Life Update

As promised, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything on here.  Since it’s been so long, I’ll give you two options for this update. A short one and a long one (or you can always take option three and just hit the ‘back’ button on your browser).

Short:
-The kids arrived mid-August (13 yr old daughter, 10 yr old son)
-My triathlon in August was canceled due to storms
-I’ve basically been doing jack sh*t for physical activity

Long:
Life has obviously been a lot different with the kids in the house.  (Quick recap – my wife and I adopted a sibling group from the foster system).  They moved in around the middle of August, just enough time for us to try to get settled into a routine before school started.  Since this blog is public, I’m extremely limited with what I can say and I can’t post any photos showing their faces.  That’ll change in about six months when the adoption is finalized.  In the interim, we’re tied to the foster care rules.  However, I can say that things have gone really well.  It’s been an adjustment for all of us, but I feel like we’re all getting used to the new normal.  Our house is not without teenage girl drama, and our son wants to do little more than play Minecraft all day, and I’m exhausted beyond belief right now.  But it’s good.  Very good.

My triathlon was scheduled for about four days after the kids arrived.  I was surprised that they wanted to get up at 7a on a Sunday morning to come watch me race, but they both did.  The race had an indoor pool swim, and after  sitting in the bleachers at the pool for 3 hours, they called off the race due to thunderstorms.  To say that the race organization was a cluster f*ck would be an understatement.  Even when it became obvious (to those of us who looked at the radar on our phones) that the race wasn’t going to happen, they wouldn’t let racers leave the building and pack up their bikes and leave.  Why?  Because no one was there to make sure that the right person took the right bike out of transition.  Take that one to the logical conclusion, and you’ll note that they didn’t have anyone watching over the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gear in transition.  It was just sitting in a parking lot in the middle of a city, unattended.

I’m not signed up for any other races right now.  My physical activity level has basically gone down the toilet.  Part of it is due to life logistics now, and I’m still working on trying to find a routine that works for me.  Probably the larger reason for my inactivity, though, is that I’ve been dealing with depression for quite some time.  I started on meds before the kids came, but I realistically should have gotten on them MONTHS before that.  The downhill started around the time of my DNF at Rocky Raccoon, and it just kept getting worse.  It’s only been recently that I’ve realized how much that race hurt my psyche.  (That DNF didn’t cause my depression, it was just the first in a line of life events, and I had not been taking care of myself to stave off the depression).

I really want to get back into better shape.  I remember a time when I could walk out the door and crank out a 20 mile run at a sub-8 minute pace with no advance prep.  I would just get up, decide I wanted to run 20, and go make it happen.  Now, I’d be very hard pressed to crank out 10 at that pace.  A lot of days my four mile lunch runs are slower than that.  It’s an odd dichotomy in that I really want to get out more, but I also have almost no motivation to do so.  I’ve been thinking of joining up with a local tri group, because I think I really need some sort of accountability (right now I have zero).  Not sure when I’ll actually make that happen.  Maybe I just need to sign up for a race of some sort to give myself some motivation.  I’d still like to try for a sub-3 marathon at some point, but there’s no way that’s happening anytime soon with the shape I’m in.

Maybe I should train for a 5k at that pace first – that’s probably a better starting point.

Triathlon Postponed

So, I realize that I was said I would write a recap on my triathlon in mid-April.  I didn’t end up racing, so there’s no recap to post.  The Wednesday before the race, I got a phone call saying that my grandmother had passed away (not entirely unexpectedly), and so I flew up to Canada for her funeral.

The local triathlon shop that put on the race was gracious enough to allow me to transfer my registration to another race.  So, I’m signed up for the same triathlon that I did last year, which will be mid-August.  I will post a recap after that race, but there likely won’t be much on here between now and then.

Shutting Down?

My wife and I talk a lot about liking the idea of something, versus actually liking the reality what that idea actually is/entails.  Example – I really like the idea of blogging.  In reality though, it’s way down on my priority list of things to do.  And blogging is about to fall a whole lot lower on the list.  In two very short months, I’m going to have a teenage daughter and a ten year old son.  Yup, we’ve been “selected” for this adoption!

I haven’t really been spending much time on this blog lately anyway.  Nor have I been spending much time training, which was the original impetus for this blog in the first place.  I have a triathlon in two weeks (my second ever), and I finally put on a pair of swimming goggles last night for the first time in seven months.  That swim lasted five whole minutes.  Luckily it’s going to be a wetsuit swim, so at least I shouldn’t drown.  Assuming I can get my wetsuit on, that is.  The wetsuit was tight when I bought it – tack on some extra “winter” weight, and I thought I broke the zipper when I had my wife help me try to stuff myself into it last night.

