Tag Archives: Running

To Be, Or Not To Be

That is the question. The answer? Elusive. Soliloquies aside, Shakespeare may have been describing my training this week as opposed to the suicidal ramblings of Hamlet. Who knew he had an interest in triathlon? Now that we’ve exhausted the extent of the literary knowledge I’ve retained from high school, let’s talk training. Or lack thereof.

This week began with good intentions. After the half-marathon on Sunday, I was looking forward to some time off my feet and in the pool come Monday. I went through the normal motions of gathering all of my gear (which seems to double, week after week), driving to the gym and walking all the way to the pool. There are few things more annoying than showing up to said pool and finding out that it’s closed. I stood there with my head pressed against the cool glass of the locked door that separated me from six lanes of unobstructed lap-swim bliss. I slowly turned around and made my way to the nearest window, the Jaws music playing in my head. I knew my fate. The outdoor pool opened last weekend and that only meant one thing: college students+outdoor pool+no class= …

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I felt angry. I felt embittered. I felt… Okay, maybe I didn’t feel any of those things, but I was definitely not getting in my swim workout. I looked at the tanned frat guys with sculpted bodies, many of whom I’m certain couldn’t string together 3 miles to make a 5K, and most of whom I’m certain couldn’t swim more than a lap (I know, I know, people in glass houses…). Meanwhile, I workout 6-7 days a week and I’m over here making sure my swimsuit isn’t squeezing my hip chub too much. Let’s focus here, though. Self-image issues aside, I looked at the tiny three lane lap pool reserved for lap swimming and noted the mass of fraternity guys with the feet dangling off the wall into the water. Wouldn’t want those Wayfarers to get wet, now would we? I walked away dejected, knowing that another workout would go unfinished due to those darn good-looking frat guys without awkward triathlon tan lines. Ah, the life.

Wednesday would be better, no doubt. I left thinking this positive message to myself and went home to outline my half-marathon training plan for the Fort Worth Jalapeño Half-Marathon at the end of June. With about nine weeks to train, I outlined a plan that is loosely derived from the Hanson’s Marathon Method, which I’m using to prepare for the Kansas City Marathon in October. It’s not training, but it’s thinking about training, so I chalked it up to a day well spent.

After a run Tuesday afternoon, followed by another on Wednesday, I made my way back to the Colvin Pool. This time I called in advance to make sure that the indoor pool would be open upon my arrival like it was supposed to be. I was told by the perky girl at the front desk that it was indeed. I walked past it. Lights on, lanes open. Good to go, as they say. I showered and changed and made my way to entrance to the pool from the men’s locker room. I pushed on the door first with my hand and shortly thereafter, my face when it didn’t budge. I stood there dumbfounded. “I must’ve pushed on the wrong side of the door.” I tried again. Nope. I backed up. “Maybe it’s stuck.” I walked towards it again, arm outstretched like some sort of shirtless linebacker. Nope. Not stuck. Closed. Again. After considering trying my hand at lock-picking, I gave up. It was not to be.

That’s my segue, and also the end of my depressing story. All this is to say that sometimes training doesn’t go the way you expect it to. There are days where you have to accept or decide, that it just wasn’t meant to be. Next week I will be back in Oklahoma City (read: I’m graduating college this weekend and will be moving back home with my parents until such time that: a. I find a job and can support myself. Or b. Get married and move to Kansas City in July.). This means my training should be more consistent since Oklahoma City has much better places to ride and a plethora of lap-swim pools sans frat guys. Here’s to more consistent training. And a successful job search.

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Birthday Wishes

Well it’s that time of year again. The time of year when the majority of us are either rushing to file our taxes or (for the procrastinators) an extension. Tax season seems to predispose people to stress and anxiety. To me though, it’s always had a different connotation: excitement. Yes, the mid-April deadline happens to be my birthday. Ironically enough, I was born on April 15th to two accountants… Yet somehow I still suck at math. Oh well. Luckily for me, that’s why there’s calculators and TurboTax.

