Monday, July 30, 2007

The Dog Days

I'm deep in the grips of a mid-summer rut. I remember feeling this way last year as well. It's due in part to a lull in my race schedule which leads to a bit of slack in my training. Last year I slacked in my running, and this year it has come in the form of my cycling. I'm just not feeling up to spending 2 or 3 hours on my bike in the humidity and heat that we get around here in late July and August. An hour of running seems bearable, but after that I'm just done.

This rut is deepened by this last minute scramble to try, once again, to secure a teaching job. This is the second year that I've been sending out resumes, making calls, and trying to get interviews for those jobs that are vacated right before school. It doesn't do much for the self esteem or ego to go through these rounds of interviews and denials while feeling the school close in day by day and coming to the realization that I'll have to wait another 9-10 months before the spring rounds of hirings.

I'm looking forward to bouncing out of this rut very soon. Even if I don't get a teaching job I've got some good stuff to look forward to going into the fall and on into the winter. I've got some races to race, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Run Like Hell Committee to work on, and fund raising to do for Team in Training. For now I'll just have to endure these dog days and make the best of it. Geeze it's hot. Maybe it's time to get back into swimming!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Hill

It's been a very...ummm interesting week. It started out as an exciting week. I had a teaching position that I was preparing to interview for, and second teaching position that was in the works. I had an inside track and was just waiting for a call to set up an interview. It was looking to be an exciting week.

Monday morning I went in for my first interview. I was very nervous and excited. The interview was with the principal and 6 other teachers from the school. That's a little intimidating. They took turns firing questions at me about classroom management, curriculum, teaching philosophies, and the old standard fluff like: "What do you enjoy most about teaching?". I answered each in turn to the best of my ability. I saw a lot of nodding heads to my answers and approving smiles. All seemed to go great.

I called my friend at the other school to touch base. She said she would let me know when they were setting up interviews. I checked in with an adviser at NKU who has close ties with the school district with which I had just interviewed. I knew she would not hesitate to give me a good reference. I had a good feeling about this one.
Wednesday afternoon I still had not heard about the other possible position which leads me to doubt that I will. School starts in a little over 3 weeks. Then I got a call from my wife. We got a letter from the other school, crap a letter. That can't be good news. It wasn't good news. Dear Mr. Iker, We were pleased to meet you...blah, blah, blah...lots of applicants....blah, blah, blah...good luck loser...blah, blah. Okay I'm paraphrasing the last part.

The rest of the afternoon was not fun. I alternately felt okay with not getting the job and very disappointed in myself for blowing the interview and not getting the job. I really don't think I blew the interview, but you know how that goes.

I had scheduled a hill training run after work, but really didn't feel like doing it. I wasn't really in the state of mind to go run up a hill 5 times over. I went anyway. Sometime during the second time I was working my way up the .4 mile hill I realized something. I wasn't thinking about not getting the job anymore. That lead me to start thinking about it, but as I breathed heavily, and felt the burning in my legs I realized that I was good with it. I have a lot of good things going on in my life. I do have a decent job, maybe not my dream job, but a good job none the less. I have the love of my family. I have good friends. I have my health. I have this hill. I love this hill. (My love for the hill was short lived. It was over by the time I started the 3rd time up the hill.)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I'm Going To Disney World!

I am very excited. I just signed up for the Walt Disney World Marathon in January through Team in Training. I've been thinking about it for months now, and decided to go for it. It's a little daunting to think about raising over $3,500 by December, but after the meeting Thursday night I'm feeling a little more confident. It seems like an organization that provides great support. I also feel very motivated to do this since cancer has hit my family and my best friend's family within the last year. I will be raising money and running in honor of my grandmother, a cancer survivor, and my best friend's father who recently died of cancer.

This decision has made me change my goals for the year as well. While I love both cycling and running it seems that my focus has shifted a little bit more toward running this year even before I decided to do this second marathon. Instead of going for 3000 cycling miles for the year I'm backing off to 2000 miles for the year. Ultimately I'd like to beat my distance of 1952 miles that I put up last year. 2000 is a nice round number. Add an additional 1000+ running miles and I think I have a mighty fine year.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Life in Perspective

I received a reminder this weekend on how short life can be, and how quickly it can end. A few of weeks ago I got a call from one of my best friends, Justin. His father, Dal, had been diagnosed with cancer. He wasn't sure what the prognosis was or how they were going to treat it. Fast forward two weeks. Dal had been moved to a hospice facility from the hospital. He was heavily sedated. My wife and I went to visit Dal and his family on Thursday night. The family seemed to be doing well. It was a tragedy that this was happening, but everyone was grateful that he was peaceful and being well cared for and surrounded by family. Friday morning Dal passed away peacefully in hospice. I am glad that I got to see him one last time, and regret the times that I had thought about calling him or stopping by to see him but had not.

