardboard whacked me dead-center. It was startling because I had my head down and hilarious because it was just about right for the day. By that time, I was counting down the miles to the finish the way I usually do, by comparing the distance to the shorter routes around my house & the hotel: "Six miles -- that's up the corner to Bowen and back." "Five miles -- that's down around the reservoir and back up 7th." "Four miles -- that's down to the Starbucks and then back again." "Three miles -- up Pearl to Foothills, down to Colorado and back."

And then, I was at the downtown area. And I was walking more than running, until... Until I saw the guy in the cow suit. I'd always seen him at races before, yelling and cheering everyone on, and wearing, yes, this spotted cow suit. But I didn't know him until now. He is one of the FW Running Co pace group leaders, and he finished the Ultra marathon yesterday, in less time than it took me to finish the full. He showed me his medal and it spurred me on, so I ran it in from then to the finish. I finished upright and smiling, if an hour past my predicted time. No matter. I finished, and I know that it was an off day, and that I'll have another chance to get that 5:00 monkey off my back. Maybe at Oklahoma City in April. Maybe at New York City. It was a bad day, but not enough to make me swear off these things entirely. My nutrition and hydration plan were right on track, with no issues with any injuries or GI or even really any blisters. I do really hate the taste of blue gatorade right now, but I'll get over that in about a week, I think.

At the end of the day, I did the work, and I had a good first half. Now I just need to do what is needed to have a good second half.

For posterity, here is the Garmin reading:

Run Time: 5:51:38
Run Distance: 26.39
Avg. Pace: 13:19
Calories: 3351
Total Time: 5:57:29

Mile 1: 11:08
Mile 2: 11:09
Mile 3: 10:43
Mile 4: 10:41
Mile 5: 11:09
Mile 6: 11:33
Mile 7: 11:26
Mile 8: 11:11
Mile 9: 10:49
Mile 10: 10:25
Mile 11: 10:57
Mile 12: 10:40
Mile 13: 12:15 -- ahhh, the wheels, they're getting flat...
Mile 14: 12:25 -- watch out, the wheels, they're loose....
Mile 15: 13:24 -- on the phone with the boys trying to find a spot to meet
Mile 16: 13:46 -- oww, legs cramping, very sore... just keep moving
Mile 17: 15:33 -- damn, watch out -- wheels off!
Mile 18: 15:43 -- downhill stretch, but that hurts almost as much
Mile 19: 16:58 -- met the boys, waved them off from the finish -- don't know how long it will take me to get there
Mile 20: 16:21 -- set the watch for 3:3 intervals -- walk, run, walk, run
Mile 21: 16:17 -- just keep moving
Mile 22: 15:53
Mile 23: 16:38
Mile 24: 14:36 -- ran through a couple of walk intervals here
Mile 25: 17:41 -- walked through a couple of run intervals here
Mile 26: 17:25 -- mostly walked; dreadfully windy and very boring stretch
Mile .2: 4:40 -- walked until I got to the last four blocks to the finish

2009 Cowtown Marathon

2009 Cowtown Marathon, originally uploaded by ccervant_99.

I need a T-shirt that says "I ran a marathon in 40 mph winds and all I got was this stupid medal!"

Except that I also got a cool race shirt, an excellent dry-weave long-sleeved finisher's shirt, and for an extra $10, a dry-weave short-sleeved shirt, all with a fabulous burnt-orange/brown logo on them. And I got confirmation that I know even in the roughest conditions I can still finish a marathon.