Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Blue Water

 
 
If you leave the airport in US Virgin Island, look to your right and this beach will be right behind the thin line of trees and shrubs.  The beautiful water gets to you quick.   The water in the Virgin Islands is quite clear and plentiful.
 Linda and I recently spent a week on St Thomas and enjoyed the weather, people, beaches and food.  We 'won' a trip last year at a fundraiser for the Nashville Rep Theatre and this is the trip we collected.  It our first trip to the Islands and we enjoyed it and would go back if given a chance. 
 
The island we were on is really dependent on the tourist trade and the cruise ships are a large part of that equation.   Everybody that works on the island knew the ship schedules.   We went to a beach on the North side of the island and arrived before a boat docked on the South side of the island.  One hour after that boat docked, 1500 more people arrived at Magen's Beach.  The boats are a big deal to the local economy.    
The boats that arrive in St Thomas have two docks they use and on this day we had two boats docked and they both left around dust.  The boat in front left first and backed out and then proceeded on its way.  Quite a show.    Bow and stern thrusters really do the trick in terms of getting this ships out of tight spots.
 
On the days there was not boats in the docks, the town was basically empty.  It was very noticeable and really pointed out the influence of the cruisers.

Later in the week we took a ride to the British Virgin Islands and had lunch at the little restaurant shown here at some really high end resort.  Absolutely perfect weather and view!  We did some snorkeling and just hung out on Soggy Bottom beach.   It was shitty beer day for me, so I drank Schaffers and Old Milwaukee while in the BVI.  It was my first time on British soil, so I wanted to celebrate with some style!!  I was stunned I could get any really interesting shitty beer while in the USVI. 


Things are mature in the VI.  The structure in the middle of the picture is a fort built by the Dutch or Danes in 1619.   It is still standing and under repair currently, but it is good shape and has been kept up pretty well.  The location on the beach puts it directly in the way of hurricanes and it has held its own over the years.  It is basically stone and concrete-- as is every other building in town.    The USA bought the Virgin Islands in 1917 for $25,000,000 from the Danes.  During WW1, the Germans were close to over running the Danes and the US government did not want the Germans this close if they over ran the Danes.  So, they bought the Islands for cash.  Solved that mess real quick. Since the original European invasion in 1493,  this piece of real estate had been bought and sold many times.  The French, Dutch and Danes all tried to make a financial go of owning the islands with limited success. Making a living here with sugar, tobacco,  or mining would be absolute craziness.  We wanted to keep the bad guys out and our strategy has been effective thus far. 

Even though the islands are in the US, they drive on the left side!   I did rent a car and joined the fray.  I had two moments when I make mistakes and forgot and was in a vulnerable position, but I survived.  When I first picked up the car--a SUV--I was traveling with the curb to my left and it was just like a race track--NASCAR.  Turn left and you are good.  Turing right is a little tricky and you are a lot more exposed and need to know where you are headed.  All the vehicles are built for the US roads and you are basically in the ditch as the driver--there are some blind corners that are very interesting.  Plus the island is very hilly with narrow roads.  Pay attention-- when driving.

I did not do any training on the island, but I did a fair amount of walking up and down the hills at our hotel.  The beach was calling and we obeyed.   Coki Beach was our favorite.  A small beach with a large local presence and a great water hole that made some Painkillers that definitely lived up to their name.   Rum can solve a lot of pain issues.

This week, I am in Minneapolis--yep-- and the weather blows.  Overcast--tried to snow today-- and cold.  Move people, there are other places to live.   I could not make it here......     I did run today on the treadmill and worked at getting my speed up.  I will race  in 9 days in Nashville at a USATF regional event.  I am planning on doing the short races and will work very hard this  weekend on starts and high speed stuff and some hammie and glut work at the gym.  I want to get an official time in the 100 and 60 meters to see I measure to the rest of the crowd.