Anyway, so I’ll probably blog a recap from that race, but there’s a chance that will be the last post on here.  I don’t know everything that comes along with fatherhood, but I’m pretty sure that it won’t come with a supply of extra hours in each day.

Finding Hills (and an adoption update)

There’s not a lot of opportunity for me to add hills to my normal running routine.  My lunch time running route has a total of 31 feet of elevation gain, which might as well be zero.  Before we moved to Dallas, my normal short run route had 250 feet of elevation gain over the same distance.  These are the elevation profiles of my regular route in Kansas City, and my new route in Dallas.

Then:

Then

Now:

Now

Part of my current lunch route is along the top of a levee.  While not incredibly conducive to hill running, the backside of the levee does make an ok option for hill repeats.  It’s not incredibly high, but it’s steep enough to give my legs a good workout.  The other day I ran up and down three times as fast as a I could (a little less than 60 seconds total), and then rested before doing that same thing two more times.  Definitely got my heart rate up!  I need to be doing this more often.  I can easily add these hill repeats into my normal lunch run, and it’ll only tack on a couple of minutes to my running loop.  Anyone who has run hills routinely knows how they can have a huge impact on your training.  
20140314-134505.jpg

In non-running news, we’ve been making some progress on the adoption front recently (I mentioned it a while ago here – we’ve been wanting to adopt an older sibling group from the foster care system).  It’s an odd process, and it’s really hard to explain the emotions that come along with it.  Soon, some people that we’ve never met or talked with, who know us only by a couple sheets of paper and a photo, will be sitting down and deciding our fate with a brother/sister that we’ve known about for a little over a month.  In the grand scheme of things, I know so little about these two kids, but I already feel so attached to them.  This is the closest we’ve been to being matched, but if the state decides to go with another family then we will be back to the beginning and no closer than we were six months ago.

I’ve been caught off guard with how lonely the process is.  We have received a couple of photos of these kids, but we aren’t allowed to share them with anyone.  It’s really difficult to not be able to show off these two beautiful children, but we’re legally not allowed to forward the photos or post them anywhere online.  We also know some details of their background and why they ended up in foster care, but we won’t be sharing that either.  There aren’t a whole lot of broad-scale options for why kids end up in the foster care system (neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, parental incarceration, etc.), and at this point we technically could share with close friends and family the reason why they are no longer with their biological parents, but we’re choosing not to.  These kids are old enough to be in control of their story, to decide for themselves who they want to know the details about their past and who they don’t.  So we’ll leave it up to them to decide.  But it’s hard to say “I can’t tell you that” when people ask.

So what can I tell  you?  They’re beautiful, intelligent, they’ve been dealt a sh*tty hand of cards in life, and I hope to God that I get the privilege to call them my daughter and son.

It’s Been A While

So, it’s been a while since I actually sat down and blogged – basically since my Rocky Raccoon recap over a month ago.  I would apologize, but you get what you pay for around here.  Besides, if you’ve been hanging on pins and needles to find out what’s been going on in my life, you probably should be questioning your life.

Anyways, so here’s a very random recap of what’s been going on.  No rhyme or rhythm, but I did include pictures – that has to count for something, right?

I’ve got a sprint tri coming up in five weeks.  Yikes.  I really need to start swimming!  More importantly, I need to drop a few pounds.  I’m going to need my wetsuit for this race, and there is currently zero chance that I’d be able to zip that baby up around me right now.  If I drop seven pounds, I think I’ll make it in.  So there’s my goal.  Seven pounds in five weeks.

I had a birthday, and my wife got me an awesome bike work stand (among other great gifts).

I had a birthday, and my wife got me an awesome bike work stand (among other great gifts).

This poor little Monkey started peeing blood, and so we had to rush her to the Emergency Vet.  That cleared up, and the she ended up with a bad skin issue that we're in the middle of dealing with.  Been a rough month for Monkey.

This poor little Monkey started peeing blood, and so we had to rush her to the Emergency Vet. That cleared up, and the she ended up with a bad skin issue that we’re in the middle of dealing with. Been a rough month for Monkey.

This guy, on the other hand, has been incredibly helpful as I work on projects around the house.  That is, if "helpful" meant pawing at me for attention.

This guy, on the other hand, has been incredibly helpful as I work on projects around the house. That is, if “helpful” meant pawing at me for attention.

Speaking of house projects, I feel like that’s all I’ve been doing lately.  But they count as cross-training, right?  We had a leak in the main water line that feeds our house, which lead to a weekend of plumbing for me (I like most house projects, but plumbing is never something I’ve enjoyed).  I called some plumbers out to find and fix the leak, but they got real shady on me so I told them to leave.  Glad I did since they were wrong about where the leak was.  So I ended up digging up part of our front yard and running a new water line through the attic.  I only had to cut holes in the drywall in three rooms to run the new line.

