Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's a Boy!

Well by now you may have guessed due to the lack of updates that our little bundle of joy entered the world.  Baby Z was born on May 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm, weighing in at 7 lbs 7 oz. And unless of course you follow me on Twitter and saw the news break when it happened, this is your first foray into my life as a father, among the many other roles I play in this world.  


Its hard for me to find the right words to express how blessed Rebecca and I feel to be able to begin a family.  So let's just say that we're grateful for the gift we've been given in Baby Z and can't wait to watch him grow as the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months.  Already, after only 9 days, the little guy is starting to show some signs of some cute baby pudge.  Only 9 days in, and we're already seeing changes.  It truly is amazing to be able to experience this.

Life is definitely different though.  Along with the obvious decrease in amount of sleep Rebecca and I are getting each night, its really just a general change in how I view things.  I am no longer responsible for just myself and Rebecca.  I am now responsible for Baby Z, and more importantly, he is entirely dependent on us.  So while there will always be times where I think about what we used to do, thinking about how things are now brings a sense of fulfillment to me.  We have a purpose and a family.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Waiting In Limbo

Training these days is a bit of a challenge.  Not physically, but mentally.  Obviously, it is my intent to continue running and whatnot, but knowing that a major life event will be throwing things off for a bit, certainly has me lacking serious motivation.  Running is something I do on a regular basis regardless, so when I say serious motivation, I mean motivation to push myself.  I'm still getting out there 5-6 times a week and putting in miles, its just that without a grasp of what's next, it is hard to focus on training for something. 

And since we are truly in the final countdown, I often finding myself questioning whether it is "worth it" to go for a run.  I'm not signed up for any races at this point, obviously because I have no idea when this will happen and/or if I'll be able to race on a certain day in the not too distant future.  As a result, my workouts have been more or less running by feel and motivation.  Which means, mostly shorter stuff. 

Though, to combat those feelings, I've often been doubling up one day a week to serve as my long run.  That way, I'm still getting in the physical stress, but split so it is mentally easier to grasp.  Further, I don't want to ever be too far from home in case I get "the call" telling me that we need to go to the hospital.  So splitting the runs and keeping things relatively close makes sense.

Today is another such day where that is happening.  While I don't really have the time or will to go for a 2 hour run, I do have time to go for a 6 mile run in the morning and an 8 or so mile run in the afternoon.  So while I am not getting as much of a training benefit as I would be from getting in a 14 miler in one effort, I am still putting in a solid workout on the day, while also keeping it relatively easy from a mental perspective.

So until we meet our little new peanut, this shall be my routine...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Updated - Lessons Learned From Triathlon Officiating And How It Can Benefit You

About a year ago, I posted what I thought was a very useful description of some of many lessons learned I've gained from officiating triathlons.  Turns out, it is one of my most read posts...and for good reason - I find it pretty helpful.  A year later, and following a weekend of officiating 2 early season races, I can see that more people need a refresh (or to actually learn for the 1st time) on the USAT Competitive Rules.  When you sign up for a USAT sanctioned event, you agree that you've read through the rules and understand them in order to participate in the race.  So I took a look at that post, and decided to add a few more details worth noting below:

In honor of triathlon season truly kicking into high gear, I wanted to write something that I felt would be helpful for those racing.  And to those of you who are locals, I better not catch you doing any of the items mentioned below at any races I am working...otherwise, shame on you for not listening to my plea ;)

Having been a USAT official for nearly 4 years, I can say that I've seen my share of stoopidity and awesomeness while working various races.  Anywhere from people wearing their swim goggles on the bike course due to heavy rain to people riding over the double yellow lines into oncoming traffic to pass cyclists even though there was plenty of room to do so within their given lane.  I can't say I've seen it all though, because every time I think I have, someone proves me wrong with a new trick ;)

