Thursday, March 29, 2007

Current news article about our PR10K program!

I was interviewed yesterday by Bernice Torregrossa with the Galveston County Daily News about the Faithful Soles PR10K (Promote Running for 10,000 Kids) program and the article entitled "Inspiring young runners" is in today's sports section. Click here to read it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

1 mile swimming non-stop and rethinking schedule

I started my swimming phase of my Ironman training 2 weeks ago after having not swam laps in about 20 years. Today I went 1 mile (1600 meters) without stopping and actually felt stronger as I went along, with my last 250 meters (10 laps) the fastest 250 meter segment of the entire workout.

I'm also kicking up my cycling (which I started back about 8 weeks ago) to around 100 miles for the week, which I do in conjunction with my weight machine workouts about 4-5 times a week.

As for the running, since that is by far my strongest of the three sports, and because I have patiently waited for my left shin to fully heal, there is no doubt in my mind I'll be back in full form by the end of May once I start back on April 16.

Having said all that, I now feel it is extremely feasible to do a Half-Ironman sometime in the next 4-6 months. I went and looked at the calendar and saw the Steelhead Half-Ironman taking place on August 4, 2007 in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Since there aren't any in the fall, I may do this one (if you have done this race or know anything about it, please let me know). A plus for this is that it's only a few hours drive from my Dad's home in Ohio, and so we can tie in a visit to see him and his wife (they may even want to go and watch).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More rehearsal photos...

More rehearsal photos related to the posts a few days ago...

This is from Day 4 of rehearsals, my daughter and I taking a break from the Dad's practice for our portion of the dance (Me in my other ugly yellow shoes, my Asics Gel-Speedstars... good grief, are the only neutral training and racing shoes that suit me all made of colors not found in nature?).

Post-rehearsal picture of most of the Dads and their daughters who are in the dance. Some of the daughters, including mine, are not pictured because they had left to go watch a staff/student basketball game where the players ride on donkeys (I'm easy to pick out, just look for the yellow shoes, a la Big Bird)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Great start to the training week on the "heels" of a not-so-good Sunday

My Tarheels lost yesterday. Let me re-phrase that... They gave the game to Georgetown in regulation, then Georgetown handed them their heads on a platter in overtime. I have been an avid Carolina fan for more than 40 years, and I can not recall any game where they had a collapse like the one yesterday. I'm still stunned that they lost. I guess I'll have to keep wearing my 2005 NCAA Champions hat another year until they take it all in 2008.

On to training. I increased my swim this morning to 1,000 meters (40 laps) from 800 meters (32 laps) last week and felt extremely strong from start to finish. Swimming to me has always been about breathing rhythm and timing, and I finally felt comfortable with it this morning. My strokes also seem to be getting stronger and in better form. Tonight I will go and work out on the machines and then do my hour on the stationary cycle, hoping to get in at least 15 miles or more.

Friday, March 23, 2007

End of first full week towards the Ironman

I suppose you could say this marked the first full week of my Ironman training for 2008. Since I'm not certain what is good or not, I'll post it here and let the more experienced Ironman and triathlete bloggers tell me what they think:

M-F: 800 meter swim each morning without stopping each time (4,000 meters for the week)

Stationary cycle: 4 times @ 1 hour each session, about 14 miles per hour (64 miles for the week)

Weight machines: Worked out 4 times, kept a detailed chart of weights and reps, steady increases across the board

Running: Starting back on April 16 (If you have not read my blog before, I've set that as the target date to resume running while recovering from a bad left shin splint. I will not yield to the temptation of starting any sooner, although my running shoes have been calling out my name lately.)

I hope everyone has a great and safe weekend.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rehearsal pictures

As promised, rehearsal pictures from the previous post...

