Monday, December 29, 2014

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - 2nd Try - Week 7

Week 7 took two weeks. Holidays and what not. Did not adhere to the plan rigidly. Instead, if a WOD (workout of the day) at the gym was harder than the WOD on the program, we went with the gym's prescribed workout.

Several items of note, thus far:
  • Still not sure if this plan could actually get you to 50K. That's 31 miles! And there are very few runs of even HALF that distance in the plan. At least so far. Plus, there's a mental aspect of pushing yourself that far and that long. And there's no discussion at all about fueling before, during, or after long runs. Such knowledge only comes from extensive experimentation. None of which are touched in the program.
  • Despite my reservations, my pace is enormously improved. Averaging around 8:45/mile without significant effort. Pushing the pace drops it right at 8:00/mile. But slow and steady is a better choice!
  • Did a 10K race (Pass to Bay) and had TWO personal records. 6 miles in 53 minutes and 10K (6.2 miles) in 54:24! Previous 6 mile record was 54min and previous 10K (6.2 miles) was right at an hour! Very VERY! happy with those results.
  • Strength and conditioning is a little tricky because my thinking is constantly: don't get hurt, don't get hurt! But after finishing the workout, my thoughts become: should have tried hard, should have done more weight! Frustrating. But the goal IS to remain healthy and injury free.
  • During sprint work, it doesn't even feel like running with my own legs. Feels like somebody else's form. Somebody else's legs. Wow!
2/3rds the way through!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pub Run - 12/16/14

An easy 5K to test the knees and ankles. Multiple slow moments when some shady characters appeared in the distance and the lady runners were behind me. Still managed to finish a few seconds short of 29 minutes. Non-stop would have dropped it into the 27min range. No REAL suffering. Minor pinch in the RIGHT knee. But that is likely due to compensating for the right ankle. Played it smart: slow and steady. Happy with the results. That's enough, for me.

Afterwards, the usual folks at the usual drinking spot, but an unusual meal. Ben, owner of Irish Coast Pub. was kind enough to share a portion of his Mother-In-Law's home-made kimchi. Her being a native Korean who buries her creations in mason jars in the ground for up to a year, it was infreakingcredible stuff. Almost TOO hot. Pushed my personal limits on spice. Nearly crossed into "Oh my God, this hurts!" territory. But beer soothed the pain and it was one of the most challenging meals Your Humble Narrator has had in many moons.

Only in South Mississippi can you run 5K with your friends, then enjoy Korean BBQ tacos in an Irish Pub!

Monday, December 15, 2014

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - 2nd Try - Week 6

My last attempt at the 4H Challenge was effectively over mid-way into Week 6. And this week proved to be just as challenging! Work and short term injuries colluded to slow my progress and all the previous disappoints briefly flickered before my eyes. But actually turned out fine and were it not for some isolated soreness, things would be great right now. Very happy with the progress and looking forward to the second half of the adventure! Only six more weeks and the final adventure should be the Rock & Roll in New Orleans, in late January.

Here's an overview of Week 6:

  • Monday was an unscheduled rest day, primarily due to work. Didn't help that my posterior felt bruised from a ride the day before!
  • Tuesday was pretty brutal. In the morning was some back squats (3 sets of 5) then a series of power cleans and burpees (21/21, 15/15/ 9/9.) And the evening held a 5 mile run, pacing with Amber. She really pushed it at the end and we averaged right at 9m/mile even with 2 or 3 brief walks.
  • Wednesday was 300 jump ropes, 50 box jumps, 50 hand release push ups, and 50 knees to elbows. I think we started off by practicing push jerks and split jerks, too. (Should NOT have done most of that based on the next day's training.) 
  • Thursday was 10 mile trail run! Notable mainly for actually doing it and for multiple falls, including once rolling my ankle and hearing an obscenely loud POP than still (5 days later) is acutely painful at certain angles of movement. 
  • Friday? Oh yeah, very much a rest day! But soaked in the hot & cold tubs. 
  • Saturday ended up being just a brief (Occam's Protocol) workout with Liam plus some more soaking.
  • Sunday ended up being ANOTHER rest day due to too many projects. And much rest was needed.
Week 7 promises more of the same. But we're half way done, now. Onward and upward!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

One Long Endless Sunday

My weekends are never entirely my own. Not for more than two decades. Fortunately, they keep me entertained. And, truth be known, most of my long training events occur on the weekend. So a busy schedule keeps Your Humble Narrator happy and healthy,

First adventure? Bit of electronic skulduggery at My Parent's House. The "security light" in the back yard recently gave up the ghost. It needed to be replace. Who is going to do it? My 68 year old father? My 66 year old mother? Liam? Nay, nay friends. IronNerd gets to shamble up the slender pole and try his luck.

