How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

Maintaining your fitness and wellness habits can be challenging, especially when life gets
busy. However, developing simple and effective strategies will help you stay on track and
keep your health a priority. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to
staying fit and healthy, complete with tips and techniques that you can implement in your
daily routine.

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NYC Marathon: Goof Recap

NYC Marathon: Goof Recap

If you didn’t have an opportunity to read the epic writing in the previous post, I discussed the reason “why” I ran the NYC Marathon, then I highly recommend that you do.  Not just because the writing was fantastic, but it is my hope that the recap will be more emotionally moving.

Delta carried us to New York City and back with no issues.  I was upgraded to the business class on my departing flight, and returned to Tampa in economy class.  Even with my average size, I felt extremely cramped in economy.  Scott and his six-foot-one-inch frame looked extremely uncomfortable.  It is obvious, that Delta increased their upgraded business class at the expense of the comfort of the economy class passengers.  My suggestion to anyone flying Delta to the NYC Marathon, just include the cost of the upgrade if the flight it over 3 hours.

The plans were made well in advance for room and board.  After each of us declared our opinions for a hotel of choice, one of our teammates found a condo in Chelsea that would accommodate all of us comfortably and provide a full kitchen to save a little money on meals.

Per an email from VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) we were to pick up the keys at a local pizza restaurant located next door to the building housing the condo.

Team Tampa PKD arrived around 4 pm and the employees working that afternoon had absolutely no idea what we were talking about.  Of course, we called the management company and were basically told they did not receive the contract.  When we had the contract in hand we called the agency back but no one would answer our calls.

Here we were, in New York City, on marathon weekend, not to mention the third and fourth game of the World Series, homeless.

Teammate Kevin O’Brien to the rescue.  Kevin works for a landscape development company and happens to travel quite a bit, which was lucky for us.  With his Hilton Honors status we were able to procure two rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn located in Tribeca.  Thank you Kevin.

The rooms were updated, immaculate and comfortable.  Another, nice little value add of the Hilton Honors was the choice of extra points or free breakfast.  Kevin being the generous person he is, opted for the free breakfast for us which again helped save a little bit of money.  Again, Thank you Kevin.

With all of us now settled, we headed to the Javits Center to pick up our NYC Marathon packets.  The bibs numbered up to 72,999.  It still amazes me how easy it is to retrieve a bib, swag and t-shirt at the expo.  It runs like a well oiled machine.

NYC Marathon The Javits Center

The Javits Center

There is a booth for every few thousand bib numbers.  The athlete walks up to the booth that includes their bib number, shows ID and their registration card.  Then they receive their NYC Marathon bib and other instructions, verify their info and then walk towards the t-shirt area where on the way, they pick up a plastic swag bag that also serves as the gear bag for the race.  The official NYC Marathon t-shirt area is well-marked with a line for the different sizes and within a few minutes of walking into the expo, the athlete has bib, swag and t-shirt.

NYC Marathon The Expo

That isn’t the most exciting part of the  NYC Marathon expo.  There are vendors from all over the country whom give runners have the opportunity to try and buy the latest gear and gadgets.

One aspect of the expo I really enjoy, is the aura and feeling of the environment.  There is an excitement in the air of the larger expos that increases my heart rate a little and excites me to race.  It is probably one of my most favorite parts of any race weekend.

NYC Marathon Team Tampa PKD minus Karen

The following day we made another visit to the expo simply to walk around and make some purchases.  I found a couple of vendors that I had met at other races  and made some new contacts for product reviews.  Stay tuned.

I have loved New York City since the first moment I stepped into Manhattan years ago.  I have a lot of friends here, and I just really enjoy the pace and excitement of the city.

NYC Marathon NYC Times Square

There is always one place, that is mandatory to visit, at least once, every time I am in town.  John’s Pizza.  I couldn’t believe my ears, when Rich and Kevin decided not to partake.  It was their loss, so Scott and I headed over to John’s for lunch.  Carb loading, baby, I just love it.

