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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6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

Tips for Quality Run Training Train no faster than one pace quicker than the race you are training for. For example, 5k pace is good for an Olympic-distance race, while half-marathon pace suffices...

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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 Race Recap – HITS Ocala

Goof Race Recap – HITS Ocala

HITS is a fairly new triathlon series, with a unique concept.  Their tag line is “A distance for everyone”, which really says it all.  A HITS weekend consists of 70.3 (half-iron distance) and a 140.6(full-iron distance) on Saturday, and on Sunday, Sprint and Olympic distance triathlons.  It is a pretty cool concept, and they are really well-organized.

After having breakfast with the Team Foley after the Fight for Air Climb I headed out to Ocala with the hope of seeing at least Margie, Kari and Megan cross the finish line.   I have to admit, while I have been training, it hasn’t been as focused as it should have.  My “off-season” mentality didn’t quite transition into the race attitude just yet, but I thought I was at least in shape to do the Oly.  In triathlon season, usually the first couple of months, is usually “Base” phase which just gets the wheels and legs rolling again, develop some strength and start gaining the endurance needed for race season.  With that in mind, I figured an Olympic distance would be perfect to baseline where I am in my training.  Imagine my surprise when I saw a lot of my friends out on Saturday competing in the 70.3.  As I was watching competitors and friends cross the line there was a familiar itch developing in my heart.  I didn’t quite notice what it was at the time.

The course for the 70.3 was pretty intense with loops that included a 1.2 mile swim in a 65 degree Lake Weir, 56 miles of rolling hills and wind of the bike, and an intense mixture of soft trails, and asphalt out-and-backs for the 13.1 mile run.  I was too busy losing my lungs to catch any of the swim or bike, but I was happy to be around to see the finale of the run.

I had my first blog recognition, which was really nice.  I was at the expo, grabbing a couple of Honey Stinger gels for my race the next day and I was chatting with the owner of Kickstart Endurance and she told me she followed IronGoof.  I tried not to make a big deal out of it, but secretly I was really excited.

I missed Margie, but I was really happy to see Megan and Kari cross the finish.  They both were finishing their first 70.3 along with some other members of the Tri Psych Club, so for them this was a huge accomplishment and deserved a celebration.  That itch started to intensify at Chili’s that night as everyone’s conversation about their race surrounded me.

I really attempted to be nonchalant about this race.  I kept telling myself, “Self, this is no big deal.  You know you are not ready to race, this is a small race and this is going to tell you what you need to work on.”  Unfortunately, waking up the next morning at 4:30a, and preparing my gear not only woke up my consciousness but the competition juices and anxiety levels as well.  I showered, dressed, applied my TriTats, loaded the car and off I went.

As I mentioned before, the organization of this race was first-rate, from, staff organizing parking to the transition areas.   Have I mentioned the transition area?  In previous races I have barely glanced over the amenities of the transition areas, well except for the Rev3 Venice Beach.  Let me put it this way, if the transition areas were cars, then every other race I have been in were Toyotas, the Rev3 was a Lexus, and the HITS series was a Bentley.  Not only were there boxes that held gear and clamped a tire for easy removal of the bike, plenty of room for transition setup in-between the bikes, but each participant had their own personal stool with their number and last name on them.  It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is the little things that make an impression.

I headed down to the beach with my wet suit on halfway, goggles and swim cap in hand.  The temperature outside was perfect with just a slight breeze and the sun was starting to slowly creep up over the horizon.  I was incredibly grateful to see my friends down on the beach.  Pete, Kari, Megan, Michael, Stan and a couple f others as it made me feel slightly less stressed.  After the mandatory meeting, all of the males waded out a bit into the water for the start.  My anxiety reared a little due to the fact, I was using my backup goggles because my regular goggles broke in transition and this was the coldest water I had ever swam in.

