Catching Up…

It seems impossible to do these days. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to get enough done; from house work, to work, to keeping in touch with anyone except my parents, not enough sleep, etc. That’s life I suppose, but I hate having such long to-do lists all the time. So, in lieu of catching up in my blogging world and boring you with a slew of separate blogs, I will try to capture the last few months with bullet points:

  • In April, our immediate family celebrated Scott’s 40th with a surprise dinner. An even bigger, and quite wonderful, surprise to Scott was having his father and Kathy fly in for it. It was quite a night and I am blessed to have such a fabulous family!
  • A few months ago I woke up with a nice pain in my lower back. It turned out to be a spasm so I’ve been getting chiro treatments ever since. They worked and the spasm is gone, but now I have 3 bulging discs. They are minor as they can be treated with more chiro visits. The worst case scenario would be a cortisone shot, no big deal at all. In the meantime, I have the green light to continue training although flip turns and open water swimming aggravate it so I am no longer doing those. Sitting isn’t fun either, but I don’t do much of that. 😉
  • We enjoyed a fun Father’s Day at the Arlington Race Track. It would have been even more enjoyable had we won any money. 😉
  • My race season has fared pretty well. Last weekend I won a 2 mile open water swim in Crystal Lake. Well, it was supposed to be 2 miles…it was 3!!! I had a few clients do it too so I felt terrible about the extra mileage as 2 miles was long for them. Sorry guys, way to hang tough! The next day I did an Olympic distance tri in Lake Zurich and defended my title. Ouch that hurt, but it felt great to win!
  • I’ve been happy with my running for the most part this season, especially since I’ve only been able (doctors orders) to run 40 minutes at a time since November. I’ve worked even harder mentally because of this. I still want, and believe, I can go faster, but I no longer feel it’s necessary for ME to put in long runs in order to do so as I’ve been right on my best times. *After 6 years of coaching with New Trier, this is my first summer with them. Unfortunately, I am only able to be on deck a couple evenings a week, but it helps me stay connected to the swimmers and coaches.
  • I love love love my masters coaching gig with Glenbrook Aquatics! It’s been a great 1.5yrs thus far and the team has flourished from about 15 members to over 60! The best part? It’s simply a great bunch of people! And, sometimes they allow me to be entertained by doing some silly/fun/different sets; swimming with one leg in the air, vertical kicking while playing duck duck swim, mass swimming sans lane lines, get out width sprints followed by push-ups, tombstone kicking, etc.
  • For 4 consecutive years in Seattle, we had a Bradbury Bash where everyone had to bring an item which started with the letter ‘B.’ It was awesome so we thought we’d make an attempt to do something similar here. 80’s was the theme and there were some great costumes and good times.
  • The 4th of July was a blast at our family cabin in Michigan. We had about 20 people for a couple nights so many of us had to camp, real camping that is with tents and sleeping bags. Sarah, Court, and of course Clayton loved it all too, yay!!! *Tornado!!! A few weeks ago, we had one hit just a block away! Quite the scary experience as several huge old trees came a tumbling down in our area…and so did our power. Fortunately, no one was hurt and we had no damage.
  • Storm #2! No tornado, just some nasty winds, enough to take out more trees and cut our power for 4 days. Thankfully our neighbor Jake across the street kept our refrigerator plugged in! Thanks Jake! (A neighbor of ours has been a resident here for over 50 years. She said our side of the street always loses power, but she has yet to see the other side of the street do so. Odd).
  • Thanks to Weeji, we have a vegetable garden again this year. I think she put steroids in the ground as all is growing in leaps and bounds! The corn, cucumbers, and beans are HUGE! It’s fun to have as the girls, like us, love to pick things daily and eat them too. A few types of tomatoes and peppers and a plethora of herbs are also in the mix. Yum!
  • Great Grandma Trudy (to the girls) was here last week for a nice little visit. Unfortunately we aren’t able to see her often as she resides in NC, but we try to make the best out our time when she’s here. S&C had a ball with her! Love you Trudy!
  • Scott’s doing great. Work remains a joy and he is quite the father, coach, sherpa, and husband! His run training has been going really well too…although we are not certain which race he is shooting for…
  • Sarah and Courtney have been busy this summer as they had a month of summer school, gymnastics weekly, 3 weeks of swim lessons, and this week is bible school, all of which they love. They also did their first race, a 50 yard dash. They loved it so much, they did it again, and again, again. But like mom, they are truly like a pig in mud when it comes to the pool. Smiles abound!!! 😉
  • I’ve been in mourning the last couple days as S&C will no longer be 3. Where did time go and how did the get so tall??? 😦 They are a hoot now though. They get mad when they can’t exercise, they always want to put on ‘exercise clothes,’ they cry because they can’t run with us, and Sarah even requested a heart rate monitor for her birthday. Yep, so we’re getting them bikes for their birthday. <a href=”http://villagecyclesport.com/”>Village CycleSport </a>was a huge hit for them to test out their cycling skills only Courtney whined when she first hopped on as she complained that she couldn’t clip in her shoes!!! At this rate, they’ll be burned out of triathlons by the time they are 8!
  • And last, but not least…big news will be coming your way within a few months! ;)</