June Rosemary is doing great and we will visit on Mothers Day. That is going to be fun!!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Grandpa Allen

I have been on my new meds for a couple of weeks and finally had a chance to test my speed at the local track this week. I have gained a couple of pounds--but I have had a very robust appetite. Med related???    I have been running only once a week and that makes for a lot of energy from the legs. I ran some 50 meters from the blocks and felt pretty good.  I did  a couple of stop watch runs without blocks and the numbers were pretty good and I think I should be able to get into the USATF bronze or silver award range in the 60 meters.  One of my fellow Sr. Olympians gave me a heads up about a USATF masters event on May 6.  I  will sign up.  I have not gotten an official time in the 60 meters and will definitely run that and the shorter sprints.   I think three races in on day are enough.  I do need recovery time and getting hurt now would be just stupid. 

I think the 'rest' period that I have been enjoying is over and I will slowly start my prep for the big events this summer.   I have two warm up meets in May and that should balance out nicely.  Not too many meets and still some challenges along the way to overcome.  I will up the running to twice a week and add in a couple trips to the gym to work on the core and running muscles.  I do some pretty weird exercises that I believe helps with straight line speed.   I have also started some walking with a heavy back pack at the local hilly park to get ready for the Grand Canyon hike this November.  I have a busy year in regards to adventures and racing. 

I am officially now Grandpa Allen.   Betty and her wife had a baby girl a week ago.   June Rosemary is doing very well and everyone is home and doing very well.  Linda and I are quite proud and we will make the trip to Milwaukee on Mothers Day weekend for hug and cry weekend. 
Betty and Linsi set up a web service to share pictures and we have been enjoying checking out the new arrival.  She looks so sweet in mommy arms. The girls have a couple of dogs and the pug is just the best mommy dog ever. He is always concerned about the baby and he should be regarded as Nanny Doggy.

Next up for Linda and I is a week in ST Thomas US Virgin Islands.  Spring break is a little late this year--I actually have tomatoes planted already.   We are going to enjoy a week of leisure at a condo in the city of Christiansted.  The weather report is warm and rainy--sounds like a summer day in Florida.  we will adjust the best we can!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Pills Part II

 

I discussed doping my last post and I have continued to work on getting clean for racing.   I have successfully changed my blood pressure meds with a totally different active.  The follow up visits with my doctor have indicated that the BP is in my normal range and that change has been OK.   I have been experimenting with different actives for my allergy medication.   I have used Allegra D 24 for years and it is not legal for meets, but is OK during the rest of the year.  Tricky medicine to get out of your system as well.  I have calculated it would take around 72 hours to get clean after a dosage.  This pill is encapsulated for timed release and it makes getting the actives much more difficult to clear.

I was in Canada a couple weeks ago and bought some Claritin and Allegra D 12 hour medicine to "trial".   The Allegra D 12 was effective while in Canada and not nearly as strong as that neutron bomb I had been doing in the Allegra D 24.  When I got back on the 24 for a few days--I was amazed at the strength of that stuff--it really knocked my down a notch in energy.   I have been doing Claritin the last couple of days--it only has 10 mg of active drug and thus far--it is working.  It is also over the counter and comes in a Decongestant version as well.  I am trying to get off the D versions of these meds--that is the dirty part of the medicine that is illegal for my competitions.   I recently purchased a new active I saw on my last trip into Walgreens--Xyzal.  I think I will call it "alphabet" because it may be messy to pronounce. I will do some reading on its effects and side effects--and give it a shot.  I have all kinds of different juice to try out the next couple of weeks. 

With all these changes-- normal is difficult to achieve because it is constant moving.  I just hope to find a nice sunny spot to rest where I can achieve a nice acceptable normal with the allergy meds.

I have been nearing completion of the new deck job for our back porch that turned into a complete

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

rebuild.  That is how things happen in old houses--simple jobs take a lot of new lumber and paint to complete properly.   The back porch deck was junk and I ended up replacing the deck, foundation,  posts, sides and roof.  Everything had some sort of rot and the further you went, the worse it got.  I did keep a few parts but that was limited to roof supports and spouting.  It is nearly done and after our trip to the Virgin Islands, we can move on to gardening.   I will finish the deck painting this next weekend if it is sunny.  Decks are hard to get dried out properly so they do not scuff.