This week was busy, both with school and exercise. Here’s a breakdown of last week’s workouts:

Monday: 1 mile swim-43 minutes

Tuesday: 60 minute spin, 30 minute run

Wednesday: 1 mile swim-40 minutes

Thursday: 60 minute interval run

Saturday: 11 mile run

Sunday: 120 minute Z2 bike, 30 minute Z2 run

The weekend didn’t offer much of a break in the way of exercise, but it was great to be home with my family. Saturday evening we went out to celebrate at my favorite pizza place in Oklahoma City, Upper Crust. Since my focus has shifted a great deal since last year, so did my wish list. I’ve been drooling over the Garmin Forerunner 910XT for the last four months. (Seriously, The Fiancee can attest: it’s become a bit of a problem.) To my elation, with the help of my parents, The Fiancee, and my soon-to-be in-laws, I got one!

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It actually worked out perfectly because today I had another brick. 120 minute Z2 bike, followed by a 30 minute Z2 run. It was perfectly clear and just the right temperature. Unfortunately, after turning south I was greeted with an extremely stiff south wind. Again. It’s becoming such a common theme I’m considering creating a new category on my website for it. Today the winds were sustained at 20mph and gusting to 38mph. Not the best conditions for a bike ride, but I had a new toy to play with, so nothing was going to stop me.

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I started out heading north and felt like the fastest cyclist alive, only to turn south and feel like I was trying to tow a car. It was a great workout and it was wonderful to be on a relatively flat course. I completed 30.29 miles in 1:49:22 averaging 16.6 mph. I was slightly disappointed with my speed, but with a wind that strong, there wasn’t much I could do. You can definitely tell the areas I was heading north (with the wind) and south (into the wind). Also, note the elevation graph which is much more my speed (sorry, couldn’t avoid that one) and definitely closer to my mediocre level of ability. I’m looking at you Ride from Hell.

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After the ride, I slipped into my running shoes. I purchased some Lock Laces last week and they have been a godsend. I highly recommend them. They are one of the easiest and cheapest ways to improve your transition time. I was concerned that my heel would slide out of the shoe given the elasticity of the “laces”, but they are the perfect tension.

I had to smile as I switched sports on my new Garmin. It was effortless and made everything so much easier. My goal was to stay under 8:00/mile for the duration of the run. It was difficult with wind and after the ride, but I managed to squeeze out 3.82 miles in exactly 30:00 averaging 7:51/mile. A successful day of training and a great way to end the 5th week of my program.

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This weekend was extremely busy for The Fiancee and myself. Saturday morning I elected to run The Fiancee’s long run with her (since I’ve done absolutely no training for the half marathon in two weeks since my triathlon program began). It was an 11 mile run and the weather was perfect. I took the opportunity to take some photographs and just enjoy my favorite discipline. The trail around Lake Hefner is really pretty in some places.

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If you’re in Oklahoma City for any length of time, you’ll likely see the lighthouse below either in a picture or on the news. It’s kind of a cool spot and makes for great pictures.

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The Fiancee and I went to New York City in December (that’s actually where I asked her to marry me). It was absolutely one of my favorite places I’ve ever been. The number of buildings was incredible. Behold New York City’s antithesis: Oklahoma City.

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I love it, but it’s flat largely uninteresting. Although, that makes it great for training. After completing her run we completed some wedding obligations and then went to my birthday dinner with my family. It was a great weekend that went by way too quickly. I hope everyone had a safe and productive week!

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Just Another Brick in the Wall: Day 33

I debated on an appropriate title for this post. It had to be as epic as I felt this weekend for completing not one, but two bricks. What better way to pay homage to a weekend of sweated bliss than the world’s most obvious Pink Floyd reference? Corny puns and a great album aside, it was a great weekend.

It’s spring break for most of the southern plains, and while all other college students flock to the coasts, I’m pleased to be home right smack dab in the center of the most landlocked state in the Nation (besides maybe you, Kansas and Nebraska). Supposedly, Oklahoma boasts more “coast line” than any other state in the country (one thing our northern brethren can’t claim). I am quoting from one of those “come to Oklahoma commercials” and a Wikipedia article. Although, I usually take quality over quantity, in which case Oklahoma wouldn’t win. Either way, I took advantage of at least 18 of those miles of coast line during my rides this weekend.

