Tuesday, April 01, 2008


It is a whopping 60 degrees outside and I'm thinkin' I just might stop off for a little trail run on my way up to downtown this afternoon. I'm finding the trail very alluring this spring and enjoyed the warm temps and sloppy conditions on Sunday. My shoes are caked in mud. I'm wondering if I should have hosed them off or something instead of just leaving the mud to dry?

I also got in a nice ride and run-off on Saturday. Headed out to Northern Portage/Southern Geauga Counties for some rolling hills, bogs, and farm houses...

Developed some saddle sores on my left leg (pics of the culprit ONLY, you'll just have to take my word about the sores...

And the Indians won yesterday. Yep, I'm putting on some shorts and going for a run. Spring is here.......

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Catchin' My Breath

I haven't had much time for blogging lately. Between work, school, training, and some volunteer work I've had time for little else. I usually try and squeeze blogging in somehow, and before I seemed to run out of time for it I was planning on making some changes around here. Maybe spiff things up a bit? My 100th post is near....which means that I've probably spent a little too much time inputing this nonsense onto the computer screen. Well, it's not all nonsense....this blog has been good to keep me motivated for training. And, reading other folks blogs has provided an abundance of entertainment and also provided a TON of knowledge as I try and move forward through the world of endurance sports. Hell, I kinda think of life like the longest endurance event there is....all these races are just little pieces that contribute to the long event, improving my health along the way (while I have a little fun!).

So, don't be surprised if you come back someday soon and see something different. It might be suttle...and it might not. Hard to say.

I will say that when I walked into the rec center and saw that the lap lanes had been flipped to 50M lengths I was so excited that I immediately threw on my cap and goggles while running to the locker room. I changed from my khaki's and sweater to my speedo jammers in the locker room like I was in T1. I'm just about ready to donn my wetsuit and take a dip in The Great Lake.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sensorial Observation And The Idiosyncracies of Facial Hair

My beard is gone. Well, not exactly gone....it has moved. Entered the waste stream, so, it is gone from my face....

Which was cold yesterday (my face, that is). It felt like I had a wet beard all day. Even indoors. Weird. Simply putting my hand on my chin proved there was no wet hair there. Shaving my beard makes my chin feel really, really small...and less round.

I suppose I am on "spring" break after all. And if my "spring" break is going to begin with the biggest snowstorm that Northeast Ohio has seen in years I might as well think spring and go with the naked chin for a spell. Last year I think my naked chin lasted less than a week, before the short beard was maintained through the summer. This is truly one of the joys of being a man......contemplating what to do with your beard.

Next winter maybe I'll let it grow a little longer......put a windmill in it.
Like this guy......

Cool, eh??

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Shamrock 15K

My original plans for today were to participate in the tri club's indoor triathlon up on the East side. Old man winter had other plans, and they involved a couple feet of snow. The indoor tri got canceled, but the Shamrock 15K didn't. So, I decided that although I had abandoned long runs for a spell until I get my achy knee all fixed up, and hadn't run more than 6 miles for about 6 weeks, that a 15K wouldn't hurt. And it didn't hurt....too much.

The race started at noon, so I really had no routine to go through to get ready. The biggest decision was how to dress, and I opted to take a backpack full of different things so that I could decide just before the race started. Breakfast this morning consisted of coffee, a banana, and a bowl of Irish oats. Usually oatmeal is out of the question on race day, but with the race starting at noon I went ahead and had the Irish (aka steel cut) oats. I think that my ole GI system likes this much better than the typical "old-fashioned" or quick oats. Why no oatmeal for me on race day you ask? For fear I'd be visiting my rat friend, but I wanted to try the Irish oats....... after all, it was the Shamrock 15K.

So, after the Irish oats, a shower, and some reading it was time to head to the race. I stepped outside into the snow covered landscape, feeling a bit like I was entering into some sort of fantasy land that consisted of exploded marshmallow goo (I know you all remember ghostbusters).

Got to the race in plenty of time, fidgeted with my clothes over and over again trying to figure out what to wear. Hat or windblock headband? Windbreak vest or no windbreak vest? Road shoes or Trail shoes? I think you get the idea. On went the headband, vest, and road shoes.....and my warm-up run convinced me I was dressed appropriately. So, time to head to the starting line and I spent so much time changing head wear and shoes that I had to hurry to get in one more bathroom trip (which is time consuming with all of these winter clothes). I lined up towards the front left of the pack, and within seconds off went the gun.

