Thursday, December 6, 2012

A year flies by

     For the past year I have been going 100MPH. In December 2011 I was informed of an upcoming mission I was being considered for.   Being selected to be part of a new strategy in Afghanistan encompassed the majority of my time.  This was the best training I ever received prior to deploying.  This also meant being away from home for long hours while there and of course completely gone for over 9 of the 12 months. 
Family is number 1, but when you are a Soldier you have to train and be away a lot.  This does not mean you forget them.  You have to be creative when making plans during the free time you will have.  I think we made the most of our free or down days.  

 Trying to keep pace with my running during this was a challenge.  This was the least of my worries.  I knew I would be able to work out during my journey but of course did not make any concrete plans.  They would not have mattered since as I got my feet on the ground in Afghanistan I was getting a medevac ride to remove shrapnel from my knee.  A solid 6 weeks of zero training followed.  This was horrible for me. 
Now as I am finishing the trip portion of this year I am focusing on my running a lot more and making plans for races in the future.  I am only signed up for one at the present time but will of course sign up for at least two more majors and many local events throughout the year ahead.  

I already have plans for a family vacation in the Smokies after Christmas.  This will be a good outing for us all.  Now I have to establish my training regimen to get back into peak fitness so I can endure all challenges in front of me.  

My biggest training challenge is proper nutrition.   As my blog title states I am not your everyday runner.  I find myself looking around on race day and thinking wow how do I fit here.  I am sure the people to my right and left are looking around and see me and think wow where did he get dressed? Or does he know what runners wear?  My wife calls me the anti-runner runner.  I am not into the tank tops and short shorts of running,  but have learned to use some of the tools like bottles and gels.  I tried a Fuel Belt for my Marathon and it was a bad experience, might never wear one again.  When you see me I am most likely wearing gym shorts and a T shirt running.   However, I do jump head into good footwear.  I am trying the Brooks PureConnect shoes now and it is a learning curve for me.  

Back to nutrition:  When I first started running 5Ks and 10Ks I would eat an entire frozen pizza the night before to “fuel” and would have no problems. Then when I upped the mileage I realized it was a horrible idea.  I realized it was bad but I still did not make any significant adjustments.  The one time I attended a pre-race pasta dinner turned into a disaster for me.  I was in pretty good condition and felt good going into the weekend.  The drive to the race near Memphis was uneventful.  The Expo was good and I found a good pair of post race shoes.  The dinner would be my first ever and most likely my last.  We got up and went to the starting area.  The air was thick and it was hazy , hot and humid.  I was not worried about the heat since I just came from the high desert in Afghanistan.  When the starters gun went off the heat index was 105.  By mile 3 I was losing my dinner and had to let it go.  I slowed for about a mile and a half before regrouping.  This was the first time this had happened to me during a race and I am sure it will not be my last, just my last pre-race past meal.  Yes I know it was not all on the meal, the heat had something to do with it as well, the meal was the only thing different in my race prep so it takes the fall.  

I have been reading about the proper amount of Carbs and Protein an endurance athlete should take in up to 72 hours pre-race.  I also know in my line of work this is where I fall short because of the training on my work side.  I have to use the carbs I should be storing and the proteins are getting utilized as well.  This year I am going to make it so I can functionally do both be an endurance athlete while being a professional Soldier.  This will include a better diet not just for me but for the entire family.  

While I was away at training getting ready to deploy my daughter decided to become a vegan.  I was angry with her, but in the end supported her as long as she understood she needed a proper balance for her to be functional on the Soccer field.  She has stuck with it for 10 months now and is doing well.  I am planning on incorporating some of her dishes in with mine to make my diet a much better one. 

It  could be overwhelming to a person new to running or endurance sports to try and learn how to eat right and budget it out to be able to afford it.  Being new you are trying to beat those mile markers in your head , now you have to watch all the nutrition guidelines.  It is rough but not impossible.   Here is a free tool on training peaks you can use:

I will keep you posted on my success in becoming a well rounded athlete, let me know how you are doing. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Injured and Comeback

Being in the Army is always a great job.  You get awesome training on many different things.  They pay you to be physically fit.  You can not beat that.  There of course are dangers of being in the Military.  For one you can deploy to austere locations.  Another you can be away from loved ones for a long period of time.  Yet the two worst things have to be being killed or wounded. 