It unfolds like this: My narrow butt (weighed down with tools and climbing gear) scaling a ladder. My father bracing said ladder and offering advice about securing myself to the pole (God help me!) as well as pseudo-racist electrical instructions ("Black to black, white to white...") for wiring the new light. My son wandering around investigating what's what, shuffling up the ladder to hand me tools, and standing by the breaker box ready to flip the power when Paw Paw Mac yells, so that his father (me!) doesn't get cooked atop a fiberglass ladder from the 80s. Two bungee cords around my waist. And a frayed, ancient rope, too thick to be properly knotted, pretending to bind the ladder to the pole. Not a pleasant process. Much damage done to the blood pressure. Most of the process done one-handed, breath-held, a prayer threatening to come out. With vertigo and an illusion of being far too high commingling in my imagination to obscenely affect gravity in unfamiliar ways. Dad yelling up encouragement. Liam asking how much longer. Dogs swirling frantically. And this is a LOT OF DAMN WORK just to light up a back yard. But eventually, it got done. Then there was much rejoicing and hugs and thanks and reminders of why we moved back: for moments like this.

Second adventure? Getting Liam to drive from the Winn Dixie parking lot to Murky Waters, for lunch. For those not intimately familiar with the route, it is a straight shot with only a couple of stops and two short turns along the way. Much like His Mother / My Bride, Liam likes to make everything much more complicated than it has to be. He thinks there are rules for everything and needs reinforcement that: everything is okay, he is doing well, and (most importantly) we aren't going to die in a fiery explosion if he makes any small mistakes. But, joking aside, we lived, he listens well, and (with lots of positive reinforcement)  he does fine when he relaxes. The resulting lunch was (as usual) in-freaking-credible and the Burnt Ends sammich from Murky Waters is without a doubt one of the top three in the world. Three word review: delicious, delicious, delicious. And that's without washing it down with Mystery Orchid. (Coffee stout + Hard Apple Cider!)

Third adventure? Rescuing Meg after a long volunteer effort at Lynn Meadows. Took Molly as my wingman. (Or is it wingdog?) Slow roll over to the show. Find an illegal parking spot up front. Roll down the window. And wait. Molly sniffing the air. IronNerd tethering his tablet to his cell phone (NERD!) and working on his blog. Oh, the terrible slings and arrows we suffer these days. It's all one long endless Sunday...

...and here comes Meg!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

On The Trail With IronNerd

Last year, Week 6 of the 4HB Challenge signaled a major turning point in my life. For the first time, things felt GREAT during a run. Lighter. Faster. Stronger. Would the program be a game changer? Would my efforts and determination be rewarded? It all felt great going into the halfway point of the training. But the first significantly long run of the Challenge was also my last. After breaking THREE personal records that night, my 2014 season was unofficially over before it began.

Today marked a cautious return to that same training plan. No PR's though. (Not gonna happen again!) Slow and steady on The Tuxachanie Trail. Unfortunately it was a solo event as my wingman (LUKE!) tore up his own knee on a run this past weekend (on the same trail!) And the length of the adventure cost me a vacation day. But it was well worth it.

Several lessons were learned during this adventure:

  • If you are going to do a 15k+ trail run at 1PM, you should eat more than a protein bar for lunch. 
  • Never trust the MS Gulf Coast weather to stay cold for very long. Long sleeve running weather can turn into near-shirtless running weather quicker than you'd imagine.
  • Nature has an evil trick on trails: holes are easily covered with pine straw. (At 3.5 miles into the run, my right foot found one and something popped in my ankle. Walked off the worst of the pain. But it was sore the rest of the way!)
  • The forest isn't full of wildlife like you see in movies. Aside from a lone armadillo sullenly enjoying its lunch, nothing crossed my path or appeared to lurk in the distance. 
  • Last, but more importantly,you should NOT do hundreds of jump ropes and box jumps the night before your trail run!
Anyway... Turned around at the 5 mile marker.  58:47, including a 10min walk after the first 5K. Felt PRETTY good. Significantly under my 10K pace. But glad to be half way into it.

Word of advice. Trail running isn't street running. You get beat up on the trail. Back. Knees. Ankles. Calves. They all suffer. Mightily. So my complaints came as no surprise. Around 6.5 miles, my left ankle started acting up. Fortunately, it wasn't horrible. And left to its own devices, my brain would frequently shutup and my body would pick up the pace.

Walked most of the last mile. Still finished just under two hours. Surprised at my pace towards the end. Was rarely struggling to keep breathing. Wasn't really tired. Mainly just sore in the ankles. But NOT in the knees! Thankful for that.

Overall, fun excursion. The trail was great. The weather held up. And so did IronNerd. Though waking up in the morning might reveal a different story...

Monday, December 08, 2014

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - 2nd Try - Week 5

Tough week. But stuck as close to the plan as possible. Some of it clobbered me. Some of it was a touch easy. Still getting stronger. And runs are getting easier. Approaching the half way point. Approaching the week that caused me to tap out. Nervous in one moment. Eager in the next. But never bored!