The whole beach counted off, “Three, Two, One…” and the horn blew.  We all ran or dolphin dived toward the first buoy.  The water was kind of shallow so I did have some time to start to get used to the water.  I remembered my strategy and my stroke count and I started swimming.  I started losing ground within the first 200m, which was normal for me.  My new stroke technique is still relatively new, so I figured I wasn’t going to be fast immediately.  When I reached the first buoy, I started feeling short of breath, even though I thought I was relatively relaxed.  My chest started to feel compressed like I was being stepped on, and my arms were not moving as freely as I wanted them to.  I moved to breast stoke to see if I could relax a bit, but it was to know avail, the compression would just not loosen. I have never had an issue with my wet suit.  Except for getting out of it, I kinda like it.  I feel more buoyant, warmer and protected from other things that may cause issues in open water.  Now I just felt like it was python, strangling me. I kept going, but it was a combination of freestyle, side stroke, and breast stoke.  When I reached the second buoy, my mind went into overdrive trying to get me to quit.  The ideas popping in my head were asinine.  I kept hearing, “You aren’t trained for this”, “You don’t belong here.”, “Just get out of the water.  It is only a baseline remember?”.  The thing was, I had another loop to do.  I swam toward third buoy, and the water became very shallow, so we really didn’t have any choice but to run through it and start dolphin diving again.   I forced myself to have the one thought that has gotten me through tough training, cold, wet and rainy workouts, and exhausting races; “The mind will quit one-hundred times before the body does.”  I told myself, “Self, that is first and only time that is going to happen today.”  I ran around the third buoy and headed out for my second loop.

The second loop felt a little better, but I was so happy to get out of that wet suit.  I am still not quite certain why I felt that way. It wasn’t the size of the wet suit because when I bought it I was 25 pounds heavier.  Either way I ran out of the water unzipping and getting out of it on my way to transition.  One of the strippers told me to lay down and she yanked it off of me.  I grabbed my helmet while I put on my shoes and crossed the mat in less than 3 minutes.  

bike2

The bike course was actually pretty nice.  Rolling hills, with well conditioned roads and plenty help by the Sheriff’s department.  I wanted to make up sometime, so in my head I thought to just keep passing people.  I only got passed twice during the first ten miles of the twenty-five mile course and I was happy with that.  I played cat & mouse with a couple of them, and ended up passing them in during the last half of the course.  Unfortunately, there was a storm on the horizon and the wind picked up quite a bit on on the second half, not to mention the hills were more abundant and steeper(at least for Florida).   My speed, that I was holding quite consistent at 21 mph started to drop to 18, then 17 and at that point, I refused to go under 18 mph.  I came into transition, averaging 19.1 and I was proud of that.

I racked my bike and sat on my stool to put on my socks and shoes.  I got hung up a little bit, but was still out of there in less than 3 minutes, and it was off to the run.  Pete yelled at me as I headed into the trees, “This is the fun part”.  At first I agreed with him.

run2

I decided to wear my Hoka One One Biondi Speed 2 running shoes with the large sole, because I wanted to test how they felt on a triathlon after being on the bike.  Big mistake.  At first the ground wasn’t very soft, and I was ok running about an 8:15 mile, but as I got further into the woods, the trail got softer and softer.  With that big sole, not only was my foot pushing down on the sole, but then into the soft ground causing three times as much resistance as the a regular running shoe.  I didn’t figure this out at first, but after one-and-a-half miles, I felt like I needed to stop, and that was not usual, not matter what kind of shape I was in.  I walked at the aid station for about 200 yards and then I continued running but at a much slower pace.  I had to do two loops of the run course as well, and I could feel the resistance ease off when I hit the asphalt again.  All of the sudden I was lighter and faster, but I had to do a second  loop into the woods again.  I decided my strategy would be to walk a hundred yards at the aid station and 100 yards at the turn-around, but other than that I would let my legs do what could.   It worked out well as my splits were faster on the second loop.

I ran out of the woods with Pete snapping shots and hearing cheers from Megan, Kari and a couple of others.  As, I crossed the finish line it became clear to me, that I am not in the shape I was in for my last 70.3, but I would enjoy this moment as a victory.  It was not a PR, but it this race let me know what I need to do over the next months in order to take on the rest of my race schedule.

