Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mothers Day 2015

Sleeping late these days means 0730. Kids kept to their beds until much later. Card for Cindy. Mani\Pedi Gift Certificate. Hugs and such. Whatever she wants today. Turned out to be a late lunch with her Mom while the rest of us hit the theater to catch a thankfully-uncrowed showing of The Avengers.  (Fairly good flick despite some flimsy plot moments but the effects compensated.) And the  day continues as a long lazy Sunday with Liam playing his new bass and Meg alternating between her ukulele and her violin.

Life. Good.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Enough Adventure

One pint too many last night and paid for it this morning. Most unpleasant swimming 1200 yards without a wetsuit. Then we hopped on the bikes for a HR Zone 2. 17.9MPH but only 124BPM. Then a crazy sweaty ten minute run. All three pieces. Good times with good friends. Approaching 21 weeks until The Main Event. We're probably half way there already. Will build up the rest across the next 4+ months. In the furnace of South Mississippi....

After training and getting lunch, hit the road with Kidd Maestro. Checked out some different jazz bass guitars. First music place had a Fender and a second hand amp at a reasonable price. Second place (actually our favorite) had the same Fender but a bigger selection of guitars and we were able to noticeably hear the difference between some of them. In the end, the owner (a bassist himself) convinced us to pick up an Ibanez  (that Liam absolutely loved) and a new 300W amp. Took it home and it is night and day different than his old bass. Much better sound and far greater range of versatility. So we took it back home and he played for hours, looking forward to the jam session on Monday.

Then an unexpected surprise: Nenna (Kimmer's Wife) had a kidney stone flare up and they decided to head to the ER to get it checked out professionally. They dropped off Ethan and we all hung out for a couple of hours. SUPER sweet little boy. We'd have quick, cute conversations and talk about his favorite cartoons. He decided he wanted to watch Thomas The Tank Enginer, like Liam used to. Then one by one, every except me & Ethan went to sleep. First Meg went to her room. Then Liam went off to his. And finally, Cindy fell asleep on the sofa next to me. Approaching midnight, Kim & Nenna made it out of the ER. Us boys were still awake and able to get everything packed without any drama or concerns.

That's enough adventure for one day, methinks.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Push Pull, Clip Clop

Another day and another round of wrestling with server hardware. Yesterday was bad memory. Today involved adding fiber connections. Push pull, clip clop. All done and hopefully we can migrate some SQL services off of old servers and onto these monsters. Often time easier said than done, when my corporate cohorts in Las Vegas are involved. But we'll see how it goes.

After work, met Kimmer at Rooney's for the usual Friday Night Dance. Couple of pints. BBQ Sammich. Music in the background. Conversation in the foreground. He's a good guy with a heart even bigger than his chest. Fought more battles than I can count and still comes out smiling. A good example for me to follow. And his guidance is always appreciated. Glad to have him down for a couple of weeks. We both need it.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

A Rest Day

9 workouts in 6 days and finally, a rest day.! Very happy to NOT be in the gym or on the road anywhere. 

Not that there is any rest for the wicked. Still had a full load at work: Dealing with vendors. Volunteering for a new Citrix adventure well ahead of the rest of the organization. Extinguishing numerous minor wildfires. And, as pictured, swapping out bad memory in an ESX host. Funny bit, there, after powering off the server, changing the hardware, and restoring power, my email starts blowing up. The Virtualization Dudes in Las Vegas start proclaiming, "Everything dropped offline!" Which quickly spiked by heart rate closer to 200BPM. Until they started laughing the second they answer their hotline. Of course, it was a joke. A naughty nerdy joke. Highlight of my day. 

My short-lived, greatly needed, REST day....

Wednesday, May 06, 2015


Early morning workout: lots of stretching, then deadlifts and (my favorite) toes-to-bar. Only recently starting doing TTBs. They're tricky. And the taller you are, the more difficult they become. So the workout was a super set of 4 x bodyweight deadlifts and 8 x TTBs.

Evening workout: an hour on the bike trainer. Joined by Mister Kim Hall. First time we've worked out together since Augusta. Went about 18 miles in 45 minutes, then walked around the track to cool down our legs and let Kimmer catch his breath. He's still recovering from his adventures, but we agree any day above ground is a good day.

Afterwards, off to Irish Coast for some trivia. Our team, Bitch Please, came in third of three teams. Not a good night. But good times with good folks. We'll extract our revenge, next time.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Cinco De Tired

Another Two A Day. Did Crossfit after work. Shoulders and back and lots of sweat. Then went back to the house and ran. Sorta ran. Paced with Liam through the neighborhood. Went close to three miles. Jogged about a third of that. Tragically funny: after he started getting warmed up, his chest started getting tight. Where? Exact same spot where my chest used to get tight (for decades:) left upper lobe. How does something like THAT get passed along in the genes? Boggles the mind.

