Monday, September 29, 2014

Raising a child

When I started this blog it was because I wanted to document what it's like to raise a baby and continue to train as much as I do and how I manage the 2.  Over the course of almost 2 years, I think I have possibly forgotten a lot of writing about the raising a child part.  It's so easy to write about training and what I'm trying to accomplish and how I've either been successful or not.  Those are documented things.  However, I haven't been writing that much about Riley and how he has influenced my life.

Outside of the obvious, he's changed my life for the better, he's the most important thing in my life, and everything a parent should say, etc.  Riley has also taught me a lot over the past 21 months.

-He has taught me that it's so easy to laugh at almost anything.  The wife and I are really lucky. Riley is such an easy baby.  Very rarely do we experience the typical terror baby (which is also why we don't want to mess it up and try for a second soon).  So it is very easy to look at Riley and laugh at almost everything he does.  He is so good and playful that even if he does something bad, he gives this face and you just have to laugh at him.  Even in his devilish ways, laughing at him is so easy.

-Schedules are good.  Yes, we all know schedules are supposed to be followed, but how many of us actually do this?  Since about 3 months, Riley has been on a schedule for most things. Naps, food, playtime, bedtime, etc. What we find is that the more he follows this schedule, the better acclimated he is at everything else.  What this also does is allow the wife and I to be on a regular schedules ourselves.  We know how we can build our days, workouts, plans, and everything else around his schedule.  This makes our lives so much easier.  Yes, we get the comments of how "structured" we are, but we also get the comments on how good Riley is, so I'll take the structured comments with how great of a baby he is.  I'll also take knowing when I can go for a long run vs. short intense run because of timing issues.  This helps me plan my training tremendously.

-Grandparents mean well, but.....I'll just leave it at that.  Riley has 2 sets of wonderful grandparents.  They both love him and make our lives easy....most of the time.  Some of the challenge with having grandparents is that since they raised you, they think they know everything and always use the line "well, I raised you and your sister (or brother or X amount of kids).  This is very true, but it is the wife's and mine choices that are going to have the most impact of Riley's development.  We like to think we know what's best for him since we see him every day.  So when we know he has to be fed by a certain time or he'll turn into Audrey 2 from the Little Shop of Horrors, we know what we're talking about and that he should probably eat.  While we can stretch out the times we eat, he can't.  Or when we only allow him to watch TV before naps and bed, that means it should not be on all day.  The wife and I can't complain about Riley's grandparents too much since we'll take them over most, and definitely not having, but we wish they would listen to us a little more.

- A way to make Thunder like you is through his stomach.  At first, Thunder wasn't too fond of Riley.  He didn't like the attention he was getting and wanted me all to himself.  This all changed when Riley started eating real food.  Since Thunder was always Riley's best friend, but Riley wasn't always Thunder's, this had to change.  Riley always wanted to play with Thunder.  So when Riley started giving his Cheerios to his sidekick, Thunder started getting a little more interest in Riley.  Now Thunder follows Riley around since there is a chance he might get a snack.  To watch a boy and his dog play is one of the true treasures in life.

There are tons of things I have learned and experienced over the months since Riley has been born that I can't write enough.  But since I realized that I have gone away from a lot of the reasons I created this blog, I wanted at least get some of them out there.  Having Riley in our lives has been a blessing and one that we wont trade in.

A Boy and his Dog

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Favorite workouts

Now that Tri season is officially over for the year, it's time to focus on marathon season.  I'm actually really excited about this.  Having a disappointing Tri season is something that I wasn't expecting, but I'm happy to put it in my rear-view mirror.  This way, I can focus on only one discipline, which also happens to be my favorite of the 3 disciplines and one that I am most comfortable in.

Over the past few years, I've developed or stolen some workouts that have been staples in my running training programs.  They are just my go to workouts that I know will kick my butt, but also give me a good idea of where I am in my training.  I would say that 95% of my workouts are hard.  I very rarely do "easy" days.  I know this isn't good and that easy run days are needed, but it's not something I can do easily.  Even during my easy days, I find myself pushing myself during parts of the run.