With that said, I also thought it would be useful to document just some basic concepts that I think people not only misinterpret, but may get penalized for failure to understand the rules.  Let me caveat this all by saying that as USAT officials, we are not out to penalize as many people as possible.  We are simply there to ensure a fair and competitive race.  Most, if not all of us are triathletes, and put ourselves in the situation we observe in order to best make a judgement call as to what we would have done in a given situation.  Some penalties are blatant, while others might not be.  Either way, being an official can be a thankless job, because when you do your job, you get yelled at for writing too many penalties, but if you don't write any, people complain that there was no enforcement.  My hope is that people not only treat officials with respect, but appreciate the difficult job it is.  We all do our best to be fair and treat every athlete the same. 

Just because you get a penalty, does not imply that you were trying to cheat - it could just be that you aren't clear on the rules or that you had a mental lapse during a challenging event.  As a competitor of these events myself, I am fully aware of what it is like in race situations.  This is why I am writing this - to try and give a better idea of the things I see and how you can avoid them to ensure a penalty-free race yourself.  Please reference the USAT Competitive Rules for the specific details of each rule described below.


Most Frequently Penalized Rules
Although a copy of most frequently penalized rules exists on the USAT site, I wanted to document my own observations, along with specific recommendations as to how to avoid being penalized.  All too often, I speak to people who are familiar with the rules, but find themselves in situations where they don't know how to navigate within their legal right on the course.  Similarly, I've spoken to many people who were not aware of many of the intricacies of the rules, so this is also a refresher for people to understand that there are a lot more penalties besides drafting.

1) Drafting - Duh!  You are probably already aware that drafting is when you remain within 3 bike lengths of a cyclist in front of you for 15s or longer without making a successful pass.  But what most people fail to realize is that you CANNOT enter the draft zone and drop back out of that draft zone.  Once you have closed that gap, the only way out is to successfully make a pass, which is when your front wheel crosses the other rider's front wheel.  Most people enter the draft zone, realize they can't pass, and drop back.  This causes a penalty, whether you enter the draft zone for 5 seconds and drop back, or spend 50s and drop back.  Bottom line - you don't enter the draft zone until you are confident you can successfully make a pass.

Solution: Only enter the draft zone when you are confident you will make a pass.  It is better to stay just beyond 3 bike lengths for a bit to gauge your situation first before attempting the pass.  The most effective passing strategy once you are ready to pass is to close the gap to be within 1-2 bike lengths for the first 5-10s and use that momentum to slingshot yourself around as you definitively make your pass attempt.  This is almost always a successful pass, because you are legally using your 15s to receive a temporary benefit of being in the draft zone, which depending on your speed, could give you up to a 20-30% efficiency gain.  Just make sure you keep track of time, otherwise, you could get a penalty for hanging onto someone's wheel for too long.

2) Overtaken - Next to drafting, this is probably the most common penalty I see.  This penalty occurs when the person being passed fails to drop back to 3 bike lengths within 15s after a successful pass has been made.  Remember that the pass is complete when the other cyclist's wheel crosses in front of yours.  At this point, that 15s clock starts and you must drop back.  The cyclist who just passed you now has the right of way and it is your responsibility to drop back.  All too often I see someone get passed and immediately they get out of the saddle to hammer in front.  Whether it is because a dude is getting chick'd or just someone else moving up through the field, you have drop back before attempting another pass.  This is an illegal move and will result in an overtaken penalty.

Solution:  Too many people complain that this rule forces them to stop racing by having to drop back.  But if you use this tactic that I'm about to explain, it won't.  My recommendation is to SLOWLY ease back.  If you are going fast and are overtaken, you still have 15s to drop back so its not like you have to slam your brakes right away.  Try something right now - count 15s in your head.  Did you do it?  You were probably bored because it took a long time.  Further, if you were passed by a strong cyclist, you may not even need to ease back at all as their momentum may take them past the 3 bike length distance.  If the passing cyclist is moving at 1 mph greater than you at a speed of about 20 mph (this is not difficult due to the draft benefit they get from being behind you), it takes approximately 10s for them to pass.  So if that happens, you really don't have to do much to drop back.  It really comes down to letting the passing cyclist establish right of way after the pass by them moving back over to the right and 3 lengths in front of you, and then assessing what you want to do next.  Just remember when this happens that you can minimize its impact on your racing by using the full time or close to it to your benefit.  As a racer, I've rarely found myself in the situation where I actually had to slow down to let that gap open up.  It almost always developed naturally.   