Saturday morning I was out the door as soon as it was light enough to ride. I typically don’t judge this by how well I can see, but how well I feel others can see me. I began my 120 minute jaunt around 7:45 and headed north towards Lake Hefner. There’s a very convenient trail that connects two lakes that surround my house so I hopped on that and rode around Lake Hefner, then I headed south on the trail towards Lake Overholser. All in all, it was an absolutely beautiful ride. If you are interested in the nitty-gritty performance details, let’s examine the graphs below.
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The nice thing about triathlon training versus most running programs is that you exercise for a set amount of time, not mileage. This way you know exactly how long an activity will take. Saturday I rode for just under two hours (1:56:55) and got a little over 33 miles in (33.3). I am fairly pleased with this because I feel like there’s plenty of room for improvement over the next 11 weeks to increase my speed into the 20mph range.

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For the time being, I’m borrowing my dad’s triathlon bike: a Trek Equinox Tri Series. The bike is a bit on the heavier side as far as triathlon bikes go, weighing in a little over 22 lbs. On flat sections the bike flies, though. Saturday it was a little windy, with winds coming from the south. I noticed heading North I averaged somewhere between 19-23mph, while heading south it was between 13-17mph. This translated to an average speed of a little over 17mph for the duration of the ride. In the graph below you’ll notice, Oklahoma is as flat as they say.

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I usually post my mile splits, but when there are over thirty of them I figured a summary would be best. Below, you can see that the vast majority of my ride was spent between 11:51-23.02mph.

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After the bike is when things got a little interesting. Although its not my first brick, it was my first after a longer ride. I had set up my transition area prior to leaving and thought, “All I have to do is take off my helmet, put on a hat, switch shoes and off I go. No big deal right? When I pulled up to my house, I stared at my stuff like it was my first time dressing myself. Needless to say, it was an awkward transition and I will definitely be investing in some Lock Laces or Yankz.

Unfortunately, my problems didn’t really stop there. The run was awkward. Why? Well, for starters I felt that I still had the saddle between my legs, so that took some getting used to. Then, I had absolutely no idea how fast I was running. Typically, I’m pretty good at judging my pace based on different cues like breathing rate, surroundings, or how my legs feel. After the transition, though, all of those cues felt off. I didn’t know whether I was running a 10:00/mile or a 6:00/mile. I crested a small hill around mile 1 I looked at my time: 7:54. Good, but I quickly found I couldn’t sustain it. Honestly though, it felt good to run. It felt familiar. It’s an event I’m decent at and can do with relative ease. After my 30 minutes were up I called it quits. I completed 3.6 miles and was pretty spent after the two workouts.

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My mile splits are listed below. Compare the average vs. fastest paces. Yeah, I had no idea how fast I was going.

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 8.22.21 PMIt was a busy day as far as training goes, but I really enjoyed the change of pace riding provided. Plus, I got to see half the city in two hours.

My training program which you can find here didn’t call for another brick workout, but did call for a 60 minute bike and another 30 minute run. I read a post recently on BeginnerTriathlete.com which talked about the origins and the importance of brick workouts. The author submitted that there is almost no benefit to running with fresh legs when training for a triathlon since you’ll never run with fresh legs during the race. With the exception of speed workouts, he suggested the more you can run with your legs fatigued, the more experienced you’ll become in the sport. I thought this was a pretty good point and decided to get both workouts done at once.

Once again I woke up early and went riding. I took the same trail to Lake Hefner and completed about 19.3 miles in 1:12:57. If you don’t have your calculators out at home, that equates to an average of 15.8mph. Why the difference from yesterday? There was a stiff north wind at about 15mph that blew the entire ride. It was windier than Saturday’s ride and much colder. The wind chill was around 30 when I left in the morning. I won’t bore you with more charts and graphs, but the important takeaway here is that my pace was much slower due to the wind. The transition was better than Saturday’s. If I had to rate it I’d say it was at least 25% less awkward (I hope the sarcasm is coming through). I also found that I acclimated to the run faster and was more consistent with pace. Whereas Saturday I averaged 8:29/mile, I managed to average 8:12/mile on Sunday on the same 3.6 mile course. Attribute that to less fatigue, more experience, or sheer luck. Either way, it was an improvement.