I've also had the experience to bring on a few fellow runners and introduce them to a few of my workouts.  Some like them, most don't.  But when we all get through the workouts, everyone does thank me for introducing them to the pain. So here goes.  Feel free to take them, tweak them, make them yours.  Just pass them on and push yourself during each workout

Treadmill Speed workout:
Warm up with a 1/2 mile-1 mile at half marathon pace
Interval runs 2 minutes on, 1 minute rest
Here's the kicker- make the intervals FAST.
For example, my treadmill run pace for a normal run is 10.2 mph. For this workout, my run interval speed is 11.8 mph for the first minute, then 11.9 the 2nd.  After 2 minutes, either rest with a slow/comfortable jog or hop off and stand on the rails

Do this for at least 5 miles on the treadmill.  For me, that breaks down to about 25 minutes. If you can do longer, then do it.  I know I'm exhausted and fighting at the end of it, so do it until you can't sustain the entire 2 minutes.
To make it harder, increase the incline on the treadmill.  I start mine at a level of 1.0

Hill Workouts:
Warm up with a jog to your desired hill.
Find a hill that is about 1/3-1/2 a mile long.  The speed for this workout should be faster than 5k pace.  I know a lot of people don't recommend this, but I find that essentially sprinting up a high grade hill at this speed gets me more ready for long runs than doing a hill at an easier pace.
Jog back down to the bottom of the hill and start again.

Build up hill reps.  When I start these each season, I struggle to finish 5.  By the end of the season, I'm up to 10 hill repeats.  The goal during the actual run part is to really fight the pain and mental pain during the last 30 seconds of the hill.  That's how fast you want to go.  If you can do the hill and it feels easy or slightly difficult, you're not pushing yourself hard enough.  At the top of the hill, you should have your hands on your knees gasping for air and then recover on the way down.  This makes racing up hills a lot easier and you get to find that edge where you blow past people on the hills during a race and really get a lift.

note- this is the hardest workout I do.  At first, it was just me.  Then I had Leo join me, and have since had others join.  Each have said how much they hated it the first time doing it.  I think one person even threw up.  But I can tell you that every single person has asked me when is the next time we are doing this workout.

Pole Workout:
No, I'm not becoming a stripper.
I stole this workout, so this is one I can't take credit for.  Since Central Park is my home turf, I use Light posts as my markers, but you can use whatever street marker you want.

Run at 5k pace for 3 lamp posts, then jog for 3 lamp posts. Then run 4 lamp posts, jog for 4 lamp posts.  Go to 5 lamp posts, then start again at 3.

Why this is good is that you can't pick a course that is easy.  If you happen to start an interval on an uphill and have to do 4 lamp posts, then that's what you have to do.  You can't cheat the system.  It all depends on the street, the course, what marker you are using, where your intervals start and stop, etc.

Those are my 3 favorite workouts.  The first 2, I typically use every week.  The last one, I tend to use in the beginning of the season for some reason and then forget about. Every single one of these workouts make my long runs easier because it works on specific parts of each run.  Knowing that I can bust it up a hill at a pace faster than 5k speed helps me get through the pain I'm in when I'm doing that same hill at marathon pace.

Tempo runs, long runs, Canova workouts and a bunch of others are all incorporated into my running, but as much as I hate the 3 above, I love them just as much, if not more.

Monday, August 25, 2014

I'm just so grumpy all the time

So I don't know what it is recently, but I've been in this weird grumpfest for the past few weeks.  Yes, that is a word.  It's just been all the time I've been in the worst possible mood for days on end.  I honestly can't remember the last time I was truly happy and had a good day.  That's so weird.  I'm not like depressed or angry or anything to be worried about, but I'm literally on edge every second that I am awake, and that includes nights where I've woken up in the middle of the night and have been up for hours.

It seems like everything Riley does just agitates me and I can't even enjoy him playing without getting angry that he is having fun.  That's weird, right?  Shouldn't I love hearing him laugh and giggle?  Right now, it's just noise that is irritating.  He's the easiest baby in the world, and taking care of him is a joy.  Just not recently.  He's done nothing wrong except be a baby which isn't even wrong.  Same goes for the wife's voice.  Yes, I'm getting going to get in trouble for saying that, but the sound of her voice just frustrates me.

I honestly don't know what's going on.  Could it have stemmed from pulling out of Nationals and not having that to look forward to?  Even my long runs are dreaded because I know it's just me and the road and all I have with me is music and my thoughts.  My birthday was last week and even during that day, there was still something going on in my mind.  I was thinking back to last year and how I was racing that weekend and then I ran through the finish line with Riley and it was great.  That put me in a weird mood since I missed it and couldn't enjoy my birthday.