This first one was taken during one of our amazing opening moves (note how all of us are in exactly the same position... NOT)

This is my daughter and me post-rehearsal showing our "hip-hop attitude" (it's hard to take my attitude seriously when I have on Nike Pegasus TC's that have bright yellow bottoms, solid black with shiny black trim uppers, and stark white shoe laces)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dancin' Daughter (and her Dad)

I have an awesome daughter who is one of the greatest and most kind-hearted people on the planet. I'm not sure that it's possible for a father to be more proud of someone and her accomplishments as I am of her. She is a senior in high school and is in her third year of being on the drill team. For those of you not in Texas, this is a BIG deal (just ask my wallet). These are the girls that wear the cowboy-style hats and do the high kick routines at football games and then perform at other events and competitions throughout the year. Her high school team has about 50 girls from sophomores to seniors, and they are absolutely awesome, having won various team and individual awards at competitions.

Each year, they put on a big spring show that runs for 3 nights in April. Their instructor is an awesome lady, former Broadway performer, and extremely enthusiastic. She loves getting everyone involved in what the girls are doing... enter the Dads. We will be having our third rehearsal tonight for the Dad and Daughter dance in the show, and about 20 or so of us Dads have discarded our egos to make fools of ourselves onstage by dancing to "Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani. Yes, I said "Hollaback Girl". We get to dress in blue jeans, a tshirt and make up our own hip-hop hat to wear during the performance. We do some pretty fun moves, including our own improvisation of a strut across the stage at one point, and the best part is watching my daughter's face and the faces of the other girls laughing hysterically while we practice. You can tell it really means a lot to them that we are taking the time to be part of what is so important to them.

Stay tuned for pictures of us during rehearsal and the performance in April...

Monday, March 19, 2007

"March"-ing on with my training

Let's see, since my last post on Thursday, UNC won their first and second round games in the NCAA tournament and have advanced to the Sweet 16. They have a tough weekend coming up with a game against USC and if they win, they would play the winner of Georgetown/Vanderbilt to see who goes to the Final 4. I can already feel myself getting hoarse for these games.

The swimming and cycling portions of my triathlon and eventual Ironman training continue to go very well. This morning I swam 800 meters at the pool without stopping (only my third time to swim), alternating again between breast stroke and freestyle for 32 laps and without pushing off on the wall. I had a couple of more really great workouts on the machine weights and stationary cycle over the weekend, and I've actually managed to put on a couple of pounds of muscle weight. This is a very good thing for me because when I don't run, I actually lose weight since my percentage of body fat is so low and muscle weighs more than fat (yes, people hate me for that).

As for when I will start back running, every now and then if I move slightly the wrong way or make a sudden movement or sharp change of direction, I'll get a small pain that reminds me of my left shin splint. My goal remains to be 100% healed before I run one single step, and with the cross-training I am now doing, my overall fitness level is not being jeopardized at all. Having said that, I probably will now wait a couple of more weeks past my original date of April 1 to start running again, and have targeted Monday, April 16 to do so. For the serious marathoners out there, you understand the signficance of this date, because it's the day of the Boston Marathon. Since my goal is to qualify for Boston again, I think it would be a big psychological boost to start on that day and I have no doubts that I'll be fully ready to resume my running by then.

In the meantime, the main Faithful Soles web site continues to blow me away with people who are becoming members and sponsors to help our PR10K (Promote Running for 10,000 Kids) program. Also, be sure to check out the main web site (just click on the Faithful Soles logo in the upper right of my blog home page) and read the "Story of the Week" and "Runner of the Week". I promise you that these 2 people will really inspire you in a major way.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

March Madness, weights and swimming

Although I'm in Texas, I grew up from 2nd grade to 8th grade in Durham, North Carolina, and had a job as a kid working at the UNC basketball games in the late 60's and early 70's. To say that I am an avid Tarheel fan is an understatement, and I love and follow ACC basketball, especially this time of the year. I don't know if my Tarheels will go all the way this year because they have a strong bracket to contend with just to get to the Final 4, but it's always a thrill to watch all of the games in this tournament. Watching these kids from all 65 teams pour their hearts into each game to me is what makes this tournament so incredible. If you've never watched it, be sure to watch the first round games today and tomorrow, there are always amazing finishes and huge upsets.