I could write a full post on John’s, so I wont go into the heavenly scrumptiousness of their pizza here, but trust this self-proclaimed, pizza connoisseur, when I say the explosion of flavors that emanate from each bite, redefines the word delicious.

NYC Marathon Brad & Scott at John'sNYC Marathon Brad digging inNYC Marathon The Pie

Saturday night, we were scheduled to have dinner with the PKD Foundation and the other runners from different areas at Carmine’s.  Scott, Kevin, Karen and I were all pretty familiar with the city and had even known of Carmine’s as it is pretty well-known.

That night we entered the subway and got off at 42nd street in order to head over to 44th where Carmine’s was located, as we started up the stairs from the station, Scott mentions the address which made Kevin and I do a double take.  2400 W Broadway, which was Broadway and 90th street.  At the moment we were on 44th st which means we were 46 blocks away.  That was a few miles from where we were at that point.

Of course like men we decided that maybe the address was wrong and went up anyway.  As it turns out, it was correct.  There was a newer Carmine’s uptown and we were in the wrong place and already fashionably late.

It ended up working out for us again.  We caught the subway up to 86th and when we arrived, food was just being served.  How long could this luck hold, right?

The dinner was fantastic and we met a bunch of really amazing people who were just as passionate about running for PKD as we were.

NYC Marathon PKD Runners NYC Marathon Carmines Table

Like good little runners we went back to the hotel and retired for the night in anticipation for the NYC Marathon the next morning.

NYC Marathon The Night Before clothes layout

As I mentioned both in the last post and in my NYC Marathon recap from last year; the logistics for this race are not the most convenient.  It involves a ferry to Staten Island then a bus to security, a decent walk to the assigned village and finally another walk to the specific corral.

An announcement came out from the NYC Marathon staff, about two months prior to sign up for transportation to the start and of course we all missed and ended up getting assigned the 5:45am ferry to Staten Island.  Since three of us had already experienced the ferry and knew that there was no accountability, we decided to just take the 7am ferry instead, not only giving us a little more time in the morning, but also keeping us out of the chilly temps for a couple of hours.

The lesson I learned here was there are two choices, either go by the scheduled time and arrive with a lot of time to spare, sit around have some coffee and bagels while waiting for the start, or go a little later and hope to make it to the corral at the time of your scheduled start.

We took the latter ferry and ended up having to wait for two ferries to get over to the island and then when finally getting on the bus, the traffic was so heavy we ended up having to rush to the corrals in order to make the 9:40 start.  It was probably perfect for the rest of the team that had later starts, but for Rich and I it was a little tight.  Personally, I do prefer the latter.

NYC Marathon Statue of Liberty from Ferry

I found my green village, dropped off my gear bag with my long sleeve shirt and pants, and headed to the corral just prior to the 9am cut-off to enter the corral.  Now I had about half-an-hour to stretch and use the portlet one last time.

I was talking to a woman from Basel, England when I heard my name being called.  Ryan Wallace, was a Facebook friend and runner I met at last year’s race.  A really fun guy to hang with, so after chatting for a bit we found we were looking at accomplishing the goal of 3:50 or better.  Score!  Someone to run with.

NYC Marathon Start Corral

In the Start Corral

They opened up the corral to head closer to the start line around 9:30am, and just after the final note to one of the most beautiful renditions of our national anthem I have ever heard, sung by opera singer (and runner) Susanna Phillips Huntington, and announcements by the executive director, the gun went off and we were running.

The NYC Marathon is the largest marathon in the world.  Largest meaning the most athletes run the course of any marathon in the world..  This year there were over 50,000 finishers.  It boasts spectacular views, fantastic support from the spectators, and a challenging course.  The route takes the runners through all five major boroughs of the city, starting in Staten Island, crossing the Verrazano Bridge to Brooklyn, heading north into Queens crossing the 59th St bridge, then into Manhattan crossing the Queensboro Bridge, north into the Bronx over the Willis Ave Bridge, turning south back into Manhattan over the Madison Avenue bridge and then finally the incline to the finish line in the heart of Central Park.