I know I'm thinking a lot about work and I'm stressed with that, but that can't be the only reason.  Maybe it's that time of the month for me.  Boys go through cycles don't we?

The one thing that it isn't affecting is my workouts.  Those have gone pretty well.  Considering Tri season just finished this past weekend and I am going to start Marathon season tomorrow, things will get a little more clearer with that.  but my bike rides have gone great and every run except for my long runs have gone great.

I don't know what it is but I need to get out of this funk and soon.  It's not good for anyone. There have been some good things the past few weeks to be happy about.  The wife had her first race, my birthday, some good things for work, and just normal every day things.  But I just can't get behind them and enjoy.

It's time to break out and get things moving in the right direction.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

USAT Nationals and I'm missing out

It's going to be a tough weekend for me.  This weekend is the USAT Nationals in Milwaukee, and I was supposed to be competing in both the Olympic and Sprint races.  I actually qualified in October of last year and registered soon thereafter.  My main goal all offseason and this coming season was to compete in Nationals and earn a coveted spot on Team USA.  I just missed out 2 years ago on a spot, but that was when I didn't know any better.  For those who don't know about how that works, essentially the top 25 athletes in each Age Group earn a sport on Team USA and get to compete in the World Championships, this year being held in Chicago.  Last year, World's were in London..  Pretty cool right?

So I thought all season that I was going to be gunning for one of those spots.  However, life takes over and things get in the way.  I learned a lot this year so far about training and what I need to do to be successful, but that came at a cost.  The cost being not performing at my best at any race this season.  I learned my lesson about training for hills at the Rev3 Nationals, I learned my lesson about training and being able to push the pace during TriRock Philly, and I learned what I need to do to be successful in future races.  The problem with all of this is that I learned it too late.  For me to go out and compete in Nationals, I felt I needed to be competitive and be able to hold my own.  And truth be told, I haven't been all year.  This has been a very wasted year for me and one that I look forward to putting behind me.  Knowing that I wasn't going to be as competitive as I needed to be to get a spot on Team USA, I pulled out of Nationals.  For me to spend over $1000 for flights, hotels, bike travel, etc, it wasn't worth me getting my butt handed to me by the best in the country.  I had a chance to make the team in the Sprint division but I made the fiscal decision to not chance it.

When last season finished, I knew this was what my goal was.  I even thought about printing out a picture of the Team USA logo and putting it on my bike so every workout I had I knew I had to push myself.  I wanted every workout structure to get me better, stronger, and faster.  But I fell into a bad rut this year and didn't do that.

My decision was the right decision, but that still doesn't mean it makes it any less painful.  When I see friends of mine traveling to Milwaukee this weekend to race, I am definitely jealous and wish I could be there. I wish I would be in better shape to compete with the best in the country.  But right now, I am not.  That will change next year, as I vow to get back to Nationals and vow to make the team and represent USA the following year.

This is my fault and my fault alone.  I was the one who didn't put the work in, who didn't push themselves harder, who didn't work on my swim to get better.  I am the only one who I can blame.  But I know that since I did this, I can learn from it and that is exactly what I intend to do.

For everyone who is competing this weekend, good luck.  It will be a very hard weekend for me knowing that you are out there with the best of the best.  But be afraid, be very afraid, I'll be there next year with you.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Skora's Huge Sale

I just wanted to pass along that Skora is having a HUGE sale over the next few days.  As you all know from reading here, my impression of Skora's are amazing.  I don't think I have put another brand of shoes on my feet in close to 2 years.  I love all of their styles

Now is your chance to get a pair for a huge discount so you can try them out




I just wanted to pass along such a great deal to everyone

Thursday, July 17, 2014

One Proud Moment- Riley's first race

A few weeks ago, I raced the TriRock Series Sprint and Olympic Double and it was a good weekend of racing.  Not my best performances, but there was another event that weekend that I will remember forever: Riley's first race ever.

Saturday afternoon after the Sprint race, TriRock held a children's "Fun Run".  There were different race lengths for different ages, but all I was concerned with was entering Riley into this race.

