Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goals for 2010

Being a goal oriented person, I enjoy setting out a new year with specific goals in mind. The goals set out here are for my running and triathlon activities.

1. Run a sub-30 minute 5K. I've been after this one for a while and really feel I can do it this year.

2. Run a sub-2:30 half marathon. Just like #1, I really am going after this goal this year.

3. Participate in at least 4 triathlons this year. I did 4 last year, so I don't see why I can't do at least that many again.

4. Get my weight under 200 pounds and keep it there.

5. My goals for individual activities: Running 600 miles, Biking 1500 miles, Swimming 60 miles and Total Exercise Time 17,500 minutes. This would be an increase in all areas, but I think doable (providing I maintain my momentum and avoid injury). Most significantly this would be about a 40% increase in my miles biked from 2009.

Everyone have a Happy New Year, and for those I'll be seeing in Orlando soon...I'll keep an eye out for you!

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 in Review

As the year started I set several goals for myself and now it's time to see how I did in achieving those goals.

1. Lower my 5K PR to below 30 minutes.

I fell just short on this one with a 30:20 5K in April, and it was on a trail course. I'll be adding this to next year's goal list and hope I blow it away.

2. Lower my half marathon PR to below 2:30.
I didn't run as many half marathons as I had originally intended during the year, primarily due to getting more involved in triathlons than I had anticipated. However, I did manage to PR in early December with a 2:31:24 on a tough course during poor weather. Even though I did not actually make this goal, I still feel good about where I am on half marathons right now. Again, I'll add this to next year's goal list.

3. Compete in at least 2 triathlon events.
This year I participated in 4 triathlons (2 sprint tri's, 1 Olympic distance tri, and 1 half Ironman tri...and wished I'd had the time for more!). I exceeded my goals here and really like the tri events.

4. Enroll in, and train for, the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2010.
I am registered for both the Disney full and half marathon (aka The Goofy Challenge) for next month and am looking forward to them, as well as the longest Disney World vacation I have ever taken.

5. Get myself down under 210 pounds before the end of the year.
I weighed in at 208 pounds during the second week of December (I was at a high of about 263 pounds back in 2007). I have probably gained a few pounds back with all the Christmas celebrating (although I have not weighed myself to know for certain), so I consider this goal made.

Overall, I feel good about making 3 out of these 5 goals and just missing 2 of them. I am very happy that I not only stayed with my training, but I improved upon it. 2009 saw a decrease in miles run 506.2 vs. 641.8 miles, but that was because of an increased emphasis on miles biked (nearly 1100 miles) and swam (over 50 miles).

Monday, December 21, 2009

7 Lessons I Learned in 2009

1. I think this one really holds over from 2008, but I continued to learn more about myself through this lesson: I cannot run (or swim, bike, or perform any other exercise) so much that I can truly eat anything all the time. I actually gained around 10 pounds in my first year of training and doing running events because I assumed it didn't matter what I ate as long as I ran enough.

2. However, building on #1 is that I can eat enough of the right foods so that I don't have to be hungry--and not put on weight, and I can even get asked by my employees how I can eat so much and lose weight (because they seem to see me eating my healthy snacks frequently).

3. One side benefit of losing weight is that I am getting more miles out of a pair of running shoes, not to mention all that stuff about getting healthier, too. I have to believe that being lighter puts less wear on the shoes.

4. I learned that a good bike really makes a difference. OK, so I really knew this, but it's another thing to realize it for yourself. I easily picked up several mph on average with my new Fuji road bike over my old bike, not to mention that the top speeds hit a higher rate as well. I know I hit at least 35mph in Austin at Longhorn 70.3, and I am pretty sure I got even faster on some downhills when my bike computer was out.

5. I learned that it takes me longer to recover from a Half Ironman than it does to recover from a marathon. I suppose it would be easy to say because I spent about 30% more time completing the HIM than I did the marathon, although I suspect it had more to do with being more completely worn down due to the multiple activities (swimming, biking and running). However, even though it took me longer to fully recover (or at least recover sufficiently enough to race well), I still felt better at the finish line of the Longhorn HIM than I did at the end of the San Antonio Marathon.

6. As much as I enjoy running, I have learned that I also enjoy swimming and biking as much as running. My first year of triathlon training in 2008 ended early due to a rear end auto collision (from which I did recover after several months of rest and physical therapy). Perhaps most unfortunately, my triathlon season ended that year prior to completing my first organized triathlon event. 2009 ended up being the year I completed those triathlons. I am looking forward to next year's runs and triathlons to be even better than this year's.

7. Part of my personal success this year goes to my support system, with my family supporting my time spent in training and travelling to the occasional event. Also, I received lots of help from friends ranging from answering my questions about new subjects and areas to training alongside me on the roads. Until this year, I hadn't quite realized how important a part of my successes my friends and family are.

I'll have to keep some of these in mind as I go into next year as I have plans to advance my training to take me beyond what I have done this year while also keeping that delicate balance with my life and family at home.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

20.5 Miles to New Shoes

My old shoes had been holding up well this year. I had figured to need to replace them in the October/November time frame, but they kept holding up. I recently decided that they should hold up well enough to make it through the Disney World Goofy Challenge races--and that was my mistake!

This weekend's 20.5 mile run was going real well until around 16 mile mark, when I started to feel the telltale pain in my lower legs that indicates that my shoes need to be replaced. Just to be safe I took it wasy for the last few miles back on the run to avoid hurting myself. Looking back I shouldn't have quite been surprised since I had gotten longer wear out of these shoes than any other pair in recent memory. I had gotten around 500 miles on these shoes (I didn't know that until I went through my logs earlier today.) when some others had only gotten me through 300 - 350 miles.