3) Unauthorized Assistance - This is essentially when someone accepts assistance (could be food, equipment, pacing info, etc) from any person (other than a race official associated with the race).  I've seen sandwiches handed off to racers from significant others out on the course, friends running with a racer out on the course, coaches jump onto the course to help their athlete change a flat tire, etc.  All of these things are considered unauthorized assistance.  Triathlon (in non-drafting style races) is an individual sport and as such, you are responsible for your day, with the exception of nutrition and support provided on course by race officials.

Solution:  Use the resources provided by the race or bring enough gear so that you can handle a multitude of situations.  Afraid of flat tires?  Bring a spare tube (or 2), Co2 canisters, and tire levers in a small seat bag.  Otherwise, you risk having to wait for SAG support (if the race offers it) to come by.  Don't know how to change a flat?  Learn before the race by going to a local bike shop clinic - just like training for the race, you should be training yourself for all the other things that can happen.  Research the race website to see if the race will have tech support on the course.  At least if you have issues, tech support can help you. 

4) Illegal Equipment - This can be anything from propulsion devices on the swim (think fins and paddles), to headphones on the bike and run (think mp3 player devices).   The rules banning headphones seem to strike a chord with a lot of people for some reason.  Perhaps because USATF, who used to ban headphones, now only bans them for elite athletes?  I don't know why people have such a hard time with this rule, but honestly, it is for your safety first and foremost.  Triathlon races have a LOT of things going on, with multi-flow traffic, open roads to vehicles, and in some cases, runners and cyclists on the same part of the course.  For all of these reasons, headphones create the potential for accidents to happen.  And I'd prefer everyone be safe out there.  Further from a competition standpoint, there is no way to tell if headphones are connected to a communication device, so in theory, someone could be providing advice throughout the race, again defeating the concept of triathlon being an individual sport.

Solution:  Seriously - you shouldn't need any special equipment to complete these races.  Music is great and all, but leave it at home or in your transition bag during the race.  Triathletes are mentally strong people, so I am confident that you can use the energy of the spectators and the race to push through the pain and race to your best ability WITHOUT needing your own personal soundtrack.  So do us all a favor and stop trying to sneak them into the race course, because while you may intend to just get your amp'd up for the race, it could leave you injured due to confusion out on the course that you were distracted from. 

5) Traffic Laws- This one shocks me every time yet it seems to show up frequently in our penalty sheets.  Competitors need to remember that most races occur on open roads, many of which have car traffic on them during the race or even in cases where there is no car traffic, many races have out and back portions with 2-way traffic of competitors.  Yes you are in a race, but I tend to think that your life is more important than trying to pass someone in a manner that makes observers say "Oh $h!t" to themselves.  In nearly every case I've witnessed, the situation was totally avoidable.  If the cyclist had waited only a few more seconds to look at the situation, they could have made a safer decision that still would have resulted in passing through the field of competitors.  Just recently, a competitor chose to pass the motorcycle I was riding on, on the left by going over the double yellow lines into oncoming traffic to do so, when there was a fully open lane to safely pass through on the right of us (since the Race Officials always ride the motorcycles on the left side of the road to avoid cyclists, who should be riding all the way to the right, unless they are attempting a pass).  I'm not sure what the competitor was thinking at the time, but sometimes people do crazy things and this is why I need to write this.  If it is just a simple double yellow line crossing, it is a variable time penalty.  But if it truly is an "Oh $h!t" moment, the penalty is considered Endangerment and the competitor can be disqualified, but worse of all they risk sever injury by putting themselves in that situation..

