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.

Brian’s High School Graduation

On June 4, 2013, Brian graduated from high school! It was a very proud day for us. The DSC01267graduation was held at the Pensacola Bay Center. Susan’s brother and sister rented a condo on the beach and made a mini-vacation out of the event. We enjoyed visiting with all of the family. Brian has plans to enter the military soon. To the right, is a photograph taken shortly after the ceremony.

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Grandman Traithlon

On June 1, 2013, I completed my first triathlon. I was in a four month training class to DSC01221help me prepare for the race. The triathlon was held in Fairhope, AL. The swim was 1/3 mile, the bike was 18 miles, and the run was a 5k. I completed the race in 1:34. His goal was to finish before 1:35. To the right is a photograph of me and my friend, Brandon, who was also doing his first triathlon.

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Orlando 2013 Trip

During the last week of March 2013, we went to Orlando for Spring Break. This was Brian’s last DSC01179spring break with us. My mom, stepdad and stepbrother met us in Orlando. We stayed at Vacation Village Resort, thanks to mom.

We had a three day pass to Universal Studios. With the exception of Brian and Ethan, this was everyone’s first time to visit Universal Studios. Brian actually went to Islands of Adventure the weekend before, as part of his senior class trip. To the right is a photograph that we took on our last day.

DSC01137On Tuesday, we visited Universal Studios. On the rock it ride, Brian’s eyeglass arm broke off. Brian was pretty bummed because it was his Oakley glasses he just got on his last birthday. While we were waiting in line at the Twister ride, Susan saw an eyeglass arm lying on the ground. The arm was Brian’s! The arm clipped right back in and was not damaged. What are the chances? Brian’s day was brightened. He didn’t wear those glasses back to the parks the next two days. To the left is Brian holding his glasses right after Susan found the arm!

On the same day, we all got stuck on the Mummy Ride. We were told that someone tried to get off during the ride. After waiting in line for about an hour, Susan, Aaron, and I got stuck during the DSC01139first five minutes of the ride. My mom, stepdad, stepbrother and Brian got stuck on the very end of the ride. Since we were stuck, we received an express pass for one ride. We actually were able to use it for four rides. Here is a photograph of several of us stuck on the ride. This has never happened to any of, so we wanted to memorialize it. Some girl that worked at Disney World was also stuck with us.

We had a very nice time. This is the first time all of my family got together in about five years. We look forward to our next vacation that is just several months away! We will be going to Las Vegas in June.

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McGuires 5k 2013

On March 9, 2013, Susan and I participated in our second McGuire’s 5k. This year almost DSC0106517,000 people registered. That was not counting all of the Marines that also ran in the event. Susan and I just walked the route with our friends. We actually came in last place. To the right is a photograph of us right before the race.

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Brian’s 19th Birthday

On 02/18/13, Brian turned 19 years old. It was President’s Day, so Brian had the day off of school.DSC01060 However, Brian did have to go to work at Papa Johns later that night. When I woke up, we gave Brian his gifts. Brian got a pair of Oakley sunglasses, a bottle of cologne and some special headlights for his car.

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Myrtle Beach Marathon

On February 16, 2013, I ran my fifth marathon. I met my friends, Bill, Melanie and DSC01010Shannon in Myrtle Beach. On Friday night, everyone had dinner at our condo, which was right on the Atlantic Ocean. The next morning (Saturday) was the marathon. Bill, Melanie, and I ran the full marathon. Shannon and one of Bill’s friend ran the half marathon. The weather was great for a marathon. Slightly windy with temps between the high 40s and the low 50s. I was able to set a new personal record of 3:49:48. That was almost five minutes faster than my previous best time, which was DSC01021set at Disney. Bill, Melanie and Shannon also did well. All finished with respective times in their respective age group. Here is a photograph right before the race.

Before the race we researched silly signs for Susan to hold. We found a sign that said “Nipple chafing turns me on.” We knew that would be hilarious for the runners and spectators. Susan received a lot of compliments, even from the police at the race. Here is a photograph of Susan holding the sign on the course.

After the marathon we all met at a Thai Restaurant to refuel. After eating everyone went to the Beach Bar, which was by my condo. To top off the evening, it started snowing in Myrtle Beach! To the right is all of us right before we ate.DSC01041

We had a real nice time. Mom helped out a great deal. She booked the condo for Susan and I. Mom also cared for Brian and Aaron while they were away for the weekend.

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