I mentioned a trip to Canada a few weeks ago.  I was in Powell River, BC for some support on a machine rebuild.   The mill uses wood chips from various sources and they arrive by barge and are unloaded directly to the pulp mill.  No large piles of chips--which is very different than most pulp mills.  Typically there is enough chips to run at least a month-- which is a pile that covers many acres. Here,  they do not have the space and do not have the piles.  Another very interesting fact about the mill is they have an artificial harbor they have created with WWII vintage cargo or Liberty ships.  If you look closely, the boats are actually reinforced concrete!!





  These ships are floating and anchored to provide a break from the waves which could be pretty rough with a prevailing West wind.  The photo to the left taken from the mill dock shows the concrete breaking off and exposing the rebar used in construction of the ships.  During WWII there was all kinds of shortages and someone decided to make a concrete boat and they did get used to transport material during the Big War.  But when the war was over, they were too slow and inefficient to compete with steel ships and became surplus. 
You learn something every trip.  Crazy--concrete boats.    They are strange looking hulks in the water.  You half expect Johnny Depp to show up and sail one away!!
 
I am still resting for the most part and I have been doing some gym activity and a bit of walking.  I think the next push will start when we return from our Easter tip, that leaves me 4 weeks until the Nashville meet and another couple after that to be ready for the first National meet.  I have found 4 to 6 weeks of hard training is enough for me to be ready.  I gotta get my meds squared away so I understand what my body is telling me, listening is a big part of staying healthy. Then on to the hard work. 

 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Doping

I made some interesting discoveries this week about my daily medications, one is a banned substance and the other is only banned during competition.   USATF does do drug testing and there is a long list of no no's and also a list that are no no's during the meets but OK the rest of the year.  It makes it pretty messy to stay legal.  I went to my doctor today and we worked through the scenarios and we have changed my blood pressure medicine to a legal active ingredient.   The old drug was basically a diuretic and they do not like that stuff in your system because it will mask other illegal actives by changing the urine.   I will start my new BP med this week.

My allergy medicine is a whole other kettle of fish.  I use Allegra D and the D is the bad boy. D is the antihistamine and it really works to dry up my sinus and keep me from becoming a snot factory--literally. The pseudoephedrine is the bad boy in this medication and it is legal during the part of the year you are not at a meet.  During a meet it is illegal.   I take 240 mg a day and need to figure out how quickly it leaves my system so I can get legal for races.  This will take some effort, I think I will need to consult the authorities at the USADA.(United States Anti-Doping Agency).   This is the group that busted Lance Armstrong and brought him back to earth.  I think they know what they are doing in terms of doping and need to get this corrected if I want to be a serious competitor. 

In the meantime, I will continue to be a "user" and hopefully I can get this squared away by July and meet time.

I did join the So Cal Track club.  They were very interested in getting me on board.  I think they always have a need for relay teams and I can definitely help out in that respect.   Plus!  they have some great looking colors!!
 
I have not run for the last ten days.  I have done some weights, but really I have been busy with a little back porch remodeling job and I am doing my resting.  Running the indoors meets  this year did throw off my winter schedule.  I like to get the feet healed up and just get some rest.  I am at the point now, where I will start doing some running. I am really hesitant to run in cold weather as well.    I am also signed up for an adventure in early November this year where I will be a group of family members and we will be hiking the Grand Canyon --Rim to Rim.   It is a four day adventure and we will be doing a lot of elevation changes in those days.  So, I can also work on my power and stamina with a 40 pound pack as a change of pace.  It is a heck of  a view from the bottom.  
 
Linda has been doing some very interesting core work at a local studio and I have went along the last two weekends to join in the fun.   The sessions are yoga based and are designed to get your core activated and performing properly.  I have enjoyed the sessions and it is a great way to connect your mind to different body parts and make them respond.  
 