One other note is that Traffic Violations also can occur when the competitor does not follow direction of police officers that are on the course.  There have been circumstances where, for whatever reason, a police officer had to hold up race traffic during the race.  If this happens, you are REQUIRED to follow their direction.  Does it suck?  Absolutely!  But you know what?  You wouldn't run through traffic in your car if a police officer told you to stop, and just because it is a race, it is no different.  Similarly, if the course you are riding on has a stop sign and you ride straight through it and get hit by a car, it is ultimately your responsibility to adhere to the traffic laws.  To the extent possible, these situations are minimized by having police present at all intersections, but sometimes they happen and we just have to go with the flow and be smart out there.

Solution: Be aware of your surroundings at all times.  If you are planning to pass someone, look where you are on the road.  Assess whether or not you can make a pass within the lane.  If not, consider waiting 5s.  As a frequent observer of the group dynamics of competitors during the cycling portion of the race, things are always in flux and it is rare that 2 or more people are moving at the same exact speed.  Opportunities will come for a pass safely within a short period of time.  Lastly, remember that your safety is the most important thing out there and a risky move into oncoming traffic just to save a few seconds is not worth the risk of a penalty, disqualification, and/or injury.

6) Helmets - Oh boy, this is a favorite of mine!  By rule for any USAT sanctioned event, helmets must be worn at ALL times.  Emphasis on the ALL.  Riding your bike from your car to transition before the race?  You should have that helmet on.  What about during that warm up before the race?  Yep.  And after the race as you ride your victory lap?  Yep!  At ALL times.  It is for your own safety first and foremost.

And while we're on helmets, let's note that ALL helmets must be Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) certified.  CPSC is the governing body in the US for all helmets to ensure they meet specific safety standards.  They slap a sticker on EVERY helmet.  Trust me, yours has one on it on the inside.  But here's the kicker - some people buy bootleg helmets online.  Those typically do not have the sticker.  Also, some people (and to this day I can't comprehend why) removed the sticker.  I kid you not - someone told me they thought it would make them more aerodynamic!  But there are also multiple models of the same helmet that exist in other countries that do not meet US CPSC standards.  So needless to say, we need to see those stickers on the inside of your helmet.  Again, it is for your safety.  Traveling to the US from abroad with the intent on racing?  Better make sure you have a CPSC certified helmet.  The price for not having one is a stiff one - Disqualification.

Solution:  First, don't be stoopid.  When you ride your bike, your safety is on your hands.  Wear your helmet and make sure it is buckled at ALL times.  I am still amazed at people I see on the bike trails that don't wear helmets.  Safety, safety, safety!

Second, before any race make sure your sticker is still looking back at you when you flip your helmet over.  If not, either get a new one or see if the store you bought it from or manufacturer can provide you with a new one.  What I can say is this - I have sweat more in my helmet than I like to admit, but my sticker is still on there.  So don't tell me it peeled off!  Worst case, bring a 2nd helmet to any race as a back up.  Some races have the bike tech supply spare helmets as well in the event that there are any issues, but they will not be fit to you.  Just do yourself a favor now and make sure you've got your little CPSC sticker on there.

General Race Conduct Recommendations
I also wanted to list out a number of things that I tend to see that can cause penalties or just force you into situations I would think you'd want to avoid.

Balloons, pink streamers or anything else you plan to attach to your transition row or area - This is considered an unfair advantage, because you are uniquely identifying your rack or row.  Every competitor should be able to remember their rack location.  This also is an environmentally unfriendly way to participate in a race.  Your balloon or whatever you might attach could get blown away and end up as trash somewhere.  Since many races take place in state parks, this is even worse, because it could impact the habitat of the many animals that call that area home.