I have been to war 4 times now and the first three were pretty much like living in the Wild West.  I dodged a lot of rounds and explosions over my first three.  I knew this my fourth one would be a bit harder due to the nature of the deployment.  I had doubts for the first time ever. 

Those doubts materialized in a Mortar round striking within 35 meters of me and sending shrapnel in to my knee.  I did not flinch when it hit me, I looked and saw the blood and right away knew I was hit.  I just kept operating like I have been trained to do.  Lead until you can not anymore.  I stayed out front till they made me evacuate on a Helicopter.  I still thought in my mind it was just a scratch and all would be fine. 

After a couple hours at the hospital they told me I would be next for surgery.  In shock I asked for what.  They told me I had shrapnel in my knee and it had to be removed.  That is when reality checked in and I knew my doubts had in a way jinxed me.  After surgery I was sent to a crappy tent to sleep it off and limp with my crutches.  Less than 48 hours after the blast I was back on my base being taken care of by my Soldiers.  It may sound strange but it is better to be with your team than at the Hospital during these times.  I was in a familiar environment and able to heal quickly. 

I now await the doctor to let me know how to safely rehabilitate my Knee.  I am walking without the crutches and still have swelling.  I have challenged myself to get back to Half-Marathon condition by the time I get home.  With this I have signed up for the Rock and Roll Lexington Half-Marathon as my comeback race.  I hope many of you come out and join me in this comeback. 

I will keep you posted as I make my return to full operations.  You may knock me down but I will get back up!!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Measure of Pride!!!

     This past month I have been training my not so little anymore girl.  She is coming back from a knee injury during last year’s soccer season.  

     I have run many races and have had a lot of fun in the past by myself.  Running with my daughter dwarfs all of them.  Whether it was my marathon in St Louis, or running a Half-Marathon in South Korea, the ability to run with her is a greater feeling.  

     This past month we have run three 5Ks together.  Her first one with a 95 degree heat index she hit the finish line at 34 minutes and was mad.  How many people actually get mad finishing a “fun run”?  Probably more than a few, but this is my daughter and my story.  

     It is said that sometimes to get a good story across you have to flash back to the beginning, hit the middle and sometimes go back and forth in order to get the point across.  Do not worry I will not do that.  When she was the ripe old age of 9 she ran her first 5K and hit a sub 30 minute race.  This opened our eyes to a talent neither of us had as a child.  She has gone on to run many 5Ks since then.  She is 15 now and has a PR of 26 which she stopped to walk in Korea because she was “bored”.  This of course made me mad but I did not crush her so she would hate running.  Instead I used the reverse psychology of telling her she could have won if she did not walk.  This was working until she got hurt playing soccer last year.  Then the rehab of a knee came.  I never had to deal with a leg rehab so did not know how to help her.  

     She helped herself and started using her tool box of parachute runs, ladders, box jumps and cones.  Her dedication inspires me to do better.  I asked her if she wanted to try a 5K again and with a little apprehension she said yes.  Now she is overly motivated and wants to keep getting better.  

     As we went to the starting line today for Ellie’s Run For Africa she was focused and nervous.  I could see it in her eyes.  Just four weeks ago she ran a 34 and was angry.  Now she was focused and had a pretty tough course ahead of her.  As we lined up we thought of an afternoon 5K a couple weeks ago the Queen City Road Race in Clarksville.  We ran that one in pretty hot temps as entire family and she hit ran to the 30 minute mark.  (again she was angry)

     We stood there and were waiting for the start.  She was not smiling at all just determined.  

