Thursday, November 15, 2012


Wow.  This is long overdue.. I had a draft of this sitting around for a while.. Anyways, without further ado:

Marathon #1 is in the books!

I got up pretty damn early Sunday.. Just as well, since I couldn't sleep.  Unlike the half marathon this spring, I wasn't confident I was going to crush this race.  (Well, not the race itself, but my goals for it).  My 20 milers had been, well, sub-par.  The longest I had run was 20 miles.  Until 4 months ago, I wasn't even planning on running a marathon this year.

For prep, I made sure to taper, carbo-load, and all of that good stuff coming into the race.  I even abstained from the drink for a week!

As you can see, the elevation is generally downhill, but pretty flat overall:

Major props go to my inlaws for coming over and watching mini-Raul for the better part of the day.  Mrs. Raul came with me to the race, and I was stoked about that.  Her first showing at a race!  I gave her a printout of possible viewing locations, and the general direction of "each of these seems to be right off of the highway", and left her to it.  Huge props to Mrs. Raul for truly making the most of what little I gave her.

So, I had decided the 4 hour goal was ridiculous. I was comfortable running a 9:45 pace, and that's what I would shoot for.  Walk the water stations, drink 2 gatorades at each, and a Gu every 45 minutes.

It was cold in the morning.  I was shivering in a tank and shorts.  Damn cold.  There were probably 2000 runners. I haven't seen the official count, but that's in the ballpark.  The course winds through a few small towns, and a lot of back roads.  5 years ago, there were about 500 runners, so it's really expanded.

The race started just a couple of minutes past 8. Close enough to the official start time for me.  It's truly amazing that with pace signs up and everything, people still can't line up to where they should be running.

I got off to an appropriate start, and was quite befuddled to see the 10:07 pace sign ahead of me.   I think the pacers started out pretty fast.

Miles 1-3 were uneventful.  After here, people were in the right spots.

Mile 4 became eventful.  My left knee started a familiar tinge to it.. A little ITB rubbing.  Eh, shizz.  Well, there's no where to go but forward.  I'll stick with the plan.

There were a few marked spots for easy runner sightings.. Mrs. Raul nailed those.  She found them all with minimal directions.  Talk about a boost seeing someone you know.

So, I kept up with my pace for the next few miles.  Nothing terribly eventful. I did get trapped near some run-walkers which was irksome.. Not the fact that they were doing that.. it was the fact that when their watches went off to walk, they would start walking.  Immediately.  Not moving to the side or anything.  Sigh.  Eventually, we got far enough apart from each other for my tastes.

At the 13.1 mark, I found it pretty incredible.  This was going to be my longest race.  I wasn't on pace for a particular time, and I could feel the wheels getting a little shaky.  Oh well.. we were in it for the long haul.  Besides, at this point, someone was crossing the finish line, first place was well out of reach. :)

I kept slugging Gatorade and water.  2 Gatorades per station, plus 1 water.  In retrospect, this was too much. I had to stop and pee way too often.  On the upside, I didn't have any muscle cramps that plagued my training runs.  Good data point to have there.

I didn't really talk with too many people.. I was just taking it in and having fun.  I did talk with one runner who said this was her 10th marathon or so.. She informed me that "they all hurt". Sigh.

Around mile 19, things were really tightening up. I had adjusted my stride and gait a bit to compensate for my ITB/knee area.. As a casual observer might suspect, that leads to other issues.   My hip flexor hurt.  Like hell.

I kept it up... Around mile 20 was the last time I'd see Mrs. Raul.  This was the point in the race that I call "The Darkness".  There's a picture of me, and it's me heading into the darkness.  The ache, the delirium.  Wow.  I remember giving Mrs. Raul a low-5 before heading down a slight hill.. that's when the wheels fell off.

The downward bit was enough to seriously aggravate my flexor, and I started some serious walking.

Over the next few miles, there was major walking.  There was a public park we ran through around mile 23.. I was looking forward to this before the race.. I thought that would be a nice break from running along the roads, etc.  O.M.G.  The Darkness.

I was pretty nutty around mile 24.. I thought my watch had turned off, and I had no idea what time I had, if I was on track for anything, etc.

In all seriousness, I did realize around mile 22 that I would finish.  I was having serious running issues, but I could walk at a pretty decent clip.  It wasn't going to be a stellar 10K to finish it out, but I would finish this beast.

I got to the last mile and did my best to do more running.. some of the spectators were encouraging me to go for it.. I had to tell them that I had one last dash left, and I was saving it for the finish line.

Ah yes, the sweet finish line.  There was a quarter mile or so stretch down the main street in town.  When I saw that big inflated finish chute, I was stoked.  I was here.  I had enough to finish, and finish strong.

Bam!  Done!  4:38.  Turns out my watch was never stopped.

Splits were:
Miles 1-9: 9:46, 9:48, 9:31, 9:33, 9:39, 9:39, 9:28, 9:39, 10:43 (pee break)
Miles 10-14: 9:34, 9:43, 9:30, 9:40, 10:03 (another pee break)
Miles 15-19: 9:28, 9:26, 9:37, 10:29 (way too hyrdated pee break), 9:28
Miles 20-26+: 10:44, 11:16, 12:15, 11:34, 13:47, 14:17, 13:09, 10:44 (The garmin was .4 miles off by this point)

It took about a month for me to feel 100% healed up.  I feel fine now, and am back to training.. I've lightened up the running, but started mixing in some biking and swimming.......

Was I prepared enough?  Probably not.  Am I glad I did it instead of waiting?  Absolutely. Would I do it again?  Absolutely!   I learned a ton, not only about how I should prep for a marathon, but about myself.  It was a terrific race, and a terrific experience.  I appreciate the support of my family and friends.  What a blast!

Keep on rockin!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The flat 20

So, my next (and last) 20 miler before the marathon was on Saturday.  I had originally planned on Sunday, but the schedule changed, and an opportunity presented itself.

My goal was to run 16 miles slow, and then 4 at marathon pace.  Here's the conundrum that I face (as do all first timers): What the hell is my marathon pace?

I'll not hide it, I'd love a 4 hour marathon.  That's a 9:09/mile pace.  OK, let's use that as a starting point.

I took a route that was flat.. It's actually an old railroad track that was ripped up, paved, and used as a community walking/running/biking/etc path.  It's a 4 mile lap.  Sigh.  5 trips on this.  It works on the mental toughening as well.

The good thing about this was that I could park my car at one end, keep all of my water, Gu, etc in it, and not have to carry much. That's a win.

I also decided to try Gu'ing every 4 miles instead of every 5.  This is the time and place to try it.  I also brought 2 salt packets, to see if they would help with the cramping I experienced last time..

So, the weather was hot, and I was slightly under the weather due to some random cold that mini-Raul brought into the house.  OK, let's go anyway.

Lap 1.  Splits: 9:52, 9:45, 9:59, 9:41.  (The 3rd one has a walk break included in it, as scheduled)
Lap 2.  Splits: 9:55, 9:47, 10:06, 9:43 (Walk break executed here as well)
Lap 3.  Splits: 9:46, 9:49, 10:12, 9:40 (Walk break is getting longer, but not bad)
Lap 4.  Splits: 9:42, 9:38, 10:14, 9:53

Between each lap, I had a half liter of water, and a Gu.

OK.  That's pretty consistent.  9:40ish to 9:50ish.  I was cranking these out with no problem.  This is a 4:15 marathon, provided it could be maintained for another 10 miles.

I turned up the gas.

8:41.  Solid.
9:29.  Yeah, you can see where this is going.
12:01.  The wheels are coming off.
8:15.  Huh?  Oh, right. I actually only ran a half mile for this.  The wheels were off, flat, and long gone.  Crash and burn, baby.