No Mexican celebrations, this year. Big meal at work. But nothing at home. Just me and Liam, Cinco De Tired.

Monday, April 27, 2015

For A Monday

Normal nerdy adventures at work, at least for a Monday. Not too much debris lingering from the near-explosion last week. But enough to spin up a figment of a headache and chew up enough energy to make training all-the-more challenging.

What was on the agenda today? Biking! 21.0 miles on the trainer with an angry (ANRGY!) instructor barking at me for just under 54 minutes (23.4MPH average!) Much sweat created. Great workout.

Afterwards, me & Kidd Maestro hit Irish Coast Pub. Ben's birthday. The Pub's birthday, too.  Couple of new musicians, and Liam. He's getting the feel of performing live, winging it, playing from instinct rather than set music. Does my heart good to see him up there, driving the rhythm and improvising with subtle nuances of his own creation. Plan B, we call it. Something to earn him some money and maybe help get him through college. We'd much rather have him playing for a couple of hours to earn $50 than to take food orders all day. He's a great musician and really shines once he lets his guard down and just goes with it. Hopefully we'll look back on these nights and they'll be good memories. They are already, for me.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

On To IMChoo

A good year, thus far: Stronger than ever. Faster than ever. And, knock on wood, healthier than ever.

But everything so far has been a preamble to the ultimate goal for 2015. And it is time to move on to IMChoo training.

The race is 23 weeks from today. Preceded by five months of training in the furnace of South Mississippi. A new training program from Endurance Nation. Strength & conditioning from Coach Sara at Crossfit Portside. Plus lots of stretching, rolling, and sleeping. Stay healthy, stay focused. Do it right.

There have been months of groundwork and preparation and major improvements. But the real journey begins tomorrow.

And doesn't end, until the finish line.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Gulf Coast Youth Symphony - Spring Concert 2015

Liam's been practicing a couple of hours per week for several weeks and we finally get to see the fruit of his late-night labors. The Gulf Coast Youth Symphony had their Spring Concert today. All the grandparents went. Should have taken a picture for posterity. But my brain wasn't firing on all cylinders. As you can imagine, everyone enjoyed it. My favorite was The Barber Of Seville. Liam enjoyed Duke Ellington. Cindy & Meg loved the violin soloist in Praeludium & Allegro. And my Mom could barely control her excitement during Hoe Down. All in all, a great show for the whole family. Proud of that kid. We're all blessed.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Seaside Half Marathon - 2015

Actually slept last night. Despite the foreign bed. Despite the pending race. We finished dinner, turned in early, and embraced the resulting silence. Which helped when the alarm started at five o'clock. Then the usual silence as everyone performed their pre-race rituals. Mine included: coffee, vitamins, KT tape, plenty of stretching, and the internal struggle over What To Wear. By six thirty, we were all ready and prepared to walk a block (ha!) to the starting line where 3,997 other racers were huddled in the grey air.

Found several people from The MS Gulf Coast wandering the crowd. IPA folks. Triathlon folks. And all our various handlers. Seeing so many familiar faces among the smiling racers helped take off the edge. The cold was a bit crispy, but everyone was in good spirits. Surprisingly quiet, well mannered. And eager to get started. Somehow, Allison & Nancy vanished, then Robin (fellow Ticking Tri Bomb) ended up next to me. Quick hug. Some chatter about pacing. And when the clock struck seven o'clock, the race gun sounded.

My plan to was to start close to the front, maintain a quickish pace at first, settle into something comfortable once the crowd thinned, and then cruise on the way back. That was the plan. Early into it, we went too fast, closer to minutes than nine. By the time the crowd thinned, nine minute miles were the norm. However my memory of a somewhat flat course was corrected around three miles into it when the rolling hills appeared. Nothing difficult, but they did not help. Nor did the slanting rise in the road at each curve. At the half way point, my watch showed my pace was BELOW the two hour point. Very happy! Much awesomeness. Made the turn, grabbed a gel, and prepared for the return trip.
Return trip did not go very well. By mile eight, my left knee (the one that died last year) began to protest. By nine miles it started to hurt to the point where keeping any reasonable pace was going to damage something. Barely beat my 10 mile pace from last week, but crept after that. Wanted to pick it up more and get it over with. Felt this gnawing desire to "push through the pain." But in the back of my head, ghosts of failed races from 2014 started to resurface.

Ended up slowing enough for Nancy to catch me. She was hurting, too. Her calf. My knee. Partners in pain. We finished the last two miles in shared suffering. Every couple of hundred meters one of us would say, "Almost there." Then we could see the finish line. Then the crowd was cheering. We held hands and raised them high as we crossed the line. Done at last. Her 25th half marathon. (Not sure of mine.) Both of us eager to get this one behind us. Didn't break two hours. Didn't PR. But finished in 2:19:50, which beat last year's time.

