Author Archives: coolings

Miami Marathon

On January 25, 2015, I ran the Miami Marathon. I signed up for this event because of a discount that was offered a year ahead of time. After doing Ironman Florida and then pacing for the Pensacola ExpoMarathon in November 2014, I took about a week break from hard training. I then ramped up my training with a goal pace of 3:45 for the Miami Marathon.

Near my peak week of training, I had pain in my shins. At first, I feared I had a stress fracture. I took a week off with no running and did a lot of message therapy. I started training again and my shin felt fine. However, I felt l lost a lot of fitness. I had trouble maintaining my goal paces.

Race morning was shaping out to be nice. I felt strong. The weather cooperated and was somewhat cold (for Miami at least). I went out with the 3:45 pace group. I dropped out of the pace group after mile 17. I just could not keep IMG_2302up. I ended up finishing at 4:17. Nowhere near my goal. It was very discouraging. Looking back, I am able to see how I tried to do too much, too fast. I didn’t give my body time to recover after several hard efforts. Also, training for the ironman seemed to take a toll on my body like nothing before. Lesson learned the hard way.

I did enjoy the race. Susan and I made a mini vacation out of the marathon. We stayed at my mom’s timeshare in Surfside. We explored some more of the city and went back to one of our favorite places to relax: Bayside Marketplace.

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Christmas 2014

The best part about Christmas 2014 was that we were able to spend it with most of our family. I was actually off this year! I guess that made up for working on Thanksgiving. On Christmas Eve, Brian came over to our house to spend the night. I think he was worried DSCN0463about if Santa would find him after he has moved around so much during the previous year. Aaron lucked out and received a MacBook Pro. Susan was quite happy that she would be able to use her laptop at the house now. We gave Brian a new Motorola Andriod phone. He was pretty excited since he broke his last phone. Forrest is always confused with all of the excitement on Christmas mornings. He usually gets lost in his stocking. My mom and stepdad came in Christmas afternoon. It was nice to be able to see them for the holiday. It was a quick visit. They had to DSCN0496leave the next day, and so did we.

On the day after Christmas, we drove to Montgomery to visit Susan’s family. We stayed at her brother’s house for the weekend. We did a lot of catching up. All of the cousins were able to get together. While in Montgomery we went to a Dillard’s discount store. It was our first time in that type of Dillard’s. We also went to the Mexican restaurant that Susan’s mom loved.

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Ironman Florida 2014

Last year, Aaron and I volunteered at Ironman Florida so that I could register for Ironman Florida 2014. I spent a year training and the day was finally upon us. I started the day with a Before the racegoal of crossing the finish line in under 13 hours. I also expected this to be my first, and only, full distance triathlon. The training became very trying. There were days that I trained for seven hours. Going into this race, I had no interest in repeating the long training days required to complete an Ironman.

Since the race was the day after Halloween, Aaron decided to go all out to make sure I could see him along the course. The Ran into mom before the racephotograph on the right is Aaron and I just before the swim was cancelled.

The race forecast was not too favorable. Winds were forecasted to be 22mph sustained out of the north. It was also chilly. The temperature at the start of the race was about 48 degrees. I knew the bike portion would have difficult segments. Fifteen minutes before the start of the race, I was informed the swim was cancelled. The swim safety On the bikepersonnel were unable to get/stay into the proper positions. I was bummed. This meant my first Ironman would not be a complete Ironman.

Race officials decided to do a time trial bike start. This meant I would not begin the bike until after 9:30 (the swim was scheduled to begin at 7). I changed clothes and got ready for the bike. In the mix, I lost my family and had to turn in my morning clothes bag. This was my warm clothes. I spent two hours shivering waiting for my turn to start the bike. I would have much rather swam and started my bike ride Lisa on the bike coursearound 8:30. People were released in order, by their bib numbers. This meant a lot of the older people would start near the end. I felt bad for them. For two reasons. It meant they would spend more time waiting in the cold and also meant they would have less time to complete the bike ride. I was told that all of the cutoff times remained.

The bike ride was not as bad as I anticipated. The first 24 miles or so were brutal. It felt like I was pedaling uphill the entire way. In fact, I only averaged about 16.2 mph for the first 15 miles. Once I turned off the headwind, everything seemed so much better. There were other times I was going into a strong headwind. Around mile 75, there was a bad crash. There was a female laid out on the road waiting for an ambulance. She looked pretty bad. She was face down in the ground, not moving.

On the run courseI completed the bike in 6:06:10 and averaged 18.35 mph. My goal was sub six hours. After the wind forecast, I threw my goal out of the window and just told myself to stay within my comfort zone. At the Gulf Coast Triathlon (half iron distance), I pushed myself to make my goal of averaging 20mph or better on the bike. I paid for it dearly on the run. I wasn’t too far off of my goal. I was pleased heading into the run, I felt comfortable and knew I didn’t burn too many matches on the bike.

