Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Repost for Christmas...Miss You Mom

I am reposting this because it was one of those funny stories in my life that happened around Christmas time. I miss you very much mom. The girls are so big now and still miss you so.

WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING

For those little readers, this story in no way claims there is no Santa. Sometimes Santa gets so busy that he gets a head start on gifts by leaving them in places well ahead of schedule.

I was raised, for the most part, in a single parent household. It was my mother, sister, brother and myself. I was the oldest of the kids so I got to play dad a lot when my mom would work late or have to go out of town on business. I would cook dinner. Help with homework. Make sure chores were done. And occasionally make my brother wear his breakfast after school because he did not eat it that morning. Times were different then. I say "then" meaning the late70's early 80's. Plus my brother is twice my size now and I don't think I could make him wear his breakfast anymore.

I was a KISS fan growing up. I had the KISS Alive II album. Yes. I said album. Some of you out there still remember vinyl? They say it is making a comeback. I had the KISS dolls and the comic books that were supposed to have their blood in the ink. I was Ace Frehley for Halloween. I was able to go to a KISS concert with my cousin at the Omni in Atlanta. That was only my second concert ever. My first was John Denver and Starland Vocal Band with my mother.

The year was 1978 and KISS was coming out with solo albums: Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. Each cover was of their face. I asked Santa for those albums. I was not sure if I would get them but they were the only things on my list. I also figured I was a good boy that year and only abused my sister and brother a little.

We lived in a two story house with an attic. I had discovered the previous year that Santa liked to hide presents in our attic about two to three weeks before their official arrival date. One of those things you find out when mom works late and you look for new places to hide from your brother. I would spend a lot of time in the attic just looking at my toys to be and visualizing what it was going to be like on Christmas morning. I would hate it when I found out my brother was getting the big Tonka trucks. They hurt when thrown at you.

During one of my attic visits, I saw all four KISS albums just leaning against some other toys. Was I dreaming. Were they really there. They began calling my name. Hold us. Look at us. See our song list. LISTEN to us. What? LISTEN to us. Now? NOW. The only way I can do that is to take you guys from the attic and put you on my record player. Oh, come on. We won't tell. Damn that Gene Simmons.

I took all four albums to my room and carefully sliced open the cellophane so as not to leave any evidence for the naked eye. My plan was to listen to each album for a little while and then return them before mom got home. I said that was my plan. It worked out well at first. Damn that Paul Stanley.

I began to get greedy. I would keep the albums in my room for a couple of days at a time. I sometimes played them while my mother was home. As long as I hid the album covers, she would not know the songs if she walked in my room. About three days before Christmas, I returned them back to the attic for the final time so that Santa could make sure they made it under the tree.

On Christmas Eve morning my father would pick us kids up and take us to our Grandparents for dinner and gift exchanges. He would bring us back home that night. On the way home we would listen to the Santa report on the AM radio. All I could think about was officially listening to my KISS albums in the morning.

We get to the house and my mom tells my dad that she needs to talk to him. I don't think anything of it. I then get called in to my mom's room where they are both standing by her bathroom. She said she wants to show me something in the bathroom. I walk in and see the four KISS albums leaning against the vanity mirror. I smile as if surprised. There are also three more KISS albums next to them minus Peter Criss. I am really surprised then. I am thinking there must have been some kind of miscommunication issue with a family member. Why buy me more KISS albums. I was WAY off base.

My mother explained to me, in that tone that only a mother can use and not get the law called on her, what had happened. She was in the attic conducting an inventory when she noticed there were no KISS albums. She looked all over the attic. She checked it twice. I know by now who was naughty and who was nice. She remembered paying for them but thought that maybe she left them at the store. She went to the store and spoke with a manager, again using that tone that only a mother could use. She was told that there were no KISS albums found. She bought three more KISS albums. She did not buy Peter Criss because my grandmother was going to do that. When she went back in to the attic to put the new KISS albums up she saw the first ones there. Now how could that be. Did she overlook them the first time. She picked one up and discovered, with her naked eye, that it had been opened. She also saw that the other three had been opened as well. Busted I was.

"What do you suppose we do about this?" She said to me. I should have thought about my response before I just blurted it out. "Why don't we take back the unopened ones and buy me something different," my knucklehead said. Don't say another word. "And I can take back the one that nanny is giving me and get a different album." There. I said it. Let's just say that my idea was not entertained. I was told that from now on I would be helping put out the toys each Christmas since I knew where they were being kept. My gifts would not be kept in the attic. Probably not even on the property. And the official listening party for the KISS albums would be sometime in March.
That is how I became one of Santa's many helpers. And to you kids out there. CD's are much harder to open secretly.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

79...

It's coming...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Pacers Did It All For The Nookie

I remember when Dorcas first asked us BRA members for some assistance in pacing for the St Pete Women's Half Marathon. I walked away...nope...I ran away from her fast. You see I have problems pacing myself so how could I be responsible for pacing a bunch of women during a race. I manage to piss off a few women in my life on my own and didn't need to add dozens more with some whacked out pacing mess. A man sometimes has to realize his limitations but I also have a problem with that as well.

As time went by, I decided to give that pacing thing a try. I was going to pace the 2:00 hour group. I could do this. I also got a little nudge from C-Steve who had already signed up for the 2:00 group. Plus Dorcas has done so much for me and my fellow BRA'ers that I felt I owed it to her to give back to HER race and what guy doesn't want to be chased by a group of beautiful women.

C-Steve was glad I was doing it. C-Steve was very nervous about not being able to do it. He was so concerned about being too fast or too slow and having to catch up. I told him to relax. WE GOT THIS. We were supposed to practice pacing but never did. Or at least I didn't. I am currently training for the ING Miami Marathon and have been running faster than pace. There again...pacing issues. C-Steve is also training for the same race. We both have training plans but figured this one race would not hurt our plans. And I for one get more from helping others on their runs/races than I do mine. I have plenty of medals just sitting in a box.

C-Steve and I rode together to the race. Want to guess who drove. C-Steve was quite the chatter box on the way over. He was planning out our pacing strategy. I was telling him all was going to be fine. Just relax. WE GOT THIS. Plus I wouldn't wear a kilt for nothing.

We made our way to corral number two. C-Steve was already holding his 2:00 pace stick high in the air. I had shaved my head the night before and had Dorcas write 1:59 on the back of my head with a black marker. I told the women in our group that if you don't see the sign just keep looking for the back of my head.

Before the race started we gave our pace group a little pep talk. We told them we were all in this together. We did our best to explain the whole pacing concept. I also told them that at mile eleven I will pick up my pace by 30 seconds to a minute in order to finish under the two hour pace. We both told them to stick with us and they would definitely finish at two hours or better. Lots of smiles, cheers and positive looks on their faces.

We were able to start our group pretty close to the start line. We crossed the timing mat about 19 seconds after the start. We should be able to hold the pace from the get go. C-Steve and I were both wearing a Garmin, a regular watch and a pacing chart that C-Steve had made. The pacing chart proved to be the most reliable piece of equipment we used.

The first few miles were very good. The women were talkative and responsive to shout outs. There were times when I had to interpret for C-Steve. We were running on a brick street and he was saying watch your ankles. The women moved to the left side of the road just before the turn. He said it again and a few women yelled out, "but there are no turns for a while." I said he said ankles not angles.

At about mile 5 I really had to go to the bathroom. I told the group that I was going to run ahead to the porta potty. Do not follow my pace. I ran ahead and heard some of the women that got ahead earlier say to me as I passed, "I thought you were going to wait til mile 11 to speed up." I just going to potty. I finished just as the group was going by wit C-Steve and the group calling me out. Still on pace.

The course had us run out towards the St Pete Pier. This was into the wind. And for some reason the heat started to make an appearance. I told C-Steve to drop back and bring some of the stragglers up to us. We both switched doing this. I then noticed that we were losing more runners. I double checked our pace as we passed a clock at mile 8. We were about 20 seconds off. I picked it up just a little coming off the pier. At mile nine we were right on target.

Our group had shrunk and were not as lively as they were at mile four. The heat and pace was beginning to take a toll. We were on pace and had to realize that we were doing what we were supposed to do. At mile 10 I dropped back to bring a few runners back up. One of them was a fellow BRA'er who was doing her first half marathon. She was looking strong but started to fall back a little. She was with a group of about ten. I told them all that we could not let the 2:00 sign get any further from us. We needed to pick it up just a little. We managed to do that just before the mile eleven mark.

I looked back at the fellow BRA'er and told her this is the spot where I am going to take off. She nodded. I pointed to the back of my head and picked up the pace. C-Steve announced that 1:59 was taking off. The course had us run inside Tropicana Field. The Garmin still worked inside the dome.

