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Posts Tagged ‘triathlon’


Yep, I’m back.  No, I didn’t go anywhere.  I’ve just been busy.

Since the first of this year, my family’s budget has been much more strict.  That can be problematic when you’re a triathlete, clydesdale or otherwise.  It’s kind of normal that in the 21st century, everything is an industry these days.  So, yes, there is the running industry, the triathlon industry, and I even work in the healthcare industry.  Side note: In my own personal opinion and belief, healthcare of any kind should never be considered an “industry” in any sense.  It should always and only be considered ministry, regardless of your religion.  We should be working ourselves out of a job, not creating permanence and profit. That being said, industries have one primary goal in mind: setting their followers free from the green stuff in their pocketbooks and making them feel good about it.

That’s not cynical, people, it’s just true.  Industries are in it for making money.  They exist because they have constituencies; followers.  Runners need shoes, shorts, shirts, gels, sleeves, compression gear…and the list goes on and on.  Get it–runners NEED this stuff (feel free to substitute cyclist, triathlete, etc.).  And, it’s true that there are times when we do need the stuff, or it may help us in one way or another.  However, many times, we just want it.  Of course, for many triathletes, what we  most want is the next race, or ride, or whatever event there is down the pike.

Previously, during most of the year, I was budgeted to one event per month (except for special instances). One race or one ride.  Now, even those will be hard to come by, so I am doing with less of them.  I attended one ride this Spring, primarily because it was inexpensive and we didn’t have to travel far (and there was something for sweetie to do while I rode).  I was able recently to sign up for the Dallas Half Marathon in December because of a birthday gift.  No, I am not complaining, but I am learning a lot more about what it means to be a runner or a cyclist this way.

I’ve learned I can do without Clif bars.  I’ve learned I can do with just Gatorade.  I already reported that while funds were available, I pre-bought two pair of running shoes so they would last.  I’m keeping my 400 mile pair in service for short runs to make them last even longer.  I’ve also learned to get more out of my workouts than just a notch up for the next race or event.

Usually, by now, I am into full swing cycle mode for the Summer.  That hasn’t happened this year.  I have switched to doing long runs on Saturdays instead of going out and riding.  Mainly because I can’t get any medium length ones during the weekdays.  I was finding that if I got up at 4AM and did 6 to 8 miles, I was wasted for working that day.  Also, by waiting until Saturday, I can run longer and get into better condition, all while seeing the sun come up.  Much better, I think.

But, I’ve gotten some riding time in as well.  I’ve just had to be creative.  I’ve loaded up the bike on the car and driven out to a large trail where I can ride safely on Sunday afternoons sometimes.  Yes, that may be anathema to some, but it is better than nothing.  A friend recently started up his Sunday morning group ride around town.  Since I don’t have to be at church at 7AM any more, I can now ride.  Also, much better.

I’ve been working on a better running workout that is doing me some good right now.  My weekday runs are limited to about 3 and no more than 5K at a time.  Then on Saturdays, I’ve been working from 8 to 14 miles.  I just finished the first cycle a couple of weeks ago and now I’m going from 9 to 14, then 10 to 14, then 12 to 14.  After I finish that cycle, I’ll go back to 8 and start over again.  I’ll let you know how it goes, but so far it has felt very good to get out and do the longer runs like I was doing for the marathon.

I’m trying to hold 1,000 yds. in swimming, but I waffle some.  I’m down to just one day as Mondays are seniors only at my pool.  It’s a lot less busy that way and I can swim better.  An Ironman friend of mine had been doing a workout where he ran to the pool, did his swim, then ran home.  I’ve started doing that some.  It’s a killer workout, to borrow a cliche, but well worth the effort.

I hadn’t really been a running clothes horse.  My only few important things I’ve had for a while; a couple pairs of compression shorts, and some really good socks, plus a pair of winter woolies and running pants for Winter.  Almost all of my shirts are race shirts or were bought at Wal Mart or Target.  You can get decent stuff there.  I haven’t need any clothes this  year, but if I did, I know where to look.

