Monday, December 31, 2012

A Look Back at 2012 (Racing and Life)

This year has been kind generous gracious, nay spectacular, to me.  Hold up!  Scratch that!

I rocked this year!!

I'm sorry.  I'm usually not pompous, nor do I ever have a big ego, but I feel I have the right this time around.  This year rocked and I'm going to enjoy this look back!!

The Chinese calendar says that 2012 was the Year of the Dragon.  Either it was a rather speedy dragon or I'm going to rename it the Year of PRs.  Let's go through it, shall we?

At the end of 2011, I picked up my very first triathlon bike!  So 2012 was her first year.  We've enjoyed our first year together quite a bit!

My Wife, the Felt S22

I started out the year with the Leprechaun 5-Miler.  I had never run a 5-Miler, so it was an automatic PR.  But on top of that, I ran a faster pace in that race than my 5k PR.  Admittedly, that 5k PR has needed to be wiped out for awhile, but I don't run them often at all unless you count sprint tris. 

Then the tri season began with a BANG!  I PR'd at the first Lake T Sprint taking 9 minutes off my best time which was from 2010. NINE whole minutes. 

Then came my first A race of the season, the Rev3 Quassy Half Rev.  It wasn't the performance that I had hoped for and I have a LOT to make up for on nutrition (especially after going half the bike with only water), but I still PR'd.  And for those who don't know, Rev3 Quassy is a VERY hilly course!

Me, Dave, and Billy at the Rev3 Finisher's Chute
Then it was back to the sprints!  Lake T Sprint No.2 came with a third PR for the season.  Another three minutes off of my PR.  And I picked up a "sponsor" from my local bike shop with my new tri suit!

I was easy to spot in the 2nd half of my season!

Then onto my redemption at the Litchfield Hills Olympic triathlon.  This race kicked my ASS in 2010, so I wanted to rock it!  I PR'd by roughly 23 minutes and took 2nd in my Age Group.  Take that New Hartford hills!!

Post-race at Litchfield.  They have the best post-race pie!
I skipped the next Lake T Sprint - still don't recall exactly why - but I was back for Lake T Sprint No.4 and it was the best of the year because I broke the 1 hour mark.  I still remember jumping for joy at the finish line!  PR #6 of the year!!

At this point, I was in training for the B2B Ironman, so I didn't do much but I had two more Lake T Sprints.  Lake T Sprint No.5 was PR #7, but Lake T Sprint No.6 I did as a relay because of extremely tight calves.  While I'd like to say that that one doesn't count towards or against the PR streak, I swam and biked slower than my PR, so I have to count it against me. 

My final triathlon before the attempt at the Ironman distance was the Lake T Olympic.  Due to a very foggy lake and road construction causing the bike course to change three times the week prior to race day, the swim and bike were a bit short.  Ok, the swim was VERY short.  So it was an easy PR, but I can't count it due to the distance differences.  But I took 1st in my Age Group and quite enjoyed seeing our little local race start to expand!

This was the lake on race morning.  You couldn't even see the ORANGE turn buoy until you were half way out.

It was a month until I raced again, this time another road race; the Hogsback Half Marathon.  And who can say "no" to a $25 half marathon?!  My PR at this distance has been in need of being taken down for awhile, but I did even better than I expected.  I PR'd by 8 minutes. 

Felt like I could have kept going for at least a couple more miles!

Then came the shining moment of 2012.  Crossing the finish line of the Beach 2 Battleship triathlon.

This was the whole point of this blog; becoming an Ironman.  I could spend hours nit-picking my race day, but overall I don't regret one moment of it.  I made it to the finish, I did it without injury, and I did it in a very respectable time (which is of course, and automatic PR).  Mission Accomplished!

In the end, if you discredit my Lake T relay and the Lake T Olympic, I PR'd at every race this year! 

9 PR's for the season!

But the races weren't everything for the year.  I made some big steps in my career too.  In June, I got certified by RRCA as a running coach.