I picked it up from 9:06 minute miles to 8:00 miles. I looked back and had a few women coming with me. A few said we must stay with 1:59. I then caught one of the RunningSkirts women and she said, "great. The 2 hour group caught me." I told her that I ran ahead and she is still under 2 hours.

As I was inside the last mile, I looked back and noticed that two of the women that spoke to me before the race about PR's had dropped back. I stopped and waited for them. I was not there to run for me. Once they caught back up, I paced them to the last turn which is when you can see the finish line. There was this one lady that kept yelling at me, "WHERE IS THE FINISH LINE?" I just said keep running. You are almost there which is a term I hate to hear because it usually doesn't mean you are almost there. Almost for who?

I again looked back and did not see the BRA'er. I ran back to the last turn to wait. C-Steve came by and brought the group that was with him in at 1:59:48 or so. I spotted the BRA'er and yelled for her to pick it up. I think she said she was going to die. I said you can die at the finish line. I ran her in to a 2:00:40ish finish time. I have now been recruited to pace her to a 1:55 finish at the Brandon Half on 12/4. I have 18 miles to do that day as part of my plan. It ain't about me. I have 5 to do after getting her to her 13 I supppose.

In retrospect, this was one of my favorite races so far that I didn't race. I had a job to do that was not for me. I was there to get people to a place where they wanted to be and needed me to get them there. I remember a woman who came up to me and C-Steve after the race saying that she didn't beat 2 hours but this was her best race ever. Ask C-Steve about his non-Christian hug.

Many thanks to the other BRA'ers that paced. Josh, Steve, Tom, Elton, Chris and Jeff. I encourage anyone to be a pacer to experience that feeling. It's easy to say you are going to give back but it means a hell of a lot when you actually do. You can't run it for them but you can run it with them. C-Steve and I have already booked our spot for next year.

Thanks again Dorcas for the invite.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Saturday...A Motivation For The Oldest

My oldest and I signed up to volunteer on Saturday morning at the bib/registration table.

My oldest had signed up to run the half as her first half. The previous week she had some heart issues on two occasions. One of those resulted in a minor seizure and a brief passing out episode. This caused her to be taken to the Cardiologist. He gave her a heart monitor to wear for 30 days. The monitor continuously records data and if she has any episodes, she has to push a button which will send the data to an off-site for up to date analyzing. I asked the doctor if I could get one. Shoot, two daughters. One that is 18 and reminds me everyday and the other that thinks she is already 18. I would be holding the damn button down 24/7.

Needless to say the oldest decided not to run the race because she wasn't sure how she would do having to wear the monitor. She still wanted to volunteer. She said it was the right thing to do. It wasn't Dorcas' fault she wasn't doing the race.



We were assigned the 7000 numbered bibs. This was for corral 7. It seems you were assigned a corral based on your predicted finishing time. And the 7000's were also late registrants. This was the first time that I worked a volunteer outing with my oldest. I would have to say I am very proud of her and told her exactly that. She was very encouraging to the women who had the attitude that they weren't sure they could do the race. "You can do it. This is why you are here. My daddy is pacing if you want some help. I think he is wearing a skirt to. And about the skirt. I know you have been out of the house but do we need to talk?"

Earlier in the year I volunteered at a Gasparilla sign up table. This time seemed more meaningful since I was with the oldest one. I was able to see how she reacted with people. She sure is a lot nicer than I am used to. I also got a great feeling of encouraging those that were doubting themselves before they even got to the starting line. Don't say "If I finish. Say, "when I finish."

During our assignment, the Co-Race Director came up to me and introduced himself. He then asked me if I was going to wear a skirt tomorrow. I said so the word has spread already. He said he saw me at the expo yesterday wearing it. I told him I had planned on it unless he did not want me to. This is his race and I did not want to be a distraction. He told me the pacers and men are encouraged to wear skirts. I said that was all I needed to hear. I just happen to look over my shoulder and see the oldest shaking her head no to him. I told her too late he already said it was okay.

After our assignment was over, the oldest and I walked to the expo. I had bought the oldest a book last year written by Kathrine Switzer and I knew she was going to be at the expo so I had the oldest bring the book. The oldest is not a reader and I reminded her to dust the book over before getting it signed. Ms. Switzer surprised me. She was more personable than I expected. She was not just sitting at a table signing a book and then off to the next book. She stood there and talked to the oldest for over 5 minutes. The oldest told her about her heart condition and Ms. Switzer was so encouraging about not letting minor setbacks get in the way of your goals. The oldest actually looked like she was listening. She then signed her book and also wrote a personal message. I then took their picture. I started to walk away when Ms. Switzer asked if she could give me a hug. I said sure. She then gave me a hug and told me she was happy for what I am doing regarding the oldest. Ms. Switzer had two new fans.

We then went in to the expo and said hello to Dorcas. I then stopped by the Runningskirts.com booth and said hello to the ladies. I then saw a guy from Fit2run buying a skirt for the race. Hey what is that all about. I was then told that he was not the only one. There was another guy walking around from another booth wearing one of their skirts. Great. A trend setter of getting guys to wear skirts. Super.






Sunday...It's a Kilt Darnit.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's A Little Breezy Down There...

Have you ever had a weekend where everything you do just seems to go right? Where all just seems to fall in to place. Not from what you do alone for yourself but for what you do for others. I just had that weekend. Three days of it. I shall take you there but I must backtrack just a little.

I am a member of the Brandon Running Association which is a running club based out of Brandon, Florida. Check us out at brandonrunning.com or Brandon Running Association on Facebook. We have members from all walks of life and abilities. I must admit there are members that I don't know much about.

One of our members, Dorcas, works for Women's Running magazine. She came to us as a group over a month ago asking for volunteers and pacers for the half marathon. I initially blew her off so to speak because I did not want to commit to being a pacer when I wasn't sure what I would be doing on race day. Plus C-Steve had volunteered for the 2:00 hour spot and I figured he could handle it.

As time went by, I decided I wanted to be a pacer. I figured this could be fun and why not run with uhm 6,000 women. I talked with C-Steve and he told me he could use the help. I am not one to rely on for proper pacing. I DO NOT have pacing down but I shall give it my best. I have helped other BRA members on their long runs before and this is all it would be. Just help some ladies get to their goal.

Friday. I got off work and volunteered for the Pacer table at the Women's Half Expo. This is where I could help the ladies figure out what their goal was. Encourage them to get with a group that was just beyond their limit. I would get asked what this pacing thing was all about. "How fast do you want to go?" Convince them to stop saying "I can't" and start saying "I WILL." I converted a lot of women that day.

Some of you know that for some reason I like to wear different outfits when I run. Some call it costumes. I call it comfortable clothes. Either way I have fun with it and really don't care if others don't like it. I will say that I know my limits and try not to be offensive. So no jock strap only running. While I was at the Pacer table, I sent Speedy Jan and Gary to the expo to find me a plaid running kilt. Jan reported back that there was a booth that had some plaid skirts, I mean kilts, that had manly colors.

I found the Runningskirts booth. I was talking on the phone to Jan about the sizes when one of the ladies from Runningskirts was holding up a black plaid pattern skirt and saying to me, "this is the size for you." Seems word had spread already. I was then told I could have a great expo only deal if I put the skirt on now and wore it at the expo. Little did they know that I needed no encouraging because I am Walt. I don't think they thought I would wear them at the expo. I was given a pair of the athletic ones and went right to the changing tent. The first pair was a little snug. I was then brought another pair and those fit just right. I was "the hit of the party" some would say.

I walked around the expo with them on. Of course I got plenty of looks and comments. I will be honest, the kilt was comfortable. Not that I am choosing that as my only running option now but hey you will see me in them again.

I would like to thank Juli, Jodi and Julie at Runningskirts.com for their assistance and encouragement on Friday. So guys and girls if you want some awesome running skirt wear as well as other running outfits, go to Runningskirts.com and tell them that Walt sent you. I don't think that will get you any breaks but hey. I later found out that some other guys bought kilts for the race.

Next up...Saturday. Two Birds With One Stone.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chapter 5 The Final Lap and an Awakening

First I would like to apologize to my reader for the long delay in this post. I have written and re-written several versions of what happened on that final lap. I have told numerous people the story. I had different responses based on who I told. I told them nothing was planned and it all just fell in to place. As some say, "things happen for a reason" or "if it's meant to be it will be."

It's up to you to decide how you feel after reading this. You may tear up. You may laugh. You may put your face in a pillow and scream. Feel free to do all three. If you do decide to put your face in a pillow, I bet you can't hold it there for more than four minutes.

Here goes. I left off with me at about the 16 mile mark bending at the waist and being approached by a medical cart. The cart was already coming my way and not specifically for me. I heard a voice ask if I was okay. I said yes. I straightened up and started to trot. I had to trot or vomit.

I would definitely say I had hit the wall at this point. I was having physical and mental issues.