Pace chart here:

I shuffled back to the car.  It actually took me 10-15 minutes to let the agony subside enough that I could drive.  Somehow, I managed to make it home and cook dinner.  I put on a pretty good act, because I never heard a word about how I looked.  (And let's not tell Mrs. Raul about this, shall we..?  I'll never hear the end of it)

After I ate, I felt a shit-ton better.  Excuse my TMI, but, my urine was very dark.  I was probably dehydrated, and potentially low on electrolytes. (Given that I was covered with salt at this point, it's not out of the question).

The next day I felt fine.  Muscles were sore, but I had no pain.  Next day was good.  Today, I ran a fairly brisk 4 miles.

So, I'm at a decision point.  I'm thinking I should scrap the 4 hour marathon plan.  My half was a 1:52.  The weather will be cooler.  However, I haven't had a long long run that has gone extremely well.

There's a pace group for the marathon at 4:00, 4:10, and 4:25.  (What, no '4:20' pace? j/k)

4:10 is a 9:33 mile, 4:25 is a 10:07 mile.

Do I scrap the pace groups, and settle in for a 4:15 pace?  I have absolutely no idea.

Keep on rockin'.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The carousel run

So.. my first 20 miler.  I wanted it to be memorable.  It was, for a number of reasons.

Our area has 6 carousels in it, scattered among 3 towns.   I spent my time mapping out a route from Casa Raul, and seeing if I could hit all of them..  Indeed I could, but I needed the help of Mrs. Raul to pick me up at the end.  (Doubling back home would make it a marathon, as an interesting data point).

The downside of this route was that it was hilly.

In addition, if you collect a ticket from each carousel throughout the season, you can get a button saying that you rode the carousel circuit.  Well, damn! I'm going to run the circuit!

I decided to run with a Camelbak, something I haven't done in a long time. However, it was hot, and it seemed like the right play.

Armed with my trusty cell phone, off I went..

Stop #1!  This was about 7 miles in, and after a sizable hill.  I'm sure the parents at all of these carousels were thrilled to have a stinky & sweaty man join their children riding around.  (What, you didn't think I *wasn't* going to ride, did you?)

Stop #2.. This is about 9-10 miles in.  I was a bit upset here.. I had gotten to the carousel, waiting in line, and the damn thing broke down.  WTF?  I took a ticket anyway. I was there.

This is Stop #3, about 12 miles into the journey.  This one is by far the hottest one on the circuit.  They certainly need to work on the ventilation.  It's fun in the winter, because they open it up on Saturday nights and do a Christmas & Santa gig.

There was a big freaking hill between stop 3 and 4.  The hill hit just after 15 miles.  I felt my calves start to twitch pretty seriously, so I started mixing in some walking.

It was laborious, but I made it to stop #4

Yeah, you can tell at this point that I no longer gave a shit what the picture looked like.  I think this was mile 17.   They sell water at this joint, so parted with a couple of bucks and loaded up some more.

Stop #5 doesn't have a picture.  I was just becoming a zombie.  A lot of walking mixed in, just moving along.

I hit 20 miles about 1 mile out from my destination.  I walked it from here.

The end.  The glorious end.

So, I stopped here, and I sat down on the ground to stretch.  One of those calves decided to cramp up at this point, and I was flopping around on the ground, just trying to find some position that was somewhat tolerable.

Predictably, this is the point when Mrs. Raul drove in to pick me up.  She read me the riot act about us not being athletes, etc etc.  Sigh.

After 5 minutes of sheer agony, I was able to stand.  We rode the last carousel together, and I got my button:

So, I had run with a Camelbak, I ran on a hot day, and I ran some hills, with a lot of stopping to ride.  A list of excuses, but valid ones, at least.

Truthfully, the next day I felt good.  Not "I want to do it again" good, but pretty reasonable.  I felt better than after the 18 miler.

My training schedule allowed me to either do 3 20 milers on short rest, or 2 on longer rest with a 4 week taper.  I opted for the latter.

I also opted for making my second/last 20 miler roughly like the terrain of the course... (read: flat).  That will be the topic of my next post...

Keep on rockin!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hiatus is over

Yeah, I took a blogging hiatus.  A lot has happened this summer. What's up with that, though, summer being over?  Disappointing.

So, I have a 3 part return to blogging.  Here's part one..

After my triathlon, I spent a couple of weeks in a bit of a lull.. not as much exercising, a little more eating.  I did some reflecting on the year.  I looked at my 2012 resolutions, and I realized I hit them all at the end of June.  Solid.  No matter what happens the rest of the year, I can only call 2012 a success.

Mrs. Raul and I took a mini vacay for our wedding anniversary.. Came into town the week after a big race.... lets say it's a potential future destination, and perhaps I can sell it as a race-vacation.. First thing is to get through that marathon at the end of September.

So, what else?  A couple of fun sporting events:

AAA All-Star game, up in Buffalo.  What a blast.  Every ticket in the stadium was $25.  That's pretty damn reasonable.  The stadium was great, and the crew I went with was awesome.  Combine that with staying with friends, and it was a sweet setup.  Got to see Tom Terrific throw to Ryno for the first pitch, as well.  A couple of hall of famers, still doing their thing.

I also rolled to Cortland, NY one day to watch my beloved NY Jets have their training camp.  It was awesome being this close to the NFL players.  The big takeaway I have from that is, "Holy shit, those guys are huge!".  Even the wide receivers are just big guys.
(The other takeaway I have is that it's going to be a really really long NFL season this year.  Sigh.)

Training-wise, I kept a solid 3 run a week schedule, with one being a long one.  For my 18 miler, I wound up running to my brother in law's house.. I was going to be crafty and text a picture of the outside to him, but they had left on some errands and already seen me.  Sigh.  So much for the element of surprise.

I did catch up with them at the halfway point, which was a nice and welcome break.  The route was moderately hilly, and by mile 15 or 16, it was starting to suck pretty bad.  My hip flexors were pretty tight, and I was just glad to make it home and have it be over.

After about 24 hours, everything felt pretty good.  All in all, I was happy with the outing.

Of course, on a 18 mile jaunt, your mind just goes all kinds of crazy places.. that's where I plotted out my first 20 mile run.....  to be continued.

Keep on rockin!

Saturday, June 30, 2012


The sprint is done!  Woot!

So, Friday morning, I felt like shit.  Absolutely horrible.  I think it has to do with living it up at a baseball game the night before, but it wasn't a good outlook 24 hours before the big race.  It was forecast to be a hot day.. With the race at 9:30, I was a bit worried.

Fast forward 24 hours.. Temperature was warm, not terrible.  I felt absolutely fine, as well.  Winning!

It's funny, you sign up for these races months in advance, and all of a sudden, you're heading out the door for them.

In case any men are interested and stumble across this post as a "What do you wear to a sprint triathlon? search", I wore these tri shorts, and just a C9 tank top.

I got registered, body marked, and found a spot to set up my gear.  Problem.  My big fat tires didn't fit into the 2x4 bike racks they made.  Sigh.  Once again, I look around, and I see the mountain bike is not a bike of choice (there were 2 others though).  I did manage to stuff the tire in and turn the handlebars enough to make it semi stable.

OK, so I go and look at the swim course.. It's a triangular course.. Go to buoy, swim left, go to next buoy, swim left, swim to shore.  Damn.  Those buoys are damn far out.  This whole "skipping the swim" thing probably wasn't a great idea in training.

So, coming into the race, I wanted to have fun.  I had no idea what to guess for time.  I wanted to finish in 2 hours.  I was hoping for a half hour swim, an hour bike, and another half hour for the run.  (Yes, that doesn't leave time for transitions, but whatever).

Before I know it, it's go time!  And.. we're off.  Swim swim swim.  Are we at the turn yet? Oh, no. Not even close.  That's pretty much what I felt like the whole way.  The women and relay participants were let loose in the second wave, so not only did I get to feel the men crawl all over me as they left me in the dust, I got the womenfolk doing the same.

In my younger years, I swam an open water mile a couple of times.  That was 20 years ago, sadly.