Following up with that, I got my first job as a running coach in September coaching the Liver Life Challenge Team.  It's a group through the American Liver Foundation that is training for the Half Marathon, Full Marathon, and Goofy Challenge in Disney in January.  We are just under two weeks from race day and it has been an absolute pleasure and learning experience running with and coaching these amazing people!

I also - finally - got my personal trainer certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). 

License to Torture!!  =P
In other, less athletic feats of accomplishment, I took my current job in March, Class Coach.  I am essentially a fitness trainer and could not be happier doing what I do.  Every day I find a new reason to love my life through this job.  I may not make a whole lot, but I wake up and go to bed happy and for now, that's all that matters. 

These ladies call themselves "Kurt's Crew" and even had shirts made.  God I love my job!

I made my first car purchase, a Honda Fit Sport.  I'll tell ya, that was not a pleasant experience and I hope to not have to repeat it for another 6-8 years.  In the end, I will probably NEVER buy a car from a dealer.  Horrible experiences all around.  Hence why I went private sale on a used car.

I also finished what has stretched on to be a 4 year project of building my own custom bookcase.

I can only work on it while I'm home and Xmas was the first time in 2 years that I had made the trip, so I was dead set on finishing it while I had the chance.  It turned out AWESOME. 

It's been a great year in every way.  I only got sick once the whole year.  My body and mind allowed me to go further than I had hoped with my racing.  I am beyond happy with what I do for work.  And while a lot of things have been put on hold for my own athletic and professional pursuits, I'm ok with it.  As long as my life keeps making me smile and I can look at my past with pride, I'm on the right path.

Feel free to agree or disagree.  It's your own perogative.  But I still say...

I rocked this year!!


1.  What did you accomplish in 2012?
Go right ahead and brag!!!  What was your big PR?  What did you finish that makes YOU proud?

2.  Are you happy with what 2012 brought?  
I missed a number of goals that I had set (more on that in the next post), but I can't complain or regret them at all.  

3.  Do you have plans for 2013 that are going to top 2012?
I'll be posting my 2013 plans soon.  I'm quite excited.

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Runner vs. Plow Truck ...and I lived to tell the tale

Have you ever had one of those days when the last thing you want to do is run?
...and then all of a sudden one things changes
and you're a kid again and want to run forever?
Today was one of those days!!

Yesterday, I got a text from one of my runners. 

"Is tomorrow's run still on?"

That made me wonder what would cause it to not be on.  Through the amazing speed of Google, I discovered the impending doom that was Winter Storm Freyr.  Connecticut was supposed to be hit with 3-6 inches starting at some point in the mid-morning through early Sunday.  Holy Shnikes!  Alert the Reserves!!  haha

"Yes.  We're still on."

At 8am, we met up and due to the generosity of a local trailer walker, got our 10 miles in. 

Still getting used to this Panoramic function on the camera.

The trail spans over 30 miles and apparently the state does not clear the trail for snow.  I guess I can't blame them.  But one of the locals who regularly walks a portion of the trail took his truck and plowed 1.8 miles of it.  We may not have been able to go five miles out, five miles back, but we made three rounds of the cleared path and even ran into the gentlemen responsible for the cleared path.  Such a nice thing to do!!

9am running photo-op

My plan was for 20 miles, but only 7  miles into our morning run, I already needed to use the bathroom.  So I decided to attempt the last 10 from home.  But before we left the trail, my runner pulled out something I never knew existed, a New Year's Gift.  Now, we all know of Christmas gifts, but who has ever heard of gifts for New Years?!  I could not believe it.  He had gotten me a Ronhill Vizion Windlite Jacket and a Ronhill Vizion L.E.D.

I'll admit that I was not too thrilled at the prospect of another 10 miles.  I got home, had some chocolate milk, took a shower to warm up and laid down to rest a bit.  That turned into a couple hours of sleep. 

