Tough Month

All I can say about work and home life this month is that I have been swamped. There is not enough time in each day to do all I need to do with chores, work, recommendation letter writing, attending my children's sporting events, recitals and concerts at school, yard work, maintenance of things we own, etc... . I'm swamped! I managed to get the yard winterized yesterday by doing the final mowing, leaf pick-up, fertilization and clearing out of the garden. I was so exhausted that I crashed for a nap and really had difficulty waking up. I woke up about 5 or 5:15 in the afternoon with a phone call. I didn't know where I was or what had happened. I was still having word retrieval problems when I went to bed at 11 pm. I haven't felt like that in a long time and am keeping it in the back of my mind to see if anything is going on in my body. I guess there is nothing like a good day of manual work to exhaust one. I feel better this morning and can at least remember my name. But I was out cold yesterday after all the yard work.

It's been a tough month as well due to a couple of deaths. One of my students lost his wife this month, and as his academic adviser I am trying to help him salvage what he can of this semester. Most of his professors are understanding and flexible, but there is one class he needs to graduate that I think may be difficult to do. This student is from Africa and has two small children who are now motherless. It's a real tragic situation and I am spending plenty of mental energy trying to help them out as best I can.

Friday, the son of some of our best friends passed away from cancer. My wife and I went over to their house Friday night along with our group of friends and spent the evening sharing fond memories and condolences. Their son was one of my first voice students 6 years ago when I moved to Indianola. I taught him private voice lessons for 2 years while he was a high school student. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer after he was a student at Grinnell College and had been fighting with all his might the last couple of years. My wife and I were going to be singing in a benefit concert this coming Saturday for their son. The benefit has now be changed into a memorial concert and will go on as planned as a celebration of his life. Anybody out there who has ever sung will understand how difficult it is to sing when emotions have your voice choked up. It's a tough sing - that's for sure. Hopefully, all of us that are singing on the memorial concert will be able to get through it in honor of Chris.

Chris was one of the most engaging, intelligent and talented young men I have ever met in my life. He managed to talk me into taking a closer look at the Honda Element (he owned one of the first ones that come out) after I laughed at his square box on wheels. He also took the time to come over to our house during one of his college school breaks and speak with my son when we were deciding about where he would go to high school (Dowling or Indianola HS). He never failed to put a smile on anyone's face that came into contact with him. He touched many people in his life in Indianola as well as those students and faculty at Grinnell that knew him. He will be sorely missed by all.


1st Week of Muscular Hypertrophy in the bag...

I'm about 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule this year over last in my off-season lifting. I just finished week one of the muscular hypertrophy phase. I'm pretty much using the same 1 RM from last year, although I adjusted the squat weights for a 0 pound bar on the Smith Machine. Every time I go to the gym, the free weight bars are in use by somebody - so I am doing the squats on the Smith this season (unless I walk in and find the free weights and rack available which usually never happens).

Tough Guy

I am also keeping my body weight a little less this year than last after my month of pumpkin pie, booze, cookies and appetizers. Last year at this point in my lifting, I was 194.5 pounds. I'm hovering in the 184-6 area at present, but expect it to keep climbing as the lifting and growth phase continues. I'm just hoping not to get as high as 194.5 this year. Time will tell.

The period calls for the following routine:

Muscular Hypertrophy Period (4 weeks)

Sets...............Reps.......Percent of 1 RM............Rest Between Sets (Minutes)

#1 and #2........10 to 12...........65%.......................1 ½ to 2

#3 and #4........10 to 12...........70%.......................1 ½ to 2

#5 and #6........10 to 12...........75%.......................1 ½ to 2

Lower Body = 4 days per week (2 days heavy 65%/70%/75%; 2 days light 60%/65%/70%)
Upper Body = 2 days per week (1 heavy 65%/70%/75%; 1 light 60%/65%/70%)



Doing the Des Moines Dirty Duathlon...