After calming down a bit and chatting with Pete and a few other friends, Summer Bailey found me.  She had competed in the 70.3 the day before.  Summer lives in Georgia, so we really only see each other at races and occasionally chat on Facebook  so it was really incredible to actually chat and catch up with her in person.  She is an amazing woman and with a huge heart and ferocious determination.  We both agreed that neither one of us had trained enough for our races, but it was good to have a race under our belt for the year.  Chatting with her was encouraging, and I know we will be seeing each other again during the season.   To be able to see and chat with her and some others that I do not get to train with allowed me to remember one of the greatest thing about triathlon and racing in general.  It’s the friends  and connections we make.  Other than having a good race and crossing the finish line, it is the best part about it.

 

Besides crossing the finish line what are the best experiences you have competing?

 

Carpe Viam!

 

Gasparilla Goof:  A Recap

Gasparilla Goof: A Recap

Since I have been an endurance athlete in the Tampa Bay Area for a few years, I have always felt a pull toward the Gasparilla Distance Classic.  This last weekend was no different.  I had the intention of possibly hanging out on the sidelines this year, but the attraction of the race and the fact that all of my racing “peeps” would be there, lured me to enter the Becks Light Challenge which consisted of the 15K, the 5k and the ever loved Half Marathon.  There is another level to the challenges named the Michelob Ultra Challenge which includes all of the races in Becks Light Challenge plus the 8k, but I know myself well enough that after a half marathon the last thing I was going to want to do was run another 5 miles so I decided against it this year.  Maybe next year.

The Expo

Photo by Ben Mena

Anchor Hottie Falon Silcox at the expo

The expo was pretty much the same as it always is.  I enjoy being around it, and seeing my fellow running buddies, getting some samples, seeing the new shoes that are out and tasting the new products.  Unfortunately, I was a little late this year, so I didn’t have the allotted time I would usually, but I did spend some time with Pearl Izumi rep, Kyle, and tried on their new product, The E:Motion Tri.  Kyle mentioned it had only been available for five days at that point and after a little schmoozing I think I may have finagled a pair, of which I will review at a different time.

The race included over 27,000 entries this year, and with muli-race entries the estimates stated there were about 23,000 unique entries, which I consider to be an amazing turnout. I was pretty excited to be participating the next day, however I let the energy of the social part of running get the better of me and I did not eat very well that day or that night.  I ended up paying for it the next day.

The 15K

Photo by Ben Mena

I woke up at 4:30a and took care of morning routines and ate a banana with almond butter which is usually all I need for a workout that is only 9.3 miles.  Jumped in the car and headed off to the race.  I found a nice spot, behind Publix and since they were sponsoring the event I didn’t think they would mind.  It was a nice little hike to the start line from there, so it was perfect  to warm-up and get the blood moving.  I had plenty of time, so I hung with Dawn Peters, and saw a few others in the corrals while I was continuing to warm up a more thoroughly.  Peculiar thing I didn’t mention earlier.  In Tampa, there was a power outage in the water treatment plant because a squirrel chewed through the lines.  This caused a water distress warning for all of the areas that received their water from the City of Tampa for 72 hours.  We were told to drink bottled water or boil our water before drinking it.  The announcer was assuring us, the water served was bottled from Zepherhills and the mixed Gatorade also used the bottled water.  I caught myself wondering how much of the water, I used to brush my teeth with, made it into my system.

There was a great rendition of our national anthem sung acapella followed by the blast of the start horn.

I started feeling really good and I was charging hard at about 7:31 pace as I hit miles 1, 2 and 3.  My legs were fine, my breath was under control and I just kept saying to myself; “Self, you know you have another 5k you have to do today followed by a half-marathon tomorrow don’t you?”, but the energy of the race ran away with me (pardon the pun).

