Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Looking Glass Trail


Lisa and I went up to Asheville for a little getaway and had a nice time. Since we both had a couple of days off of work, we figured a short trip would be in order.

So since I was in Asheville, I couldn't resist getting in a short run on the Shut-In Ridge trail. The STR is near the Blue Ridge Parkway and is in a very pretty area. Lloyd and some of my other friends in our running club did a race there earlier this year and I wanted to see what it was like, so I thought I'd get in an hour run. That trail is one tough hombre. I only ran for a little less than 7 miles but my watch recorded 2700 ft of ascending. I can imagine how tough it would be to run the whole 18 miles of the race.

After cleaning up and getting something to eat, Lisa and I went up to the Pisgah National Forest and hiked the Looking Glass Trail. I found this trail based on some good online reviews, so we figured we'd try it out.

The hike was moderately hard, especially since it was soggy out and the footing was slippery. But despite the footing difficulty and strenuous ascending it was enjoyable and beautiful. We saw waterfalls and some gorgeous rock outcroppings. On the way up another hiker told us to be careful at the summit since it was windy and the rocks are slippery. We both knew to be careful since about a 3/4ths of a mile below the summit there is a flat rock outcrop that serves as a helipad.

Lisa and I both had a good time, though she did have one slip on a wet rock and got a little backside stinger. She was wearing some running shoes which didn't provide a whole lot of grip. I'm going to have to hook her up w/ some good trail shoes the next time we go hiking. Well that's about it. We had a nice trip.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A few short takes

1) Even though we had a string of overcast rainy days lately, its been great running weather. Got in 60 miles last week. Though I think I'll back off this week and recover a bit.

2) It seems like a bunch of chiro docs are into endurance sports. I follow Dr. Marc & Tanya's blog and they do those epic ultras. Then my chiro, Dr. Josh, is a 2x ironman finisher and consistently places in the winter cyclocross series. To top it off his sis is a chiro too and she raced Ironman Florida.

3) Speaking of chiro visits, I almost fell asleep on the traction bed during yesterday's visit.

4) I've gotten 50 miles on the Go Lites, so far, A+ for traction, B- for fit. I got a small blister during my long run in Umstead Park.

5) Its gonna be cold today. Tonight's run will definitely be in pants.

6) Since we've got a shut down at work, I should take a short trip and explore some trails in the western part of NC. It would be nice for me and Lisa to get away.

7) I look at my bike everyday and miss riding. The only thing is that I'm too pooped to ride after the long runs, and during the week it gets dark very early.

8) Okay since I live so close to the American Tobacco Trail, I should break out the lights and do a night ride. Its only 6 miles, but at least I can do some spinning.

9) Me and my dog, King have one similarity, I feed him a bit more during the winter so he'll put on a little weight for insulation. I've also been feeding myself more lately, even w/ all the long slow runs, I've managed to add some lbs.

10) People should bring healthy treats to the office, maybe some fruit along w/ the cookies and cake.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gear Review This Time

During my run w/ the Umstead Park gang this morning I ran in some new trail shoes I just picked up, Versa Force by Go lite. I think Go Lite is better known for their hydration systems, backpacks, and things like that, however they have a line of trail shoes and since I'm a sucker for a bargain I picked up a pair. I got these for only $39, the retail was $130 so after thinking about it a few days I jumped on them. Go Lite has a number of trail running models, but the I believe their Versa Force is considered a lightweight trail race type shoe.

So the weird thing about these shoes is the outsole. From the pictures you can see its a pretty funky setup w/ the "spikes". I was worried about the stability while running, especially on technical single track, since the tread pattern is so unorthodox. It seemed like the ride would be less stable due to the lack of surface area that actually contacts the ground.
So on the run I wanted to get in 3 hours in order to stay on track for the Holiday Lake build. I know it isn't too smart to run for 3 hours in new shoes, but I was anxious to see how they felt and went for it anyway.

Overall I was pleased w/ the shoes. The traction was unbelievable, especially when going up steep pitches on the trail. Also there's a good toe bumper that came into use during the run, we ran mostly single track that has a lot of roots and small rocks that tend to trip me up. So it was good to have that front-end protection.

Remember the funky tread pattern, well that was also the biggest downside w/ these shoes, I seemed to stumble more then usual. Sometimes I tend to drag my feet when running for a long times and the tread catches roots super easy. Other than that, they felt pretty good.

I know Lloyd's gonna get a grin after reading this. Since I'm known to try all these different gear gizmos. Good luck in CO, we're gonna miss you here in the Bull City. Well that's all for now. We just had to take a 10% pay cut at work, so maybe my new gear adventures might have to be curtailed a bit.

Peace,
Rob

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Know, Another Book Review


Okay, I'm still on the ultra geek tip. My inner ultra geekness just went up a notch since I finished Dean Karnazes book, "Ultramarathon Man, Confessions of an All Night Runner". My bud at work Bev (future ultra marathoner) hooked a brother up and bought me a copy of Dean's book. Thanks BB! Then to top it off, "Ultramarathon Man" is on my main man Lloyd's reading list. Lloyd completed the Great Eastern Endurance Run 100K, so he's got much cred when it comes to recommending anything related to ultras. So even before I opened up the first page I knew it was gonna be all good w/ this one.

I dug this book from the first page to the last page. I enjoyed the "50 Marathons" book too, but this book is even better. A lot better. Dean tells us how he got into this ultra thing and gives us insight of what its like to complete some grande epic ultra races.

To me the most dramatic race was his experience during the Western States 100. That was unreal. The other races were insane too, but for some reason I dug the WS 100 report the best. I guess it was the first race he chronicled in the book and it just grabbed me.

So if you want something good to read, get this one, you won't be disappointed.
Peace,


Rob

Thursday, December 04, 2008

What Am I Getting Myself Into?

Well I finally put my race application in the mail for my first ultramarathon, the Holiday Lake 50K ++. I'm not sure what the ++ is all about. I think I wasn't entirely sure if I wanted to do an ultra, but now that my application is in the mail, its time to start seriously start stacking up the training miles.

An ultramarathon is any distance that exceeds a marathon, 26.2 miles. The Holiday Lake race is 50 kilometers ~31 miles. This will be my first ultra. I'm a kinda wondering how this is going to work out, but that's the fun about it right? Seeing just how far you can go.

My bud Lloyd told me during the group run last Tues that it won't be bad at all, but man I don't know. That's a lot of miles on my feet running (probably a lot of walking too). Then also one of the bloggers I follow, Dr. Marc & Tanya do these things. I think I got geeked up hearing about the ultra experience and wanted to do one myself.

Now the question is should I run from home to the Thurs night group run or drive up there? Might as well get ready. I'll run from home.

Peace,
Rob

Friday, November 14, 2008

Book Review: Dean Karnazes - 50/50


Since ironman is over and I've had some free time, I got around to finishing another good book. So its time for another book review. I just finished "50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days- and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance!" by Dean Karnazes w/ Matt Fitzgerald. One of my co-workers just ran his first marathon, the City of Oaks here in Raleigh, and he let me borrow it. This turned out to be a really good read. I had actually went saw the documentary earlier this year about the 50/50 challenge so I was eager to read the book.

For those who don't know about Dean Karnazes, he's maybe one of the most prolific ultra-marathon runners on the scene today. The 50/50 refers to Dean's attempt to run 50 consecutive marathons in 50 consecutive days. His book chronicles this journey. The writing flowed really good and it was a fast read. I won't give away the ending about whether he met the challenge or not.

