Monday, January 24, 2011

Good News!

So I've just walked in the door from a visit to Foundry Sports Medicine and Fitness  where I had an appointment to get to the bottom of whats going on in my right leg.  I'm happy to say the appointment went very well.  I've completely shut down all training since the Goofy Challenge in an effort to let my body recover and let my right hamstring/glute heal up as its been quite sore and tight lately.  As well as that there was the plantar fasciatis in my right foot and calf tightness going on and I wanted to know what was the root cause of all of this and what to do about it.  So heres how it went.

I first met with the doctor and he took me through a variety of resistance tests against pressure from his hands while manipulating both of my legs in various positions.  Through this he determined that there is definitely a difference in strength and flexibility between my left and right legs.  We did a lot of different tests while laying down, sitting, and standing to determine this.  From there I went and had my hips Xray'd to make sure that wasn't an issue.  Happily there are NO issues in my hips which is great to hear.  So with all that done the doc thinks my issue is simply a strength imbalance thats caused inflamation and tightness from overtraining.  So what to do now?

Well the AWESOME news is that cycling and swimming is A OK!  In fact he thinks it will help!  So no more running for a little bit (although I may sneak the Jacksonville marathon in cause I'm cheeky like that and he didn't say I couldn't despite the fact I didn't ask!).  He also recommends I spend a session or two with the physical therapists to have them do some assisted stretches with me and teach me some new stretching techniques.  He highly recommended I do yoga for several weeks and when the hamstring feels mostly normal I'm to start a general strength training routine.  But in the meantime I need to work on flexibility.  So what does this mean?  It means I can start training again!  YAY!!!!   And instead of running I'll do yoga.  So I need to put some thought into my schedule but it will be a balance between swim/yoga/bike for the next several weeks before then adding in strength training and slowly trickling the run back in once things feel back to normal.

I am quite relieved as I was really worried I'd porked up my right leg royally.  So it was great to see a doctor and get a professional opinion and take the guesswork out of what was going on with my body, and what was a good plan of action trainingwise going forwards.  So now that I know its ok to start cycling again I feel much better about actually doing that.  So hoooray for that!  And he said taking two weeks off after the goofy challenge was a great idea and smart of me.  Yes this does mean the girl is going to give me a big fat I told you so as she pretty much has already said all of the above.  She just doesn't have an xray machine in the house.

So whats in store for today?  a chaotic day of work and various errands followed by a spin on the bike tonight back in Newport.  I was consdering doing the Providence Bicycle spin session tonight but its currently many degrees below freezing out and I just don't feel like carrying my bike and trainer around in that weather!  With the wind chills its ridiculously cold out today.  This morning's "feels like" temp was -5 degrees or something silly.  YUCK!  Fortunately it will warm up again to more bearable 30s tomorrow.

So for now I'm just going to bury my head in work and chores of the day and be very very pleased I didn't do any real damange to my legs.  I can't wait to start training again!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Wait

I am well aware of the importance of recovery.  I know the value of time off from training.  But I don't have to like it!  In an effort to let my leg heal up after the Goofy challenge I've done no training whatsoever.  My hamstring/glute is still a bit wonky and feels odd.  If its just tightness then I'm not worried about it... but part of me is worried about it a bit.  On Monday I'll go see the sports doc and get a professional opinion on whats going on and then decide what to do going forwards.  I'm REALLY hoping they say I can swim.  I'll be very happy if they say I can bike, and I'll be THRILLED if they say I can start running again.  What I suspect will happen is that I'll get the ok to swim, potentially bike, and probably not run for another few weeks.  But its also likely I'm just worrying for naught and I'll be running again in a week and able to run the half or full marathon at a relaxed pace with the Girl in three weeks.  Time will tell.  For now all I can do is wait.  And wait...   and wait.  I'm not very good at waiting though. 

Fortunately this waiting time is being filled with work.  I'm currently right back in Orlando working on a show.  Fortunately this show is pretty stress free and not very intense on the manual labor scale so thats great.  So I'm just killing time working and waiting.  While working I don't really have much free time but I do have internet and email access.  This is a good thing as although it doesn't allow me to focus on something intense like researching training plans.  However it does allow me to go shopping online occasionally in breaks and email people.  So I spent today emailing Joe at about taking my SRAM S60 Wheelset and taking it apart and wrapping it around a powertap.  So after I get home this weekend my rear wheel will be headed off to the guys at wheelbuilder to add a power meter to it.  I'm definitely looking forward to being able to train with power and the price was such that it made a lot more sense than a crank based approach that was twice the price.  Its also now moveable between bikes which is great.  But thats all I'll say about that...   I'll add more once the whole project is done.

So with that said I should go back to paying attention to rehearsal.  Just a few more minutes left in this rehearsal before our dinner break and then were right back at it again.  Time for me to go back to waiting.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Amnesty Week

I'm happy to say that after a grueling 4 day long drive home from Florida to Rhode Island I finally made it home.  I got hit with every kind of winter weather along the way from ice storms to black ice to blizzard conditions that made me have to continually call it quits and sit in a hotel room waiting for the weather to pass.  But I'm happy to say that part is finally over.

So the week after a giant race for me is typically what I call an "Amnesty Week" meaning I can eat and drink whatever the hell I want whenever I want.  I don't count calories and I eat really really bad food.  I've had pizza, and lots of beer, and chocolate, and candy bars, and donuts and whatever I want!  Last night the girl and I made a giant chocolate chip cookie and then baked it most of the way and then broke it up and put it in a bowl while it was still warm and then added Ben and Jerry's Whirled Peace ice cream over the top of that which was easily a 900 calorie dessert.  I LOVED it!  And damnit I deserve it!  Oh and I drank a beer with it too!  Mind you this was after eating an entire small Mama Leone's Hawaiin pizza for dinner with another beer.   If you find yourself judging me at this point ask yourself this...   did you just run a 5k, 1/2, and full marathon back to back?  Yeah...  I deserve it!

So what else is going on this week?  Well I'm getting ready to leave again on Tuesday to go right back to Orlando for another work trip.  Other than that its been all about recovery and starting to think about whats next training wise.  Sadly all I can do right now is THINK about training.  I don't think I'm ready to actually do any yet.  My hamstring/glute area on my right leg has been an issue all along through this training process.  I have clearly very much pissed it off with the goofy challenge.  Its been stiff all week.  Today I tried to do a three mile run to test it out and see if I would be ok to do this 8 mile fun run tomorrow morning.  As soon as I started running it was stiff and feeling a slight dull pain.  I hoped it might loosen up in a little while.  After about a 1/4 mile I started to think about turning around.  I figured if it didn't loosen up at least I'd be close to the house.  And sure enough it got worse.  My body was letting me know it wasn't ready to run again yet.  So I stopped after a half mile and called it quits.  That area is clearly going to need some time to heal and I need to be patient and give it that time.  I have an appointment on the 24th with a sports medicine doctor so I'm going to take another week off of training and see what happens.  Unfortunately where the injury is I think its a bad idea to bike or swim without straining it.  So I think I need to just do nothing.  So next week will be a food recovery week where I'll try and diet a little bit and shed the amnesty week pounds and just do my best to recover more and wait until after I see the doc to decide whats ok to do going forwards.  I don't think this is a major setback by any means.  I just need to behave now to reduce the risk of training setbacks later.  So thats what I'm going to do.

So in the weeks going forwards I'll be putting my training plan together finally and committing to the races I'm going to do in 2011.  I may try and do some upper body strength training though to keep me from going entirely crazy...   or maybe some laps in the pool with a pull buoy so I won't be straining my legs.  Not sure about that one though but its worth a shot!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Trying to Get Home

Its day 2 of my drive North from Florida to Rhode Island.  After driving through some scary icy spots in the carolinas and constant rain and freezing rain in Viriginia I finally hit a clear spot near Washington DC.  That lasted all of about an hour before the giant storm caught up with me and finally had to give up and pull off the road in Baltimore.  So here I sit in another hotel room in Baltimore watching the snow fall out the window and wondering if I'll be able to make it home to Rhode Island tomorrow. On a clear day its a six hour drive from here.  However the storm will be raging the better part of the day tomorrow so I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it to RI.  My current backup plan is to make it as far as New Jersey where my folks live and stay with them and then head home thursday morning.  But I'd really really like to make it home tomorrow.  I miss the girl and Rhode Island and I'm ready for this trip to be over!  Plus I leave again on tuesday for a work trip so I'd love to get as much time in at home as possible before I head out again.

