Back, and LOCKED IN

Feb 28: Day 16

Planned workout(s): 5 minutes in Z1, 45 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1

Weight: We shall see tomorrow…

It’s funny how things work out.  I just got back from DC around 4PM and went out immediately to get my run done.  I was sore and tired and kinda feeling bleh, as I always do when I spend the day traveling, but I was kinda glad to get the rust off.  I started my run achey and stiff, wondering how I would do 55 minutes today.

Then about 10 minutes in I was absolutely, 100% locked in, to the point I had to keep backing off to stay in Z2.

I’ve had this experience before.  I can remember my very best Olympic race, where I won my AG and placed 2nd overall, came after I had spent a week on travel and returned the night before.  I wondered if I would be any good that day too.  And then I absolutely killed it.

I think it may be because, even though my body is protesting all the travel, all the sitting and extra napping has me actually pretty well rested.  As soon as I can work through the kinks, I’m ready to go.

Had a kind of surreal moment while running on the trail.  I’m used to seeing trash tossed on the side of the running trail.  It seems we cannot make a place nice enough that a knucklehead won’t toss crap on the side of it.  I’ve seen some unusual stuff tossed too.  But I have to admit, this was a first:



Yeah.  A whole treadmill.  I… nothing.

Back on the scale tomorrow.  It may be a spike back up with all the travel and festivities, but I am back on healthy eating and ready to start chipping away the rest of the week.  Looking forward to it really.  It will be nice to get back to normal.


Why 80/20?

Feb 27: Day 15

Planned workout(s): Off-Day

Well, I survived my all-day meetings.  The session I attended is one I do every year, and they are always high quality, but man, are they info-dumps.  I’m as mentally exhausted after today as I am after a race!  I did have one high-point though, when Scully texted me an I-miss-you “selfie”.



(She had help)

It’s my off-day and a fasting day, so not a whole lot to touch on.  I thought I would talk a little about the training plan I am on and it’s philosophy.  I am doing what’s called an “80/20” plan, and this one is by Matt Fitzgerald.  The basic premise is this: spend 80% of your time in low intensity zones which build the endurance necessary for the event wihout overstressing or over tiring the body.  The remaining 20% is spent on high intesity work designed to push performance to higher levels.

For each discipline you calculate 7 zones: the typical zone 1 through zone 5 that you may have used before, but also a “zone X” and “zone Y”.  Zone X lives at the bottom of Z3, and Zone Y at the bottom of Zone 4.  You are supposed to stay out of these zones as much as possible because they do not provide the best benefit ratio of effort to performance improvement.

I was drawn to this for a couple reasons.  One is my age, and I wanted to be sure I got to the line healthy as well as fit.  Keeping the stress levels down while still gaining the necessary fitness appealed to me.  The second is when I did the calculations for the zones, I realized I spent in the past 80% of my run time in Zone X.

And I haven’t seen any real improvement in my run splits in years.

I wondered if changing this up might create some better results for me, so that was my other motivation.  After all, a pretty smart guy once had an opinion on what I was essentially doing:


As I move on in the plan I will keep track and see if I am having any different results.  Stay tuned!

Travel is always a challenge

Feb 26: Day 14

Planned workout(s)

  1. Swim: 300 yd Z1, 1000 yd Z2, 300 yd Z1 20 minutes swim bands
  2. Run: 5 minutes in Z1, 40 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1

In more ways than one.

I am on a short business trip starting today. I return Tuesday. It’s actually really good timing from a workout perspective because Monday is my off day.  I was able to get my run in this morning. Sadly the pool didn’t open until after my flight time, so I did swim bands for that workout. I’ll be able to do Tuesday’s work when I get home.

I’ve already planned a fasting day for Monday too. I do these occasionally on off days to cleanse and it works fairly well for me.  It also saves me some per diem, and avoids the typical pitfalls of travel dining, so hey!

I’ve got some protein bars for dinner tonight and breakfast Tuesday, and there is a Subway in O’Hare I can grab a decent lunch at. I’ll be at the hotel by 7, relax, shower, read, iron my suit, and generally decompress before a long meeting tomorrow.  I have this trip down!

If only American would have cooperated with my perfect plan. But alas, it was not to be.

I got to Dallas alright, and had a 90 minute layover until my 3:10 flight to D.C.   I was waiting in the gate area when they announced the flight was oversold and asked for 3 volunteers to go on a later flight.  That flight wouldn’t arrive until midnight and I have an early start tomorrow, so i decided not to take the $300 voucher offer.

