The Rugged Maniac

Last Saturday, October 27th, 2018, at 12pm, three brave souls ran in to the frozen mud and claimed glory forever, earning their place in Valhalla when the day finally comes that they meet a foe that can best them.  

The frost giants were fierce, but Shane slew them by the hundreds as he swung his might axe, Volendrung, in great swaths across the necks of his foes.  As the sun dipped below the horizon, darkness covered the massacre that his fury had wrought.

The fire demons raged, powerless against David’s mighty bow, Trollsbane.  Their corpses littered the battlefield in uncountable numbers, their backs and heads prickled with the arrows from his spent quiver.

The great king of Jotunheim, Laufey, fell before Bryan and his mighty spear, Gungnir, and the wrath that he unleashed in a torrent of lightning and rage and blood.  The frozen mud boiled around them as they battled, with Laufeys great hound Garrosh biting and slashing at Bryans’ heels as he fought the king of the giants.  

The heavens trembled and the halls of Valhalla itself shook for the first time in a millennia, as the warriors three struggled against their foes.  At one pivotal point in the battle, David, stunned from the cowardly blow of a sneaking demon, fell to one knee.  “Brothers!” he cried out.  “Avenge me should I fall!”

In no more than a second, Shane appeared at his side, pulling David to his feet as his mighty axe fell on the neck of the demon that had struck from the shadows.  Shane turned to his brother and grinned through the mud and blood covering his face like a mask of death, and yelled.  “You may fall, brother, but it shall not be on this day, and it shall not be while my axe rises to defend you!” His spirit renewed, David drew a clutch of arrows and began once more to fire in to the fray of demons that sought to overtake him, as Shane’s axe sang it’s song of death once more.

(TL:DR – Last Saturday David, Shane and I, also known as the mud racing team Brothers from other Mudders, ran a Rugged Maniac in Julian, NC.  It was 50 degrees and had rained heavily the day and night before, and the mud was cold, and deep.  It was Shane’s first mud run, my second, and David’s third.  Between the road trip and overnight stay in the cheap hotel, the mud run itself, and the drive home, it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever experienced, and I could not have asked for a better crew of mates to do it with.  Next up, the Spartan Sprint in July, 2019.)

Accelerator 3

 

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One day away

Tonight, I’m travelling to Julian, NC, with Shane and David to run a Rugged Maniac tomorrow.  I haven’t done a guys road trip since my teenage years, long before marriage and children and adulthood and responsibilities.  It’s going to be fun, but I’m going to miss my wife (Oct 4th Super Buddies for life, yo!) and my Goose terribly.

The race map came out yesterday.  Just like last time, there’s a Stairmaster event right at the front.  I’ve got to stop doing these runs at dragways that have grandstands to surmount.

Here’s the run and obstacles.

North Carolina (Fall) Course Map 2018 (1)

It’s predicted to be around 50 degrees and rainy for our heat at noon tomorrow.  Which is perfect.  Shane and David don’t seem to think so, but they are bitches when it comes to cold and nasty weather, whereas I embrace it.

A lot of time and training and planning have gone in to this run and this trip.  I’m excited for it, especially in the wake of the cancelled Duathlon in Asheville (I will forever hate the name “Florence” as a result of that shit show).  Caleb, our fourth Brother from another Mudder, had to drop out due to work obligations.  I’m bummed about that, but hey, Nirvana was a pretty successful trio, so we’re just going to have to be the Nirvana of the mud run world tomorrow.

Wish us luck.  Pics to follow.

***Side note, apparently I’ve picked up a few new readers!  Hello, and welcome to The Long Trail.  Please remember to use images, screenshots, etc responsibly.

Eye on the horizon

To say I was excited about doing my first duathlon would be… a bit of an understatement.  I was disappointed in the race organizers for calling it off, especially when Asheville got not even an inch of rain and no thunderstorm activity the day of the race.  No refunds, either, though they invited all participants to do a “virtual” race.  A virtual race, FYI, means that you run the race yourself, wherever you like, and then send in the time to them.  Lamest shit I’ve ever heard of.

I drove over to Asheville on Saturday with Sarah and the Goose to pick up my bib, shirt, and race medal that I didn’t earn.  It was a very hollow, bitter feeling, accepting a medal for a race that you’ll never run.  I hated it.  One unique thing about my race packet, though…

My race bib number was 666.