The funny thing about this drive home has been that I keep forgetting that I just finished the goofy.  Well at least in terms of my body.  Today I got out of the car at lunchtime to get gas and I had totally forgotten that my legs are super stiff and sore still and don't work very well yet.  I laughed at myself.  It always takes me about three or four days after a marathon before my legs start to feel even remotely normal to me. 

On a somewhat worrying note I can't feel one of the toes on my right foot currently.  Or at least its generally fairly numb.  Its the same toe that I had the neuroma issues with.  So I'll be curious to see if that feeling comes back.  For now I'm not going to worry about it.  I have an appointment with Foundation Sports Medicine on the 24th to look at my right leg and foot in general and I'll address it then if need be.  I'm looking forward to trying to get to the root cause of my foot/calf/hamstring/glute issues and see where the problem really is and fix it.  So hopefully I'll get some good answers there.  Its not a huge problem for me by any means but I want to go into the ironman at 110% healthy so anything I can do to address issues early on and strengthen things will be well worth doing.

Time for me to go stare at weather forecasts and plot a route home tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Disney Goofy Challenge Official Results and Overall Perspective

As a quick aside...   I'm currently stuck in South Carolina in a hotel room while outside theres a nasty snow / ice storm raging that made me have to give up the drive home for the day to stay safe.  Weather up the coast this week is awful and its going to be a challenge to get home in a timely fashion.  But being stuck here gives me time to get some thoughts and analysis of the goofy challenge taken care of.

Goofy Challenge Official Results:


First there was the 5K fun run.  Which had no offiical timing... so theres nothing beyond my recollection of the finish clock being around 22 minutes when I crossed the line.  But that was just a fun warmup.  You can read my race report of that event here.  That was really just a fun warmup run.  Really the weekend was all about the goofy challenge, but I figured why not chuck the 5K in there as well and make it that much more challenging.  Plus it was good silly fun.

Half Marathon:

Then there was the half marathon.

Race report for the half can be found here.

Chip Time 1:51:48

Overall Place 1712 / 21953 Top 7%
Gender Place 1306 / 9549 Top 13%
Division Place Males 35-39 219 / 1531 Top 14%
5K Split 26:49
10K Split 54:42
15K Split 1:21:19

Pace 8:32/mile

The half marathon was a race that I paced carefully and very conservatively.  There were a LOT of runners out that day.  I'm surprised I placed so well overall and among the men considering how slow I went on the half.  My best half (1:36) for reference sake would have made the top 2% of the field.  So there were clearly a lot of slower runners and walkers involved in the results.  I just ran the half for fun and as part of the goofy challenge.  I certainly didn't want to really race the half as I knew it would destroy my full results.  So really the above info doesn't mean a lot to me.  My only goal was to run the half sub 2.  Mostly as I didn't want an official result in a half of over two hours and I also didn't want to be on my feet that long.  I figured sub 2 but not too fast was a good balance between not being on my feet for too long and not racing so hard as to negatively affect my full marathon goals the next day any more than running 13 miles the day before a marathon does already.  I'd say mission accomplished on that one... but more on that below.
Full Marathon:

Race Report can be found here. 

And finally the full marathon.  Heres the official results:

Chip Time 3:35:53

Overall Place 789 / 13522 Top 5%
Gender Place 676 / 7255  Top 9%
Division Place Males 35-39 124 / 1302 Top 9%
5 Mile 40:01
10 Mile 1:22:18
Half Split 1:48:07
20 Mile 2:45:28

Pace 8:14/mile

So lets take a minute and look at those numbers.  I have to say I'm pretty excited to be top 5% overall and within the top ten percent of the men!  Now I realize that the Disney marathon may not be the most competitive of marathons as its one often run for fun, but there were plenty of serious runners out there.  So I'm still very pleased with that.  Especially considering I just ran a half marathon the day before!  That and 3:35 is still very much a respectable time.  It also has me thinking that perhaps an eventual BQ is a possibility for me.  I have to run a 3:15 to get into Boston currently.  Which is 20 minutes faster than that.  But if I can run a 3:35 on tired legs I think I can certainly shave potentially up to ten minutes off of that.  So thats a 3:25.  If I can do that... then maybe 3:15 is a possibility in the future?  Its a longshot... but I won't rule it out as a possibility.  I'm certainly getting faster every year I continue to train so I'm not going to give up on it!  The other thing I'm rather pleased with is the split.  In fact its a negative split, although not by much.  But still... negative splitting a marathon is hard enough, doing it after running a half marathon the day before is especially something to be proud of if you ask me.  I was falling apart at the end and I fought through it and managed the negative split.  I'm really psyched about that! 

Overall Reflections on the Goofy Challenge:

Six months before the goofy challenge it seemed like a great idea and a fantastic fun endurance challenge.  Plus it fit into my work / training calendar.  So why not?  Originally I thought it would be fun too to just run a marathon to complete it and not focus on time at all.  I figured if the challenge was just to run a half and a full on back to back days I'd ignore time and just take the experience in.  At least that was the plan iniitially.  But I should know myself better than that and it wasn't long before race brain kicked in and I was shooting for a new PR.  How I thought I could run a race and ignore my time I don't know.  My brain just isn't wired that way.  Which is a shame really...    I think for me to run a marathon just for fun I need to run it with a friend.  I think thats the only way I can let my own pace goals go.  So if I pace someone else, or just run it to keep them company I think I can do it just for fun.  But on my own clearly I lack that ability!

On the morning of the half and especially the full marathon the goofy challenge seemed like a ridiiculously bad idea!  What was I thinking!!!  was the thought that kept going through my brain.  And yet now in retrospect I'm thrilled that I did it.  How could I not be considering I got through the challenge and got a new PR out of the deal?  I think that fear of the unknown is the exciting part of the goofy.  The feat you won't get through the second race is intense and at the time frightening as all get out.  In retrospect though that fear and excitement and panic was all part of the fun.  Its certainly a unique endurance challenge and one I'm proud to have completed.  Does it serve a real purpose or help me in any real fitness / training way that benefits me?  Well you can argue that both ways I think.  Physically I don't know that it really offers any benefit to race on multiple days like that.  I don't think I'm any stronger or faster because of it.  Mentally however I think that race is going to give me a lot of confidence going forwards.  I imagine that the start of the marathon in my Ironman later this year I'll be feeling a lot like I was at the start of this one.  Scared!  However the confidence I have from knowing I can go out and race on tired legs like that and set a PR is going to give me a huge boost of confidence come Ironman day.  I'm still going to be scared, but I'll be less scared knowing I pulled the goofy off.  Meeting new endurance challenges always gives me more confidence when I try a further distance or another challenge.  So the goofy will certainly offer me some benefit in that regard.  The other way in which I think it was a good idea is that I now have a TON of mental confidence.  I pushed through more pain in that marathon than I ever have before in any race I've ever done.  So knowing I can push myself despite being up against that much pain and discomfort is a HUGE mental boost and will certainly come in handy on Ironman day.

So all in all do I regret doing the goofy or wish I'd done anything differently?  HELL NO!  : )

So You Want to Do the Goofy?:

So after getting through this thing what would I tell other runners to do if they are considering it.  The first thing I'd say is go for it!  If ever there is a place to do such a thing its at Disney.  The atmosphere, crowd support, flat course, and distractions on the course make it a great place to try such a thing.  I'm failry certain there aren't much better conditions to try such a thing. 

What would I recommend for training?  I thought about this a lot as I was putting my training plan together.  I considered prefacing all my long runs with a run half that length the day before.  But I couldn't come up with a reason or a benefit to doing that.  I just felt like it was just begging for an injury.  So I just followed a standard (abeit challenging) marathon training program.  I did three twenty milers in the end and I think that certainly helped.  I also only ran three times a week as I wanted to fit cycling and swimming in among my run training as well.  And I certainly cycled enough to cover the missed day or two of running a week.  So really I don't know that theres anything you need to do different for the goofy other than have completed several marathons or several endurance type events before you take on the challenge.  You also have to be a little twisted I think too.  In my case I'd done two marathons, a half iron, and bunch of shorter races and triathlons in there.  Which I think is the bare minumum to take on such a challenge as the goofy.  Really I think I'd have been better off waiting another year or two to take it on.  The only thing I think I'd do different is go with a higher run training volume.  I think it may have felt easier had I been running 40 mile weeks instead of 25-30 mile weeks.  I will close this post by saying that completing it is a huge confidence boost, it was insanely fun despite being brutal in the moment at times, and its an experience I'll forever cherish and enjoy.  I even ponied up the cash for the fancy frame that holds all three medals, your race bibs and some photos as I want to remember this challenge for a very long time.