The Husbands’ Race Report – Part 2

More from Scott on his race at the North Shore Half Marathon:

I got to the race site nice and early, probably 6:40 or so for the 7:30 start. Like I mentioned: perfect weather. Mostly cloudy with temps in the 50s. I went over to the info table and got switched to the A corral so I’d be close to the front at the start, then got a good 1 mile warm up done. Just some easy running with a few hard pickups. My right knee has been a little loosey goosey lately and popping and cracking a bit but I had none of that during the warm up so I felt good about that. I headed to the start to watch the 5k go off at 7:15. I saw Mark Morgan…he ended up having a great race. Once the 5ke’ers cleared the 2500 13.1’ers and I got in position. The start corrals are very narrow so we were packed in tight.

The gun goes off… The field spread out very quickly so I had plenty of room. The first half of the race is basically all a long very gradual downhill. I felt solid and tried to focus on staying relaxed and not going out too fast. My goal was 7:15s and I felt if I could keep myself no faster than 7:10s for the first few miles it would really pay benefits.

Now let’s talk about pacing. Any serious runner will tell you the way to a PR is to even pace, or slightly negative split if possible. It’s great in theory but very hard to actually implement and in every race I’ve ever been in almost everyone starts out to fast and ends up fading in the end. I saw the same thing on Sunday as dozens of people flew past me in the first mile…especially anyone under the age of 20…ahh the stupidity of youth. Most of them would all come back to me at the finish. The first mile marker approaches: 7:08. Thank god I’m not overdoing it. My Garmin had been slow to get things going but I was able to get it synced up at that point and that gave me one less thing to worry about. I saw Mary and my mom and the twins at mile 1.5 or so. Always great to see the cheering section!

From there I settled in and focused on staying calm and running the tangents. The miles start going by: 2. 7:10 3. 7:16 4. 7:08 5. 7:18 6. 7:13 Just before the mile 7 marker the course goes through a couple of S curves and drops 70 feet straight down towards Lake Michigan. From there you make a left-hand turn and go straight back up Park Ave. towards Sheridan. Because of the downhill I ran mile 7 in 7:02. Then it’s up the hill. I knew it was coming, but it hit me harder than I remember from the year previous. I tried to stay steady and stay under 8/min miles but it was tough. My heart rate spiked to 182 and I could feel my legs burning. The hill is steep, but short, and within 2 minutes it’s mercifully over. I felt a bit crummy but was determined to not panic and get back in my groove.

Mile 8 went by at 7:25, meaning the hill only cost me 10 seconds or so, which is totally fine. Mentally, however, I felt like I had to try and make up that ground, and started pressing a bit…which led to me running mile 9 at 7:05. Stupid. My average HR for that mile was 178, about 3-5 beats higher than what I had been doing the previous 5 miles. I could feel myself losing my mojo, and decided I had to calm the fuck down and get back to my goal pace. At this point the race has turned into Ft. Sheridan and between mile 9 and 10 the race winds up and around the parade grounds and under the clock tower. It’s a long slow uphill…very gradual, but a little demoralizing because it feels like you are going nowhere as the road slowly curls around.