I didn’t think they gave out that bib number, just on commonly accepted knowledge of what “bad luck” numbers are.  Just like hotels don’t have a 13th floor, I never thought a race would hand out a 666 bib number.  But… here you go.  I present to you, in all its’ glory, my race kit.

Duathlon packet.png

I suppose it’s a good thing I didn’t end up racing.  With that bib, I might have had a fatal bike crash or a heart attack.  Ah well.  There will be a “first duathlon” for me in my future, though it’s looking like now it will be next Spring.  Since I had been prepping for a race all week with easier workouts and higher food intake, I decided to go out on race day and do a 5k just to see how prepared I really was.  I ended up setting a PR.

Race Day 5k

So there’s that to put on the wound of a missed Du, I guess.  I feel like I was prepared, and I think I would have done well and met my goals.  Until I get that opportunity to try again, though, I’m setting my sights on the next goal:  the Rugged Maniac on October 27th.

This bad boy right here.

I’ll be doing something I’ve not done since I was a teenager for this race, long before kids or marriage or a serious job, or any of life’s big responsibilities crept up on me.  I’m going to road trip this motherfucker with three of my best buddies.  Skeenz, Caleb, and McMahan, all of which have at one time or another had their ugly mugs plastered on this blog, are loading up with me on Friday the 26th and driving to Julian, NC, to get a cheap room and play Xbox all night and eat shit food in preparation for our race the next day.  Our heat is at noon.  We *might* be able to drag Shane off the toilet in time to make the start time.

We did a Survey Monkey and Facebook poll for our team name, and the winner was… Brothers from other Mudders.  Yes, we have a team shirt, thank you for asking.  Yes, I know I just said Mudders and the design says Mothers, thanks for noticing.  Asshole.

So here we are, 38 days from the event.  It’s a 5k mud run with 25 obstacles built in to it, most of which are packed in to the final 2 miles.  The boys and I have all been preparing for several months for it, and we’ve still got a little over a month left to go.  I’m thinking that we might get a bet going that the first one that has to stop or walk during this thing is buying the first round of drinks on the way home afterwards.  My money right now is on McMahan claiming that honor.

I’m determined to not be the guy that slows the group down, and to that end I’ve begun “three a days” cardio.  5:30am run, lunchtime run, and an evening run or bike.  I’ve been doing the two a day lunch and evening cardio rotation with weight training thrown in, but this was day 1 of adding the 5:30am run.  It went pretty well, considering it was pitch black outside and I was running by cellphone flashlight.  I’m happy with it.

530amPNG

During this run I surprised two snakes that were warming themselves on the pavement (I say “surprised” and not “scared”, because I’m certain that I didn’t scare them…. though they absolutely scared me), and cleaned every single cobweb on the Greenway off with my face (you are welcome, future Greenway runners of today).

Anyway, the 5:30am runs will continue, as will the rest of the training.  Eyes on the horizon.

road-to-horizon.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

The duathlon is cancelled

Screw you, Florence.  From the race organizers:

Dear Asheville Off Road Series Participants,

 

Thank you all for your continued patience, we know you all have been anxiously waiting to find out if the race is a go/no! We are athletes too and so we take canceling an event VERY SERIOUSLY. Please know we do not take things lightly when considering cancelation of any event and we have remained optimistic and hopeful all week for the possibility of the hurricane effects not reaching our area until the beginning of next week. We have been busy planning, prepping, loading trailers and moving supplies and getting things ready as if the event is happening all week. We did not want to cancel the event on a potential ‘threat’ so waiting until we have gotten closer to event day has allowed us and all the entities involved in the planning and operations of the event to see what is probable for conditions on Sunday.

 

After much discussion and communication with the contacts from the Buncombe County Rescue Services and Biltmore Estate and our other race partners, we have decided to cancel Sunday’s event. Logistically we could not make another date work with everyone involved. While producing the race is very important to us, our participant’s safety is always our highest priority. With the State of Emergency issued for the county, and the potential for continued unrest this weekend, the risk to our participants, volunteers, and vendors is unacceptably high. Our race course includes several areas that are prone to quick flooding in the event of heavy rain. At this time the local resources that we would typically have at the event have many other larger priorities in our state to prepare and tend to. It is impossible to predict how those resources will need to be utilized this weekend.