Here's the breakdown of Week 5:

  • Monday - Back Squats (3 sets of 5) then Front Squats & Pull-ups 21/15/9.
  • Tuesday - 5.5 miles in 50 minutes!
  • Wednesday - 5 rounds of 300 single unders on the jump rope + 25 burpess (44:44!)
  • Thursday - 5 rounds of 10 hang power snatches + 30 x 24" box jumps
  • Friday - Didn't go right, with work, and ended up being a rest day
  • Saturday - Light workout with Liam (Occam's Protocol) 
  • Sunday - Scheduled Rest Day
Next week, the 15K revisited!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

IronNerd's Office

My fifth favorite passion (aside from: family, fitness, reading and food:) is technology. Counted among  my many blessings is being able to earn a living by literally playing for hours with all manner of digital geekery.

Today, for example, my day was spent getting a new workstation (far left) online. At one point, my desk had three PCs (with three different versions of Windows) straddling SEVEN screens. All controlled by just a single mouse & keyboard. For bonus Dork Points, my convertible laptop and much-beloved tablet are included in the group photo.

For the techno-curious:

  • Top two monitors (currently) work off my oldest PC, barely visible as a silhouette under the phone. Something like a Dell 520, from 2005. Runs Windows XP. 4GB of RAM. 70GB drive. Usually handles non-corporate adventures and has Office 2007 for helping users running that version. 
  • Bottom four monitors currently work off an oldish Dell XPS system, the silver tower under my tablet. Probably refurbished around 2012. Quad core, 64bit, 8GB RAM, 200GB drive, Windows 7. Monitors the data center, handles all corporate adventures, and has Office 2010. 
  • Currently squatting on the left, under the sad lonely screen, is the New Baby. Sweet little Inspiron with an quad core i7, 16GB of RAM, smoking fast 512GB SSD drive, and (finally) a functional DVD burner. Took me HOURS of updates but it is finally running a fully patched Windows 8.1 with Office 2013. It will replace the Windows XP box and serve as a heavy lifter to do some VM work. Especially a virtualized Windows 10. (Gotta stay ahead of the curve.)
  • The laptop is a Dell XPS One that has stolen my heart. (Typing on it right now.) Also runs Windows 8.1. Also has an SSD. And boots from a cold stop to fully logged in within 5 seconds. Love it, love it, love it! Mainly use it for working remotely, and typing out my rants on Tales From The Eye. Great for watching videos, too!
  • Of course the tablet is a 2nd generation Nexus 7. This thing will completely change your digital life. Only reason to get on my home PCs these days is to play a video game. Almost everything else done on a regular basis is done on the N7. Ultra portable. Ultra functional. This thing is a game changer.
  • Tying all the Windows devices together with screen/keyboard/mouse sharing software: Synergy. Allows me to move across all the screens seamlessly. Could probably run it on the tablet, if needed, since Synergy has a Linux client. 
  • A keen eye will spot my favorite coffee up lurking amid the packets and LCDs. Something old, something new. 
Combine it all together, and you have the modern IronNerd. Welcome to my world.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Ron's Nuts

First present and first Christmas card of the year turned out to be something exciting and unique: Ron's nuts. My buddy, Meinsler, sent some  Pennsylvania Black Walnuts. Straight from his back yard to  my front door. Ron warned that his nuts were unusually hard. They could wreck a normal nut cracker. So he included special instructions for getting into his nuts. Something involving a hammer plus a steel plate. And Ron warned that his nuts had a very distinct taste. They not something you just immediately try to devour. You have to get to know them. Slowly. And take your time with them. They're very special nuts, and Your Humble Narrator is very happy to have a friend willing to share them with him. Plus, Ron beat everyone in the race to share their love with me! And that goes a long way in my book.

So, thanks, Ron! Your nuts were well received at my house! Even the dog has been enjoying a good sniff of them.

Monday, December 01, 2014

The 4HB "5K to 50K" 12 Week Program - 2nd Try - Week 4

Week 4 fell upon the long Thanksgiving Holiday Week. The program is starting to pick up steam. Presenting more challenges. On time and scheduling and recovering. Sticking with it as close as possible. Only a few minor strays and those were close to unavoidable.

Here's the breakdown of Week 4:

  • Monday - 400M sprints in the morning that were terrible because of my efforts to shift to the Pose Method of running. Front Squats and Deadlifts in the afternoon that weren't so bad.
  • Tuesday - Only one workout with the deceptively difficult Hang Squat Cleans & Push Presses. 
  • Wednesday - 5 mile run. Not as bad as the 10K the other week. Fairly slow and easy but still managed just over 10min pace.
  • Thursday - Couldn't really train but did "play football" with Liam & Tolar & Stewart after lunch. But of a workout with the running and jumping. And Your Humble Narrator actually scored three touchowns!
  • Friday - Missed the run (2 x 1mile) but caught the WOD: Power Snatch + 200m rows followed by 600 single-under jumps.
  • Saturday - A "Linda" workout that only got half finished. Gym weights handle differently than Crossfit weights and Saturday's workout was awkward and perhaps a bit excessive. But, got it done.
  • Sunday - Needed to recover. Felt rundown and fought off headaches. 
Still feeling good. Feeling much more comfortable with the weights and workouts than the first attempt. Hoping that is a good sign. Approaching the halfway point. And Week 6 includes a 15K trail run!