One of the big things I came away with from this book was how down to earth and "normal" Dean is, although he does some totally incredible things in terms of running. He talks about his family just like any regular dad, but he also does these amazing 100+ mile running races. Also there are also a number of practical tips/suggestions that he drops along the way for training and racing ultras & marys (mary is running geek short hand for marathon).

All in all this was a good book. In fact I might have to go out and get my own copy to keep around the house. Hopefully it'll come out on paperback.

Peace,
Rob

Saturday, November 08, 2008

But it was 78 degrees


I was telling one of my buddies at work, we might not see another day like this until April. The high for the last 2 days was something like 76 and 78 degrees. I know I'm supposed to take 2 weeks and do nothing, but I couldn't resist.

I got in a couple of real easy rides last Thursday and Friday. The sky was so blue, the leaves are right around peak color, it even seemed like the drivers were friendly. I discovered something too. Slow easy rides are really nice. Gotta do that more often.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

B2B = 35 Minute PR!

The soreness in my legs is almost dissipated now from the Beach2Battleship race. I had a PR of 35 mins from last year's IM Wisconsin race! I guess its easy for me to recommend this race since it went so good for me, but if anyone is looking for an indy iron-distance event, B2B is a good one. But you'll have to sign-up quick. It sold out in something like 12 days for this year's event, and I suppose once the word gets out, the 2009 event may sell out even faster.

As you can tell I was all nervous before this race. My mentality was swinging from freaking out to being in some kinda nirvana-calm in the days leading up to the race start. I don't know why my state of mind this year was so much different than IMMoo from last year. Since the race was here in NC, there were some folks I knew racing. In fact, 3 folks from Campus Hills pool here in Durham were racing also. 2 of them were on my master's swim team.

I didn't sleep much the night before the race. Maybe I got 3-4 hours of on and off sleep. So I got up, tried not to make too much noise and wake up Lisa and started my nutrition. I thought about what Coach J said about upping his calories race morning at IMLou so I took ~ 1000 calories, consisting of 2 bottles of hi-protein Boost, a bagel w/ honey, 2 bowls of oatmeal w/ peanut butter, and orange juice. I was topped off good, did some stretching, grabbed my bags and headed to T1 where we boarded buses to the swim start.

One of the most fun parts of the race for me was the swim. The swim is a beach start that is held in the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway at Wrightsville Beach with a date/start time that captured the peak flow for the incoming tide. The start coincides w/ the sunrise and the beauty of seeing the sky transition from orange to dark blue on the horizon almost takes your breath away. I did a really short dip in the water to get acclimated, then we headed into the start corral for a prayer prayer and the national anthem. To be honest, I don't even remember the start gun going off, but the next thing I knew I was in the washing machine of a ironman swim start. I swam 55:22 which is bananas. To put it in perspective, I swam a 1:18 at IM Wisconsin last year. It was like swimming in a river. The water was kinda cold at 68, but once you got going it wasn't too bad.

After a good T1 it was off on the bike leg. Let me back up one minute, here's a tip I used that helped; I left a pair of running shoes near the swim exit so I wouldn't have to run barefoot to T1. It was about a 300 yard run and that made it much more comfortable. I had a 6:32 transition and some people in my age-group were as high as 14 minutes. One other tip too. The air temps were in the 40's so it was cold once you got out of the water. I was talking w/ my buddy at the athlete's meeting on Friday and he told me about putting newspaper in your tri top for the bike to keep your torso warm. If you watch the Tour de France on some of the climbs you'll see riders stuff paper in their jerseys at the summit. This buffets the cold air on the descent from chilling them.

The bike went really good for me also. It was cold for the first half, but there was maybe only 1-2 mph winds so it was easy to control pacing. I went w/ my disc wheel and that works good in low wind conditions. I tried to keep my effort down a bit and keep my ego in check to not surge when someone would pass me. I kept up some ol' school tunes in my head, like "Funky Nassau" and Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up" to stay motivated. Also I thought about my niece and her recovery/healing. I would tell myself be strong, be an inspiration for her. If I can do this race she can get well.

The bike course is pretty much pancake flat on country roads that were for the most part nice and smooth. Since there were only 500 participants I had long stretches of solitude where there were big gaps between riders. The thought crossed my mind that this is how ironman should be, just the athlete and the road, just putting out a strong effort. The big ironman races are one thing, but it was nice sometimes not seeing other riders for as far as you could see in front of you.

I felt pretty good and picked up the effort a bit in the second half after it warmed up. The newspaper in my tri top worked good. In fact I didn't throw it away until around mile 75. Another Coach J tip I used was to put 2 cans of flat Red Bull in my bike special needs bag and that gave me some good energy for the 2nd half of the bike. I ended up w/ a 5:40 bike split (19.8 mph).

Nothing special about T2. But here's another tip I used. I put BodyGlide, liberally on my toes when I changed socks in T2. I sometimes get blisters and this helped to alleviate that. I ended up w/ one small blister, but it didn't impact my performance.

The run was tough though. The course follows 2 loops of the Wilmington 1/2 marathon and there are 3 bridge crossings that took a bit out of me. I probably overcooked the bike a bit too and paid the price on the run. I ended up w/ a 4:25 marathon (10:07 pacing). Before the race one of my goals was to run the whole marathon, but it wasn't happening that day. Also I think I made a mistake of taking on too many calories on the bike and it was difficult to keep fluids down on the run. I would drink something, run a few yards and some of it was come back up. I think my stomach wasn't absorbing a much after the bike. I did feel better as the temps went down for the 2nd half of the run though and my stomach issues dissipated. I kept up a mantra on the run, "be a hero today". I got that from reading a section out of Dean Karnazes 50 marathons book.

All in all it was a very good race for me. I ended up finishing at 11:10! That was good for 6th out of 47 in my age-group (45-49). Earlier this season, I was somewhat worried, since I wasn't getting the results I was hoping for at races. I was doubting my fitness and struggled to find my confidence. My coach kept telling me, late season IMs are tricky since you don't want to peak too soon. It was tough to stick to his guidance, when my buddies were killing me on group rides during the summer and I was still in base training mode. But it worked out good since the race turned out so good, especially on the bike. I told Lisa to never let me sign up for another one of these things at the finish, but now a few days later who knows...

Now its time to chill, get a few things done around the house and think about next year. I may stick to some shorter stuff in terms of triathlon, but I do want to try an ultra-marathon next year.

One,
Rob

Friday, October 31, 2008

Feeling Better Now

I just got back from my short SBR and having a good lunch, I feel much better now. Now I think I know why Coach J scheduled that workout. It was great for getting that anxiety off.

I grooved to Curtis Mayfields' "Move On Up" during my run. Oh man that song got me pumped. Curtis laid down a serious groove w/ that one. Kayne sampled it and had a hit w/ "Touch The Sky", but he couldn't touch the original.


One,
Rob

The Calm Before The Storm


I got this from Ultrarunners MJ out in Cali, "calm before the storm". Coach J has me planned to do a really short SBR, just to loosen everything up, then I'll eat some good healthy food, stretch and rest. Try and reach a nice calm state.

But man I'm still feeling some anxiousness. I guess that's normal. Lisa will be coming in this evening so that'll be nice. My hotel has a small kitchen so we're planning to eat in the room. I'll cook up something simple and good and get to bed early.

One,
Rob

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Okay I'm Nervous Now

Last week one of my co-workers was asking me how I was feeling about the upcoming race. I told him I wasn't fired up like last year. I was just feeling kinda blah. But oh what a difference a week makes.

