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 2015: The Why

NYC Marathon 2015: The Why

My Why – PKD

The human brain is an advanced computer that controls many different systems.  The body is like a room full of servers each independently managing a different system with one major system, the brain, as the master controller for all of them.

When the master controller has a difficult task to undergo, the systems will cluster together in order to complete the task as efficiently as possible.  If one of the systems begin to fail, it doesn’t mean the task will not be accomplished it just means another system will take over the lack of work.  The work may not be handled as efficiently, but nonetheless, it will be completed.

Only when the master controller issues a command to stop will the other systems desist what they are programmed to do.  The question would be “Why did the Master Controller issue the command?”

This long analogy comes right down to a quote I use all the time.  Internally, and with my client athletes.  “The mind will quit 100 times before the body does.”  Every excuse will come to mind while an athlete may be suffering, but it is the reason “why” they are challenging themselves that will override the mind’s command to stop.

My 15th Marathon was the 2015 New York City Marathon, and my “Why” was tested.

In 2014, at the completion of the New York City Marathon, I said to myself, “Self, I am really happy I did it.  It was a tough race, in tough conditions (sub-40 degree temperature with 33 mph winds), but we did it.  It may not have been the time we wanted, but scratch the largest marathon in the world off the list.  I will probably not do this one again.”

My reasoning was the logistics of the race.

First, it is located in New York City.  That just says a lot of $$$ is going to be spent.

2) Getting around the big apple in a timely manner is difficult for someone not living there.

3) I have a lot of friends that live in the city and I want to see them, which means, more travel, meals and more $$$ spent.

4) The race doesn’t start until 9:50 which at 4 hours means 1:50 which is after the usual 12 pm checkout time.  Again, more $$$.

5) In order to pack the corrals with 50,000 runners, it is required to be in the runner villages close to 3 hours early, and in sub-40 degree weather for someone from Florida is somewhat uncomfortable.

6) After leaving the finish line when the legs are burning and everything is getting stiff, it is another mile to get to checked bags and then another half mile to get out of the park where there are no cabs.  Then another 5 block walk to the subway.

Other than that the race is amazing.

This year, the reasons above meant nothing to me, because I ran this race not for me, but as a member of Team Tampa PKD for Erika Bragan, Jennifer Thomas and all of the other people affected by Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD).

Team Tampa PKD Scott with PKD Patient Erika

Scott & Erika Bragan

In 2009, Scott offered me a chance to run the Chicago Marathon for the Polycystic Kidney Disease.  At the time we were both in a boot camp class at a Lifestyle Family Fitness.  He mentioned it to a few others as well, so I brought up the idea of a team concept, where we could organize events to raise awareness and funds for PKD and then split up the money so everyone could reach their goal.  it actually worked for the 10 of us that competed that year, as we raised around $26,000 for the PKD Foundation.

Team Tampa PKD 2009

Team Tampa PKD – Chicago Marathon 2009

In 2011, we resurrected the team and signed on twenty-two members and raised over $56,000 for the foundation. Again in 2013 we had just Five members and raised over 25,000 that year as well.

Team Tampa PKD 2011

Team Tampa PKD – Chicago Marathon 2011

Team Tampa PKD 2013

Team Tampa PKD – Chicago Marathon 2013
(-1 not pictured)

This year, we again signed five members.  Scott, Rich, Myself, Kevin, and Karen.  we raised over $25,000 again, but this year we also accomplished something else.  Over the last few years, Erika’s kidney functions were reduced to less than 5% apiece.  A normal human being can survive on 5% of one, but with PKD it is inevitable that the kidneys will fail.

Team Tampa PKD NYC 2015

Team Tampa PKD – NYC Marathon 2015
(-1 not pictured)

Erika had already been put on the donor list for over a year, but it had yet to pan out, so we added not only raising as much financial assistance for the foundation but finding a donor for Erika as well.

For over a year, Erika has been in pain, not sleeping and basically been in a state of misery.  Scott has recounted this for me numerous times, so when he said that it was time to start thinking about a transplant, I immediately asked him for the details to get tested.  I wanted to help any way I could and if it meant giving up a kidney so be it.

The Bragan’s waited to see if being on the donor list would pan out, but as Erika’s kidney functions continued to deteriorate, family and friends stepped up to be tested as donors.

I was tested as a kidney donor, with the preliminary tests proving positive, meaning I was a match.

However, the secondary tests diagnosed protein in my urine which is common in endurance athletes.  Unfortunately, for the medical staff, it is a risk for kidney stones which have a small probability to clog my ureter and if that was the case now, I would have another kidney to fall back on.  If I donated one, it could be fatal.

I was heartbroken when I found out, but I understood the reasons.

On July 10, my friend and Team Tampa PKD teammate, Rich O’Dea was on a blind date at the Imagine Dragons concert.  While getting to know each other Rich made mention of Team Tampa PKD, the marathon and Erika.  At first, it seemed a nonchalant question when she asked how to get tested, so Rich took as her just being nice, but even after she ended up returning to a long relationship, she still communicated with Rich she wanted to get tested.

Team Tampa PKD, Rich with Jennifer Thomas, PKD Donor

Rich O’Dea & Jen Thomas

Her preliminary tests proved she was a match, and the secondary tests proved she was healthy enough to donate, so on Friday, Oct 23, the Tampa General Hospital Transplant committee approved the living donor kidney transplant from Jennifer Thomas to Erika Bragan, and scheduled the surgery for the 18th of November.

When I found out that Jennifer passed the second round of testing, I was absolutely ecstatic that she would be able to do what I and three other people could not.  I am still absolutely overjoyed that Erika will lead a longer more normal life and Scott, Madison and Spencer will continue to have their wonderful wife and mother.

While in an interview with ABC, Jennifer was asked why should give up her kidney for a total stranger.  Without skipping a beat, or even taking a breath she said, “Why wouldn’t I? The more important question should be, why is it so shocking that I would.”

I happened to be in the room when she was getting interviewed and I just about fell over.  Without trying to sound conceded, or take away any thunder from her, but I felt like Jennifer was someone who actually thought just like me.

Jennifer’s medical bills will be taken care of 100% by the Bragan’s insurance, but the recovery time may cause a little bit of financial hardship.

Of course, Team Tampa PKD is stepping up and hosting an event called Tailgate for a Transplant prior to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New York Giants NFL Football game on November 8th at 1 pm.  (If you would like to help, but cannot make it to the tailgate please click here)

This is my “Why”.

What is your ‘why’?

Carpe Vitam!

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.

0496_14422

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.

0496_19703

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.

0496_53023

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

Carpe Viam!!

 

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!