Monday, June 16, 2008

Off in the Distance

Even though June is just half complete, my goals for the month seem well off in the distance. With vacation looming, hitting them is certainly in doubt.

My weight continues to stagnate. Even though I'm down 0.4 pounds from last week, I'm just right at my low point of 229.3. I'm hoping that since this vacation will be more active than those in the past, I'll be able to at least maintain my weight. Pretty much no chance at my 5 pound loss goal.

This was a decent week for exercise. I did two Body Pump classes, one spin and just about 10 miles running. The plan for fathers day was to get up and out for a nice long bike ride, but I chose some much needed sleep instead. In the afternoon, I took the boys, along with my brother and nephew to the BWI trail for a ride. Neil and I spent about an hour 40 listening to every whine the kids could throw at us. There was no way we were going to let them give up and we eventually completed the 11 mile loop. (I have no doubt there were some snickers or at least a few knowing head nods from riders heading in the other direction as they passed us for the second or third time around.)

Fathers day was great, with a quiet early morning, Dunkin' Donuts coffee delivered in bed, a game of Let's Make a Deal or No Deal a la Mommy Hall and dinner at my brothers with all the family in attendance. A very nice day!

Since I missed my ride yesterday, I headed out early this morning and put in 20 before work. First time I've done that. I figure there's only about another month that I can given the early sunrise that will start to get later after summer starts next week. I must say, it was a very nice ride -- kinda chilly even, maybe low 60's. My pace was 15.1 mph, my fastest ride for any length. Not bad, considering 1700 feet of climbing over the 20 miles.

So far, I've got only 20 miles run and 50 on the bike, so 50 and 100 are gonna be tough at best. With that said, I'm really enjoying mixing it up a bit with the body pump classes and spinning too. I'm hoping that I'll be ready to start the official marathon training plan in just one week.

That's about it for now. Gotta get packing. Not sure if I'll get another post off before we go. If not, will write when I get back!


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Two Kiwi's and Me

Which of the guys in the picture above won the New York Marathon? Yes, THAT New York Marathon? Well it wasn't the guy in the middle.

Today being Saturday, it was the weekly Team In Training run. This week, for a change, the Annapolis, Baltimore and Howard County groups were joining together at a central location near BWI Airport.

Joining the Baltimore group was kiwi (thanks Andrew for the kiwi reference) number one, Bruce Cleland. Bruce is training to run Baltimore in the Fall to celebrate TNT's 20th anniversary and runs weekly with the Baltimore group.

Visiting Bruce this week was a kiwi mate of his, Rod Dixon, who just happened to win the NY marathon in 1983. Rod's the guy on the left. He has put together a pretty neat program called Kid's Marathon that gets schools and marathons to team up to get kids active. Over the course of a number of weeks, kids complete 26 miles of running and walking and receive a medal. Neat guy.

For the first half mile of today's run, Rod and Bruce were no match for my well rested legs, but alas, the overtook me finish just ahead at the end. Seriously, as he passed me I was amazed how slow Rod looked. Long legs just moving him forward. Very impressive. 5 3/4 for me today with lots of heat and humidity to enjoy as well.


Friday, June 13, 2008

School's Out For Summer Dah Dah Dah Dah. . . Dah Dah Dah Dah

How many times will Alice Cooper's School's Out for Summer be played on radio stations this month. It's crazy that the ode to the last day of school is 36 years old and probably played more today than when I was in school in the 70's and 80's.

Today is the last day of school for my kids and they're ready for it. Tonight we'll hit the Orioles game to celebrate and tomorrow our little league season (finally) ends.

Then, the packing begins. We're less than a week from vacation and I, for one, can't wait.

This year's trip will quite a departure from our normal vacation. We've always tended to hit big cities, like last year's trip to Seattle and Vancouver, a long weekend in NYC, or time at the beach. Not that there's anything wrong with this type of vacation, but this time, we're moving out of our comfort zone.

Next week we head out to the Rockies for visits to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and Snowbird. In a word, we're going out to nature. The word nature itself scares the hell out of me, just slightly less than the word camping. (No, no camping, although we are staying at a Holiday Inn Express!) I've spent my entire 43 years avoiding nature. No interest in fishing, hunting, bears, woods, even bugs. You get the idea.

This will be different. We'll be hiking. Deb found a spring for us to swim in. We'll be bonding with nature. (Again, I didn't say sleeping with nature, a.k.a. camping. A few years ago a woodsy coworker asked me about camping. I told him Jews don't camp -- Moses spent 40 years in the desert camping, so we stay at the Holiday Inn!) (That last statement shouldn't be indicative of all Jews. I do actually know some Jews that do camp. But it's pretty rare.) We're gonna do lots of fun outdoors stuff that we've never done like ziplines and whatever else Snowbird has to offer in the summer.

Deb even suggested that I try to find a race to run, and so I did. Quite conveniently, the Xterra Snowbird 8k is hapenning while we are there! How convenient! Looking forward to my first trail run.

Lot's to do before we go, but we can't wait!


Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday Leftovers

It's Monday and I've got a few leftovers from yesterday's race. Unfortunately, I'm in a bit more pain than I'd normally expect from a 7 miler. Although I've done plenty of whining about the heat and humidity, no more of that. I've got some blister on my right big toe and some pain in my left foot. I'm sure the foot pain is from failing to wear my orthotics. Strangely, it's the first time I've not worn them since they were delivered almost 6 months ago. Hopefully that pain will be gone in a couple of days.

Also, apologies on skimping out on a link for Fort McHenry yesterday. For my non-US friends, Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem while the Brits were busy bombing Baltimore in 1814. The flag, the city and the song survived.

As for the week in review, my weight has remained fairly constant over the past three weeks, really, varying less than a pound on average. Currently, I'm at 229.7, down 0.4 from last week, a total loss of 184.3.

Exercise wise, I did log 10.3 miles running, one spin class and one Body Pump class.

Last Tuesday, my brother and I took dad to Busch Gardens Williamsburg for a birthday present. We picked the day expecting light crowds with kids still in school and we weren't disappointed. We arrived just as the park opened and headed to their newest coaster -- Griffon. Check out this ride here.

The three of us riding Griffon at the bottom of the 205 foot drop at 71 mph!

By the end of the day, we had 15 or 16 coaster rides, including 8 times on Griffon plus a couple other rides around the park.

What a great day!


Sunday, June 8, 2008

O, Say Can You Schvitz!

Today was the 5th Annual Survivor Harbor 7 run. I had decided to run it primarily because of the course -- it surrounds the Baltimore Inner Harbor, including Fort Mc Henry. (I was gonna post a link for Fort McHenry, but if you don't know what that is, you might want to check with your local 2nd grader.) Of course, Katie having run it before and planning to run it again, gave me added positives on the course.

As the week was moving on, this weekend looked like it would be far less than ideal running weather. Highs in the mid to upper 90's with equal humidity. Honestly, I was not looking forward to a couple hours of schvitzing right up until I left the house this morning.

Katie was nice enough to pick up my packet yesterday, which turned out to be a good thing as they only had 1500 shirts for 2000 runners. Had I waited till today, I would have surely been s.o.l.

I decided on the ride in that I was just going to do my best to enjoy the day. No thinking about time, no pushing it. Just enjoy it all. We met at the starting line at about 7, an hour before the start. Katie and her dad, along with her friend Towanda, also running today, and her husband Alan, there for moral support.

I got my packet from Katie and distributed t-shirts to the ladies for the inauguration of Blue Crab Running. What's that? Well, some time ago, blogger friends Pat, Lisa and Karen started the Tumbleweed Running Club out in Arizona. Katie and I talked about copying their idea when we ran the B&A Trail Half in March. A few weeks ago, Katie suggested the name and I enlisted my Aunt Debbie to do some artwork. A Zazzle order later and we were ready for today's world reveal.

Our fronts.

And our backs.

Of course, the awesome artwork. Thanks AD!

Planning for today took a lot of work. We all needed to ensure we were well hydrated. I put on my fuel belt for the first time since I had suspected it had caused an injury during marathon training. For today, I was prepared to stay hydrated, even at the potential expense of having to walk more than I'd have liked.

After posing for pictures, we did our thing until just before race time as the bagpipers strode up through the group of runners.

The run started just after 8 am. We were toward the back of the pack, so it was a couple of minutes before we crossed the start line. Temps were about 80 with 80% humidity. It felt every bit that hot and humid, not to mention the hazy skies. As we took off, it was clear that it would be a walk/run kinda day. Not even the slightest breeze evident.

At mile 1, we headed into Ft. McHenry. You might be able to pick out a few cannons in the background in the picture below. It was a very cool start to the run. About a mile around the outer pathway of the fort. I could almost hear Francis Scott Key humming the Star Spangled Banner.

One very nice lady offered to take my pic. Not the best picture, but you can see the hill that the fort sits on in the background.

After leaving the fort, I caught back up with Katie after taking an unplanned bathroom break at the fort and we continued on toward the Inner Harbor. We kept running up until about 3.5 miles when we started taking walk breaks. The humidity was really kicking our butts.

We continued run/walking around the harbor with some great views of downtown. With about a mile and a half to go, I break away from Katie and try to run the rest of the way. Good idea, but not happenin. The air is just too thick.

Approaching Canton Square we get toyed with. We can see the finish, but we're still a half mile from the end. We slog past the finish, around a couple more blocks and back to Canton Square.

Finally and mercifully, the race is over. I finished in 1:28:18 a 12:38 pace. Towanda was about 10 minutes ahead and Katie just a couple of minutes behind. At the end of the day, I really did enjoy the run. I love Baltimore and this was a great chance to see it in a totally different way.

The three of us en route back to the cars at the start line. Thankfully, you can't smell us. I'm thinking I shoulda pitched in for a car decontamination.

Of course what would a race be without the swag.


Monday, June 2, 2008

May Finale

May is finally in the books. I'm kinda surprised how the month ended up.

