Saturday, March 30, 2013

Road To Traditions 2013 - Week 3

Training on Saturday because tomorrow (our usual training day) is Easter Sunday. Great crowd. Great weather. Did a change up on the activities, though. Ride, run, swim!

Ride was much better than last week. Solo for the vast majority of it. Passed several folks. Decent average. Didn't give it my BEST effort, but felt strong throughout.

Run went really well, for me. Plenty of energy and a fairly good pace. Did the first mile through the neighborhood and slowed for ten seconds. Then did the ugly offroad mile. First up a dirt road. Ten second walk. Then down a wooded trail. Bit slippery at the bottom. But very happy with my performance.

If I don't PR next week, I'm gonna be crushed. But it's been a great off season and I hope to make Traditions the first of many personal successes this year.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pub Run - 03/27/13

Almost canceled. Nobody there until nearly 6P. Was going to just drink solo and complain to myself about various selfish issues. Finally some folks arrived. The crowds keep getting smaller. I keep going anyway.

I lead the first two miles. Allen passed me after that. (He probably started 10 minutes behind us.) Ended up going the full distance. 5 miles. 54 minutes. Felt good. Especially for not having any music available. Just me and the road and the clop clop clop of my lazy feet. Slightly cold. Not too bright. I almost did not loathe it.

But it will be summer, soon. And I'll be able to complain with lots of Southern passion.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Road To Traditions 2013 - Week 2

More people this time. But still cold. Couple of laps in the lake. Second one much slower because I was following a newbie. She did great for her first time. Far better than I did on my first half dozen swims. I trailed her, just in case.

Ride was BRUTAL. Crazy winds. Sections where I would normally average 18+ MPH, I was struggling to do 14MPH. It beat the hell out of me. Sapped my strength and robbed me of any desire to run.

Called it a day after the ride. Jon vs Nature? Nature wins.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pub Run - 03/20/13

My fifteenth run with the group. Fifteen weeks of convincing myself to go. Never gets easier. 

A familiar face returns for a trial run on a wounded wing. But the wounds run deeper than she lets on. 

I was sweeping the backfield for the first half. Still ended up passing a couple of folks. Four miles but too many distractions. A Father McNeil burger after: Irish Bacon and a fried egg on top. Could barely finish it. Dying to find the picture of that bad boy.

Three ciders aren't enough most nights.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Road To Traditions 2013 - Week 1

Did our first open water swim of the season today. Officially kicking off the "Road To Tradition's." My third year to compete in Tradition's Triathlon. It was my first official event, back in 2011. Improved in 2012. Hoping to improve even more in 2013.

Nice sized crowd for this initial training event. So many new faces. Good to see folks take the plunge (literally!) Unfortunately for them, it turned out to be the coldest temperature ever in the lake. Mid to low sixties. Several folks couldn't actually do an entire lap. But, two young ladies did it without wetsuits! One came up red as a lobster. After my first lap (600 meters) my feet were numb. But it felt good and I did a second lap. Much quicker and smoother second time around the course. Able to see the turnaround point. Able to pace myself. Didn't have to stop to catch my breath and very proud of my performance, even though I zig zagged too much.

Slow transition to the bike. But I caught up with several folks and helped guide several of the newbies through the course. Average speed felt stronger than previous years. Able to relax more. Breath easier. And despite not hydrating ahead of time or having any fuel during the ride, I still managed to set a new PR of 53:17 on the course. Proud of that, but I know I'll do better come race day.

Concluded with a short 1 mile run. Just to get my legs under me. Ran with my previous elementary school coach: Eddie Holmes. Wouldn't have gone as far or as fast without him, and we completed the mile in 7:59! For me, a fantastic pace. Super proud of that.

Two more weekends of training. I'll add one more lap to my swim, focusing on the last leg, and add a mile each week to my run. Feeling confident right now. But there's still plenty of room for improvement.

Going to be a great triathlon season for your geeky narrator. Better, stronger, faster. Or I'll die trying.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lazy Sunday

Our day started at 0700. Which was actually 0600 but that devilish Daylight Savings Time descended upon us last night. Thankfully, it wasn't freezing. Liam and I dashed over to Biloxi. Coastal Women for Change (CWC) needed volunteers to weed and till their community garden after the recent weather. Beau Rivage asked employees to help, and I took Liam. (He needs hours each quarter for his Honors Program, anyway.)

We spent two hours with rakes and hoes. First digging up grass or weeds. Then tilling up compact ground. And finally raking everything smooth. Great weather, just enough folks, and the work passed quickly. Glad to help the community and thinking about going back next week. Maybe bringing components for a composting barrel. Would be nice if they could re-use all the organic material that they're currently discarding.

Weather stayed nice after lunch. Cindy bought Meg a kite. Meg tried to fly said kite. But the kite and the wind didn't cooperate. But it was great fun watching Meg try. Running across the yard, green kite following at her heels. She had a little success, but nothing prolonged or lasting. A few times she'd get it eight or nine feet up. But then the breeze would fade. And down came Meg's kite.