It’s been different not racing or going to rides as much.  I’ve been blessed with more great runs this way than usual.  I am still getting to do new things.  I’ve noticed I am running much faster than I used to run.  It’s decently exciting to finish a long run on Saturday and discover you didn’t take as long as you thought.  It’s also good to be able to run by the grocery store on your run and see folks you know.

Running and working out is about a lot more than just the events.  You really don’t have to have a lot of money to do it.  You do need to have really good shoes though.  There you cannot scrimp.  That just requires planning and budgeting to make it work.  I’ve been reminded a lot more lately of just what it means to be an athlete (or “late onset athleticism as John Bingham calls it).  At my new job, I have been able to put into practice all those things I believe in about being a craftsman such as doing a good job just because it’s the way you do a job.  Now, I’ve been able to apply those lessons to running, biking, and swimming.  Doing them well just because you should and because  you can.  Triathlon training on a budget does work.  Happy running, ya’ll!

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The past week or so has been good for running, though in a weird sort of way.  I thought I’d relate my week to you all because as I reflect on it, I realize it’s time to take down my shingle as a “newbie“.  I write this to encourage anyone that can still safely and proudly display their shingle as a “newbie” runner, cyclist, or triathlete.

It’s February in North Texas and that means I am completely ready for Spring to be sprung, but the weather just doesn’t cooperate.  We go from warm humid days to freezing and raining overnight, it seems.  It can make one’s planning for morning run preparations quite difficult.  In addition, I usually try to ride early on Saturday mornings right now, but have found that below about 40 degreesF is just too cold. So, what to do?

Last week, I got in a full four days of running as is my usual bent.  On Thursday, it was the coolest of the week, I think.  I had to run a four miler to finish out the week and thought I’d run an old route I used to run.  It has a few hills and I discovered via an achilles problem that it’s not good to run hills every day.  But, my usual route is so flat and boring I just needed the change.

Being a cool morning, I could take out fairly quickly but figured I’d lose it pretty soon.  I’ve been working on pacing since last Fall during marathon training.  I’ve always tried to run by feel, but have found out that I can get lazy.  If my fitness, distance, and time is going to improve, I need to keep my pace in a range that keeps my body challenged.  So, I’ve been working on finding a pace that is comfortable, but at the edge.  It’s a bit like threshold running, but without going quite that far.  I am doing this so that I keep my pace improving as my fitness improves, and that I don’t get lazy.

This was a good morning for that.  I know that if I feel myself speeding up during a run and that it’s not correspondingly hard, then I am doing well.  On that morning, despite the cold and the hills, I was speeding up.  During the last mile, I was wondering if I would break a goal of mine, 4 miles in under 45 minutes.  For the longest time, I’ve been a 50 minute 4-miler.  During the last half-mile, I did my best to run nearly as fast as I could.  My final time was a little over 44 minutes.  Just a little over an 11-minute mile average.

This week, I was hopeful for a full week of running, but the weatherman wasn’t.  After two good days, I had to stay home on the trainer for Wednesday and Thursday because of cold and rain.  Although, the weatherman’s doom and gloom forecast for Thursday morning was behind schedule and I could have run.  Since Saturday was forecast to be sunny but cold in the morning, I thought I would console my missed runs with a real long run.  Cycling down near freezing is just uncomfortable to me and running is doable. I planned an 8-miler, longest run since December.

The first three or four miles seemed normal for this distance, but that was probably the hills.  At about 3.5 miles, I hit a flat spot that holds for a while.  I felt that same increasing pace again.  I was able to hold it and it was doing fine.  I was expecting to see another 11-minute or so average.  Imaging my surprise when I finished out and looked at the Strava reading: 1:30:29 and a 10:30-ish AVERAGE pace.  I cannot ever remember or believe I could have run this distance that quickly.

No it’s not real fast, relatively.  Yet, for me it’s speedy.  It hasn’t been that long since I was just doing 13 minute miles and if I had a really good day, it might be a 12:30. So, 11’s and 10’s of any sort seem like I’m burning rubber.  I guess after four and a half years of running, I might better quit considering myself a beginning runner.