All in all, it was a great weekend. I rode about 53 miles in 3 hours and ran a little over 7 miles in an hour. For my first weekend of training, I’m satisfied. Now it’s time to listen to some Pink Floyd. “All in all, it’s just another brick in the wall.”

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Tale of Two Cities: Day 29

What is there to say about the last 10 days? A lot. And yet, not much. I’ll spare you the Chales Dickens-esque introduction I had planned, but suffice it to say, the last week and a half has been busy. And yet, I don’t feel like much has been accomplished. In my last post I discussed being sick and what can be done about it. I’m not ashamed to say that I found solace at the bottom of a bottle during that time. A bottle of Dayquil, that is. And Nyquil. Yes, by the time my ailment had run its course, I had downed an entire bottle of Dayquil and put a significant dent in the Nyquil. I was sick from last Monday to last Saturday/Sunday. Saturday, I felt decent enough to accompany The Fiancee on her weekly long run, but not without a virtual cocktail of over-the-counter medications. This “cold” was absolutely one of the worst I’ve ever had. Sunday, I awoke feeling better, which was a good thing because this week was extremely taxing on my time and exercise commitments.

Without further ado, let’s catch up shall we?

Monday: My 12 week training program for my Olympic Triathlon started. I didn’t. Why not? Because Stillwater doesn’t sell bathing suits. Blame my poor planning or blame the town whose primary source of income is Sirloin Stockade and parking citations. Take your pick. In either event, I was unable to complete my first 45 minute swim workout. No matter though, I was scheduled to go to Oklahoma City the next day for wedding obligations. I’d pick one up then.

Tuesday: My phone went off at 5:45 AM. The Fiancee. Wake-up call. I’m not going to say that I was unhappy to hear her voice, but let’s be honest, no one can be happy about much that early. After some confused looks from The Golden wondering why we weren’t going to sleep another 4 hours, I was out the door. My workout on Tuesday was my first brick. A 60 minute cycling session followed by a quick transition to a 20 minute run. I didn’t make the 6 AM Spin Class so I created my own workout. After a warm-up, I focused on intervals which increased in, well, interval. I followed up the interval training with some hill work, followed up by another interval session. After a 10 minute cool down period I was off. I felt pretty decent coming off the bike, which was encouraging considering my last experience. I completed 2.5 miles in 20 minutes, averaging about 8:00/mile. After returning home, it was off to the airport, followed by class and work. After work, The Fiancee and I made the trip down to Oklahoma City to pick the food menu for our wedding. While we were there I thought I’d swing by somewhere and pick up a bathing suit. I left The Fiancee and The Golden in the car and ran inside. As I enter the fitting rooms, I get a call. It was The Fiancee. Apparently, there was smoke coming out of the car. Now, I’m no mechanic, but I was blessed with enough common sense to off-set this deficiency. I raced through checkout and out to the car. I see both The Golden and The Fiancee starring at me pitifully while steam pours from under the hood. I suppose I really should learn my lesson about leaving time for the unexpected. Oh well. We arrived half an hour late to our catering tasting, but the important fact was that we’d made it. And I got a bathing suit.

Wednesday: Wednesday offered no surprises, thankfully. My workout consisted of a 60 minute core strengthening session. Then it was off to bed at a semi-reasonable time.

Thursday: 616 words later we’ve made it to today. It was another early morning this morning, but what a great morning it was.

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I arrived at the pool (armed with my swimsuit that was paid for with the blood of my car) around 6:30 AM. After a 45 minute swim session it was on to a 60 minute interval run. This is the longest interval workout I’ve ever attempted. I didn’t feel that 1 minute sprints were sustainable for that amount of time so I modified my workout a bit. I began with a 10 minute warm-up between 8:00-8:30/mile. That was followed by a 5 minute “run” between 7:00-7:30/mile. I included a 5 minute rest period between each run segment which targeted 7:45-8:00/mile. I repeated this four times and concluded with a 10 minute cool down. Over the course of 60 minutes I completed 7.6 miles with an average pace of 7:53/mile. I was very pleased with this considering the two workouts were so close together. Below is the pace/elevation graph. As you can see, the workout(s) really hit me during the cool down period.