I'll be packing tonight and heading down to Wilmington in the morning. Now I'm feeling it. The engineer in me is in overdrive. I'm trying to dial in what I'll be wearing on the bike, what to wear on the run, hell I've even been checking the tidal tables to see how the current will be running.

I think I should chill, do some stretching and get a dinner and then get some rest.

Peace,
Rob

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bike Geekness

Okay, I'm up and running my Garmin Edge 705. Here's a screen shot from my ride yesterday.



That bike toy is sweet. It was my 10th anniversary gift from Lisa and I'm having fun playing with it. I'm still learning all of the ins and outs of it though. The manual is something like 70 pages.

The one thing I've got to be careful of though is looking down to much at the data while I'm riding and not paying attention to the road.

Monday, October 13, 2008

4+2 = The Folks That Don't Walk


Yes, hallelujah, its finally taper time. Man it feels good knowing the long stuff is in the books and now its time for my body to absorb the fitness I gained during the year. The one thing about a late year race, it really makes for a long season. But I feel good. Not to get the big head, but I think this Beach2Battleship iron distance race is gonna be a good one for me.

98.9, 120.1, 102.4, and 80.8. Each of the last 4 weekends had long rides + a brick run. That 120 though about did me in. The final race simulator was last Saturday where I got in the 80.8 mile ride and then did a 2 hour brick run for 13.4 miles. Last year when training for IMMoo, I was questioning my coach's sanity when he scheduled that 4+2 workout, but he told me that workout is the difference between those who walk the marathon and those who run it.

Its so good how working out can relieve stress. You know I had been down lately since that madness out in California w/ my relative. It was breaking my heart to call back and hear about the multiple surgeries and worrying about how the future. One thing about being on a good, hard group ride or run is that for those moments I can just zone out and concentrate only on trying to stay w/ the peloton or maintaining good running posture. Then when I finish I feel tired but its a good tired. Not the tired that comes from worry and fear, but the good kind of tired that comes from strong physical exertion.

So it was a good weekend. I got in the 4+2. I rode w/ a great bunch of folks, held close to 20 mph (19.7) on the bike and sustained 8:59 pacing on the run. I guess I still had to workout some more stress so Sunday I went out for 3 1/2 hours of easy riding. Then to put the icing on the cake, Lisa and I went on a nice long walk Sunday afternoon w/ our dog, King. It was so beautiful out, hardly a cloud in the sky and I felt peace.

One,
Rob

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Enough Is Enough

My heart has been heavy since last week. Someone very close to me in my family was the victim of a vicious attack that resulted in severe injuries. I got in my century ride + 3 mile brick run last Saturday. I must of been really angry since I did the brick run at a 7:47 pace. It was like I just wanted to run the bad feelings I was having out of my mental state, no matter how tired I was after 102 miles of cycling. After the workout, I rushed home then Lisa and I caught a flight back to California last weekend to visit and I really had to fight back sinking into a real state of sadness.

While I won't discuss the details, I will say this attack was so heinous and I worry about the recovery of my dear family member. They will have to not only recover physically, but emotionally, and mentally as well. Get well baby, we're all praying for you to have a speedy recovery. Also don't worry about being safe, justice will happen, and the authorities will have that person off of the streets soon.

This has also made me reflect on how violence is so often used even for the smallest of disagreements. I watch the news and it seems like there is too often the account of someone being murdered or harmed for really no apparent reason. It was really been reinforced in me that I must never give in to the urge to flip off a driver because I'm out on my bike and they pass too close or yell something stupid out of their car. There's no telling how that could end up.

Also I feel really bad that black on black crime is so rampant. C'mon people we got to get our shit together. This don't make no sense whatsoever. We can't continue to shoot each other, stab each other, rob each other, etc. I mean it doesn't make sense that my mother had to put bars on all her windows because some asshole broke in her house last year. She's 75 years old, you punk-ass criminal, she should be relaxing and enjoying time w/ her grandchildren. Now she's living behind bars in her own house and worried about one of her grandchildren fighting to get out of the hospital after being attacked.

Okay, I think I got some of this out of my system. I remember when I was young, I did dumbshit, but not trying kill another person. Too many people I knew, too many people I grew up with, too many of my relatives are no longer here behind some dumbshit violent act.

What happened to trying to be the best you could be. What happened to get your education, go to college, get a good job, get married and live a nice productive life. What happened to young people listening to and respecting their elders. What happened to wanting to look presentable when you went out, not having your fucking underwear showing cause you wear your pants down around your knees.

I'm just hurt. Hurt about the state of our society. Hurt how this bullshit thug mentality amongst our black youth is so prevasive. Hurt about how another human being could inflict so much pain on another human. Life is scared. Life is precious. Enough is enough. We are all God's children. Respect life.

One love,
Rob

Monday, September 29, 2008

B2B The Final Push Week 1

I'm in the Final Push phase for my B2B race. Basically Coach J, http://johnhirsch.org/ sets up 3 hardcore long workouts that act as race simulators before the taper phase. I got the first one in the bag last Saturday. It was a 120 miler + 3 mile run. That 120 miler took a bite outta me. Sometimes I think I'm getting to old for this...

I hooked up w/ some friends and also some riders that I met for the first time. It was a somewhat hilly route where we started in Durham and rode up to Snow Camp. I was able to keep up w/ them for most of the ride, but the last 15 or so miles were downright painful. Everytime we came to even the smallest of hills, I just fell off the pack, and they would wait for me. That made me feel kinda weak, but there were some damn good riders in that group. There were 2 ladies in the group that qualified and did Kona year before last. They were all above my level, so even just staying in the draft line took hard efforts. It was good training though.

Also something weird happened too where my heartrate got a bit erratic on the harder climbs late in the ride. It was a bit freaky, maybe my electrolytes were off or something. I may go see my cardio doc if it happens again. I think I'll have to be more diligent on the Endurolyte capsules. Since it cooled off I haven't been taking them in the quantity like I used to, but I gotta remember you still lose electrolytes even when it cools down.

I swam yesterday afternoon, and I just couldn't get into a groove. I was probably just tired. I was doing some 100 repeats and I felt like the effort was there, but the times were slow, even for me slow. It seemed to take everything I had just to put in 2 consecutive 100's on 2 minute intervals.

Well that's about it. 1 Final Push workout is in the books. #2 is for this weekend, 100 miles + 7 mile run. I know inside that these workouts hurt, but I feel like if I can just hold on, I'll have a really good B2B race.

One,
Rob

Monday, September 22, 2008

Duke - The 92 Degree Report

Sunday before last I did the Duke Liver Center Half out at Jordan Lake or maybe I should say the Duke Half did me. To get an idea of the conditions, I lifted this from the race website,

"Congratulations to everyone who toughed out the brutal conditions on a course that's difficult enough even under the best weather conditions"

Mother Nature wasn't quite ready to let go of summer and the forecast for the day was 94. We got lucky and the actual high was only 92, ha ha. Then to top add to it, the USAT official that measured the lake water temp came in w/ a reading of 79. 79 degrees is one, yes one degree above the limit for wearing wetsuits. I mean it seems like he could've dropped that thermometer just a little lower in the water and hooked us up w/ a 78 degree reading so we could wear our wetsuits. I can't control Mother Nature, but she sure could controlled me that day.