Someone I know that just started a fitness regimen recently asked me, “How do you run for 26.2 miles?”  They couldn’t imagine running that far because it hurt so much to run just a little.  Well, when I started, it hurt then too.  But, I didn’t quit.  I adjusted and my body adjusted also.  If we keep going our body will continue to improve and prepare itself to improve even further.  But, we also have to watch out for plateaus where we become content with what we have done and forget to continue to improve.  If you’re a beginner or a “newbie”, then be proud you are.  Carry that title with honor and just keep going.  Tell yourself that one day, you will have to take that title down and put up a new one.  But, until then, even though it’s just a cliche’, you’re lapping everyone still on the couch.  You’re a runner.  You’re a cyclist.  You’re a triathlete.  Those are much better titles and having beginner beside them is no problem.  Happy running or cycling!  Remember, Spring will be here soon.

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Gray.  Cool.  Wet.  Three apt adjectives to describe Saturday morning of the 2012 Rose City Triathlon.  This was to be my second tri and it was at the same event as my first.  I did the 2011 Rose City Tri last September.  However, last September was sunny and warm.  The two different weather events would have a lot to do with how my triathlon turned out.

I felt fairly confident with my training as I set up my transition area.  Once again, I had drawn a small number (19) and would set up on the main line in and out of transition.  I had done my work and was hoping for a good improvement over last year’s first one.  But, as I stood there in a hoodie waiting for time to go up to the dam, I didn’t feel as confident.

Swimming first in cool weather could mean a very cold swim followed by a cold bike.  Add in that I really don’t like biking in the rain and it wasn’t making me ready to go.  However, the light rain didn’t last too long and when the water temp was called, it sounded better.  No wetsuits allowed today because the water temp was 80 degreesF.  Whew!  Somewhat better.

However, I was a little too confident on the swim part.  Last year, I had only gotten off course a little and then got back on and did fine.  However, with overcast skies, my poor vision and blue swim goggles, I should have done something different to prepare.  As the siren went off, I put my head down and took off.  However, when I first looked up, I was way off course to the left of the buoys.  I corrected and got it back on path but was then going too far right.  I finally switched to breast stroke just so I could aim in on the buoys and get around the corner, but that is slow.

I thought once I got round the turn that I would be alright on the line to the shore.  However, I couldn’t see any markers on the shore.  Nothing was standing out except the big white pavilion.  If I had been smarter and gone down to the swim exit and looked around, I might have had a better line, but no, I didn’t do that.  So, since it was the biggest thing around and should have marked the left of the exit (or so I thought) I aimed for it.  At least I could see it.

Nope, that wasn’t right either.  The swim exit was way to the LEFT of the big white pavilion.  The lifeguards on the kayaks kept trying to get my attention and move me back to the left and finally I could stand and see the shore.  Sure enough, I was way off.  When I finally got in line and got to the exit, I was certain I had been in the water longer than 30 minutes.  Way too long.

I changed in the first transition well, but with the rain, I knew I needed to put on my shirt.  It would be too cool to comfortably bike without it.  That takes extra time.  My choice of using my older shoes was a good idea, though.  I was worried the Speedplay cleats would fill up with sand and make it hard to mount.  My older road shoes use a different cleat and didn’t fill up with dirt.  I mounted well and took off for the highway.

The race director made note of the crappy highway with the monster sized rocks in the chip seal.  He wasn’t joking.  I don’t think I have ever seen one as bad as this.  We were extremely fortunate to only be on it for a mile and a half, and that was plenty enough.

The main portion of the bike course runs north up the side of Lake Tyler.  It is a quite typical hilly East Texas ride.  Rollers most of the way and you are also gradually climbing on the out portion.  I supposed it must be 6 to 6.5 miles on this section, but it will use your legs.  The Fuji isn’t my best bike for hills, but it was riding well.  I’ve had good practice with hilly routes in the past and know how to tackle them; lower gears, and higher revs.  No reason to set any high gears on even the more flat portions as it just uses up your legs too much.  I was pushing harder on the out portion hoping to make up my crappy swim time.  It was working as I passed several riders.