The experience this year was better than last, as the temperatures were much better as we started around 55 degrees Fahrenheit  and just a little breeze versus the 30 degree temps and 33 mph winds from 2014.

Ryan, his friend, and I started the NYC Marathon conservative for the first couple of miles, but as we rounded the first 5k I noticed we started to increase our pace.  I only was witness to it due to calculating my 5k under 27 minutes, which being under a 9 minute mile that soon, concerned me a little, but I was feeling really strong.

The spectators in the NYC Marathon are everywhere and they clap, yell and scream not only for their family and friends, but for any one they seem to be inspired by.  Statistics pretty much show, that even know there were over 50,000 athletes running this race, and hundreds of thousands of finishers in marathons all over the world, less than 1% of the population has finished a marathon.  In other words there were a lot of people to be inspired by during this race and the spectators expressed that.

NYC Marathon brad behind ryan

The Goof peeking out behind Ryan

Ryan and I ran together up to about mile nine, constantly telling each other to slow down, yet neither of us could hold a slower pace for very long.  About that point, a pressure emanating from my bladder was increasing to a point where I was just not comfortable any longer, so I speeded up to the mile 10 aid station to relieve myself.  My thinking was speed up, use the facilitates and then speed back up just enough to catch Ryan again.

Unfortunately, we didn’t cross paths again during the race.  I was out there on my own, all by myself.  It was just me and 50,000 of my closest friends.

There was plenty to see as I continued on my NYC Marathon journey.  Achilles International volunteers were out in droves this year with guides helping blind and other challenged runners through the race.  Guides would run in a formation with one tethered to the blind runner and then three-to-four others running on each side of them constantly helping to clear a path through the crowd.   It was so motivating, that I knew somewhere down the line in my own journey I would have to help like that in some way in the future.

As I crossed the 13.1 mile marker of this NYC Marathon, and saw the clock I realized that I had been running for an hour and fifty minutes.  That for me was fast, but I was still feeling really strong.  The sights of the area’s architecture, parks, people and the smells of the local restaurants were consistently keeping my mind occupied as I just let my legs decide what they were going to do.

I was concerned though.  I know enough about myself, that keeping this pace would have it’s consequences toward the final miles.

My favorite bridge on NYC Marathon course is the Queensboro bridge.  It feels like it never ends, but the view of Manhattan and the Hudson is spectacular.  Not to mention, the completion of the bridge is a u-turn with a horde of spectators that it feels like a roar of excitement is exuded from them.  I felt a boost of energy when I crossed mile 16.

I was actually a little impressed with myself as I hadn’t really slowed as of yet.  It is usually around this mile marker that begins the stiffness of the previous miles.

The next checkpoint for me is usually mile 18, but that too came and went without any real pain.  My inner dialogue started having delusions of grandeur of possibly finishing the race around the 3:40 mark which be a huge PR for me.

As I crossed the Willis avenue bridge, I felt the start of a twinge in my left leg and a smile crept across my face and out loud I said to myself,”There it is.”

The NYC Marathon mile 20 clock showed I was two hours and fifty-two minutes into the race, which was already better than last year.  My thinking at that point was that I could pretty much slow to a ten minute mile at this point and still cross under four hours, but that didn’t happen.

Mile 21 came at just three hours which was a first in a while for me.  I am usually only at 20 by three hours and here I was a full mile closer to the finish.  My period of optimism was cut short by a stiffness in my right leg that quickly became painful.

NYC Marathon Starting to hurt

I walked though the next NYC Marathon aid station and grabbed a banana from the hand of a volunteer thinking just get some more glycogen to my legs so I finish this last five miles.

What little stride I had became periods of walking between miles 22 and 23 as the pain started to sear and engulf the rest of my leg.  It was getting harder and harder to bend my right knee as the stiffness was setting in.