I’m starting to think taking that offer would have been a real good idea.

First we have more people in platinum, gold and priority status groups than I have ever seen. I of course, am not one of those.  I swear 3/4 of the plane had a priority boarding status.  Before Group 1 was even called, they declared the overheads full and anyone left with bags had to gate check them. As I was in Group 2, that was me.

Then I had to kick a guy out of my seat who thought his window seat F was my aisle seat D.

Then I had the woman in front of me try to recline before we left the gate.  I could tell this was going to be one of “those” flights.



From that point we sat on the plane until 3:10 waiting to leave.

And then past it. 3:15.  3:30.  3:45…

Finally at 4 we get an announcement–there’s a “scuff” on the plane.  Can’t fix it. We need to deplane.  Wonderful.  We all tromp off wondering if we would even leave today.  I, of course, no longer have access to my bag. Which has my dinner in it.

After a few minutes they send us to another gate to board a new plane. And the whole kabuki dance starts over again, as they reboard by the same groups.  I settle in a seat and wait the 20 minutes before they finally call “Group 2”.  New departure, 4:37.

Then, waiting in my new seat, here we go again.  4:45.  4:50.  5pm.  I’m thinking I really really need to get an overpriced bourbon if we ever get off the ground.


At 5:14, with no explanation or even acknowledgement of the new delay, we push off for D.C.  Finally.  OMG my butt hurts.  My 2 hour flight will have had me in a seat for almost 6.  I decided I was going to get that bourbon after all.  The flight attendant, in her infinite generosity, declined to charge me the 8 bucks for an ounce of Woodford Reserve.  Score one for American!

Once in DC my luck is…consistent. It takes an hour at baggage claim to get the bag I never intended to check.  Then, to top it off I head to the Metro and find the Blue Line I take to the hotel is out of service.  I can still get there, but it requires about double the time and a real roundabout method.


The rest of this trip is going to be fabulous.  It has to be.  I have burned all my bad luck at the front end.

Now, with both the delay and the bag I’m finally in the hotel about 3.5 hours after I had planned, at 10:30. Thankfully I didn’t try to push the workouts until I after arrived, because I don’t have near the time I thought I would have!  Instead I have just enough to iron my suit and get settled in.


Somehow with all that, it won’t impact my training a whit.  So I’m still calling it a win!  🙂

The Aftermath

Feb 25: Day 13

Planned workout(s)

Bike: 10 minutes Z1, 10 minutes Z2, 8 x (30 seconds Z5 uphill or simulated/60 seconds Z1) 28 minutes Z1

Had a really good birthday overall, although it decided to snow.  That kinda cut into my plans to take my dog Scully out for some frisbee toss in the park.  I did take her to work to show her off a bit though, and give her some socialization.

Scully is an 8 month old Mini Australian Shepherd.  She’s already able to run a ton and will be a great running partner.  Sometimes she doesn’t really want to get started, but when she starts going she’ll lead the whole way.

She’s also a total Daddy’s Girl.  And I’m OK with that!


My girl helping Daddy blow out his candles!

I’m not even going to try to explain the hat.  It’s a family thing.

I embraced my birthday with gusto as you can probably see, and enjoyed dinner out (nachos!) and cake and ice cream.  I think honestly that’s the only way I keep sane on my restrictive food intake is to take the occasional day off.  Actually the next several days will be kinda crazy, but hopefully I’ll be able to maintain some level of control.  I don’t want to lose all the progress I have made so far.

I ordered the PowerTap PS1 pedals and should have them in a few weeks.  I’m very excited about that!  Today’s workout was another one with 30 second max effort intervals and 1 minute cool downs.  Once again, HR told me absolutely nothing with the intervals being so short, so having a power meter will be a big help in keeping me on point for my effort in these kind of sets.

It was really cold this morning with a lot of frost, so I did my Saturday workout on the trainer.  I think I mentioned I often play video games while I do my bike trainer rides, and it works as a great pastime.  However, I need to make sure in the future I don’t do activities in the video game that require a heck of a lot of focus.  Without going into it TOO much, rapid Z5 intervals and video game boss fights….not a good mix -.^

Tomorrow I head to DC for a work trip, and it is also my older son’s 18th birthday.  Busy day ahead, and it will require some creativity to stay on plan.  For those of you who travel, I’d love to hear your thoughts on strategies to keep up your training and nutrition while away from home!

Best of luck on your journeys this weekend.

45 is here!