Once the wife and I decided that this weekend would be race weekend for me, we found the kids race and decide to make a full weekend out of it.  While Leo and I went up Friday afternoon to be there for our race Saturday, the wife, my parents, Riley and my sister all heading to Philly Saturday morning to meet us around 11 am.  Once we met up, we picked up Riley's race bib, t-shirt, and swag bag.  yes, even an 18 month old gets a swag bag.

Cheerios are the perfect pre-race snack
While we waited for Riley's race to start, we decided to "carb him up" with cheerios so he would definitely have some energy.  After eating his fill of cheerios and getting hydrated, they announce the 1-3 year old race was about to start.  With his race outfit on, which was definitely designed by me and matched my race outfit and bike, we headed to the starting line.


Guiding Riley to the finish
Yes Riley, you are winning


Knowing how races get, I decided to hold Riley from the crowd and let him start in the back.  (pacing is key in a 50 yard dash).  This way, all the kids would run to the finish and be done with their race in like 10 seconds, and Riley would be the only one on the red carpet finish shute getting all the attention.



Plus it was a good way to get clear pictures of him.

Even though Riley didnt let go of me until the very end of the race, it was the highlight of the weekend for me.  Not only was it Riley's first official race, but I got to escort him in it and we finished together.  I do think he won his Age group though :)

As you can see, he is definitely proud of himself and such a ham when it comes to getting attention.  I wonder where he gets it from.

Let it be known that Riley has now raced in more races in his lifetime than the wife. That will change in a few weeks.
Notice he is the ONLY baby in the finish line area

I will remember that race forever, and can't wait until the day we can run a real race together.

video

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

TriRock Philly Sprint/Olympic Race Review

This past weekend I did something for the first time: I raced back to back days.  I decided a while back to race the TriRock Philly double Sprint/Olympic combo and thought it would be a good idea.  I have to say, it was.  The races might not have been the best for me, but racing back to back days was definitely something I'm glad I did.

So Leo and I drove down to Philly Friday afternoon to race on Saturday morning, and the family would meet us the next day since it would be a really long weekend if everyone was there from Friday night through Sunday.

Sprint race recap:

I think I was more excited going into the Sprint than the Olympic.  I really wanted to test my speed and figured I would be less tired since this race was first.  Looking at the times over the past few years, I thought I had a good shot at some type of podium finish.  So pushing the pace was definitely in the agenda.

For the sake of length, I'll combine all disciplines into a single recap.  So starting off with the swim, I felt good.  I knew I wasn't going to be the fastest, but I figured I could do well enough to keep me in position to make up ground on the bike and definitely the run.  My swim actually felt like I was doing well for me. With the mishaps of Knoxville, I wanted to see how fast I could push without burning out. The swim had a tiny bit of current, but the problem with the swim was they did a time trial start with rolling waves based on Age Groups.  So while I was pushing myself, I kept catching and having to pass the waves before me weaving in and out of poor swimmers.  This definitely took time off.

When I finally hit my bike, within the first 2 miles, I knew it was not going to be my day.  I couldn't get any speed going and the course was flat.  My legs were just dead for some reason.  All week, I felt like this, but I figured I would be able to push through.  The course was 2 loops around Fairmount Park in Philadelphia which wasn't flat, but wasn't too hilly.  I expected a little bit more flat roads, but was prepared.  My problem was I just didn't have it in my legs.  I thought I would try and conserve energy for Sunday's race, but mentally I can't do that.  I pushed as much as I can.  The same problem that occurred on the swim happened on the bike.  All of the faster bikers kept having to pass the slower cyclists on the 2nd loop of the same course.  I wouldn't say faster, but maybe younger?  The waves started with the higher ages so when it was my age group and even younger, we were sharing the roads with a lot more people and having to weave in and out.  Not ideal at all.  I felt like I was screaming "on your left" all day.  And yet, no one would move over to help us out.

Finally racking my bike, I grabbed my Skora's and headed out for the run.  Being only a 5k, I really wanted to kill it.  But my legs, and at that point, my mind, wasn't into it.  I kept just wanting the race to be over.  The run course was flat and fast and even so I managed a 19 minute 5k, which I guess I expected.  I would have liked faster, but knew I had to save something for the next day.

I wanted a better result in this race, but sometimes knowing your body is more important.  I didn't want to ruin 2 races so taking my foot off the gas, even a little during this race, definitely help me for the next day.