At mile 4 I started to slow down and at mile 5 my whole race fell apart.  Here I was, on my own training ground, turning the corner and heading for home, and I felt dizzy, my legs were not feeling great, and I was slowing to a crawl.  I walked for a bit, trying to clear the toxins the lactic acid was ridding my muscles of, and motivate myself to finish this thing.  I couldn’t believe I was falling apart this early.  Just two weeks prior I slowed but at the 9 mile mark, so I thought I would at least be able to get through this race and shuffle through the 5k, but here I was at mile 5 and completely crashing.  I kept saying to myself  “The mind will quit 10 times before the body does.  This is not your body, you goof, this is your mind.”  I started again, with the expectation to keep running no matter how slow and just finish.  Athletes, that I run with at track that are in groups below me started to pass.  My friend Rich, whom has been just lifting and bulking up past me with a motivational pat on the shoulder.  I couldn’t believe this was happening.  I checked my posture, looked at my placement, leaned into a comfortable position and picked up my cadence, allowing for maximum efficiency and pushed on with everything I had left.  At the 9 mile mark, as is tradition, I put everything I had in the last third-of-a-mile and sprinted across the line.  I literally felt like I had nothing left.

I took pictures with the pretty pirates and was lucky enough to see a few of my clients whom were running the 5k about an hour later.  I was so drained I was seriously contemplating just cutting out of the 5k altogether, but that little jingle went off in my head.  It actually used to be an old Hefty Bag commercial that started with a little squeaky infantile voice; “Wimpy, Wimpy Wimpy.” Of course the actual commercial continues with a loud, strong, low and bold voice; “Hefty Hefty Hefty!”, but that part was missing in my head.  I decided that 3 miles was not a big deal as long as I can get some fuel up a little, so I journeyed on to find some food.

This was the only disappointing portion of the Gasparilla Distance Weekend.  Every other year I have participated in this race the vendors are lined up in the tunnel with fruit, beverages, smoothies, rice and beans, sandwiches  bagels the works, but this year it was cut to bananas, fruit cups, granola bars and sample smoothies.  I was a little disappointed, but I ate a couple of bananas, gulped a couple of smoothies, headed back to the start line.

The 5k

Photo by Ben Mena

Two races DONE!

As my readers know, I am not the fastest runner by any means, but usually fast enough to be in the front corral.  This year because I really wasn’t feeling it, I put myself in the middle of the front corral.  What I didn’t realize, was because there were only two corrals, the 9am and the 9:45a, there were a lot more people.  After another rendition of our national anthem, which was just as good as earlier, the horn blew and we were off.  Again.  Or, so it seemed because even though I crossed over the start mat  I was still walking.  19,000 runners in-between the two corrals, and here I was in the middle of the first one.  After 400 meters I heard the announcer mention that five minutes had gone by since the start.  I heard my own voice cry out, “What? Five minutes? Already?”  Embarrassingly enough, I was talking to myself.  I started weaving through the crowd the best I could and finally around the half way point it opened up enough to get some speed going.  I was still spent, but the food I consumed filled my glycogen levels enough to finish the race.   My time was a dismal 26 minutes and change, but I was happy I did it.

After the race- Saturday

Photo by Ben Mena

Original Bootcamp Buds – Rich and Kevin

Photo by Ben Mena

Alesandra and former neighbor Barbara

After completing the ritualistic medal photos, walking, stretching, and chatting I caught up with Rich O’Dea and we headed to Four Green Fields for a couple of beers.  Everyone I knew was there, so the place was hoppin’.  The Tues-Thursday Starbucks run peeps were there, Progressive Run, Four Green Fields, A-Train, Shark runners, and of course Mrs. Jessica Glover behind the bar on deck.  She was incredibly busy  but smiling and gabbing away.  I chatted for a while, met some new runners, saw some old friends like Malynn Nguyen who I haven’t seen since the 2011 Ironman, and just basically hung out and had a great time.  It was a nice ending to a couple of difficult races for me.

I realized that I in no way was I talking myself out of running the Half Marathon the next day, so I devised a strategy on the way home.  I needed a way to fuel and feel as fresh as possible, so I stopped on the way home and grabbed a couple of bags of ice.  What for?  An ice bath.  I never actually indulged in an ice bath, but I have read over and over the advantages to them, one of them being rapid recovery and that, is what I needed in order to get through the next day.  When I arrived home I grabbed a Coke, which would help top off my glycogen levels, ate some chicken breast and broccoli, and headed for my ice bath.  Since I never actually took one of these before I knew that it would be torture if I just filled the tub with ice and water and jumped in, so I ran some barely luke warm water and got in.  Slowly, I moved the water to cold and it rose above my legs and found myself getting used to the temperature.  I then slowly started adding ice, and the temperature started to drop a little more rapidly, but not so much where it became too uncomfortable.  I dropped the last bag of ice in and waited my 20 minutes.  I have to say, it wasn’t that bad, since I allowed my body to acclimate.  I am not saying it was comfortable, the ice remained frozen after all, and it was touching my skin, but I could handle it.  After 20 minutes I jumped out and into a hot shower which was absolute heaven.  I assessed how I felt and noticed that my legs felt somewhat rejuvenated  but the test would be the next day, both waking up and running the half marathon.