Recommendation: Don't do it! If everyone in the race had a floating balloon of Spongebob Squarepants, it would make for quite the messy transition area.  Bring a bright colored towel if you need a visual that you can use as your transition towel to stand out.  Otherwise, before every race,  I always walk to the swim out and trace my route to my transition area so I know exactly how it will be when I am in the race.  Practice makes perfect.  You practice your transition mounts, so why not practice your transition entry as well?

Excessive stuff in your transition area - This one is a biggie for me.  I see people with giant coolers, garbage pails, buckets, lawn chairs, etc.  I'm not sure who started recommending people use those, but all they do is take of your valuable space and potentially get in the way of others, which is considered obstruction.  There is nothing wrong with having a lot of gear in your transition area (other than the fact that it will slow you down) UNLESS it impedes other competitors.  If that is the case, an official will ask you to kindly move it elsewhere - frequently to your car.  If the transition area is large enough such that you can place your gear bags to the side of the fencing or just outside the fencing without impacting other competitor's ability to get by, that is also an option.

Recommendation:  The reality is that you need only a few basic things - bike, helmet, sunglasses, bike shoes, racebelt, running shoes, nutrition, and maybe socks.  That isn't a lot of stuff.  Less stuff = faster transitions.  Too many people complain about the tight spaces in their transition area, but if you only bring what you need, you can easily set up within a small space.  Your bike is racked with your helmet, sunglasses, and bike shoes on the bike.  All that you need space for is your run gear.  It is as simple as that.  You don't need a pail of water, or any other "tip" someone told you will help you.  All that does is slow your transition times down.  And since you are there to race, you might as well be in and out of transition as fast as possible.

Nutrition Storage - I frequently see people holding a gel in their mouth as they exit transition with their bike, only to see a few moments after they have mounted their bike, that they dropped the gel and now it has become littered on the course.  In SOME cases, the athlete went back to grab it.  This is good, because littering on the course is considered Abandonment and is considered a penalty.  The bad news there is that the person just wasted precious time to dismount the bike and go grab the gel.  I've also seen littering happen in any number of other ways, ranging from gels taped onto the top tube of the bike only to come off after the 1st turn on the course (not all tapes are created equal!) to full on PBJ sandwiches stored in the back jersey pocket slipping out while trying to grab it.

Nathan Bento Box Bicycle Frame Feed BagRecommendation: Please just go out and buy a bento box.  They are cheap, super simple, and allow you to keep everything right in front of you and secured by a zipper or velcro strap.  I've been using one for years and found that they are handy in tons of situations other than races, such as storing my cell phone, a spare tube, or even a remote control during a trainer session. 

So I think that about does it!  Enough of my rambling.  Now use this advice and get racing! 

But if you have any questions, feel free to leave them below.  I'm happy to educate.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Race Report: Nat Bresler Memorial 5k

As I alluded to in my previous post, I had a simple goal with whatever 5k race I was going to sign up for - to set a baseline for where my fitness is.  It didn't matter so much to me about which race I signed up for, so long as it was not insanely hilly.  Afterall, how can you baseline something if it isn't something somewhat repeatable?  So I ended up signing up for the race that 1) Was closest to home; and 2) Was cheapest.  Oh yea, and it didn't hurt that a 10 am start would allow me to actually have a peaceful morning of sleeping in, rather than the usual rush and go chaos of race morning.  So with that, I selected the Nat Bresler Memorial 5k.  The race benefits Habitat for Humanity, which is something we've donated used items to, so I had an extra reason to choose that race over the other one I was considering.