Take physical. I could no longer drink water or gatorade. I could not eat anything whether it was gel, a cookie or a pretzel. I think my tank was full but nothing was being absorbed. I was sick to my stomach. Numerous times I felt I could throw up but I did not want to let that happen. I was tired, sleepy and just wanted to lay down. I knew I had to keep moving. As long as I kept moving I was closer to the finish. There were also others, who looked stouter than me, walking behind.

Take mental. I was strongly considering stopping. It wasn't that I wanted to give up. I was just exhausted. I couldn't quit though. How would my family feel. How would my friends feel. They all came up here to see me finish and I can't have them feel like they wasted their time. And quiet frankly, how would I feel if I quit. And then I would have to go through all this mess again next year.

I had no voice anymore. When someone at a water stop would ask me what I wanted, I just had to point. Not that I was able to take anything down anyways.

I began to trot/shuffle/walk/jog/walk and so on. I needed to finish this second lap. All I was thinking was that I had one more lap. Can I do just one more lap?

As I came to the start/finish area I picked up my pace just a little. This had to be pure adrenaline because of the family/friends cheering. This was going to be my moment of decision.

I looked over at my support crew and motioned for my girls' mom, Aimee, to walk with me. Out of the group of people that were there, she was the only one that I could talk to about my possibility of stopping. I don't want to say quiting but that is exactly what was on my mind. I did not debate should I talk to Jan. Should I talk to either Steve? Should I talk to my girls? Should I talk to Elton? She was the right choice at the time. There was only one other person that I would have had walk with me at that moment but she was not there. I still miss you mom.

As I said in the prelude, I had moved out almost a year ago. Aimee could have just dropped the girls off to watch their dad and drive back home. I have given her so many reasons in the past to walk/trot/shuffle/jog/run away. And the last year was no different even after all the cards were put on the table. When you spend over 20 years together raising two beautiful daughters, you still have this need to support one another at times even when your not together.

I grabbed a cup of coke at the water stop. We walked together. I was still moving forward. I told her that I did not think I could do it. I wanted to stop. I was sick. She told me that I was not a quitter. That I trained to hard to quit. Just keep walking if you have to. You still have plenty of time. All you need to do is finish. I asked what would the girls think if I quit. She said this race is not about them or anyone else. "It is about you." You can finish.

She then gave me the ultimate kicker. "I will do the last lap with you." What? "I will do the last lap with you if you want me to." How are you going to do that? It is about nine miles and you have never run more than four. "Well I don't suspect you will be running the whole time. If you keep this pace I can do it. And if you run off from me then that will be good for you." I told her several times that she did not have to do this. All the while she continued to walk/trot/shuffle/jog/walk with me.

I then got some energy and started jogging to the next water stop. There she was, right beside me. I was able to drink some coke. Now back to the start area for the long out and back. I walked and trotted some. And there she was. I again told her that this was going to be about 6 or so miles. I'm here.

We get back to the start line. The rest of the crew was standing there cheering me on. Again seeing familiar faces does a body/mind/soul good. Didn't really give me any fuel but it does energize you a little.

Navy Steve then started yelling that I had this. Only a 10k to go. He started going along side me. I started thinking, do I continue with who was with me the last 2 miles or transfer her for Steve. Who was I kidding. I was at the depletion mode. Not much left. I knew that if Steve went with me, my mind would play tricks on me and we would be rolling in the next ditch because I would have had enough. Don't get me wrong Steve. You are an encouraging person and always willing to help. That is needed at times but this was not the time.

I continued on with the final six miles. I was able to drink coke at the water stops. I had to sit down twice and just sit. The course was very dark in spots and that also played tricks on the mind. I made it to the turn around and now it was 3 miles to the finish. There were a couple of more times when I had to stop and bend over with my hands on my knees. I felt a hand on my back but no words were spoken. I knew what it meant. I managed again to trot/jog/walk the final 3 miles.

When I had a little less than a mile to go I had a sudden surge of energy. Do I take off from my pacer to the finish? I looked at my watch and realized that I could still finish in under 15 hours. No. The pacer deserved to be at the finish. I told her that I was going to stop so she could run ahead and tell the girls and everyone else that I was coming. She jogged off.

I started running and caught up to her twice but again stopped. With about 100 yards til the finish I could see that she had made it to everyone and said I was coming. I then ran to the finish. For some reason I again had a sudden burst of energy. Probably because it was about to be over. I was going to finish when just over an hour and a half ago I was ready to throw in the towel.

I crossed the finish line and started getting asked all kinds of questions. I am sure it was medical related. I am not sure what I even said. I could barely talk anyways. They did not cart me off. I got hugs from all. Even C-Steve. I then laid on the ground. I remember looking up at everyone and they were all smiling. I was smiling too. I was so glad it was over. I then had these two guys all of the sudden appear. They asked me if I was okay and did I need to go to the medical tent. I said I was fine. For the last 10 miles all I wanted to do was lay down and here I lay.

As I said before, this race was more challenging than I thought it would be. All the way around. It challenged my mind, body and soul. The swim and bike seemed to be a breeze. The run caught up to me sooner than I wanted it to. I thought back about someone telling me I should run more after I bike. I will next time Jan. There were 100's of people, places and things going through my mind the last 15 hours. I would be lying if I didn't say that was the case the last 10 months.

Could I have finished the race without a pacer? Probably, but "things happen for a reason" so I hear.

I was asked later how I feel. One of the emotions was disappointment. I was upset at my marathon time. At times I felt like I was giving up to easy. I was told that I finished it. That was the important thing. I still don't buy that. If I did, then I would not strive to do better next time. Next time?

I would again like to thank my family for being there for over 16 hours. My friends for showing up and providing support. Elton, who was the biggest surprise of all, Tom, Kathy, Tanya, Veronica, Jan, C-Steve, Steve and Ben. I would also like to thank those that trained with me. Jan and Karin for the swims. Steve, Casey, Jan, Dave, Jess, Sean for the rides. And Tiesto for the runs. And yes I did go to McDonalds afterwards but all I had was a chocolate shake.

Well hell let's do this again next year. I have signed up for Ironman Florida Nov 3, 2012. Wish me luck. Seems I may not need it next time. Just sayin'.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Prelude To The Final Lap

I feel it necessary to give a little history before posting the final lap of my GFT marathon.

At the start of this year for private reasons, I moved out of my house. It wasn't like a "hey I am going out to get a pack of smokes" move. It was what was needed at the time. I stayed in the local area so I could still spend time with my girls who I love dearly and always will regardless of how they feel about their father at times. I know how important it is to be there for them having grown up myself, for the most part, without a father in my life. And the fact they are girls, it's even more important to have a father deeply involved in their lives.

Not long after I moved, I got involved in a project. A project I was longing for. Sure I have had other projects before but this was going to be a project like no other.

At first I was skeptical. Was I ready? I had doubts that this would be the kind of project I needed. Should I give myself time to sort things out in my life before I put something else on my overflowing plate?

In order for this project to really work, I would need to put the time and effort in to it to reap the benefits. Did I have the time? Was it worth the effort?

This project was starting to take time away from my girls. I did not want this to happen but hopefully they would understand. I would make it up to them for the lost time on other days. The problem is, I may not get those opportunities to make it up. They are getting older and one will be off to college soon. I didn't want any "cats and the cradle."

The project was starting to take it's toll on me. Gone were the occasional times together. We were together six, sometimes seven days a week at up to eight hours on some days. I was so wanting to sleep in at times. Take a day away. Maybe back out. The project did its fair share of pushing back. Making me want to throw in the towel. But again, if I put all I had in to this project it would eventually pay off.

I was starting to notice a physical change for the good. And so were others. Maybe it was the lack of home cooked meals and the cutting back on visits to Brasstap or World of Beer. Nope. I will have to say it was the project.

The project was also starting to affect me mentally. Making me doubt myself. Was it me? Was I doing something wrong? Did I need to try something different or just stay on course and let it all come together.

My girls started wondering why I wasn't around as much on the weekends as before. Why I was so tired. Why I would fall asleep on the couch when visiting. I finally had to tell them about this project. I had them sit at the kitchen table. I told them it was time I take on a new challenge. Something to test myself. And it may also be something to take my mind off of all the other stuff going on around me. What is it they asked.

I have signed up for an ironman/ultra triathlon. Wow. They were more excited than I thought they would be. I told them the training was going to take a lot more of my time. Much of this time will be away from them. They seemed to be okay with it. At first I thought since I was out of the house they were already moving on. Maybe writing me off. I did not want that to happen. It's tough to see them pretty much everyday of their lives and then maybe 3-4 times a week. I know your saying, "hey, that was your decision there mister." Yeah I know but it was still hard.