The Half Marathon

I woke up the next morning and was feeling pretty good.  My legs were a little tight, but not bad.  I cleaned up a bit, donned my new IronGoof racing singlet and headed out to Jet City to meet up with Jessica, Cheryl, Carol and Tara Lee.  That was a nice way to start the morning.  Jessica, made us triple espressos and we headed to the start line, for the last time.  We made a quick stop at the Team RWB tent to pick up some more runners and take some pictures.

Team RWB prior to the Half

Team RWB is one of my favorite Veteran charities.  Being a Veteran myself and an ambassador, I am connected with their cause to help veterans with “invisible” injuries incorporate themselves back into civilian life through athletic endeavors.  Invisible injuries would be, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD), biological-chemical treated injuries, Combat Stress, and other psychological and physiological issues and disorders.  As I was there, I understand more than the average person how critical this cause is, because for every injury and casualty of war there are over 25 invisible injuries affecting Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guard, and DOD contractors.

Photo by Ken Mersereau

Jessica Glover and I slow during the first mile

We lined up with the rest of the pack for the Half Marathon, listened to a repeated acapella version of the Star Spangled Banner, and after the horn went off for the last time for me, we started shuffling to the start line.  As with the 5k, there were a huge amount of runners for this race, so it took a while to find a way to break free.  The first mile was around eleven minutes, because we had to stop twice due to the foot traffic moving towards Davis Island.  The second mile was not much better at around 10 minutes, but the third is where it started to spread out a little at the end which ended up pacing around a 9:30 minute per mile.  I was already way way behind schedule to even come close to the time I completed a couple of weeks earlier at the Rock n’ Roll half marathon.  Once I was able to move, I did so, and sped through miles 4 – 8 between 7:30 and 8 minute miles.    I felt absurdly confident and noticed the difference in my energy level since I made sure to fuel the night before, more adequately.  Unfortunately, the tole I took on my body the prior day, decided to rare it’s ugly head as I passed the mile 9 marker.

All of the sudden my legs felt heavy, my breathing became more labored and even though I was adamant about my nutrition during the course, I slowed to a pace just above a 10 minute mile.  I couldn’t believe it as my watch started alerting me after each of the last few miles.  When i finally reached the finish line with nothing left, I was just hopeful that I was under two hours or my ego was going to take a huge blow.  As I stumbled through the medal line, grabbed some water and Gatorade, I checked my Garmin’s history for my unofficial time.  1:59:17.  My slowest non-triathlon half marathon in two years.

Photo by Denise Mestanza- Taylor

Bloggers Beth, Denise and Chrissy with Nick Z & I

The after race activities included pictures in the VIP tent with members of the Brandon Running Association to include lovelies; Beth “B.o.B.” Shaw, Fallon “News Channel 8 Morning Anchor Hottie” Siilcox and Patricia ” Bring my own changing tent” Rossi, good friends; Ben “The Lazy Runner” Mena, Nick “Best Damn Race” Zivolich, Tim “You will never look this good” Schubert, and Chris “You can’t touch this” Wiegner.  Of course there were others I cannot remember due to the fact the blood was not pooling in my brain at the time.  After I chatted, drank and posed, I left for Jet City where I continued my socializing over fresh Mimosa’s made with love by Jessica.

As I drove home I reviewed the race and what the heck happened to make it so rough.  I do not like excuses, so the fact that I am a little older, it was humid or the course was boring are not ideas I choose to partake in, but problems I personally created I can learn from.