Perfect weather greeted all those who suited up in their running and mountain biking gear for the 3rd Annual Des Moines Dirty Duathlon. I believe the temperatures for the 12 noon race were in the 68 - 72 degree range with plenty of sunshine and little if any wind.

I succumbed to the head cold going around Iowa that starts with a few days of mild sore throats and finally turns into the sneezing and cough. Mine started on Friday, but was in good bloom by Sunday for race time. I heard several other racers talking about having the same thing, but there we were ready to grunt it out in spite of it. I entered the solo category of running, biking and running all by myself. I put my bike, helmet and cycling shoes in position and then headed off to warm up for the run. After getting all warmed up, it was announced there would be a 20 minute delay to the start as we waited for the beginner class to finish their race. So I kept doing some light jogging and hydrating for the event.

Off we went at 12:20'ish with a one lap run to start the race. I ran past quite a few on the opening climb and got into the singletrack somewhere in the front of the middle of the pack. Running off camber, down, up and over obstacles where you really have to concentrate on planting your feet correctly takes a lot of muscle compared to running on smooth surfaces.


So that first lap took some effort to stay in position. I didn't want to blow my wad on this first lap, so kept things at a good pace to stay on task for the afternoon. I came into the staging area and swapped shoes and gear to head off for 4 laps on the bike.

The trail was in perfect biking condition with a few tacky areas, but no mud to be seen and the trail was a nice, quick rolling surface. The first two laps were pretty uneventful for me as I just held position and tried to find the cycling legs. At the end of lap 2, some I had been following started to fade so I passed them and headed off into lap 3 feeling pretty good.


Lap 3 and lap 4 went better for me as I was in the spinning groove and felt pretty good on the bike. I felt a few twinges of cramping in the legs in lap 4 and wondered if the cold I had was contributing. As I came into the staging area, I had to deal with the double knots I had tied my running shoes with before lap 1. That took a little more time than I wanted, but I got in and out of the transition area in good shape and headed up the climb to start my final lap of running.

Right at the top of the climb, my left leg experienced some cramping. Not enough to seize up, but enough to have me walk 50 feet or so and do some massage. I took off again at more of a jogging pace, popped a gel and started sucking in the beverage. I tried to run the cramp out, but every time I pushed my stride out, it would return. So I resigned myself to a survival mode pace which was much slower than my first lap. Old man's jog is what I would call it. Throughout the lap, I had moments where I was able to stride out as well as moments where the cramps held my pace in check. The bottom of my feet were hurting like some sort of blisters were forming and I was glad I had done a couple of mock races to psychologically deal with the pain of a run/bike/run race because I had to tap into that psychology and just push ahead. Several runners that I had passed on the biking portion closed the gap and passed me back on this running lap. Rats! My training just wasn't enough to hold my position in this format. But I kept forging ahead to get it over with and finally relaxed as I ran up the final climb before descending to the pavement. I opened my stride out as best I could to run into the finish line area and crossed the line somewhere in the 2:20 - 2:22 time frame. No idea what the results were as I headed home immediately after crossing the line. I'll update once the results are posted later this week.

Wow! That was a long race. I did the first race in 2006 and my finish time was 1:52. I think this race was longer in distance and more difficult because we ran on the hills instead of over at Denman's. I think the biking portion back in 2006 was more in the distance of only 3 laps as compared with the 4 we did yesterday. In addition, having to run two times is more difficult than doing the running portion in one shot. It's hard to fire up the running muscles again after sitting on the bike for so long. In all my training simulations I felt that, so was expecting it. I just wasn't expecting the cramps. Could have been my cold. Could have been the toll of running too fast in the first lap. Regardless, I had a lot of fun in this challenge. I hauled my bike back to the Element and was too pooped to even stay for the awards party. I headed home to shower, eat and recover. My walk is quite "ginger" today as my legs got worked so hard in the running portions of the race.

Kudos to CITA and Striders for hosting such a fun event. I like this format and wish we did a couple more of them per season as it is much more challenging than just a mountain biking format.