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My mile splits are listed in the table below.

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All in all, I’ve been extremely pleased with my training thus far. This is the first triathlon I’ve trained for and it’s great (to some extent) to have those sore muscles back after a few months of easier workouts. I’m really looking forward to improving my swim technique and sharing my improvements throughout the course of my training.

Tonight, the training didn’t stop. The Fiancée and I participated in a 5K Glow Run on campus. It was great running with friends and getting to participate in another race.

photoWith a 45 minute swim and almost 11 miles under my belt for the day, I’m happy to call it a night. Saturday is my next brick, consisting of a 120 minute bike followed by a 30 minute run. Expect some pictures and some new data as I go on my first “official” training ride!

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In Sickness and in Health: Day 19

Sick. Bleh. That basically describes my current status. I wish I was still eight years old and could miss a day of school and have almost no work to catch up on in my absence. Unfortunately, the years seem to have caught up to me and that option is no longer possible. See, when you’re sick as a kid, it’s almost like a vacation. For an hour and a half, it’s the best thing in the world: no school, unlimited TV and saltine crackers. Then after about the fourth item comes up on QVC, at 10:45 in the morning, your life looks rather depressing.

I had a similar experience to that today. Although, both school and work were there to so kindly break up the monotony. I come home this evening and of course, Netflix is acting up. I had only two choices that decided they would play: “Locked Up Abroad”, or “Aziz Ansari: Dangerously Delicious”. Me being me, I chose the latter. Partly because I don’t like watching depressing stories about people just trying to enjoy a vacation in a country they probably shouldn’t be in anyway (deep breath), and partly because I’m a big Aziz Ansari fan. To be honest, though, 20 minutes into the show staring at the bottom of an empty Mac and Cheese microwavable bowl (don’t judge me, I’m sick), I began to feel “locked up”. I get antsy when I’m not being productive. I always feel like there’s something I’m forgetting and I should be doing something. So here I sit: sick, “locked up”, and trying to be productive.

I’m using it as an opportunity to 1. make a pun on my upcoming marriage, and 2. because there’s something to be learned from being sick. A lot of times, we are left wondering whether or not we should workout on a given day. Half of the time, when I don’t want to work out, I go out anyway and am glad I did after I’m done. Should you force yourself to run when you’re sick, though? A general rule of thumb presented in The Non Runner’s Marathon Trainer, is if the “sickness” is above the neck, go for it. Below? Hold off. Why? Well, typically ailments like a sore throat, headache, or a stuffy nose, will not be worsened by exercise. Problems below the neck, such as chest cold, vomiting, or if you find yourself running to the bathroom every so often, can be made worse through exercise. As I said, this is only a general rule and you should make your own judgments as to your current condition, but it has served me well in the past.

As for my condition? I’ve got the usual cold symptoms: congestion, achey-ness, and the general desire to do nothing, but eat Goldfish and Ginger-ale. So I’ll be lacing up and hitting the road once The Fiancee returns to rescue me from my Benadryl-induced stupor. Should anything happen, fear not, I received my Road ID today (sorry, had to do it). Stay safe out there, everyone.

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Choices: Day 17

Have you ever noticed that life doesn’t change much from the time you’re 12? I mean sure, the responsibilities change and so do the venues, but the people are the same. You still have your cliques, your insecurities, and (how can I put this nicely?) the people you really wish life would just hurry and catch up to. To avoid making this post a cynical diatribe against college students, I’ll steer clear of specifics. Suffice it to say, that The Fiancee and I had an interesting start to our weekend.

We attended her sorority’s yearly Spring Formal yesterday evening. All I can say is that if common sense and the most basic public etiquette were scored on the ACT, most of these people wouldn’t be here. College truly is just middle school with alcohol and a credit card. You have the same people laughing at the same jokes with a little liquid courage and a lot of free time on their hands.

Sample conversation:

“We’re going to the bars after this are you all going?”

The Fiancee politely replies, “No, we have a 7 mile run tomorrow.” That news was greeted with confused looks as if saying, ‘What does one thing have to do with another?’

“It dehydrates you,” she added. I suppose that answer was sufficient for our not-so-captive audience (either that or the alcohol and who knows what else, exacerbated the normal ADD tendencies).