  • I did not fuel properly Friday night.  I know better.
  • I had not been putting any real distance in my recent workouts.  I had been doing less distance and more interval training.
  • I know I have been losing a lot of weight without trying and not feeling as energetic as usual lately and refused to address it. 

My intentions to address these mistakes are:

  • Revert back to being more responsible the night before race day. 
  • Obviously, put my longer distance runs back in while keeping a couple of interval workouts. – Lesson Learned: There is no substitute for distance.
  • I am incorporating a couple of whole, wheat free, grains back into my diet.  Specifically, Gluten Free Organic Oatmeal and Quinoa, to see if I can get my energy and weight back up. 

How were your races and/or workouts this weekend?

Carpe Viam!

Clearwater Halfathon: Race Report

The windows were open in my Mini Cooper Clubman as I drove down Rte 60 in order to take part in the Clearwater Running Festival’s Half Marathon. The cloudy and sixty-one degree temperature was preferable for me, but for some as the temperature was known to rise, it may have felt even a little warm. I was not sure about this race. I hadn’t run anything over four miles since Ragnar, and even the ten mile leg I did run was a little more difficult than I thought it would be. This race would turn out to be no different.

Interesting enough, if it was possible to rewind as little as two months, and I was asked about doing a race of 13.1 miles, I would have said, “A half marathon? No problem.” As the duration of my running workouts continued to be reduced due to my self-prescribed “off season”, I didn’t realize how fast my endurance would decrease as well. All the research I have read has indicated if endurance training is halted completely, only 10% of the capacity is lost at the end of the first week, but up to 35-45% is lost by the end of the second week. By the end of this race I could prove this theory personally.

Arriving at Coachman Park was easy, and parking was abundant. There was plenty of parking, packet and chip pick-up were well organized, and the announcements were clear and informative, not unlike every other event that race director Chris Lauber is involved with. The only drawback, as with every race, was the line at the porto-lets prior to the race. The irony is that it does seem to the best place to find runner friends also taking part.

Cheryl & I at the Start

The start line was filled with hugs and handshakes from friends, clients and acquaintances sharing the nervous energy common to most long endurance races. I was lucky to find my friend Cheryl who was attempting her first marathon, in order to wish her good luck and to enjoy the race. The Clearwater Running Festival included a total of four different races. A 5k, a 5-miler, a half marathon and a marathon, all of which started at the same time with the turn-around points specifically marked for each race. After a beautiful, operatic version of the Star Spangled banner, a cannon boomed signaling the start of all four races.

The first mile was light and easy and took the athletes through downtown Clearwater before making the way up and over the Clearwater Bridge. The advantage toward heading toward the beach was the grade on the bridge was slight, but long. As long as the runner bends from the ankles it is possible to push the hips into the bridge causing their momentum to be provided by gravity which is much more efficent. I coach what I personally do, so as I as fresh and pushing my hips into the bridge, it was very easy for me. The second and third mile led us through downtown Clearwater Beach which was gorgeous. It was slightly overcast, there was just a slight breeze coming over the water, the air was crisp and it was, well…perfect. Nothing changed as we trotted over the Sand key Bridge, which again, while running South the grade was slight and long. The aid station at mile 4 was my strategic walk station, so I grabbed a Honey Stinger Gel, from my belt, washed it down with a little Gatorade and kept going. Up to this point I was running right around 7:55 minute/miles and I was feeling really good.  Ahead of me was a friend of mine, and amazing runner, Pila Cadena and while I knew she had put in a lot more miles than I did running over the last couple of months, she turned out to be the mouse to my cat. We exchanged leads around Sand Key Park and then back south on Gulf Boulevard.

