Monday, February 18, 2008

In the Long Run

Sunday morning brought stark contrast to the muddy soggy gray Saturday that preceded. I woke up, hit snooze a few times then rolled out to find Rebecca ready to go. She normally runs long on Saturday but the 2" of rain squelched that routine and her normal running group does not run on Sunday, so we decided to go together. I agreed to run the a loop around White Rock Lake (9.2 miles) with the guys (the single best collection of wing men on the planet) then do what we call a boat house run with Becca to finish off. We both had 16 on the docket. I hate that we don't run at the same speed because I really do enjoy running with her. But with the plan in place I thought it would be a good compromise.

Saturday Night we watched NBC's coverage (on the DVR) of the Ford Ironman World Championship. I have to say that the presentation was really phenomenal. There were about four moments where I welled up in emotion. It was really good for me to see. Two things came out of the viewing for me. One: motivation, which is always needed and two: a little bit of fear. After watching the mas start swim in slow motion, it made my gut churn thinking about how I am going to feel and experience when I am in the mix come race day morning.

Back to Sunday morning: I rolled out of bed and began digging in my running stuff trying to figure out how to dress for the cold morning that would turn into a nice warm day. It would be a beautiful spring-like day and I always try to plan the clothing choice for optimal efficiency. I don't know why, but I always seem to stress about this and always seem to nail it. With a cup of coffee, some Gatorade and a granola bar and a hand full of energy gels, we hit the road.

The first loop was great. I felt good and had no issues. Last week's long run was a good learning experience for me. I made a huge mistake and had failed to take any fuel. At about mile 11 I found myself struggling and cramping. Today, I planned to fuel and hopefully dodge the immense pain that resulted. It may sound sick, but I kinda like pushing the limits in training. I mean, when you get to those miles that are above the comfortable miles and you have to grit your teeth. When it happens, I spend time memorizing how I feel and pushing the pain envelope knowing that the pain will be the same if not worse come race day. I like to know what I can do under the pain and conditions knowing it will be useful in August. This day I would be testing energy gels to see what I like and what works. On the menu was Accel Gel.

I always like running with the guys. The conversations are always fun. Today, we discussed theological topics and the Ironman. Toward the end of the run, David and I talked about extreme training and I shared some goals and dreams of 4 mile swims across Lake Ray Hubbard and finishing sub 12 hours in the Ironman. David lives for these conversations... that is he lives to smash dreams and thinks he is the voice of reality. In this instance his comments were along the lines of, "yeah, right, you are out of you mind." This always fires me up and in some way issues a challenge that makes me want to step it up a notch. So I did, the last two miles of the loop I pushed it. He matched me stride for stride. Once back at the car, he stopped (had to get ready for church), I sucked down a gu and kept rolling, running back in the direction that Rebecca would be finishing. I ran fast until I met her then we ran together back to the car where she fueled, shed her jacket and prepared for the boathouse portion of our run. She had been sick with the flu for the past week and I could see it was taking its toll. She was in pain. Nevertheless, we pushed on for the remaining 7 miles. We ran together for about two miles then the pain forced her to walk a bit. I kept going and told her I would meet her at the boathouse. I ran strong and felt the miles start to creep up on me. It was here that I started to feel the elation that the pain brings me knowing this, in the long run and pain, is where Ironmen are made. I ran past the boathouse and turned around. We met as planned and began the trek back to the car. The elation of pain was not shared by my spouse and it was evident in her grimacing face. She urged me to go on and I did, running hard. I am sure I looked funny as I shuffled down the tarmac. It is times like this that I study the faces of the passing runners and cyclists wondering if they know. I wonder if they think I am struggling on mile two or if they know that I am about to finish an epic long run. I day dreamed of somehow having a display saying "mile 16" so they could share this proud moment of my self accomplishment. In reality, I think they probably just felt sorry for the poor fat kid trying to run. Oh well, I do this for me, so what does it matter. Secretly I tell myself they know and their silent judgment brings me motivation. It's the knowing nod from the passing runner wearing the I-dot logo that keeps me going. Once back to the car, I turned around and ran back to my bride wondering how she was making it. I ran as hard as I could and when I saw her, I was proud to see that she was running. We finished together and hugged in celebration of the accomplishment of another long run. For me, it was 17+ miles today.