We had a deep water start for the swim, so I had to tread water for a minute but it wasn't too bad. But I have to admit I was ready for that horn to go off so I could use my energy for swimming and not for treading water. The horn went off and we were on our way. I didn't get much contact until some of the later waves started passing me a little past the half-way point. I ended up w/ a 46 minute swim, which was only 4 minutes slower than my White Lake Half swim where we got to wear wetsuits. It was good for 19th out of 24 in my age-group, so I have a little consolation that I didn't come in dead last.

Now on to the bike split. This is where I felt the best during the race. The bike course had a bunch of rollers with a few short climbs that kept it interesting. I spoke w/ my coach http://www.johnhirsch.org/ the day before for some hot weather tips and he told me to really make sure I didn't get behind on my hydration, so I kept up w/ the fluids and I felt like I had a pretty decent bike split coming in at 2:54 (19.2 mph avg). I moved up 9 places in my age-group and had the 10th fastest bike split. I did make one big mistake on the bike though in taking in too much Hammer Perpeteum which has contains protein and it just never seemed to entirely empty from my gut.

Now on to the run. This is where the race got wicked, damn near evil. The course is pretty much all on trails in the park where you get a these fairly sustained climbs and they just hurt. Then you'd get a long downhill and you quads would hurt too. Remember about overdoing it w/ the Perpeteum, well my stomach just wouldn't empty and each time I drank something at the aid stations, some of it would come back up (hopefully you're not reading this during lunch). That's a lesson I won't ever forget. The same thing happened to me at IMAZ, you would've think I learned my lesson. When its hot and you're racing hard just stick to the sports drinks that don't contain protein. I don't think it slowed me up, but it just made the run more uncomfortable.

Like I said the run course was difficult and w/ the 90+ temps we were having and it basically just broke down to just shuffling from aid station to aid station. I did manage to run the whole course (except for walking the aid stations) and finished the half-marathon w/ a time of 2:06 (9:39 pace). I saw a bunch of folks walking and even one person was being loaded onto an ambulance. It was just sick hot out there.

I have to give props to Setup Events for doing an awesome job w/ the aid stations. They always had ice water, icy towels, sports drink, etc... It got crazy out there but the volunteers did a helluva job.

One of my goals for this race was to break into the top-10 for my age-group and I finished 9th which made me feel good. This is the highest I've ever placed in a half. I do gotta confess though there were only 24 in my category (M45-49) though. I ended up w/ an overall time of 5:51. All in all I felt good about the race, especially on the mental tip. I felt...courageous. I know it sounds corny, but it took some bravery to hold up through that race.

One,
Rob

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

WGW



Okay I know I'm biased, but I've got the Worlds Greatest Wife. Yesterday was our 10 year anniversary and Lisa got me a Garmin 705. Yahoo!!! Man that was a very cool suprise. I won't go pick it up until next month since we get the 30% discount for being REI members, I can't wait.

I'm so ready to start checking out more of the backroads here in NC on my bike. I'm a lucky dude!

One,

Rob

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In the Thick of Things

"I'm winning... I can't lose... You can shoot me, but you can't kill me. What a day..."
-Alonzo in Training Day

Oh man, the training is getting real now. I've been putting in some serious hours lately. But damn, I sure am tired. Its getting tough to stay alert during the day at work and have some modicum of productivity.

Last week was my biggest training week so far this year. Here's the numbers:
  1. Bike - 233.9 miles (13 hours 37 mins)
  2. Run - 30.1 miles (4 hours 36 mins)
  3. Swim - 11230.8 yards (4 hours 40 mins)
  4. Total - 22 hours 53 mins

B2B is 9 weeks away, 6 weeks to the taper (but who's counting). I'm hoping... wait a minute, not hoping; I'm preparing myself for a strong race November 2nd. Coach J http://www.johnhirsch.org/ has got me in the serious Ironman build mode now. I mean last weekend was a 65 mile steady pace ride + 5 mile race pace brick run. Then to top it off he had do a 6 hour base pace ride the next day on Sunday. It was a tough weekend of training, but I feel like if I can hold up through these tough workouts, B2B should be one helluva race for me.

Okay, one funny thing, you know you're out riding in the country when you pass a street sign named Cletus Hall Rd.

One,

Rob

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Another New Bike Contraption


Okay, if you're a cyclist you can empathize with me when I say my ass is killing me. I'm riding a Fizik Arione on my tri bike and I couldn't take the numbness, saddle sores, chafing, etc... anymore. So I picked up this new saddle that is supposed to help in all these areas. Its known as the Adamo.

The Adamo looks completely different than a traditional bike saddle, since there isn't a nose to the saddle. Its kinda just lopped off. It looks kinda crazy, but that thing works. I installed it last night and did a little spinning on the trainer. Can you spell R-E-L-I-E-F?

Peace,
Rob

Monday, August 11, 2008

Gold Baby!


I wanted to watch this race live, so bad, but after getting in a 5 hour ride, 30 min run, 30 min swim on Sunday, and then running some errands with Lisa, I couldn't stay awake. But I got up early this morning and watched it on the 'net and I had to fight back not yelling and waking up everybody. I saw the prelims during the afternoon, and did let out some yelling, but couldn't stay awake for the finals. The prelims were awesome w/ my homeboy Cullen Jones swimming the fastest leg, but the finals were completely bananas. The French were talking smack about how they were going to "smash" the US team...

The finals were on now. Oh man, WOW, the USA 4x100m relay finals were completely awesome. Gold! I was totally pulling for this team, especially since North Carolina was represented on the team by Cullen Jones, who swam the 3rd leg. I'm really proud of my homeboy. Okay, he's really from NYC, but since he graduated from NC State, I'm gonna claim him anyway. Much props to the whole team, especially, Jason Lezak. JL put in much work on that anchor leg. It was the fastest in history!

One,
Rob

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The William Glover Tribute - from my Dad

As you know from some of my previous posts, my Dad is one of my heroes. His good buddy William Glover (Mr. Glover is wearing the brown sweater) passed recently and the family requested that my Dad speak on his behalf. I called him the morning of the funeral to wish him well and then he read me the tribute he wrote to William. It was so good to me that I asked Dad to mail it to me so I can put it on my blog. It really gave me a good feeling to reflect on the friendship that he and Mr. Glover had. It also helped me to connect with how my Dad grew up and the good times they had. I think I would've enjoyed growing up in that time as much as my Dad did. Here's the tribute:

Will all the golfers please stand and pay a tribute to our buddy, William Glover. Thank you, you may be seated.

The definition of coordination, "to be harmonious, in dress, to be very cool."

Glover would look you up and down to see if you were dressed very cool... If not, he would let you know right away. So this morning I took extra pains to see that everything matched (Dad dons his white brim that coordinates with his suit and looks over to Mr. Glover). "OK Glover?"

I met William in the late 1930's. It was around Christmas time and if you were very lucky, you might get some skates. Well that particular Christmas, I lucked out and got some. I headed straight for the "smooth street", aka Ascot Ave. This was our skating rink. Well, I was skating along when some lanky dude bumped into me, knocking me down. It was William, and that was the beginning of a long enduring friendship lasting 70+ years.

Along the way, it was William and I becoming the official cheerleaders at Jefferson High School. I will never forget the annual Los Angeles City High School track meet championships held at the Coliseum. Me and Glover had the student body going wild with the ending signature mile race between our hero, Louis Beadle, and the two guys from Hollywood High School. I'll let Beadle fill you in... (it was a close race, but Mr. Beadle lost out at the finish to one of the Hollywood HS runners).

Following high school, Glover and I graduated to Matthews Pool Hall on Central Ave. and 48th street. One of our endeavors was to gather all of us guys outside around 3:30PM and watch the daily parade of the Jefferson High School honeys sashaying past us. Some of them went out of their way to join the parade.