The run: Holy cow. I never ran more than a half marathon off of a bike. That was after only 56About mile 17 miles on the bike. I had no idea what to expect. Except the suck factor. During the start of the run, I had to work hard to keep my pace above 10 minutes per mile. I wanted to run faster. I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain a faster pace. My goal was a 4:30 marathon. I was on track to reach my goal until mile 20. I stopped to use the bathroom. After that I could not get back into my rhythm. I ended up running a 4:39:20 marathon. I averaged a 10:39 mile. The last 10k was the toughest running I have ever done. My thighs were on fire.

After the raceI read a lot of recommendations to make sure you separated yourself near the finishing chute. As I neared the last 1/4 of mile I slowed a little to get some distance from a guy in front of me and I could not see anyone behind me. I am glad. I enjoyed the finishing chute. I saw my family near the end. My coach from my first triathlon was volunteering as a catcher. It was a nice surprise to see him. He grabbed me and got me through the finishing area.

I was so thankful to have so many friends and family out there cheering me on. Of course SusanNicole and MLA and Aaron were there to chase me around Panama City Beach. My mom and stepdad came over from New Orleans to see me. They chased me around the run course on their bikes. Lisa, Nicole, and her friend MLA drove down from Montgomery to see me. My friend Brandon also followed me around after he was done volunteering at the race. I got to see them several times during the run. They kept me motivated when times got tough.

Will I do another Ironman? I have to. I have to do a complete one! Probably sometime in 2016 though. I need some time off.

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Grandman Triathlon 2014

On May 31, 2014, Aaron completed his first triathlon. Aaron trained for about three months to get ready for this day! Aaron had no trouble picking up swimming and biking. In fact, Aaron became really good in swimming laps. I also IMG_3463did the 2014 Grandman with Aaron.

The swim start took awhile as each person had to jump off of a pier. I was racer 245 and Aaron was 665. Therefore, I was out on the bike course before Aaron even started the swim.

Aaron did very well on the swim. He actually completed the swim faster than I did! He averaged over 18 mph on the bike course. Aaron ranked 17th out of the 54 first timers. Aaron’s overall time was 1:48. Aaron loved doing the triathlon. He is already registered for the Santa Rosa Triathlon, which is October 4th.

The Grandman was my first triathlon in June 2013. Two of the guys that went through the My DSCN0309First Tri class with me returned to do the Grandman in 2014 with me. Below is a photograph of us after we finished the race. We were waiting to cheer on Aaron as he approached the finish line.

I completed the triathlon in 1:32. I had a goal of 1:30. I struggled during the swim. I wasn’t prepared when it was my turn to jump off. I actually treaded water to start my watch. I then started my swim in a sprint and paid for it. I ended up on my back so I could catch my breathe. I felt good during the bike. I averaged 20.8 mph. My bike split ended up being two seconds faster than last year. I was hoping to average 22 mph. Looking back, I think I held back because of my experience at the Gulf Coast Triathlon (where I went too hard on the bike and suffered for it during the run). The run was quite a bit faster than any of my previous triathlon runs. I averaged 8:07 per mile. This wasn’t too bad considering the brutal hills during the first half of the run. I feel like each triathlon has been a learning experience. Hopefully, I will be well prepared before Ironman Florida in November.IMG_2067

My mom came over and watched the triathlon with Susan. They spent the day chasing Aaron and I from spot to spot. They were both pretty exhausted from all of the running back and forth as well. After the race, we meet my uncles and aunt for a late breakfast at Cracker Barrel. It was nice to see John, Paula and Roy again. We haven’t seen them since the New Orleans Marathon.

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Gulf Coast Triathlon

On May 10, 2014, I participated in the Gulf Coast Triathlon. The triathlon was a half-iron distance (70.3 miles). We rented a condo at the Shores of Panama, which was about a 1/2 mileIMG_3307 from the start and finish line. The day before, Susan and Aaron made several signs to hold during the race. Here is the sign that Aaron made for the swim portion. How funny is that considering Aaron is getting into triathlons?

On the morning of the triathlon, the winds were strong out of the south. Rescue crews were having problems getting into position. Several kayaks flipped at the wave breaks. The swim was cancelled for the first time in 32 years. I was bummed. I trained hard for the swim and was ready to tackle it.  We had to do about  a 1/2 mile beach run before starting the bike leg.