With 20 miles today, I'd be less than 3 miles from a 40 mile week.  I decided to attempt as many miles as I could in what was left of the day.  I checked the weather and the storm was just starting!  All of a sudden, an adventure had presented itself.  I could make a trip up to Fleet Feet to get a clip for my phone.  If I did that, I would get in at least 8 miles.  But oh the fun a winter storm run can be!!

I headed out in my new bright orange wind breaker jacket, my new L.E.D. light, and an excitement that did not exist in any moment earlier in the day. a kid on Christmas.

As an additive to the adventure run, I even took music along.  I have not run with music in over two years.  Why, I cannot be certain anymore.  Man did Freyr cause a complete turn around. 

I headed out and it was fun from the absolute start!  Four miles in, I stopped at Fleet Feet to get a clip for the camera.  Now I can run with it without worrying about the strap slipping off my wrist.  Then I headed out to the 11 mile trip turn around. 

The sidewalks were all covered with snow.
On the way back, I passed a very simply landscaped/decorated house, but could not help myself from taking a picture.  Gorgeous, right?

Still needs a wrap around porch though.  Just sayin!

I also decided to make a trip around one rather long block to see if I could break the 40 mile mark.  Going on 12 miles and I could not remember a run I felt better on!  Why not top off the weekly goal while I'm already out having a blast?!

Then came the plow truck.

The final 0.5 miles from my apartment has a sidewalk on one side of the road, but that sidewalk ends higher up than that road and in the winter, it's a rather slippery trip down to the road at the end.  So I always run on the road instead.  Unfortunately, due to the snow storm, the side of the road was covered with snow.  I made it half way down the road and around the turn came one of those giant orange plow trucks shooting up snow well onto the grass off the road.  I quickly looked back and saw there's traffic coming in the opposite direction, so I couldn't jump across the street.  I prayed the driver would see my flashing LED and started waving my arms above my head.  I knew he had seen me when the truck began to swerve.  The back end went left and then swung right.  "Oh SHIT!  He's gonna' swing around and cause an accident.  I've caused an accident!"  There was nothing I could do.  I'm not about to go stop an out-of-control plow truck!  I jumped up onto the curb and watched as the truck swerved.  Luckily it was all over in a matter of 2 seconds.  The truck regained control and moved slightly further out into traffic as he passed.  I waved thanks to him and he honked his horn.  I'm sure he probably swore to himself at the same time - "Stupid people running in the road during a snow storm!" 

I'm sorry.  Freyr has not been a storm.  Snow falling down ever so slowly like a winter wonderland is nowhere near storm worthy. 

Anyways...  I hopped back out onto the road, made the final 30 second run to the apartment and breathed a sigh of relief.  I had stared a plow truck in the eye and almost toppled it.  Take that giant machine!!  If The Matrix ever comes to be real, I am ready!

I made it a total of 12.44 miles on my adventure run.  That put me at 22.44 miles for the day and currently 40.21 for the week.  I had planned to finish the 40 miles tomorrow, but now that I got them in early, I think I'll rest tomorrow. 


1.  What kind of run rejuvenates your love for running?
Any type of adventure or challenge gives me an extra boost of excitement.  

2.  It's snowing like a winter wonderland.  Do you A) lock the door, make hot cocoa, and queue up Netflix, B) call your friends to come pick you up because you won't drive in that weather but refuse to be hampered by insistent Mother Nature, or C) cancel all your previous plans because you HAVE to go running!
Obviously, I went with option C today, but if it's still snowing tomorrow, I'm going to opt for A.  Any good movie suggestions?

3.  What winter running gloves do you use?  
I currently use Pearl Izumi Shine Mitt Gloves and they are NOT holding up to the longer runs.  My left thumb is still somewhat numb and I've been warmed up for hours now. 

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Down to the Wire!

2012 Goal:
Run 1,000 miles

As of today, I have 1,006 miles logged out doors this year. 