Things blurred after that. Drank a 30oz mimosa that didn't touch me. Allison finished her very FIRST marathon and gave us all a tear-filled hug. Returned to the rental house to get some more layers. Which didn't ultimately help. Had a free beer that wasn't great but went down quickly. BBQ was slightly better than last year. And ended up browsing the local stores rather than crash from the uncontrollable shaking that gradually threatened to overcome me.

Eventually, we all recovered our legs, shuffled back to the rental for some real beers, a shower, and a change of clothes. When we had caught our breath and made ourselves presentable, we went BACK out for Lunch #2. Chili dogs from Wild Bill's and a few more beers. Finally, felt warm and right and happy. And the world was beautiful once again.

Anyway. Another half marathon in the books. Not the prettiest. But it is done. And on to the next adventure...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Meg At 13

What to say about Meg at 13? She enters her teen years nearly as tall as her mother, as crazy-talented like her brother, and far more creative than her father. She's moved past pink and My Little Pony and ballet to focus on theater and violin and her artwork. Sure, she gets moody and sometimes dramatic. But she is the music that keeps me moving and always brightens my day in the morning or after work. Thankful to have her in my life and continue to enjoy my time with her while she's still into hugging her Old Man.

Cindy put together Meg's party. All of Meg's favorites: Cane's Chicken, French Onion Dip, small cans of coke, vanilla ice cream, and (of course) cake. On top of putting all those pieces together and straightening the house, Cindy also made some crockpot lasagna that super double delicious.

Joined today by: My parents, my brother & Morgan, Cindy's parents, Cindy's brother plus Aunt Amy, Alex, and Tolar.

So now we have two teenagers. Liam's driving and trying to find his own edges. Meg's approaching high school and still trying her hand at as many different hobbies as possible. There are so many possibilities, for both of them.We're enjoying watching them grow up. It just happens too quickly sometimes. And has its prickly moments. But none of us are ever bored.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Road To Traditions - 02/22/15

 Sunday in South Mississippi finds us training and socializing. Supporting each other. Encouraging those around us. New triathletes. Old friends. Jim worked with the new folks. Going over drills and the fundamentals. Helping to get the beginners more comfortable with their form and the idea of swimming for distance. What most of the folks don't know is that open water is night and day different from the pool. My own experiences were full of struggle on ALL levels. It took me many months to find my own form, talking to myself non-stop in open water: "Be cool. Be cool! BE COOL!" Hopefully this next generation of competitors has a more pleasant experience.

At the same time, the intermediate and more advanced folks swam with Brian Harris. They worked on improving their stroke. Usually trying to maximize their "glide." Reaching. Twisting. Minimizing wasted motion. All tough stuff to master. But Brian knows what he's talking about and knows how to teach people. 

My training started much earlier. Sara Carter showed up and we swam 3 sets of 600 meters. A mile when you put them together. Odd how we both felt tight until 300 meters, then our shoulders finally relaxed. Sara's amazing. Her fourth swim in a decade (or more) and she is already doing a mile. Gonna be fun having HER chasing me down at the race.

After, the swimming clinic, Allen & JG went over transition preparation and fundamentals. Once again: minimize, minimize, minimize. An abundance of secrets and experience shared by those guys. Once the weather is sure to be cooperative, the group will move to the actual race site and we'll put those skills to the test.

Won't be long, now. Then the REAL training begins.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bay-Waveland Beach 10 Miler 2015

Needed a tough training session leading up to the Seaside Half Marathon next weekend. Signed up for the Bay-Waveland Beach 10 Miler. Along with about 155 friends of mine! Camaraderie, oddly non-cold temps, and a 20 mile per hour head wind. What more does a man need? Oh yeah, we'd run in on a concrete seawall. And there would only be a couple of rest stops. So if we could survive this bad boy, we could survive anything. And since there are few OFFICIAL ten mile races here in the Great State of Mississippi, it was an opportunity for the fast people (which excludes Your Humble Narrator) to get onto the record books if they had a good showing. (Spoiler: many people did!)

Unfortunately, mostly due to my poor planning, things did not go too well for me. Failed to hydrate the night before. Failed get my apparel correct. Did not wrap my right pinky toe correctly. And wore thick socks. As a result of those mistakes and the effort of running into the wind, the five mile midway point during this race felt like the 10 miles point last month in New Orleans. Then my thoughts wandered too far DURING the race and forgot to fuel properly until my tank was already down to fumes. And finally, my right toe abraded so badly that every step after mile six rubbed it raw. Contemplated walking the last three miles. But didn't. Changed my gait into more of a shuffle and managed to finish with a pace faster than this time last year.

Still managed to get into third place on the podium. (My buddy Jack placed first and now owns the fastest 10 mile  race for our age!) A bit awkward to admit, but at forty something, it was the first trophy of my life. Despite the pain and discomfort, finally getting a trophy of my own turned it into a Very Good Day. And overall, my bad personal performance made 55th out of 155 people. Almost the top third. With better planning, that would have been top 25%. But, live and learn. Won't take so many things for granted, next time.