The 56 mile bike leg started out very fast. The wind was at my back. I was averaging about 24mph. I knew that would change once I hit the turn around. I wanted to average 20-21 mph. On the way back, my averaged dropped below 21 mph. I picked up the pace a bit and ended IMG_3336with a 20.3 mph average. At the dismount line some clydesdale almost ran into me. I was pretty upset. I couldn’t believe how careless someone could be.

I imploded on the run. By mile four I was experiencing severe cramps. Apparently, I did not drink enough on the bike. The run turned into a run/walk race for me. The half marathon run took me about two and a half hours. I finished the entire race in 5:36.

I signed up for this race as part of my training toward Ironman Florida. The bike and run course are similar to Ironman Florida. Although the race did not go well for me, it was a great learning experience. I feel better prepared for my first Ironman.

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Jazz Fest 2014

On May 3, 2014, Susan and I attended the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for the firstDSCN0204 time. We went with three friends: Maria, Julie and Jon. Maria asked us to go because she wanted to see Bruce Springsteen. Although we are not Springsteen fans, we knew the festival would be fun.

We arrived in New Orleans on the Friday before. We just hung around the French Quarter for the first night. Maria and Julie had a tarot card reading.

The next morning, we got an early start and headed to the festival. To the right, is Susan and I as we entered the festival. The festival opened at 11. We got there about 12:30, just in time to sample some of the traditional New Orleans food.

The festival is the largest one we have ever attended. We might have seen half of it in the one DSCN0222day we were there. Susan was excited to see a pow wow that was hosted by several different Indian nations. The photograph to the left is Susan with the Indians after the pow wow.

We were not able to see Springsteen. We got to the stage too late. It was packed. We did get to see Better than Ezra and Foster the People. We enjoyed both concerts.

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Mardi Gras Marathon 2014

On February 2, 2014, I returned to New Orleans to run the Mardi Gras Marathon. This race was the first marathon I ran in 2011. Several of my family members (two uncles, an IMG_0072aunt, mom and Aaron) ran the half marathon. To the right is a picture of everyone at the expo the day before the race.

I had a goal to of 3:40. The weather was quite a bit hotter than he was hoping for. It was also very foggy. When running through the French Quarter, there were areas where there was about 50′ of visibility. It was almost surreal. Phil and Susan cheered for everyone doing the race. This was mom’s fourth year doing the half marathon!

I finished the race in 3:47. I shaved off two minutes from my previous personal best. I have shaved off 45 minutes since his first marathon in 2011! Shortly after the race, I signed up to run the Miami Marathon in January 2015. Maybe a 3:40 will be doable. Then again, it will probably be quite hot at that race too.

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Pensacola Marathon 2013

During the Summer of 2013, I was asked to lead a marathon pace group for the local running store. For about four months, I met the group on Saturdays to lead them on their long runs. The program ended with running the Pensacola Marathon on 11/10/13.IMG_0066

I was hesitant at first to make the commitment since the runs began at 6am. That meant some Saturdays I would get off at 2am and turn around and have to lead the run at 6am. I decided to give it a go. I am glad I did. It was a very rewarding experience to lead a group of people through training for their first marathon. It felt good to “give back” to the running community.

The photograph to the right is my training group at the start of the Pensacola Marathon. You can see me holding the “4:30” sign.

Ironman 70.3 Augusta

On 09/29/13, I completed my first Ironman event. The triathlon was held in Augusta, GA. This was the first time I had been back to Augusta, since my Army training in 1995.

We arrived on Friday and went to the Expo and athlete briefing. I purchased a few last minute IMG_1641items for my bike. I was paranoid of not being able to complete the race because of some bike issue. I actually had three spare tires with me. Overkill, I know.

On Saturday, I woke up early and completed a short bike ride and run. The local YMCA let Ironman athletes use their facilities for free, so Aaron and I went for a quick swim at the Y. I walked around swim start and the transition area to get a feel for the race. The swim looked so much longer than I was expecting. I had swam 1.5 miles before. Just never straight out. To the left is me checking out the swim course.DSCN0013

A Sunday morning, we arrived at the transition area around 5:45. I didn’t start to the swim until 8:48, but I had to be out of transition by 7:15. After I setup my gear, there was a long wait. We were enjoying watching the swimmers though. Boy, there were some non-swimmers out there. There were people running into buoys and boats. The water temperature was 69. When I started the race the air temperature was about 60. I started the swim right on time. There was a stiff current. The race officials decided to not let us start from in the water. We DSCN0024jumped in from a dock. I expected the water to feel cooler than it did. I really enjoyed the swim. I found my rhythm and plucked along. I swam close to shore so I could see Susan and Aaron. I found them in the crowd and waved to them as I passed. It took me 30:13 to complete the swim. In the picture on the left, I am the one center, closest to the pier. I am creating a splash from kicking at that moment.