I love the long run. I love to push the limits. Somewhere in there, for both of us, is learning and experience that is a metaphor of life in someway. It reminds me of a sermon that Jesus gave. This is why I run. You have to experience the pain and training to one day know the prize and enjoy the result of the training and trial. James 1:2 says: " Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." What a great illustration found in the long run.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Personal Record

Wow, I cannot believe it is almost February! We have been blowing and going like crazy. I knew we would be busy this year with Young Life, the Marathon and Ironman, but I did not know just how busy... That was until we sat down with our coach (Chris Phelan) to plan out the year’s training and race schedule. It is really daunting to see just how much training goes into these endurance events.

Today, we are in Austin, TX. Rebecca and I just completed the Austin 3M half marathon. We both smashed our personal records for the half. I ran it in 1:57.48, a full five minutes faster than Chicago. Rebecca ran it in 2:17ish, which is ten minutes faster than her PR! So I guess all the training is worth it.

Anyway, we had a really nice time down here in Austin. It was nice to see some friends we have not seen in a while and I always like to Austin scene. Everyone is so active down here. I am really jealous of the soul that Austin seems to have. Dallas just seems so manufactured, everything is new and not yet seasoned with the time and tradition that generates soul. In Austin, the communities fight to preserve old buildings and in Dallas, they fight to tear them down to build new shiney and upscale plastic lofts and froo froo establishments to be attended by the popped collar generation. Man, if I lived here, I would ride my bike to the movies! You just cannot get that in Dallas. Oh well. I don’t think I will ever move here, but it is nice to visit. Maybe I’ll look for some close community that will allow me to ride my bike to the coffee shop without getting honked at. I think there are some places in Lakewood or something. All in all, I like the life, friends, ministry etc. in Dallas, I guess it is easy to get caught up in what you don’t or can’t have. BLAH. Enough about that... It’s time to go get some lunch and make our way home. I hope I can stay awake... I am so stiff and sore!

Oh, and please don’t try to call me. My phone is currently under tire somewhere on Mopac. I left it in the tray of my bike rack and Rebecca forgot before pulling onto the highway. Last seen, it was sailing through the air somewhere around the Enfield exit. At any rate, email me or call Becca if you need to get in touch with me. I don’t know when I will be able to replace it. Maybe its a good excuse to get rid of the blackberry!

Monday, October 08, 2007

I'm Back!

Well, this is like resurrecting an old blog from the dead! For those who have stuck around to check in from time to time, I will briefly try to update you on what in the heck has been going on with me! In short, last October I signed up for the first ever Ironman event to take place in Louisville. I hired a coach and began gleefully, I might add, training. In late January, I made a fatal error in training... I decided to incorporate some mountain biking into the mix, you know, intervals or whatever. It was a good thought... until I hit the ground. To make a long story short, I crashed very hard and injured my wrist. The orthopedist said it was not broken but wanted to do an MRI because of the pain level being so high.