My next meet is probably May 20, which is an all comers meet held in Nashville and sponsored by Fleet Feet and some other local running groups and retailers.  Last year we had this very young girl ( 4 or 5) wearing a  tutu running down the track with her arms waving like a butterfly!  She was way cute and having a blast. I really enjoyed it and I will go to get in a lap or two and break up any training monotony. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

USATF Indoor Nationals

Last weekend I experienced for the first time a USATF National event and had a really good time.  Earlier this year I ran in an indoor USATF event and really enjoyed the meet and also met some interesting people that encouraged my to give the Nationals at shot in Albuquerque.   They were correct about me enjoying the event, it was a lot of fun and the best Masters athletes in the world are there to enjoy. 
# 4 bib.
 The meet is  in the Convention Center in downtown Albuquerque and the elevation is about 5100 feet at the location.  The thinner air does make for less wind resistance, but recovery is tough for the longer events.  I struggled after my 400 to recovery.   More about that later.  The track is portable and has substantial banking in the curves, which are a fun to negotiate at speed.  It is a quick surface and design. I arrived on Thursday from a call I had made in Canada and did not get on the track until Friday morning.  I signed up and got my info packet and bib and got a feel for the track by doing some running in the curves while the field events were going strong.   I liked the feel of the curves and you can run downhill in some sections. My first event was the 400 Final in the afternoon. 
There were two heats of the 400 and my heat was first (slow heat) and I was on the outside lane (6) and started on top the banking.  You run a 2 curve stagger and then blend just like the 800 and longer events.  I like that style of racing, you can actually race a little by picking a spot to accelerate and overtake.   I won the heat easily at 63.45 seconds and waited for the faster heat.  I finished fifth and did score two points in the meet for that finish.  This time as 1.5 seconds quicker that the earlier indoor time and the fastest for me in two years.  I felt good the entire two laps and did tie up a little near the end, but was real strong and had a little there if challenged. Nice run for me.  If I could have made the fast heat, maybe a little quicker--you do not know.  According to the "World Masters Ranking" that is the ninth fastest time in the world currently for an indoor 400 for my age group of 60-64. I will take that all day long. MastersRankings.com is the web site for these results.  I am a member and have access to the data and it is useful to track your progress and how competitive you really are in an event. My next race would be tomorrow afternoon and it was time to recover.  

I took Lyft back to the hotel and got a hot bath and relaxed and then headed out to dinner at Chick Fil A.  Chicken fingers and a milkshake were a great fit.   I was struggling at this point from the altitude and had to get cough drops to help the hacking and I was getting the altitude head ache as well.  I started on some Motrin and took a lot of electrolytes.  The head ache did subside over night, but the lungs were still a little sore in the morning.   On Saturday morning, I rented a car and headed out to get some fresh Motrin and I wanted to see if anyone had any oxygen. I had an gentlemen at our gym who travels to altitude a lot, tell me about canned oxygen that will help the starvation.  I found some at Dick's Sporting Goods along with another roll of KT tape.  I used a lot of tape this meet. The Boost is 95% oxygen and you basically huff the stuff.  I used it heavily Saturday morning and felt better by race time.  Was the Boost the difference?  I am not sure, but I think it did help get me ready to race.

Saturday afternoon the 200 preliminaries were run in three heats.  My heat was first and I was in lane 6 again.  One lap and stay in your lanes.  The finals would be each heat winner and the other 3 quickest runners.  I knew that I was going to need a fast time to get in, so I ran full tilt the entire lap and finished second by a step.  27.79 was my time and that should be OK, but you still have to want.  After about 20 minutes of trying to find a result, they were posted and I was fifth quick and in the final on Sunday!  I was pretty excited about making the finals.  Time to recover and it was a lot better the third night.  I still had trouble sleeping, because I was close to medal speed and was 'nerved up' and just rolled around all night.  

Sunday's race was at 11:00 AM and I did my routine and got ready to run.  I was seeded in lane 2 this time, so I could watch everyone during the race.  It does not work that way, the track is a little narrow and you really concentrate on staying in your lane and the lean in the corners.  There is little time to look around.  Again, I ran as hard as I could the entire lap and finished 5th with a slight improvement in my time to 27.71.   It was good trip for me, but they are faster. Period. That time is currently 14 th in the world in World Masters Rankings.  Oscar Peyton won it.  He is still the king at 64 years old and was very sick from the flu and altitude, but he still won easily!