Whats Next:

So what endurance challenge do you follow such a thing with?  Well howbout an Ironman!!!!   Sounds like a good one to me!  And assuming my legs survive the 2011 season what crazy thing do I have in store for 2012?  Well perhaps another Ironman?  A long distance swim?  An ultramarathon such as a 50 miler is also high on the list!  So many fun challenges ahead of me.  As long as I'm healthy I'll keep setting my sights higher and higher!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Disney Goofy Challenge - Full Marathon Race Report

This morning the alarm went off at 2AM and once again it was time to get ready to race.  I went through my usual routine and ended up in the Disney parking area near the start at 3:20AM.  I laughed as I sat there as sitting in Disney parking lots at 3AM waiting to race was beginning to become a habit!  After going through the pre race routine yesterday for the half marathon I knew the drill so this time I stayed in the warm car a lot longer.  Once again my timing with the drive was good as cars started pouring in right as I arrived.  Around 4AM after finishing my coffee in the car and getting my things together I headed to bag check and through to the other side where the holding pen before heading to the start line is for all the runners.

Ok so part of distance running is dealing with GI issues...    and if you don't want to read about that then you may want to skip this race report.  Rest assured however there will be no details...   I just feel compelled to say that its a subject this post will adress.

So after bag check I head to the port-o-jons.  I've been struggling with this part all week.  My body can handle racing at 730am and easily have time to go through my morning routine and go to the bathroom before I race.  Running is murder on the stomach so not taking care of things ahead of time rarely ends well.  The problem with races that starts at 530am and waking up at 2am a few days in a row and sleeping at weird times of the day is that your body clock gets VERY confused.  And it becomes uncooperative.  Before the half I had no joy and by the end of it I went right from the finish line to the port-o-jons.  At the start of the full I had no joy.  So I'm sitting in a port-o-jon at 4AM hoping for joy...    at 4:20 I gave up and went back into the holding corral.  I was really nervous that I was going to have some serious GI issues in this race.  It was NOT a confidence booster heading towards the start of the race...

As I sat there in the holding pen my mind started to panic.  I couldn't go to the bathroom, did I run the half too fast yesterday?  were my legs going to hold out?  what about my hamstring?  my PF?  Should I have worn my other sneakers?  Holy crap...   what was I thinking racing a full after a half?  Should I try and PR or is that stupid?  can I even go sub 4?

so as an aside...     the night before I started feeling pretty good.  My legs felt ok and I started to dream about going for a PR today.  So I put together this race plan.

-Start the race running 8 minute miles (aiming for a 3:30 finish)
-If I feel ok after three miles at this pace then keep running that pace and see what happens
-DON'T get attached to the thought of a PR
-If those first few miles feel rough then instantly switch to the goal of going sub 4.
-And if they feel really rough then my only goal is to finish the race no matter how long it takes me.

That was my plan and I felt pretty good about it.  My main goal was just to complete the goofy challenge.  Everything else is gravy and I kept telling myself to be honest with myself early in the race and slow way down if need be.

So I sat there in the pen talking myself out of going for a PR.  At this point frankly I had almost convinced myself I was going to poop myself in no mans land a mile from the nearest port-o-jon at mile 16.  The thought of racing a marathon without going to the bathroom ahead of time is the stuff of runners nightmares.  So after a while of all this going through my head they opened the pens and we started the half mile walk towards the start corrals.  Fortunately the walk took my mind off of the race and mostly I focused on how freaking cold it was!  It was 40 degrees.  I was wearing a hat, gloves, a throway long sleeve shirt over a long sleeve tech shirt, and running tights.  I was COLD.  Not freezing, but still damn cold.  It was breezy during the walk and I started to shiver.  At times uncontrollably.  Not good!  So now I'm worrying about if I'd worn the right clothes for the race as well.

When we get to the corrals I find a place at the start of corral C which was my assigned corral.  The way they do the races there is that its all by chip time.  So you wait in your corral and they start the A corral.  Then they let the B corral walk up to the starting line and a few minutes later they start them.  In turn as thats happening my C corral started walking forwards as well till it was our turn to start.  I was thrilled it was finally time to start this silly thing.  Worried...  but much happier to be moving forwards so I can start to warm up.  I got a spot directly at the front of my group before we started and as soon as the gun went off I went out hard to stay in the front and clear road.  Me and two other guys all did the same thing.  It wasn't long before the three of us were way out in front of our corral group.  We joked that it almost felt like we were leading the race since the other group of runners from Corral B was still several minutes in front of us.  Then I dropped those two guys and caught the back end of Corral B and started running my way through that group.  Many times I had to run in the grass to get around everyone.  I wished I had started in an earlier corral.  Oh well.

The first three miles went by fast for me.  My splits for the first three miles were 7:49, 7:49, 7:47.  PERFECT!  especially considering I was weaving my way through the crowd to find clear road or other runners going the same pace.  I felt good too. Hmmm....   maybe this wasn't going to be awful?

Miles 4-6 were also good and were all at 8 even pretty much.  I was right on pace and checking my garmin often to keep things together.  These first six miles went by really quickly.  I was excited but I knew the race hadn't even started yet.  I took stock.  My legs felt good, my heart rate was fine, I was warm now and feeling comfy and I was holding steady.  So far so good.

Then things started to go downhill.  Miles 7-10 were the hardest for me emotionally and mentally.  Everything started to fall apart.  I started to struggle and it shows in my splits which were all suddenly at 8:30s and I COULDN'T get myself to run faster now matter how much I tried.  So I decided at this point it was time to change gears.  My legs were tired already.  I was tired already.  This goofy challenge is crazy!  What was I thinking?  I was slipping in pace already by mile 10 and I knew that I would slip further as time went on.  So I switched gears and came up with a new game plan.

I set a goal for miles 10-13 to just relax and run whatever pace my legs wanted to run.  No looking at my garmin allowed.  Lets just run free for a few miles and see what happens and then take stock again.  So I ignored the watch, relaxed and mentally prepared myself to switch to goal number two which was just to try and go sub 4 hours.  I had visions of slowing down so much as time went on that I wouldn't be able to even go sub 4.  So I started to mentally prepare myself for that as well.  That mental preparation is important.  You can't finish a marathon and be dissapointed in yourself.  Thats just wrong.  So you have to prepare yourself for various outcomes both before the race and during the race.  So thats what I focused on for those three miles.  Well that and how much my legs hurt.  They felt dead and unresponsive and heavy and I felt TIRED.  I was a bit whiny and sad during these miles...

Then I looked at my splits.

8:08, 8:09, 8:20.

That last mile had a few hills in it so that explained the extra ten seconds or so, but I was running freely at 8:10s by the looks of things.  Hmm....   maybe I could hold onto a PR?  I just had to run faster than an 8:22 average and my current average on the garmin was 8:09 and holding.  So at the half split I started to do math.  The problem with garmins and marathons is that they track how far you've run, not where you are on the course.  When you run a marathon you run around people, around obstacles, and through water stations etc.  However a marathon course is measured by tangents and straight lines which you just don't run.  So after 13 miles you are actually off.  In fact most people run an extra half mile during the course of a marathon.  Point of all this is that you have to look at your total time at the halfway point and do the math based off of that and not what the garmin thinks is your average pace.  So my half marathon split was pretty much at 1:46.  I knew I couldn't hold that on the back half but I just had to stay ahead of 3:39:22 to PR.  So I needed to run as close to 8s and possible for the back half and see what happens and take stock again at mile 20.  At this point I still didn't think a PR was possible on legs this tired but I was willing to try.  After all trying made the time go by faster.

Miles 14-20 went like this.
8:04, 8:15, 8:16, 8:11, 8:09, 8:12, 8:22
I was holding on to it!  I knew I was slowing down a tiny bit but I was holding close enough to still be within cautious striking distance of a PR.  At mile 20 I started doing math.  Again I realized I had to hold as close to 8s as possible to do it.  I was hoping I could slow to 8:20s or 30s and that would be enough to just make it but I was afraid I'd hit the wall at mile 23 or so and I wanted to allow for that so I just ran as hard as I could.