Party time was Friday nights. It was the Alpha Bowl, La Vada downstairs, Elks Hall, YWCA, etc. Me and Glover would go to a particular grocery store in the neighborhood named Zaby's and inquire if Miss Virgina Dare and Mr. Dubonet (those are old school wines) would like to accompany us to a party. The answer was always yes.

Sundays were always great. Early horseback riding at the Flying Horse Stables, church, then the afternoons were at the Crystal Tea Room. Finally the Lincoln Theater after that.

Some of you might not know it, but William had a tremendous singing voice. So me and him started a quartet; Glover as lead, then me, Marcus and Bunyan Johnson as backups. We also had Charles Windsor, who couldn't sing a lick, so we made him our announcer. We won the amateur hour twice at the Lincoln Theater and sang at various churches and other affairs. Then holidays might find us all at The Valverde hamming it up. Life was very good.

Finally, William invited me to join in his golf endeavors which he loved so much. He would go to the golf course at 3:30 in the morning and up the call list which let our groups be the first to tee off. When it became too cold for him, I would substitute for him.

I know that William, his brother Alvin and Sylvester Bell teed it up this morning and he's saving a spot in his group for us all.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

More Short Takes

1) My coach, http://www.johnhirsch.org had an excellent post today about training and results. It has given me a better mindset for this triathlon thing. You know in the big scheme of things its not so much about the results but rather the process. Staying in the moment and appreciating just the fact that I get to do this stuff is gratifying in its own right.

2) I feels like my fitness is gaining some semblance of how I felt last year. I did a couple of local group rides recently (Firecracker 100K, Cup 'n Cone Tour) and spent a good bit of the rides w/ the lead peloton. Although I couldn't hold on for the finish, I felt good about hanging in there for the majority of the rides.

3) Lower your seat for back comfort. I dropped my sit a couple of 2cm and some of the lower back pain I had been having is gone. I rode a century today and my back felt great.

4) The best core exercise ever is lay on your back, elevate your knees (feet off the ground), hands over your ears, touch the opposite knee, alternating back and forth. I try to do sets of 50 and its very effective.

5) Develop a good strong, early, high elbow catch for better swimming. I had a really good lesson earlier this week from Marty Gaal, http://www.osbmultisport.com and came away w/ some good tips. Now if I can just develop the swim fitness to hold this stroke in the open water for 2.4 miles.

Check out the video:

video

One,

Rob

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tony Dungy - A Man Among Men



I just finished reading Tony Dungy's autobiography, "Quiet Strength". My bud Ultra-Runner Lloyd had this book on his recommended reading list, so I knew I wanted to read it. The other day Lisa and I went by the library and Tony's book was in the stacks. I quickly grabbed it and checked it out.


This book was completely inspirational on so many fronts. But let me digress. The title of this post includes a saying my dad passed on to me. Every now and then, especially if I'm going through something difficult, my dad will extol me to be "A Man Among Men". He got the saying from his mom, my grandmother, who was an amazing woman in her own right. I mean she came up during the depression, and in spite of many hardships, acquired property, raised a strong family, mostly by herself as a single mom. She would give this advice to my dad, who is one of my heroes and he in turn gave it to me. I interpret it as standing strong in spite of whatever else is going on around you.

Tony Dungy is a man who has stood strong even through trials that would decimate many people. His book, while fascinating in its own right about his journey in the NFL and leading men to victory, it is also a story of leading his family, his community, and basically being an example of how the power of Jesus Christ can manifested in a person.

The book chronicles his highs, lows, joys, and pains. Obviously one of the highest points in his journey was winning the Super Bowl, but also the lowest point was the loss of his beloved son. All the while, Tony never lost his faith in God. His book provides so many lessons and examples of holding onto faith in Jesus Christ, especially when life brings incredible disasters. His book has had such a positive impact on me. I'm sure it has touched many others as well. I'm glad Lloyd recommended this one. I'm a better man for having read it.

One,
Rob

Monday, July 14, 2008

Triangulated

Last Sunday I raced in the Triangle Triathlon. The TT is a Sprint tri (750m swim, 15 mile bike, 5K run). It was a local event here in Raleigh, so I finally didn't have to travel to a race which was very cool. Another good thing about it being local was I bumped into a bunch of friends and I picked up some good energy when somebody would call me out during the race.

You know this race was good in a lot of ways, except one. The Swim. Ugh, I've done this race back in '06 and swam a 15:50. This year I swam a 18:09. But I'm through whinning, the swim and race is in the books and I'm going to focus on the positives. But I will say this, my swim workouts are about to get real focused from now on.

My bike was really good. I held a 22.4 mile average on a course w/ rollers. It was a touch slower than '06, but I'm a couple of years older and I felt good so its all good. Also I felt good on the run, coming in at 21:29 for a 6:54 min/mile average. Again, it was a tad slower than '06, but again I felt good. I was able to run down some folks in my age-group and move up from 34th in my age-group after the swim to 12th out of 44.

As I was leaving the park, there was 61 years young lady who struck up a conversation w/ me about the race and she told about competing at the World Championships in Vancouver. I thought about her and looked up her results and saw that she finished in 1:25. I am so inspired by her. I did a 1:22 and I left it all out there on the course.

The race was hard, but all in all it was a blessing. I feel really grateful to be able to race in things like this and I hope for many more years of participating. Hopefully I can keep this thing going and hang around and be an inspiration just as I get inspired when I see others racing like that really fast 61 year young racer.

One,
Rob

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Short Takes - The Southern Version

Okay I totally ripped off this idea from my coach, http://www.johnhirsch.org/. Coach J did a recent posting called, "Short Takes", which I thought was pretty cool. I got in a 2:15 run this morning so I had a lot of time to think. So since there's nothing new under the sun, I thought I'd post my own version of "Short Takes".

1) I need to HTFU - Okay some of y'all know what that means. I feel like I've been whining a lot lately. My weight being up, my bike rides being slower, my race times being slow. Hey if I want to get faster, being in better race shape, I've got to put my mind to it and train my ass off. If I get the hours/miles/yards in, I'll get faster. No doubt about it.

2) I just figured it out on my long run this morning. The dopest, the best I-tune download I've got for getting through a hard section on my long run is Curtis Mayfield's, "Move On Up". Get the extended version. Man that came up on my Ipod at about mile 13 and my legs got a whole new life.

3) Triathletes, just athletes in general are good people. I've gotten so much encouragement, advice, help from others at races, it ain't even funny. Now if the rest of the world could just get with the program.

4) Don't keep charging forward when you're out on a training ride and get lost. It's much better to backtrack and reorient yourself. Last weekend, in fact on the 4th of July, I ended up on the 540 freeway off-ramp. That probably looked pretty strange to drivers that passed me. Then the same weekend I ended up on US70 near Brier Creek. For the locals, they know how insane the driving is on that road. I'm making a pitch to Lisa for that new Garmin 705. Just maybe...

5) Nutrition is obviously super important. I do really good for breakfast and lunch, but dinner gets me. Wait, let me more honest, its the deserts after dinner is what gets me. If I want to get faster, that late night sherbert, frozen yogurt, cookies, pound cake has got to be limited in a big way.

6) I got this Trigger Point Therapy http://www.tptherapy.com/ kit last year and it works pretty good. It loosens up the muscles good and restores some elasticity when I'm stiff.

7) Stretching is important for me. I tend to forget to stretch, but when I do, my workouts are so much better.