As we approached mile 7 which was the turn-around point, I started to worry about Cheryl and how she was doing, so while running north on Gulf Boulevard, I started looking at the runners traveling the opposite direction. The breeze had picked up a little but I didn’t really notice it because I was concentrating on finding Cheryl. I ended up noticing a bunch of other friends though, Teresa, Holly, Hugo, Nicole, and Bjorn, but I didn’t see Cheryl. Finally, as I was coming upon the 8 mile mark I noticed her running and chatting with a friend and she looked strong, so with that out of my mind I focused on the music in my ears and the last five miles. That was short lived when Parks came up behind me and struck up a conversation. To be totally honest, it kind of irked me a little. Parks is an amazing athlete, but he is a little older,  so of course my ego took a beating when he decided to pickup the pace. I already felt I was at max speed if I was going to finish the race with a little bit of energy left, so I let him go, even though my ego was saying the opposite. Pila was in front again, and as I was determined not to get “chicked”, by this four-foot-eleven, wonderful woman, whom also has a couple of years on me, I picked up the pace. First, the opposite side of the Sand Key Bridge, which graded much steeper than the front side. I increased the angle of my body and pushed my hips into the hill and my speed increased on my way up, however, for some reason the spring was gone in my step. I realigned myself, but it felt more like I was super speed walking than running. I was passing runners, which was fine, but I had no bound whatsoever. As momentum carried me over the top of the bridge, I tightened my core and let me legs go, which opened up my stride and on the way down my speed increased and it felt like my spring was back.

Pila was in my sights and started to close the gap. At mile 11 we could see the Clearwater Bridge coming up which meant the end of the race was just over the bridge, down the twisted ramp and across the finish. Prior to the beginning of the bridge two younger runners overtook me, and as I tried to keep up with them, I noticed for the first time, my legs were not cooperating. I wasn’t in pain, but my legs would just not take the messages I was giving them from my brain to pick up the cadence and move faster. The two gentlemen kept moving past me, but I had a weapon per say. The bridge was steep and no one is better on hills than me either running or biking. My legs while continuing to defy me still were consistent so again, all I had to do was tighten my core and my legs would continue in the consistent pace they were moving. I did just that and whizzed by both of the runners with the thought of putting enough distance between us in order for them not to catch me on the other side of the bridge. At the top I realigned myself, squeezed every last bit of strength I had left in my core and let my legs take me to the twisted ramp in order to finish the course. I hesitantly looked back and noticed both of them slowing on the backside, because the were putting on the brakes, while I was letting gravity take my legs to whatever stride they wanted. There was only Pila now in my sights.  As we hit the twisted ramp and I looked over the banister I saw her just below me, with Dawn just in front of her. Now I wanted Dawn too. I increased the angle and started to pick up speed, but of course just like most other runners, they saw the finish line too and increased their pace as well. The three of us hit the last tenth of mile, 1–2–3, but I could not make up the distance, and I saw Dawn cross, then Pila before I finally came to a halt across the finish line.

After crossing

I was officially “chicked” by about 20 seconds which is not necessarily a bad thing. While I could rationalize that our strategies were different as I walked through aid stations four, seven and nine, strategically, and Pila never even grabbed water, there is still no denying the results. Obviously, as Dawn and Pila were in different age groups, they both ended up on the podium, which made me feel a little better. I, on the other hand, ended up 14 out of 38, which left me at least in the top 50% which is normal for me. It wasn’t a PR, by a long shot, but it was a fun race.
Afterwards, I decided to hang out to see the awards for the Half Marathon because so many of my friends and acquaintances ended up on the podium. The presentations were nice with Suzanne Henslee on the microphone and Chris Lauber presenting the awards. It was great to see people I have trained with up on the podium.

Pila on the Podium

As the wind blew through the car on my way home, I recollected the race and how I felt. My body felt beat, but not in pain and my mind was racing on what the future would hold. There is a lot of training ahead of me with plenty of testing along the way with different races. There was one thing that was bothering me. Two years ago I decided to do a couple of races where I just didn’t care about my times or performance and those races were a lot of fun. I am obsessing more about my times lately which is a different kind of fun, but I wonder if that will be a means to an end. I have the knowledge and the experience to complete all of my training without, (or at least with minimal) injury, but will I sacrifice that to increase performance? At this point I would say no, but when push comes to shove, and I am participating in a race, will I let my ego takeover and increase my chances to DNF a future race? Only time will tell.

Whit and I 
Carpe Viam!