Afterwards, a bunch of folks met at Shaggy's in The Pass. Drinks and food and comparing notes and talking about plans and remembering previous adventures.Typical stuff among the local fitness folks. Good times with good people. What more does a man need?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Road To Traditions - 02/15/15

Another adventurous trip down The Road To Traditions today. Our second such gathering of the year. Maybe twenty participants getting support from two local coaches. Several brand new folks. Some seasoned veterans. And many familiar faces. Always good to be around people smiling and training and helping each other and trying to be healthy. The rest of the Deep South was off doing Mardi Gras, especially D'Iberville & Pass Christian. Lots of beer, King Cake, and Moon Pies. But the rest of us were spending our afternoon swimming laps. Crazy, but true.

Started off swimming solo. Thirty six laps. 1800 meter A mile for AquaNerd. Been trying a new stroke that Dean M. suggested. A radical departure from my form of the last two years. This new one is all about a high turn over with the arms, pulling stronger with forearms, and NOT reaching or gliding. So far, much harder to do and tougher on the cardiovascular system. But this was my third attempt and have gotten up to 500 meter stretches at a time without dying. The real test will be open water swimming. And can AquaNerd maintain the form for 2.2 miles without gassing out. Not long before we find out if it works, or we fall back to the old plan.

Speaking of new, my Crossfit coach, Sara Carter, is making her first attempt at a triathlon this year. She is doing the Road To Tradition with us and has done nothing but impress me, so far. Of course she's already in GREAT shape (owning a gym and all) plus she used to be a sprinter on the swim team, in college. She's been getting in some biking and her quads are already helping push her through workouts that most folks don't try the first year. If she can run and string all three activities together, she'll give me a run for my money!

Doesn't bother me, though. BRING IT!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ghosts In Their Head

Painful and sad to watch somebody breakdown due to the ghosts in their head. That crippling feeling of helplessness in the face of another person hurting. One moment smiling. The next, no longer able to contain the tears.

"It's okay. It doesn't matter," they feign.

No. It is not okay. You're crying. It matters.

And silence. Awkward, uncomfortable silence. Occasionally broken by sniffling. Then those tense, bitter minutes spent cramming the pain back into its hiding place. Along with the memories. And ancient specters.

"I'm sorry."

Nothing else would matter from me, anyway. Not within my power to do anything. Anything at all. Trying would only make it worse.

These ghosts. The pain they carry. The lies we spin to try to numb ourselves. So many decades later. They still hold power over us.

And despite knowing all of this, we can't bear to let our ghosts go.

They're okay. They don't matter.

And back to pretending neither of us saw that.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - 2nd Try - FINISHED!

At long last, on his second attempt, after months of sweat and toil, Your Humble Narrator has officially completed Tim Ferris' 4 Hour Body "5K to 50K" program! (Which Tim Ferris himself has never finished.)

My original theory was: the "5K to 50K" is not only virtually impossible for most folks to complete, but Tim makes impossible claims about the results of the program.

For those folks who did not follow my entire journey, just GETTING STARTED required several months of training to get familiar with the exercises used in the program. And all of the exercises are within the realm of modern Crossfit training. So just to begin the program, you would need in-depth knowledge of Crossfit as well as an incredible fitness base. My own adventures started just a few months after finishing my first 70.3 Ironman. And even then my fitness base wasn't anywhere near enough.

The training program itself started off difficult, but didn't require as much time as you might think. Many days the training was less than 15 minutes. (For perspective, your typical Crossfit workout usually lasts an hour, including stretching and warming up.) About mid-way through it became apparent that the training was working, making me stronger and faster. And the final weeks breezed by, with lots of progress and many personal records.

What was the final result? As noted yesterday, the program helped me CRUSH last year's Rock & Roll finishing time. My previous effort was 2:30:XX. After the 4HB training program, my time was 2:09:50. More then 20 minutes faster, and a new personal record. That is a 15.4% improvement. By my measure, that's a success! So the program definitely has benefits. My results are clear proof. And my money says many athletes would love to achieve a 15.4% improvement on the times.

Benefits are good, but they are not enough. There is simply no way the program prepared me for anything more than a good half marathon. And it could not take your average 5K runner to 50K in 12 weeks. (Not even a 42K (ie: full marathon!)) Sure, somebody COULD "finish" an event out of spite or raw determination. But they will not finish with any sort of reasonable time or being in reasonable condition when they finish. The program simply does not provide any sort of experience beyond two hours of running. It was perfect for a half marathon. But the average runner will not be prepared to run for three to five hours doing a mile every nine to ten minutes. The average runner will hit an enormous physical wall that the training does not prepare them for. And the average runner will have to deal with an enormous mental burden that the training does not prepare them for. My own longest run was 10 miles. Adding another 16 (for a full marathon) to 20 miles (for a small ultrathon) without any sort of physical preparation is not (NOT!) going to happen.