The MRI showed the lunate bone to be very cloudy and I was diagnosed with a rare bone disease called Kienbock's Disease. Basically, the Orthopedic Surgeon said the lunate bone in my wrist was not getting proper circulation because my radius is longer than my ulnar bone and immediate surgery was needed to shorten my radius, insert a plate, and try to revascularize my lunate... yeah, thats what I said. Over the next several months I visited hand specialist and researched the condition all the while thinking something was wrong. Just picture me sitting at my desk tapping away at the keyboard surrounded by twinkie, snowball, and cupcake wrappers. Yeah, I had stopped training. Running with a cast was not fun and trying to ride with one was even less fun. I had to figure out what to do. In my gut, I knew something was off about the diagnosis. I mean, Occam's Razor says that the injury was caused by the mountain bike crash. I continued to search and research nonetheless. I saw 6 hand specialists and found a couple of recurring themes. One: Kienbock's Disease is really rare, Two: No one really knew what to do with it except operate and of all the 4 or 5 options for operation, research showed success rates to be less than 55%. One Doc, who was voted best hand guy in Dallas, said that he had only seen this once in his 38 year career and said, "we can learn together." His suggestion was a cast for 12 to 18 months to see if the bone would restore blood flow on its own. Yeah, a YEAR in a cast... NEXT! I had everything from that to immediate surgery to surgery whenever. The scary thing is that all the orthopedists just wanted to cut, saw and plate. The hand guys were all over the map. Finally, I found a young hand specialist that actually had experience with Kienbock's. His name is Dr. Thomas C. Dilibert. He said that he thought it was related to the mountain bike crash and because the MRI appeared cloudy on the end and not consistently across the bone that it could be a really bad bone bruise, but bottom line, it did not look like Kienbock's and he has seen Kienbock's. He said, sure you are Ulnar Negative, but that doesn't mean Kienbock's. Plenty of people have different size Ulnar and Radius bones and have no problems. So I took his advice and we decided to wait a while and then re-MRI it.

So we waited four months and redid the MRI. Guess what? My gut feeling was right. Everything was okay. The lunate was normal which means it was a bruised bone. We did find some torn and damaged cartilage in my wrist, but that can wait until after Ironman.

That is right, I am back. I have re-upped, signed up for the Louisville Ironman for 2008. So we will try this again! I have been procrastinating in updating this blog for a really long time and now it would take me forever to get all that has happened since I last actively blogged. So bear with me as I get you up to date.

Basically, Coach Phelan has had me running like crazy. I did not ride much after last spring's normal series of rallies. I rode the Dallas/Fort Worth MS 150, well at least the first day of it, then went the next day to win the Benbrook Sprint Tri's Clydesdale division. After that, I raced in a few tris, ran a little, rode a little, and kind of went through the rest of the season with little to show for the little training I had done. In August, we went to Chicago for the Half Marathon. It was my first and a wake up call. My goal was to break 2 hours, but I finished just over at 2:02:46.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tuesday Track

"T" is for Tuesday and "Tuesday" is for Track! I have to be honest, at first I hated the track workout... Even though it is HOT and TOUGH, I am beginning to really enjoy the track. For the past 20 years Coach Phelan has been running the Tuesday night track workouts at Hillcrest Highschool. The athletes that show up are the whose who of Dallas runners. I love the comraderie and community of this workout. This night I was a little worried about jumping back onto the track after being sick for a while and just getting my legs back, so Coach took it easy on me. The last time I attended a track workout, I think his goal was to make me puke! Anyway, Becca and I had a great time and everyone is just so friendly! The weather was very hot and humid but all in all it was great!

Here is my workout:

Warmup: 1 Mile easy
Mile: 7:38.09
1000 Meter: 4:50.25
800 Meter: 3:52.33
800 Meter: Sat this one out
400 Meter: 1:42.35
400 Meter: 1:46.79
200 Meters (optional)
200 Meters (optional)
30 minutes on the bike easy spin

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sunday's Long Run

With the Chicago Half Marathon looming on the calendar, I am really focussing on the run. I would like to get out and ride some longer rides to get back into bike shape, but for now with the way things have gone, the only non-negotiables will be the runs.