I have a high tolerance for pain generally.  Especially when running.  Today however was on another level.  I've had discomfort when running.  I pushed really stupid hard at a short distance race to go fast and that hurts too.  But today was something entirely different.  For 26 miles today I pushed my legs beyond where they wanted to go.  I FOUGHT the pain with everything I had.  My brain was literally SCREAMING at me to slow down.  Then BEGGING, and then WHINING at me.  I refused to listen.  I just kept thinking that pain is temporary, and glory is forever.  So I fought it.  And then fought it again.  Every single second of the race was spent concentrating on it.  Those last six miles however were the strongest mentally I've ever been.  My body was falling apart.  My legs were failing.  EVERY part of me wanted to stop.  I saw people taking walk breaks and I so badly wanted to join them.  I just wanted to walk...   just a little PLEASE???   NO!  I fought it and fought it and fought it.

Miles 21-23 went like this.
8:00, 7:56, 7:59

HELL YEAH!  I was holding even 8s!  I was EXHAUSTED and falling apart but I was holding 8s.  I did the math.  I just had to stay sub 8:30 at this point to PR.  I was so afraid that I was going to explode at any minute.  I knew I only had minutes to lose if I fell off pace and its VERY easy to lose a few minutes in three miles when you are falling apart.  So again I fought onwards...

Mile 24! 7:59!

I was holding even 8s!  My face was screwed up in a ball of obvious pain.  Spectators looked at me and shouted encouragement at me.  I especially loved the ones that read my name off my race bib and yelled it out.  I was struggling...  I desperately wanted to stop.  I knew I was only two miles to go but the negative thoughts just kept coming again, and again, and again.  Stop Stop Stop!!!   You can't do this!  Let it go!  Relax!  Just walk it in!  That guy over there is walking... its ok.  Look how happy he looks walking!  NO!!!

Mile 25 8:13

Ok I'm slowing a tiny bit.  Its ok.  Just one mile to go.  Focus on the one mile.  Some quick math had me thinking I had 12 mintues to run 1.2 miles and still PR.  I was worried I was wrong though.  What if I was too tired to do math.  Was I going to PR.  Can I stop?  Can I please stop?  Pretty Please?  NO!!!

My legs were on FIRE at this point.  Just intense pain with every single inch of forward progress.  I was a mess.  But I fought onwards.

Where the hell is the mile 26 sign?  I swear I've run 4 miles since mile 25 and I still haven't seen it!

FINALLY!  Mile 26!!  8:03

.2 miles to go!

You round the corner in Epcot at the mile 26 sign and suddenly you can hear the crowds cheering at the finish line.  I did it!  I did it!  Its over!  I can almost stop running!!!  OMG I want to stop!  Soon, soon I can stop!  I can't wait to stop!

OMFG!!!!!  I JUST PR'D THE GOOFY CHALLENGE!!!!   3:35 and change!!!!!!  I did it!  I knocked 4 minutes off my marathon PR the day after running a half marathon!!!!!!!  I threw my arms in the air as I crossed the finish line.  I wanted to cry from exhaustion.  I was SPENT.  They say you should leave it all out on the race course and have absolutely NOTHING left at the finish line.  Today I was as close to nothing as you can get without tipping over at the end.  I gave this race absolutely everything that I had.  I am so incredibly proud of myself today.  I pushed myself today through a giant wall of pain and persevered.  I refused to give up no matter what and I think I take a lot of pride in that.

Through the chute and they put the Mickey Mouse marathon medal around your neck.  And then the fun part.  Theres a special line for the Goofy Challenge finishers to get their second medal for completing both races.  There are many Disney volunteers and employees handling this portion and every single one of them gave me warm congratulations.  It was great and they were fantastic!  I was so fricking excited when they hung that goofy medal around my neck.  I'd done it.  I not only finished both of those races (plus the 5K!) but I PR'd the marathon!  I was grinning from ear to ear!

After that I ate a ton of mini cliff bars, a banana, a muffin, two waters, and a diet coke.  Man that was good!  I was hungry!  Then I picked up my bag and spent five minutes trying to sit down on the ground so I could open the bag and get my phone out to call the girl.  I was so excited to talk to her and tell her I PR'd!  I was pscyhed she answered the phone.  After that I changed clothes and then got some medal shots with all three medals and hung out for a bit and enjoyed the festivities and then went back to my hotel room.

By the way...  you may be wondering why there is no description of the race course, what theme parks I ran through, what entertainment was out on the roads.  Well there's a reason for that.  I was too busy being focused on fighting through the pain to notice.  Seriously...  I hardly remember the course at all.  It was there, and it was great running through magic kindgdom again and if I were to run it slower and fresher it would be super fun and enjoyable.  But today was just not that kind of day.....

Just standing up in the shower in my hotel room took incredible effort.  I was EXHAUSTED!  I also had a stomach ache the size of texas.  So I layed down in bed and prompltly passed out for a four hour nap.  I was TIRED!

This afternoon I spent a little time in Downtown Disney buying some presents for friends and walking around for a bit to loosen my legs up a bit.  And then I passed a bakery and realized my stomach was feeling ok.  So for lunch I had a GIANT peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie, and a GIANT oreo looking Chocolate Fudge cookie which was like an Oreo on steroids with some sort of fudge/mouse type filling.  Hell yeah!  I deserved it!  And now I'm back in my hotel room contemplating whether or not to go out for dinner, or to just order pizza and order up a movie.  Which I think is quickly winning!

In other news...  my visit to my folks has gotten postponed due to them fighting off the flu this week.  So...   now tomorrow I'll take advantage of the free theme park ticket to all marathon finishers and spend the afternoon and evening in Epcot and stay one more night here at the hotel before heading north back to Rhode Island starting tuesday morning.  Apparently theres also a nasty storm going across the southeast tomorrow so its better to wait on the drive anyway.

I want to take a special moment here to thank all of my friends from Tri-Newengland and elsewhere who were fantastic in showing their support and encouragement from afar on facebook as I went through the Goofy / "Dumbo" challenge.  Their words of encouragement, congratulations, and support as I went through the three races made me feel fantastic and made it all worth it.  Its hard racing all alone out here in florida by myself.  And getting all that support from afar makes it all the more enjoyable.  So THANK YOU! to all of you that read this blog, that comment on facebook, or offer encouragement and inspiration to me.  I appreciate it!

Next up tomorrow...  a  day of rest... some time at Epcot, packing up the car, and a post about the Goofy Challenge experience as a whole.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Disney Goofy Challenge - Half Marathon Race Report

So today the real fun began.  Yesterday was just a little fun warmup with the 5k, but today the real challenge started.  Here's how it went.

I tried really hard last night to get lots of sleep.  I went to bed at 6pm knowing that I had to get up at 2AM.  I pretty much just laid in bed all night starting at a mix of the ceiling and the tv.  I finally fell asleep around 10pm giving me a grand total of 4 hours sleep.  When the alarm went off at 2AM I was in total disbelief and very confused... but I forced myself out of bed and started my morning process.  I'd laid out EVERYTHING the night before so it was really more of an assembly line.  Make coffee, eat two balance bars, shower, get dressed, grab my bags and get in the car.  I was on the road at 2:45am headed to the start area.  I did not come across any real amount of traffic but because they close some of the roads for the race getting to the start area took me a lot longer than the day before so I pulled up at 3:20AM just about two hours prior to the race.  In the end this was perfect timing as far as I'm concerned as traffic picked up quickly and I know I would have been all stressed out had I gotten there any later. 

When you arrive you are coralled into the pre-race area which is a giant parking lot with tents all around it with various functions such as merchandise, concessions, the DJ stage with the giant video screen, a GIANT bag check tent divided by last name into at least a dozen different zones each with 12 or more volunteers in them, and about a billion port-a-jons.  I have to say Disney has their race organization down.  Its a very slick operation.  Way better than any other race I've ever done.

So I decided I'd check my bag right away and get that done so I walked in to the T-Z chunk of the tent to do that.  All the volunteers started clapping and cheering.  I was very confused...  apparently I was the first T-Z to arrive and they were excited.  Actually all the volunteers were super fun and cheery as were all the park employees out helping or just out cheering.  So with that done I went back to the car to stay warm as it was a bit chilly.  I was definitely much better prepared this time thout with a throw away shirt on.  Temps were around 48 degrees.  Perfect for racing!