I went through mile 10 at 7:12, and stabilized for 4-5 minutes, but the gradual incline got to me and I started scuffling a bit. My breathing got hurried and erratic and I started getting a nasty side stitch. I was far from comfortable. I checked the Garmin and the pace had dropped to 7:20 or so. I was determined to stay tough. I was so close. Less than 3 miles to go. I knew this was the race right here. Either hang tough and hang in and try to recover on the way back out Ft. Sheridan, or worst case this is where it starts to unravel. I was running with a group of 2 guys and one woman and I guess they were in the weeds as well here because in spite of my slowing I surged past all of them except one. That perked me up mentally. We also finally crested that hill and crossed under the bell tower and had a little slight downhill stretch. I started to recover, felt the stitch stabilize, grabbed some water and Gatorade at an aid station, and hit mile 11 at 7:19. I’d survived and not given up too much time.

As we came out of Ft. Sheridan I saw my cheering section again. I don’t think I even mustered a nod at this point. Right thereafter I hit mile 12 at 7:15. Home stretch, right? The problem with that was the whole last mile is a long gradual uphill. It’s a grinder. You just want it to be over…but it’s not…you’ve got about 30 feet to gain back to the finish. I worked on just keeping my cadence up high, cruised through the last mile at 7:13 and picked it up for the last tenth to cross at 1:34:28. Bullseye. It’s an amazing feeling when it all comes together. I beat my goal time by 32 seconds, and averaged 7:13’s overall. No complaints. I was elated. I planned my race raced my plan. Not easy, but very satisfying. What’s next? Maybe a winter marathon, but more likely I’m going to try and PR my 10k here in the next 2 months…then maybe try another half in the fall.

Thanks for reading! Scott

The Husband’s Race Report – Part 1

No racing for me this week so I’ve asked Scott to drop by and blog on his race at the North Shore Half Marathon. I thought a little different perspective and commentary might help keep things fresh around here:

Mary asked that I take over the mantle of family blogger for a day so I thought I throw in a little race report from over the weekend. For those of you who have no idea who I am or what I’m doing with myself, a little background. I’m Mary’s husband and coach. I’m a sometimes but not currently a triathlete. Back in the day (pre-kids) Mary and I would race tri’s together but post-kids we realized logistically it wasn’t going to work to have us both doing triathlon training full-time so I switched over to run-only mode. Believe me, I’m totally fine with that. I’m a mediocre swimmer (in spite of Mary’s exuberant attempts to rectify) and while I do miss the biking sometimes, I love the simplicity and solitude of running and have been quite content just spending the last few years chasing various run-only goals and personal bests.

Now let’s be clear. I’m not a “great” runner. I have very little natural athletic talent, so I have to work my ass off to get anywhere, but I’ve made some gains. I trained and ran the Chicago Marathon last to disastrous weather-related results, and while my ultimate goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon, that’s a little out of reach for me at the moment.

So this spring I decided to focus on getting a PB in the half-marathon. I always have to have a goal, and by goal I mean race to shoot for. I like training with a target in mind, and training with a structured plan to follow. Great race…did it last year. Beautiful rolling course mostly flat with one steep but very short hill stuck right in the middle.

My half-marathon PR is from back in 2004 when I ran the Seattle half in 1:36:38. Back in the day. When I was young and…young. That’s a 7:23 pace and my goal this time around was 7:15 even. If you run long enough, you get to really know (with the help of McMillan’s formula) what pace goals are doable or not. Throughout the last 3 years I’d been running shorter stuff regularly so I pretty well knew where I was and what I was capable of. I also ran this same race last year and did 1:36:46, in spite of some weird health issues that derailed my training but turned out to be an undiagnosed sodium deficiency.

This winter and spring my training has been going great. I was nailing all my training runs. I was injury free. My (normally) wonky IT band and ankle tendinitis were not flaring up. I also switched to Newtons and really liked them and that was also helping me improve my form and efficiency. Usually the thing that has bit me in the ass has been the weather. Either snow and ice (Shamrock Shuffle, Santa Sleigh Run) or hot as heck (every other race I’ve done in the last 3 years). This year for the North Shore – the weather was perfect. 58 degrees race morning, no wind, slight overcast. Going in it was like the stars were aligned. I felt great, the weather was ideal, and I was confident I could do my 7:15s.

Race morning arrives…to be continued.