After the swim, I headed out on my 56 mile bike ride. The majority of the ride was through rural South Carolina. About mile 30 my thighs started to DSCN0034ache. I knew the run was going to be painful by this point. I finished the bike in 2:52. I was hoping to have an average pace of 20mph or better. I averaged 19.4. So I was pretty close.

Towards the end of the bike ride, I had to pee. I waited until I got to transition, because I didn’t want to stop my momentum. It was a good sign that I had to use the bathroom. I knew I wouldn’t cramp from dehydration during the run.

My goal on the run was run nine minute miles. I maintained my goal pace until mile eight. By this DSCN0043point my thighs hurt so bad I couldn’t maintain my pace. I fell back to a ten something pace. I ended the half marathon run (13.1 miles) at 2:07. My average pace was 9:43. I saw Susan and Aaron about three times on the course. That really lifted my spirits.

I finished the Ironman 70.3 in 5:39. My goal was 5:30. I was close. Guess I have something to work toward in the future.

Click on any of the photographs to view the entire album. Aaron used my GoPro and made a short video of the race. Watch it below.

Las Vegas Trip

For our 2013 family vacation we went to Las Vegas, NV. We flew from New Orleans to Las Vegas DSC01273on June 6th. We stayed at Bluegreen Club 36, which was less than a mile from the strip. On Friday we went to Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden at the Mirage Hotel. We saw dolphins performing and several exotic animals. To the right is one of the dolphins performing a stunt to get a fish to eat.

IMG_1552Aaron and I went to the Stratosphere to ride two of the rides at the top of the tower. Susan and Brian wanted no part of the rides. Instead they walked the strip and shopped. The photograph below is of Aaron right before we rode out first ride.

Friday night we went to our second Cirque Du Soleil show, O. The show was partly underwater. The show was very well done and is our favorite show thus far.

On Saturday, we went to the pool at Planet Hollywood. The evening, Susan and I went to Absinthe at Caesar’s Palace. The show was very funny. After the show, we were trapped in the parking garage. The police shut off the entrance for some reason. Susan and I went back inside Caesar’s and went to the club Pure. Several of the Miss USA contestants were at the club that night.

On Sunday, we went to the Titanic exhibit at the Luxor. The exhibit was very well done. They had aIMG_1568 large section of the ship on display. We also went to Score, which was an interactive sport’s exhibit at the Luxor. Sunday night we went to the Blueman Group. Brian saw them in Orlando and wanted to see them again in Vegas. The show was very funny and entertaining. The photograph on the right is the boys right before the show.

On Monday, everyone but Brian went to a timeshare meeting. The boys wanted to see DSC01333the Jabbawockeez that night. So for attending the meeting, we got four tickets for $100. Kevin Kelly, a former boxer champion, was actually the timeshare salesman. After the timeshare meeting, we went to Pole Position and rode the go carts. The go carts can go 45mph. I won! Poor Susan and Aaron was in a distance third and fourth. We then saw the Jabbawockeez. After the show, we went to Fremont Street. Brian, Aaron, and I rode the zip line down the street. The photograph on the left is at the top of the platform looking down the zip line.

On Tuesday, we traveled to the Hoover Dam. The Dam was only about an hour away from where DSC01350we were staying. We took the complete tour, which included entry to the power plant and a tour down into the dam. The photograph below was taken from the inside of the top left vent that you see when looking directly toward the dam. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the dam and it’s construction.

On Wednesday, we left very early to see the DSC01411Grand Canyon. The trip was about 4.5 hours long. We decided to take a bike tour. We rode bikes along the south rim for about six miles. The views were breathtaking. At the beginning of the tour we saw a Condor, which is an endangered species. There was a volunteer documenting the bird’s location. The photograph below was taken toward the end of the tour. As we were leaving the park, there were two elks feeding on the side of the road. The elks were about 20′ from our vehicle.DSC01424 This was the first time any of us have seen an elk.

After we returned to Vegas, we met our niece, Alyssa. Alyssa was in Vegas for a HP convention. We went to eat at a very good Thai restaurant, Komol. We then walked the strip to see some of the sites. We watched the fountains at the Bellagio, the pirate show at Treasurer’s Island and the volcano at the DSC01436Mirage.

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We really enjoyed our vacation. Susan and I plan to return to Vegas in the future. Oh, and we didn’t loose any money! Then again we didn’t gamble any.

The return flight was interesting. We were diverted from Denver because of microbursts. We missed our connecting flight and had to stay the night in Denver. Southwest kept all of our luggage, so we just had what was on our back. We were not prepared, to say the least.