Around 4AM I left the car again and headed back to the start area and sat down and listened to the DJ for a bit and people watched as I tried to stay relaxed and off my feet.  Not long after that we were herded to the other side of the baggage claim tent into another large area filled with a water station, another billion port o jons and a big fence holding us there.  This was the holding pen where we waited for them to tell us to walk to the start corrals.  So we sat there till 430am and then they opened the gate and we started the long walk to the start.  Its always great fun being a part of all that nervous energy and I stumbled into a conversation wiht a triathlete from singapore whose done some full and half iron length tri's and we chatted for a bit which was nice.
The walk to the starting corrals was a good 1/2 mile but eventually we made it there.  In order to run Disney you have to have a qualifying half and or full marathon time.  Basically they want to know you can do it in under six hours so they can open the parks without delay.  I used my FIRM 1/2 Iron half marathon time which got me a ticket to Corral A which was the front corral!  Woohooo!  There were at least 8 corrals that I saw and they start each one six minutes apart.  A lot of the course can get somewhat narrow at times so they have to spread us out a bit.  But I was psyched to be in corral A and get to start first.  However I didn't want to do anything stupid and go out too fast with the fast pack of runners so I stood at the back of the corral and let it fill up with people in front of me. 

So all along the start corrals they have giant video screens.  And heres where the really amazing part happened, or really sad part, or happy part, or all of the above.  Disney and the military had organized a half marathon to take place in Bagdad at the US military base there at the same time as the Disney one.  So they had a live satellite feed of that base and interviewed one of the commanders there.  It was fun to think that our forces were lining up to race at the exact same time as us halfway around the globe.  And then they brought this Mom and her 5 year old daughter on stage.  She was running the half marathon today.  And so was her husband... In IRAQ!  So they put him on camera in Iraq and his wife was able to say hello to him.  They both had Garmins and agreed to run the exact same pace so they could run together at the same time on opposite parts of the world.  And then they handed the mic to his daughter who said "I love you daddy!" and I swear the whole crowd started crying.  Me included.  I'm sorry but there is just NOTHING more sad and fabulous at the same time as a 5 year old telling her father halfway around the world live that she loves him.  A deeply touching moment and certainly made me appreciate all of the sacrifices that our service men and women go through every day to keep us safe.

With that and the national anthem done it was time to start the race.  So with some fun fireworks and pyro going off we were off and running! I quickly realized I'd picked the perfect spot to start in my corral.  I was hoping to end up running somewhere around an 8:30-9 minute pace to go sub 2 hours which was my only goal.  I did want to take it easy though and save something for tomorrow's full marathon.  The first few miles of the course were not all that interesting.  They mostly had us running around various Disney roads that go between the parks.  However they were filled with marching bands, and cheerleaders, and DJs and bands and it made the whole thing good silly fun and made the time go by quickly.

After a few miles the course entered the Magic Kingdom which was great fun to run down Main Street and then through Cinderellas castle and then out through tomorrowland before once again hitting the back roads.  There were lots of people cheering on main street which was really fun.  I bought a bigger pocket for my fuel belt at the expo so I could carry my small digital camera and take some pics...  but it sucks in the dark.  So all my shots came out like this one...

Still...  it gives you an idea of the fun of running down main street at 6AM in the dark!  At the end of the Magic Kindgom section I was happily holiding 8:30s and I pretty much settled into a groove at the pace for the rest of the half.  My legs felt good and my foot was behaving so that was nice. 

After Magic Kingdom we went out on the highways again for a long time.  We went over a few overpasses which served as the only "hills" on the course.  They had the Toy Story Green Army men there ordering us to march up that hill!  It was pretty funny and I was amused at the people (probably local to flodida) complaining about the "hills".  I found them super easy and passed loads of people going up them.  Speaking of people I found a nice group of people all grooving my pace and we sort of stuck together.  We all exchanged the lead here and there and never spoke but it was nice to find someone heels and just park yourself behind them and stop thinking and just run for a while.

At this point we were around mile 9 or so and the sun finally started to think about rising.  Actually the sunset was really pretty and I meant to get a photo but the best view of it had a gas station right in front of it ruining the photo op.  And then I forgot all about it!

There were more marching bands and DJs and lots of cheering along the course even out here on the highway so that made those miles fun.  Somewhere around mile 10 we doubled back on the course and you could see the walkers were at around mile 3 or so.  Their wave started a good 30+ minutes after mine and at their pace they still had a long way to go.  But it was fun to see them headed out as we ran by going the other direction.  I felt really good at this point and just started counting down the miles till it was over.  And I was ceratinly ready for it to end as I was already thinking about the full marathon in the back of my mind.

The course then winds its way into Epcot and around the giant golfball again before heading into the same finish area as the 5K the day before with an ever bigger crowd of people today.  You could hear the cheering from quite a ways away which was great as you knew the finish line was just around the corner.  I'd help back the whole race and by now I wanted this thing over so I really poured it on and I ran the last mile at just over six minutes.  I was ready for it to be done!

I crossed the finish line and headed into the GIANT finish area.  There was a huge assembly line of food and water and powerade and all sorts of other stuff.  I ate a banana and some protein bars and then walked around for a good ten minutes to stay loose before starting to stretch.  I stretched for about 15 minutes and then had a quick photo taken before heading back to my hotel to start my recovery plan for the full marathon.

So before I stiffened up I headed right back to my hotel room to start taking care of recovery.  I decided this was as good a time as any to take my first ice bath and it would do a lot to reduce any inflamation and set my legs up for a quick recovery.  So I filled my tub with a bunch of ice and cold water and then timidly stepped in.  OMG it was cold!
I set the timer on my phone for twenty minutes and killed the time shivering and posting on facebook.  I was VERY happy when that twenty minutes was up.  After that I took a quick cold shower to wash up and then dried off and started the next phase.  I put on my Zoot recovery tights (which work wonders!) and a compression top and laid down in bed.

The compression gear helps encourage the blood in your legs to circulate better and therefore speeds the recovery process.  I've worn these tights after every large race or long run effort and they definitely work.  I'm a big beleiver in compression gear in general actually. 

So wrapped in compression gear I got into bed and spent the next four hours napping and watching TV.  At that point I got up and I knew that I wanted to get a quick walk in to loosen up.  So after a look at the weather for tomorrow I decided to go back to the expo and pickup a couple of items to make things a little more comfy on the race course.  So I bought some arm warmers and a thinner hat than the ones I had with me that was super cheap so I can chuck it if need be.   You see the problem with starting a race before the sun comes up (and starting it at 5:30) is that theres a giant temperature shift with the sun rise two hours into the race.  So today in the half it wasn't bad as the sun rose right as I was finishing.  (most of that race was in the dark!)  But with the full marathon I'll be out there for four hours so halfway through the temps go from 42 degrees to 50 degrees which are very different for me clothing wise.  I still haven't decided what I'll wear yet but thats next as soon as I finish this post.  So I walked around the expo, found what I was looking for, and then headed back to my hotel room.  I was pleased with how loose my legs felt.  My recovery plan seems to be working which is great.  We'll see tomorrow morning how I feel.

So next up... The Full Marathon!  This should be interesting!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Disney "Dumbo" (Goofy) Challenge Day 1 - 5K Race Report

Yesterday was an exhausting day.  I was up at 5am to finish packing up my hotel room and get most of the car loaded and then went off to work to start taking down this massive show I'd been working on.  The strike was long and somewhat phsyically intensive but I played it smart and kept my phsyical effort to walking only and didn't really do much lifting at all.  So that was good.  But it was LONG!  I got a sense when we broke for lunch at 1pm that it was going to take a while so I rushed back to my room at lunch and wolfed down some leftover pasta and then stuffed all my luggage in the car and went back to work.  We finished loading the last truck at 4:30pm and I went right from work to the car and headed north on the turnpike bound for Orlando.  Rain and traffic meant the drive took me about 3.5 hours.  So I checked into my hotel, and unloaded the car and answered a few work emails I had to get to and then prepped all my clothes and registration info I'd need for the 5K and finally went to bed at 10pm.  Way later than I wanted to be in bed but not bad considering all I'd done....

And then the alarm went off at 4AM and the fun begins!!!