In addition, my experience suggests that even completing the program (regardless of your results) is absolutely impossible without access to a very knowledgeable (and encouraging) coach in a well equipped gym and you are willing and able to push yourself to extreme levels you've likely never reached before. Need an example? Can you do hand stand pushups? Can you jump rope so that the rope passes under you TWICE with each jump? Can you squat your bodyweight? Can you deadlift twice your bodyweight? All of those are part of the program. Can't do those? Can't do the program. Even if you lower the weights written into the program, you still have to master the moves themselves and doing them incorrectly could result in serious injuries.

In conclusion, the program will absolutely deliver results in a relatively short time. It prepared me for a half marathon. It improved my run times. It also helped improve my biking and swimming abilities. And my physical conditioning has NEVER been better. But even if you find a good coach in a good location and physically push yourself to new limits, the program will NOT take an average runner from 5K to 50K. Maybe a high level track star coming out of college or high school could do it, but not an average person.

The program is far harder that Tim suggests. It delivers results below what Tim suggests. It will make you bigger, stronger, and faster. But the program will not make most people "effortlessly superhuman," as Tim Ferris writes.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - 2nd Try - Week 10

Realized there is going to be a missed week. The holidays screwed up the schedule and set me back slightly. Not really a problem, though. Week 12 (the one that will be missed) is mostly a cool down and missing it is no big loss.

So this week (Week 11) will be the last full week of training on the 4HB 5K to 50K program. Next Sunday is my graduation ceremony: Rock & Roll Half Marathon: New Orleans.

Feeling strong. Feeling healthy. Feeling comfortable and confident and ready to see what kind of improvements can be made over last year's times.

This week's workouts included:
  • Monday - Touch & Go cleans + burpees
  • Tuesday - Pub Run 
  • Wednesday - Push Press + Box Jumps
  • Thursday - Thrusters & Pullups
  • Saturday - Race

Monday, January 12, 2015

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - 2nd Try - Week 9

Moving into the final stretch of the 12 week program and feeling GREAT! Trying to stay healthy. Injury free. Frequently visiting the cold dip & hot tub for therapy. Chiropractor every couple of weeks. Making smarter choices for food. And SLEEPING much more. God forbid, but this could be the first year in almost two decades that has seen me sleeping on something akin to normal levels.

This week's training included:

  • Mon - Snatch Balance, Hanging Power Snatch & 200m sprints
  • Tues - Pub Run
  • Weds - Deadlifts & Rows
  • Fri - Back squats
  • Saturday - Racing

Sunday, January 11, 2015


There are never enough hours in the day. Few opportunities for actually decompressing. Today for example. Up at 0700. Provide technical support for the church. Drop Meg off at theater. Groceries. Order new swim goggles. (Which turned out to be complicated due to the severity of my vision!) Organize the accumulated debris in my room. Pack. Plan. Write. And STILL never reach the end of my tasks...

Wrapped up last night by taking Meg & Liam to Mugshots for dinner & drinks. Cindy had a headache. Daddy had two Angry Orchard + Mystery Romps. Toasted and thought of and sent good karma to all my friends in Disney, preparing to wrap up their long weekend of running. 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon.

Godspeed, friends, you're in my heart & thoughts!

Maybe IronNerd will be there, next year...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Frosty Kroc 10K - 2015

Perhaps it was the near-freezing temperatures. Or the road conditions. Or people wanted to sleep late. Or maybe the fast kids were in other places, working on other races. Whatever the reason, today marked only the second time a medal has been placed around my neck for any sort of race. With a time of 53:XX, IronNerd earned second place in the Men's 34-44 age group!

Something of a sloppy event. Volunteers at registration weren't too insightful with spontaneous questions such as, "Where does the race start?" The city of Biloxi was in the middle of a major overhaul of many of the surface streets making race conditions somewhat sketchy in places. The lone water station was technically staffed, but the person there wasn't handing out water or offering any words of encouragement. And the organizers decided to wrap up the race with TWO loops around their running track. But the after party was good (at least the chicken biscuits were!) and the Kroc Center itself was quite impressive.

My average pace was just under 9min/mile, which included stripping off a jacket and multiple walks to catch my breath. Still fighting off self-destructive thoughts and a constant desire to quit. But average running pace is approaching 8min/min and few (if any?) of the other runners passed me, even as we were approaching the finish.

Overall, still very happy with my improvement and increased conditioning. If only my stupid brain would cooperate!

Friday, January 09, 2015

Do It!