I finally made it to shore.  I had debated waiting to take my Gu midway through the race, but I opted to take it now.  (I had actually decided that about 2% of the way into that hellacious swim).  I futzed around a little while just to get my bearings back. As a result, my T1 time wasn't stellar.  I was one of the last people into transition, so it was easy to find my bike. (I wasn't last, though!)  I guess that is a positive way of looking at it..

So, to the bike!

Course elevation looked like (I missed a half mile due to me forgetting to turn on my Garmin):

Yeah, it was hilly.  At about the 2 mile mark, I started feeling a little better.. I think the Gu kicked in. Wise choice taking it early.

In my bike training, I mainly have been doing hill repeats.  A bit sadistic, but I think it helped me today.   I did get passed by a couple of people, but I did pass others as well.  

I passed a guy that was 68.  I hope I'm still doing this sort of thing at that age.

I really started to push it, and I'm happy with the results:

A couple of times I wound up above 30 mph.  That's pretty cool.

The course was an open road, but the county sheriff's office did a good job slowing down traffic for us.

Around mile 9, I was riding along and somehow hit a sawzall blade lying on the side of the road.  Really?  What the hell is it doing here?  I noticed no ill effects on the tire, thankfully, and finished my ride without further issue.

Yeah, I know it's not an uber stellar ride, but for me it was above what I expected.  That was an average speed of about 12.7 mph on a fairly tough course.

I had started my Garmin about 4 minutes late, but I knew I had a decent shot at getting in under an hour, so I kept pushing. 

OK.. T2 time.  Easy for me.. no cycling shoes, I just have to park my bike and go.  Park my bike, start to head away and.... that damn narrow tire slot bites me.  My bike fell over.  Sigh.  I wound up dragging it to the middle of my spot and just leaving it on its side.  Whatever.

Off for the run.  So, at this point, I actually have no idea how I'm doing timewise.  I knew the bike was close to an hour, and probably under.  Other than that, no idea.   I felt pretty good, so I decided to go for it.

Originally, I was going to try to break 25 minutes here at this race, rather than doing the 5K I did earlier in the year. I wised up to that plan and did the 5K instead, just in case I was gassed at this point.
This course was relatively flat, except for the scramble part going up the side of a damn, and later back down:

It was an out and back, with a water station placed at the top of the damn, so you could get water twice.

I hit about 8:24 for the first mile, which included that powerwalkish thing I did up the damn.  OK, let's go for it.  At this point, my core muscles were definitely feeling it.  I had thought about this Friday saying "I should have done more core work.. I haven't been doing that too much lately".  Unfortunately, thinking that the night before doesn't do too much good.

Mile 2 was just a mental game trying to hang on.  I finished that one with a 7:52 pace.  I heard my watch beep indicating that mile was done.  All that was left was to get some more water, scramble down the hill, and run to the finish.

What they say about your ability to calculate times, splits, etc in your head at the end of a long race is true.  My brain was turning to mush.  At one point I thought I could go for a 10 minute mile and make it.  This was just another bear down and pick off people along the way sort of mile.  I squeezed out a 7:37 mile here.

Coming into the finish there were two guys ahead of me.. I beat one, but the other heard me coming and turned it up.  Eh, good for him.  
At the finish, the DJ was saying people's names that crossed, which was a very nice touch.   I got to see the clock, too.  Holy shitballs, it's reading 1:50 something!!

I crossed at 1:50:51.

Splits were:
Swim: 24:48  (beat 30 minutes!)
T1: 3:37
Bike: 56:49 (beat 1 hour!)
T2: 1:11
Run: 24:27 (beat 25 minutes!)

Wow.  Absolutely incredible.  All goals met.

It was a fun race, and I had a great time.  What did I learn?
My swim form isn't that great.  More time in the water needed.
My bike form isn't that terrible, really.  I felt good the whole way.  I was certainly of the slowest bikers, but I think more practice will get me better.
I need more core work.
Running wise, I was of the better runners there.  Go me.
T1 would have been better if the swim hadn't wiped me.  T2 would have been better if my bike didn't fall over. I'll have to look into buying a kickstand or something.

I had a blast.  I think it's probably the last triathlon for me this year, though. I was debating an Oly tri, but the logistics aren't going to work out for me.  I do need more bike time in general first, too. (And swimming. Of course).  I do plan to do more of them in the future, though.  No doubt.

Keep on rockin!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Well, I got my official paperwork in the mail for the sprint tri on Saturday.. It includes the necessary forms to become a one day member of USA Triathlon and all of that.

It's here, upon me.

Holy shit.

1/2 mile swim, 12 miles on the bike, 5K run.

Not ready, not one bit.  I took a look at the course maps, rolled over to the web, and checked the elevations.  That bike ride is going to:
A) Suck
B) Suck the big one
C) Totally suck
D) All of the above.

The run looks "OK".  There's a steep uphill and downhill on and off of a dam (referred to as the "damn dam"), but flat otherwise.

The swim.  Oy.  Number of practices since the micro tri: 0
The thing about open water is, at some point, self preservation will take over, and I'll just plain have to swim.

Note to self: In the future, respect the disciplines more.

It'll be an experience.  It'll be fun (I hope).  I don't have any serious goals, even though this was a race I set off to do at the beginning of the year.  I figure I'll walk away knowing that:
1) I need more time on the bike
2) I need more swim pacing practice
3) I need more swim practice

Ah well.  I am looking forward to it, in all seriousness.

Other than that, not much going on.  My long run last week was 14 miles. My knee wasn't feeling great going into it, so I ran to the local school (a mile away) and ground it out there at the track.  All 12 miles.  It honestly wasn't terrible, but I was so ready for the run to be over after 10 miles on that track.

I've been mixing in biking (in prep for Saturday), and that has helped my running.  I do wish I felt more comfortable on the bike.  I can't ride and drink out of a water bottle.  I can't even really ride and do hand signals.  I'm just one uncoordinated guy.

Keep on rockin!

Monday, June 11, 2012

I tri-ed

Welp, I am now a world-famous triathlete.

The day was forecast to be hot, humid, and all of that fun stuff.  I actually woke up to clouds and a slight sprinkle.  Score!

I made it to the race site about an hour before the race.  Wow.  Hardly anyone there.   This was the "first annual" of this triathlon, so perhaps the word didn't get out.  Apparently, since our city was marked as one of the cities with the highest obesity rate in the U.S., this group decided to do something positive about it.. they made this triathlon, with distances that anyone could do.

Truthfully, most everyone there looked like they had done a bit of triathlon work before.  I think I had one of the three mountain bikes there. lol

I got marked up, set up my gear in transition, and just milled around for a bit. The time went by really fast, in all seriousness.

So.  225 yard swim.  The swim was done in 7 minute waves in the pool.  OK.   I'm in the second wave.  Cool.  "How many lengths are we doing?". .. Oh.. 9. Got it.

The first group got out, and we were told "you'll be going in 2 1/2 minutes".  OK, sweet, I'll hop in.  Holy cow, that time flew by.  The lady I was sharing my lane with apologized in advance if she crashed in to me.  The look of panic on her face when I told her I hadn't swam in 3.5 years.... chuckle

And, like that, it was go time.  Holy shitballs.  This was it.

I went off strong, trying to have reasonable form and all of that.. up, and back.  Wow, I'm tearing it up!  Wow!

Oh, damn.  I've gone a bit too fast.  I'm winded now.   Alright Superman, slow it down.

Well, I made it through the swim.. The first lap was by far my strongest and my best form. I actually got out of my swim wave 3rd in the group, less than a second behind #2.

Off to transition.. That sounds so hard core.

I dried my feet off, threw on my Garmin and clothes and all, and headed out.

Of course, with all of the prep work I did, I made sure to scope out the course.  Not.   The road was to be marked with red arrows for the bike ride, and white arrows for the run.  Plus, some volunteers at "key intersections".  Ooookkaaayy.