Saturday night we had a cookout with Justin and his wife along with some family and friends. We had a wonderful time catching up with old friends sharing in food, drinks and stories. There were lots of children running around playing and having fun. Having rowdy kids running around is always a nice reminder of how simple life can be, and that in fact life does go on. After the kids crashed out we sat up into the night gathered around a fire enjoying the company of friends and family.

If you have a friend, family member, or loved one you've been thinking about calling. Give them a call. You never know when it's going to be too late.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Allure of the Race

I am planning on doing something at a duathlon that I've never done before. I'm going to be a spectator. The Duathlon National Championship is coming up at the end of the month. The regional competition is being held in Mason, OH. It's not too far from home, so I thought I might drive up and watch the race. I could take my camera and shoot some photos, and cheer on fellow racer and frequent competitor Kevin. He's a very nice guy that I've met and been racing against at the Wheelie Fun races this year.

Kevin asked if I had signed up for the race at the last race in Caesar Creek. I had not and have no intention of signing up. However, now that I am looking at the event it calling to me. "Adam, come out and play, come race me. It will be aaaaawwweesoooommme." So far I am resisting the siren song of the race. I have no reason to sign up. I have a good schedule set up. I have until the end of August until my next duathlon which gives me plenty of time to train and get psyched up for the next race. I have no reason to sign up, but it would be awesome.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Caesar Creek Duathlon

I have gone through a range of emotions when it came to this race. I initially felt disappointment (in myself), then moved to acceptance (with my performance), from there into an appreciation (of how far I've come). The initial disappointment I felt was really in my lack of effort more than performance. I wasn't putting forth 100% during the race. What I came to accept was that I really wasn't feeling 100% that day. I knew it that morning, but my competitive side wouldn't let me accept it until I could put a little time and space between myself and the race. It felt like an excuse, and I hate to make excuses. The fact is though, That acceptance came in the form of knowing that even on very little sleep, and generally not feeling great I still performed well. That acceptance grew into appreciation as I started to compare this race with previous races on this course. I raced this course three times last year and the one time this year. Here is a comparison of the 3 most recent races.

DateRun 1Tran 1BikeTran 2Run 2Total Time

How can I be disappointed in a a new course record and a steady improvement in my times across the board? The only area where there wasn't improvement was in the transitions. It is also the area that I have worked the least to improve.

I'm not going to go through a play by play for this race. Instead let's play a little game of high/low. I'll pick out one high point and low point from the race, and I'll throw in an important lesson I learned on race day. The low point of the race came fairly early in the race. Somewhere during the 2nd mile I came to the realization that I wasn't feeling that great. It wasn't one thing in particular, just an overall feeling of blaaaaaaaahhhh. It was at that point I just tried to relax and enjoy the race. The high point came early in the second run. As I've talked about in previous entries I have serious problems with leg cramps. I sweat very heavily, and seemed to lose my electrolyte balance fairly easily. I started using the elecrolyte caps and apparently they work. I had no sign of leg cramps at all during the race. It was such a welcome relief during that second run. I was already feeling mentally down and experiencing some minor pains in my back so added leg cramps may have done me in. That definitely makes me think I am on the right track in terms of race nutrition and hydration.

One valuable lesson I learned is to always, always, always take a spare tube, pump and some basic tools with you to the race site. It seems obvious, but it is worth repeating. I had everything packed up on Saturday for the race. I went over my bike to make sure everything looked ready. I went to pull my bike out of the back of the car and there was a flat tire. Luckily I did have the pump and a spare tube with me, so I was able to make a quick change before the race. I can think of many times that I've gone without tools or a pump. That will never happen again.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Fun and Games and Kayaks

I don't really consider working out a form of work. If it was really work then I'd probably be less excited about getting out there to run or ride almost every morning. It's more my way to release stress, be athletic and competitive, and improve and maintain my fitness. Still, it can feel a bit like work sometimes when I'm out there by myself everyday. So, any chance to mix up a workout with fun and games is welcome.

My buddy Rick and I had just that opportunity over the weekend. While everybody else was sleeping off hangovers and tiredness from Saturday's fun and Saturday night's continued fun with added drinks we hit the river for an early morning paddle session. As far as I can tell that is the only good time to get out on the Ohio in a kayak. It seems to be consistently calm with only some fishers out trolling the banks slowly. We took advantage and paddled downstream about a mile and off into one of the many deep inlets that line the banks of the river.

Once we were in the inlet it was nice and calm. We paddled fairly leisurely as we stopped every once in a while to enjoy the early morning sun, and for me to get out my camera to take some photos. I'll post some later after I've had a chance to go through them and pick out a few good ones. After I was satisfied with the photos and relaxation we headed back toward camp.

Aside from just the joy of being out on the water on a kayak this was also a workout to prepare for the Little Miami Triathlon in October. Looking back at last year's blog posts I see that I only managed to get in 3 kayak workouts all summer before the race. That just won't do. This year I want to crush the kayaking leg of the race. In order to do that I'm going to shoot for at least 8 kayaking sessions before October 1st. Yesterday is session 1 of about 3 miles.