Overall time 1:18 for a .5 mile swim, 15.8 mile bike, 5k run.  Top 3% of entire participants
 
The somewhat bright spot was I was pretty close to Ironman World champion Chris McCormack in my race.  He raced the sprint race and had a bunch of issues during his race, but still I wasn't too far behind him.

After the race, it was time to wait for Leo, meet the family who came for the end of the race, Riley's first race, and to see Philadelphia.


The family after my race, and right before Riley's first race
Grandpa, Daddy, and Riley walking back from dinner


Olympic Race Recap:

After getting somewhat of a decent night's sleep, it was time to strap on the boots again and go racing.

I was more excited for the Olympic race for some reason after not doing well in the Sprint.  I felt I had a better shot at having a good race and that my speed would be able to keep me in the mix more.

The Olympic race was also a race for the Pro's, so some big names like Andy Potts, Cameron Dye, Matty Reed and others were there.  When they got out of their swim, the announcers said they finished in like 15 minutes so the current was giving us about a 4 minute advantage.  Being an average swimmer, I was excited. Anything that helps my swim, I'll take.

Once my swim started, I was cruising.  The only problem was that I think I forgot to start my watch.  I have a timer on my watch to go off every 3 minutes during my swim.  It helps me know where my pacing is.  So when I got to the 100 meter buoy, there was no vibration, then the 200 meter one had nothing.  I knew the current was fast, but I didn't think it was this fast.  It was around the 300 meter mark that I just accepted I didn't start the watch.  I was bummed, because I thought I was making good time.  Ultimately I was, but my watch wasn't letting me know.

The swim was finally over and I grabbed my bike, started my watch, scrolled through my settings and went to town.  The first 4 miles or so was a breeze. I was averaging about 22 mph, and I thought it was going to be a good day.  But then some technical turns occurred, hills happened and I lost my bike mojo.  The course was essentially the opposite of the day before, but with added mileage. I knew the course and took advantage where I could, but for some reason, my speed wasn't there.  I just don't get it.  How could I have such great training sessions, and when race day comes, I can't push it and drop the hammer when I need to?  After finishing the 25 mile bike, I didn't know where I was in placing.  I figured I was either near the top, or towards the bottom since I only passed about 3 people in my Age on the bike, but only got passed by 2 people.  The run was where I needed to do my damage.

Coming through the finish to end my weekend
And that's exactly what I did.  My run was great.  Like, really good.  I racked my bike, and went to town.  The 2 people who passed me on the bike were caught within the first .5 mile of the run.  After a brief chat with one of them, we joked and I was off. I then put my sights on every runner ahead of me.  Other than the dead leg feel for the first mile, my time was great.  My first 2 miles were an average of 6:12.  I felt great.  I continued to pass at least 7 people in my age group, all of who were very dejected when I went by.  The course was measured a little long (or I started my watch early from transition), so I ended up with a run of 6.4 miles instead of 6.2.  My Garmin said I averaged 6.23 for my run, but running long took some time away so officially I ran a 6:40 mile pace.
I crossed the finish line and at that point my weekend was done.  it was time to stop being an athlete, and start being a daddy again.  I cooled off and took Riley away from the wife and took care of him.  We walked around, waiting for Leo, cheered him on, got some snacks, and then hung out.

Olympic Time: 2:22 for .9 mile swim, 24.8 bike, 6.2 mile run.


Overall, I am not happy with my placing for the race, but I realized that I can't control who enters the race.  I can only control my race.  If I place 1st, 400th, or anywhere in between, it's out of my control.  Whoever enters the race is not something I can worry about.  If I'm only going to race where I might win, then I will never hit my full potential.  So I have to look at other things that are in my control.  The Olympic race is the first race where I am happy with all 3 disciplines at the same time within a single race.  My times might not reflect it, but I executed my game plan the way I wanted so I can be happy about that.  
2 races down and wiped out.  


I wanted to quickly thank both SunRype and HoneyMaxx for my race kits.  It was the first time I was able to race in kits provided by sponsors.  They both felt and looked great.  It's nice to have something across my chest to know I'm racing for other people as well and that I have partners that I'm proud to help support.


So after a long weekend, I finally got home, had a quick dinner, and tried to play with Riley.  As you can see below, that didn't last long.  I think our weekend came to a close pretty early Sunday night.

After a long weekend of racing, Riley and I couldn't keep our eyes open