Overall I had two fifths and ran very good times and was happy with that.  Going forward I need to get my 200 time to 27 flat and the 400 in the 62 range to challenge for a medal.   I want to get my weight down to 188 and I raced this event at 194.  I still have some work to do on the diet.   I had my body fat checked Tuesday after the race and it was less than 19% and that is considered "lean".  My running has been helping a lot, and my muscle mass is increasing--my legs are getting bigger and harder each week. 

The spoils of victory was two ribbons and some PBR. The post race PBR is getting to be a tradition and it typically tastes pretty good.  leading up to the races I will cut out any alcohol for at least a  week or two to make sure my gout inflammation does not appear and mess up my stride.

The USATF runs a very organized meet with everything on time and no problems with keeping the show rolling.  They also take great care of the athletes with a full medical facility and trainers and massage therapist available to work on muscle related issues.  All the services are free.   They also provided Gatorade and electrolytes as needed.  The massage tables were full late every afternoon.  I did not need any help, but I now know it is there if I need to rub out a cramp or two.  The events are also recorded and you can get replays of your race a few hours after it finishes.  I signed up for the video service--a fee is required.  I reviewed each race and it was very helpful in pointing out the points in the race you gained or lost ground and this does come into any strategy you may need to use.  It will also be useful for relays to see how to stage your athletes to match up correctly. You can also play the video on your IPad and record they with your phone and message them to your wife.  I like that option too.  Linda can give excellent feed back on the races as well.  She knows what it takes to stay in front.
I was asked by Bill Cheadle to join the So Cal Track Club.  It makes a lot of sense for me to get involved with a Club if I am going to race in this league.  They are a large club that wants to win the team point total at the National events and have athletes from all over the country in the club. They recruit all the time to keep a large group ready for the National events which they want to win.  There is a trophy given to the championship team as well by USATF. Several runners top runners  from Tennessee are in the club. The club has it own area at big meets for shade and has a massage therapist on site.  Nice! This would also get me in a lot more relays to help win team points--it is always a lot of fun to do relays.  I could do the 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 in USATF. The 4 x 800 is not something I would want to try.  So, I am signing up and will be a member shortly and displaying the So Cal colors.  They are trying to get a big showing at Baton Rouge this summer.  My ability to deal with humidity will be quite useful during the national Outdoor meet. I am excited to be on a real track team again and hopefully I can pull my weight and score some points--I had 4 in this meet.

I know what needs to be done to get faster, now I just need to carry out my plan and stay healthy.  I intend to stay healthy. 
 



Thursday, February 16, 2017

BLOG 200 with some advice sprinkled in

Bicentennial Blog as defined by Linda.   My first blog was 8-6-2012.  I think I have covered a lot of subjects in that time period and will continue to cover the ones that have biggest effect on me.  Well, today that is easy as pie.   I am in LAX or Los Angeles International Airport.  Holy cow is this place nuts!  

I flew in Monday on Delta and needed to switched to WestJet for my leg into Vancouver, Canada.  Well, you get to go outside and wander thru a parking garage and then worm your way to the terminal across the way for WestJet.  Security into the International terminal was unlike any I have seen anywhere.  No habla Ingles was the rule.  Basically no one spoke English or knew what was going on.  Just herds of people flowing up steps and into the queue.  PreChek--you don't get no stinking PreChek! Absolutely crazy,  and I know how to navigate this crap.  Chaos at its finest.     LAX is a very big airport.  I found out when we got on a bus to go to our plane which was parked out on the tarmac near the ocean.   Almost cake by the ocean, but foiled again.   We rode the bus about 3 or 4  miles before we reached our plane.  By,  then things had gotten a lot better.  About half the flight was returning from a weekend at Disney and that group was ready for a nap.  Monday was Family Day in Canada and that is a holiday for most.  I survived the experience,  but was I was left a little dazed.