To be fair to me, it isn't as if I was unprepared for this. I had purchased a new pair of the same shoes (Asics Gel Fortitude 3's) several months back and had started to wear them in recently to keep myself prepared, but still I was thinking I might have more time....

Anyway, here is a photo of old and new shoes, with the only differences between them being about 500 miles of road and trail wear, plus the Yanks laces on the old pair. I wonder how long these new shoes will stay looking so bright.....

Monday, December 7, 2009

Starting a New Year Right

This past weekend I headed over to Austin to run the Decker Challenge Half Marathon with friends Heather, Del and Ingrid. It was also a little extra special for me as this race coincided with my birthday.

Many months ago I had planned to make this race a total effort to PR and try to break the 2:30:00 mark on my half marathon time. However my plans had since changed and I was now coming off of the San Antonio Marathon 3 weeks back and looking forward to the Goofy Challenge in 5 more weeks, so I changed my plans here to putting forth a solid effort but running below race-level effort (I suppose this equates to considering this race a 13.1 mile tempo run.)

Sunday morning I presented with a birthday card, balloon and cupcake (which I saved until after the run) and I was thankful for my friends remembering my birthday. I was having a difficult time deciding what to wear (see Karen, that problem is not exclusive to women!!) as the weather was cold and wet--in fact it there was a slow rain or heavy mist for the entire event! I decided to go with short tights that stopped above the knee and long socks that went up to just below the knee instead of long tights. I also wore a newer pair of shorts over the tights because I wanted to try them out on a longer run before my marathon, since they have several pockets for gels I wanted to make sure they would be comfortable enough before the Disney marathon trip. I also went with a tight long-sleeve shirt under a sleeveless running shirt for my top. Because of all the wetness I decided to keep my Sun-Mart running jacket on for the run as an outer layer. In addition I wore a lightweight beanie cap on my head to keep warm and wore gloves to keep my hands warm. Being from south Texas, I am no stranger to warm (and downright hot) weather running, and I can put up with running in cooler weather without being so bundled up for a time, but heading out on a long run--even a race--in these conditions was new to me, and in fact it did stay cold and wet for the entire course, I did feel afterwards that I made the right choices in my running attire.

Since I started the race without expectations other than to run a solid pace without overtaxing myself, I figured I was set for a decent run. Starting out was nice and the first decent hill didn't seem nearly as bad as it did when it was on the Longhorn Tri course 6 weeks before, and then we headed into a general downhill for a bit. Of course this downhill set up to an general uphill for a bit and so it went until hitting real hill around miles 4 and 6, with 6 being a tough one (which I walked the last 1/3 of so I wouldn't max out my heart rate so early on. I believe the first 10 miles or so of this run were also the first part of the Longhorn Tri bike, so the area seemed generally familiar and I enjoyed being more out in the country and away from traffic. Coming up to an aid station around the 10K mark I realize I am on a personal PR pace for a 10K, and I am still feeling strong and am run/walking, but running more than normal and feeling good with it. As I continue on I find several general inclines and then 2 pretty big hills in succession around miles 9 and 10, where I also realize I am several minutes of my 10 mile PR as well. I also have known for a while now that a new half marathon PR was possible and that I could even break 2:30 if I pushed hard enough, but did I want to risk my training for January for accomplishing something else now? In the end I decided to try to keep a strong pace to break my old PR time but told myself not to risk injury by doing too much for today--after all I was well ahead of today's plan and I would hate to ruin a successful run that already exceeded expectations.

I crossed the finish at 2:31:24, beating my old PR time by over 2 1/2 minutes. I would have thought I might be bothered by missing a golden opportunity to break 2:30,but I was really happy with this run because I felt so good out there that I know I have it in me. This certainly felt like the toughest course I have ever run in a race and to PR here was a fantastic feeling already. After this run, I know I can get under 2:30, it'll just have to wait a while longer. In addition to me, all of my friends PR'd as well. Heather did break the 2:30 mark that she had been chasing after for a long time running well with a time of 2:27:54, Del ran 1:49:55, and Ingrid bested her time from last year on this course by 31 minutes(!!) and also set a personal PR time with 2:01:49.

Afterwards, we grabbed some pizza and then I had to leave to drive home for a nice birthday dinner with my family, enjoying ribs and wings knowing that I could definitely celebrate the day and go off diet without worry for a while.

The last couple of years have each been pretty good to me. I've gotten ahead in my career, I've gotten in better shape, I've made many good friends and I'm getting to watch my daughters mature into the fine women they can each become. My life may be far from perfect, but right now it is pretty good. So far life at 44 is just fine.

My next running event will be the Goofy Challenge in just under 5 weeks and I hope to meet up with some friends for the first time that I have known online for a bit. I also have no plans to run these events for the fastest time but will instead be running to enjoy the event for itself and soak it all in with the people I have around me.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Snowy Friday

Growing up in south Texas generally means warm winters and seeing snow on the television while hearing stories of the white stuff falling from the sky from transplanted northerners.

Today was the exception to the rule, a cold front coming in from the northwest met moisture and rain pushing up from the Gulf of Mexico and created a snowy band for about 120 miles inland for most of the day. Normally, the snow I've witnessed here would hardly qualify as snow for many, just being small light flakes but today I saw big fluffy flakes for the first time in 30 some years I have been in Texas.

This photo was taken out of my car window while going back to my office from lunch. I was stopped at the time, the white streaks are becasue the snow was falling fast.

However, true to form, very little acumulated on the ground and it never got cold enough to see snow sticking to anything other than isolated parked car. I was nice to get to see a real taste of winter up close, but it'll be even nice to not have to worry about snow covered roads as I drive out to Austin tomorrow for Sunday's half marathon.