Well, the first bit of the bike ride was fine.. Up and down, left and right.  And then we went up a hill.  One big f'in hill. I actually passed one person here.  (And was passed by a whole bunch).   I was playing leapfrog with a guy.. He'd walk his bike, and I'd ride by.. Later, he'd ride by me until he walked.  Repeat.

(When I say "I'd ride by", it makes it sound so fast.  lol)

That's what the elevation chart looked like.

At about 2.5 miles, those red arrows disappeared.  I caught up with a pack that had gone right, when evidently the course went left.  This part was all relatively flat, but still.

We made it back, and if I hadn't seen someone make the final turn, I would have missed that myself too.

Pace wise, here's where I was:

I'm really not comfortable going down the hills.. Probably wise on this one, since it was full of potholes, but still, that's something I need to work on.

All in all, the bike part sucked.  I was 6th in my wave (of 7).  I think I was slightly short of the 5 miles, due to missing part of the course, but I was pretty close.  That was 24:40 on the bike.

OK, back to transition, dump my bike, and off for the run.   White arrows.. Got it.

I was heading out, and one of the volunteers said "watch the hill with your pace".. I looked at my watch, and I was doing about a 6:20 mile at that point... Wow, the brick work I have done actually seemed to help.

The course was hilly, but not terrible:

I managed to pick off a few people here that had zoomed past me on the bike.  One guy (one of the winners) blazed by me at the mile mark.

There's my pace chart (the spike to the left is where I went inside after forgetting to shut off my watch).

The leapfrog guy from the bike was ahead of me, but within striking distance for most of the run.. I slowly worked on getting to him. At about a quarter of a mile left, there was a hill, and that's when I made my move.. I got past him, and the lady in front of him.  I know this wasn't an "A" race for me, but this was going to be my hard workout for the week.  Why not?

We ended with a slight hill down into the driveway.. I coasted in, and the guy I passed snuck in at the last minute.  Damnit.  Run finished with a time of 14:47.

Results were done with a bizarre spreadsheet.  The best I can tell is my times were:
Swim (225 yards): 4:36  (~11/24)
T1: 2:54
Bike (~5 miles):  24:40 (~16/24)
T2: :49
Run (2 miles): 14:47 ~ (2/24)

Overall, 15th of 24.

So, I finished.  I wasn't last.  I am walking today (with tight hamstrings, but healthy at least).  I call it a win.

Swim: Not bad, for not having swam.  Some time in the water working on pacing would benefit me greatly.
T1: Not terrible. I could use to get my feet drier.  I don't know where that 3 minutes went, but I think that went well.
Bike:  I need more bike time.  It's my least favorite of the three, and the one I need to work on the most.  If I'm going to get into this sport, since the bike takes up the most time, I better become comfortable with it.
T2: No complaints here. I rocked that one.
Run: No trouble here either.

All in all, what a blast!  I have a sprint tri at the end of the month, and I'm trying to figure out what other ones are do-able.  There's another micro on the 4th of July which I'm on the fence about.  It's very close to home, but it's very early in the morning, and only a few days after the sprint.

After that, it becomes a logistical nightmare, as the next closest ones are 2-2.5 hours away.

I'll definitely do more of these.. Whether or not they're this year or next, it was a superb workout, and perfect for a guy like me.. Jack of all trades, master of none.

Keep on rockin!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tri Time, Baby

Welp, my first triathlon is tomorrow.  It's of the "micro" variety.  Tiny tiny tiny.

225 yards in the pool, 5 miles on the bike, 2 mile run.

Preparation wise, how'd we do?
Run - Superb.  Knee is a bit creaky, but other than that, plenty of training in.
Bike - Fair.  I've been riding once or twice a week for 5 weeks.  Not stellar, but every ride has had hills and has been 5 or more miles.  I generally try to run a quarter of a mile after the rides as well.  Mini-bricks.
Swim - I last swam, oh, 3 1/2 years ago.  Fail.

Whatevs.  I'm doing this one for fun. I have no goals in mind.. I just want to use this to try out the sport and get ready for the sprint tri at the end of the month.  If I didn't wind up last, that'd be good, but as long as I stay healthy through it, that's all that matters.

I don't know what kind of timing they'll have.  The outfit which normally does race timing around here isn't signed up for this race, so it should be interesting.  I'm stoked the race is at 9, which means I can get up at my normal time before heading over.

I've been making a checklist of crap to bring.  Holy cow.  So much more than a typical running road race. lol.

I'll keep you posted with how it goes.. Keep on rockin!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Early run, long run

Well, I tried something midweek that I haven't done for a long time.  I woke up early to get up and run.  I figured it was a good way to keep peace in the house.. I get my run in, but don't shirk my child rearing duties.  I must admit, apart from it being early, it was a pretty good time.  There's so little traffic at that hour, and the temperature was wonderful.

The most interesting thing I saw on my run was a new in box Volvo big truck air filter.  I saw the box, and it had that description, but I thought "what are the odds?".  Well, in this case, the odds were pretty good.  I wasn't expecting a new one though.. maybe a used on in the new box?  Don't ask me, it was sitting in the middle of a rarely used parking lot.  It was gone by the next day.

Saturday I did my long run of the week.  I did an out and back 12 miler.  Turns out the local head shop is 6 miles away.  Kind of fun, right?  I do question my sanity of signing up for a marathon, but oh well.

Nothing much to report about the long run.. probably the most interesting thing I saw was a set of guard rail bolts.  I think they were just an extra set, as the guard rail looked properly secured (as in "no bolts missing").

The next day, I feel fine.  That's pretty cool, I must admit.

That's all for now. Keep on rockin!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Well, I've been working on the whole "let me clear my shizz out of the house, and hopefully get some coin for it."  I've been eBaying old magazines (I mean, really, someone wants them?  Who am I to judge?) and books.  I got rid of some stuff on Craigslist as well (talk about a spotty user base).

So, with this new found moola, what would I do?   Buy more stuff, of course!!!

I've been eyeing up a set of weights since about Thanksgiving.. I've been jonesing for a set of Powerblocks.  So, I scored a 15% off coupon and got a pair at Dick's.

Yeah, they're not the latest and greatest, but they were at a good price, and they'll suit my capacity quite well.

Of course, mini-Raul views them as a place to put stickers:

Since I haven't been swimming yet, I've been doing some exercises that will hopefully get me more ready, namely some kickback/curl/press combos.  Cyberpenguin is kind enough to let me beta-test a "100 bicep curl" program she's working on, so I've been doing a bit of that, some bench presses, some squats, some lawnmowers, etc.

The weights are killer.  You can swap out weight levels in seconds, and are adjustable up to 50 pounds per dumbbell.  (There is an expansion pack that will bring them up to 70 each).  If I max these bad boys out, I'll upgrade to the latest and greatest version. (lol, that'll be the day.)

All in all, I think it was a good investment, and I'm really very happy with the product itself.  I'm certainly seeing results with using them on a regular basis, as well.

Keep on rockin'!

Monday, May 28, 2012


So, today I did my first brick.

And, in my normal form, I didn't start out with an easy one.  Noo...

That's the hill loop I took.  A little over 10 miles.

And, this is how fast I went:

Yeah. I completely suck.  That's about a 10 mph ride.  Way to go.

Side note, most interesting item seen while on my ride: what looked like a brand new Backstreet Boys CD.  No jewel case, though.

Afterward, I parked the bike and hit the road running.  Also, not an easy course:

Yeah, I was in a masochistic mood.

Splits went very well here, though:

So, it was a tad over a 5K

All in all, about an hour and a half.

My thoughts are this:

I loved it.  I got a hell of a workout, I did better on the hills than I thought I would on the bike, and I was able to run well afterward.

I'm not sure Mrs. Raul cared for it as much, with me being out of the house for that long, again.  I may need to start getting up at the asscrack of dawn to do shenanigans like this.  Oh, mini-Raul, please get some sleep some day.