Pre Race

So race morning came about and temperatures were ok, but far from perfect - 70F and 85% humidity.  After doing a short 2 mile warm up, I was pretty much drenched in sweat, so I knew the humidity might cause a little extra dehydration.  I continued to sip water until about 10 minutes before the gun to ensure I was hydrated, but not with a sloshy stomach.  I also threw down a 2x caffeine ClifShot right around that 10 minutes till race start timeframe, figuring it would kick in just about halfway into the race, when I'd need it most. And then we finally lined up...only nobody else really wanted to stand on that front line.  Now mind you, this was a pretty small race of about 150 or so people, so its not like I expected a whole crew of speedsters out there.  I knew I'd be among the front runners.  And I can think of plenty of reasons why I don't consider myself in tip-top shape, but nevertheless, I stood on that front line ready to make myself hurt.  Racing is all about finding out what you are capable of AT. THAT. POINT. IN. TIME.  And for me, where my fitness is, is the determining factor in my next phase of training.  In order to set new goals and pace guidelines, you have to find out where you are today.  Not where you want to be in 2-3 months or where you were last year.  Your fitness is what it is and that is what you have to work with.  And that is exactly what I set to find out.  So I stood on the front line, and prepared to run hard from the gun to the finish to see what I'd have in me today.

Now, before I get into the play by play of the race, I'd like to take the opportunity to make another plea to race organizers - PLEASE POST YOUR COURSE ON YOUR WEBSITE!  Since this was a first year race, I knew I was taking a chance with some logistical issues.  However, nobody (even when we were standing mere seconds away from the start of the race, could explain the exact course.  And with a race location like George Mason University, which hosts everything from 5ks to 10ks on what seems like a weekly basis around this time of year, there were lots of markings on the ground for various races.  So unless the course was clearly marked with loud course marshals (which it was not), we'd have to make quick decisions on the fly and hope we were right.  Oh yea, and handing out full bottles of water without the tops screwed off is probably not a good idea either.  Next year, let's get some cups, umkay????

The Race

At the sound of the gun, I took off with another runner I recognized from tons of other races in the area.  Having raced some smaller races with him in the past, I knew he was a fair bit faster than me, so I let him take the lead from the start and figured I'd follow closely so long as I stayed within my capabilities.  After a very sharp uphill for the first .1 of the race, we settled into a gently sloping downhill for the next 1/2 mile or so clicking along at about 5:40/pace.  I knew this was a touch fast, but since we were on a downhill, I just went with it, knowing we'd likely have some uphill to contend with, so it would even out eventually.   Shortly after, the road turned uphill as expected and I started getting to work trying to maintain effort.  I was closing the early gap on the leader and eventually pulled up to his side, where he told me to take the lead.  I wasn't feeling very confident at that point, because we were working fairly hard to continue up this hill and I knew it would continue for a while.  I also didn't know the rest of the course, so I didn't want to blow up so soon, so I just settled in off his shoulder and told him I wasn't feeling all that great either.  I knew the pace was slipping back, but we ticked through Mile 1 closely together in 5:50.

Still climbing for another 1/2 mile or so, we finally crested the hill very out of breath, with the humidity finally starting to take its toll.  He started to slowly pull away as we started a gentle downhill back toward the start, holding a 2-3s lead, as we were directed off for a small loop, but up another short, steep hill.  As we climbed the hill, I pulled back even with him and we turned onto a sidewalk trail for the next 1/4 mile or so.  We crossed the Mile 2 mark in about 6:10, having slowed largely due to the uphill nature of the course, but still pushing just as hard.

Shortly after starting on the sidewalk trail, I pulled ahead slightly and he told me to go for it.  This time, I continued to build my effort, as I knew if I could hold things together for another mile, I'd be golden.  So we both pressed along, finally looping back onto the course while some of the other runners were still making their way through the first loop.  As I entered the intersecting street to get back onto the course, a girl with her headphones on, completely oblivious to the 2 of us, moved right into my path.  I literally yelled "Hey" and took a giant leap in the air to avoid hitting her, but once again proving my point that headphones and races are not a good mix.  They should have at least had a race marshal to monitor the intersection to make people aware that faster runners would be looping back onto the course.  In any event, I came through, pushing sub-6 pace on the downhill, still holding a lead that may have been extended by a few seconds.  As I approached the same rotary where they made us turn for the loop I had just completed, I asked the race marshal which way to the finish, since nobody was directing me.  She pointed to go around the rotary in the same direction as the runners still going for the loop I just completed.  In my head, I was thinking that we'd round the rotary and head back down the steep hill we went up at the start to the finish.  Unfortunately, I was nearly halfway around the rotary, when she realized she sent me the wrong way!  The guy behind me was just coming through the rotary the correct way, where he yelled at me to get back on course and win the race.  While he didn't let up, he make me earn my win (I averaged 5:16/mile pace over the last .1), and I passed him back into the lead as we came upon the last few yards to the finish line, where I crossed 1st!  He quickly followed 2s after. Once across the finish line, I thanked him for his courtesy in doing the right thing.  He told me he just wanted to get his sub-19 time (a goal of mine too), and that I should have won it anyways if they didn't send me off course.