Slow, lazy Sunday. Enjoying the time with the kids while I can.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Run For Relief 2013

I woke up NOT wanting to run this morning. Crappy sleep. Lack of motivation. Budding anger issues. But, once I was awake, I wasn't going back to sleep. So I dragged out of bed, dressed furiously, and rolled to RunNTri for the 9th annual Run For Relief.

LOTS of military guys racing. All of them in great shape. Haven't been passed THAT much in a long time. Was hoping to follow somebody with a 7:30 pace. But started off even faster: 7min/mile! Couldn't hold it for very long (about half a mile!) and lost the group I was pacing.

Hoped to beat last week's record time: 25:35. However, my GPS shutoff at some point. So I literally had NO idea of my pace or timing. Only slowed for 10 seconds at the midway point. 3 sips of water. Then grunted out the second half.

Came around the last turn, and discovered I was nearly ahead of my previous record. Turned up the heat, sensed somebody behind me doing the same, and finished with a strong (by my measure) kick at the end. Official time? 25:36. One SECOND off of last week's record. Two seconds from a new record.

Didn't place for my age group. Probably not even close. Didn't PR. And didn't eat any donuts because I'm stupid about carbs and sugars now.

Oh, well. Better luck next time, Old Bean!

Friday, March 08, 2013

Fitness Friday - A Recovery Trick

One of the things that killed my previous attempts at leading a fit lifestyle was soreness. Very disenchanting for a chunk, lazy geek like me to wince every step after completing a long run. So I'd succumb to soreness and quit.

But I discovered a secret to defeating soreness: alternating hot and cold. My gym has a "cold pool." Next to it, is a hot tub. After a long run (usually >10K) alternating almost always eliminates any resulting aches and pains and allows me to keep to a strict training schedule.

My protocol is quick and simple:

  1. One minute in the cold pool, up to my waist, following by one minute in the hot tub, up to my waist.
  2. Two minutes in the cold pool, up to my arms, following by two minutes in the hot tub, up to my arms.
  3. Three min in the cold pool, up to my neck, following by three min in the hot tub, up to my neck.
You could go longer if you'd like. You could stick with just submerging your legs. Or submerge all the way each time. But the major focus is alternating between hot & cold. I believe it helps promote rapid bloodflow into the muscles (in the cold) and out of the muscles (in the hot.) And the bloodflow helps with recovery. If my science is wrong, my results are right. I've run half marathons then tried this trick, and I'm able to train the next day.

If you have access to a gym, give it a try. If you don't have a cold pool, there's likely a shower available near your hot tub and you could (brace for it) hop in a cold shower for 1 - 3 minutes. Even if it doesn't help with recovery, it will certainly wake you up in a hurry!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Fixing the Nexus 4 Windows 7 MTP USB Device Failed Error

Sorry. This will be extra geeky. But a tricky digital devil had Ol Jon pulling at his graying hairs for hours. And the world must learn the solution that took Ye Old Geek hours to unravel!

The problem was that my Windows 7 system would not load the drivers necessary to connect my Nexus 4 to my PC via USB. (So that I could pull off my pictures and videos.) Removing the existing driver did not work. Installing developer tools did not work. A dozen other tricks and reboots did not work. 

What worked? A simple little shell command: 
     net localgroup Administrators local service /add

It apparently has something to do with the phone and USB and driver software all going too quickly and not negotiating properly. So Humpty Dumpty has a great fall and it takes an obscure command line to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Four hundred bucks worth of ultra modern  phone hardware tweaked with six words. And I don't really know why. Here comes the singularity. 

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Meg's Mass Choir

Meg spent the day with 500 other fifth graders from the Gulfport school district, practicing for a mass choir performance lead by John "Double Dream Hands!" Jacobson.

Once a year, Jacobson (professional composer, choreographer, writer, and music educator) comes to Gulfport to serve as conductor for hundreds of kids from seven local elementary schools.

He mixed classic hits with a modern twist on old dance steps. The kids were doing the Alligator, the Monkey, the Jerk, the Mashed Potato, and the Peppermint Twist.

They were all dancing and singing, but Meg was absolutely radiant. She was right up front (check the red circle!) smiling non-stop, never missing a step, knowing every word, and as bright and glorious as the sun.

Loooooved it. Highlight of my day. Probably my whole week. She's just so beautiful and fearless and eager to entertain the world. At one point, she ran into the audience, right next to me, and danced The Twist. My incredible, talented, brave little Meg.

The most courageous red headed angel in existence. My girl, Meg. Never a dull moment when she's with me. Light of my life. Air in my lungs. I don't think I could breath without her.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Ticking Tri Meeting

The Ticking Tri Bombs are my local Triathlon Team. I'm probably the slowest guy. Poorest runner. One of the weakest bikers. At best, an average swimmer. But I joined to train with and learn folks better than I am. So that's pretty much everyone.

At my favorite hangout: Coast Irish Pub. Dunno if it was the first meeting. Definitely the most recent. Free food. Happy Hour drinks. And (I think) the first elections of board members. I was asked to serve as Membership Coordinator. And Secretary was tacked onto my load, too. Glad to help. Hope I can make a difference. Happy that people have faith in me. Trust me to contribute to the group.