I wore my shorts.  They're kind of weird, but it seems like a good idea to get used to them.  No chafing, no serious complaints.  They're a lot tighter and more "form fitting" than what I would normally wear, though.

I also think this is a good baseline to see how much I improve at the end of the summer.

Yeah, it was a serious workout in some serious heat, but I really enjoyed it.

Keep on rockin!

Thoughts from my long run

Well, thoughts from my long run.  I did this Saturday, before I decided to sign up for a marathon.

I had made a deal with myself that if the long run went well, I'd go for it.  I went out at a long slow pace + 30 seconds a mile extra slow, due to the heat.

I went along and got it done.  Most interesting thing I saw while out:  a steak knife.  In the road.
What was its story?  How did it get there?

If I had my phone with me, I could have taken a picture of it, so that we could all gaze at its glory.  Or tragic end.

Anyway, I felt great.  A little tightness in the glutes, but nothing serious.  I kept to the prescribed pace, not more, not less.  Right on. The next day, I felt fine, and so I sent in my registration.

I'm pretty excited.  Nervous, but excited.  I've sketched out a rough training plan, basically listing my long runs. Slowly build up, back off every few weeks, etc.  For June, there's 2 triathlons to throw into the mix, which will force me to get some cycling in.

I was telling my parents about the triathlon schedule, and they were all "oh, wow, how's it going?".  'Well, the running part is fine, and I'm getting a bit of biking in now.'  "What about swimming?"  'Uh, yeah.  That's a bit of an issue.'

Thankfully, the parks opened up the pools/lakes around here today, so hopefully I can get out and do some of that swimming thing soon..

Keep on rockin..

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Caution, meet wind

Ah hell.  I've been pretty conservative for the past year, slowly working up to where I'm at.

Screw it.  I signed up for the Wineglass Marathon today.  9/30.  My date with destiny.

Keep on rockin'.

Monday, May 21, 2012

June plans

So, my half marathon is done.  I did my 5K goal for the year.  What's next?

There's a local race at the end of June/early July.. I was looking to go for it 3 years ago, but Mrs. Raul was put on bed rest before mini-Raul's arrival.  (Who knew, that would be the last rest she'd get?) I wasn't in tip-top shape, but it would have been fun.

When I was up at Fleet Feet, I bought one more thing:

Tri shorts, baby!

Yes, the local race is a sprint tri.  I'm going to dip my toe into the water and see how it is.  I've started biking a couple of times a week.  At the very least, it's some nice cross training.  I'm waiting for the parks and pools to open up this weekend, so that I can get a wee bit of swimming in.

And, as a special bonus, I found out there's a first ever "micro" tri a few weeks before the sprint tri.  I got my application in there, and I made the cut (only 100 racers allowed).  I'm waiting for my check to get cashed for the sprint, and I should be set.

I have no goals for these races, I'm just looking to have a little fun and give the sport a shot.  I figure that I will have minimal swim time before these races, and only moderate bike time.  At my level of fitness, I also figure that I can muddle through the race and survive.

Depending on how these go, I hopefully will get a clue on what race(s) I want to go with for the fall.  My race plan runs out at the end of June.. I seriously am lost where to go next. lol

Keep on rockin!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I couldn't help myself

So, 2 weeks ago was the Bridge Run. I was a good doobie, not doing any much hard training for 2 weeks, one day for every mile ran, blah blah.

One of my resolutions/goals this year was to break 25 minutes in a 5K.  My PR was about 30 seconds shy of that last year, so it was an attainable goal.  I took a look at the race calendar for the summer, and the race that fit best was today.  Sigh.  I couldn't help myself.  I went.

I don't do speedwork. I've slacked on hills lately.  I went in hoping to do 7:45 miles, putting me in just under the wire.

Of course, I didn't sleep well either, and it was hot already at 10:30 am.  Hot, I say. Damn hot.  And, it's only May!

This was the "first annual" of this series, so it was a brand new race.  I've never seen the course, didn't even know where I was going. lol.

It was a small crowd, probably about 100 runners.  I did something I normally never do.  I lined up near the front.  One of the guys kids in front was talking about doing the course in 15 minutes.  He apparently had the other day, but "it was hot today".  OK, so I'm not going to win.  Got it.

This was all clock-timed.. the loose "ready, set, go", and we were off!  Being near the front, there was certainly a lot less weaving and bobbing around.. I kind of liked that.  With such a small field of runners, we fell into place pretty quickly.  I looked down at my watch.. 6:30 pace.  Yikes.  That's not a good thing.. I don't know what I run a mile at any more, but that's getting into the red zone- never mind 3.1 miles.

We were about at the half mile mark, and I looked ahead.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5 people.  Wait, what?  I'm in 6th?  Holy shizz. I don't run here.  Ever.

The course was described as "slight rolling hills".  They rolled up, that's for sure.  Right around the 1 mile mark, there was one that went down, thankfully.  I skipped the water stop here and kept plugging.  I passed someone.  Fifth.  Passed a chick. Fourth.  Passed the next guy.  Third.  Are you f'in shitting me?  3rd place?  Granted, we're only half done at this point.

Alas, the course was an out-and-back.  That previously mentioned downhill?  Yeah, that turned into some big time suckage.

That's the elevation chart, allegedly.  It should be a mirror image, but whatever.

This is what I thought the elevation felt like:

So, the chick I had previously passed decided that after we went up that monstrosity that she would cruise on by.  Damn.  Fourth.

I'm majorly sucking wind.  I've gone out entirely too fast, and I am out of my element.  I am just praying for this race to end.  "What the hell have you done to yourself?"  "Are you kidding me?  You paid to torture yourself like that?" and on and on.

I took a cup of water and threw it over myself to cool down a bit, and I just tried to grind it out.

So, I hung on. For dear life.  Kept track of those behind me.  One foot in front of the other.

End splits looked like that.  6:53, 6:51, 7:26, :41.  Holy hell, Batman.  I hung on.  Fourth overall.  3rd male, 1st in age group.  Wow.  21:51.  Wow. That netted me a cool "1st" medal and a pair of socks.. who can't use socks?

An obligatory watch pic:

And, if I don't run another 5K this year, I don't fricken care.  lol.  PR by a mile, blew away my goal for the year.  I'll take it.

Keep on rockin!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fleet Feet

A couple of weeks ago, I took a day off from work and drove up to Syracuse.  The reason being, they had a real running store.  So, I trekked to Fleet Feet.

Disclosure: They did not pay me for this review.  They didn't comp. me.  These are my thoughts.

What a great place.  Right when I walked in, they asked what I was looking for.  I needed a new pair of running shoes, so they set me up with someone to get me set up there.  More on that later.

When evaluating my feet, I was measured, my existing shoes were looked at, my natural walking gate was examined, etc.  I have a wide foot, and rather than the usual "Oh.. Wow.  We only have 2 pairs of wide shoes" that I normally get, all I was told was "I see you have some width there.  Do you normally have to buy bigger shoes than you need?"

The guy fitting me went and got me a pair of shoes, and they felt absolutely spectacular.  I did a quick run in them in the store while he watched.   He went and got 2 more pairs, and we evaluated those too.. In the end, I wound up picking up the first pair.

Apparently, I do pronate, but not a significant amount.  He recommended a neutral shoe, and that's what I bought.  I only bought one pair, just so I can try them, but I am encouraged.

Here are the new kicks:

I haven't tried them yet, but I'm looking forward to doing that soon.  (I didn't want to change too much before the race)

I also got to try out something I've been wanting:

Yep, I bought The Stick.  That's killer.  It was at a better price than I've seen, too!

So, about the guy that fitted my shoes.  Really nice guy.. He was asking what kind of running I was doing, etc.  I told him about the Bridge Run.. he said "Oh, I ran that last year".  Neat.  I asked him about what kind of running he did.. "I generally run marathons".  OK, that's reasonable.