8) Its summer now and we're having those hot and humid days. Fluid management is critical. I've found out the hard way that staying on top of my water intake can make the difference between a quality workout and a sufferfest.

9) Speaking of heat and humidity. I wish I could find a good product that protects my car seats after working out. I picked up a seat cover from Pep Boys that works good for moderate sweating, but after a good run, I practically look like I stepped out of the shower and my car seat get wet.

10) Okay I know the pool is for everyone, but 84 degrees is just too hot for swimming. I think the water aerobics folks complain if its too cold, but goodness 84 just makes lap swimming so tough.

One,
Rob

Monday, June 30, 2008

BSG Results

Ok the official results were just published. Ugh, a 7:33 finishing time. Thats 13.6 mph. Next year will be better. I still got in a great day of training that'll make me stronger for Beach 2 Battleship.

Peace,
Rob

Sunday, June 29, 2008

That Shiggity Wasn't No Joke - BSG









Huggy: "What's the deal pickles? Is everything kosher?"
Tom: "Everything is kosher."

- Huggy Lowdown & Tom Joyner on the Tom Joyner Morning Show

Huggy aka The Celebrity Snitch likes to use the word "shiggity" on the TJMS. The TJMS is a nationally syndicated radio show, that I love listening to in the mornings. Huggy is one of the frequent guests to the program. Obviously he can't say "shit" on the show, so he uses shiggity. I thought about Huggy yesterday during the Blood, Sweat, and Gears century ride (actually its a 103 miles). I tell you the truth. That shiggity was no joke. That ride broke me down. This is the 3rd year in a row, I've done this ride, and I was an hour slower than last year. The official results haven't been published yet, but I think I came in about 7 1/2 hours. Last year I came in at 6:24 and felt strong. I even did a 30 minute brick run after the ride last year.

I think the biggest thing that got me on this year's ride was that I just wasn't as fit as prior years. I was looking back over my workout logs and last year I had some big bike weeks in the weeks before BSG, while this year I've only done one century and that was pretty slow. That's why I thought about that line ala Huggy. You can't play around w/ BSG, "cus that shiggity ain't no joke". That ride is to be fully respected. You can't treat it like, "well it'll just be a good training session". You can't be half-stepping, no sir, not with BSG.

All in all, even though it was brutal, I'm still glad I did it. I went up the day before and stayed w/ a buddy of mine and his family at their vacation home in the Virgina mountains. He did the half-century version of the ride. Their vacation home is high up in the VA mountains just off the VA Creeper Trail. The Creeper Trail is a former railroad line that has been converted to a multi-use trail. The setting was amazing, there's beautiful creek that runs right behind the property, then there's a bridge to cross the creek and the Creeper Trail is just on the other side. Also he told me there's an access point to the Applachian Trail fairly close too.

Well we got the race site, got organized, and were ready for the start. Wait, let me digress. One of the local NBC Today Show anchors here, Donald Jones, is an avid cyclist. He's got a pretty cool blog, http://blogs.wncn.info/thedailydraft/ and I posted a comment earlier this week and he replied. So I bumped into him at packet pick-up and we chatted for a minute. He did the race last year and we finished pretty close to one another, with him coming in a 6:26. So I got him by 2 minutes. Then at the start, we were a couple of bikes over from one another, so I gave him one of those Obama fist bumps. Dude is a strong rider and early on one of the climbs, he was going strong and I couldn't hang on. I'm sure he beat his time from last year.

The ride for me can be best describe as 2 gears. I was in the 34x25 for a whole lot and I was in the 50x12 for a short while. BSG has over 13K of climbing so, I spent a lot of time grinding up the mountain roads. The most strenuous section is called Snake Mountain. The grade hits like 20% and its later in the ride around mile 65, so you're somewhat toasted at this point. The last two years, I was able to ride up this section, but this year, I had to dismount my bike and walk part of it. That was humbling. There were other walkers, but I really wanted to ride up that thing. Next year I betcha I'll be ready.

Next year will be different. I want to do this ride again, and train properly for it. A couple of things. Definitely more training miles. I need to be hitting some 200+ mile weeks like last year. I was getting ready for IMMoo last year, so I was really focused and had some good miles in my legs by the time BSG rolled around. Also, I will not be so heavy. I'm tipping the scales at 182 lbs and last year I got down to 175 for during my prep for IMMoo. Its not a lot of weight, but those extra lbs are absolutely murder for climbing. Every time I came to a climb, the lactic acid jumped up along with my HR and I was feeling the pain. I even got some cramps a few times later in the race which is indicative of being under trained.

All in all, it was a great experience. The downhills were fun, and the views were amazing. Even though I didn't do nearly as well as I would've liked. I feel blessed that I can even get out and participate in something like this. I had a spectacular homestay, ran into some of my buddies I train with, and I keep the rubber side down (that's cycling-speak for no crashes).

One,
Rob

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tri Latta - The MOP Report

Okay here's another acronym for you, MOP (middle of the pack). I did the Tri Latta Sprint triathlon (750m swim, 17 mile bike, 5K run) last Saturday and finished 23/50 for my age-group. That is definitely MOP.
Me and Lisa headed down the night before and since we were so close to the Concord Mills shopping center, we went to one of Lisa's favorite stores, Off-5th. Off-5th is the outlet center for Saks 5th Ave, and Lisa typically finds some good deals there. Sometimes I have a hard time going shopping, but I gotta admit, my girl looks great when she's all hooked up real nice in her office attire.

Well we finally got in and got a good night's rest and headed over to the race site at 5AM. I got in a bike warm-up w/ a few fast spin-ups and then a run warm-up w/ a few bursts to get the blood flowing in my legs. I got a good sweat by this point. I wanted to swim a little, but they didn't have a convenient area for a swim warm-up.

This race was one of those 2 out of 3 deals. I'm stoked w/ my bike split (20.3 mph average) and my run split (7:07 mins/mile), but my swim was, I gotta admit, pathetic. I swam just a hair under 19 minutes which was a 2:17/100 yard pace. I was definitely BOP (back of the pack) for the swim. I must admit, I've been slacking on making the Master's workouts and the results are showing. Also I had some trepidation in pushing it hard on the swim, almost like I was scared to go hard. I think mentally I was worried too much about the water temperature, 89 degrees. But hey, everybody else had to swim in that same lake.

All in all its always a good day to be able to follow this crazy triathlon thing and race. I didn't get injured, Lisa found a couple of nice things at Off-5th, so life is good.

Peace,
Rob

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Today's Forecast 103!


Ugh, this morning I went for my long run at 6AM on the way back I was listening to the radio and the forecast for today is 103. That's nuts. Its early June. Here in NC its never this hot, anytime of the year. Obviously this breaks all kinds of historical records. Maybe Al Gore was right.

Yesterday I headed up to Wilkesboro and did this bike ride called RAW that was put on by the Brushy Mountain Cycling Club. RAW is an acronym for Ride Around Wilkesboro. I did the 75 mile option and is mostly in the mountains above Wilkesboro. The ride was really hard mainly due to the 4300 feet of climbing and the crazy high temperatures. The high in North Wilkesboro yesterday was 97 degrees.

The highlight of the ride was the 6 mile climb up Brushy Mountain. I was in my 34T chainring and 25T cog for most of the climb. There were a couple of rollers, but it was mostly up, up, and up. My computer was reading 6 mph. I was having some issues on the ride. I would get these stinging cramps in my hamstrings from time to time. I was taking 2 endurolytes per hour, but maybe I needed more. One thing, that climbing has reinforced the need for me to lose weight. Those extra pounds make climbing tough. I survived the climbs and got back in 4:26. Even though the conditions were bananas, the views were spectacular at the top of Brushy Mountain.