 

We know you have been training for this race and are disappointed about missing the opportunity to participate and compete. While we do have a no-refund policy, we’re happy to let you know that we have several options for you that will hopefully appease the disappointment of not being able to participate in the race this weekend.

Lordy lordy, look who’s…

I turned 40 on Saturday.

“40”.  Doesn’t feel like I’ve been on this Earth that long, yet at the same time somehow  it does.  40 is half-way to 80, and that feels weird.  That feels longer.

It was an amazing birthday.  I had dinner with Sarah Shane and Savannah at Boots in Sylva (please, check it out if you’ve never been), and then drinking and bowling at the casino in Cherokee on Friday night.

https://www.bootssteakhouse.com/

Saturday was sleeping in, breakfast, and spending the day with my family.  Dad came over and gave me a card and cake, and the card… well, I’ll hold on to that for the rest of my life.  In the evening, we went to our Sheriff’s rally for his re-election campaign this year, and that was a hoot!  Robbie and the whole place sang me “happy birthday”, and that was pretty special.  Even more special though was the standing ovation one young deputy received, who has been going through a particularly hard time as of late after a shooting that resulted in the death of a man here in town.  It was nice to meet him and talk about his young daughter with him for a moment (Our Goose is right behind his little girl in age by a few months), and to just see that he’s doing ok, considering.

https://www.smokymountainnews.com/news/item/25285-macon-deputy-cleared-in-knibbs-shooting

Sunday was relaxing and going to the movies with dad to see Alpha.  Now dad, he hates CGI in any form.  The movie was well done, with very minimal, discreetly used CGI.  After the movie when I asked dad what he thought, he said “Didn’t like it.  Too much computer generated crap.”  Needless to say, I won’t be inviting him to see the next Avengers flick with me.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/alpha_2018/

It was an excellent birthday weekend, which I spent surrounded by people I love.  I could not have asked for anything better.  I am beyond thankful to my wife-to-be, Sarah, my father, and my little Goose.

That brings us to today.  Monday.  My first Monday in my 40’s, and exactly 7 days until my first duathlon.

This week is going to be full of low intensity workouts and maintenance running/biking, low-key carb loading, and lots and lots of hydration.  I am excited to the point of butterflies in my stomach when I think about the race ahead, but it’s not just excitement from doing something new for the first time.  There’s a healthy bit of fear in the mix as well.  Self-doubt is way up there.  Did I train enough?  Did I short change myself on that run two weeks ago where I stopped at 3 miles instead of pushing through to 4?  Coupled with that is the fear of failure.  Will I even finish in the middle of the pack with men in my age bracket?  Will I get steamrolled by everyone out there, most of whom probably have been riding and running for years?  Am I going to embarrass myself?  Is my bike chain going to come off, or am I going to have a flat tire in the middle of the ride?

Added to all of this, mother nature decided to throw a nice little monkey wrench in to the race day with this lovely little surprise.  Say hello to Hurricane Florence, a category 4 sitting out in the Atlantic as I type this.

Florence.png

She makes landfall Thursday primarily on the SC and NC coasts, and is expected to dump massive amounts of rain and wind on western North Carolina Wednesday on through till the middle of next week.  Race day is Sunday.

Florence Path.pngHowever, in the midst of all of these swirling doubts and fears, I am encouraged.

Rain has always been a friend of mine.  Ever since I was a child, storms have always been a source of excitement and comfort for me.

So, this Sunday, a week after turning 40… with a head full of doubt and a heart full of joy, I’ll ride this storm.  Like I said, I’m excited.

A glimmer of hope

We are now at 3 weeks until the duathlon at Biltmore. 

I made the mistake of finding last year’s race results here.

Holy crap.

I’ll be competing in the 40-49 mens’ bracket.  My goals are to first and foremost finish the race, and to finish in the middle of the pack for my competition bracket.  Honestly, if I could crack the top 10 for the bracket, I’d feel like I had won the damn thing.  After looking at last years’ times, though, that was looking like a bit of a pipe dream.

  • Looking at last years results, the best first 5k run in that bracket was 22:45.  My best so far, going all out and not taking in to consideration that I have a bike and another run after it, is 29:38.
  • The best bike ride was 50:31 for the 13.25 mile trail/off-road bike leg.
  • The best time for the second 5k was 22:24, which is ridiculously fast considering that this is after a 5k and a 13.25 mile bike ride.