Today I flew back into LAX again--moron.  I needed to get on a Southwest flight in terminal 1 ( I arrived in T2) and would have to run the gauntlet again in security--same chaos with more people involved this session.  I thought I was in a Ground Hog Day time warp.  How does this place operate??  I had lunch at California Kitchens and asked about the security mess and the answer was--"Oh it was pretty good today"!  I may never return.  The pizza was good at CK, but not worth that much crazy to eat pizza.

If I need to go to Vancouver I will work another angle.  I had some conversations with the flight attendants on WestJet and they will be running a direct flight from BNA to Calgary starting in May and I can connect to Vancouver from there.  I like the sound of that.  It eliminates this chaos and keeps me on the 737 planes which I really like.   On the trip today, it was about as rough as I have ever been through.  We got pounded for about 10 solid minutes and later again for 5 more minutes.  It was pull them belts tight, shut your eyes and hang on to your lunch.   I cannot imagine trying to ride a RJR thru that stuff.  

LAX-- be warned, it is absolutely nuts.

I am about as ready as I can be for the meet this week end.  I did stretch and warm up Tuesday and I will do that again tonight when I get to Albuquerque.   Nothing is hurting and I hope to keep it that way.  A lot of rest this week.  No beer this week, I drank a lot of water in the bars in Canada. That is a little strange, but I do not want any gout related excuses to show their ugly faces. 

I will write up the races this weekend.  I hope they are fun and I am competitive--we will find out soon.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Nationals in sight


I am on my way West today for a visit in Vancouver through LAX.  I have been flying since I was 18 years old and have at least 300,000 air miles and I have never been to LAX!   I guess I do not have  any need to go to Southern California.   But today, I will pop in for short visit, eat some lunch and continue on my way to Vancouver.  Right now I am over the Grand Canyon and the clouds are breaking up—one big ditch you got down there.  One the way to Vancouver form LAX, there was a lot of snow in the mountains.  Hopefully the drought conditions will subside this season.

I have the Masters Indoor Nationals coming up this weekend in New Mexico and I have been training as hard as I have for any meet. The last two weeks have been really hard.  I ran and went to the gym for 7 days in a row.  I knew I would have some off days when I went Tulsa and that is why I pushed for 7 days in a row.  Typical training is max of 3 days in a row running. But, I figured I would take a day off and continue my speed work at one of my favorite tracks in Owasso, OK after a days rest.  I hurried to the track after work in Tulsa and my legs were not going to have any of this running and literally refused to go!  I was just stunned, I had never had a refusal like this before.   My knees were just too painful, I guess, and my stride was totally junk.  I did not try any more, I just walked 1.5 miles and called it a night.  I ended up taking off four days and I still was not feeling that peppy when I got back to the track.    If I really work my legs hard, they will recover and be better than ever—I hope that scenario does play out.  Seven days of leg work is way too much and I think I will be able to remember that going forward.  

My last three visits to the local track in Brentwood over this last weekend were on windy days and they were tough conditions to get anything serious done for training.  I used my parachute one day ( I had to use some tape to take out some hold back)  and ran into the wind the other days.  You really have to concentrate on form and swing the arms hard to get anything going while running into a 20 MPH wind.  I worked hard on some shorter—100,200 –sprints and did OK.  I pushed as hard as I could and did not get any lactic acid to form, but I was whipped.  I think my conditioning is good and I will let it rip Friday—not worry about fatigue—just fly.  Plus,  we will be at 5200 feet and the air density is great for speed and shitty for recovery.  I will worry about that pain after the race.

I have been trying to get the weight back down and I should be able to run at 195 pounds this weekend. This summer I will be even lower, but getting weight off in the winter is tough to do.

Linda it made it to the grand baby shower this last weekend in Wisconsin.  2 months to go and everything is on track for a healthy grandbaby which will be named   June Rosemary.  We already have a Rosemary and a June on the Allen side of the family and it is nice to carry on some classic names. Linda and I are just as ready as the parents!