We'll see how it goes. Certainly make for a much more interesting triathlon season. And a productive one for me.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Unscheduled Rest Day

Knew that Ye Ol Back was not behaving. Felt the protest start yesterday.

Didn't pay enough attention.

Warming up in the gym this morning. Standing twists. Very FIRST repetition is a train wreck. Like the teeth of a crowbar biting into my mid-back. Left side. Knife-like pain burrowed between muscle and bone. Has to be a rib jumped off its rocker. Nothing feels as crisp or lightning-strike painful.

And that was it. Couldn't workout. Almost couldn't breath. Walking wasn't right. Posture immediately compromised to pain. Didn't even warm up before the workout was ruined.

Then, too much work. Calls and pleas for help and projects and woes and the usual suspects. Home at seven. Still not right. Meg tightrope walking on my spine. Didn't help. Cindy tap dancing, heel toe, heel toe. Didn't help. Then she sits on my lower back. One palm on the slipped rib. Other palm atop the first. Leans her weight into me. Sharp push. And POP! It slips back into place. Like a dead bolt clasping shut. Rag dolls me for five minutes. Able to breath. Able to think straight. Need a beer and a cigarette, now. (As if!)

Muscle still knotted. Tender. Rigid. Probably be useless tomorrow. Not able to lift or swim. On top of this unscheduled rest day. Not sure. Never sure with things like this. Have to see how sleep treats me. If sleep even comes.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Meg's Party - 2013

Big gathering at the house today. Officially celebrating Meg's 11th birthday. My family. Cindy's. Couple of pizzas. Soda for the kids. And a double cool cake. Cindy found somebody to do a Harry Potter theme. Complete with a Sorting Hat and an official welcome to Ravenclaw

Had a bit of adventure afterwards. Lined up the daughters. Meg age nine and one week, Alex (Cindy's Niece) age ten, and Morgan (my Niece) age six. Meg & Alex are the best of friends. "Cuzfriends." They like to say. And Alex gave Meg one half of a matching set of fuzzy pillows with "BFF" stitched onto them. We don't get to see Morgan as much as we'd like but when we do, the girls always have a good time running around and playing with her. 

Next up were the women in my life. Cindy. Her Mom, Glenda. My Mom, Cathy. And the girl of the hour, Meg. The only one missing is my Grandmother. She wasn't feeling well (fighting a cold) and couldn't make it. Miss her, terribly, but I'll find a way to get a picture with all of them together. 

Concluded with a picture of us men folk. My father, me, and Liam. Jason was missing because he was working. But there you have three generations of McDougals. 118 years worth of McDougalness. 

Good times and good company. Have to do it more often. With more of us involved. Enjoy it while it lasts. Until then, Happy Birthday again, Meg!

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Read Write Run - 2013

Tried something new today: pushing myself! Normally, that never happens. Happy just FINISHING. If the time is good, the time is good. If the time is bad, the time is bad. Spent the last few days mentally preparing. Not just accepting a random outcome, but pushing through discomfort and hitting a new personal record. And chose 26 minutes as a goal.

Read Write Run 5K in Pass Christian, MS. Beautiful, but cold, morning. 33 when the alarm started shouting. (Below 50 until noon!) Long weather gear. Black beanie. And gloves.

Not many of the usual folks. Mostly Pass Christian locals. And kids. Two dozen of them in the One Mile event.  Then the 5K. A hundred and twenty some folks jogging down Scenic Drive. Started by pacing some fast runners. Kept my goal in mind and stuck to them the first mile. Boom! 7:30 pace. Close to record territory. Could't keep THAT pace up the whole time, but didn't drop to my normal pace. Was able to maintain almost 8:30 the next couple of miles.

On a goal of 26min, I finished 25:35. Personal record. And mission accomplished. Could have shaved another 5 - 10 seconds if I hadn't slowed for water. But still proud of that number. If the age groups weren't so big (40 - 49 instead of 40 - 44.) I would have been in the top three! Oh well, maybe next time!

February 2013 Rewind

So here's February: 
  • Swim: 8.2 miles
  • Bike: 172.5 miles
  • Run: 23.2 miles
  • Strength training: 7 hours
  • Calories burned: 18960
Happy with the increased activities (slight though they may be.) My running miles are down due to not entering a half marathon in February. Hoping to increase it this month. Especially with my first triathlon coming up next month. 

Friday, March 01, 2013

Fitness Friday - My Main Morning Ritual

Until recent years, I never ate breakfast. And until recent years I was 45lbs overweight, lazy, and unhappy.

These days, one of my main morning rituals is to get up and consume at least 30g of protein within 30 minutes of getting out of bed. Most of the time, that is a scoop of whey protein blended with a cup of almond milk.

Here's why: Our bodies, like any kind of machine, need fuel. Without fuel, we're running on fumes, doing damage, and forcing our systems to perform at reduced levels to compensate for reduced energy levels. Not only does the protein provide fuel, but it also fires up key fat burning hormones and gets the brain primed for a productive, high performance day.

30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking is quick, easy, and cheap. It's the only way I roll in the morning.