 

However, I am encouraged.  Let me tell you why.

 

Here is my PR (personal record) for MPH on the stationary bike at the gym.  I rode this on a 6-7-8-7-6 resistance pattern to simulate uphill portions.  Up to this point, this is the fastest I’ve rode thus far.

Tuesday bike record 1

I was thrilled with 12.61 MPH, even though I knew it would pale in comparison once I got in to competition with folks.  It’s a good speed for me, but it’s not really a good speed average for a race.

But as fate would have it, I got my birthday present a bit early from Sarah and Dad later in the week.  A brand new 2018 Trek 820.  Her name is Sally.

My Trek 820

I took Sally on her inaugural ride this past Friday, and….

Set a new speed PR for myself, with a 1.33 MPH increase.

Friday bike 2nd PR

This got me pretty pumped, because it now put me in striking distance of some of the upper-crust of the bike times for the bracket I’m in.  If I could pull a 30 minute 5k, a ride at an 13.94 MPH average, and then maybe a 35 minute 5k to round it out, I might be looking at that middle of the pack spot that I’ve been hoping for.  I know the second 5k is going to be a slow trudge for me, but if I can give a good account of myself in the first 5k, and pull off a 13.94 bike ride, that middle of the pack goal might come true.

But wait… I took Sally out one more time.

Sunday, after a weekend in Charleston with Sarah helping my buddy David get moved in to his new place, I took another ride and decided to push it a little.  The results were… highly motivating.

Sunday bike 3rd PR

Why yes, that is 2.65 MPH faster than my best time ever, thank you for asking!

Ok, so let’s be realistic here.  A 15.26 MPH average speed gets me 13.25 miles in (does some quick math)…. 49:50.

That would have beat the best bike time in my bracket last year.

Now I’m not crazy enough to think that this average speed would translate directly to the race.  There are so many factors to throw in to the mix like terrain, passing areas, competition, etc, that a straight-up speed comparison is a bit presumptuous on my part.  BUT, this is encouraging to me.  If I can pull a 30 minute initial 5k, a 50:00 or so bike ride, and a 35 minute second 5k, that would get me a finish time of around 115 minutes, and that would give me a time that ties the 7th place finisher in my bracket from last year.

Times

Suddenly that goal of breaking the top ten of my bracket doesn’t seem like a pipe dream.

Now, there is a glimmer of hope.

Then again, as Mad Max says…

hope_is_a_mistake___mad_max_game_fanart_by_cyanidemachine-d9bhhit

Pre workout Jym review

(Alternate title – how to act like a coke fiend while not doing coke)

You might remember my buddy David from last week’s post.

Photo/ProvidedMr. and Mrs. David McMahan

This guy.

He has been talking to me about introducing some supplements in to my workout.  He works out fairly often, but is the exact opposite of me in that he loves weights and hates cardio.  I, on the other hand, would take biking or running in the rain any day over a nice day lifting weights in the gym.  Still, I am working on upper-body and core strength to improve my performance in the Rugged Maniac mud race in October, so I have been incorporating weight lifting in to my routine over the last few months.  In addition to David, Shane has also been telling me about some of the stuff he takes.  You remember Shane, right?

QUEENER

This douche lord.

So anyway, between the two of them going over the pros of supplements with me, I decided to pick something up this weekend while I was in Charlotte visiting Sarah’s family (Scott, Rachel, if you ever read my blog, I love you guys and thank you for an awesome weekend!  Tell Grant Uncle Bryan can’t wait to play with him again!)  When we were getting ready to leave the park Saturday, as if by divine providence, I walked by the very last store before the parking lot…. a GNC.

This is Scott and Rachel, by the way.  Childrens’ faces hidden to protect them from the embarrassment of how lame their parents are (kidding!)

I asked Sarah to watch the Goose for a second while I went inside, and it was there that I found the particular supplement that I had spent so much time talking to David and Shane about… Jym pre-workout powder.  This stuff.

41se1pacbgl-_sl500_ac_ss350_

I slapped down my hard earned cash for the young man at the register (who recognized my 828 area code and, as it turned out, was from Asheville NC!) and quickly ran my new tub of powder to the trunk of the car before the rain started in earnest.  Scott (a former Marine and now a cop) eyed my powder tub suspiciously, but I tucked it in to the trunk and yelled “GET A WARRANT” before cackling like a maniac and jumping in to the driver side door as the rain started to come down hard.