Routing a new section of pipe outside.

Routing a new section of pipe outside.

Had to use a stethoscope to find the pipes in the walls.  I didn't want to make more holes than necessary!

Had to use a stethoscope to find the pipes in the walls. I didn’t want to make more holes than necessary!

Playing in the attic.  Yes, I put on a full Tyvek suit - fiberglass insulation is itchy!

Playing in the attic. Yes, I put on a full Tyvek suit – fiberglass insulation is itchy!

And then there is our bathroom remodel, which hasn’t exactly been going as planned.

Removing the nasty old tiles went pretty well once I realized I could use my reciprocating saw to cut through the grout and remove the tiles in large sections.

Removing the nasty old tiles went pretty well once I realized I could use my reciprocating saw to cut through the grout and remove the tiles in large sections.

Mental note for next time: If the fiberglass shower unit you get will fit through the narrowest doorway by spinning it around, that doesn't mean that you will be able to flip it into the right position once inside the bathroom.  You may end up need to: 1) remove the door from the hinges, 2) remove the entire door frame because it still doesn't fit, and then 3) knocking out one of the studs and some drywall to get the shower through the doorway in the correct position.

Mental note for next time: If the fiberglass shower unit you get will fit through the narrowest doorway by spinning it around, that doesn’t mean that you will be able to flip it into the right position once inside the bathroom. You may end up need to: 1) remove the door from the hinges, 2) remove the entire door frame because it still doesn’t fit, and then 3) knocking out one of the studs and some drywall to get the shower through the doorway in the correct position.

And then you may have to do the same thing for your bedroom door, knocking out a stud since you are 1/4" shy of fitting through the doorway without removing drywall.

And then you may have to do the same thing for your bedroom door, knocking out a stud since you are 1/4″ shy of fitting through the doorway without removing drywall.

The bathroom is still a work in progress.  I’ve made more trips to Home Depot in the last two weeks than any person should have to make in a lifetime.  Seriously, I think I’ll count up my credit card receipts sometime.  I must be somewhere around 24 trips.  Once it’s all finished, I may post a before and after.

But the one project that did go “as planned” around here was the new wood floors in our bedroom.  The bedrooms are the only rooms with carpet in them, but having three big dogs isn’t very conducive to carpet anywhere.  So, we decided to spend the rest of our tax refund on some new flooring for our bedroom.  My wife and I have laid hardwood floors together at least three times.  And by hardwood floors, I mean the true hardwood floors that need to be nailed down to the subfloor.  When we moved in two years ago, we put down hand-scraped bamboo in most of the main living areas.   This round, we went with “engineered hardwoods” that click together.  Holy sh*t, what a difference!  I helped Natasha with the first two rows, and then went into the bathroom to work.  Before I knew it, she had pretty much finished the entire bedroom by herself.

Working hard without me.

Hands down the best looking person on the construction crew.

It looks a lot better in there now, and I feel cleaner without the carpet.  Hopefully this coming weekend I can finish up our bathroom, and then we can stop living in a construction zone.  I’m getting tired of tripping over my tools every time I turn around!

Twelve Years Ago

Twelve years ago, I married the love of my life.  We were both very young, but we were in love.  Natasha had the wonderful idea of taking a photo every year on our anniversary, and writing a little something about what we did the past year.  Our album is slowly growing, but there are still plenty of empty pages yet to be filled.

(pardon the glare on the photos – I took most pictures of the pictures in the album)

Wedding Day - Kansas City, MO

Wedding Day – Kansas City, MO

1st Anniversary (East Texas) - Three days after returning from two months in Nicaragua

1st Anniversary (East Texas)

2nd Anniversary (Fort Collins, CO)

2nd Anniversary (Fort Collins, CO)

3rd Anniversary (Loveland, CO)

3rd Anniversary (Loveland, CO)

4th Anniversary (Weston, MO)

4th Anniversary (Weston, MO)

5th Anniversary (Kansas City, MO)

5th Anniversary (Kansas City, MO)

6th Anniversary (Kansas CIty, MO)

6th Anniversary (Kansas CIty, MO)

7th Anniversary (Kansas CIty, MO)

7th Anniversary (Kansas CIty, MO)

8th Anniversary (Kansas CIty, MO)

8th Anniversary (Kansas CIty, MO)

9th Anniversary (Kansas City, MO)

9th Anniversary (Kansas City, MO)

10th Anniversary (Dallas, TX Metro Area)

10th Anniversary (just moved into the new house – Dallas, TX Area)

IMG_1576

11th anniversary, our living room no longer filled with boxes

Today, we will once again set up the tripod in the living room, and snap another family photo (ok, so it usually takes us about 20 tries to get the dogs in the photo).  Then we’ll sit down, and write a little bit about what we’ve done the past year.  It’s always funny for me to look back and see how much we’ve changed (and changed our minds!) over the years.  But, we’ve always changed together, and that’s the most important thing.  I’m looking forward to many, many more anniversary photos with the most wonderful, supportive, intelligent, and beautiful woman in the world.