I didn't think anything of it until a couple of weeks later, when I was looking over the race packet.  Photos of the 2011 winners.  There's my guy.  No shit.  "Oh, I ran that last year".  Yeah, you won it man.

OK, let's roll to the great Google... crunch crunch crunch.  Oh.  Wow.  The guy that fitted my shoes banged out a 2:24 marathon in the f'in Olympic trials.


Talk about a humble guy.  A testament to the people that work at this store, too.  Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

...And, if you're reading, Fleet Feet, if you want someone in a completely different athlete class to sponsor, give me a shout. :) lol

Keep on rockin.

Friday, May 11, 2012


So, it's been 5 days since the half.  I feel relatively good.  The muscles feel sore and used, but nothing seems terrible.

I went out on Wednesday for a short bike ride, and that went well.  I also threw in a walk at lunch time to stretch the legs a bit more.  Thursday, I did a slow and easy jog, about 3 miles long.

All in all, nothing seems structurally wrong.  I was thinking about a 5K next weekend, and I suppose it's possible, but I think it's probably off the plate for now.  I could probably run it, but I really want to race it, and I think easing off is probably the way to go.

Tomorrow, I'm looking to get in another bike ride, and hopefully a run on Sunday, if Mrs. Raul consents to that.. it is "her" day, after all.

On another note, I sent in my next two race applications... stay tuned.. :)

Keep on rockin!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bridge Run

I came into this race with two goals:
1)  Come out healthy
2)  Break 2 hours.

The second one was certainly not as important as the first.  However, after my 15K a month an a half ago, the 2 hour mark was certainly within reach..

So, the night before.. I'm nervous.  Lol.  That was a fairly sleepless night.  "How fast should I go?"  "Should I try to do more?  Not as much?"  Meh.

The alarm went off, and I went to the checklists I'd made the night before.  Holy pre-race jitters, Batman.

I worked through my lists, drove the 5 miles to the start line.  Here I was, rockin' out a tank and shorts, and holy shizz, it was damn cold at 7am.  I don't think we were at 50 degrees yet.  I ran into a friend from work, and we agreed to run together.. He was looking for a 2 hour finish as well.  Shortly before the race started, the sun broke out, and I felt a touch of warmth.  Finally.

The first 1.5 miles was congested.  There were a little over 1,000 runners, and it was a tight field.  I was glad when it finally spread out a bit.  My first couple of miles were faster than we had planned for, so we backed off a bit.

The race organizers did a great job providing beverage throughout the race.  Water every 2 miles, like clockwork.  At mile 4 and after, the aid stations also had Gatorade.  They also did a spectacular job keeping cars out of the way.. I was fairly skeptical of the "traffic being restricted", but it really was.  There was only one intersection (and we went through a damn lot) that I even had a hesitation that a car might be going through.

The run is termed the Bridge Run, as the course seems to go over most of the bridges in the area (it's the confluence of 2 major rivers in the area).  So along the way, there were some nice sights, especially early in the morning.

I took my Gu at mile 5.5. I haven't been training with Gatorade, but I did drink it along the way. I wanted to Gu up, just because I didn't know if the Gatorade would be enough to keep me going.  I think it was the right choice.

Not a lot to report about the terrain, the course was pretty flat:

I mean, really, that's a 100 foot swing at the worst of it.

Around mile 9, my buddy told me to go ahead. He wasn't feeling that great, the sun was starting to warm up, and he's not a huge fan of the heat.  Up until this point, we were hitting about an 8:55 pace, on target to hit that 2 hour mark. 

I took off, similar to what happened at my last race.  I'm at the 9 mile mark, on target to hit a 2 hour finish. As long as I didn't blow it, I'd be OK.....

I just ran.  Hard, but not too hard.   What could I sustain for 4 miles?  What should I do?   I didn't want to over-think it.  Just run.

About this point, there was probably the coolest set of fan spectators:  A dad and his kids were out on the front lawn playing the Rocky theme with a violin, saxophone, and trumpet.  I certainly wasn't expecting that.. Nice, original thinking on their part.

I felt pretty good along the way.  I hit the 12 mile mark around 1:45.  At this point, I said to myself.. holy shit, I've got this.   I can walk it in at this point and get my 2 hour mark.  I took 2 cups of gatorade, and went on.

I could hear the finish line at the end of the 12th mile.  The crowd support at that point was great.  Tons of people cheering, even though they don't know you.  The feeling of excitement washed over me.. This distance was finally getting knocked down.

So, I finished.  1:52:33.  Automatic PR, to boot.  62/113 age group, 218/457 males, 309/1020 overall.  I was extremely extremely happy with the result.

Here's my pace chart:

Alas, I didn't spend the rest of the day recovering with my feet up.. I had to mow the lawn, and we took mini-Raul to the hilly zoo..    After finishing up the night with a ginormous bottle of beer, I slept like a rock.  I'm a little sore today.  Not terrible, though..  I'll give it a couple of days and see where I'm at.

Keep on rockin!

Saturday, May 5, 2012


I ran cross country in high school.  One season.  I hated it.

I tried track the following spring, and that wasn't for me.

And with that, I gave up high school sports.  The trend continued into college, and onward.

In mid 2007, I picked up running.  I was finally ready.  It was the outlet I needed at the time, and I started finding my way.  I almost ran a half marathon that year, but bowed out due to some family circumstances.  I did more running the following year, and the next half year, until mini-Raul was born.

Then, I got lazy.  I'm not going to blame my son.  It's on me.  And, to make matters worse, I ate and drank like I did when I ran.

Fast forward to May 8th, 2011.  Mother's Day.  Family photos, etc etc.  I looked at those pictures and said.. "Shit.  I need to get myself in order."

May 13th, I had a hot water heater installed.  When the plumber left, I said, "What should I do now?"

The only answer was.. to get out there.  I started the process.  Running.  Again.  Finally.

I had a fleeting thought while I was out there. "OMG, there's a half marathon.. 5 miles away!  It's in 2 days!  I run on some of those roads!  That'd be awesome!"  Until, well, I saw what rough shape I was in.

I started eating a little better.  I kept running.   I started doing Weight Watchers.

I met up with Jillian on DVD.  And Tony Horton.  And I busted hump.  Every. Fricken. Day.

I ran in the rain.  I ran in the snow.  I worked out before work.  I got it done.

...Fast forward to today.  Cinco de Mayo.  The eve of my half marathon.  Almost a year later. I'm down 63 pounds.  30% of Raul, gone.  I'm in the best shape of my life.

I don't have any aches and pains, I've been listening to my body.

I'm ready to go slay this dragon.

Keep on rockin'

Sunday, April 15, 2012

11 in the books

Long run for this week = done.  Bam!  11 miles, and I have no complaints.

Weird thing was, I ran in shoes that I have never been that comfortable in with my long runs, but I did use two pairs of socks, a new one for me.  In the end, I'm thinking these may be my half marathon shoes.. I felt great.

Not much to report about the run.. A good drizzle started about halfway through, so I was pretty wet by the end of the day.

At one point when I was running in town a car pulled into the 'exit' part of a driveway and proceeded to block the sidewalk.  The guy inside rolled down his window and waited... 

Sigh.  I'm terrible with street names.  I know how to get around, I know how to get to places even if I've only been there once or twice, but I couldn't tell you street names.  I've lived in this town for 12 years now, I still don't know them.   

I get to his window... "Can you tell me where to find a liquor store", he says slowly...  Well, damn.  That I can do.  I know a couple within easy driving distance and directions.   Sweet.  Tough question avoided.

I had no clear path set out in my mind ahead of time, so I just ran around.. I wound up doing a couple of serious hills, but no complaints there either.   Total mileage was 11, total time was 1:55.  Hopefully I can do some sort of time like that in my half.