Sarah and the Goose and I got home on Sunday a tad after noon, and by that night I was ready to try this stuff out.

Now before I get in to the details of my experience, I have to share that I knew some of the dangers going in.  I knew, for instance, that this stuff had 300mg in one scoop.

That is more caffeine than any other pre workout product that I found, save for this shit I saw called Mr. Hyde, which has 419mg per scoop in it.  Could you imagine downing that stuff and then going for a run?

In addition to the “alertness” that I knew to expect from the caffeine, I also knew through bodybuilder forums I had perused, as well as through the sage advice of my two spirit guides on this journey, David and Shane, that I could expect a case of mud butt at some point in the process.

Armed with this knowledge and warnings, I bravely forged ahead.  Now, upon first inspection after opening the tub and removing the seal, I must confess that the stuff smells really, really good.  I read the instructions and measured out one unpacked, level scoop with the little scoop that comes with it, and mixed it in to a 24oz tumbler of cold water.  The instructions say to mix with between 12 and 32oz, so I figured 24 was fine.  Immediately upon starting to mix the stuff, I realized that it wasn’t mixing very well.  I stirred and churned for a full minute, but still had little clumps and powdery foam at the top.  I considered putting a lid on it and shaking it, but I kept on with the stir, and after 2 minutes the clumps and powder bubbles on top had finally blended in.  I then began to follow the next set of instructions and sip on the drink for the next 15-30 minutes.

Now as I said earlier, the smell was really good.  Kiwi strawberry was the flavor I chose because according to the muscle guys online this flavor “sucked the least”.

If this stuff sucked the least, then holy crap am I glad I didn’t try the black cherry flavor.  This shit was vile.  I actually texted David, Shane and Caleb and told them that the taste, and in particular the aftertaste, could best be described as eating the ass out of a three day old hyena carcass, and that was being generous about the flavor.  This stuff was putrid.  I got scared for a moment, thinking I had bought an out of date batch or something.  I checked the tub… nope.

This is what it was supposed to taste like.

I immediately wanted to find the creator of this stuff, “Dr. Jym”, and throw the remainder of the powder in his face and tell him what I thought of his kiwi strawberry.

I held my nose and muscled (heh, get it?) the rest of it down, though, and then settled on to the couch to wait the prescribed amount of time before going to work out.  I waited about 20 minutes, then kissed Sarah and the Goose and headed off to the gym.

First up, weights.  I will spare you the boring details of my lift, but I did notice after my first few reps of the first set that I was feeling a tad flush.  My face was a bit tingly, and I had these little “jitters” in my back muscles and shoulders.  Ah yeah, I remember thinking.  Here we go.

I blew through all three sets… and didn’t feel tired.  Like, not even a little, and this was even after lifting to failure on the 3rd set.  So… I did what they say not to do with pre workout.  Cardio!

20 minutes on the bike at 7-8-7-6-6-7-8-7-6-6 (out of 10 max) resistance on the bike yielded me a little over 4 miles.

Aug19 bike

I got off the bike, expecting to finally feel a little exhaustion, but nope… I was wired and ready for something else.  Mind you, it was almost 8pm, and I knew that going home this jacked would make for a sleepless night.  Further, I knew I had work in the morning.  So, I said to myself, I said “Self… might as well make this a brick training session!”

So yeah, I ran screaming out in to the night and did a two mile hill interval run.

It felt about like this.

Of course, that’s just how it felt.  In actuality, I was crawling.  But dammit, I felt alive.

Aug19 run

Once the run was done, I had finally spent the remainder of the nervous energy that had been coursing through my veins.  I got in the car and headed home, where I was still very much awake for the next few hours, but no longer felt like I needed to go bench press a Buick.

So, bottom line?  Yes, I’ll keep using Jym pre workout.  I might even get more once this tub runs out.  I will, however, strongly consider a different flavor.

 

 

 

 

edit – I’ve got a few questions already about it, and though I didn’t want to put it in here for fear of being too crass… yes, some time was spent on the porcelain throne before the night concluded

Let me tell you about my weekend

This is quickly becoming a fitness blog, which concerns me a little.  I’m going to have to write something in the near future that is 100% unrelated to fitness in any way.  Maybe a dissertation on the virtues of cheeseburgers after a long hill training run?