On to exercise, I hit the weight machines last night and then the stationary bike (upright) for about 30 minutes of hard pedaling. This morning I went to the pool and swam 30 laps (750 meters) and felt really good.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The first swim

I hit the pool at the YMCA last night instead of today because we are expecting strong storms in Houston all day today and tomorrow, and I knew the pool would more than likely be closed since it is outdoors. I swam a total of 500 meters (20 laps at 25 meters per lap) by alternating each lap between breast stroke and freestyle. I suppose I surprised myself because I never stopped, and instead of pushing off the wall each time, I merely turned around and went back the other direction each time. I figured by doing that I'm truly swimming the 500 meters and not getting the benefit of a push-off which obviously will not occur in an open water swim. I did not time myself because I would not have known how good or bad I did anyway. I figure I'll give it another week and then start timing myself once a week or so. After the swim, I went in and worked out on the machines, then rode the stationary bike hard for about a half-hour. I did finally figure out how to get my heartrate up, and I'm not sure why this makes a difference, but using the stationary bike where I have to sit straight up rather than the one where I am sitting down reclined makes a huge difference. On the straight up one, I can get my heartrate up to a bit over 140 after about 20 minutes of hard pedaling, but on the one where I recline, the same effort barely gets me above 110. I'm not sure why that is, but I won't be doing the reclining one any more.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Cycle, swim, weights and eventually running

Due to my left shin injury, I have by default started my triathlon training way ahead of schedule. I'm going to the YMCA regularly, now cycling pretty hard for at least an hour or more 4 times a week, and tomorrow I'm going to start the swimming phase (that should be humorous). The machine weights have been going much better after the initial round of new soreness, and I can feel my upper body strength increasing. I'll never be Conan the Barbarian, but at least I won't be Pee Wee Herman. I have also figured out a way to "politely" get the people off of the machines who just sit there staring into space by asking, "Are you done using that?", instead of saying, "There's a nice lounge chair out in the lobby that would be much more comfortable and you can do your 1,000 blinking reps there instead." Thanks to a friend of mine who is a physical therapist, I have been doing stretching exercises for the shin that hopefully will strengthen it for when I resume my running. Now that I have these other cross-training things going on, I'm in no hurry to start back with the running "on April 1" if I am not absolutely 100% sure that the injury is totally healed. I had a 6 month layoff a few years back with a severe groin pull and it only took me about a month to get back up to 40+ mile weeks, so I'm not too worried about losing any fitness in that respect. I have my Speedo and regular swim trunks packed for the YMCA tomorrow. I have no idea what these folks wear in the pool since this is a family place and the kids are on spring break, so I'll go with the flow as far as suit attire.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Blog Database Statistics and PR10K (Promote Running for 10,000 Kids) update

With the searchable and categorized Blog Database rapidly approaching 200 bloggers (I am estimating by the end of March it will be around 250-350), I thought it would be interesting now that it has a nice cross-section to start updating the page weekly with statistics so that members and visitors can see where they fit in with others, so be sure to check it out.

With respect to the Faithful Soles PR10K program, we have had great support from bloggers who have become members or sponsors to get youth involved in the program ($15.00 per year), and I am presently working with a number of schools in the U.S. (and am beginning talks with schools in other parts of the world). Right now, the waiting list of youth in underserved areas that we will be able to provide matching memberships to through our Faithful Soles memberships or sponsorships will be in the neighborhood of at least 1,000 by the end of this month. As more schools sign up for the program, I think I can easily reach my goal of 10,000 by the end of 2007 at the earliest, or mid-2008 at the latest. After that, I suppose I'll need to rename it to PR20K or PR100K or whatever it needs to be to keep getting young people involved in learning how to set goals and establish a walking or running program for themselves. Remember, in less than 5 minutes, you can make a big impact on the life of a young person.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Free Weights or Free Waits