I may have only had 5 hours of sleep, woken up late because I forgot to set my alarm, had a banana, bread, pb, and random holiday chocolates for breakfast AND lunch, and left my running wind breaker at home on a 35 degree day, but none of that was going to keep me from topping off that 1k mile mark!  And today's 6.43 mile run had 390 feet of elevation change!  Hello Lake Placid training hills!!  =D

I still have 23 miles on the schedule for this weekend, so I'm looking at a total log of 1,029 miles in 2012 (not counting dreadmill miles).  That'll put me at an average of 20 miles per week, which means that according to the Wall Street Journal article One Running Shoe in the Grave, I am not yet doing damage to my body by mileage.  We'll just leave pace out of it.  haha

Here's to 1500 miles in 2013!!


1.  How many miles have you gotten in for the 2012 calendar year?

2.  Do you religiously log your miles?
I keep a rather exact spread sheet.  

3.  Anyone have an interesting holiday story?

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Typical Saturday

Yup!  That sums up my Saturday quite nicely. 

I woke up at 6:40am and prepped for my coaching run.  We ran 10 miles today and these guys are definitely ready for Disney!  So proud of them.  My personal plan was to make 20 for the day, so I headed back out once the guys left, but only got 5 in because I needed to use a bathroom.  It wouldn't have been my first time running off into the woods to go, but I just didn't feel like it today.  So I got 15 done and headed home.

I showered, ate, went grocery shopping, and then took a 2 hour nap.  My dad called and woke me up. We chatted for a bit (he just got back from Sweden) and then I decided to bang out the last 5 miles.  It ended up being 5.7, but who's counting!  Me!!, I'm counting!

20.7 miles baby!!

Time to eat again - pizza is already in the oven - followed closely by sleep.  Haha.  And this is what I do with my day off!


1.  It's Saturday.  You have nothing pressing to do.  You are completely free to do what you want.  What do you do?
From my own history, I've learned that I work out.  Swim, bike, run, or to the gym!

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

One Running Shoe In The Grave ...thoughts??

At this point, I'm sure you've all see the Wall Street Journal Article, One Running Shoe In the Grave.  As athletes, I'm sure we've all read the Runner's World follow up article The Too-Much-Running Myth Rises Again.  If you're familiar with this argument that keeps popping up, you might even be familiar with the previous Runner's World article Second Thoughts on "Too Much Running" that came out this past January. I also have a local coach and doctor who posted their opinions HERE on the matter as well. 

From all of this, we're all wondering...

Can you really run TOO MUCH? 

I am, however, stuck on a number of other questions that I'd like to highlight below.  Add your thoughts in the comments!!

One Running Shoe In The Grave

This article points out various RUNNING-related studies.  Why is there a TRIATHLON photo?!  Is this grave Davey Jones Locker?

In a five-kilometer race Thanksgiving morning, Ralph Foiles finished first in his age group, earning the 56-year-old Kansan a winner's medal.

Or was it a booby prize?

A fast-emerging body of scientific evidence points to a conclusion that's unsettling, to say the least, for a lot of older athletes: Running can take a toll on the heart that essentially eliminates the benefits of exercise.  Fast-emerging?  Fast in science terms is equal to 'years or decades in the making.'  And what do we classify as 'older' athletes? 

"Running too fast, too far and for too many years may speed one's progress toward the finish line of life," concludes an editorial to be published next month in the British journal Heart.  No surprise, the mentioned article comes with no citation and hasn't even been published yet.  It might be too easy to refute the claim if your readers had all the evidence. 

Until recently, the cardiac risk of exercise was measured almost exclusively by the incidence of deaths during races. For marathoners, that rate was one in 100,000—a number that didn't exactly strike fear. Moreover, data showed that runners generally enjoyed enormous longevity benefits over nonrunners.

What the new research suggests is that the benefits of running may come to a hard stop later in life. In a study involving 52,600 people followed for three decades, the runners in the group had a 19% lower death rate than nonrunners, according to the Heart editorial. But among the running cohort, those who ran a lot—more than 20 to 25 miles a week—lost that mortality advantage.  Is is more than 20 miles per week?, or 25?