Feb 24: Day 12

Planned workout(s)

  1. Swim:  20 minutes swim bands
  2. Run:  35 minutes Z1

Weight: 172

Today is the day I officially turn 45!  I’m going to do my very best to stay on my plan today. I took the day off from work, so even though there will be some family time tonight it shouldn’t be too hard to carve out an hour and get both running and swim bands done.  It’s cold and miserable outside right now though, so I will probably do that this afternoon when it at least clears.


Happily the scale looks good.  Because I have absolutely no intentions of skipping a nice meal out and some cake and ice cream.

Birthdays and other holidays are hard on training plans, or at least they can be on mine.  Sometimes they are hard because there is so much going on, it’s hard to get a workout in.  Sometimes they are hard because you just don’t feel like doing your exercise because it’s a holiday, damn it!  Still other times you can find time and you have the motivation, but because they are family centered days, it’s difficult to explain to folks who aren’t part of the process that no, you really are going to take an hour away from them and go do your exercise.

They’re just challenging to stick to the routine, because they are so out of the routine.

I guess I kind of let where I am dictate how it goes.  I wish I could say I was consistent, but I’m really not.  I’ve given myself the day off, and I’ve done 8 mile runs on Thanksgiving.  Each training process is different.  And I think that’s OK.  One day does not a long training plan make, or break.

As for how I feel about 45?  Pretty OK really.  I mean, I’ve had birthdays where the march of getting old gets me down, but today isn’t one of them.  I kind of joke that 45 is actually a good birthday because it means I am on the BOTTOM  of the age group now instead of the top, but it’s only a half-joke.  I never had more podiums than the year I turned 40!  Of course, being the poor planner I am I chose to do only one race the year I turned 45, and it’s a race I’m not even trying to be competitive.  Lol.

But most of all I’m pretty happy where I am at as I turn 45.  I feel good.  I’m fitter, leaner, and happier now than I ever was in my younger years.  That’s saying something.  And I’m pretty happy to have embarked on this journey now, at this particular juncture in my life.  I think I am ready for it in ways I never would have been when I was younger, and of course nobody can predict the future, so who knows if I would be ready or able to do it in later years.

So, here’s to being 45.  I’m looking forward to a good year, and wrecking that 45-49 age bracket next year!


Regarding Jane Seo and Cheating

Feb 23: Day 11

Planned workout(s)

Bike:  5 minutes Z1, 5 minutes Z2, 4 x (5 minutes Z3/3 minutes Z1) 13 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1

Weight: 173

First of all, the weight bounce I feared yesterday was real but not too bad.  About a pound and a half.  I can deal with that.  Boy, my legs were tired this morning.  I gutted out the intervals and felt OK, but now I am wiped out.  Hope I can make it through the day without falling asleep at my desk!

I follow a lot of fitness blogs, news and sites, but one that both fascinates and sickens me is Derek Murphy’s Marathon Investigation site.  Derek takes the time to do something that should never be necessary–help identify cheaters in running events.  This past weekend if you haven’t read about it, a 24 year old Huffington Post writer, Jane Seo, decided to cut the course at the Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon, came in second in her age group, and proceeded to falsely claim her time was legit.  Then, to cover her tracks she later biked the course later to get a GPS record of completing the whole course to upload to Strava.


Exactly Linda. Exactly.

And yeah, she accepted the award.  She actually walked up there and took it.

Later however, evidence started to mount against her.  She had a finish line photo that included her Garmin, which when blown up, showed she had not covered the full distance.  Her “GPS proof” raised suspicions because her cadence and heart rate looked more like a typical bike than any of her other posted run data.

Oh yeah, and the timestamp showed it was recorded in the afternoon, not during the race.

Later, after it became clear that there was plenty of evidence against her time she claimed mea culpa and admitted to having cheated on instagram, claiming she hadn’t felt well so she decided to cut the course, then got “swept away in the moment” and accepted the award.


I’ve felt ill on runs before.  I’ve even pulled myself off a course due to heat exhaustion and took a DNF.  When I feel like crap, I slow down, I don’t record my fastest splits for the race.  In fact, I’ve walked it rather than exacerbate the problem.  I’ve never cut a course.  I haven’t even left one without notifying a race official or volunteer.  When I DNF’d I handed over my timing chip before I returned to the start.  I don’t take a finisher’s medal, and I don’t cross the actual finish line.  I sure as hell don’t cross the line, hand over my timing chip like nothing happened and accept an award.

No, what happened here wasn’t getting swept away in the moment.  If she had been honest from the start she would have walked up to a race official and explained the situation immediately.  There would have been no “moment” to get “swept up in”.