I backed off a bit on the return to save up my legs, but since you are in a general downward direction, it lends itself to easing up.  Coming back, there was only one or two major hills and I found them easier to tackle by just getting out of the saddle and grawnching it out.  Got them over with quicker.  Then another mile and half on the chip seal and into transition.

I changed quickly into my shoes and picked up my hat.  I brought a hat this time because I thought it would help on the sun, then I thought I would need it for the rain, but there was neither.  One rider asked while I was putting on my running shoes, “Now where is the run out?”  Huh?  It’s over there, and by the way, didn’t you check when you set up?  But then again, I hadn’t checked on the swim exit either.

My legs felt good on the run out and I set an easy but quick pace to start.  I would plan to hold this pace for the first mile and see what I could do afterward.  I passed a couple of slower runners early on and that made me feel good.  I was setting a good pace and I wasn’t hurting.  The run course is a 5K sort of out and back.  You start at the center between transition and the food tent (where the finish line is), run out to the highway where the bike course is then u-turn back to the center.  You turn right away from center and run down and back again, then turn right and go across the dam.  After a right turn and about 100 yards of trail running (yes, off the road), it’s back across the dam and into the finish.

You have to give it to the run course designer.  If you’re a spectator or family member, this is the best viewing spot of all.  Three times each runner comes to the center of this ‘T’ configured course.  The runners are only out of view for a slight bit across the dam.  Pretty spectator friendly, I think.

I turned into the T with a good pace and started to pick it up as I saw the 1-mile sign.  Each time I passed someone, I could pick out the person in front and gauge if I could pass another.  Strangely enough, the run was getting enjoyable.  I knew I needed to run well to make up for the swim, and I was doing just that.  After I finished the second time back to center, it was out across the dam.  I began to pick up my pace some more.

After the run through the woods a bit, I took a drink from the aid station and set off for the finish.  Runners come out of the woods and look across the dam and can just barely see the finish.  There were still quite a few out running.  I felt good so I went for a good ending.  My only worry, and the only place on this course I don’t like is coming off the dam road into the grass for the final 100 yards or so.  It’s steep and it was wet.  I slowed way down and was careful.  I didn’t want to fall here in front of everyone and waste my excellent run.  Yes, it was an excellent run, I just didn’t know by how much.

Made it back into transition and cooled off and got everything together.  The volunteers at the Rose City Tri are really cool.  They put roses on our bikes while we are out on the run course.  Tyler is known for its roses and rose gardens.  I still have to applaud these guys.  They put on an excellent competition, but are always willing to help out first timers, and even second timers that get lost.  If you’re looking for a triathlon to start on, this is the one.  Nobody makes you feel bad or inept.  They work to help everyone have a great time.

I loaded up my gear and wanted to see how it had turned out.  However, they hadn’t posted any times.  The East Texas Triathletes that put on the event really do a good job of rolling out the party for the athletes.  There is great food, but after getting up really early, I just didn’t want to wait.  I had to leave not knowing how well or not well I had done.  Regardless of the time, I felt like it was a success because the bike and run portions felt like they worked just fine.

After getting some great BBQ at Duke’s Plaza on I-20 (yes, I didn’t miss any good food, just went down the road) and getting home, I cleaned up and waited for the results to post.  2:03:28 was my total.  About six minutes faster than the previous year.  I was shocked when I noticed my swim time was only 25:21, only four minutes longer than my first.  Somehow, I hadn’t done too poorly, though I know I need to work on some things.  However, my bike time was 59:08 and the 5K was 31:01 (a 13 second PR!).  A 14.7mph average on the bike is a good improvement from the previous year, but the run was outstanding.  To PR my 5K time after the swim and the bike really felt good.  Success, thank the LORD!

I was 10th out of 12 in the Clydesdale division.  Ironically, that is about where I end up usually.  I was 12th on swimming (of course), 10th on bike, but 9th on running.  I have to know that at my weight and level, it’s unlikely that I will move up easily.  I am competing against a lot of guys that weigh in at 203 to 220 (I weigh 247) and some are much younger.  However, it’s not about really trying to win, but about succeeding at what I planned to do.  I wanted to improve this year and I did that.  My biking and running have improved a lot over last year’s work and that carried the day.