Anyway, this weekend the fitness plan went off the rails.  Like, legit went straight to Hell.  Friday night, my dad invited Sarah and I to this little restaurant that’s in Clayton, GA, just across the state line from where I live.  It’s called Vickies, and it’s seriously a bunch of old mountain women in the back making southern fried everything.  The big attraction is the “all you can eat catfish”, if that tells you anything

CATFISH SIGN

Dad loves this place, and he wanted to take us out and buy us dinner.  We went, though I warned Sarah up front that it was going to wreak havoc on our eating routine, which we’ve maintained really well for several months now.

So we got there, and it was fried EVERYTHING.  Fried chicken.  Fried chicken strips.  Fried shrimp.  Fried okra.  Fried catfish.  You could probably just get you a big ole’ scoop of Crisco and eat it and get the same nutritional value as this food.  And the place was PACKED.  We had to wait outside in the flea market (yes, this restaurant is in an old flea market, welcome to the south y’all!) for close to an hour to get in.  Every Friday night is all you can eat catfish, you see.

Long story short, I made two trips to the buffet and hated myself the rest of the night and the next day.  Sarah and I both felt like we had lead balloons in our gut for the next 24 hours.  However, I would go again in a heartbeat if dad invited me, and never once complain about it, because I love the hell out of that old man.

So Friday was the beginning of the weekend, and it was off to a rocky start health-wise.  After ingesting roughly a pound of grease Friday night and not going to the gym, Saturday Sarah and I vowed to do something outside.  We decided on going tubing with our friends Shane and Savannah.

These two assclowns.

Shane and Vannah

Right, so we skip breakfast in a hurry to get tubes and coolers ready, and we finally hit the water.  What did we bring to eat or drink, you might ask?  Well we had assorted chips… some Slim Jims… and of course, lots of beer from one of our local breweries, good ole’ Currahee.

sign-and-building

I’m surprised Shane’s car isn’t in that picture, because the boy basically lives there.

Anyway, we floated for about two and a half hours, stopping to swim a little, drink a little, getting our asses bumped on rocks through the bottom of the tube… your usual tubing good time.  I’m fairly certain that everyone except Savannah had a decent buzz going.  This was just the start of our evening, though.  Back at the house, the cornhole game started, which I will freely admit that Shane is amazing at.  However, not long after our second game, these sumbitches made an appearance.

COURT AND ROMAN

Now Court, historically, does not have the best track record in cornhole. However, on this evening she played like a cornhole throwing goddess.  I watched and drank with awe as she sunk her bag time and again.  We all drank, played cornhole, and basically just had a good time outside for the rest of the day till the sun went down.  Then… the gang decided to introduce me to the drinking game Asshole.  Now, at this point it’s fair to say everyone was inebriated, but this game took that to another level.  I don’t know that I’ve ever drank so much beer in one sitting, that quickly.  My liver (which is approaching 40 just like the rest of me), was screaming in a panic, I am sure.

After a few rounds of this game, the real asshole of the group showed up.  Mr. Caleb Bates.  Yes ladies, he is single.

CALEB PLAYING

We played a few more rounds, got good and schnockered, and eventually the gang dispersed to get in to whatever shenanigans then get in to when they aren’t near me.  my guess is that Caleb went home to watch Netflix, Roman and Courtney went home and crashed, and Shane and Savannah went home to get on Facebook and make more shitposts on the Macon Issues page.

Now we’re two days deep in to the weekend, with a belly full of lard and beer to show for it, with minimal meaningful activity.

Sunday, we decided to take it easy.  Sarah was nursing a hangover of sorts, but I decided in my alcohol-induced wisdom to make us both drink lots of Gatorade before bed, so it wasn’t really that bad.  We spent a nice, relaxing day at the house with Goose, and got our grocery shopping for the week done, too.  In the early afternoon, we ran down to Clayton (again) and this time had a nice meal with my buddy David, who was up from Charleston for a few days.

Photo/Provided
Mr. and Mrs. David McMahan

That night, I decided that it was time to do some work.