I told them I could call off the project if they felt I was not being the daddy they wanted. Start another one a year or so from now. Again they were encouraging. Their mother was also supportive and always has been. She felt it was time and if it made me happy then give it my best.

I again reminded them to let me know if they felt I was slacking on my daddy duties. "I will be the first to let you know," the oldest told me. The thing about her is that she doesn't hold back.

I am reminded of something a friend of mine told me. He said he saw my oldest one at her job. He asked about me and she said, "My daddy is out riding his bike all day. He is training for one of those ironman races." He said she was smiling when she said this. For that I knew everything would be okay. In the long run.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Part 4. Miles 1-17

So I left off with me getting off the bike feeling pretty good.


My run gear bag was given to me and I again entered the changing tent. I sat in a chair and took a deep breath realizing I was almost there.


I recently purchased sleeves for my calves for the marathon. I had worn some compression socks before and they did not bother me. I know people say that you shouldn’t wear or try something new for a race but I have been and will always be known as someone who doesn’t listen to “people.”


I also ordered some new spandex shorts from Spandees.com for the run. For some reason I tend to wear costumes, of some sort, to races or events. It just happens to work out that way. I figured I needed something to stand out during the run so there was no problem finding me. I talked to the owner of the company and we are working on something special for the Women's Half.

In the sport of triathlons, you can make up or lose valuable time in transition. A fast transition they say. Well here I am going to have to put on spandex shorts and compression sleeves while sweating and in a rush. So much for the fast transition.

Prior to putting my shorts on, I applied a half stick of Glide all over the twins and such. The shorts were easy to get on. I had worn and ran in them twice during the week just to make sure there were not going to be any issues. At least not for four miles. I did put some other shorts in my essential needs run bag just in case.

The next challenge was putting on the compression sleeves. They were brand new. I dyed them red the day before but other than that they were fresh out of the box. It must have taken five minutes to put each one on. I then put my socks on and realized I should have put my socks on first and then the sleeves. I did mention earlier that I learned many things during this race.
I put my shoes on. Put all my bike stuff in the run bag. The only bottle of sunscreen in the tent was empty. I took my bag out and then dug a can of sunscreen out of my bike bag. I sprayed myself good and headed out to some fresh cheers.

I ran to the port o let first to do a pee check. Uh oh. A little darker than before. Not good but no panic. I then headed out for the 26.2 of joy. I was currently on pace for a sub 13 hour finish. But who was counting?


The run course was three out and backs of the same length. The first out and back was about two miles and the other out and back was a 10k ish. The first short out and back was easy. Just warm the legs up and drink water. Seemed and felt easy enough.





I then passed the finish area to start the first of three long out and backs. I was met by Steve who had put age and race numbers on his calves. This was to appear that he was a participant. Although I appreciated his willingness to help/pace, I told him that it was too early for him. I would need him later like maybe during lap three. I just asked if I could use his Garmin. He gave it to me. It was different than the one I have so I did not try to change what was showing.


It was at the second water stop, just past mile 3, that I started walking. I only walked through the water stop and then picked it up again. I walked again through the next water stop. I then started noticing that the watch I was given would beep every time I walked. Not fair Steve. Now I started thinking, “oh great. Steve is going to be able to analyze my walk/run/walk/walk/trot/shuffle and I would hear about it later.” Later to me would be several days after the race. I found out that later was when I gave him the watch back at the end of lap one.

At about mile eight, I first began to notice that the marathon was going to be longer than I expected. I tried to eat a gel and could not. As soon as the liquid got in my mouth, I spit it out. I grabbed a few pretzels and was barely able to eat part of one. I knew I had to get some calories in. I was still able to drink which was a good thing.

As I was finishing my first lap, I saw another familiar face. Ben. Thanks again Ben. He had stopped by on his way to Orlando just to give me some shouts and take some pics. I want to reiterate that it does give you a bit of a boost when you see people you know on the course, especially when they have gone out of their way to get there. I heard Jan say as I ran by, “he still looks pretty good.” Little did she know.
Another encouraging word was when I heard some ladies say my shorts were the best ones they had seen all day. One mission accomplished.

I then headed back on the long out and back stretch. I was still walking through the water stops and then running, all be it at a slow pace. It was already starting to get dark. It was at about mile 15 or so that I started getting sick to the stomach. I think I filled up on liquid and it was not being absorbed. I began to walk when not at water stops now. I started to walk or stagger as if I had a few drinks. I still had my shorts on so it was only as if I had 2-3 drinks and not 4. I started feeling sleepy and just wanted to lay down.


I again tried to drink and eat something at one of the water stops. I could not. I was debating on throwing up but I had never done that in a race before and was not sure how I would feel afterwards. I also did not want to be seen by a medic and risk the possibility of being taken off the course.

The thought of quitting was definitely on my mind. I leaned over and put my hands on my knees. A golf cart with a medic just happened to ride up.


To be continued…..

Friday, October 28, 2011

Great Floridian Part 3 (The Bike)

I left off with a visit to the strippers. Probably the shortest amount of time I have ever spent with a stripper. And it didn't cost me a dime.

I trotted to the changing tent. I was given my bike gear bag before going in. Once inside, I found a chair and changed clothes. I decided to wear biking shorts to give me the extra padding for the ride. I also put on a cycling jersey which gave me three pockets to put food/gels in. Spandex/cycling clothes are always a struggle to put on when you are wet and in a rush. I also had to put my wetsuit in a separate bag and put everything in another bag.

I finished dressing and headed out to my bike. I surprisingly had to pee but I guess it was a good thing as far as hydration goes. I ran to the port o let first. I was not going to pee all over my bike while on the course. My pee was still clear so that was a good sign.

I also had put on my Garmin during this time. I kept pushing the on button but it wouldn't come on. It had happened before but I forgot what buttons I pushed to get it back working. Oh well.

I grabbed my bike and started running it towards the bike start. I then saw that my girls had moved to this area. Again they were holding signs encouraging their "daddy". As I was mounting my bike, I told them, "I can't get my Garmin to work." I found out later that for some reason my oldest thought I said, "I am having cardiovascular farts." Now I can not figure out how that sounds like the other but okay. My oldest was not sure what that was but thought it sounded serious. So much so that she called her aunt and had her do a Google search to see what it was and how it would affect my race. Turns out there is no such condition. Whew for me and anyone behind me.

The bike course was no surprise to me. I was able to ride the course several times during the summer. I learned numerous lessons during those rides. Lessons about nutrition. Pace. Heat. Bike skills. Hills. Hydration. Myself. Relationships. Which bike to use. Gearing preference. Who's your daddy?

The start of the bike has several short climbs through a neighborhood. Just enough to get your legs a little tired. I had to concentrate on pace. That was my main goal. Of course with the adrenaline and fresh legs my pace was quicker than I wanted. I was averaging over 21 thru the first 10-15 miles. I then backed it off once I got on a long 8 mile stretch in to the wind.

The bike course is three laps. The first lap includes Sugarloaf which is a long steep climb as hills in Florida go. I was glad I decided to go with an 11-28 rear cassette and a compact crank. The climb up Sugarloaf was not bad at all. Again familiar faces holding signs and giving cheers. Although it appeared the 2 hours sleep was catching up to the oldest.

I made a point to drink and eat something about every 20 minutes. The weather was not as hot as it had been in the past so this at times caused me to forget to drink. I also learned that the cooler weather will cause the energy waffles to harden like candy. Just put it in your mouth and let it melt. Either that or put it inside my shorts to soften it up. I tried the first method and that seemed to work.

I made it in to complete the first loop in just over 2 hours. I stopped at the bike essential bag area just to re-up on some gels. I was also mauled by some very friendly BRA women. They tried to assist me with some of my stuff but I warned them to step back so it didn't appear I was getting assistance. I did not know how strict the rules were going to be enforced.

Off on my second loop to the cheers of Go Gators. This is because I was wearing a University of Georgia cycling jersey and here I was in Gator territory.

I slowed down to about 18-19 mph for my second loop. I was still full of energy but kept mentally reminding myself to slow my pace. As I was told, "if you feel you are going to fast, slow down. If you feel you are going too slow, slow down."

One thing I forgot to do at the changing area was to put on sunscreen. Every water stop I came to I was asking for sunscreen. I was always told they did not have any. There were some pretty pale volunteers out there. I am not sure if they had it and just weren't allowed to give it to me. At some point I was going to rub a banana all over me just to block the sun. At the end of lap 2 I was able to get some sunscreen. I lathered up and headed out for lap 3.

You never realize how long 112 miles is until you do it alone. Sure you have other cyclists that you ride up to and chat with or ride up to you and chat. The sucky part is when they ride on by you like your not even pedalling. I so wanted to try and hop on their wheel but no drafting in triathlons.

