Monday, October 25, 2010


S: 25,700yds
B: 10h 49min
R: 5h 30min

Total: 23h 5min

After another great week of training, the legs were a bit sore last night, enough to make falling asleep difficult. So needless to say, I'm about ready for Clearwater to get here!

In other news, I'm heading out to LA today to inspect the electroless nickel plating on the LAST set of separation bolts. To be honest, I cant say I'm going to miss visiting AMP............

Friday, October 22, 2010


"There will always be an excuse, if you look for it. Don't look for the excuses, look for the reasons (because there is one), and then make a change." -Alyssa

I'm not sure if this post was brought about by anything in particular or if it is just something she has been thinking about for a while, but either way Alyssa articulates some valid, if uncomfortable points.

While optimism and a positive attitude are generally good qualities to have, accountability is also very important. Inherent in this is recognizing and accepting failure. Although this process can be painful in the short term, finding the causes of the failure and correcting them it will ultimately lead to improved results in the long term, making future successes that much more rewarding.

As David Shenk, author of The Genius in All of Us put it, "...great work is, for the most part, painstaking and cannot happen without the most severe (and constructive) self-criticism."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Track

Last week I headed to the track for what was, more or less, just another workout. But I left remembering how awesome the track, and running, really is.

I had spent most of the summer doing my "threshold" running workouts at the Cross Country Park, mainly because there were organized races there every week which provided some welcome company/motivation. However, with those having ended and with my workouts becoming more speed oriented, it was imperative that I head to the track last week.

As I arrived, my emotions swelled. There is something simple, something real, about the long oval, maybe because it just doesnt lie. Times are what they are, and that is that. As my HS chem teacher used to say: brutal honesty.

This particular evening though there was an added level of authenticity. This week happened to be Fall Break for the Huntsville City Schools, so when I arrived at Huntsville High's track, there was only one other person there. As I was changing shoes and completing my warm up, I watched him clearly changing pace, which along with his running shorts and running shoes indicated to me that he was a runner, as opposed to the walkers/joggers who often operate in the same physical vicinity. (I suppose it seems like a good place to "work out.")

Soon enough, I was ready to begin and, after waiting for him to almost reach me, I took off for my first mile. First lap: 79s and feeling great. In the middle of my third lap, I came up from behind on my lone, nameless companion and said, simply, "Track!" hoping we would allow me to maintain my position in lane 1, as it appeared he was on his rest interval. He moved over, I passed, and that was that. A simple motion, but one which was very much appreciated.

After finishing up my first mile, I began my short jog out and back from the start/finish when my companion uttered, "Mile repeats?"

My response, "Yep."

And 10 seconds later, I was off to start #2. Through this simple exchange of words, though, there was an instant connection. An understanding of the task at hand and the physical and mental difficulties that go with it. I continued with my miles before moving to 400s, which, along with the cool, fall air, only brought forth more vivid imagery of high school puke sessions.

Finally, we coincidentally finished up at about the same time and naturally gravitated towards each other. We exchanged the usual small talk: he was in town for work and training for a half marathon; I was out getting the work done at the track, and then headed our separate ways.

I left invigorated, reminded once again how awesome our sport is. Although we did not know each other, or even work out together that evening, we had an immediate understanding and respect for each other. This bond really is one of the pillars of our sport. Whether you are run 13 minutes for a 5k or 31, if you are out doing the work, you have shared experiences with others that words fail miserably to describe. There is a level of respect that serious athletes have for other serious athletes regardless of ability level. Additionally, anyone can be successful if she simply puts in the work necessary, and she will be respected for it.

So get out to the track, suffer a bit, and look forward to the rewards!

Monday, October 18, 2010


S: 24,700yds
B: 12h 16min
R: 5h 56min

Total: 24h 42min

Last Monday was Columbus Day which is pretty insignificant unless you work for the US Government, or are an on-site contractor at a US Government facility, in which case it was a holiday for you. Or, in this case, me. So how did I celebrate? Biking and napping, of course! Thus, the extra training hours and another pretty awesome week of training. We're still in the tunnel, but we may be sniffing the proverbial light on the other side, as the turn has been made on October.