Central Park came and the crowds were getting louder and more dense.  I did not want to walk through the park with all these people.  I wanted to run in strong, but the pain was getting more and more intense.  I actually yelled at myself, “C’mon legs.  WTF are you doing!!!”

NYC Marathon Almost There

My mind drifted to Erika at that moment.  As I was trying to run stiff-legged and just suffer through this intense pain, I thought that this frustration and uncomfortable feeling must be what Erika feels all the time.  The disappointment at feeling run down, the pain that comes with these huge cysts on her Kidneys and the eternal uncomfortable feeling that keeps her from sleep and just enjoying life, must be one hundred times worse that what I was feeling.

If Erika had to continually go through this pain, then I could at least endure it until I reach the finish line.

I didn’t stop running, no matter how much it hurt.  I thought about Erika and the last couple of years of misery she must have been going through, and how Jennifer would also have to also have a painful times ahead through her recovery from donating a kidney.  It kept me going as I really felt like I was going through it for them.

I am not a totally idiot, I know that running the NYC Marathon of which I enjoy doing, really would do nothing for either of them.  It was the fundraising and support where we as a team were doing the most good.  Maybe it was for me.  Maybe because I was not able to donate my kidney, that I the pain I was feeling now was so that I could empathize with both of them.

NYC Marathon The Finish

The NYC Marathon finish line was just as glorious as the other marathons I have completed.  I was extremely happy to cross in 3:56 and at least beat my time from last year by about 10 minutes.

My official NYC Marathon finisher was medal handed to me, I was congratulated by a volunteer and ushered through to take continue the long mile walk to retrieve my gear bag.  I was engulfed on all four sides with athletes as we all did the marathon shuffle through the park.  There was a sense of peace and a little giddiness that filled the air.

NYC Marathon Medal FInish

We all did something extraordinary today.  Whatever the reason “why”, we were bound at that moment by the accomplishment and conclusion of a journey that started with the decision to embark, the hours of training and the final step across the NYC Marathon Finish LIne.

NYC Marathon Stepping Across the finish

Once dressed in dry clothes, I found Rich and we headed out to The Keg Room which was where Team Tampa PKD would gather back together.  As Rich and I were in the first wave, where he PR’d at an incredible time of 3:27, we arrived first.  Kevin, whom was actually in the last wave to take off, showed up next followed closely by Karen and finally Scott.  Everyone finished and accomplished what they set out to do, but I was most proud of Scott.

NYC Marathon Keg Room

Scott had micro tears in his gastrocnemius muscle (Calf) and had been trying to rehab it for the last couple of weeks.  I really didn’t think he would finish the NYC Marathon and we all told him it would have been ok if he didn’t .  He did though and under 5 hours with walking.  He also said that he felt like he didn’t feel like he did anymore damage.

NYC Marathon

Scott Bragan

I am proud of the whole team.  Team Tampa PKD was able to raise over 20,000 for PKD, finish the NYC Marathon and, most importantly, find a kidney donor for Erika.

NYC Marathon

Team Tampa PKD – (L to R) Scott Bragan, Rich O’Dea, Karen Dempsey, Brad Minus, & Kevin O’Brien

 

What kind of challenge are you partaking in or plan to journey towards?

Carpe Vitam!

Goof Review: Altra Torin 2

Goof Review: Altra Torin 2

I have been a fan of the Altra line for a little while now, so I was so honored to be given a chance to review the brand new Altra Torin 2.  I reviewed the 1.5 version when it first arrived, and it became my shoe of choice for long runs.

What I love about the Torin 2

Zero Drop

One of Altra’s significant differences in the complete line of shoes is their zero heel drop and since my coaching methodology includes an emphasis on our body’s natural movement while running this is obviously one of my favorites. (I have included a explanation of what “Zero Drop” means in my previous Altra Torin 1.5 review.)