Despite running Frederick, I only totaled 49 miles running for the month. Seems like such a let down after running 96+ miles per month for the past three and having a 26 mile jump start.

Even though the running miles weren't there, biking did pick up -- 92 miles for the month in just 5 rides. Definitely enjoying the bike more and more.

For the month, I lost 2.9 pounds, totaling 11.7 for the year and184.2 since July, 2006. I really thought I'd be lower by now. There are many milestones in the next 30 pounds. Hope to share them with you . . . soon.

For June, I'm setting goals to run 50 miles, bike 100 miles, and drop 5 pounds. Hard to believe the training plan for Marine Corps starts in just three weeks. Yikes.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Catching Up

I can't believe it's been a week since I last posted. Time flies when you're having fun. Anyway, here are some highlights from the week past:

Cursing Every god Known to Man

Last Sunday night, we had the family over for dinner to celebrate dad's birthday. I asked brother Neil if he wanted to ride Memorial Day Monday. After complaining about his sore butt from his ride earlier Sunday I finally said I'd be at his house at 8 for coffee, on the road by 8:30. Deal!

Memorial Day was one for the books, at least the weather books. The morning was absolutely perfect -- upper 60's - low 70's, not a cloud in the sky, slight breeze. Perfect for a ride.

We headed out right on time with a plan to go west from Neil's house, out to Baltimore horse country. (I'm sure some of you are thinking "Baltimore horse country? Huh? You'll just have to trust me that there is such a place.) A few miles in, Neil had a mechanical. We had to stop to get his chain recalibrated. Amazingly, the two of us were able to fix his chain and get him back on the road. (Amazing? Yes, we come from a long line of not mechanically inclined family [nothing personal, dad.] Normally we'd call a guy for help, so it was pretty amazing.)

From there, we rode. As we came up on the next hill, Neil was surprised by my climbing -- "Oh, you have three gears on the front." Yes, bro, those granny gears do help on the hills. We saw quite a few other bicyclists out there. At one point, I even counted seven consecutive vehicles with bikes on the back. Seems everyone had the same idea.

As we headed north on Tufton Road (not to name drop or anything, but we waved waved to the Ripken's and it looked like Ray Lewis wasn't home) we passed a police radar set up. We were all set at a cool 12 mph on that uphill section.

We turned back towards Neil's house and he warned me about the hills to come. Falls Road is notoriously hilly. At one point, I hit an all time speed high of 41 mph.

The hills we hit down from Neil's house seemed a long long time ago. Now the uphill battle was in front of us. Nothing like saving the toughest hills for mile 23. It was a killer. On the way up, I was cursing out loud. I think I cursed every god known to man on that last series. It was brutal. Something to look forward to next time.

When all was said and done, we did about 25 miles including more than 2200 feet of climbing in just over 2 hours, mechanicals included.

Neil says I kicked his ass, but I know he'll be back to kicking mine once he gets a few rides under his belt.

It was a glorious day!

Not Much of Anything

That pretty much explains Tuesday and Wednesday. My alarm went off early both days. I turned it off and turned back over both days.

Finally. . .

Thursday, I finally got to the gym for a Body Pump class. I really like the group weight class, cause I'm way too intimidated to going into the weight room. Need to get to a couple of these in a week.

Thursday night I went to the Team In Training Alumni thank you event. The guest of honor was Bruce Cleland, the New Zealander that founded Team In Training 20 years ago in honor of his daughter, who was afflicted with lymphoma. She has survived the disease and he has personally raised more than a million dollars for the cause. He's a pretty low key guy, but it's a great story and it was an honor to meet him along with about a hundred other TNT alumnae.

Friday was field day at school. Since it was my youngest son's 8th birthday, I had promised to volunteer. I hit both the morning and afternoon sessions. 4 hours standing out in a field as the temps broke into the 80's. It was good though, the kids appreciated it.

Yesterday I hit the road for 6 miles with the TNT group. Let me rephrase -- 6 awful miles. It's hard to believe that just a month ago I did a full marathon. These were the toughest miles I've had in at least a year. Clearly, the weather had an impact. It was hot, but not uncomfortably hot -- probably low 70's at the start. It was humid, very uncomfortably humid. Certainly 90% humidity or more. I struggled to run the first 3 1/2 before I had to walk. Then most of the last 2 1/2 were walking. I managed to run the last 2/10 mile to break just under 14 min mile average. I was just one big sweat ball. It sucked!

The weather concerns me particularly because I've signed up for the Annapolis 10-Mile Run. 8 am in Annapolis in mid-July could be pretty nasty. I've got some work to do to get used to the humidity.

With plans for a family birthday brunch mid-morning, I got up early and hit the road on my bike. Not too much going on at 6 am, so I headed into areas that I wouldn't normally go with traffic. Not a single car passed me for the first 4+ miles. That just doesn't happen around here. It was a very nice ride and speedy too, 21 miles in about 80 minutes. Just in time for brunch!

I think I'm all caught up!