All in all, I'd say I'm as ready as I will be for my adventure in 3 weeks.  Next week, I have no game plan for my long run day.  I'll probably just see how I feel..The week after is going to be ~6 at race pace.

I wanted to squeeze in a 5K either today or one of the next two weekends, but I couldn't find one that really meshed with my training plan.  I tried to rationalize it (over and over), but they were all trail runs, hill runs, or too close to the half.  No sense blowing the plan because I'm getting ancy.

Keep on rockin!

Friday, April 13, 2012


I went out last night for a 4-5 mile run, with no clear goal.. It turned into a fartlek, and it was a heck of a workout.  Sure made it more interesting.

Training is going well... 3 weeks, 2 days until the half marathon.. I'm hoping to do a long run on Sunday- it's supposed to be 70 here.

That little bit of arch pain is still hanging on, but it's not terrible.. I felt it last night after the faster run.. speed definitely seems to kick it off.  I'll keep stretching it and my calf, and see how that goes.

No fire department visits or plumbing work this week.  I have a pair of shutoff valves I can't turn, but they're staying on right now.  Consequently, the other drippy sink will continue to drip. I don't like working on plumbing, at all.

Keep on rockin!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Busy week

Wow, another busy week went in the books.. No blog posts for a week?  Meh, I need to be better about this.

On the exercise front, I did two easy 4-4.5 mile runs mid week, and I capped the week off with a 9.5 mile run. I did manage to get in one other cross training workout, a P90X core synergistics session (man, that one is a good one!).

Outside of the exercise front, all kinds of stuff happened.

Mrs. Raul notice much of the cabinet under the kitchen sink was wet one night.. The culprit was this guy:
He's been replaced.  Of course, that didn't actually fix all of the issues, as it turns out the faucet itself was leaking from a couple of places.   I replaced the faucet next:

That's our spiffy new one!  The only casualty was when I dropped the wrench on my forehead while working under the sink.  Sigh..

I still hate doing plumbing work.

We also got a visit from the fire department one night, as Mrs. Raul left the toaster oven unattended at the wrong temperature.  No harm done, except to the pan for the toaster over.  It was pretty impressive, seeing flames inside that puppy.   Long story short, the smoke alarm went off, which signaled the fire department, which caused a visit.   Amazingly, mini-Raul slept through the entire thing.  I can't get that boy to sleep worth a damn, and when something interesting happens, what does he do?   Go figure.

Other excitement in the week?  Hmm.. I got to use my jumper cables and jumpstart Mrs. Raul's ride.  I also changed my lawn mower oil and started that whole mowing thing again.

Mini  Raul had a good Easter.. made out like a bandit.  That's what Easter is about, isn't it?  Oh, wait.  Hrms..  He had a good time, regardless.

I'm hoping for a quieter week this week. lol.

Keep on rockin!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Done with recovery

This weekend, I did my last run during "recovery" from my 15K race.. I did an easy 7 miler, with nothing terribly exciting to write about.   The legs feel much better, and there's just a tiny amount of muscle fatigue.  The 7 miles were strong, even though the pace was fairly relaxed.

I've been having a little bit of arch pain in one foot, and it started after the race.. It's significantly better than a week ago, so I'm not too concerned about it.  I've been reading about plantar fasciitis, and I don't think that's it.. I think it's just tight and bruised.  I really need to get to a real running store and find some new shoes, though.

So, I have 4 training weeks until a taper.  This is it, the final push..  Stay healthy.. stay healthy..

I'd like to get two longer runs of 10+ miles in before the half, possibly 3.  If I can run 10 miles now, I figure I can eek out another 5K on race day, so I'm in decent shape as is.  A little more training could yield some benefits, though.

More importantly, I'm trying to be better about doing leg exercises to strengthen some of the weaker muscles and prevent crazy imbalances.   Leg raises and squats have been on the menu a lot lately.  (Speaking of, have you seen the 200 squat challenge?  That's an idea for the coming months..)

That's about all for now.. And no, CJ, I'm not that crazy about Tebow time here in NY.  That smells like a QB controversy every. single. week.  Sigh.  As if the locker room didn't have enough problems already..

Keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Recovery run

Well, the time since my race on Sunday has gone by without much ado.  I was reasonably sore on Monday, and much better on Tuesday.  I went for my lunchtime walk on Tuesday (~3 miles) just to get stretched out a bit.

Today I went for the same walk, and when I got home, I did a 3.5 miler, at a really easy pace.  All in all, not too bad off.  There's still some stiffness and tightness, but things went well.  The last bit of the run, though, my legs were dragging a bit.

I plan to do another similar run on Friday, and then do my "long" one on Sunday, and just gauge how far to go based on how my body feels.

Oh, after the race, I bought myself a present:

I know it's not Alcohol Tuesday, but it's close, being Wednesday and all.

What we've got here is Maker's Mark 46.  It's regular Maker's Mark, but it's been aged in some barrels with oak added in.  I really enjoyed it.  Mrs. Raul, not so much.

I liked it because it gets it closer to a drink you can sip like scotch.  I find regular Maker's Mark to be a little too easy to go down (I know, that probably says something about me).  The extra aging process adds some oak and subtle flavors, and makes me slow down a bit with it.

It's not something I'd make a mint julep with though, I think that might be kind of weird.  I guess you don't know until you try, but that's not high on my list.

For those familiar with Maker's Mark, you may notice the blue wax...  Since this is Maker's 46, and the Superbowl was #46 this year, and the NY Giants won, they did a special dipping for the event.  I'm not a Giants fan, but I do root against the Patriots regularly (being a Jets fan).   Therefore, I was a Giants fan for the Superbowl, and it makes this beverage that much better. :)

Keep on rockin!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Forks XV - Race Report

So I went into Sunday's race with 5 days of zero exercise.  The calf was as rested as I could make it.  The weather was about 60 degrees with a breeze, so I could have gone either way with shorts or pants.. I chose the latter, just to keep my calf warmer.

The race field had about 275 people, of which, 270 or so seemed to take the race way more seriously than I was.  Whatevs.  Who knows what goes through the minds of others..?

To refresh, the plan was for an easy start, and if all was well, go for 9 minute miles.   I did a warmup jog of 100 meters, and felt great (if only I could always take 5 days off?).

The course profile looks like this:

Granted, I really didn't spec it out too much before running it.. It looks bad, but that's only a 120 foot swing in elevation..

When I got to the starting line, I actually saw two people I knew.. One was spectating, and the other was racing.  Well, he and I wound up starting next to each other, and off we went!  Our first mile was a 8:53 pace, with all of the early race excitement.. I felt good.  Really good.

Turns out my buddy hadn't prepped for this.. he was pushed into it due to some co-workers, and he had only done a 7 miler up to this point.. He usually rolls for 5 or less.   OK, no problem.  

We maintained an easy pace, and had a good conversation going.. I grabbed a drink every two miles, and walked the length of the aid stations.. a bit shorter of a walk than I had anticipated.  Well, the pace slowed to 9:20.. 9:30ish... 9:45.   The first half of the race is generally downhill..  Hmm.

My calf was feeling good, zero complaints.  I did feel a twinge on my left knee, about the spot for some ITBS, so that had me worried.  Plus, I felt like I was really slogging it.. I wanted to go faster.

Well, at the 10K mark, I sensed we were going to be rolling uphill for a ways.  I made sure he was OK with it, and I separated from my buddy.

Sidebar:  I felt bad about that, I really did.  But, we didn't have a pre-arranged deal that we'd run together, and this was my prep race for my half.. I had stuff to do, man!

So, the average pace was a little over 9:20 at the 10K.  I felt good, so I turned it on.

The result?:

8:15, 8:14, 7:38, 7:30 paces.  That's a negative split if I ever saw one!

Watch time was 1:23:17 with an 8:52 pace.  Gun time was 1:23:15. I'll take the gun time, please.  Plus, it was a guaranteed PR.