This evening's workout included: 5 rounds of 7 hang cleans, 7 push presses, and 7 front squats. My weight was 85lbs. The program called for 135lbs. Part of the set was predicated on doing everything with the same bar. Have never tried 135lbs on hang cleans. Could do the squats. But definitely could NOT do the additional fifty pounds with my shady shoulders. One previous injury was enough to keep me cautious. So went with 85lbs. Which turned out to be challenging, but not difficult. As anticipated, the push press took the most effort.

Which brings up a very important reminder for the 4HB Challenge: The program is based on Tim Ferris' strength, not mine. He's clearly younger and stronger. So the program has to be adjusted DOWN to my strength level .Most of the time it feels like minimizing my abilities. But Tim is a strong sumbitch. And anyone reading this and considering the same program needs to make sure they consider the difference between their abilities and Tim's!

As an aside, the notes on the mat are my own invention. A bit of personal inspiration that gets written right before the workout begins Today's battlecry: Do it!

And it was done.

Monday, January 05, 2015

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - 2nd Try - Week 8

Week 8 was something of a mirror of Week 7 due to the holidays and the unfortunate passing of my Grandmother. Did not stick to the plan exactly, but did work out aggressively and picked harder workouts if there was an option.

Running continues to get significantly easier. My times and endurance continue to improve. Very little doubt that all of my improvements are attributable to the program. There is much (MUCH!) happiness with the results.

Some of the highlights of Week 8:

  • Monday - Power cleans, pull-ups, and hand stand push ups
  • Tuesday - Front & Back Squats + Double Under Practice
  • Thursday - 12K run & polar bear plunge
  • Friday - Opted to do the WOD at the gym
  • Satuday - Sprint drills
Aside from working on my own improvements, a major goal of this experiment was to try and determine if the "5k to 50k" training program was fact or fiction. Can anyone reasonably achieve a goal of 50k? While my own abilities are improving, the validity of the program is still in question. Only 4 more weeks to find out for sure.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - 2nd Try - Week 7

Week 7 took two weeks. Holidays and what not. Did not adhere to the plan rigidly. Instead, if a WOD (workout of the day) at the gym was harder than the WOD on the program, we went with the gym's prescribed workout.

Several items of note, thus far:
  • Still not sure if this plan could actually get you to 50K. That's 31 miles! And there are very few runs of even HALF that distance in the plan. At least so far. Plus, there's a mental aspect of pushing yourself that far and that long. And there's no discussion at all about fueling before, during, or after long runs. Such knowledge only comes from extensive experimentation. None of which are touched in the program.
  • Despite my reservations, my pace is enormously improved. Averaging around 8:45/mile without significant effort. Pushing the pace drops it right at 8:00/mile. But slow and steady is a better choice!
  • Did a 10K race (Pass to Bay) and had TWO personal records. 6 miles in 53 minutes and 10K (6.2 miles) in 54:24! Previous 6 mile record was 54min and previous 10K (6.2 miles) was right at an hour! Very VERY! happy with those results.
  • Strength and conditioning is a little tricky because my thinking is constantly: don't get hurt, don't get hurt! But after finishing the workout, my thoughts become: should have tried hard, should have done more weight! Frustrating. But the goal IS to remain healthy and injury free.
  • During sprint work, it doesn't even feel like running with my own legs. Feels like somebody else's form. Somebody else's legs. Wow!
2/3rds the way through!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pub Run - 12/16/14

An easy 5K to test the knees and ankles. Multiple slow moments when some shady characters appeared in the distance and the lady runners were behind me. Still managed to finish a few seconds short of 29 minutes. Non-stop would have dropped it into the 27min range. No REAL suffering. Minor pinch in the RIGHT knee. But that is likely due to compensating for the right ankle. Played it smart: slow and steady. Happy with the results. That's enough, for me.

Afterwards, the usual folks at the usual drinking spot, but an unusual meal. Ben, owner of Irish Coast Pub. was kind enough to share a portion of his Mother-In-Law's home-made kimchi. Her being a native Korean who buries her creations in mason jars in the ground for up to a year, it was infreakingcredible stuff. Almost TOO hot. Pushed my personal limits on spice. Nearly crossed into "Oh my God, this hurts!" territory. But beer soothed the pain and it was one of the most challenging meals Your Humble Narrator has had in many moons.

Only in South Mississippi can you run 5K with your friends, then enjoy Korean BBQ tacos in an Irish Pub!

Monday, December 15, 2014

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - 2nd Try - Week 6

My last attempt at the 4H Challenge was effectively over mid-way into Week 6. And this week proved to be just as challenging! Work and short term injuries colluded to slow my progress and all the previous disappoints briefly flickered before my eyes. But actually turned out fine and were it not for some isolated soreness, things would be great right now. Very happy with the progress and looking forward to the second half of the adventure! Only six more weeks and the final adventure should be the Rock & Roll in New Orleans, in late January.