Monday, October 11, 2010


S: 25,700 yds
B: 7h 21 min
R: 5h 11 min

Total: 19h 18min

Well, the first full week of October and come and gone and if it is any indication of how the rest of the month will go, this will be a tough month!

Friday afternoon I wasnt especially looking forward to the tempo run scheduled for that afternoon when I got a text asking if I was racing the 15k the next morning. At the time, the race sounded like a lot more fun than a long suffer-fest by myself. Three miles into the race, however, I was reconsidering my decision.

Former UAH runner Brandon York had decided to show up and took off from the gun. I ran with him for the first half mile or so, but quickly realized the pace was a bit too hot for me. I came through the first mile at 5:31, and by that time Brandon already had 5-10sec on me. I maintained the same pace through three miles, but it appeared Brandon was as well, as he continued to pull away. Miles 4 through 7 were pretty hilly and my legs were feeling fatigued, so I was just focusing on keeping the turnover up as I wanted to make sure fast-closing Brad Schroeder wouldnt catch me. I finally got back out to Monte Sano Blvd, passed the 7 mile mark, and started focusing on the finish. The last mile was its usual awfulness but I managed to finish on my feet in 52:40.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Thanks again to Chris Welch for this story in The Huntsville Times.

Andrew Hodges, one of area's top triathletes, has upbeat view of caffeine

HUNTSVILLE, AL. - Andrew Hodges, one of the area's top triathletes who competes in pro events, wrote recently about a column that discussed how caffeine can affect an athlete's performance.

My friend Kay Grimsley Noller from Fleet Feet gave me some great advice when I asked what was causing my dead legs.

Kay asked about the amount of water I was drinking and the amount of caffeine. I was drinking some water and a lot of diet drinks. I've cut out caffeine and have felt a lot better on my runs. Of course, some things in moderation aren't bad - they can actually help - and Andrew has some interesting things to say about the benefits of caffeine.

"First of all, caffeine is without a doubt a performance-enhancing substance," he said. "Multiple studies have shown that it lowers rating of perceived exertion (RPE) at a given intensity level and allows subjects to go longer and/or harder in all-out efforts.

"Scientists hypothesize that this is due to its ability to enhance mental focus and/or its mild pain-relieving effect.

"Additionally, it has been suggested that caffeine improves fat-burning efficiency during endurance exercise, thereby leaving a larger amount of 'high-octane' carbohydrates to be metabolized. This theory, though, is disputed and really hard to directly test.

"Regardless, the effects of consumption are positive up to around 10-12 milligrams/kilograms, at which point they trail off. Do the math ... that is a lot."

Hodge also said caffeine doesn't cause dehydration.

"That is a myth," he said. "Caffeine does cause you to urinate more often, but it has to do with a weakening of muscles in your bladder, so the concentration of water in your blood and muscles is not affected.

"Therefore, if you are consuming caffeine in a drink, you are increasing your hydration level, not decreasing it. Practically, effects will vary from person to person.

"Some people respond to a little caffeine, others can have a cup of coffee and fall right asleep. Additionally, like any other drug, people will develop a tolerance. So the first bit of advice is that if you consume caffeine every morning, you should definitely do so before a race. If not, you'll want to experiment with it before a hard workout and see how it works."

Hodges recently finished second in the Rocketman Triathlon and was pleased.

"It was certainly disappointing to lose, but the guy that won is another pro who has been training in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center, so he's not too shabby," Hodges said.

Monday, October 4, 2010


S: 18,700 yds
B: 7h 25min
R: 3h 30min

Total: 15h 50min

Last week was a pretty chill week with the recovery from the race and trip to Houston but I did get in a solid ride and run on Saturday.

And now, time for ~4 weeks of HARD work before Clearwater. Should be awful/fun!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Augusta 70.3 RR

First of all, yes, I'm alive! Immediately after the race on Sunday I had to take off to catch a plane out of ATL at 7PM for Houston in order to provide technical insight at a meeting at JSC starting bright and early Monday morning. The meeting was to rewrite a NASA standard for the corrosion protection of space flight hardware. The old standard hadnt been updated in over 30 years, so we had a lot of work to do! After 4 long days, and some good debate, I'm finally back in Huntsville.