Meanwhile, according to the Heart editorial, another large study found no mortality benefit for those who ran faster than 8 miles per hour, while those who ran slower reaped significant mortality benefits.  Still no reference?

Those two studies—presented at recent medical conferences—follow the publication in recent months and years of several other articles finding cardiac abnormalities in extreme athletes, including coronary artery calcification of a degree typically found in the utterly sedentary.
Opinion is nearly unanimous among cardiologists that endurance athletics significantly increases the risk of atrial fibrillation, an arrhythmia that is estimated to be the cause of one third of all strokes. "Chronic extreme exercise appears to cause excessive 'wear-and-tear' on the heart," the editorial says.  'Nearly' unanimous?  Are they still counting the votes in Florida?  This is the same as those commercials that say "4 out of 5 five dentists recommend..."  All they had to do was ask five dentists and their job is done.  But that doesn't mean it's true for the entire population. 

Not everyone is lining up behind the new data. "The guys advancing the hypothesis that you can get too much exercise are manipulating the data," said Paul Thompson, a former elite marathoner and nationally renowned sports cardiologist at Hartford Hospital. "They have an agenda." 

Sports cardiologist James O'Keefe, an author of the Heart paper, counters that Dr. Thompson is an exercise addict. "He, like many chronic exercise addicts, is the one with an agenda," said Dr. O'Keefe, a sports cardiologist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City. "My 'agenda' is my patients."  Yes, let's bicker.  That always solves an intellectual debate. 

Critics of the newer research say that the idea that running can harm the heart is based on research showing only an association—meaning that exercise may not be the cause of the problem. The note that in any large group of runners, high-mileage and high-speed athletes may be too few in number to be statistically significant.

Yet by all accounts, dosage is no less relevant to exercise than to any other medical treatment, and for years the endurance-athletics movement has prompted words of caution from none other than Kenneth Cooper, the Dallas physician widely credited with launching the aerobics movement nearly half a century ago. "If you are running more than 15 miles a week, you are doing it for some reason other than health," said Dr. Cooper, adding that he suspects—without hard evidence—that extreme exercise can render a body more susceptible to cancer.  Yes, because everything causes cancer! 

The most vocal proponent of cutting back for cardiac reasons is Dr. O'Keefe, a 56-year-old cardiologist and former elite athlete. From 1999 to 2004, he won outright the largest sprint distance triathlon in Kansas City, a testament not only to his athletic abilities but also to hours and hours of early- and late-hour training.

But a sense that this regimen was aging him prematurely, coupled with the mounting awareness of cardiac issues in extreme endurance athletes, prompted Dr. O'Keefe to slash his running to below 20 miles a week, never faster than eight minutes a mile. 

Asked if he ever runs a five-kilometer race for time, he said, "Not for the past three years. After age 50, pushing too hard is probably not good for one's heart or longevity."

Meanwhile, Dr. O'Keefe's fellow author on the upcoming Heart paper, Carl Lavie, continues racing at speeds slightly above what their editorial recommends. "I did a turkey day five-mile race in 38 minutes," said Dr. Lavie, a cardiologist at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans. "I train slower than I race, and when I race I know the risks. That's all we're trying to do: Let people know the risks and make up their own minds." Isn't it risky enough from a training perspective to have not trained in at least some degree at your race pace? 

The conflict between pursuit of health and of athletic glory is particularly acute in Meghan Newcomer, a 32-year-old professional triathlete who in recent years passed out during several races, requiring acute medical attention and prompting her loved ones to ask her to slow down or retire. She has a promising medical career, after all: Why not quit competing?

Instead, after undergoing in-depth study at a Connecticut sports-medical clinic, she was told to triple her intake of sodium during races. Yet she was also told to slow down, advice that helped her this summer complete—without passing out—her first Ironman-distance triathlon. Who hasn't had fainting episodes? 