Well that's all for now. I plan to get some good use out of the new Nalgene (BPA-free) water bottle today, especially since me and Lisa have to run some errands today.

Peace,
Rob

Friday, June 06, 2008

Splashing Around






I did this really cool swim-only race last Saturday called the "Low Country Splash" in Charleston, SC. The swim was the Ironman distance of 2.4 miles. The course was amazing to say the least. We started in the city of Mount Pleasant which is separated from Charleston by this huge suspension bridge called the Arthur Ravenel bridge. The finish is in Charleston Harbor at a marina that is adjacent to the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier that is permanently docked there as a floating museum.

The race is advertised as a fast swim due to the 1-2 mph current that is pushing you the entire way. The race is a deep water start about 200 yards from shore so you have to tread water for a little bit until the gun goes off. The current kept pushing everyone into the front. I had to use my arms to keep pushing myself back so that I didn't end up near the "fishes" at the start. I'm a so-so swimmer so I didn't want to be up there and clog things up w/ the strong swimmers.

The gun finally went off and were swimming. At first I had some trepidation about swimming in the open water like that, especially w/o a wetsuit. The water temperature was ~78 so a wetsuit would have been too warm. But quickly I got over the fears and was into my stroke. During the race it was incredible to swim under the AR bridge and then alongside the USS Yorktown. There was even a freighter going in the opposite direction about a half mile to our right. Swimming alongside these large objects got my heartrate for sure.

I ended up w/ a 53:04 swim which is crazy for an IM distance. This placed me 302/390 overall and 22/26 in my age-group. To put things in perspective my swim at IMWI last year was 1:18. I finished near the back of the pack, but I was happy w/ the results and would do this race again. That current was right on time. In fact for the B2B race its supposed to be a point-to-point swim w/ a pushing current. I'm looking forward to that one.

After the race, Lisa and I took a the Black History & Sea Islands Tour of Charleston from my man Al Miller http://www.sitesandinsightstours.com/Home/home.html. If you're in Charleston, you've got to sign up for that one. It seemed like Al knew everything about Charleston. We learned so much from that tour. Lately I've been reading a couple of books on black history and this brought a lot of that to life.

Well that all for now. I'm headed up to Wilkesboro tomorrow for the RAW ride (Ride Around Wilkesboro). Its billed as 4300 feet of climbing over 75 miles. The most scenic section is supposed to be the climb up Brushy Mountain. Should be interesting since we're in the middle of a heatwave. Today is 99.

One,
Rob

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Another Book Review - Major





My sister sent me a book that I definitely recommend titled, "Major" by Todd Balf. The subtitle is "A Black Athlete, A White Era, And The Fight To Be The World's Fastest Human Being". She was browsing around a bookstore and I think the cover of Major Taylor on his bike caught her eye, so she picked it up for me. That was a one very good read.

I had heard of Major Taylor, but didn't know many details about his life. I felt like the author, Todd Balf, did a really good job of telling the reader how Major Taylor became literally the fastest human being at a point in history. I won't spoil the outcome, but his story is epic.

Something else that struck me, was that Mr. Balf did an excellent job of, I think, of understanding the black experience. I just felt like he got it down pretty good without being condescending or making the reader feel like black folks at that time were helpless. Even though racism was extreme to say the least, Taylor's story is inspirational on how he overcame incredible odds. My dad has a saying that he'll drop on me from time to time, "Be A Man Among Men". Taylor was definitely a man that didn't let anything hold him back despite the madness he had to endure.

Another thing I dug about the book is Mr. Balf is a cyclist who has written for a number of publications including "Bicycling" magazine. He seemed to really get the details of what being a top bicycle racer was all about. For example, he was able to describe Taylor's training and racing tactics that show he knew what he was talking about. I don't think you'll be disappointed when you read this book.

One,

Rob

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pillar of Fire Book Review







In a previous post, I'd written how I was reading "Pillar of Fire, America in the King Years 1963-65" by Taylor Branch. Well I finally finished it. Coach J had me take 2 weeks off and regroup after White Lake, so I've had some time to catch up on my reading. My "A" race, http://www.beach2battleship.com/ isn't until November so a mid-season break is in order. Like Wyclef says, "gone to November".

Back to the book review. I actually had purchased the book almost a year ago when I was visiting my Dad in Los Angeles. My Dad lives in an area of Los Angeles called Leimert Park. While I was out visiting him I heard some drumming in the distance and decided to go check it out. I walked the couple of blocks up to Leimert Park and come to find out on Sundays there's an impromptu group of drummers who come out and have what's known as an African Drum Circle.
There were about a dozen or so drummers putting in work and then ladies would enter the circle and dance to the rhythms. It was all very spontaneous and organic. This one older dreadlocked guy would start a beat and then the others would fall in. Then when the dancers would jump in, the effect was almost mesmerizing.

Anyway, there were a few vendors selling used books on the picnic tables and I picked up Pillar of Fire. I had read another of Branch's books on the King years, "Parting The Waters, America in the King Years 1954-63". Again purchased at a used book vendor. I enjoyed this book and learned so many things about the struggle for blacks to gain civil rights that I jumped on the Pillar of Fire. To top it off the price was right too.

Pillar of Fire picks up where Parting the Waters stopped. America is entering the thick of the Civil Rights struggle and Mr. Branch does an expert job in chronicling this history. I have to admit though, it was tough to read about the sheer terror that my forebearers went through just to do something as simple as register to vote. The terror wasn't just to black folks either, there were many white folk who bleed and died, because they joined the struggle alongside black folk to garner the right to vote.

The whole book was excellent and I feel a must have. The parts that stood out the most for me were the accounts of Freedom Summer, 1964 and the Nobel Prize won Dr. Martin Luther King. Oh man, I don't know how people endured what went on during that time. After reading the book, I have a renewed and profound respect for the people who fought the fight to make America a better place.

One love,
Rob

Friday, May 09, 2008

Acronyms


At my job I work in the WLPRD (wafer level package research & development) department, we used to be known as APD (advanced package development). We were also known as the TDT (technology development team) and when the group was first formed we were known as TIT (technology integration team). I don' t think TIT sat to well w/ the ladies in our group LOL. Oh wait there's another one (laughing out loud).

Well engineers don't have the lock on acronyms, athletes also have a few of their own. There's PR (personal record), PB (personal best), and PW (personal worst). You might ask what does this have to do w/ triathlon racing. Well my race at the White Lake Half ended being a couple of acronyms for me (PW & PB).

First off the PW stuff. I finished w/ a time of 5:28. I did this race back in 2005 & 2006. In '05 my time was 5:26 & 5:18 in '06. So I was kinda down on myself for that reason. Sitting around and talking w/ friends after the race, everybody commented on how much harder it was this year compared to previous years. The biggest challenge was the wind on the bike and raising temps on the run. I'm not sure what the windspeed was this year, but it did a number on me.

So the swim was 2 mins worse than 2 years ago w/ a 42 min time. I think some of that was due to navigation issues. I really didn't sight enough and at least it felt like I was not following the buoy line well at all. My stroke felt good and my energy felt good, but the the results just weren't there.