RR100 Recap Part 2 of 2: What Went Wrong

Continuing my recap of my DNF (“did not finish”) at mile 63 of the Rocky Raccoon 100.  In case you missed part 1 of my recap, you can find it here.   I’ve spent way too long trying to write this recap – in the end, the words will never come out the way I want them, and I’ll never be able to fully convey how I really feel about the race.  But here’s my attempt anyway.  It’s somewhat disjointed, and I know I’m not conveying much emotion, but I’m tired of trying to write this and just need to call it “done.” 

I also wanted to say thank you for all the comments and words of support, before the race, during, and after.  I really do appreciate it.

When I tearfully called my wife to let her know I was turning in my timing chip, I already knew where I had gone wrong.  As I told her from the trail, as much as I DNF’d the race, what it really comes down to is that I DNF’d my training.  I didn’t prepare well for this race at all.  I’ve looked for an eloquent way to explain what happened, but really it just boils down to an old proverb:  Pride Comes Before The Fall

In some ways, I feel like I’m a humble runner.  I don’t really like to talk much about my running accomplishments, and I don’t really talk much about running (outside of the blog world), except to my wife.  The only people at my work who knew I was racing this past weekend were a couple of guys that I see regularly in the locker room who asked me if I had any races coming up.  Unless someone specifically asks me about running, I just don’t bring it up.  On the other hand though, I’ve had a lot of (relative) running success without a whole lot work on my part.  And that’s caused me to become arrogant.

My first 100 miler, the Lost Soul Ultra, was on a course significantly more challenging than Rocky Raccoon.  Rocky is known for being a great first-timer course, while the Lost Soul is known for being anything but beginner friendly (the course record for the Lost Soul is almost 10 hours longer than the course record for Rocky).  It took me almost 34 sleepless hours, but I finished the Lost Soul.  There’s no real need for me to go into great details of my training for Rocky compared with my training for the Lost Soul, but I will say that I ran more miles per week going into Rocky, not that it was difficult to average more than 22 miles per week.  Most of those miles, however, were junk miles, at least in terms of completing an ultra.  I didn’t put enough effort into the training that really matters (long runs), and instead arrogantly thought that my  overall weekly volume would be enough (forgetting that my weekly average was still below the normal long run training distance for a 100).

I wasn’t a high school or college athlete.  I was an overweight kid growing up.  I started running when I was 28 years old as a means to gain control my unhealthy life.  I worked hard at my running for the first three years.  Since the Lost Soul though, I haven’t really put much effort into any training.  Despite that, I’ve still managed to stand on the age group podium at all three of my races last year (2nd at the half-marathon, 1st at the aquathlon, and 3rd at the triathlon).  And that has allowed me to become arrogant with my abilities.  Since I finished the Lost Soul, I thought that surely I could finish Rocky.  I mean what’s the big deal, it’s an “easy” course?  Obviously I was way over-estimating myself.

I wish that I could have blamed my DNF on something else.  Weather.  Blisters.  Anything.  But in the end, I have no one to blame for my DNF except myself.  And that sucks.  But it is my own fault.  I chose not to train enough.  I thought I didn’t need to.

I could drag this post on and on.  I’ve already spent WAY too much time writing and deleting and re-writing.  But the bottom line as to why I didn’t finish is arrogance.  Sure, there are other questions that linger in my mind, especially now that my legs are beginning to feel better.  Did I drop too early?  If my mental game was better, would I have finished?  If my crew/pacer had been able to make it, would that have changed things?  What if my wife was there in person?  In the end though, I need to realize that I’m lucky to have made it to mile 63, considering I ran one 20 miler as my longest training run for the Rocky Raccoon.

I hope I don’t forget this humbling lesson anytime soon.

Questionably Texan:

I'm not exactly sure what happened, but somehow I've managed to end up living in Dallas, Texas. I don't fit any of the typical Texan stereotypes - I'm vegan, I bike to work, and I run ultramarathons. But I do have a Texas drivers license, so that makes me Texan now, eh?
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Upcoming Races

Rocky Raccoon 100 mile ultra
February 1/2

King Tut Triathlon (Sprint)
April 13

Take on the Heat Triathlon (Sprint)
August 17



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