     We listened as the pre-race speeches were made and the race was blessed with a prayer.  Then the gun went off.  Oh wait it was an accident.  So we all laid back and waited again.  It was now time as the gun went off we shot forward and gave it our best.  The first .9 miles was 90 % uphill followed by a rolling run through music row in the Gulch neighborhood of Nashville.  The hills beat up her knee but not so bad she was hurting.  We passed the two mile mark and she was still pumping it out.  We crossed over the highway towards the Frist museum and she had pain in her eyes.  She had to walk for a bit.  I said fine and like a good dad started running again.  She looked up and ran with me.  We lost valuable seconds there but I felt I needed to help her push.  We came to the last two turns and you could hear the African Drums playing, she started pumping her arms and running as hard as she can.  This was when I finally told her what her time was.  She rounded the final turn and pumped to home in 29:02.  

     In one month she shaved 5 minutes off a 5K time using just self determination.  I am very proud of her. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

After 5 years of trying......

     About 6 years ago I started seriously running.  I linked up with the Anniston Runners Club and started focusing on the major races the club was running in.  I wrote down a list of the ones I wanted to go after and right at the top was the Nashville Country Music Marathon.  I wrote that list in 2007.


     Over the next few years I have been pretty busy with work and have been out of the country for at least part of every year since 2008.  I missed the 08 race due to moving to Korea and 09, 10 being in Korea.  I just knew I would be able to run it in 2011.  I was going back to Ft Campbell, Ky which is about 45 minutes away and would get there in June of 2010.  I was excited to get runs in and train for it.  That is when the monkey wrench went into the plan.  I left for Afghanistan in Sept 10 and returned 2 days before the 2011 race.  I had to admit I would not be good for the race and wait another year.   

     In that time I decided to run in a couple of Rock and roll events including my first full Marathon in St Louis, and a Half in Savannah.  Trying to stay busy I signed up for the Navy Ten Nautical Miler, the Santa Hustle, the Go Commando 5K, and the Oak Barrel Half to name a few. 

     At the expo in St Louis I signed up for the Country Music Half along with my wife.  Two months later work got busy again and I was on orders to go back to Afghanistan.  I knew right there that I would miss my chance again to run in this race.  That would put me into 2013 before I could do it.    I just kept training for the run and for work staying positive.  As the date got closer it became evident that I would be able to run it however, my wife would have to sit it out because of a test.  

    On April 28th I finally got to the start line of the Country Music Half-Marathon.  I was one of a sea of people.  22,000 plus ran the half with another 9-10K running the full Marathon.  The weather channel said it was going to be 75-80 degrees for the race.  As I stood in the my corral I felt good there were clouds above keeping us cool for now.  Then as the National Anthem was being sung the clouds began to seperate and the sun fought its way through.  The heat was on.  

     As i hit about mile 8 I saw a sign on a business with the temp and it read 75 degrees.  It was at this point I decided to just run and not race.  It proved to be a good strategy as the heat was getting me even as I pretty much jogged towards the finish.  The final turn had me running straight towards LP Field and I erased the heat as I sped up to the shoot.  Finally after a long 5 years of waiting I have completed the race in Nashville.  

     I guess being persistent paid off as I had the race finisher medal on my neck.  A good but hot race complete, on to the next.....

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Oak Barrel Half-Marathon

When I signed up for this race I thought the medal was real cool.  A piece of the Oak Barrel used in making Jack Daniel’s Whiskey.  I knew 13.1 is always a fun distance and that I would have plenty of time to be ready for it.  (Read previous post on procrastination)  I trained like pretty easily moving up in mileage as I went along. This sounds kind of like your normal 12-16 week training plan doesn’t it?  Well that is where this one changed.  

You see in life sometimes like baseball you are thrown a curve ball.  I got mine at the end of December and it turned into a fastball in January.  For the better part of two months I was training like a mad man for work and part time for running.  I knew I was still running enough to make a half so I was not worried about it.  It was during this time I also learned of a little fact pertaining to this race.  There is a hill in this race , a hill which has its own Face book page.   What does that mean?  It has to be a monumental hill in order to have a page dedicated to it.  It has a cool name too, Whiskey Hill!!!

I have lived in this area a total of five years now over two tours.  This would be my first opportunity to go to the distillery tour.  I have drove past it countless times, but never went to it.  I would now have no excuse not to go through the tour.  (Reason two for taking this race on)

Back to the training.  