So all these miles and so much on my mind. I had to remain focused. Not think about the time other than every 20 minutes for fueling. I will admit that at the top of every hill and the completion of every turn, I was looking for a familiar face. Hoping there was that extra encouraging word. A witness to the madness.

I did see three familiar faces at the top of one of the last climbs. Turns out I saw them before they saw me. Jan, C-Steve and Navy Steve. I knew they were coming over to watch. Jan had told me they would try to see me during the bike. She had picked out a spot to wait but because of my fast swim time, Navy Steve had to change all his algorithms for my bike leg and they weren't sure if I had passed already. Again seeing a familiar face(s) does give you some extra mental energy. I stopped and gave them my Garmin to see if they could get it working. I really wanted it for my run.

I made it in off the bike in under 7 hours and still felt pretty good. I gave my bike to one of the volunteers. Took my shoes off and ran to the changing tent.

Part 4. A marathon now?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

GF Part 2. The Swim...No One Said There Were Strippers








I want to dedicate this Chapter to Jan. She has helped me train during the swim portion of this journey. A little advice here and there, usually not about swimming, but mainly her willingness to drive a two hour round trip once a week to meet me at St Pete Beach for an open water two mile swim. I would be remiss if I also didn't thank Karin for riding/driving as well.







Before the swim, I was asked what my swim time would be. I was not sure because I had never swam 2.4 miles for time. Surely I swam in the pool for what seemed like back and forth for ever but that was never an accurate timed workout. And our weekly open water swims always had a "quality" chat session at the halfway point. So I was guessing on the safe side it should be under an hour and a half.




As previously posted, I was distracted just before the start of the race by the Morning BRA Shift. I kind of think this helped keep my nerves steady. I then heard the 30 second countdown and made my way to the start. The water was reported as 71 degrees. And it was pretty calm as well. All the male and female competitors were to start together.




The gun went off and I walked out to start this journey. I was in no hurry because it was going to be a long swim. Easy steady strokes. Two laps of 1.2 miles. To me this would make the swim seem not as long. Two laps would give me a mental break.




Although this was a small wave compared to some of the larger ones at St Anthony's, I felt crowded in the beginning. I could not get a good stroke going. The water was pretty clear but I still could not see swimmers in front or beside me. I kept having to wade and reposition myself. When I do these swims, I always reach out as far as I can for two reasons. The first is to lengthen my stroke and secondly I am reaching out for the person in front of me. I was hoping the swimmer in front of me did not think they were being violated. I had to grab her leg several times just to move her to the side. I say her because the women were wearing pink caps.




As it always seems to happen in the long swims, at about 400 yards in to it, I started getting that "this is a long swim" feeling. That onset of a panic attack. I quickly brushed that aside with the knowledge that I was wearing a wetsuit and I ain't here to drown.




Before I knew it I was coming to shore for the end of the first lap. I do not look at my watch while swimming so I had no idea what my time would be. Much to my surprise as I stood out of the water to cross the timing mat for the first time, it was just under 34:00 minutes. What the hell. I did not feel like I was swimming that fast and since there were times I got clogged up I figured it would have been around 40. I then saw my girls standing on the dock holding homemade posters saying "go daddy go." I think they were just as surprised by my time. The ink was probably still wet.






I took a gel from my wetsuit. Ate it and chased it with some water. I then looked out over the lake again just to make sure I didn't skip any buoys. It did not look like I did. I figured the second leg should be a little easier since the field had spread out. Never assume they say. I found the need to work on my zigzag swimming this lap. I kept swimming too far outside the buoys. A handy tip from me to you. Don't always follow the swimmer off to your side. They may also be working on their zigzag skills.




Stood up at shore for the end of lap two. 2.4 miles down. I again looked at my watch and was surprised. Under 1:10 total. I did not feel like I was swimming fast. Steady strokes is all I was doing. Not winded at all. I felt very good at this point. AT THIS POINT.




I started running up the beach and then realized there was no need for me to run at this point. I came up to this area where there were several girls standing around wearing matching shirts. One of them asked me if I needed any help. I said, help with what? Your wetsuit. Oh yeah these are the strippers. That was helpful. I then headed to the changing tent.




Part 3. Bike Leg (Who Froze My Waffles?)

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Great Floridian Report. Part 1 (Before the Race)

I know right off the bat your thinking, "Part 1? We know how your Ragnar reports were. Far and few between when broken up." I promise this will not be the case. I have broken them up because this was one hell of a long race. Not only the distance but the time. The time it took to do it and also the time it took to prepare. Many thoughts were going through my mind while I was on this journey. Both on and off the course.

I fell asleep around 10ish the night before. I set my alarms for 4 a.m. I was supposed to try and eat a 1200-1500 calorie breakfast at least 3 hours before the race. I started with a vanilla Ensure shake. These are great and have 250 calories. I then ate a banana, some yogurt and a bagel with honey. My room did not have a microwave for oatmeal so I figured I would use the coffee maker to heat some water. Turns out the coffee maker did not work. Hot tap water was next. Whoops. No bowl. I rinsed out the yogurt container and used it as a bowl. I love to camp and can improvise. The water didn't even get hot enough to soak in to the oatmeal. It was like eating a mushy peaches and cream flavored cookie. I had one more Ensure while taking a shower. I still could have used an assistant but I managed.

Off to the show. I usually try to get to tri's about an hour and a half before transition closes. I would rather be too early than rushing around. I had some time to spare for this one because my bike was racked the day before. I did not have to set up anything in transition except put some bottles on my bike. I just needed to hang my gear and essential needs bags. I ended up with about an hour to spare. What to do. It was still dark out.

Even though I reluctantly made a list, I still felt like I was missing something. I went back to my bags and double checked them just to make sure all I needed for the race was packed. Seems all was there.

I still had that need for something. Aah, my ipod. I was parked pretty close to transition so I walked back to the car. Put my music on. I felt pretty good and full of energy. For some reason I had no butterflies. I started drinking some water. I put my wetsuit on and had a gel at about 7:10. I made my way to the start.

I then spotted my family. They had just arrived I was told. The girls had Homecoming the night before. I told them they could have waited until later in the day to come over because I knew they would be tired. I heard my oldest say, "I am doing pretty good on 2 hours sleep. I didn't get to bed until 3 a.m." On any other morning I would have been like, "what!?! Seems I need to take your boyfriend on a trip." I was so focused that her comment didn't even register until later in the race. I gave hugs to all and went for a very short dip in the lake.

As I was coming out of the water, I heard some familiar voices yelling my name. It was Tom, V, Tanya and Kathy from BRA. They had come over for the early shift to wish me luck.

I was getting some pictures taken by Tom when I heard the 30 second count down to the start. I turned and walked into the water. Put my goggles on and set my watch. I may have helped that I didn't have time to stand with my toes in the water getting all nervous about the swim.

Part 2. The Swim...But I Wasn't Trying To Go Fast.

Friday, October 21, 2011

And Here She Is

So my journey to the Great Floridian has arrived. In under 12 hours I should be in the water giving it stroke for stroke. It has been a long injury free training session. Suppose we shall see how it has all paid off.




Today was spent getting my things together from my list. I did say list. I was convinced to make a list for this race since I was going to be solo the day/night before the race. I tell you, there sure is a lot of stuff needed for an Ultra Triathlon. I packed all the stuff in my Civic and headed out. I was of course running late. I had to get songs for my ipad. Priorities. I also had to take my bike to the bike shop just for a quick once over. All seems to be fine.

I got to the check in and got my packet. I was given 6 plastic bags to put more stuff in. A bike gear bag. A wetsuit bag. 2 special needs bags for the bike. A run gear bag. A special needs bag for the run. Special needs? What the heck. Turns out this is for any supplements that you like that they aren't using. Or dry clothing if you wish to change during your run. I am debuting some "funky" shorts for the run. I may put some different shorts in my run special needs bag. As a matter of fact I will put some different shorts in there.

I put my packet back in my car and decided to take a swim. I had already gotten a short run and bike in before I left home. It was time for me to be one with the lake. I was told the water was hovering around 72 degrees. Definitely wetsuit legal. After I got my wetsuit on, I stood at the waters edge and stared at the lake. I said, "Lake. I am staring at you." The water felt great. A little choppy because of the wind. The buoys were not put out yet so I was not stressed about the visual distance.

I got my bike together and put it on the rack. They had to be racked the day before. We were allowed to take care of our bags in the morning if we choose. I chose. I then headed out to dinner. Spaghetti for me. Also had two garlic knots but hopefully that won't make a difference on the wrong side of the clock tomorrow.

It is only natural to wonder if I trained enough. Did I swim all I could? Could I have bike a few more miles? Should I have logged more miles with Tiesto? Did I eat all the right things? Did I get enough sleep. Hell I should be sleeping now. The good thing is I had no significant injuries during all the training. All I can do now is put my toes on the line and give it the best I can. Many have asked what my finish time will be. What time do you want to finish in. I say to them, "I just want to finish. They are giving me 17 hours."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

HELP WANTED: APPLY WITHIN

I have never been a fan of “lists”. I don’t make them. I don’t follow them. And I most definitely pay for it. Sometimes. Okay, more often than not in my old age.