Sunday morning my beautiful triathlete wife and I got up to go run around White Rock Lake. I am not sure why, but that run is really special. We arrived a little behind schedule and I knew it would be hot, but I was fired up to be out and running long again. The run began just before 7:00 AM with a quick stretch, I was off. I really felt great. Usually, the first half mile or so is a rough one but today, I felt awesome. As I mentioned in my updates, my training has not been great and I had not had a long run in a while, so 9 miles was looking like the plan. I had ridden the lake a million times and knew the course well. The thought of running it made it seem like much longer. The first half was great. My form was good and I felt strong. At about half way, my iPod died and I hit a section that is uphill for a couple of miles. At that point, my core was losing strength and my form was going out the window. I was also sweating like a mule. The air was very humid and there was nowhere for my sweat to go so it soaked my shorts and legs and ran into my eyes. With about two and a half miles to go I began the internal debate of walking or not or stopping for bit or not. I remembered the time when this distance would have been no problem and was pissed at myself for letting my training go. It was really hard. But I searched my motivation tank and remembered Dean Karnazes talking about one step at a time so I plodded on. Along the way back on the back side of the lake, you can see the parking lot but there are several false horizons and each time I thought I was there, another cove would open up and a long stretch of road filled with cyclists, runners and walkers would appear. I questioned my knowledge of the course over and over. I just fixed my eyes ahead and kept running. At one point I found myself passing several other runners who were drenched in sweat and shuffling. One of them was wearing an Ironman Dryfit shirt so I wanted to make sure I looked good when I passed. This ended up giving me a little lift and a second wind. Before I knew it, I was back at the car. 1 hour 20 minutes and 33 seconds. I felt really good about the run and know this will be a shot in the arm for my training. For the rest of the day, I would be in the best mood and feeling like I am back... just a little back!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

TWU Sprint

After taking three weeks off, I decided there would be no better way to break back into training than to do a little race. Rebecca and I headed up to Denton for the TWU Power Pioneer Triathlon... another Ironhead Race Production Sprint Distance Triathlon (click here for results). The last tri I did was the Saturday before leaving for camp... the Paddle, Pedal, Pound the Pavement Tri in Grapevine, which took place on June 2. That was literally the last time I rode, ran... and I only swam once since then. Coming back from Camp brought chaos to the training schedule and I was just getting ready to get back into the grove then I got sick... and that lasted two weeks! The bad news was that I gave my sore throat, chest congestion, headache, violent cough (Becca says it is loud enough to break glass) and runny nose. She was about a week behind me, but sick still on race day. I feel pretty good and have for the past several days. The only thing that remains is the cough and a voice that sounds like some weird Muppet or Fraggle or something. To add to the chaos and illness, it has also been raining, Noah's Ark -style here for the past, uh, MONTH! Some say that all of the rain is elevating the fungus, mold and mildew in the air, which is causing everyone to get sick... anyway June was not an ideal month for training to say the least!

So we decided to race anyway... just for fun (right!).

Major Bigtime Update

Sorry folks... I know there are a bunch of you that have been sort of tracking and rooting for me on my journey to Ironman. So I wanted to issue a public apology for going in and out of hiding! I have been on again off again and really struggling for motivation. This will be a HUGE entry, so stick with me... In the back of my mind I know and have known for a while that IMKY is out for me. I have just missed too much training. I feel like I have gone back to square one on the bike. I have been training and racing local sprints but I don't have a big tri on the calendar just yet. The Morganator and I have been discussing the options for what Ironman to do and when. We got really close to signing up for Germany but the real motivator for me is that I do not want to wait that long to to this thing! My wrist is still not 100% so I am not sure what to do there. If anyone knows a good hand doctor in Dallas, I could use a 7th opinion. At this point, I am not sure what to think, you would think that it if was trauma and not Kienbock's Disease, it would have healed by now. Anyway, its not that bad, just nagging so I will let it ride for now.