Wide Toe Box

The other difference between Altra and their competition is the wide toe box, or as Altra calls it, a “FootShape” toe box.  The ability to splay the toes plays a significant role in injury prevention and the strength of the feet.  This allows the runners body to support itself, rather tan relying on a shoe for support.

Upper

The upper has been improved in the 2.0.  The Torin 1.5 was made with a thick upper which added unnecessary weight and reduced flexibility of the shoe.  The 2.0 has been upgraded with a much thinner mesh material that breathes better and allows for more flexibility.

 Outsole

Here is where some of my favorite changes were made.  First, they moved from the heavier EVA to their lighter proprietary “A-bound” material that for me seems to add a little more spring to the ride of the shoe.  When my foot strikes the ground the material seems to not only protect from the natural impact, but reacts driving me forward.

The weight in the previous show was 10.1 ounces which was up from the original Torin which was 9.5 ounces.  The Torin 2 comes in at 9.1 ounces which is one of the lightest in this category, if not the very lightest.

Midsole

Altra added what they call Innerflex which are groves in the outsole and midsole that bend with your foot allowing substantially more flexibility than the previous models.  This too me was the single most important change they made.  The Torin has always classified as their High Cushioned shoe which most companies have traded flexibility for cushion.  Altra has found a way to give runners the flexibility I love with the cushioning I want and without giving up any of proprioception.Torin-2.0-2 sole

The have now included a Foot Pod technology which maps the bones of the foot with the Innerflex so the shoes flexes where the runner needs it to, allowing a near customized fit.

Removed

Altra went ahead and removed the toe guard and heel rudder as well.  In my opinion this not only allowed them to shed some weight, but also added to flexibility and comfort.  In a road shoe I never really thought either added any value.  These two advantages are best left for trail specific designs.

What I don’t like about the Torin 2

Obviously, not much.

The new Abound foam tends to soak in water and sweat which makes the shoe feel a little heavier during training and racing.  Even with the mesh material the shoe does not seem to drain well.  I would love to see a version of this shoe with drain holes, but of course that is the triathlete in me talking.

After about forty miles the new Abound material started to squeak while just walking ,and only in my left shoe  This does not seem to happen when I run in them, but it is a little noisy when walking through the store.  I think it may be just a problem with this pair, but nonetheless it is something I dislike.  However, it did not change the performance of the shoe.

The price of $125 is a little high in my opinion.  A better price point would be the $100 – $110, but of course that is very minor for shoe of this quality.

Let’s see how the Torin 2 ranked on my scale:

Quality – 4/5

Upper  – 4/5

Outsole – 4/5

Flexibility – 5/5

Comfort – 5/5

Appearance – 4/5

Cost – 3/5

Overall – 4/5

The Altra Torin 2 is available in men’s whole and half sizes 7-12.5, whole sizes 13-15 and in three color patterns.  It is available in women’s whole and half sizes 5-10.5, whole sizes 11-12 and in three separate color patterns.

Purchase the new Altra Torin 2.0 Now

Have you ever ran in a pair of Altra Torins (any version)?  How did you like them?

Please feel free to comment on your feedback.

Goof Review: Altra Torin 1.5

Goof Review: Altra Torin 1.5

The quest for the best running shoe can be daunting, but the search for the best zero drop running shoes can be downright frustrating.  The majority of all the Altra Zero Drop reviews I personally have read, the consensus is pretty positive, and in this instance, it will be no different, because in my opinion, it has resolved my issue of finding the best zero drop shoe on the market.  The Altra Torin 1.5.