To those who may not be privy to how these types of functions work, it’s not like you see in the movies. There’s no bikini-clad girls hitting around beach balls with guys in togas. No, after four years of attending these “formal” gatherings here’s what it boils down to: an excuse for girls to buy a new dress, get drunk with friends, and take pictures. Let me stop for a moment and add that I am generalizing. I don’t like to cast such a wide net or sound judgmental, but it truly makes sad for these people who legitimately will not be able to remember some of these nights later on down the road.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to have fun as much as the next guy, but at some point in your life, that little voice has to kick in and say, “Hey, there’s a day after this one, you know?” . Unfortunately for me, this voice has always been present, so I was often labeled “square” or “boring”. I’ll take square and boring any day over broke and hungover, though.

In either event, the next day did come: Day 17. Today was a 7 mile long run for The Fiancee and I. And what a day it was. In the words of Chris Traeger, it was literally, the perfect day to run (for my sake, please watch Parks and Recreation so I don’t sound like an idiot). It was about 40°F with light winds and clear skies. We completed it in just over 1:15:00. I was thankful that we were both able to enjoy the time outside after a couple weeks of bad weather.

It’s funny watching her progression as a runner. It’s a bit like having an out of body experience, when I think about these times in my past training. Today, I had to smile as I watched her trying to eat her first Cliff Gel. That’s one of the weirdest aspects of endurance sports, I think. Trying to get used to doing things in motion that you are used to doing while sitting still. Eating, drinking, and even recovering. As a runner you have to get used to doing all of these things while on the move. The growing pains often make for some comical moments for all of us as we get our feet wet. That’s the choice we all make, though. In my experience, I don’t think there’s a healthier or more rewarding choice out there.

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Goals, Safety, and Road ID: Day 16

Today I want to talk about goals. Personal goals, specifically. It’s easy to throw out race dates and distances as goals, but deep down most of us have expectations of our performance that we are unwilling to admit to others. Maybe it’s the fear of embarrassment of not reaching these goals. If we keep them to ourselves, no one can ask, “did you finish in such-and-such time?”

As I’ve said before, I’m not a fast runner. I blame genetics. The Fiancee is 3 inches shorter than me, yet my knees fall below hers. Seriously, when I see pictures of myself in jeans, I’m often reminded of Yoda. All kidding aside, I’m guilty of the subject of today’s post. My goal last December was to finish my first marathon in under 4:30:00. All of my training up until that point indicated that it was possible, yet I never stated my goals to anyone other than The Fiancee. When people would ask, I’d say, “I’m just hoping to finish”. While this was true, in the back of my mind, I was hoping to break the 4:30:00 barrier. This didn’t happen though. I crossed the finish line in 4:47:22, elated, but ever so slightly disappointed in my performance.

There are two things I propose we all start doing. Number one: write down your goals. Hold yourself accountable. It’s easy to go into a race with a goal in the back of your mind, only to miss it, and then think, “well, I wasn’t really going for that anyway”. Embrace the challenge. That’s what I’ll be doing through this blog. In the near future, I’m going to post goals for each race listed in the Race Schedule.

Secondly: be specific with your goals. Instead of saying, “I want to finish in under 4 hours”, give yourself a finite goal and post it where you’ll see it daily. For runners, a goal might look like this: Finish the Oklahoma City Half-Marathon in under 1:30:00 and place in the top ten in my age group. For triathletes, set goals for each leg. An example at the Iron Distance might be: Finish the swim in 1:15:00, the bike in 6:00:00, and the run in 4:30:00 and finish in the top ten in my age group. Holding yourself accountable begins with holding yourself to certain standards. Don’t let the fear of embarrassment cause you to miss out on potential group of supporters just because you don’t want to be specific.

Lastly, I want to share a very important aspect of training with you all. Whether you’re a runner, a cyclist, or combine all three in triathlon, safety should always be first an all of our minds. This week I purchased a Road ID that includes all of my personal information just in case an accident occurs while out training. I used to carry my Driver’s License with me on long workouts, but I kept forgetting to take it out of my Camelbak or running jacket. Of course, I’d always remember the next day while out driving around (not good). This should alleviate that issue. All this is to say, they sent me a code for $1 off any Road ID, good until the end of the month. I realize it’s only a dollar, but hey, there’s most of the shipping ($1.49)! The coupon is good for 20 uses and I receive no incentives for any subsequent purchases. I just wanted to share the opportunity.