I also got a long sleeve tech shirt, plus a coffee mug for finishing.  That, with the food and water, made this race an absolute steal at $15.

Today, the knee feels a little off, but not bad, and my upper legs are all muscularly tired.  Overall, I am ecstatic with the results.  I wanted 10 minute miles, and really wanted 9.  I beat both.  Wow.

I took today off, and am going to see how tomorrow goes.. I think it will hinge on what the knee feels like.  If it's out of whack due to my leg muscles being beat up, no biggie.   I'd like to get an easy recovery run in on Tuesday or Wednesday.  That would set me up for another easy run on Friday, followed by a long one on Sunday.

I'm stoked.. The training has been working, and knock on wood, I'm on target for the half marathon in 6 weeks.

Keep on rockin!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

15K race plan

Well, the calf seems pretty much OK today.  It's tender to touch deep in the calf muscle, but I massaged the hell out of it over the last few days.  I did some hopping on the injured leg and some very very brief running (ie: from one side of the house to the other), and felt no ill effects.

Provided I wake up feeling the same or better tomorrow, it's a go.

The forecast is for mid 50s, but some rain possibility.  Eh, the temperature is good at least.  According to MapMyRun, it's a fairly flat course.

Race plan is as follows:  Start out fairly easy, make sure the leg is kicking and holding out well.  If so, ratchet it up to race pace (9 min/mi).  The water stations are every 2 miles, and I'm looking to walk through them, taking a Gu at mile 4.

That's the plan.  Worst case, there's an ambulance on the course.

Goals are:

1) Stay healthy.  If things start going out of whack, I'll shut it down.  That's my only real goal.  This is merely a step on the way to my half in 6 weeks.  (Wow, really? 6 weeks?  Where does the time go?)

2) Next goal will be a 1:30 finish. Should be attainable, but you never know.

3) Next goal is 9 minute miles.  This also should be attainable, but will be about the upper end of it.

That's it.  I've never raced this distance, so I'm guaranteed a PR.  Winning!

Good thing I checked the map.. The race is in a town of similarly named towns, all close together.  I was destined to the wrong one before I looked tonight.  lol.  whoops.

That's all for now.. keep on rockin'...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Busy Busy

It's been a busy past couple of weeks.  I think we're through most of it, and should resume normalcy soon.

On the weight front, I'm down another 10 pounds.  Another 2 pounds, and I'll have lost 30%. lol.  Probably won't hit that this week, with the trip out for a few beers yesterday... :)

Regarding running, I did two more major prep runs for my 15K race, in addition to my other running.. One was a 10 miler.  Double digits.. first time in a long long time.  That went extremely well, no aches or pains or anything.

The other prep I did was to run 5 miles at race pace.  That one went.. OK.  It's hard to simulate that race feeling, but I went out for 5 miles @ 9 minutes a mile.   End result was 5 miles done @ 8:59.  Score.  I was huffing pretty good at the end, but my course had far more hills than the race course will.   Plus, it was downright HOT out that day.  What's up with the weather??  I think 9 minute miles is attainable and a fairly reasonable goal.

Am I ready?  Oh, as ready as I will be.

I had one setback, though.  Sigh, nothing's easy.
I was going for a lunchtime walk on Tuesday, as per normal, and felt a twinge in my calf.  Nothing painful, just a twinge, so I kept on going.  I went out for my run that night, no problems.   The next morning... tight. Tight tight.  Some discomfort (a 2 or 3 on the pain scale, I'd say).   So, I've been throwing down ibuprofen, and I've skipped my walks and I'm skipping my last run before the race.

I decided that missing one 3-4 mile run isn't going to impact me too much.  Running and tweaking my calf even worse would impact me, though.   I'm doing stretching and self-massage, hoping for it to heal up before the big day.  It's better today on Thursday than it was yesterday- I'm probably at a 1 on the pain scale.

I'll have to play it by ear for Sunday's big event.  I certainly don't want to reinjure it, as I have the half marathon coming up in a month and a half.

That's all for now.. keep on rockin!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

9 miles

Wow, I guess this is my 300th post.. That's cool.  And, that's about all I have to say about that.

Today was a sunny & warm day here.. close to 50 degrees, but a damn lot of wind.  I went out for my long run today, though, since I'd prefer running in the wind and warmth as opposed to the cold coming in tomorrow.  My last few long runs have been through snow squalls and all of that, so I was jumping at the chance to get out there today.

My plan was for 8-9 miles.  I've got that 15K coming up at the end of the month after all, I should get close to the appropriate number of miles..  I took an out and back route that is 3.5 miles of gentle uphill, followed by some up and down for the last mile until the turnaround.  The good part of that is.. downhill on the way back.

Pretty uneventful.. some lady had a very aggressive barky dog, but went on with the "oh, don't worry, he's friendly" bit.  I had a few words for her.  I'm not a big fan of dogs not contained/restrained that can come after you while going by.

Anyways, nothing bad happened, and I continued on.  At the 4 mile marker, I tried a Gu Chocolate Outrage.. Not bad, but it kind of seemed like a melted Tootsie Roll.. A little thick for my tastes.

Turned around, and around mile 5.5, I started noticing my ass was getting tired.. I think I need to do some more glute work.

Until this point, I was feeling great.. One foot in front of the other, not a speedy pace, but that was by design.  Another mile and a half, I noticed a hot spot on the bottom of my foot at the arch.. Sigh.  A f'in blister.  Never have I had a blister from running before.. what's up with that?

I finished out the run with not much else to report.. I feel great.  Two minor irritations during the run, and no other issues.  Hours later, I feel fine, just have a small blister on my foot.

Looking at the calendar, I have 3 weeks until the 15K.  Next week, I'll shoot for 9-10 miles.. The week after, I'll go for 5 miles at race pace, and then I'm there.   This race is just a tune-up for the half marathon in May anyways.. this isn't my goal race, just something nice and interesting to do.

Not much else going on here.. I picked up a minor sinus infection, but that's under control, and it's just a nuisance anyway.

Keep on rockin'...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What a week

What a week it was.  It was illness central here at casa Raul.  Mini Raul got the worst deal of it all.. He was sick last Saturday, and we figured he had picked up a cold after his double ear & sinus infection passed.   Fast forward to Sunday night... The poor kid was puking every half an hour.  He woke up at 11pm, surrounded by vomit and saying "Something happened?!".  Nothing tears at your heart quite like that.

It was a long night, that whole puking every half hour.   He's been prone for most of the week, too.. He's been back to the doctor, pronounced with stomach bug, more ear infections, and another sinus infection. (Perhaps the last one didn't go away).  Anyways, it was a long week.

Mrs. Raul got the next bit of the short end of the stick, picking up Mini Raul's stomach bug.

I lucked out, and came out of this (thus far) with a head cold. Whatever.  No big deal there.

Mini Raul finally showed some signs of life late this afternoon, so here's hoping we've turned the corner...

Last Sunday, I did another long run.. 7 miles. Tried out the plain strawberry Gu.  Not terrible.   I didn't run again until today, Saturday, where I did a 5 mile tempo run.. I mixed in a couple of the P90X DVDs and a couple of rest days.. It was an unplanned recovery week. lol

I did do some baking and cooking..

Those are Irish soda bread, followed by slow cooked minestone.  The soup was fantastic, and I plan to make it again.

When I heard Mrs. Raul was getting ill, I whipped up some bread:
This turned out better than my first batch, too!

Tonight, I took some of that bread and made some garlic bread:


So, other than that, the only noteworthy thing was this story..  I'm looking out the window the other morning, and I see this:

Not sure if you can read that, but it's a van that has "S.W.A.T." on the side.  That's something you don't see every day.   This is a picture I snapped after the action was over, the guys are piling back in.

Turns out, someone was busy selling some H, and the police caught wind of it.. Took down a small ring of people.  I'm thinking now, there's a vacuum and a need... perhaps a second career?

Ah well, keep on rockin, with or without your opium.