Monday, January 25, 2010

The winter blahs

Ah, winter. What can you say, really? It's long, it's cold, and makes you appreciate the summer months. Oh, and there's some really good winter beers available, like my little friend sitting to the left. I think it's the rich beer that makes the period from December to May at all tolerable.

Not much new to report from the Tales From the Mid-Pack head office. I'm still futzing around with various non-tri related workouts, including some spin classes and even a dash of rowing (!). It's been fun, and a real test of my aerobic capacity. I've also been mixing things up a bit within each workout, like rowing for 15 minutes, then doing stairs for another 15, and then maybe 15 more of incline hills or a short run. I'm totally loving the variety.

Other than that, we're pretty much nestled in for the rest of the winter. Cath is going to San Diego in March for work, but then we're thinking of hitting Palm Springs for a little vacation in April. We've never been there before, and would like to do a little hiking when we aren't lounging by the pool. It'll also give us something to look forward to, which I'm totally needing right now.

Cheers for now, and stay warm!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A little update

I'm sure you're all wondering what I've been up to since IM WI and our Grand Canyon adventure, and I'd love to say that it's been time filled with exotic trips, lottery wins, and fine dining.

But it really hasn't.

The Fall was marked mostly by an unshakable inability to get back to the gym, along with a large amount of television, mostly of the NHL variety (Go Penguins!). But, with time, I have gotten back into the swing of things. Not necessarily triathlon-related things, but things. Mostly aerobic stuff on machines that I rarely use, like the incline trainer and stair-climber. Both have been great for pushing my heart rate into uncomfortable places and providing a relief from all the swim, bike, run I had been doing all summer. I'm still hitting the pool about once a week, but only for about a mile each time, and mostly because I'm afraid I'll lose what little proficiency I have if I take a complete respite from the water. And doing a modest amount of strength stuff. Mostly core. Nothing too crazy.

I'm also running once a week, mostly on the dread-mill. I actually enjoy running outside during the winter, but the Mrs. broke a bone in her foot at the end of September which sidelined her a bit, and Drew has been AWOL with various projects, so my primo running mates have been absent. And I haven't really had the gumption to run outside by my lonesome. Lame much? Why yes, yes I am.

So, activity-wise, I'm doing pretty good - probably doing something close to six days a week, but almost never more than 45 minutes a day. A far cry from an IM schedule, but consistent, and it's sure nice to be able to do whatever sounds like fun as opposed to swimming or biking or running simply because it's on the schedule.

I'll probably segue into a more triathlon-specific routine within the next month or so, but, for now, I'm liking the freedom of being able to play with all the cool gym toys and not pay any attention to splits or miles.

As far as an 1/2 IM goes, we're considering the Door County triathlon in July or Steelhead again in August. The race committee is still in session. But it's sure nice to sit back and dream about summer races - warm summer races, with sun, and beer, and...more beer.

Can't wait.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A little racin'

So, we're (finally) thinking a little bit about triathlon again after a nice, long break. Cath, Drew and I are signed up for a sprint race on June 5 called the Tri-Shark Triathlon Classic. It takes place in Bloomington, Illinois, about two hours from Chicago, and it's a race that Drew and I have wanted to do for a while now. The swim is 600 yards, followed by a 13-mile bike, and then a 5k run.

Can't tell you how nice it is to have something on the schedule. Now, I'm thinking about 1/2 IMs. Drew and Ross are leaning toward Steelhead again in August, but Cath wasn't thrilled with that race. May need to go back into committee for some more haggling. Personally, I'd prefer to do a new race, but we've hit pretty much all of the 1/2 IMs in this area (Racine and Muncie), and I don't think we're all that keen on traveling too far (i.e. flying) for a brand new one.

But, what do you think? Is there a killer 1/2 IM out there - 70.3 sanctioned or not - that deserves a spot on our '10 calendar?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Grand Canyon '09 - Pics!

Mr. and Mrs. Tales from the Mid-Pack.

On the Canyon floor.

This is actually a shot of Cathy, but Blogger cropped her out. Sorry, babe.

Yeah, that's me again. You can't tell, but my heart's beating, like, 200 beats/minute here.


More wow.

Still hiking across the Canyon floor.

Pretty cool waterfall.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year!

Well, hello all!

I've decided to resurrect this little blog for 2010, despite the fact that our race calendar is still pretty much empty, solely because it gives me a place to put down my random thoughts.

As a catch-up, after IM WI, Cath and I would have been pretty content to go straight into hibernation mode for the rest of the year, except for the fact that we had already committed to a rim-to-rim crossing of the Grand Canyon almost a month to the day after the race ended. So, after an all-too-brief recovery period, I tried - not alltogether successfully - to regain a bit of the fitness that I had acquired coming into the Ironman. Mostly cardio stuff, but also a some strength training that had been almost totally abandoned during IM training.

It was tough. Really tough. I had forgotten how much IM training and racing can totally drain you of fitness. The easiest workouts were exhausting, and my little bird arms could hardly move a dumb bell. Mentally, I had a hard time accepting that my body was pooped and that I'd have to start all over, just to get to the point where a 30-minute jog would be possible.

But departure day quickly arrived, and, before I knew it, we were gazing over the rim of the GC as the sun went down on the day before we were set to depart. I won't bore you with all the flowery descriptions, but, if you've never been to the Grand Canyon, you really should make it a "bucket" item. I guarantee, it's like nothing you've ever seen.

Our group - 13(!) strong - started off at 4:30 a.m. from the South Rim in the pitch blackness, with trail dust floating through the beams cast by our headlamps. We planned on hiking down the Bright Angel trail, head along the Canyon floor past Phantom Ranch, and then up the North Kaibab trail to the North Rim Lodge, where we'd spend the night. Depending on how everyone was feeling, we planned on doing the reverse hike the next day.

I guess I should have known that this would be a very demanding endeavor. The National Parks Service highly discourages folks from attempting a rim-to-rim hike in one day, and vistors are routinely extracted from the Canyon floor after having underestimated the depth and breadth of the GC. But, going in, I really didn't think that it would be that bad - we had just done an Ironman, and this was just a hike. A long hike - 26 miles from South Rim to North Rim - but, still, just a hike, right?

Whew. Yeah. It was hard. Super hard. Between the altitude (the North Rim tops out at 8,200 feet) and my post-IM fitness, I was seriously sucking wind by the time we reached the North Rim Lodge, some 13 hours after we took that first step down the trail. Thankfully, the weather was perfect, and our group was awesome - everyone got along well and completed the trek in good spirits. The views were extraordinary, as you can imagine, and the adventure really made me want to make a point of exploring more of our National Parks. Truly incredible.

That said, I was bushed after "just" completing the rim-to-rim, so we ended up taking a shuttle back to the South Rim the next day instead of attempting the 26-mile return trip on foot. I would have liked to complete the loop, but there was no way I was going to enjoy the physical toll that was going to take. We had a nice ride back to the South Rim, and you can imagine how good the Bloody Marys tasted when we got back. All of our pics are on Snapfish, and I don't know how to link or copy them to the blog, but I'll try to post some in the coming days.

Anywho, that's all for now - hope everyone is excited for 2010, and all the adventures it's sure to hold.