One other note before I get to the race. Timex Teammate and Serious BA Laura Tingle decided she wasnt racing but was still nice enough to head down to the Deep South and put up with my prerace nonsense for a couple of days, so she deserves a huge shout out for that. Thanks LT!

And now... to the race! Although it was unseasonably warm and marvelously sunny in the days preceding, Sunday morning greeted us with cool air and impending storms. There was some on and off precipitation while we warmed up, but it didnt bother me too much as I was pretty focused on the tasks at hand. After setting up the bike, I arrived at the start around 7AM for the 7:30 start time and began pulling on the wetsuit. Thinking back, I realized this would be the first wetsuit swim since Clearwater last year. This was due to the change in the rules for wetsuit temps, but more on that later...

Unlike last year when we got to dive off the floating dock, this year we had an in-water start. These are easier with a wetsuit, but I still find them a bit challenging. The gun went off and I got going pretty well but soon found myself losing a bit of ground. I maneuvered around a bit, moved past a couple of guys, and continued fighting for position. The field eventually strung out a bit, but I was still fighting for some feet pretty much throughout the swim. According to LT, there was more or less a string of guys out of the water for the first 40sec or so and although I was a bit further back than I wouldve liked, I was still very much in the race.

Swim: 20:01

Out on the bike, I punched it hard. The guys that I needed to be riding with were right up the road, and I knew it was now or never to catch them. After 10min or so, I had caught up with a couple of guys and was committed to riding with them. Our group caught a couple of other riders, which made us 5 in total.

At this point I figured we were places 8-20 or so, but wasnt really sure how many were up the road.

The effort level varied with the hills but we were getting plenty of love from the head ref, so everyone was playing by the rules. Then, a bit before mile 20, we hit a series of long hills and Chris Legh decided to drop the hammer. This split the group up and I soon found myself being dropped off the back. Frustrated, I tried to accelerate up and over the next hill, but to no avail.

After losing the group, I just put my head down and focused on pushing as hard as I could on the pedals for the duration of the bike leg. The rain picked up and I actually started getting a bit chilly, which certainly didnt help the situation. Luckily we had a bit of a tailwind for the last 5 miles or so because at this point, pedaling was becoming quite difficult.

Bike: 2:22:19

Out on the run, it took me a couple of miles to find my running legs, but once I got into a rhythm, I felt pretty good at 5:45-5:50 per mile.

This course is incredibly spectator friendly which resulted in a nice crowd, despite the rain. So the spectators were great and my legs felt strong. The only problem was my feet, particularly my left one, where I was developing a pretty large blister on the bottom thanks to the rain and resulting we shoes. I put it out of mind, though, and just focused on relaxing and running fast. The last few miles were, as usual, pretty tough as I felt I was running pretty low on calories. I had to really focus on cadence during the last mile until I finally took the last right turn into the chute.

Run: 1:16:55

Total: 4:02:26th, 14th place

After crossing the finish, I started chatting with Justin Park, then all of the sudden my vision started to fade and I couldnt see anything, so that was fun. Thankfully I managed to stay on my feet until the dizzyness/loss of vision/lightheadedness passed. Upon regaining a sense of equilibrium, I had to jet in order to catch the aforementioned flight in Atlanta. I felt pretty bad about it but unfortunately airlines dont really care if you would prefer if the flight left a bit later; they tend to leave anyway.

However, before LT and I could head back to the car, I had to remove the racing flats because walking was quite difficult, thanks to the hole on the bottom of my foot:

Somehow, the picture just doesnt do it justice.....

All in all, I cant really say I'm thrilled with the result. I'm content that I left it all out on the course, but the bottom line is I needed to ride at least 2:14 in the race, not 2:22. Getting there wont be easy but it will happen as the result of consistent, and I remain focused on making it happen. And hey, as my grad school professor said, "If it was easy, everyone would do it!"