For a while in late May, I had worked my run back up and was really cranking out the miles. I had a really big race on the calendar and was trained up, peaking and ready to roll! Memorial Day weekend, we (and 4,000 others) stood in the rain and ankle deep water waiting for the race officials to call off the race... they did and it hurt me. I was really pumped up and the cancellation was a huge let down. The next week, my motivation waned. Becca and I were getting ready to leave for a week in Colorado to take a group of highschoolers to Young Life Camp in Fraser, CO. I knew that I would not have any time or energy to run while there. In a last minute effort to keep the train rolling, I booked myself for the Paddle, Pedal, Pount the Pavement Tri in Grapevine the Saturday Morning before we were to board the bus for the 14 hour trip. There are alot of ways to ensure sleep on the bus and this is probably not the best... the muscle spasms were horrible in the cramped bus seats. Anyway, I showed up to the race and had low expectations. My Coach, Chris Phelan, was there vying for the cash prize to be given... These local money races pull the fast guys out of the woodwork. I was glad Chris was there, I really wanted to do well for him. To make a long story shorter, I had a fabulous race! I PR'd my run and finshed 11th overall. Click Here for the splits I felt really good about the run but knew that the bike needed some work... if I had only been keeping with it, I could have flown! My legs felt dead and I knew it was from the brutal fact that I have not been riding at all. Cycling has always been my stregth and I think I have taken it for granted. My cycling partner Norm is addicted to MTB and Stephen moved away, and the Morganator is away for the summer so my only hope for cycling looks lonely. I have to get over this and get back out there! Anyway, we went to camp and had an amazing time (read all about it at When we got back I took a day off to catch up on rest lost on the bus ride home. This extended into a bonus day then one more just to make sure... all of a sudden the entire week went by and I was working till late and trying to keep up with the three days a week of camp follow up. The next weekend came and Becca and I both buckled down and vowed to get back into the grove. Then the rain came. Then came the cold (sick). The cold moved to a sore throat, then to my head, down to my chest and then I was coughing -- violently. This mystery illness would hang on for two weeks, zapping my energy and ablility to train. It was aweful. To make matters worse, it rained for something like 22 straight days. It seemed that all would be lost.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Riding or Hiding?

Okay, so I have been hiding... My coach always says, you are either riding or hiding... and I have been hiding! I have had a major setback and have been dealing with some major frustration and confusion around an injury.

Back in February, I took a bad spill on my mountain bike. The result was a badly injured wrist. After a battery of x-rays and MRI's, the orthopedic surgeon came back to me with the diagnosis of an extremely rare degenerative bone disease of the hand called Kienbock's Disease. I was really floored by this finding. The ortho wanted to operate with major surgery right away. I opted for a second option! The second doctor is an old school guy that is really well known and respected. He said that he has only seen one case like this in all his practice (since 1968) and wasn't sure what to do. He definitely wanted to take a conservative approach... this was evident by his prescription of treatment, which was a cast for 9 to 12 months. NO THANK YOU! So I went to another doctor... the third doctor concluded that is was bone trauma and torn cartilage that could be remedied by a cortisone shot. That sounded good, so I went with it. That was a month ago and as I write this, I cringe when I have to reach for the "Y" key with my right hand. It is still pretty painful. I am not sure what to believe. The third and second doctors claim that orthopedic surgeons just want to cut at every chance they get to make more money. If that is true, then I am really worried about all of the unnecessary surgeries that must take place every day. I mean, I was hours away from having 3MM of my radius removed! I think my wrist has gotten better, so I will just proceed with caution. Needless to say, this put me way back in my training. The psychological hit was huge. It is something that I really wrestled with. I did learn one thing though, casts are not as easy to remove as you would think! It took mean hour with a crow-bar, hack saw and tin snips... no lie!

As for Ironman, I am not sure what I am going to do at this point. I could probably finish it and it will probably be really hard, or I can sit out a year and it will be the same. Bottom line is that I need to make a decision soon. I lost over a month of training and motivation... it has been tough. Luckily, I have a very good coach and a strong support base that will continue to support me no matter what I decide to do.

I have been back on track now for about a month and training hard. For now, I will keep training and racing. In fact I am racing in Grapevine this weekend if anyone wants to come watch. I will be racing age group so it should be interesting. Based on last year's times I should have a shot at an age group win if I can sub 1:10:00 the 300 yard swim, 20k bike and 6k run. I am shooting for a 4:40 swim, 35 Min bike and a 30 min 6K... that equals 1:10. It will all depend on who shows up! Wish me luck!