Here's an overview of Week 6:

  • Monday was an unscheduled rest day, primarily due to work. Didn't help that my posterior felt bruised from a ride the day before!
  • Tuesday was pretty brutal. In the morning was some back squats (3 sets of 5) then a series of power cleans and burpees (21/21, 15/15/ 9/9.) And the evening held a 5 mile run, pacing with Amber. She really pushed it at the end and we averaged right at 9m/mile even with 2 or 3 brief walks.
  • Wednesday was 300 jump ropes, 50 box jumps, 50 hand release push ups, and 50 knees to elbows. I think we started off by practicing push jerks and split jerks, too. (Should NOT have done most of that based on the next day's training.) 
  • Thursday was 10 mile trail run! Notable mainly for actually doing it and for multiple falls, including once rolling my ankle and hearing an obscenely loud POP than still (5 days later) is acutely painful at certain angles of movement. 
  • Friday? Oh yeah, very much a rest day! But soaked in the hot & cold tubs. 
  • Saturday ended up being just a brief (Occam's Protocol) workout with Liam plus some more soaking.
  • Sunday ended up being ANOTHER rest day due to too many projects. And much rest was needed.
Week 7 promises more of the same. But we're half way done, now. Onward and upward!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

One Long Endless Sunday

My weekends are never entirely my own. Not for more than two decades. Fortunately, they keep me entertained. And, truth be known, most of my long training events occur on the weekend. So a busy schedule keeps Your Humble Narrator happy and healthy,

First adventure? Bit of electronic skulduggery at My Parent's House. The "security light" in the back yard recently gave up the ghost. It needed to be replace. Who is going to do it? My 68 year old father? My 66 year old mother? Liam? Nay, nay friends. IronNerd gets to shamble up the slender pole and try his luck.

It unfolds like this: My narrow butt (weighed down with tools and climbing gear) scaling a ladder. My father bracing said ladder and offering advice about securing myself to the pole (God help me!) as well as pseudo-racist electrical instructions ("Black to black, white to white...") for wiring the new light. My son wandering around investigating what's what, shuffling up the ladder to hand me tools, and standing by the breaker box ready to flip the power when Paw Paw Mac yells, so that his father (me!) doesn't get cooked atop a fiberglass ladder from the 80s. Two bungee cords around my waist. And a frayed, ancient rope, too thick to be properly knotted, pretending to bind the ladder to the pole. Not a pleasant process. Much damage done to the blood pressure. Most of the process done one-handed, breath-held, a prayer threatening to come out. With vertigo and an illusion of being far too high commingling in my imagination to obscenely affect gravity in unfamiliar ways. Dad yelling up encouragement. Liam asking how much longer. Dogs swirling frantically. And this is a LOT OF DAMN WORK just to light up a back yard. But eventually, it got done. Then there was much rejoicing and hugs and thanks and reminders of why we moved back: for moments like this.

Second adventure? Getting Liam to drive from the Winn Dixie parking lot to Murky Waters, for lunch. For those not intimately familiar with the route, it is a straight shot with only a couple of stops and two short turns along the way. Much like His Mother / My Bride, Liam likes to make everything much more complicated than it has to be. He thinks there are rules for everything and needs reinforcement that: everything is okay, he is doing well, and (most importantly) we aren't going to die in a fiery explosion if he makes any small mistakes. But, joking aside, we lived, he listens well, and (with lots of positive reinforcement)  he does fine when he relaxes. The resulting lunch was (as usual) in-freaking-credible and the Burnt Ends sammich from Murky Waters is without a doubt one of the top three in the world. Three word review: delicious, delicious, delicious. And that's without washing it down with Mystery Orchid. (Coffee stout + Hard Apple Cider!)

Third adventure? Rescuing Meg after a long volunteer effort at Lynn Meadows. Took Molly as my wingman. (Or is it wingdog?) Slow roll over to the show. Find an illegal parking spot up front. Roll down the window. And wait. Molly sniffing the air. IronNerd tethering his tablet to his cell phone (NERD!) and working on his blog. Oh, the terrible slings and arrows we suffer these days. It's all one long endless Sunday...

...and here comes Meg!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

On The Trail With IronNerd

Last year, Week 6 of the 4HB Challenge signaled a major turning point in my life. For the first time, things felt GREAT during a run. Lighter. Faster. Stronger. Would the program be a game changer? Would my efforts and determination be rewarded? It all felt great going into the halfway point of the training. But the first significantly long run of the Challenge was also my last. After breaking THREE personal records that night, my 2014 season was unofficially over before it began.

Today marked a cautious return to that same training plan. No PR's though. (Not gonna happen again!) Slow and steady on The Tuxachanie Trail. Unfortunately it was a solo event as my wingman (LUKE!) tore up his own knee on a run this past weekend (on the same trail!) And the length of the adventure cost me a vacation day. But it was well worth it.