This was the first time I raced with headphones, and I was so preoccupied with finding the right music that I forgot to start my watch!!! I realized this before too long, and settled into what I hoped would be the right pace. This was my first 15K, and only my third race above the 10K distance, so the plan was to hold back a bit until at least the halfway point and then go with what I'm feeling. This strategy was tough to follow because the first 3 miles were basically a steep, descent into the valley . During the descending I could feel my left quad tinging a bit. Great....I hope I can climb out!! I saw one or 2 folks drop out of the race before we hit the valley floor. Cold ass temps.+ harsh descent out of the gate = seizing muscles. What makes someone drop out of a 9.3 mile race in 2 miles?? This......

*total amount of climbing for the course is ~550 ft.

After we hit the valley floor we had a mere mile, or so, of relatively flat terrain, then up we went, ascending the eastern flank of the valley.....basically it was 5 miles of climbing and about 3 more folks in front of me dropped out, presumably from cramping. One poor fellow started cramping after he made it a good portion of the way up. He stood on the side of the road holding his hamstring while I passed him. A few minutes later, he passed me at a pretty impressive pace...then he started cramping and I passed him....then he passed me again.......then cramping again and I passed him...after the third leapfrog, I didn't see him again.

I mentioned that this was my first race with headphones, and Phil Lesh and crew was my music selection. It was perfect. At mile 8, Phil started singin' about goin' where the climate suits my coat, the chilly winds don't blow, and the water taste's like wine to pull me across the finish line in 1:04:43. I am more than happy with that time. I even got a runner guy bobblehead to take home for finishing 3rd in my AG ( the women got runner girl bobbleheads!).

I'm going to start posting my splits, so I can look back at them easily if I want to reference them. And.....I know you all have a deep interest in my pacing strategy ;-)

Miles 1 & 2: 13:17
Mile 3: 6:51
Mile 4: 6:58
Mile 5: 7:42 (things began looking "up" here)
Mile 6,7, & 8: 21:11
Mile 9: 6:46
Final .3: 2:03

This is a great race and was very scenic today with all of the snow. Good to see the trifolk crew and this poor girl (who was all set for her first tri today, only to have it cancelled) out there today!! I'm off to waddle the dog around the block with these achy legs....

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Signs of Spring (and how to become a yogi)

Two things happen at the end of winter. First, the pool nearby work/home gets WAY too warm. The water temp. is lowered during swim season for the high school swim team. When they are done the temp. goes up. Yesterday, it was on its way up. My chest felt constricted, I had trouble breathing, and I was sinking like a rock. My membership is up there in a couple of weeks and I will say goodbye to that pool for the spring and summer.

The second sign that spring is near is that the pool at CSU where I spend part of each Tuesday and Thursday changes the lane lines around and the 25 yd. lengths are replaced by 50 meter lengths. This more than makes up for my angst due to the rising water temp. at the other pool. And, the water @ CSU is always nice and cold. Last week I was told by a lifeguard he expected the lengths to be switched "sometime in the next couple of weeks." So, swimming is @ CSU for now, until it is time to get in the lake!!!

Oh, I've got to add my third sign that spring is upon us....at least here in NE Ohio. We keep getting bad winter storms. You know, it is March after all. The worst storm of last winter was in March. The worst storm of this winter was in the last few days of February, but we were just covered in a foot of ice and another snow/ice storm is on tap for this weekend. Are bad winter storms in March a sign of climate change? How about no snow in December in NE Ohio? That has happened 2 years in a row also. Ok, so we all know that climate change is happening. So, who knows why?

Getting back to my tri life.....

Maybe you remember my knee pain I was having a while back. Well, it's not exactly knee pain, more like stiffness, or a "my knee just ain't right" sensation in the back of my left knee. I didn't complain about it much because I was complaining about being sick for 3 weeks. Then, as soon as I got back to training the knee pain returned. I became a bit concerned, to say the least.

I did not get it looked at for a couple of reasons. 1) is that it was not getting any worse. just staying about the same 2) there was very, very little swelling 3) it would get better during a run.