The sport of triathlon requires lists. There’s more than just putting on your running shoes and waiting for the gun to go off. You have to have your stuff for the swim. Your stuff for the bike. Your bike. Your running stuff. All your eats and drinks. Your pre and post race entertainment. And apparently for the out of town events you need to book a hotel room way in advance.

For those of you that know me or have read my Ragnar recaps, you know that I tend to wait til the last minute and may or may not forget things. I may have had to take Van 2 back to my house 3 times to get some things. They were important things though like an ipod, a power converter for Christmas lights, Ax and a costume or two.

I was reminded recently that I needed to make a list for the Great Floridian. Lists are no fun. I know, I know. Lists are less dramatic and just lay there on the table and keep to themselves. That’s why I don’t like lists. Lists can’t talk to you. Can’t listen to you. Can’t encourage you. Can’t sit across from you at dinner. Can’t tuck you in the night before a big race. Can’t make sure you don’t oversleep the morning of one of the most important and longest races of your life. Can’t make you coffee. Can’t keep you focused before the race. And they can’t give you a good luck kiss on the cheek while at the waters edge.

Yesterday before my long swim, I was talking to Jan and I told her that all the hotels in Clermont were sold out. “You haven’t booked a room! I told you a long time ago that you should book a room. You need an assistant. I know how you are and lists just won’t be enough. You need to start packing today when you get home.” I agree on everything she said. Especially the assistant part. I do need an assistant.

I was going to get my girls to assist but when I reminded them of when the race was I heard this. “Daddy it is homecoming that night. Are you kidding? This is my last one and her first one.” Well you see where I ranked with them. They are going to show up later the next morning.

I am asking for the services of someone to be an assistant for less than 24 hours. The tucking in and kiss on the cheek are optional. You will have an all expense paid trip to Clermont. Dinner, breakfast and the race festivities. You could even do your long run that Saturday morning if need be. There are no contracts or waivers to sign. If interested please consult your physician, attorney or cleric before contacting me. Viewing everything live is probably better than reading it in a book.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Can I Borrow Your Soap?


I was finally down to my last long workout session week. My last long swim before the race. Now I say long swim only because it is a 2 miler. I will swim a couple more 2000 yarders before the race but I don’t consider those long swims anymore. Not too sound like I am bragging but after swimming 2 miles in open water, 2000 yards in a pool in nothing. Well I will say it is still kind of boring.

A while back I moved my long swims to the mornings because the open water conditions were better compared to the afternoon/evening. The winds were calmer which made for better swimming. The evening swims were like being in a washing machine. It was not fun which made me want to skip the swims. The other alternative was swimming in a pool. Back and forth I go. The story of my like it seems lately. Comparatively, the pool swims really aren’t that bad I suppose.



Since I moved my long swims to the mornings, I needed someone to swim so I wouldn’t be alone in the event something happened. Can’t trust the tourists. That’s some bad hat Harry. I was able to recruit a couple of ladies to swim with me, Jan and Karin. I like to call them “shark bait”. They make the two hour round trip a week to swim. I like to think it is to assist me in my training and give moral support but I know they get as much of a work out as I do.

I was hoping that this swim was going to be another smooth one. Nope. Recent weather put a damper on that dream. I look out at the water and it always looks calmer when standing on the shore. There were some waves as you can see in the picture but they were very deceiving. We got our wetsuits on and headed in. It always seems that we debate on who is going to start swimming so we talk for another ten minutes. I hope I don’t do this for my race. You know, “train like you’re going to race.”

During our swims we usually check on each other on the way up and the way back. It was especially important that we did it this time. The water was a bit choppy. I would swim ahead and then stop to see how they were doing. Everyone was fine all the way up.

Half way through we again would yap for a few more minutes and then head back south. I was 8 minutes faster on the way back. That is even with checking on them. It is so funny how we end up outside of each other. Inside of each other. Ahead. Behind. Thank goodness the tri swims have those big orange floaty things to sight on.


Once the swim is over it is now my favorite time. Showering with the ladies. Okay, I know it is outside but not many people can say they shower with two women once a week. In all seriousness, I am very appreciative of those two for giving me company during the long swims. They both want to continue this weekly adventure until the water is too cold. I am in. If only I could keep up with Jan on the long runs I wouldn’t be doing those with only Tiesto.

I have realized that I am starting to increase my confidence on this race. I have no set time goals other than under 17 hours. It’s my first and as of now will not be my last. I have a whole new perspective on triathlons, the training and the results I see. I also have a new list of races that I want and will do.

Coming soon: “The Death of a Captain. Or Early Retirement.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I ain't racin' ya....

Have you ever had one of those training days when you feel rushed or forgetful or downright delirious? I think I just had one of those this past Saturday.

My plan for the weekend was to get one last long ride in on Saturday. I would then back it up on Sunday with a 20 mile run. That was my plan.

On Friday night, I had my tri bike in the shop until well after closing. Seems she was wanting to be considered for my upcoming race. She needed some overhauling first. A new headset, a compact crank and a new chain. I was told that my bike was quit the project. So much so that cutting tools had to be used to take the old headset and spacers off. Minor surgery was the term used. Seems the combination of my sweat and the humidity can wreak havoc on the lady parts. A water hose and leaf blower just doesn’t clean her good enough. Again I would like to thank both Ron and Dave at Brandon Bikeworks for their assistance and patience. It was a rough first date for them.

There was a low in South Florida that was going to bring some lovely weather in to the area for the weekend. I woke up and checked the weather. It was already raining in Clermont so plan B had me going to San An. Little did I know there would be 20-25 mph winds once I got there. Cheers for me.

I get to San An and realize I forgot my Garmin. Great. I also forgot my gels. Great. I only had two bottles of fluid. Great. I forgot my earphones for my ipod. Great. I get on my bike and realize my computer is not working. Great. Good thing I already know the route and the approximate miles. I need an assistant.

I know my long ride plans are not supposed to include any pulling, drafting or sprints. Well there were these three guys that I passed on a downhill within the first couple of miles. They then hooked on my wheel and started drafting me. They evidently were not aware of my plan. I broke away a little on a short climb and then they started to catch up. I stopped at an intersection and let them get ahead.
I caught back up and passed them again on a downhill. That aero bar downhill position is great. I then dropped a water bottle. Only had two so I had to stop and get it. The three rode by with one of them saying, “bad luck to you.” Oh is this a race now. I catch up again when one of the guys was telling one of the other cyclists that he should get a compact crank and a bigger cassette. Hey I just did that. I get ahead of them again with a pretty good lead until I start to climb a steep hill. As I shift to the small gear up front, the chain does not shift in to the ring. It stays right in the middle and I spin, spin, spin until I almost stop. I get off the bike and start messing with the chain. This is why I test ride bikes now before my races. Of course the three of them get ahead of me. The cat and mouse continues until another climb. On this climb I start to drink when two of the three start to pass. Oh hell no. I just rode Six Gap. I then pass them for the last time and that was it.

I am still on the fence as to which bike to use. I did not get to ride Clermont like I wanted. I shall try again this Saturday or Sunday.

Sunday I had planned on doing a long run. Again due to the weather, I only ran ten. I felt pretty good. Less than two weeks to go. Oh boy. I still feel pretty good and will feel even better if the weather is cool that morning. Too far out for the forecast.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Midweek Update....

The countdown continues for the Great Floridian. Maybe 15ish days to go. I have been tweaking my road bike and tri bike. I have added larger cassettes and now compact cranks. All this for one measly bike ride. I have only two long rides left to decide on which bike to use. I have read blogs and posts and listened to others about this. A road bike is better for climbing but the tri bike may help your legs and upper body for the run. The best comment was, "ride what you feel comfortable on the most."

Last Sunday I took my road bike to Clermont and rode the bike course. All 112 miles and felt damn good when I was done. I will admit that I did not run but could have if I wanted to. I just sat in the shade and drank some orange Powerade and reflected a little. Well actually reflected a lot.

This ride was all about pace again. And I definitely had to ride how I felt because my speedometer was not working. I was wearing my Garmin and tried to do the math to figure out what speed I was averaging. 112 miles in 6:29 hours. Good I suppose. Now I did stop at my car at the end of laps one and two to refuel and eat something. I still felt that on the third lap I was gearing out on some of the climbs. I am currently having a compact crank put on my tri bike. This will give me a 50/32 and an 11/27. This should be perfect for this course.