I still have to realize that the glory of the event goes away quickly.  Monday morning, I’m just plain old Dave back to work.  But when things look a little tough, these are the kinds of things we look back upon and realize that it’s not so tough and we are tougher.  We cannot control the weather.  Instead, we can control ourselves to overcome what the weather dishes out.  I still have some work to do on swimming.  I’ll have to start working on sight lines and figuring out why I pull to the side so much.  But, for now, I am glad that my training has paid off for the most part.  Now, with Summer events over, I can concentrate on my running for the Dallas marathon in December. Happy Running!

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You will be lucky today as I’ll get two posts out on the same day.  Actually, since I’ve already posted a short update on my tech blog, I think I might be setting some kind of record on productivity.  In any case, I wanted to jot down some of the important things from the past week and I also wanted to do a review on Premier Protein’s shakes and snack bars.  I didn’t think the two would go together, so I’ll just write up two for the day.

I’ve been getting busy this week on the job search front.  I have a good friend that is helping me with that process.  He and I talked this past Saturday and now I have a good bit of resources on what to do next.  I’ve spent the week going through a process guide he gave me and it has helped.  I’m trying to get my resume done up correctly.  You wouldn’t think it would be that hard, but I happen to be trying to switch careers.  I’ve done a lot of IT work over the last four years, and a lot of similar type of work in the years before that.  I’d really like to keep it going.  I have some disadvantages in that I don’t have all the little alphabet soup certifications after my name.  I just happen to know how to do the work.  I’m kind of weird in that respect that actual experience and merit count for more than just tests, exams, and paper.  Not that I haven’t done those either.

However, today, I thought I’d spend a little time just doing things I like.  I have a web site of my own that I run and it needs some work.  It’s kind of the “cobblers children never have any shoes” syndrome.  If you sit on a PC all day doing coding and IT work, you don’t often wish to do it when you get home.  Therefore, my little site is kind of drab and needs some sprucing up.  It doesn’t do much and unless you’re a serious geek it may not mean much.  However, if you just want to see what happens, look at it every now and then and you’ll see it start changing as I work on it.  You can find it here, it’s called the T.A.R.D.I.S. Server Project II; mostly just an information type page.

Running has gone well this week.  My foot’s tendonitis is still acting up a little, but I’m trying to take good care of it.  It hasn’t cost me any days yet.  I have almost finished my second week of marathon training and I guess this week is the week of forgetfulness and loss.  Twice this week, I’ve forgotten to plug in the garmin and had to use my smartphone’s abilities instead.  One of those was my tempo day, so no HR controls.  And, my SmartCoach plan on Runnersworld.com got messed up again.  I got it back, but it’s off a little so I am adjusting as I go.  I’ll run my 12-miler on Saturday and that will finish out a good week of running.

Next week will be triathlon week.  Yeah!  I only go round to setting up and planning for just one triathlon this year, so it’s kind of a big deal for me.  It’s the same sprint tri I did last  year in September.  This will make my second tri and I’m hoping to see improvement over last year (which wasn’t bad at all BTW).  I will once again take the Fuji out for the bike portion (do not fix what ain’t broke).  I’m also making some last minute decisions on how to handle some other issues with transition.

The transition area at the Rose City Tri is very sandy, so I’m concerned about my bike shoes.  I wear Speedplay pedals and I know I won’t have time to put on or take off the covers in the bike out area.  I also haven’t learned how to lean over and do my shoes up on the bike (I don’t balance well).  The reason it’s of a concern is that the cleats on the Speedplays are big open holes that can easily clog up.  We’ll have to wait and see on that point.

I am also taking a hat with a bill this year for the run.  Last year, I just turned my cycling hat around and wore it on the run.  But, the run portion has a lot of east-west running and it’s right in the face of the sun.  I’m not a fan of that on or off the bike, so a hat will be a help.  It doesn’t take long to put on in transition.  Finally, swimming should be better since I can do the whole distance with freestyle strokes now.