What is Zero Drop? /></a></h3><p>To define zero drop is to first define heel drop, which is the difference between the height of your heel off the ground minus the height of the ball of your foot.  For instance, most of the traditional running shoes out there have a 12-millimeter drop.</p><p>The heel is raised 12 millimeters above the ball of the foot.  This causes more emphasis on the heel when running because that is where most of the cushioning is.  A more minimalistic shoe will have a drop that is much lower.</p><p>For instance, the Brooks Pure Flow has a 4 mm drop.  This shoe is great for starting the transition to a more minimal shoe giving all the benefits of a minimal shoe without causing the injury of the drastic change from traditional to minimalistic.</p><p>The Altra Torin 1.5 is a complete zero drop where the ball and the foot and the heel are equal keeping the foot more natural like walking barefoot.  While it has the zero drop of a minimalistic running shoe, it does provide the protection of a good amount of cushioning in the sole.  This is one of the reasons I truly enjoy running in this shoe.</p><h3><span style=Upper

The upper is durable but is thick throughout.  I personally like this, because I feel the security of the shoe without having to pull the laces tight.  In my opinion, the laces should never be tight.  Once the laces are tied they should really never have to be untied unless you are using a runners lace.  The laces should be tight enough to secure the heel but no more.  This allows the runner to support themselves rather than the shoe supporting the runner.

The Altra 1.5 has the same wide toe box that is consistent with the whole line of zero drop running shoes.  I love the wide toe box because it allows me to have splay my toes and grab the road with more surface area.  My feet do not feel crowded in this shoe.

Altra changed the laces in the 1.5 from the original model.  They are now flat vs the round nylon laces and they reduced the number of holes on each side from 7 to 6.   It provides more space between the touch of the laces to the foot and security in the sinch of the laces.

The shoe also seemed to have less seems and the addition of a strap that cinches the tongue to the upper.  It helps the security of the foot in the shoe.

Outsole

The outsole has not changed from the original Torin, but that is something I personally liked.  There is enough cushion in the sole for protection without losing the feel for the road or trail underneath.

The ride of this shoe is extremely comfortable.  Of course, this is why I enjoy the Altra line in the first place.  The ride is smooth with great responsiveness on the road.

The interesting part of the shoe is the weight.  When upgrading a shoe from an original version, the thought would be that the weight could be dropped, but in the new Torin 1.5 has an extra ounce added.  The shoes weigh 10.5 ounces versus the original Torins at 9.5 ounces.

The flexibility has not changed either.  The Altra Torin or the Torin 1.5 are not the most flexible of shoes, but they do have enough flexibility to give a good lever and lift from the ground.  I am chalking the lack of flexibility to the design of the shoe being for the road and not the trail.  Trail shoes should have a little more flexibility for the technical terrain.

Appearance

I do like the color of these versus the originals.  The blue and orange weren’t bad, but they went a little more conservative with the grey, yellow and black.  This is obviously a personal choice on the runner, but I thought I would put my two sense in.

The cost is a little more expensive at $120 dollars, but the shoes seem to last over 400 miles which most shoes will only last 250 to 300 before losing the cushion and ride comfort.

My Impressions:

Quality – 4/5
Upper-4/5
Outsole – 4/5
Flexibility – 3/5
Comfort – 4/5
Appearance – 4/5
Cost – 3/5

Have you tried the Altra Torin or the Altra Torin 1.5?  Have you run in any of the Altra lines of shoes?  What do you think?  Please let me know in the comments below.

Discom-BOB-ulated Goof January Race Shirt-a-Day Challenge

My friend Beth from Discom-BOB-ulated Running posted a great idea for a challenge that she is hosting, so I am informing you of it as well, because I like it.

augusta7

January seems always to be the month that either athletes are starting their pre-season fitness, are finishing their season or in the middle of their off-season training.  If you are in any  of those phases motivation can be a factor, so why not wear a different race shirt every day for the month of January.  C’mon….it will be fun.

I am personally not lucky enough to have a liberal dress code, but I know that I will be working out at least 20-30 times during the month of January, so I can at least wear a different one each day, plus when just strolling around the house.  Most of you can probably do that too right?

Just take a pic every day and post it to a social media site of your choice.  Stay motivated and get some wear out of all those race shirts.