Just enter: ThanksZach24548268

I hope everyone had a productive and safe week! On the long training days I’m sure everyone will be doing this weekend (wink wink) take some time to consider what the goals are that you have for your performance. Whether they’re short or long term, don’t be afraid to write them down and don’t be afraid to share.

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Snow: Days 12,13 & 14

Well, I wish I could say that the reason I’ve missed a few days of posting is because the Oklahoma blizzard knocked out my power, sealed my door shut, and I’ve been living off Chewy Bars and Goldfish. Unfortunately, I can’t. In reality, the “blizzard” wasn’t much of blizzard at all. Here in good ol’ Stillwater America, we got about 2 inches. That’s it. At least not for us. 100 miles west of us, it’s a different story. There were parts of northwestern Oklahoma that received over 20 inches. That’s what I’d envisioned and had been hoping for. I suppose I’ll need to move farther north to make that dream a reality. Oh well.

My absence has been largely due to a shift in my focus. I’ve felt pulled in a hundred different directions lately. Between flying, running, triathlon, school, there’s not enough hours in the day. Monday and Tuesday school was canceled due to Oklahoma’s impending doom (blizzard). This gave me some time to do something I haven’t done in a long time: read.

I picked up Be Iron Fit and read about 3/4 of it over the last two days. It’s a great read, and actually, my first Ironman related book. I was afraid the information it would provide would be over my head (the first time I read about VO2 max I decided running might be too complicated for me), but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s absolutely perfect for those beginner questions that you “always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask”. At some point in the near future I’ll post some of my favorite tidbits of knowledge from this book.

In related news, I registered for my first triathlon! In June I’ll be participating in El Reno, Oklahoma’s Route 66 Olympic Triathlon. For those of you who don’t know, there are a few distances of triathlon races:

Sprint: 0.5 mile swim, 12.4 mile bike, 3.1 mile run

Olympic: 0.93 mile swim, 24.9 mile bike, 6.2 mile run

Half-Ironman (70.3): 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run

Ironman (140.6): 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run

I’m extremely excited about this opportunity because I’ve been looking for a race between the half-marathon in April and the full in October. This seemed to be the perfect distance and gave me time to complete a short 12 week training program to prepare. Expect some good updates as I get my feet wet (literally and figuratively) in the sport of triathlon. The only downside thus far is that I’ve found my excitement has carried over into my shopping habits. A few minutes after registering for my first triathlon, I was ordering a tri-suit. That said, it’s fuel for the blog and for my motivation.

Speaking of shopping, the FedEx guy delivered two packages of running/triathlon related goodness to my doorstep today: one running singlet, a tri top, and a bike pump. The first two aren’t too exciting (yay clothes, right?), but the bike pump I’m pretty excited to share with everyone. I got Lezyne Road Drive CFH. The pump and accompanying CO2 canister attach directly under the water bottle holder on the bike, making them available on either side of the water bottle. Without going into too much detail, I love it so far. Look for the review either tomorrow or Friday.

Today The Fiancee had a 4 mile run. The wind was gusting to 25mph and because she’s a princess (I mean that in the most loving and sarcastic way possible) she wanted to run inside. I wasn’t feeling another 40 minutes on the track (and I have tri-fever) so I decided to test out a short brick. Side note: a brick is two training segments back to back. Most of the time it includes a simulated transition. So, I hopped on a stationary bike and rode a little over 6.2 miles in 22 minutes, trying to keep my cadence over 100 RPM. I jumped off the bike ready to race up the steps to the track. Then I remembered: I forgot to wipe the bike down. Crap. I snatched a Wet Wipe and cleaned the machine like someone was chasing me. After taking twenty seconds to avoid being “that person”, I ran up to the track. It was super weird having no time between the two activities. I suppose during an Ironman you have time to mentally prepare for the coming event, but for me, after exiting the bike, my legs were still in circular motion mode, not horizontal. After a lap or two of feeling like a new-born giraffe, I finally started to settle in to the run. To my surprise, I was still able to maintain a 7:45/mile pace. I did 11 laps (1 mile) and called it quits. I walked for a while, taking inventory of my body. You know, I had to make sure the legs still knew their function and that my heart had gotten the memo that we’d stopped. I told The Fiancee afterwards that I was a new kind of tired. Which is funny because the workout only equated to about 30 minutes in motion. It’s true though. Two (or three) sports are certainly harder than one.