I'm by no stretch a big and bulky muscular person, but I've always been very naturally lean and fit. About 30 years ago when I got out of high school, I started working out on the old Nautilus machines and put on quite a bit of muscle mass in about a 2 year period, and at 5'11", I went from 115 lbs. to about 150 lbs. (all natural, NEVER used steroids or other substances of that nature). At one point, I actually became a certified Nautilus instructor, and even trained some of the Houston Astros baseball players during the off-season in 1980-81. Shortly thereafter, I started pursuing a possible career on the PGA Tour, so I stopped on the weights and just continued running because the weights seemed to make it too difficult for me to have a nice flowing swing (although I did play in college on a golf scholarship, I was never quite good enough for the PGA Tour, perhaps a story for another day). Basically for the last 25 years or so, I have not returned to any weight machines until last night. I got on the elliptical again and after about 25 minutes just could not take the boredom of it. I started looking around the YMCA, and it was not very crowded being a Sunday evening, so I thought, what the heck, do the machines. The first one I got on was the triceps and knew immediately that I was incredibly weak from the upper body perspective. I ended up doing a pretty good upper body workout, as well as some leg work and calf raises (which I am hoping will strengthen my shin area where the injury is). It really got me fired up to continue this regimen, so I'm sure I will be doing it for the remainder of March until I start running again in April. One of the main reasons I have stayed away from the weight machines is because of the wait. Honestly, most people have no idea how to use them properly, both from a range of motion perspective, and more importantly, from a session/rest perspective. I see people walk around (slowly), from machine to machine, get on them, sit there for a minute or two watching TV or just looking around, and then finally they start lifting. That is not how I work out, nor how I used to instruct. I want to tell them that most of what they are doing is useless, but I keep to myself and simply hope the "instructors" (translated as employees who walk around and talk to each other, not the members, and get paid for it) will tell them what to do. When I work out, I move rapidly from machine to machine, no breaks except for the time it takes to get up, wipe off the seat, and get to the next one and start at it. So hopefully this next month I will regain some upper body strength without too much aggravation on the busier nights waiting on the machines.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


Today is 2 weeks since I ran (jogged, walked) the Austin Marathon, and the pain in my left shin is about 90% gone. Every now and then if I move in a particular direction I will still get a pain, but nothing like what it was. I got on the elliptical for the first time yesterday and did that for about an hour, still unable to get my heartrate much above 120 even pushing it hard, but at least it's something. Since Boston is out for April and I really don't have any short-term goals prior to the fall, I probably will not run again until April 1 and give my shin a full 6 weeks recovery. In the meantime, I'll continue doing some cycling and I'm going to start swimming again. I used to swim a mile 3-4 times a week back in the mid-80's, and it took me quite a while to build up to that, so I know it won't be easy. Since my plan is to do my first ultra (a 50 miler) in December, then move on in 2008 to a half-Ironman and Ironman, I may as well start the swimming now (I guess in a way it's helping me that I can't run and it forces me to start swimming).

My 14 year old son is now training for his 3rd half-marathon, so this time also gives me a chance to help to coach him a little more closely. He wants to complete 5 half-marathons this year, which will earn him a special award in the Texas Half-Marathon Challenge. I am very proud of him for setting this goal.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

25 New Youth in the PR10K Program in 1 Day!

Yesterday I was asked to come out and observe a training program at a middle school in an underserved area to discuss ways to get involved in either directly or indirectly coaching some of these kids starting in the fall. They presently have about 25 youth who walk/run after school 4 days a week, and all of them either did the recent half-marathon here in Houston, or the 5K that was run in conjunction with it and the marathon. As I was talking to one of the coaches, I mentioned the PR10K (Promote Running for 10,000 Kids) program on the main Faithful Soles web site that we are promoting all over the U.S. and will be expanding into other countries, and asked how many of the young people in the program would fit the criteria we set out for a youth membership on our site through PR10K, and he basically said, "All of them." So today, he is emailing me the information with all of these kids names and we are setting each of them up in PR10K. Based on some other discussions, there is also the potential for a very cool new program that Faithful Soles might launch as part of PR10K, and I'm dying to tell you what it is, but at the moment I am still working on the logistics. Stay tuned...