I started with “where to go from here”, but I think I have a good idea where that will be, or at least I have an inkling.  I will say, as I did earlier on Twitter, that it feels very odd not going to work every day.  Yes, it’s only the first week.  However, in thirty years or so of work, I’ve not had very long between jobs.  It feels as if I’m breaking some kind of rule.  As if there is some rule encoded in the Universe that says we are supposed to be at work every weekday.  There is one like that isn’t there?

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Yep, it’s that time again — randomness.  A day when writing is just a collection of what’s going on rather than any coherent topic.  It also means I have lapsed too much time between posts.

On the triathlete front, I have started some ride/run bricks on Saturdays.  Or should I say run/ride since the heat is just getting too intense to run at 10:30 AM even.  They didn’t start on purpose, but I added a run one Saturday when I couldn’t get in a 50-mile ride and it not only stuck but allowed me to get back to 20-mile weeks in running.

Which segues nicely to running.  I have almost finished a six week stint at 20 miles per week.  Just two more short runs tomorrow and Saturday.  That’s pretty significant since I haven’t been able to consistently get over 20 miles a week.  Also, I have been able to run five days a week without any real problems.

While I’m talking running, I signed up for Mizuno’s Mezamashii Run Project.  It seems that Mizuno is proud enough of how well runners will do in their shoes that they are giving out shoes to lots of runners (through a weekly drawing).  Ostensibly, it’s to get runners connected with Mizuno’s philosophy on running, and also to sell more shoes.

Now, I am perfectly happy with my ASICS gel-Nimbus, but it’s important to have a second option.  Single sourcing anything is not a good idea.  Case in point that I had to wear a lesser brand last Winter as I wasn’t able to get a pair of Nimbus.  I thought that the gel-Cumulus would be almost as good and they were serviceable.  However, they kind of hardened up quicker than I’d liked.  So, we’ll wait to see if I get picked or not.

Also on running, I thought I’d add in a couple of tips this post.  I have been plagued a bit by catching my foot on uneven ground when running lately.  I’ve noticed that this often happens when I run over a rough spot where the ground is higher under one foot than the other.  Watch out for these little changes in elevation and go around.  If not, you might fall.  Also, if you have to run a lot of sidewalks, it’s better on driveway approaches to run up near the driveway side of the approach.  This is the side closer to the house/building than to the street.  Running this way keeps you almost on the same level with the sidewalk and you can avoid some of that up and down and slanted running you get from the angled driveway approach.

Hotter-n-Hell Hundred will be here in a few weeks.  I am looking forward to that ride this year.  I will try to finish the 100-mile route again and this year, it’s a new route.  Usually, all the routes less than 100-miles go through Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, but the century riders didn’t.  I have heard that the AFB rest stop is a real highlight and a thrill to the riders.  This year, the organizers altered the 100-mile route so that we will all get to go through the AFB rest stop.

Yep, that was cycling again, but I said it was random.

I will also start marathon training right after HHH in preparation for the first Dallas Marathon.  OK, it’s still really the White Rock, but they changed the name.  It also has a new route for this year and we’ll get to cross the new bridge over the Trinity River a la NYC’s Verazzano bridge.

Random is just that — random.  However, I have been having a really good time since I put together this new schedule in June.  I am getting to run more and with better quality than before.  I am riding consistently on Saturdays and not having to worry about whether or not I’m getting enough long runs or long rides.  I put my long runs on Wednesdays and stuck them at 8-miles, which is the longest I’ve run on a mid-week run since I started.  Though it’s hot outside (and here, I do mean HOT) I am happy with where I’m at right now.  I certainly hope that your Summer is going just as smoothly and consistent.  Happy running/cycling!

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AAAAAAAAAHHHH!

Things are just a little too hectic right now.  It’s very difficult to set aside time to write.  Hence, this quickie update.

I am slowly getting back into my routine with running, cycling, and swimming.  However, I am also keeping up with my weights workout on Tuesday and Thursday as well.  I do believe there is evidence that the strength training is improving my runs at least, if not other things.  Two weeks ago I put a four-miler on my Wednesday run (the longest since — ‘the injury’) and ran it with a 10:21 pace.  That’s really fast for me, folks.  My other 5K runs have seen similar improvements as well.