In other news, I have been invited to be in a test group for the brand new P90X3 DVD workout system.  I have completed the original P90X a couple of times when it first came out and saw some great results.  The difference is that the original workouts were sometimes 90 minutes long.  P90X3 are short 30 minutes of effort and consist of several types of workouts including, power, agility, speed, isometrics and more.  I will be starting the challenge on January 6th, so I hope to be blogging a lot of my experience with it.  What will be interesting is that I will continue to be running, biking and swimming on top of these workouts. Whew!  I am getting tired just thinking about it.

You too can join the fun with your favorite Goofball (yeah, me) and order it yourself by clicking here.

 

One last thing don’t forget about the BEST DAMN RACE coming up in Tampa on February 1st and in Orlando on March 1st.  This is, without bias, one of the most well run races I have ever been involved with.  Both courses are beautiful and with beer included in your very inexpensive race fee, what is there to lose.

Best Damn Race - Safety Harbor, FL

Carpe Viam!

Better late than never – Ironman Augusta 70.3 Recap

Better late than never – Ironman Augusta 70.3 Recap

Obviously, Ironman Augusta 70.3 is one of my favorite races, since this is the third year in a row I competed in it.  Why?

  • The 1.2 mile swim heads downstream giving those of us that are not great swimmers a little push.
  • There are two main sporting events in Augusta.  The little golf tournament called “The Masters”, and the Ironman, so the whole city seems to show up to support it.  The Ironman doesn’t have near the amount athletes or the out-of-town spectators, but it doesn’t seem like that when you are competing.
  • The 56 mile bike course is beautifully scenic with rolling hills which makes it somewhat challenging and a lot of fun.
  • The run course is two-loops around the center of town which is loaded with spectators that are cheering and holding signs with sayings like “If Triathlon was easy they would call it football.”  It gives the competitors continuous motivation through a the 13.1 mile completion to the challenge which depending on the temperature could be grueling.
  • The volunteers, all three years I have competed, have always been amazing.  There are aid stations every 10 miles on the bike and every mile on the run, so there are a huge amount of volunteers that are there for a very long time.
  • The expo and check-in have always been run very professionally and smooth.  It is probably one of the best run expos I have took part in.

The weekend started off with a caravan of amazing people up to Augusta caravan crewincluding my buddy Pete, Kari, Jaime, Kat, Chris, Kate, Matt, Jeff & Miranda.  All of them great people and athletes.

The ride up was uneventful with one stop at Cracker Barrel to fuel up and a couple of minute stops for gas and essentials.  We went right to check-in and surprise, surprise, the Marriott opened their new convention center so there was so much more space for check-in and the expo than last year.  In the past everything was in a series of rooms, now it was in one great big room that allowed for more vendors and more space to move around.  There had to be at least 50% more vendors than last year.  It was amazing.  Of course my favorite part, as always, is the atmosphere.  Super charged with excitement and enthusiasm.

After getting settled in are hotels, Chris, Jaime, Kat and I had dinner at this little restaurant of an old hotel called the Partridge Inn.  The meal was incredible, and for the first time I got to try Shrimp & Grits, which of course Jaime was astounded I had never tried.  It was really amazing.  Paleo?  Not in the least, but it was delicious.  We ended up splitting our dinners, of which mine was a 16oz prime rib that was cooked to perfection.  It was an amazing choice, indeed.   (Patrons of the hotel had much less to say of the hotel though.)

pre-transitionThe next day consisted of quick workouts, bike check-in, race prep and another awesome dinner at Charlie-O’s Steak House.  We had a much larger crowd for dinner which not only included the caravan gang, but some members of Tri-Psych as well.  It was the perfect crowd to spend the evening before the race.  Everybody was calm, cool and collected on the outside, but some pre-race anxiety seemed to be looming over all of us.

I was surprised at how well I slept that night.  I usually never sleep the night before a race.  Of course I still didn’t get eight hours, but the 6 I did was a very hard sleep.  I woke up even more refreshed than I thought.   I had the opportunity to dress, eat and be ready with time to chill out and motivate myself.