I have now moved my long run to Saturday morning so I can start adjusting to race day. I ran 10 on Tuesday at an 8:20 pace. Felt good for that run. Still doing most of my running alone. Just works out that way. I have managed to bring Tiesto with me. Not sure if I will be able to sneak him in on the race though. No DJ's allowed. Silly rules.

This morning I did my open water swim. I used my wetsuit, temp was right on the verge, just to make sure it fit properly. For some reason, it fits better now than it did back in April. I swam 2 miles with Jan and Karin. We joke about how we end up talking for a bit before we swim and then again at the mile point when we turn to go back. It seems our conversations at the half way point have gotten longer. I said pretty soon we will have to pack a lunch. I also asked them that since the GF is a two lap swim, could they show up and let's have a chat just before my second lap. You know, race like you train. All in fun though. I thank them for driving the hour to meet me once a week to swim.

I am starting to feel more and more confident about this race. I am not making any predictions because my only goal is under 17 hours. That will be my PR and I will go from there next time around. And there will be a next time.....

Monday, September 26, 2011

Six Gap 2011

Another Six Gap in the books. Or better yet, on the ass and legs and lower back and shoulders and.... I will have to say that this years Gap was better than the last one which was better than the first one. I see some type of pattern developing here. Each year is a learning lesson. More training. Bigger cassettes. This year? Compact crank.

And speaking of bigger cassettes, I must send a special thanks and heartfelt gratitude to Ron and David of Brandon Bikeworks in Riverview, Fla. I had an emergency cassette situation arise three days before leaving for Georgia. Ron assured me that he would do what he could to make sure I make my ride. I felt that he went out of his way to take care of my situation. So much so that I now have a new local bike shop to call home. Not that I plan on sleeping there anytime soon. If you are in the Riverview area and need any bike needs, I strongly suggest you stop by this shop or their brother/sister shop Just Ride in Valrico, Fl.

Now back to the Gap report. As some of you may know, I am training for the Great Floridian. Dare I say it is an ironman distance triathlon. Oh wait, should I have capitalized ironman? Part of my training plan was to use Six Gap as one of my training rides. 112 miles in Clermont should have nothing on 104 miles in the North Georgia mountains. I was also going to use my road bike instead of my tri bike. I am on the fence for which bike to use for the GF. The GF bike course is pretty hilly and does not have many opportunities to be in the aero bars. I will also ride the Clermont course on my road bike a few weeks out just to be sure. And I can always clip on some aero bars.

Why is it that retro rock stations always have to include Steely Dan?

Back to the Gap. This year I decided to go with a 13-29 rear cassette on my bike to help with the climbs. Although last year I did not walk any of the climbs, it was still painful. The walking demon was right on my shoulder teasing me with painless options. I kept a 53-39 crankset. A little too pricey for a Campy compact crankset.

My riding plan was going to be about pacing myself. No drafting on others and that meant no pulling either. I stopped at each rest area to make sure I refueled and ate. I tried not to linger or dance with any strangers. As I said, that was my plan. Well you know what they say about plans and the Hustle.

The weather was great. High 50's to start and low 80's to finish. I had a throw away shirt under my jersey and some arm warmers. A tip from Walt. For arm warmers, I use these Halloween costume fake tattoo sleeves. I have used them in as low as mid 40's temps. Plus they seem to always get a few odd looks from people. Or maybe that is just me.

The first couple of rest stops I just ate some peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Refilled my bottles. One with Heed/Gatorade and the other with water. I was supposed to eat/drink every 20 minutes but that turned out to be difficult when some of the climbs were 30-40 minutes.








I felt good on some of the first few long climbs. I surprised myself when I just got in to a rhythm. Pushed my butt back on the seat and pushed. I was passing a lot of people. Much different than lest year. "I am going to start riding with you now," says my lower back at about mile 50. No worries. I have two little green pills that will hopefully entertain you for a while. Okay shoulders the greenies will visit you as well.









There is one section of the Gap where this is a 10k King of the Mountain contest. A climb of about 1,400 feet in 6 miles. Part of the climb is 11% for a mile. The toughest part of the ride is this section. There is also a rest stop at the halfway point. The problem with this rest stop is that once you leave you immediately start climbing. Yeah let those legs cool down. Needless to say I was not the KOM again this year. No shame here.

The descent from the top of the first KOM is dangerous. There are signs post warning drivers warning of the steep grade for the next 2 miles. I was going in the mid 30's with my rear brakes on and feathering the front brakes. There were riders pulled off to the side because either their tires were overheating or they were just being cautious. I also found out later that some people who had carbon fiber wheels had failures. The wheels heated up too much and caused cracks and breaks. The good thing is there were no crashes but they were done.

The last descent is from Woody's Gap. It is about 7 miles of all down hill with some winding turns. Nothing real steep but very fun if you are confident in your skills. This day I was. I averaged high 30's and also managed to reach 48 on one stretch. Having the large crank helps.


When I finished the Gap I felt so much better than the first two years. I felt good because I felt good. I have to give some of the credit to the weather. It has been so hot training in Florida that it just drains me so quick. It was good to get a century ride in with no major issues.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's Showdance Time....

Walt has given me the privilege to hijack his blog for a few postings. And now that I have his password, I shall peak in here and there and sprinkle some good words. I will give you my insight on entertainment, happenings, things that may piss me off and whatever else I feel like rambling about.

My first post will be about none other than TEXTING. That's right. The new mode of communicating. Well not so new since there is tweeting.

When did we stop talking to each other? I will admit there are times that I don't want to talk to some people and have no problem with a quick K or LMTFA.

I was out one night at a restaurant with my good friend Kirt doing some people watching. I saw this couple sitting at a table. I could not tell whether they were on a date or not. After they placed their order, she pulled out her cell phone and started texting. I mean really. What was so damn important that it couldn't wait until they left the place? She didn't look like no baby delivering person. Would it have hurt to put the phone in her purse.

What does that say about him. Is he that damn boring that she needed to have a conversation with someone else. I suppose it would be no different than him watching football while she. Well been there done that.

I know this father that has a no cell phone rule while at dinner. Whether it be out or in for dinner. He claims that has worked very well. No phones at the table. He said it is amazing how fast the kids will eat just to get back to the phones.

And texting while driving. Is it really that important to risk your life or someone else's just so you can type where you are going to be in 10 minutes. Call the damn person. It would take less time than typing.

I heard there was this man out west that lost his wife and two teenage daughters in a car wreck. Seems a guy was having an argument with his girlfriend over a misunderstanding of a text interpretation. This guy did not see the red light and plowed right in to the side of a car killing three women. He survived. At least until he was released from the hospital. He has not been seen since. Just sayin'. Is it worth it?

I will admit that I do text and also text while driving. Trying to say I do it at a red light or in traffic really gives me no excuse.

Misinterpretation of texts. I think we do this all the time. How many of you have gotten yourself in to all kinds of hot water because a text was taken the wrong way? People say you can capatalize a text to show emotions. Balogny. Simple words are just that. If that is the case then why aren't books written without punctuation. Or descriptions of surroundings or of the speakers emotions. One hell of a long text if you did that. If you don't understand the text call the person before you start finger banging the phone til you draw blood.

Read again what you type before you send. You can't take it back. Kind of gives you a safety blanket before you text out of anger. Save it in a draft for later if in doubt.

Make sure you are sending the text to the right person. Yikes. I b ther @ 7. I cnt make dnr. wrk late. Guess what happened there. Randolph was busted.

And delete your texts. Do you really need to store them for ever and a day. As a reminder? A reminder of what? Days gone by? Evidence? Do you remember what you texted me 3 weeks ago? Oh you don't. Well look right here. Do you remember now? Well you must have deleted the one that said KMA. I know these new "smart phones" are all the rage but they don't make you any smarter. You never know who is going to happen to use your phone and may see something you did not want to share.

Showdance

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A 20.17 success

For some reason lately, I have been looking forward to my Wednesday long runs. It seems I am having more success on the runs than on the long bike rides. Weird for me because my biking has always been stronger than my running. Funny how things change. I also think it is due to the weather and fluid intake. I am still working on that mess.

New for this week was changing from Gu to Powergel. Powergel is thinner and easier to get down once your knee deep in the hoopla. A Starship reference. I am old. I also needed to drink a lot on Tuesday until I was peeing clear. Success. Even in the middle of the night. Wish I was camping and didn't have to get up to go......

I started out my run just after 5 a.m. The temp was about 68. That was a relief compared to all the other days. The heat has been kicking my ass of late. I should start riding my bike at 5 a.m. I started running with this guy named Phil. I just met him right then. He asked me how far I was going. Twenty I told him. "What?" That is what I used to say when I first started running. I like being able to just throw out the high miles like it is no big deal. Phil told me that he just started back running after taking about seven years off due to an injury he got three weeks out from Boston. He ran the first three with me.