The idea that serial marathoners may earn no cardiac advantage over couch potatoes will surely amuse serial viewers of "Seinfeld" reruns. But don't expect the running boom to grind to a halt. Optimal health isn't necessarily the Holy Grail, even for aging athletes.  So we're now equating over-exercising with diabetes and laziness?  That sounds about right!

"Even if I knew for sure that running fast had an element of risk, I don't know that I would back down," said Foiles, the 56-year-old runner who lives in a Kansas City suburb. "To finish at the front of my age group, yeah, that's an inspiration."  I would guess that most of us are thinking along these lines.  It's safe to assume I am.  


1.  What are your thoughts on the whole argument?
I don't doubt that there is a dosage curve to exercise.  Exercise pumps our body with drugs and all medicated drugs have an upper limit.  But I hold Foiles' point of view with the notion that this is still 'new' research and I'm not willing to give up what I enjoy simply because some scientists have been able to find an association.  Did you give up coffee when they said it can cause cancer?  Well, turns out coffee is now supposed to be GREAT for you.  ...just an example.  

2.  Do you run over 20 miles per week?  Do you run faster than 8:00/mile pace?
Yup!  So far, I've run over 20 miles for 24 weeks this year.  Therefore, 25 weeks of this year were under 20 miles.  It'll be 27 & 25 split at the end of the year.  And only 12 of my runs this year have been over 8:00/mile pace. 

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Let the One-on-One Torture Begin

I may have bailed on the pursuit of adding the letters p, h, and d to the end of my already incredibly long name.  However, I ended up still liking the P and switched the h and d for c and t.  So now I can add this to my name...


As of this morning, I am officially certified as a personal trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine!  Woohoo!!

So now I'm allowed to torture you one-on-one!  ha-HA!  I'm sure my members will enjoy that new found possibility.  =P  I have no doubt I could have passed this exam long ago, but when an exam costs over $600, you want to be sure it's not going to be a waste.  Right? 

Now I can cross "Become a personal trainer" off my list.  With the Ironman and the certification, this has been a big year!  I can't wait for the end of the year to share my accomplishments list and to read yours!! 


1.  Have you accomplished something BIG this year?
My first Ironman and certified as a CPT as well as running coach.

2.  Have you ever worked with a personal trainer?
What made you decide to get a CPT?, and how was your experience?

3.  Have you been working on your 2013 race calendar?
I have a rough draft of 20 set races so far.  I'll post them soon.

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"Nawa Sooa Soba Saab!"

Roughly translated from its rare foreign dialect, the title of today's post means "I am extremely jealous.  I hope you enjoyed your run." 

...or that's at least what I'm going to assume. 

The last two days have been incredibly nice for going outdoors here in CT!  We've been over 50 degrees.  I ended up working an extra shift on Tuesday when it was 58, but I managed to get in a nice mid-distance run yesterday while it was still 53 at 10am.  Crazy!!!  It's December!

On the flip side, "It's 53 whole degrees out!  Do you people not understand this?"  That's what was going through my head throughout my run.  My summer running attire consists of shoes and socks (obviously), short shorts, and a running hat.  The coldest I've run in that set of clothes is 55 at the Hogsback Half Marathon in September.  Yesterday, all I added to the ensemble was a headband to cover my ears which I lifted off after 2 miles, and arm warmers.  I got a lot of people turning their heads.  I was honestly waiting for a car accident to occur with all the scarf-wearing drivers who were turning to look at me.  

And the final tip of the day - the title of today's post - came from the driver of a dump truck as he drove by while I was stretching post-run.  I am certainly not a language person, but I think it's safe to assume my above translation is close enough.


1.  At what temperature do you begin to add/exchange clothing to your summer attire?
Usually once it goes below 60, I put a shirt on and then my tri shorts, tights, etc. as it gets colder.

2.  Have you run in summer attire in December before?
I can just about cross this one off the list of things to do.  The arm warmers still modified the ensemble.  

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.