I left the gym feeling good, but slightly worried. If I was that tired after less than a Sprint Distance Triathlon, how on earth will I complete an Ironman in a little over a year? That’s a question that will be answered later, though. After all, you don’t complete a marathon after one training session. I’ll take it one step at a time, one mile at a time.

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This Week on IronTry: Day 11

Well, the Oklahoma weather is at it again. Today I was dressed in short sleeves, tomorrow, a blizzard. At least it keeps things interesting. I’ve decided on Sunday’s to recap the week and preview the week ahead.

Monday and Tuesday look like they will be indoor running days again. We’re supposed to get another round of winter weather on Monday. Besides the running inside, I don’t mind the weather. It forces (most) people, to slow down, relax and stay inside. It’s a nice reprieve from the non-stop lifestyle most of try to live.

Later on this week, I’ll be receiving a few items I ordered online including some new running clothes and a road bike pump. Plan on a couple of reviews being posted around Wednesday and Thursday of this coming week.

Besides those two items, expect the usual: two interval runs interspersed among The Fiancee’s weekly training. Next Saturday will be a 7 mile run for us as the Oklahoma City Memorial Half-Marathon comes closer. I hope everyone had a safe and productive weekend!

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Happiness: Days 9 & 10

For one reason or another, I’ve had The Pursuit of Happiness on my mind lately. You know, the movie with Will Smith? If you asked me why I couldn’t tell you. Maybe it’s because I’ve felt a little beaten down by all of the stress this past week. Or maybe it’s because I’m a poor college student looking for a job. In either case, I woke up this morning with a sense of clarity I hadn’t had all week. Oddly enough, scenes from from the same movie kept playing over and over in my head. Except this time, the scene I kept seeing was the very last in the movie. The part where Will Smith (or “Chris Gardner” as it were) narrates: “This part of my life… This part right here? This part is called happiness.”

For anybody who is curious, my flight test went well yesterday. I passed! I can tell I’m getting closer to becoming an instructor because although the examiner didn’t have many critiques for me, I spent the whole drive home critiquing my own performance. The curse of a perfectionist, I suppose. The next step will be an checkride with the FAA this coming week, but I’m going to take it one day at a time.

I apologize for the radio silence yesterday, although I must admit, except for a quick hour at work and my flight test, not too much happened. I finished up at the airport about 5:30 yesterday evening. We were delayed due to extensive ice on our scheduled plane. After half an hour of literally pouring on de-icing fluid and hacking at it with a squeegee, we were forced to relent. Mother Nature: 1, Zach: 0. After successfully passing my End of Course examination, The Fiancée and I packed up The Golden and headed south to Oklahoma City. We came home to spend some time with both sides of the family. It’s always nice to come home.

This morning The Fiancée and I tackled a new route: Lake Overholser (or for the 18 and under crowd: Lake Hold-her-closer. Take what you will from that.). This was her farthest run to date, completing 6.5 miles in about 1 hour and 15 minutes. It was cold morning (windchill around 15°F), but with almost no wind. What a great morning to run!

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This is an old part of Route 66 that you run on the north side of the lake.

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She was bringing it on. I felt like I was getting some speed work in trying to catch up to her after stopping to take pictures.

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About 3 miles in, we ran by some llamas. Or are they alpacas? I don’t know the difference.IMG_3920

Here’s The Fiancée standing (semi) victorious.IMG_3919

As we walked across the dam after our run, I spotted these weird ice formations. Any clue what causes these?

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Finally, we made it all the way around the lake and back to the car. The clouds had cleared and I couldn’t help but think to myself “this part of my life… This part right here? This part is called happiness.”

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