Bjorn and I after the race


Catching back up with the Goof

My intention for re-starting this blog was to write more often, but the more I want to write, the more I find I have less to write about.  I have been reading a lot of blogs lately.  I enjoy reading them when I have the time, the only problem I am having is I am having way too many “A-HA” moments.  I read a great post and think to myself, “I should have written about that”, or “that was a great idea”, or the famous “I was going to write about that too.”  The issue I am having is being original and unique.  What does this mean exactly (as you may be scratching your head going, ok Goof, get on with it already)?  It means I have two choices.  As I peruse the new group I have been welcomed into, The Tampa Bay Bloggers, I notice two distinct kinds of blogs, the knowledge based, and the journal.  While both can provide very interesting information, I find that the latter can become a little monotonous.   Now for me, it doesn’t matter because I know, or am getting to know, most of the journal type bloggers and I enjoy reading those, but if I wasn’t associated with them, would I really want to read them?  I am not quite sure.

My struggle is that I want my posts to be creatively amusing while being interesting in a way where one of three things comes out of each post for each reader.  1) You laugh (or at least smile), 2) learn something, or at least remember that you learned it, or 3) you are emotional moved to some sort of action.  I don’t care if you end up being incredibly angry or even angry at me, if you are moved in some way I think I may have accomplished my goal.  Now is this too much to ask?

Susan & friend at WHM 2012

Regressing back to the title of this blog “Catching back up with the Goof”, let me give you the latest chronological items.

I was ecstatic to see my friends run the Women’s Half Marathon the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I had the opportunity to go out and cheer once again for a certain group of running and tri peeps and then being surprised to find even more women I knew that were running.  Kudos go out to Kat from Sneakers n’ Fingerpaints, Beka from Rebecca Roams, Anderson, Sarah, Jessica from Jet City Espresso, Elisa, Caitlin from Live, Sweat, Sleep, Repeat, Susan, and all the others out there I am probably missing.  It was a race that was a pleasure to watch and not just because there were a lot of fit and hot looking women in spandex(get your mind out of the gutter), but because the energy was higher than really a ton of races I have been a part of.  Maybe there is something to this “Girl Power” thing.  Can we harness it as a natural resource?  Can we use it in our cars? (Hey – get your mind out of the gutter I said.)

At least my sister,  Millie was happy
to see me.  I think.

Thanksgiving was very uneventful.  Thursday I worked out and hung out by myself for a while and then had dinner at Amy & Erik Eck’s home (my friend and coach).  I had the honor of hanging with a lot of great people to include the little new Godsend, Bennett Erik Eck whom is now just a couple of weeks old.  He is getting to be pretty adorable, if I do say so myself, and I am not being biased because I happened to (almost) be there at his birth.  That may be a whole other post I may need to write. (Note to self – see paragraph 1.)  There was plenty of delicious Paleo based food and a few dishes that were not so much, but everything was amazing.  After a long walk to help the digestion process I headed home and to bed due to my departure from Tampa Bay International Airport on the 6am flight to Chicago and my family’s belated Thanksgiving.  Needless to say Friday, family came over, there was conversation, there was food, there was more conversation, everyone went home, and I went to sleep.  The End.

Sunday, I was privileged to hang out at Moretti’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant with a very good friend from my high school years whom my influence had/has steadily increased his appetite for triathlon(patting myself on the back).  We have been continuing to keep in touch through email, phone and text, sharing information on races, plans and techniques.  He started swimming last year at this time right after the Chicago Marathon and last March/April timeframe competed in his first indoor sprint triathlon, followed by a couple more and finishing with his first Olympic in September.  Needless to say I was pretty proud of Big Guy last year.  Yes, his nick name was, and still is “Big Guy”.  Mine was “Bagelman”…go figure. (Pause for laughter)  Anyway, it was great to hang out eat a little pizza, watch the Bears kick some royal Viking butt and talk triathlon.

That left getting up at 3:30am on Monday for a 6am flight home to be able to put in a full days work.  I really didn’t think we had to leave as early as we did, but I was totally 100% wrong.  I made to the gate with barely 5 minutes to grab some McDonald’s coffee and ascend the jetway before taking off.   Security on Monday was brutal, but the flight was uneventful.  Thank you Southwest Airlines.

That is all I have for today.  I do have ideas vetted out for future posts and maybe some new developments in my coaching career that are starting to take shape.  All that and more to come.

Carpe Viam!