It also wasn’t about money or professional standing because we are talking about age-groupers here.  There’s nothing but pride and personal accomplishment at stake, and I fail to see how either of those is served through cheating.

It can’t be that the second place would have ever actually meant anything to this person. Again, you know it doesn’t belong to you.  You stole it from whomever rightfully earned it, and bumped someone else completely off the podium in the process.  It would take a person completely different from myself to display that award.  I wouldn’t even want to look at it.

What I truly believe happened is here is someone has built an image of themselves up on their blog and on social media, and wanted to maintain that image but wasn’t actually fast enough or good enough to do it on this particular day.  Looking at her splits she’s clearly a talented runner.  But sometimes people are just better than you.  Sometimes you aren’t fast enough to get the time you want either through insufficient training, injury, external factors, or you just plain can’t run that fast.  But apparently it’s so important for some people to maintain that image of that embellished life they have established online that they are willing to lie, cheat and steal to do it.

It’s really sad.


If you ever find yourself feeling the temptation to cheat, just don’t.  You would be stealing true joy and accomplishment from one person and replacing it with fake joy for yourself, which can only lead to emptiness for both people.  If you want to podium, work harder.  If you aren’t good enough to podium, set a different goal that you can achieve.  Accept who and what you are.  You will be happier for it, and honestly?  I think people will respect you and find you more relatable all the more for it.

Surviving Snack Attack

Feb 22: Day 10

Planned workout(s)

  1. Bike: 5 minutes in Z1, 50 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1
  2. Swim: 250 yd Z1, 500 yd Z3, 500 yd Z2, 250 yd Z1

Weight: 172

The scale is playing tricks on me I think.  It read 171.8 this morning, which is a pretty fast falloff from the 175 plateau I was holding Monday.  I mean…yay, sure, but…I’m anticipating a bounce tomorrow.  Crossing my fingers.

This morning’s bike was yet another example of why I need to just hurry up and get this power meter.  I could NOT keep my HR out of Z3.  I didn’t feel like I was pushing hard, and I downshifted significantly to the point I felt like I was not even in Z2, but my HR continued to elevate.  It may have to do with my weight drop the last few days.  Either way, I’d much rather know for sure.  After my birthday Friday I will go ahead and order the Powertap pedals.

So every month my office does a thing they call Snack Attack.  Different units in the building coordinate and make a bunch of treats which are served for half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the afternoon.  Folks pay a buck and take what they want, and  then chat for the remaining time.  The money is used as a fundraiser for interoffice events and such.  Today we are having our February event.

It’s really cool.  It’s a nice break.  It’s also torturous.

People around here can make some amazing stuff, and for snack attack, they make a lot of it.  The vast majority of it is homemade desserts, but there are succulent choices too: chips, dips, party mix, etc.  Sometimes people bring in cakes.  Sometimes people bring in ice-cream.  Once we even brought in a chocolate fountain.  Usually they are themed too, and people have fun getting creative with it.

I love to bake, and when it’s my unit’s turn I enjoy making something unique that folks may not have tried.  I like to experiment and try new recipes.  It’s fun, and some of my cooking gets rave reviews.  I enjoy making people happy.


Today’s spread

But I don’t usually go, and the reason is simple–watching people eat plates of delicious food while you can’t have any?  Not as much fun as it sounds.

It kinda sucks also because I think people believe I don’t go because I am anti-social.  I’m actually not at all, and I have gone many times.  I grab a seat, sit and chat for 30 minutes and don’t eat.  Unfortunately it has the unfortunate side effects of 1) making me miserable and 2) making me crave stuff that would otherwise never enter my mind.  Even if I succeed in not eating at snack attack, now it’s on my brain, and in the past that has led to disaster.

Usually what happens is I later justify something I shouldn’t.

“I can go to Coldstone, I didn’t eat at snack attack!” 


“Give yourself a treat meal, you deserve it!” etc.

So especially now, with a birthday coming up on Friday where I already know I will be eating “off-schedule”, with expecting a scale bounce tomorrow already, and with my desire to get down to racing weight, I’m just not going to go.

Of course, that leads to well-meaning people who want to encourage everyone to come inviting me to come down, usually with descriptions of how good everything is, you have to try this, etc.  I hate turning them down, as much because I appreciate the invite for company as would the food if I could partake.  I always decline politely and explain I am in training, but I’m not sure they understand that I’m not rejecting THEM, I just don’t want to be around all the food.

Ah well.  It’s only once a month.

For any willing to share, how do YOU cope with office treats?