I hit the gym around 8pm, and no one was there.  I dig having it all to myself, so I jumped on the bike and set it to 45 minutes and took off.  I always do the bike routine the same way:

Resistance set to a 5 (max is 10) from 45 minutes to 40 minutes

  • From 40 to 39, resistance set to 6
  • From 39 to 38, resistance set to 7
  • From 38 to 37, resistance set back to 6
  • From 37 to 35, resistance set back to 5
  • Wash rinse repeat when I get down to 35, and every 5 minute interval after, all the way to zero

This isn’t a break-neck pace, but the resistance is solid and the intervals kill my quads.  At the end of the ride, I saw that I had kept a pretty good (for me) pace.  From what I’ve been reading, triathlon bike speeds are categorized as speeds above 16 mph being considered very vigorous while riding a bicycle. A light pace would be 10 to 11.9 mph while a moderate pace is categorized as 12 to 13.9 mph.  I fall in the moderate pace range at 12.6 MPH.  Respectable, though I’m sure I’ll be surrounded by faster bikers when I do the duathlon next month.

Sunday bike

Ride Pace

Bike MPH

I discovered this site for figuring run and ride speeds, in case anyone out there could get some use out of it.

Next up in my penance workout, I decided to make this a brick and hill training night.  I shut the lights off at the gym and went outside to hit the Frogtown and Town Hill elevations.  The wobbly leg that I experienced the first few times that I tried bricks was gone!  I ran well, and handled the two climbs with something not quite like “ease”, but I didn’t stop or walk through the entire thing.

Sunday run

Afterwards, I came home and downed a banana and a lot of Gatorade and water.  I felt like I had successfully exorcised the demons of Friday and Saturday.  After a hot shower and a little Netflix (I watched a movie on Crossfit, WTF is wrong with me?), I slept the sleep of the just.

Today, and the rest of this week, I’m committed to do better.  As long as I can stay away from Shane’s bad influence, I should be alright.

QUEENER

Hill intervals

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I’m 42 days away from my first Duathlon, and although I technically know the route of the first and second 5k legs, I have no idea what the terrain will be like for the second run.  The first is described as:

Start your Asheville Duathlon adventure with a 5k run on paved roads that will be a flat, out and back course starting at the Winery and paralleling the French Broad River.

That’s pretty cut and dry.  It sounds like a nice flat, paved jaunt 1.55 miles out and back.  No worries at all!  The second 5k, though, is vaguely described as:

The second Duathlon Run is perfect for the adventure seeker, as it is the most challenging leg of the race, complete with dirt roads and technical single track trail.

Technical?  Single track?  Most challenging leg of the race?  To me that says one thing – elevation changes.  After looking over the route and reading the reviews on this race from prior years, I think it’s safe to say that I’m in for some significant elevation sections in the second run.  The Biltmore House is, after all, right here in my home mountains of Western North Carolina.  Here is the race map:

Race map 1

Race map 2

So, this weekend was hill interval training!  I’m still experimenting with the routes, but here was my first try at a hill run right here in town, which provided quite a bit of elevation climbs.

Hill Route

I could tell a real difference in this run from the last time that I tried to conquer hills, and I think that has a lot to do with the biking I’ve been doing.  My quads and thighs in general feel like they are chiseled out of granite right now, and I was really relieved at how I chewed the hills this go-round.  I was able to finish the run without stopping or walking, and that’s saying something for an over-the-hill, overweight guy trying to get back in to shape.  The max elevation climb came at 1.5 miles in, on a very long and steep climb beside what us locals call Old Ingles in the older part of downtown.  I liked this route, but I think I need to beef up the elevation towards the end of it.  As you can see here, I let myself off the hook on the entire second half of the run.

Hill Speed

Next heavy hill run will probably be some time later this week.  I’ve got a few ideas in mind for a different route that keeps the hills on an almost constant, so we’ll see how it goes.

I’m going to try to punish myself on hills now, in the hopes that whatever I have waiting on me in the Du is not as bad as what I’m training on.  If I get to race day and find that the elevation climbs are way worse than what I trained for….

Brick training sucks

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Until two weeks ago, I’d never heard the term “brick training” in my life.  One night though, while my lady snored softly beside me, I got on a long Youtube binge with my headphones on.  The starting point was “how to train for a duathlon”.  The ending point… well… let’s just say that things got a little far afield and I might have ended up watching Matt from Demolition Ranch blowing some shit up.  Before I got that deep down the rabbit hole though, I was introduced to brick training.