While I was so focused in that last mile on holding my lead, I didn't even look at my watch to try and figure out what time I was close to.  At that point, I knew I had run it pretty darn hard and if I could win and come close to/beat my PR (19:05), I'd be ecstatic.  Well not only did I win, but I PR'd in a major way, finishing in 18:38!  When I crossed the finish line, I didn't know what to be more happy about - winning a race outright or taking 30s off my 5k PR without really training for a 5k.

I stuck around for the awards, where I got a pretty unique medal - a hard hat (see picture above)!  Since the race was to benefit Habitat for Humanity, all the age group awards were hammers.  Pretty cool idea if you ask me!  I also got some Starbucks coffee and a $25 Starbucks giftcard.  Not too shabby!


Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Tidbits

Once again, I'm back with another bullet point list of things going on.  Life is busy, so that's all I gots time for.  Here we go:

- It is amazing to me the difference 10-15 degrees makes for Tucker.  Last night, he barely scraped by to run 2 miles in 80 degrees and high humidity.  This morning, it was 65 and still very humid, but we conquered 4.5 miles together.  I was drenched at the end from the humidity, so I can only imagine how he felt.  Regardless, he showed no signs of impending death this morning, whereas last night I had to practically carry him the last .5 mi.

- I don't recall too much running with Tucker last summer since I was primarily hurt, but I wonder if he will be able to acclimate at all.  Without sweat glands, its gotta be difficult to deal with summer heat.  Guess I better get used to either early morning runs with him, or dragging him down the road for a 1-2 mile death march.  I think you can guess which option I'll be choosing.

- I was supposed to race a 5k 2 weeks ago, but started getting sick the night before, so I scrapped the idea.  I am planning to run one this weekend, but am still debating which race to choose.  My cardinal rule of 5k races is not to spend more than $25 for entry (both races I'm considering qualify).  The big question up in the air is which race to do.  One I am pretty sure I will place relatively high in, but cannot guarantee much of a competitive field, which will make it more difficult to run an optimal time.  The other will likely be pretty competitive, but the course is not published and the area around it is pretty hilly.  Which one do I go with?

- While I've been running lots since the marathon, my training focus has been pretty slack.  I did this for a number of reasons.  Primarily, to give myself a break from hard training, which I strongly believe we all need.  But secondly, I don't have a goal race.  Why force yourself to push, push, push if you don't have a goal race.  So I say, sit back and enjoy running for what it is - a leisurely activity.  The other reason is that I was waiting until I get a 5k baseline test done before I start focusing on anything.  I'd rather know my optimal training paces than make a best guess it them.

- Representative of my lack of focus has been my running log.  Up until last night, I had not downloaded all of my Garmin files into SportTracks since the marathon.  Yep, that's 2 months!  It took me a LONG time to get those files loaded, but I'm happy I did it, because I can finally get back to tracking training stress.  With a slight uptick of training in advance of this 5k, I've wanted to see where my training stress is.  There is a great tool within SportTracks that provides a training stress score (TSS).  I use it religiously while training for races...obviously not so much right now.

That's all for now.  Have a great weekend!
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