I have my swims back to mostly normal and up to thirty lengths (20 yds. each).  I am doing them slowly and leisurely, but still doing well.  I’ll stick at this distance for at least a couple weeks before moving forward.

It’s April and cycling is going.  I’ve signed up for the Ride for Heroes in Aledo, Tx again.  It’ll be my first ride this year.  I’ve also signed up for the Head for the Hills Rally in Cedar Hill again.  I like both of these rides for various reasons.  I’m going to take the Trek to Aledo, but I’m getting the new and improved Fuji prepared for Cedar Hill.

Work’s been very busy of late.  But, things are headed in a good direction.  I actually have a building to care for again, even if it’s not completely mine to care for.

Tomorrow, I’ll add a 5-miler on Wednesday.  I’m meticulously watching the increase by only 10% rule.  I’ve had a few more incidents with the knot swelling up on the foot and causing pain, but they are lessening in intensity.  So, I think things are slowly on the mend.  I apologize for the quick post, but it’ll have to do for now.  Hopefully, I’ll find better time to write soon.  Happy cycling!

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Originally, I didn’t want to get involved with Twitter.  It seemed kind of pointless.  As I told others, “My life doesn’t happen 140 characters at a time!”  So, I kept myself out of the loop for quite a while.  However, when my kids and my wife were finally on Twitter and it appeared it might become an important feature of my job, I decided it had to be conquered.

So, I signed up and “tweeted”.  It seemed innocuous for a while.  Until, I started getting followers.  That was cool.  Someone actually wanted to hear what little tidbits I had to say?  Seemed surprising to me until I got a follow from Bart Yasso.  Now, unless you’re a regular reader of Runnerhttp://www.runnersworld.comsworld.com, you might not know this guy.  But he is one of the Runnersworld writers and he often writes about things to improve your running.  He even has his own workout named after him that many runners hate to do during marathon season, but they do them anyway; the Yasso 800’s.  I won’t go into details.

That was pretty cool and then I learned about hashtags.  They are a Twitter shortcut that you use to help identify what you are writing about so others can easily find your streams of thought on the same subject.  You create a hashtag by putting a number sign (#) in front of a key word in your tweet.  As an example, if you want others to know your tweet is about running, you would use #running.  If it is about cycling you would use #cycling.  Twitter also collects data on hashtags to determine what subjects are ‘trending’ or getting a lot of press.

And therein, comes the point of this post; the hashtag #runchat.  I had been on Twitter for a while and though I would find something good that a person would say or they might like something I said, I had yet to see Twitter as a conversation place.  Until I found out about #runchat.  There are currently two moderators for runchat, @iRunnerblog and @runningbecause (The ‘@’ symbol identifies a Twitter user).  They establish a time and date for a runchat and post it so that everyone can be ready.  At the appointed time, the moderator (or guest moderator sometimes) posts the first question, such as :Q1: What are your 2012 running goals? #runchat”.  If you are on Twitter, and you search the hashtag #runchat, your feed will include the question and the answers from the community because everyone adds the tag in their tweet, just like the question.  At predetermined periods, the moderator posts a new question and this goes on for five to six questions or so while everyone responds and commiserates.

It is a lively (and sometimes chaotic) discussion as we try to follow the questions, figure out our responses, and read everyone else’s along the way.  You have to be on your toes to know what is being said and who is responding to whom.  The questions are well thought out and allow the Twitter running community to discuss topics, comment on how they are doing, and gain other running friends.  Through runchats, I have picked up several new Twitter friends and it’s a good source of runner information, new tips, and most importantly, encouragement from other runners.

Yes, old dogs can learn new tricks.  Twitter is a good way to connect with other runners, cyclists, triathletes, or other interests.  You get to hear how they are doing the same things you are and then you can realize that we are all in the same boat together.  There is information, community, and encouragement available on Twitter and runchat is part of that.  It took me a while to get used to the technology, but I am glad I put in the effort.  I have now marked the next runchat on my calendar.  It’s at 8PM on January 22nd.  See ya there and happy running!

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