Several lessons were learned during this adventure:

  • If you are going to do a 15k+ trail run at 1PM, you should eat more than a protein bar for lunch. 
  • Never trust the MS Gulf Coast weather to stay cold for very long. Long sleeve running weather can turn into near-shirtless running weather quicker than you'd imagine.
  • Nature has an evil trick on trails: holes are easily covered with pine straw. (At 3.5 miles into the run, my right foot found one and something popped in my ankle. Walked off the worst of the pain. But it was sore the rest of the way!)
  • The forest isn't full of wildlife like you see in movies. Aside from a lone armadillo sullenly enjoying its lunch, nothing crossed my path or appeared to lurk in the distance. 
  • Last, but more importantly,you should NOT do hundreds of jump ropes and box jumps the night before your trail run!
Anyway... Turned around at the 5 mile marker.  58:47, including a 10min walk after the first 5K. Felt PRETTY good. Significantly under my 10K pace. But glad to be half way into it.

Word of advice. Trail running isn't street running. You get beat up on the trail. Back. Knees. Ankles. Calves. They all suffer. Mightily. So my complaints came as no surprise. Around 6.5 miles, my left ankle started acting up. Fortunately, it wasn't horrible. And left to its own devices, my brain would frequently shutup and my body would pick up the pace.

Walked most of the last mile. Still finished just under two hours. Surprised at my pace towards the end. Was rarely struggling to keep breathing. Wasn't really tired. Mainly just sore in the ankles. But NOT in the knees! Thankful for that.

Overall, fun excursion. The trail was great. The weather held up. And so did IronNerd. Though waking up in the morning might reveal a different story...

Monday, December 08, 2014

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - 2nd Try - Week 5

Tough week. But stuck as close to the plan as possible. Some of it clobbered me. Some of it was a touch easy. Still getting stronger. And runs are getting easier. Approaching the half way point. Approaching the week that caused me to tap out. Nervous in one moment. Eager in the next. But never bored!

Here's the breakdown of Week 5:

  • Monday - Back Squats (3 sets of 5) then Front Squats & Pull-ups 21/15/9.
  • Tuesday - 5.5 miles in 50 minutes!
  • Wednesday - 5 rounds of 300 single unders on the jump rope + 25 burpess (44:44!)
  • Thursday - 5 rounds of 10 hang power snatches + 30 x 24" box jumps
  • Friday - Didn't go right, with work, and ended up being a rest day
  • Saturday - Light workout with Liam (Occam's Protocol) 
  • Sunday - Scheduled Rest Day
Next week, the 15K revisited!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

IronNerd's Office

My fifth favorite passion (aside from: family, fitness, reading and food:) is technology. Counted among  my many blessings is being able to earn a living by literally playing for hours with all manner of digital geekery.

Today, for example, my day was spent getting a new workstation (far left) online. At one point, my desk had three PCs (with three different versions of Windows) straddling SEVEN screens. All controlled by just a single mouse & keyboard. For bonus Dork Points, my convertible laptop and much-beloved tablet are included in the group photo.

For the techno-curious:

  • Top two monitors (currently) work off my oldest PC, barely visible as a silhouette under the phone. Something like a Dell 520, from 2005. Runs Windows XP. 4GB of RAM. 70GB drive. Usually handles non-corporate adventures and has Office 2007 for helping users running that version. 
  • Bottom four monitors currently work off an oldish Dell XPS system, the silver tower under my tablet. Probably refurbished around 2012. Quad core, 64bit, 8GB RAM, 200GB drive, Windows 7. Monitors the data center, handles all corporate adventures, and has Office 2010. 
  • Currently squatting on the left, under the sad lonely screen, is the New Baby. Sweet little Inspiron with an quad core i7, 16GB of RAM, smoking fast 512GB SSD drive, and (finally) a functional DVD burner. Took me HOURS of updates but it is finally running a fully patched Windows 8.1 with Office 2013. It will replace the Windows XP box and serve as a heavy lifter to do some VM work. Especially a virtualized Windows 10. (Gotta stay ahead of the curve.)
  • The laptop is a Dell XPS One that has stolen my heart. (Typing on it right now.) Also runs Windows 8.1. Also has an SSD. And boots from a cold stop to fully logged in within 5 seconds. Love it, love it, love it! Mainly use it for working remotely, and typing out my rants on Tales From The Eye. Great for watching videos, too!
  • Of course the tablet is a 2nd generation Nexus 7. This thing will completely change your digital life. Only reason to get on my home PCs these days is to play a video game. Almost everything else done on a regular basis is done on the N7. Ultra portable. Ultra functional. This thing is a game changer.
  • Tying all the Windows devices together with screen/keyboard/mouse sharing software: Synergy. Allows me to move across all the screens seamlessly. Could probably run it on the tablet, if needed, since Synergy has a Linux client. 
  • A keen eye will spot my favorite coffee up lurking amid the packets and LCDs. Something old, something new. 
Combine it all together, and you have the modern IronNerd. Welcome to my world.