I noticed it began to feel worse throughout my bike sessions. Especially if I was turning a big gear. So, I stayed off the bike for about a week. Also, I hit a couple of yoga sessions. I found a great instructor @ my second session and my knee pain has almost disappeared since that session. I have found that if I stretch my hip flexor, that it relieves discomfort in my knee even though there I have no hip pain, just knee pain. I don't care why my hip problem makes my knee hurt...I'm just going to keep stretching and stay away from one-legged drills on the trainer. Man, I will be so relieved when that knee (hip?) returns to normal. I was working really hard on my pedal stroke over the winter.....maybe I overdid it a bit working on the upstroke, eh? Throw in the fact that my saddle position needed a little tweaking (especially with the new, more efficient peddle stroke), add in a 45 mile hilly ride in the middle of winter....on a 35 degree day, and.....voila, there you have it! Overuse!!!!

Since balance is everything there must be an upside of my nagging overuse injury, no? Yes, of course.....weekly yoga and learning from a good instructor.

Enter a new chapter in my pursuit of endurance sports, becoming a yogi..........

Monday, March 03, 2008

What Would You Have Done?

Yesterday, I pulled up to the parkway for my run in 40 degree heat!!! I was a bit overdressed, but heck I was more than ready to run in the nice weather. Before heading over to the jogging path I went over to the latrine to....well, pee. The latrine is about what you would expect in a park, being one step up from the port-o-pot. It is basically a little shelter with a toilet covering a big whole in the ground. I opened the door and stood over the toilet and something sort of startled me.....

A furry little rat scampered downwards from the top of the "latrine pile" into the dark, dank, depths of the hole that I was about to fill with a little liquid. I couldn't piss on the little rats head, so I started my run with a little bladder discomfort as I knew there was a latrine on the path after one mile. Rats are known to live in sewers, but latrines???

Now, I don't mean to frighten anyone who has to use a latrine from time to time. Don't you think that if rats were likely to attack asses and third legs while they hover over the top of the latrine we would have heard about an attack by now?? So, don't be scared, I just thought you might find it interesting that you don't really know what all is down in that stinky hole...and what you might be pissing (or worse) on.

On a psuedo-related note, I guess it is the year of the rat after all.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Since I was tagged by TriGuyJT to name 7 random things about me a while back, this is a little bit overdue.....

1) If I have a nasty wound, I may very well end up with a nasty scar. I often form what are called hypertrophic scars (follow the link and see the middle pic), although when I was young the Dr.'s referred to them as keloids. Believe me, a kid who is the tallest and skinniest in the school can be pretty self-conscience of his nasty scars, although I've become pretty comfortable with them. I have a couple on my chest, one on my shoulder and two on my left knee. I had a little one behind my ear from a piercing, but it has pretty much disappeared. Both of the ones on my chest seemed to come out of nowhere, with no injury...one of them forming right "above" my heart. Hmmmmmm? If you see a tall skinny man with a scar on his right shoulder @ your next triathlon, say "hi."

2) I'm not sure if there is any food that I don't like (excluding frankenfoods and fast food). Brussel sprouts can taste kinda nasty, if you don't prepare them properly though. Eh, lately I haven't been very into raw cauliflower either.

3) Quite possibly the most memorable thing that has happened to me was when, on the 2nd or 3rd night of a camping trip I saw the Northern Lights for the first time.....on my birthday....on an empty beach.....along the shore of Lake Superior. Mother nature really knows how to give a nice gift!

4) I've been growing a beard every winter for, oh.......8 or 9 years. The last couple of years I have kept it relatively short (probably less than 1 inch).

5) I have been to 32 States in the Union, all of them by car(and occasionally van, or bus) except for Utah. My trip to Utah was by plane. My dog has visited 21 states in his 7 years and is a California native. I picked him up at the pound on the border of Arizona and California....after spending the night sleeping on the banks of the Colorado River. I've probably slept on the ground in about 20 states (I'll have to figure that one out). Yosemite has my vote as the most breathtaking place I've visited, probably because I was there in January and the whole environment was very intimidating. There I had my only experiences with winter alpine storms, which show mother nature's "other" side.

6) I have been to 2 countries, the United States and Canada. Near San Diego I walked along a hiking trail that was only a few miles from Mexico (according to the signs on the trail), but never crossed the border....walking or driving. I think a trip to Europe is in order!!

7) After I returned to school I haven't been able to travel...except to Chicago for a weekend, but I'm talking about a real trip. I have to say, though, that I don't really miss it much because those long summer bike rides suit me just as well.

Since every blogger I know has been tagged by now I'm not tagging anyone...but here are seven links to folks that just posted their 7 "random" facts...

TriFolk, Iron G, Daisy, E-speed (who put her own little spin on this one), Tracie, Trying To Tri, and TriSaraTops.