I stumbled out of bed and started to get ready.  Fortunately the bed in my hotel is really comfy so I was out like a light at the end of the day.  I managed to get out the door by 4:45am.  The drive to the parking area only took me about twenty minutes (its gonna take a lot longer in the next two days as the crowds get a LOT larger) and then I headed to registration and only had a to wait a few minutes before it opened.  I got that taken care of and then followed the masses to bag check and took care of that and then headed to the start area.  Disney wants you there stupid early for their races for some reason.  This being my first time I obliged.  I have to say theres no need for the 5K to get there that early.  The 1/2 and the full absolutely... but not the 5K.  There were 5500 runners today.  So not such a big crowd.  Anyway...  it was about 42 degrees at the start and fortunately not windy.  I had checked all my warmup clothes and now got to stand out in the cold in a pair of running tights and a thin long sleeve top.  I was FREEZING.  Fortunately though the DJ was playing some fun tunes (and not too loud for a change...   I dont know why but marathon DJs think its fun to deafen runners before they race.  This guy had it loud enough to be fun, but not hurt so kuddos to you Mr. DJ.  However...  you need to learn about how to tweak delay zones as your speaker setup was AWFUL!)  and the crowd was really into it.  Actually the whole entertain the crowd thing was kind of fun.  There was a good sized group dancing and goofing off and Buzz Lightyear and Woody from Toy Story were there as well.  So it was good silly Disney fun.  There was a particular group of 4 teenage or college aged boys dancing up a storm right at the front of the chute dancing away.  More on them later....

So they let us in the chute at 5:30 and keep telling us to line up and they start to shuffle us by pace.  So the 5K is not an officially timed run.  Its a "fun run".  So although there are clocks...  you don't get handed an individual time.  There are no winners or anything.  So a lot of the people there are family members of runners doing the half or the full marathon or they just want to do a fun Disney 5K.  So this means you see some interesting and scary things along the race course.  Maybe the fact its a fun run means the serious runners stay away.  Although there were some serious people there....   they did however look a bit out of place.  In fact I felt a bit out of place too. 

So finally we get close to the start, and Buzz Lightyear gets up on stage and starts the race with "To Infinity and Beyond!" and were off!  And man was I glad to be running as I was dressed perfectly for the 45 degree weather at race time, but not to stand around in it.

So to backtrack for a minute...    as were all lining up to get started there are pace signs along the chute.  And they constantly announce that people should line up accordingly.  This was a total joke.  There were people that were 100lbs overweight lining up in the Under 7 minute mile area.  There were 5 year old kids in there and all kinds of other people that could never manage their pace.  In fact there were some really little kids in there and a mom that I almost went and talked to.  Those kids were gonna get run over and I was going to suggest they move so they wouldn't get trampled but Mom started looking nervous and moved them off to the side so I was glad to see that.  I kept trying to figure out where to start.  I didn't want to "race" the 5K.  I planned on running 9s.  But no way was I going to line up in the 9 minute mile as that was behind all the people that looked like they had never run a sub ten minute mile in their lives.  And I don't mean to be rude about it...  but it was obvious.  So I lined up in the seven minute mile area.  I figured I could run a 7 to get out of the gate and settle into something relaxed if I wanted to a half mile later.  And then that corral filled up with all the wrong people so I said screw it and started about ten people back from the front row.  Which in the end was still too far back.

So back to heading towards infinity and whatnot.  Gun goes off and were off and running.  A big burst of tweens goes flying off the front line as fast as they can.  They led the race for about 100 feet.  And then they hit the wall and exploded and fell apart.  It was kind of funny to watch.  They had these priceless looks on their face that they couldn't understand why they couldn't hold their arm flailing pace for 3.2 miles.  Surely that distnace wasn't THAT far!  Anyway... that was pretty funny.   The first mile of the route was decidedly unscenic.  Most of it was in the Epcot parking lot as we head towards the back side of the park where all the countries are.  Pretty much right at mile 1 all those teenagers dancing up a storm in their running gear blew up and fell apart (too much energy spent dancing!  And they exploded too.  They also looked stunned they couldn't hold their pace.  I ran the first mile at 7:30.  Which I figured was ok.  However I decided I shouldn't go any faster than that in order to save my legs.  I felt good though which was nice.  Then the course finally got into the fun parts of epcot where we ran through all the countries.  At this point someone in costume tried to pass me.  I decided I'll have NONE of that!!!  No costumed moron is going to pass me!  Disney or not!  So I picked up the pace and dropped the guy dressed as a princess like a bad habit.  Take that Tinkerbelle!  Now I was having fun.  I like going fast.  So I started picking people off.  Including lots of young children.  Very fast children I might add.  I was impressed with many of them.  But I still picked them off.  I ran mile 2 at something like 6:30.  ooops.  So much for behaving myself.  At this point I started to worry I was gonna do something stupid so I started to ease off and head into a more relaxed seven minute pace. 

I kept trying to find someone running a pace I liked that I could lock into but instead I just kinda kept passing people.  After mile 3 which goes right past the giant golfball (spaceship earth) it was back into the parking lot for the big finish.  Now here's where Disney REALLY did it right.  They built grandstands near the finish area for people to stand and cheer in.  Nice touch!  I was impressed and there was lots of cowbell and cheering once you rounded the corner.  So you run past several hundred people cheering at the end which was fun.  I bet on marathon day it will be PACKED!  so that will be cool.  I crossed the finish line pretty much at 22 minutes exactly which is pretty much a seven minute mile average.  So a bit faster than the 9 minute mile average that I would have preffered but oh well.  I had fun!

At the end of the chute you get handed a bag with a yummy bananana and orange and a stale bagel. and get a rubber Buzz and Woody Best Friends 5K Finishers medal.  Good silly fun and a great morning.  But that was only the start of my day!  After paying three dollars for a thimble sized cup of awful mickey coffee to warm up I headed back to my hotel to shower and clean up to head to the expo.


After a quick stop for real coffee at Starbucks I was headed back towards the Expo.  When I was waiting for the 5K to start the Disney folks started announcing some fun facts over the PA.  Apparently there are close to 30,000 people running the half marathon tomorrow and about 20,000 running the full!  WOW!  Its gonna be packed!  No wonder they want us there so early.  Thats gonna be crazy!  So I started wondering what the expo was going to be like and thats when I ran into the wall of traffic trying to get to the expo.  There were cars everywhere and it took me a long time to get into the parking lot.  They had us parking forever away from the building.  I easily walked a mile just to get to the expo.  Not what I should be doing! 

The expo was a zoo!  There were three very large areas...   one for the half and full marathon registration, one for the goofy participant registration and another to then go pick up your swag bag and where all the booths at the expo were. (speaking of swag... doing the Goofy gets you three very nice long sleeved tech shirts.  The 5K cotton tshirt however was super ugly!)  The registration process for the goofy was pretty painless and they make it easy by handing you both your half and full marathon registrations at the same time which was nice.  I found myself looking at the other people registering for the goofy and wondering what made them do something so ridiculous too.  Incidentally there were a lot of traithletes (evidence by their hats/tshirts) picking up packets at the goofy area.

Once I went through that and then the GIANT store of Run Disney merchandise I started to weed my way through the expo.  I did well as the expo and bought 4 pairs of compression socks and a new fuel belt gel holder too all for great prices.  I had a great chat too with the Zoot rep about their shoes and compression wear.

About halfway around the expo (there were a LOT of booths!) I realized how tired I was.  The long workday yesterday combined with the 4 hour drive, not much sleep and the race this morning and then all that walking at the expo had me feeling really tired.  So I rushed through the rest of the expo and then ran a couple quick errands to pickup some bagels and peanut butter for dinner and now I'm back in my hotel room.  I've prepped everything for tomorrow AM so I'm good to go.  Fortunately I feel like I can fall asleep at any minute.  So I hope to do a few more things here and then go to bed by 6pm as I have to getup at 2am.  UGH!  Plan for tomorrow is to leave here by 3am and arrive no later than 4am at the race site.  Apparently traffic is EPIC on this day.  So if I'm ready before 3 I'll head out early.  I can always relax in my car for a bit before heading out.  Apparently its also a 20 minute walk to the race start.  So figure that plus waiting in line at bag check and I'd better get there early.  I can always chill in the car if need be. 

Ok...   thats all I have the energy to type today!  Time for a LONG nap before the half marathon!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Five Days, 42.5 Miles to Go!