In short, brick training is taking two disciplines and training on them consecutively, such as swim-to-bike, run-to-bike, or bike-to-run.  The goal is to train your body to transition from one discipline to the next as seamlessly as possible, while also helping you with your transition particulars like shoe and outfit change, how to navigate the staging area where your bike will be, etc.  Since I’m doing a duathlon and not a triathlon, my T1 and T2 (transition 1 and 2) will be run-to-bike, then bike-to-run.

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The first two bricks I mentioned are the easiest.  Swim/bike isn’t too terribly hard on the body, but triathletes don’t like it because of the logistical gearing nightmare of getting out of the water and transitioning to dry clothes for a long bike ride.  In an event where every second counts, things like getting your shoes on over wet feet are important down to the last millisecond.  Physically though, the muscles being used in the swim do not over-tax your body.  The muscular transition from swim/bike is not that hard on your system.  However, with the duathlon the swim isn’t an issue, so let’s move on to the second transition listed, which I will have to do.

Run/bike is a bit harder, but not too stressful on the body.  Your legs are warmed up and full of blood, your lungs are open and your heart is going at a good pace, and in general you are ready to rock once you get mounted up and start pedaling.  The pros have some gear issues to sort out like swapping out running shoes for clip-in shoes (FYI, screw that noise – I’m wearing the same shoes for the run as I am the bike), and of course pros and amateurs alike have to get a helmet on.  Everything factored in, though, the run/bike transition isn’t hard on the body.

When we come to the final transition, though, things take a turn for the worse.  T2 is the same for a du or a tri.  It’s bike/run, like it or not.  Aside from taking your helmet off and swapping shoes if needed, there is no real gear issue.  However, this transition is the single hardest part of the race, according to almost every du and tri athlete out there.  The reasons they list are many, but the bottom line is that after an extended bike ride where the bike and your arms are supporting your weight, you are now transitioning to holding your entire body up on your own, on legs that have not completely straightened in an hour or so.  Oh, and the blood has somewhat pooled in your quads.  Oh!  And your hamstrings are tight from not stretching during the entire ride.  OH!  And you just got done running a 5k or more, then biking for an hour or more, and NOW IT’S TIME TO RUN A 5K AGAIN.  Pros say that during this transition, there is a very real chance that you will experience “Frankenstein legs”, where the body and brain are not prepared for the rapid change in movements.  Lots of folks actually end up falling during the first few steps of their run after T2 (Youtube it, it’s hilarious).

To combat this and train the mind and body to “switch gears”, so to speak, there’s the brick for bike/run.  After my late night Youtube excursion, I decided to give it two more weeks of running and biking separately, and then try it out.

I decided to buck conventional wisdom, though, and do a mock duathlon for my first ever brick workout.  Yep, run/bike/run.

I did one mile running, 10.33 miles biking, then one mile running.  The first run wasn’t too shabby.  I felt fresh, and I pulled off a decent (for me) mile.  I did the run starting on a flat, with a hill right before the half-mile mark, where I turned around and came back down the hill and across the flat to the truck for the bike.

Brick run 1

The bike ride also felt pretty good.  My legs were a little tired, but I still felt fresh.  I ended up pulling the fastest pace for a 10 mile ride that I’ve had so far.

Brick 1 cycle

After the ride, though, I loaded up the bike and began my last run.  Well, maybe “run” isn’t the word.  My legs, in particular my quads, began to quiver and wobble.  It felt like there was my pelvis, then a pile of

… followed by my kneecaps and then the rest of my lower legs.  I couldn’t get my feet firmly under me.  I flopped around for the first 100 steps or so before any semblance of an actual “run” started to take place.  Against my better judgement, I had planned this run in the opposite direction of the first.  It had a much steeper and longer hill that, unlike the first run where I got to the top and turned around at, I would go up and over and down the other side.  This gave me two hills to surmount at the end of my first brick.  Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I did the mile, though, and throughout the entire brick I didn’t stop or walk other than in T1 and T2.  It was a horrible mile time, but I felt like I had accomplished something.

Brick 1 run 2

At the end of it all, my legs were destroyed.  The hot shower back at the house felt divine, as did the muscle roller that I worked my quads with.  After that, there wasn’t a lot of walking going on for the rest of the day.  Since then, I’ve done two other much shorter bricks in the gym on the stationary bike and treadmill.  I kept them at super low intensity, and just wanted to focus on making my legs work on a run after a bike.  So far, so good.  September 16th is coming up soon.