The transition area was crowding fast as usual, and since last year I had a very early start, this year I ended up more in the middle waves, so there was plenty of time, to relax and get my bike and gear ready, without feeling rushed.  As always there were plenty of people who caught up with me either from, home, past races, social media, or my blog.  It was awesome.  Race morning has to be one of my favorite times of the race, just because of the excitement and the convening with friends and acquaintances.  Those of you podium placers probably are in your own little world at this point, and it makes sense, but to a lotkat and me of us just trying to beat our past times and finish comfortably, this is a great time of the morning.

The shuttle took us to the host hotel, and as it was in the lower 50s at the time, we decided to grab some coffee and hangout in the lobby.  Finally, it was time to head over to the start, drop my “morning clothes” bag in the truck and enter my corral for the start.  I found Jaime, which calmed my nerves a bit.  He races with Team RWB of whom I am honored to call myself a part of as well, but he is much faster than I.  Usually about 20-30 minutes faster.  He is an amazing athlete, motivator and all-around person.  We only catch each other at races, but he always is able to motivate just that little bit extra.

The time came and they moved us to the dock, the

Jaime and I

gun went off and we jumped in and started swimming.  I have been working on my swimming so I adopted my rhythm as soon as possible, and found myself right with the majority of the pack the first 800m but then I fell short.  They swam past and I ended up, as usual, in the back.  Around the 1200m mark the pack behind me caught me and by time I finished, the fast women, two waves behind me, caught me.  I still ended up beating my swim time from the year before by a minute, but it was still slow.

I ran up the ramp to transition and without any incidents I grabbed my bike and headed out and just as I was about to leave transition, mother nature called and I made a quick decision to use the portlets.  I still ended up with a four-minute transition, but I was a little disappointed.  Around the three-mile mark I started to feel something new; quad burn.  I was astounded I was feeling this so soon.  Usually, it took 40 to 50 miles of hills before I felt it this bad.  I must have over-used them in the swim.  After another  fifteen minutes I took a Honey Stinger Gel prematurely and the burn subsided meaning that I must have depleted my glycogen levels just enough to feel it.  My cadence kicked up and I started passing people, and while I was still getting passed by the elite cyclists in the waves behind me, I was doing more passing than getting passed.  The hills were as I remembered and I didn’t have any issues with them until mother nature threw me a curve ball.  She added the wind.  I was thinking the whole time, I just wanted to average 20mph.  That would get me into T2 under 3 hours.  I did make it to T2 with that goal, but I fell short of my 20mph average at 19.44 mph.

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Unfortunately, because I wanted that 20 mph so bad and I had not accounted for the wind, I spent a little more energy than I wanted and I felt in on the run.  At first I felt a little tight, but I was used to that.  In my training it took till mile three to get my legs back, so I pushed through and bided my time until then, but at mile three, the tightness didn’t go away.  As a matter of fact, the tightness never went away.  I ended up doing a run/walk of 1 mile on and sixty seconds off.  It worked but I faltered on even doing as well as I did the year before.  I was under two hours in 2012, but this year I ended up 2:05 which is the exact amount I was off my over-all time: 5:42 off from 5:36.  I cared for a while, but I assessed what I learned and what I needed to take away in order to be successful at Ironman Florida which is the ultimate goal for the year.

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I caught up with Pete around mile 11 and we ran into the finish chute together.  Of course we were passed by Master’s champion runner, Jeff Lessie who was doing the bike and run as part of a relay.  What made it really embarrassing, was that Jeff started an hour behind us and he still caught us.  He is an amazing athlete, and when he ran passed us we thought for sure he was just on his first loop, but when we saw him in the finish area, both of us looked at each other and then down at the ground.  After a couple of nanoseconds we lifted our heads, found him and gave him a hearty congrats.  We both still did pretty well and we knew it.

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On to the next challenge, for me, the Chicago Marathon, and for both of of us Ironman Florida, Panama City Beach.

Carpe Viam!!