The Disney Dumbo Challenge is rapidly approaching. In fact its a bit scary how close it is and I'm starting to get nervous about it. I've been slowly doing little things all week to get ready for it. I've been on the road since mid December with a car full of stuff. Suitcases for Christmas travels, training, bike training, swim training, work clothes, work tools, marathon clothes and supplies etc...etc... Its been a constant shuffle of suitcases. The other day I had a few hours off from work so I went out and did some laundry and then did a complet reshuffle of suitcases so I could just carry one to my hotel room for the marathon. Last night and early this morning I double checked all that stuff and packed a bag for the morning of the 5K with everything I'll need in it. Sleep and time are going to be in short supply the next couple of days so anything I can do to make that morning brainless is going to be a good thing. Essentially this is what the next few days have in store for me....
Wednesday (today):

-Up at 4:30am
-packed bag for pre/post 5K
-packed up extra clothes and laid out clothes for tomorrow
-work from 6am-11pm
-I'll probably get a break somwhere in the afternoon where I'll load up my car with everything I can including my bike and extra suitcases etc that I don't need anymore.
-go to bed by midnight.


-Up at 5am
-pack everything in car
-at work by 8am
-strike from 8am-6pm. (its going to be long, brutal, and I need to do my best to NOT tire myself out)
-shower, get in the car and head to Orlando. Hopefully arrive by 11pm and go right to bed.
-Up at 4AM
-Out the door by 5AM
-At Registration at Epcot by 5:45am (apparently traffic/parking is supposed to be UGLY!)
-5K starts at 7am
-Run 5K at nice easy 9's, smile and enjoy the easy warmup
-Enjoy post race silliness, and then back in the car and head to marathon expo
-marathon expo, packet pickup etc.
-attend goofy challenge instructional lecture for tips etc.
-Few shopping errands, pickup food, gifts for friends etc.
-dry run and research parking for marathon
-Hopefully back in hotel room in the afternoon.
-layout clothes for half marathon and full marathon after checking weather
-consider a dip in the hottub or quick swim/stretch session
-get in bed by 6-7pm.

Saturday and Sunday:
So the half and full marathon both start at 5:30am, and you HAVE to be in the pace corrals by 5AM or they don't let you start the race. Apparently traffic and parking are an absolute nighmare and its a twenty minute walk from parking to the start area. So that means that an absolute last minute arrival would be 4:30am, so I'll likely want to be there by 4AM which means leaving my hotel room around 3:15AM. UGH!!! So that means I'll have to wake up around 2AM. Who needs sleep?
So thats a little preview of whats coming in the next few days... its going to be exhausting! Just the logistics of it all are tiring! But heres what happened yesterday....
I had originally planned to go for a run before work yesterday, but work started so early yesterday that meant waking up at 4am in order to get the 4 miler in. I did make an honest effort to do that but it just didn't happen. So I was pretty psyched when an unscheduled break in my work schedule showed up yesterday afternoon so I could get a run in. So I headed out the door in the 70 degree Florida sun to go get my last 4 miler in before the races start. Being that I've done most of my training in New England in the fall and winter I haven't run in 70 degree weather in a very long time. So I was not used to it. The hot air felt very strange in my lungs.
I headed out from the hotel wondering what my pace was going to be and I decided I wasnt going to look at it except at the mile splits. So after a mile I looked and I was running 8's. Ok... not too bad considring how crappy my legs have felt lately. I was sweating almost instandly in the heat. It felt great, but odd at the same time. Over the first drawbridge "hill" and into mile 2 I started to feel pretty good. I was guessing that I was going faster but foreced myself to wait to the 2 mile split to find out. Finally my garmin chirped and I had just run a 7:30. At this point the alarm bells start going off in my head that I need to chill and stop looking at pace and just relax for the two mile route back. But my brain always short circuits at this point. I've run so much long and slow lately that I get excited when I start to warm up and get even a tiny bit of speed going. So I pressed onwards on my way back to the hotel. The last two miles in were at 7:20 and 7:00 even. I felt pretty good afterwards too. A tiny bit of soreness in my hamstring area thats been plaugeing me for weeks now but nothing too bad. So I stretched a little and then took a very long hot shower and stretched more in the shower. All in all it felt pretty good and as a last run before the races start it was a nice little confidence booster.
And now an update on Nick Vs. The Pasty Tray
So here at the gig the catering area for the crew is DIRECTLY next to my backstage "office area" where I'm camped out during the show. The hotel catering staff have decided to put the table full of evil stuff directly in front of me. As in mere inches in front of me. I barely have to take two steps to hit the breakfast pastry tray. Two days ago I caved... and kind of binged on it. Not good. But I love muffins and banana breads and the like and I just couldn't resist it. I was pretty mad at myself afterwards and upset about it. So yesterday they put the tray of evil stuff right in front of me again. So I moved it when the hotel staff wasn't looking. So they moved it back when I wasn't looking. This became a battle. I lost. However I also won as my will power of steel reappeared and I dodged it all day yesterday. Once again today I'm staring at pastries as I write this and resisting and putting only good things in my body to get ready for the race. So all is well. But this is why being on the road is hard. Theres always a tray full of breakfast pastries or cookies or cakes at every meal. And somedays, the ghost of fat Nick shows up and I lose the battle. Fortunately those days are few and far between.
Ok... time to get back to work... here's hoping the next couple of days pass by fairly painlessly and without being too tiring!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Walking to Work

So once again I am at a gig at a hotel and conference center that are on the same property but they are not attached to each other.  This happens every now and then.  When it does happen I am always amused, puzzled, and frustrated by what happens.  As long as the weather isn't awful I ALWAYS walk to the gig from my hotel room.  Sometimes this walk is as much as 20 minutes, sometimes only about ten.  In the case of this show site its 11 minutes.  I timed it yesterday at a relaxed walking pace as I was curious.  So if most people walk a mile in 15 minutes ish lets say its 2/3 of a mile.  We are currently in Boca Raton, Florida.  Its 70 degrees out and sunny.  The weather has been lovely since we got here.  Most of us are from places that are very cold this time of year, and certainly not 70 degrees.  And yet every morning out of a crew of 20-30 guys I find myself being one of a very small group of people that walk to the gig and back.  Some days I do this trip multiple times!  GASP!!! 

This morning as I started my walk I saw several crew members getting in cars to drive over to the gig (seriously!!!) and several others waiting for the hotel shuttle bus to take them to the gig.  I'd say out of the 30 guys on this gig theres only one or two who perhaps can't or shouldn't do the walk for some reason such as they need their car to be close by or are carrying too much stuff or other reasons.  I don't get it...   have we really become that lazy?  I find it rather saddening....   maybe as it just reminds me of where I came from. 

If I had to describe the typical male that does what I do it would be 25-45 years old, gut from mild to outrageous with most being in the middle, and couldn't jog a quarter mile without stopping.  I was one of those guys with the gut in catering piling on fatty hotel catering food onto my plate.  I never thought anything of it.  Five years ago I might have gotten in a car to drive to this gig instead of walking it.  So maybe I understand.  The truth is the thought of walking simply just wouldn't have occured to me when another option was available.

So maybe this isn't about me thinking about why they don't walk...  its me wishing I could wake them up to how much better I feel now that I've gotten into shape and started to live a much healthier lifestyle.  I wish I could sell its virtues and convince more people to take the leap.  I don't think I'm doing a very good job of selling it though.  Most guys just see that I don't go out drinking all night anymore after work and see me coming back in from a workout early in the morning as they are heading out to find breakfast.  So they just see me as the goody two shoes early to bed crazy workout guy who eats energy bars and bananas, and handfulls of almonds and peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches he makes in his hotel room to avoid eating catering.  Now I should note that they are all very supportive and encouraging generally...   but I don't think I'm selling anyone on the lifestyle.  People have actually said to me "I'm glad your all healthy now and everything but you were a lot more fun when you would come out drinking with us"  Its sad when I hear things like that.  That to be "fun" you have to go out all night and drink.  I'm still the same person I was back then I just go to bed earlier so I can get up earlier.

I guess this is a bit of a rambling post that isn't really going anywhere.  I guess I just wish more people would walk to work with me.  And that the guys that can't see their feet would start wondering what they look like.