This is where I felt like I had the biggest difficulties was on the bike. The wind that was kinda swirling, so I didn't really get that consistent push when coming out of a headwind. Also I felt like I didn't have that extra gear to throw down. In past WL's I always felt like I could drop it down a gear and push the pace hard, but this year it was like I just didn't want to feel the pain. I felt like I was riding fearfully. Whereas in the past, I raced more w/ abandoned. Its weird but I somewhat felt old. I'm in the 45-49 AG now, I don't know, just a feeling like I may be starting on that age-related performance slide. I ended up w/a 2:50 bike split (19.7 mph).

Now the run is where I felt like I shined. The temps started getting up there, probably in the low 80's and people were suffering big-time. I passed a whole bunch of people and felt really strong. I had that feeling like I could run really as hard as wanted, w/ no fear of blowing-up. The last 2 miles were hard as to be expected, but overall I felt proud of my run. Based on the results I passed 19 folks in my AG. I ended up w/ the 18th fastest split for my AG w/ a 1:52 split (8:34 pace).

Coach J http://www.johnhirsch.org/ stresses being efficient and quick in the transitions. The transitions went really good for me out there. I had the third fastest T1 in my AG and fourth fastest T2. I'm definitely happy about that.

Now the PB stuff. Since the wind was kicking up and the temps were rising, the whole field had it tough too. I had PB's for rankings both overall and in my age-group. I had a major increases in placing, coming in at 22/89 in my AG and 134/570 overall-males. The previous rankings were 42/93-AG, 192/466-overall in 2006 and 41/96-AG, 186/489-overall in 2005. Secretly, I was hoping to crack the top-10 for my AG, I didn't do that, but I did move up quite a bit compared to previous WL races.

All in all it was a good race and I felt blessed to be able to participate and race to what were my best abilities that day. Plus it was very cool that weekend since I camped w/ a bunch of good friends at WL and we all had fun.

Lastly, big ups to Coach J http://www.johnhirsch.org/ for placing 13th in the pro class at Ironman St. Croix and even bigger ups to his girl Mandy for winning her AG and earning that most coveted of Ironman possessions, an invitation to race this fall at the Ironman World Championships in Kona.

Peace,
Rob

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Pump, Pump, Pump It Up

"Don't wanna fight me bro,
I'm fast as lightning bro,
ya better use ya Nike's bro,"

T.I. -"What You Know"

I got "What You Know" in my Ipod and will have it playing on I-40 heading down to White Lake for the half this Saturday. This should be a fun trip, a bunch of folks I train w/ are all camping the night before and doing the race. I saw one of the guys last night at the open-water swim practice and he said there's over 20 folks camping.

Its kinda weird though, I'm not as fired up for this race as the HIM races I did last year. Maybe jamming some of that good 'ol hard-core hip hop at loud volumes on the road will pump me up. Here's a couple of pre-race songs on my Ipod that have the pump it up theme:

Snoop - "Pump Pump"
Joe Budden - "Pump it Up"

Then I'll punch up some Rick Ross - Hustlin' and if everything goes good during the race, I'll have to put on some of that Three Six Mafia - "Poppin My Colla" for some post-race jamming.

Alright I'm feeling more motivated already.

One,
Rob

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Rob's Mini Camp



This weekend a number of tri-friends that are doing the White Lake Half headed out out to Oriental, NC for the Spring Cycle North Carolina weekend. The spring CNC event rides on Fri, Sat, and Sun. It wasn't a good time for me to go, but I gotta admit I was kinda wishing I could've been there. So w/ that whirling around in my head, I wanted to maximize my training this weekend.

Coach J, http://johnhirsch.org/, had me doing the first of 3 race simulators this weekend w/ a 65 mile race pace ride + 5 mile run. Then Sunday was scheduled for 2:30 of running. After the run Sunday morning, I had my super-duper oatmeal (oatmeal+syrup+wheat germ+almond butter+a cut up banana), and a cup of coffee. One of my running friends told me that Carnation instant breakfast is a killer recovery drink, so I downed some of that too. Then to top it off I made a super-duper smoothie (a splash of coffee+1.5 tablespoons of instant coffee+wheat germ+milk+chocolate milk+ice). I was topped off good after that.

With all that caffeine running through my veins, I was sitting around getting fired up about IMAZ going on today. Then the weather was beautiful outside (I stopped and took a pic of the anglers at Jordan Lake), especially after the storm we had yesterday and I was getting more and more anxious to head out for a bit more. I told myself I was going to go out and do some easy spinning for about an hour and somehow it turned out to be a 50 miler. After that I had to get in a 3-fer, so I headed over to the pool for 1500 yds of swimming (mostly pulling).

That was the most working out during a weekend I've done in a long time. I took the pacing really easy today, and surprisingly I don't feel too bad. Now its time to go treat myself to some ice cream, umm.

One love,
Rob

Friday, April 11, 2008

Raleigh Rocks






I did the Raleigh Rocks half-mary last weekend. It was a good race for me in that I set a PR for that distance w/ a time of 1:40:00. Sometimes these races boil down to seconds. One second faster, I would've broken 1:40, 19 seconds faster, I would took 3rd place in my age-group. I ended up 7th/43. To be honest though, I don't think I had 19 seconds faster in my legs. All in all I was happy w/ the results.

I gotta confess, I'm a gear junkie. I bought some Newton running shoes from a website called Slowtwitch that I frequent and wore them for the race. They're this bright neon yellow color which is kinda wild, but the technology of the shoes is supposed to promote forefoot striking. There's this pod on the outsole that is under the balls of your feet and the heel is a little lower. They felt good during the race. I think I'll use them for White Lake. Plus I got them for $35 (they were slightly used) so I like 'em even a little more since I'm a knucklehead for bargains.

Training is going good. I'm healed up pretty good from the crash, and I'm back swimming regularly.
I've been doing this tempo ride on Thursday's w/ a couple of friends. Its a husband and wife that are helluva athletes. I think she took 2nd in her AG at IMFL in '06 and raced Kona last year and her husband aways wins or places in his AG at the local races here. He's on a quest to try and qualify at IMFL later this year. I feel kinda bad since there is no way I can hang w/ them. The ride is about 28 miles and I'm okay for maybe the 1st third (this is where they're warming up) and then I'm dropped like a hot potato and going solo. They're really nice and wait for me at the intersections, but I hope I'm not hindering the workout for them. I think I need to recruit some more riders so there's a better chance for me to have someone to hang with.

My Dad is coming to visit next week. He turned 80 yesterday and we're going to play 3 days of golf. I haven't picked up a club in probably over 6 months, so this should be interesting. Man I hope I'm doing that good when I turn 80.

Then my niece was here visiting last week. She's interviewing for grad school here at NCCU for her MSW. I hope she gets in. My cousin went through the program and graduated last year and she had a blast there. They even sent her to Africa for a special project. I think she went to Ghana. I'm very proud of both of my girls.

Pray for Lisa. I'm a believer that prayer works. From my history to where I am today, it couldn't been nothing but God's blessings on me to get me here. I hope things turn around for her. She's having a bit of a hard time after her surgery last Feb. She's a trooper and I know she'll get through it. But you can't help but feel for your wife when she's hurting.

I've been coaching her and her girlfriend to do a 5K race. I even got them doing tempo runs at the track. Lisa is doing the Franklin 5000, which is here in the Chapel Hill/Carborro area. Its been tough for her to keep up the workouts, but I give her credit 'cause on the days she's feeling good she's out there putting in work at the track or doing the trails. You can probably tell I'm proud of her. I hope to put up a good race report for her after the event.

Well that's all for now. Like brother Bob Marley said, "One Love".

Rob