I ran the rest of the miles with Tiesto and Matt Darey. These guys are awesome DJ's in the category of dance/trance/techno. Great running music. And it is free on itunes. Just subscribe to their weekly podcast.

Back to the running report. I felt pretty good the entire run. I will admit their were some aches here and there but whatever. At about mile 16 I was debating on walking a little. But you see, where we run, there are these white lines on the sidewalk that mark quarter miles. I would just count them off knowing how far it was to the water stop. And water stop is exactly that. The only walking was at the water stops today. Nice.

Yesterday I was having some doubts in my head about this whole ironman thing. The crash and burns on the bike. The amount of time it is taking to train. The discipline of not eating at certain restaurants. The cutting back, way back, on craft beer. The time away. I was looking for that one word of encouragement. That repeat of a hillside talk. I do thank those that sent a good word my way.

For some reason I woke up this morning. Actually WOKE UP this morning and realized it has to be me that does the motivating. Although I do appreciate, I really do, the outside encouragement but I can't go asking for it anymore. It has to come to me or from me. And it will no longer bother me if it doesn't come from the outside. Don't want to sound whiney but I have a purpose. The spark has engulfed.

5 1/2 weeks to go.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Almost a fail.....

This past Sunday was another long ride. The plan was to ride the first two loops of the Great Floridian course and then run for about 2-4 miles.

Speedy Jan, Casey, Dave and I all showed up at what will be the start line of the GF. The morning seemed a little cooler but the humidity was still there. I led out the group for the first few miles. I pulled at about 20 mph because I felt good. I of course forgot all about that pacing thing and the 70 or so miles left ahead. I move over and then Jan takes the lead. As she is starting to pass, she says, "remember your pace." As she takes off.

The hard thing about group rides is the pacing pulling part. When you are pulling you want to try to go fast since you are the lead dog. Thinking that everyone behind you also wants to go fast. That is a mistake I have learned in the past. I should have dropped my speed early on. Shame on my as usual.

The first lap included Sugarloaf Mountain. Now it really isn't a mountain but it is a long steady climb for Central Florida standards. We all four made it up that climb pretty much together. I sat the whole time and used my lowest gear. I was giving it all she's got. We regrouped at the top by this house where the owners provide two jugs of water with cups for the cyclists during the weekends.

This is where I learned a new bike term from Casey. "Kit". Seems there was the female rider that arrived just after us. She was on a fancy bike and was wearing this matching black and pink jersey shorts combo. Also bright pink socks. I asked Casey if "kit" was for the bike or the clothes. She said the clothes. I then. Seems this woman raced for the team the she displayed over her body.

We finished the first lap together. We took a break to refuel, potty, eat and then debate. I should have picked up on the clue that during my brief potty break, the color of my pee was the color of burnt corn. Is that good or bad?

Off we went for round two. Pretty much the same as the first one but without Sugarloaf. I again for some dumbass reason started pulling. You would think that the others knew the course by now. But I am a grown damn man and could have pulled off. I pulled at 20 mph again. Once I dropped off, I then decided it was my time to do my own pace. Regardless.

The three of them waited for me at the next major intersection. This happened one more time. I told them not to wait anymore. I very much appreciated it but they should enjoy the a/c of the car soon.

Just outside of Monteverde, I was starting another climb when both my thighs locked up with massive cramps. I quickly unclipped and put my feet down before I fell over into the road. I stood there for what seemed like15-20 minutes. This was probably not good. But this time I was not calling Jan to come get me. "Suck it up" is what I would expect her to say this time around. I walked my bike up the rest of the hill. Other bikers rode by asking if I was okay. "Just a little cramping" is what I said. "I am a dumbass" is what I said to myself.

I stopped at the next convenience store and bought several bottles of cold water and a Powerade. I soon realized that even though this felt good and refreshing, I was past the point of it having any immediate benefit. Mentally yes. Physically no.

I was still able to average about 14 mph for the remainder of the ride. The last hill was the do or die hill. It was a short steep hill and only 1/2 mile from the finish. I again had to get off my bike. I did stay in my aerobars though. It's as if my bike was a walker. I felt like shit and just wanted it over with. The good thing is that once at the top of the hill, all the rest was down hill. I just coasted to the finish. I could see all three of the others sitting in the cars with the a/c on. They get out of the cars and ask me if I am ready to run now.

I stopped my bike. Leaned it against a pole. Unlatched my helmet and let it fall to the grass. Pulled my jersey off and dropped it on the ground. Grabbed a Powerade and walked right to the shower. I was beat down. Fail for this day. I was sort of glad to hear the others say that they also felt dehydrated. Maybe they were just saying nice things to me at this point.

All I was thinking was that I would have to ride one more lap and then run a marathon. Yay for me. Shit that ain't happening today if this was race day. Jan assures me that race day will be different and that it was hot out today. That is what I keep thinking.

Later that night I looked over this article I had printed that gave me a nutritional guideline for the bike during an Ironman. The only portion of that article that I passed was the showing up on time part. This is why we practice.

On a possitive note. I did have a good open water 2 mile swim on Monday. I stopped a couple of times during the second mile because my nose was burning due to the salt water. The swim seems to be the least of my worries. Oh well. A 20 mile run in the morning.

I know. I have been drinking all day today.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Guest Blogger....

I have been requested to allow a new friend the opportunity to post on this here blog. His name is Showdance Mercury. I met him several months ago at a SYTYCD watch party. Turns out we have several things in common. I told him about my blog and he said he would love an avenue to vent and share his views and observations of things in life. He told me the other day that he is finally ready to post something. I may have messed up by giving him my password but I can just change it if he gets too crazy. I told him to not name names. If he quotes someone be able to back it up. But he does have the freedom to keep you guessing.

Look for Showdance here soon.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thursday

I got on a tear there with my posts. So many so soon was driving me crazy. Well not me crazy. The two or three people that read my posts were overwhelmed. So I heard.

Updates on my Great Floridian training. I took Monday off since it was my oldest's 18th birthday. Yikes. 18 already. Now an official adult. Although, she has told me for years that she is all grown up. She was trying to figure out things she could do now that she is 18. The one thing she came up with, "I can now buy fireworks." That's good enough since I don't allow clubbing.

Tuesday morning I was going to swim and then spin. Due to lightning in the area, the pool was closed for another hour when I got to the Y. I had to spin first (boring) and then swim. I had a pretty good brick out of this even though it was a reversed brick.

Wednesday was going to be my Tackle The 20 Miler morning. Again due to weather, strong thunderstorms and lightning, I had to skip my long run for the morning. I was not going to run 20 miles on the treadmill. Not to say there is anything wrong with that. Well actually, there is something wrong with that. Have at it you freaks. I decided to run after work. I only ran 10 miles but I ran at an 8:15 pace. I will lengthen my Saturday run to 10-12 instead of the normal 7.

This morning I rode with Speedy Jan and her group. I think it was about 33 miles or so. I stayed off the back so I could stay in the aero bars. All this for race preparation.

This weekend I will do the first two laps of the GF bike course which is probably 70 or so miles. I would like to push it to 90 but we shall see. I should get a run in after the bike. This time I will make sure I have my shoes.

Hope everyone has a good weekend in whatever you do.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Weekend Success

I will have to say that I had a very successful training weekend. Here is how it ran and rolled.

Saturday morning I wanted to get up over an hour early before my run just to experiment again with nutrition. I got up just under an hour. I still drank an Ensure still knowing that I could be setting myself up for a 5k dash. I had debated on running at the Saturday start for the 10 miler but that extra 20 minutes of sleep is so valuable to me right now. I met at the Y. I started running with the faster group this time. I would like to think it is because I am getting faster. But they will tell me it's because they are deciding to take it easy today. Just who do they think they are....

I managed to average my first 3.6 or so at a 7:45 pace. Hello Ensure. I didn't forget about you. Honest, I didn't.

I then started the second leg with the fast group again. I dropped back a little because my mind was questioning what I was doing with this group. "You know you ain't supposed to be here." I fought the desire to slow and drop off the back. I ended up finishing that loop and the total 7 at an 8:15ish pace. I felt very good.

I met the group at Panera and had some good conversation about all kinds of stuff. Green Eggs and Ham reading, Frisbee is part of tailgating and how exciting someone is to be a 2 hour pacer for the Women's Half Marathon.

Sunday was my long ride. I met several guys at the Suncoast Trail. We headed out for a 78 mile ride. There was five of us and then after about 3 miles, there was four of them. They took off well above the pace I wanted to go. I again needed to keep my own pace for my GF training. I finished feeling pretty good physically and mentally. I concentrated even more on my nutrition and pace. I got back to the start and was going to run 4 miles. For some reason I felt even better when I realized I left my running shoes in my other car. Darn. I don't run barefoot. Not right now.

Only 45 days to go and the Dawgs suck. Fire Richt.