Monday, January 3, 2011

T Minus 4 Days and Counting

In 4 days I’ll toe the line at the start of the Disney 5K, followed by a half marathon and a full marathon on consecutive days. Its sort of hard to believe its here already. For a long time it felt like a really long time away. Now its suddenly at the end of the week! In retrospect agreeing to work on a project as large as this one right before the marathon was not my best idea! This show has been particularly difficult from a physical perspective as I’ve been on the go all day long since I got here. Hopefully now that the show actually starts tonight equipment will stop breaking and I can go into more of a babysitting role where I sit around waiting for the lighting designer and programmer to break things at which point I hop up and fix them. But for now after many days of rushing about and lifting heavy things I get a couple of days of recovery. And then the really stupid thing happens. Thursday is strike day. Which is the day we take this whole mess down. And it’s a LOT of equipment. I’d post a picture of this giant pile of equipment except we’ve been asked specifically NOT to do so as this event is for a very high profile client and there is intense security surrounding it. As in armed policeman at every entrance and exit to the building as well as another private armed security detail as well. There are bomb dogs and the hotel is being searched and swept by security details. So yeah… no photos. Anyway… this is a very LARGE setup. If you’re a gearhead you’ll appreciate that there are about 80 moving lights in the room, another 50 or so LED fixtures and a mix of conventional, three Grand MA consoles, Oh and 26 DL3 fixtures. Which to those of you from the triathlon side of things means nothing… just know theres millions of dollars worth of gear in this room right now. All of which I have to help take down on Thursday…. The day before the challenge starts! Did I mention I’ll get out of work somewhere between 6-10pm and then have to drive 4 hours north to my hotel in Orlando and then wake up at 3am or something ridiculous and head to the start of the 5K? Yeah… its gonna hurt! And strike is incredibly phsycially intensive. I’m going to have to behave and let the stagehands do the work and take a backseat to the heavy lifting. But that’s not how I roll and I know I’ll end up getting my hands very dirty and my legs are going to be very tired at the end of it. But I gotta pay the bills so its suck it up time!

This morning I finally started to try and get myself on the get up early plan and my alarm went off at 530am and I jumped out of bed to get ready to run. My plan for the week was a three miler today, 4 miles tomorrow, rest Wednesday, rest Thursday (HA!) and then the fun begins on Friday. So this morning I headed out before the sun was up to get a quick little run in. Incidentally this was the first run I’ve done since the 12 miler just over a week ago. So I was a little tentative as to how it was going to go. I’m happy to say all in all it went really well. I was aware of my hamstring being there, but no pain, my right knee was about the same, and my right foot felt a little plantar fasciitis-y but not too bad. So all in all I felt fresher than I did a week ago so switching out those runs for bikes was a good idea. I was however a little surprised by how slow my pace was. I averaged 8:40s. Which is fine and all and that’s my goal pace for this whole mess but its slower than usual for a quick three mile run done after a period of rest. Usually I crank those out at 7-8min miles. But there were some other factors such as being tired from this show, the fact it was 70 degrees and humid out and I’m not used to that and to some degree I was being cautious.

As I started heading back towards the hotel and turned down the main driveway to the hotel I was passed by a giant convoy of 12 or so police cars. At first I thought something was wrong at the hotel and then I remembered today was the beginning of the enhanced security so they were all heading to start their details. I finished my run and walked a bit as a cool down and then got ready to go into work. Work so far today has been fairly easy and all seems to be well… but the way this gig is going I fully expect something big to break and for me to have to go fix it at any moment. This rig has not been terribly stable in terms of continueing to work properly for whatever reason. Some shows are just like that where nothing seems to want to work for very long.

Post run I was aware of all my trouble spots but none of them were really barking any more than they have been from being on my feet all week. My hamstring still feels unhappy and I’m SURE that at mile 16 of the marathon on Sunday its going to start yelling at me. Hec… both of the marathons I’ve run before this one it yells at me starting at mile 20. So this is not a new tightness issue. So I expect it to be in rare form on Sunday. I’m just going to suck it up and get through it although I hope my slower paced efforts in the 5K and half wont aggrevate it too much so I go into the full with it feeling ok at least. Time will tell.

At this point I’m just hoping to enjoy the whole experience and try and have some fun. We’ll see how it all turns out in the end. Part of me hopes to get through the full without too much trouble and then be able to toddle my way through the Donna full marathon a month later and throw another medal up on the wall. But I know that’s silly… but it would be fun to race that with the girl and her friends. Ok… time for me to go check in and see if they guys have broken anything in the time its taken me to write this.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

First Sunrise of 2011 as Seen from a Bicycle

Its 2011 now… Its going to be a good year. It will be the year I complete multiple half iron distance triathlons and the year that I’ll end in grand fashion with my first full iron distance triathlon. I’ll run a marathon, multiple half marathons, and try and PR my 5K again. With any luck I’ll even be healthy enough to race the Newport Pie Run and PR that 5 miler too post Ironman. Good things are going to happen this year. It’s the year I closed the scenic design side of my business that caused me so much stress and frustration. It’s the year I’ll move in with the Girl and take the next step towards our future together. Its going to be a great year.

So how do you kick off such a great year? Well… I’m down here in Boca Raton working on a show. We got out of work around 7pm last night on New Year’s Eve and I pretty much ate dinner, prepped my bike stuff and was in bed by 8ish and asleep by 9pm. I woke up this morning at 6 and was out on the bike just as the sun was rising. Today was supposed to be my last “long run” as part of the taper which was an 8 miler. Which at 9’s would take 1:15 so I subbed a 1:20 bike for the run to continue to rest my legs and let them recover a bit.

The ride today was extremely challenging, but really fun! Forecast was for sunny skies, 70 degree temps, and high gusty winds with steady 15-20mph winds and gusts to 30ish. I didn’t actually read the wind part till I got back though. So that part surprised me. As soon as I got near the beach it became clear the wind was going to be a big factor today. I’ve run a lot down here in this area and experienced some really bizarre winds along the shore. The tall hotel and condo buildings cause the wind to swirl around and do really strange unpredictable things. When you’re running its funny… on a bike its really challenging! Thank goodness I didn’t have my race wheels on the bike or I would have been miserable. As it was the random shifting winds did their damndest to knock me right off the aerobars a few times. It led to some interesting funny moments. As well as some dicey ones when you would get smacked with a surprise crosswind gust pushing you into traffic as you passed next to the gaps between condo towers.

Mostly though despite the winds I was just thrilled to be out on the bike. The sun was up and the view was gorgeous with the ocean in view for most of my ride. I was sad that the ride was over so quickly. But I knew I shouldn’t push it with the marathon so close and I also had to get back and get to work.

I reached the turnaround point 40 minutes out and turned around. Uh oh! Apparently what I thought was just a super strong crosswind was more diagonal than I thought and felt like a significant headwind when I was heading back. There were some moments I considered getting out of the big ring despite how flat the roads were on the way back to the hotel as my cadence was super low just trying to keep moving even in the highest gear available without cross-chaining. But I sucked it up and hammered my way through it and enjoyed the challenge of it. In the one half second I almost let myself complain about it I remembered I could be in New England where its cold and theirs melting snow everywhere and salt and sand and I’d be stuck on the trainer instead. So instead I smiled and enjoyed the challenge. I was a bit worried too I wouldn’t make it back to work in time with the headwind but I hammered away and made it back with just enough time to shower and get to work.

So today is Saturday which means the marathon is a week away now. Its strange but I’m just not in the headspace for this race. I’ll be fine… but I just feel like when I’ve been this close to a major race I usually feel really mentally focused on it. But in this case I don’t feel that way. I think its partially as I’m not trying to PR anything here… just complete the 5K,1/2, full marathon challenge in three days. So I don’t feel the self imposed pressure to race hard and fast. Although I’d be lying if my brain hasn’t had thoughts like “if I feel strong on the marathon day maybe I can set a new PR” which is ridiculous the day after a half marathon. But you never know…. I may just start out fast on marathon day and see how my legs feel. I can always slow down and it will get me out of the big pack of people a bit which will be nice later in the race. But I think I’m kidding myself. I’ll be tired after the half and I suspect my strategy will be to just put one foot in front of the other and enjoy the day. We’ll see how I feel come race morning. For now the focus is on recovery, rest, and taking care to stretch and stay relaxed and keep that hamstring/glute /calf tightness in check.

Now that I’m in the taper however I need to figure out what my running plans are for this week. I think it makes sense to go back to running now that I only have two more runs to go before the 5K. I think I’ll run 3 on Tuesday, 4 on Wednesday, rest Thursday, enjoy the 5K at an easy pace on Friday and then pace the half marathon on Saturday nice and slow and enjoy it and try and stay as fresh as possible for the full on Sunday. So that’s my plan. Here’s hoping it goes well. But as I said before… I have a good feeling about 2011.