My furthest before March mileage wise was a 10K, and then I went away for 21 days to the woods of Louisiana.  Those 21 days although we did some physical training killed all my prep.  This would show on race day.  A fall during training in LA causing an injury to my right leg and I am guessing my back since I now have pain there.  So when I should have hit 10-12 miles I barely hit 5.  This is not good, unless you are an elite runner, which I definitely am not. 

We traveled down the day before the race to stay on a horse farm in Shelbyville, TN.  This is approximately 20 minutes from the race site.  This stop was a family stop since my daughter loves Horses and we would be away from the hustle and bustle of our daily life.  The Clearview Horse Farm was just what the doctor ordered for us.   We all had a chance to relax (even our dogs) and watch a horse show.  

 Race day woke up well rested.  We took the drive to Lynchburg, TN and of course when you take a town with population 361 and add 1050 runners plus their supporters traffic gets a little bad.  So we parked about a half mile from the finish line and walked in.    The weather for an April morning was a bit cool not bad though.  Had my sweatshirt and a fleece cap on to stay warm while waiting to start.  The start area was kind of boring, no music, nobody cheering or just yelling for us to get going.  The town was still asleep.   Of course this was not surprising.  This was and is small town USA.   

As 0800 rolled around I got down to my t-shirt and shorts and moved closer to the start line.  The whole time thinking about my approach to the huge hill that sat in front of me.   Trying not to let adrenaline take me over I set out to a nice and easy pace.   I did not look down at my Garmin until after I hit mile 2.  I was at a good pace and was blocking out the Hill.  This worked for a while.  By mile three I could feel what has to be allergies creeping through me.  It was making breathing a labor; I must have sounded like a locomotive coming through the area.  Then I looked down at my Garmin I was at mile 3.7 and did not notice a hill.  Was I just in the flow of the race or could I not differentiate between flat and hills now?  I was at the bottom of Whiskey hill but just did not notice it.  I kept running until I noticed what reminded me of Korea and Namsam Hill.  Whiskey hill became extreme and I had to adjust everything to stay moving forward.  Wow it deserves a page on Face Book!!!!

The end of the hill was at mile 4.7 so we were less than 9 to go at that time.  The only problem was  now I was pretty drained from that hill and the one the preceded it at about 2.5.  I also knew that at mile 9 I would get a downhill for about three miles according to the race website.  So I settled in for the long haul to get to nine.  I met a man at mile 7 who just moved to TN and just had become a dad again.  We talked until about mile 8 this helped me to keep going.  At mile 10 tragedy struck as a runner went down.  A bunch of people were around him so I thought he was ok.  Then an emergency vehicle sped by us.  It was just a SUV so I figured they were just checking on him.  I looked back and then almost got run down by the Ambulance coming to help him that made me realize, always keep your headphones low or one ear open during runs it may save your life.  I then pulled out one ear bud for the rest of the race.  

All this was powered by Marathon Bars.  The Motto Stay On Keep On was on point today

Now as we came back into view of Lynchburg, you could see it was alive.  What a difference a couple hours make.  The streets were lined, the announcer was calling out our names, this is a race day after all.  As I approached the final turn I saw my race fans cheering me on, they gave me that last bit of energy needed to finish strong.  I heard my name and raised my hands in victory even though it was one of my slower Halfs.  I had finished and beat Whiskey Hill.  Wow it was a lot tougher than expected but I again learned some lessons from a run.  Training does and always will matter.  Research routes of races so you know when to peak.  Do not wear both headphones during races, this will save you in the end.  

Once finished we went on the tour of Jack Daniels Distillery.  It was pretty interesting to see how this world famous whiskey is produced.    We then ate lunch at the Barbeque Caboose CafĂ©.  It was good southern BBQ and I recommend it for BBQ enthusiasts everywhere.  It was then back to the farm for our rest time.  
This was a great weekend and exposed me to my shortfalls in training.  I will be better for Nashville in 20 days thanks to this.  

 On to the next: the St Jude Country Music Nashville Half Marathon.