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Friday, November 17, 2017

2018 Schedule

2018 Schedule:

I registered for three sprint triathlons next year (March, April, and October).  

I'm still on the fence about the two-day 150 mile Bike for MS event (in May) due to the upcoming sprint triathlon schedule and absolutely scared to death of the Hotter Than Hell Hundred event (August), lol.  I've heard some rumors...  TBD.

I'll post more later regarding training plans, nutrition, and gear reviews etc.  Triathlon training will begin in December but I will continue to accumulate road mileage until then.

Thanks for following, we are really excited to get back into outdoor events!

Happy swimming/biking/running and God bless!
 "Fight the good fight, finish the race, and always keep faith"
 2 Timothy 4:7

Monday, November 13, 2017

I'm back!

It's been a very long time since my last post, but I have some important and exciting updates regarding my previous injury (right plantar fascia tear), upcoming events, and equipment changes.

Injury Report Update
As my family and close friends know, I have been pretty miserable since my plantar fascia tear back in the summer of 2014 (during a training run).  I spent several months going through physical therapy and rehabilitation but opted out of surgery (high risk, little reward).  Thankfully, I found the folks at Choctaw Physical Therapy (Choctaw, OK) and met Dr. Shawn Wallace, who was licensed in the art of Dry Needling (pictured below).  Up until that point I had never heard of dry needling but I gave it a try.  After several excruciating months of dry needling therapy and rehabilitation, we made progress on the plantar fascia tear.  Subsequent MRI's revealed that the tear was healed!  There was obvious evidence of scarring tissue, but it was healed to the point where my foot didn't hurt when I would walk - AMEN!  

Dry Needling Therapy

Fast forward two years later (and 40lbs), I found myself at the lowest point that I have ever been both physically and emotionally.  I transitioned into a new career and moved our family back home to Texas.  This was a difficult transition for us, but it was no excuse for me getting that out of shape!  So, about two or three months ago, I made the decision to get my ass back in gear.  I began riding my hybrid bike about 3-4 times per week at distances ranging from 8-20 miles.  Cycling is great exercise, especially when you're peddling around a heavy bike such as a 2013 Trek Gary Fisher 8.3 Dual Sport lol (pictured below).  I am currently converting this bike into a Touring Bike for future self-sustained bicycling tours (more to follow).  I love this bike and it has treated me well.  But it is no road bike!  

My 2013 Trek Gary Fisher 8.3 Dual Sport (Graphite and Black)

I developed a love-hate relationship with cycling back in high school.  Back then, I was riding a 1990 Schwinn Le Tour.  Unfortunately, that bike was stolen my junior year (and I couldn't afford to get a new road bike).  I bought a newer road bike many years later while stationed in Offutt AFB, NE a 2003 Trek 1200 (pictured below).  I rode this bike for about 9 years before selling it back in 2012.  The 1200 was largely responsible for getting me back to form after my first knee surgery in 2005 (torn ACL).  I loved that bike, it took me everywhere!  I once road it 72 miles (which is still my longest ridden distance).  

My 2003 Trek 1200, sold in 2012 (Baja Blue)

2017 Specialized Roubaix Comp
So, the Trek Hybrid Dual Sport wasn't cutting it for efficient road riding and training so it was time for me to get another road bike.  Welcome the 2017 Specialized Roubaix Comp (pictured below), which is by far the MOST comfortable road bike I have EVER ridden!  I was originally in the market for a Trek Domane but I had the opportunity to test ride the Roubaix and was sold immediately!  The Roubaix (designed and engineered in partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies) employs a vertical compliance system like no other.  

This bike features a full carbon frame, front fork, and seat post.  The handlebars are alloy, but they are extremely light and comfortable.  The Specialized proprietary front Future Shock offers up to 20mm of front end compliance while the rear CG-R ("Cobble Gobbler") carbon seat post provides an amazing level of rear compliance.  This combination improves the overall smoothness, speed, and comfort!  It's mazing how the front shock keeps the front wheel on the ground through anything the bumpy road offers.  If you haven't ridden one, go to your nearest bike shop and demo a Specialized Roubaix immediately!  

2017 Specialized Roubaix Comp (Satin Carbon/Gallardo Orange/Charcoal)

Front Future Shock 

Shimano 505 Hydraulic Disc Brakes 

Shimano Ultegra group set with rear Shimano 105 11 speed cassette (11-32t) 

Praxis crankset and Shimano Ultegra front derailleur (50/34t) and Shimano 105 pedals

Phenom Comp saddle on Specialized CG-R FACT carbon seatpost 

Light and Motion's Urban 500 front LED bike light 

Specialized Speedzone Sport cyclocomputer 

Light and Motion's rear ELD Vibe bike light

Specialized Hover Comp alloy handlebar and Shimano RS505 shift levers

Turbo Pro 700x26mm tires 

Again, I'm absolutely pleased with this bike!  I've owned it for two weeks and have logged over 140 miles riding it on a variety of roads.  I've dropped nearly 20 lbs since I began riding again, and it won't be long until I get back into prime form again.  I plan to upgrade the bar tape and tires (after these wear down of course).  I may also add aero bars soon too.  I'm far from the 18-20 mph average speed from my "younger" days but I am currently able to maintain 17mph average pace (my goal is eventually 20 mph pace, but that may take a while to achieve).  I also plan on taking this road bike out on a two-day 150 mile ride (May 2018) and the Hotter than Hell hundred 100 mile ride (August 2018).  Lol, this one may prove to be one of the most challenging events I've ever done (if I can get through summer training, lol).  

I have also been able to ride 10 or 12 miles (on weekly maintenance days) then immediately run a mile (while maintaining a 9 minute mile pace).  My recent (long-day) ride of 30 miles was one of my best rides in a very long time!  Both my legs and foot (plantar fascia) held up great!  I drove out to the Texas Motor Speedway and rode six 5 mile loops around Victory Circle Road.  It is much safer to ride my longer rides away from everyday vehicle traffic.  I miss our time in Ohio, where I would use the Creekside Trail system (a converted railroad track) between Dayton and Xenia.  I'd often run and ride my long events because it was protected from vehicle traffic.  Where we live now in Texas, it is difficult to find nearby protected road bike circuits (aside from Texas Motor Speedway of course).  Anyways, below is a screenshot of my last 30 mile ride out at TMS...  Which leads me into my next topic: my new fitness tracker.

30 miles @ 1:46:57

New Fitness Tracker 
A couple of years ago I was in the market for a new fitness tracker (my Garmin 610 was getting "old").  I was tired of using a gps-device and a separate device for music (I have to have music to get me through the long rides/runs).  I was originally looking into the Tom Tom Spark Cardio + Music, but I am glad that I held off on that because I was able to get a Fitbit Ionic.  I previously owned a Fitbit Charge HR 2 and it helped me get back into fitness tracking.  Unfortunately, the Fitbit Charge HR's gps capability was beyond deplorable.  It synchronized gps position through your smartphone, which is not reliable (my HR paired with my Samsung S6 NEVER worked!).  The Fitbit Ionic is an all-in-one device capable of independent gps function (which is amazingly precise by the way) and offers music capability too with bluetooth headphones.  Downloading music to the Ionic is a "challenge" (which I don't want to go into detail yet).  It works, but it's just a pain (not as easy like an iPod).

Fitbit Ionic

The nice things about the Fitbit Ionic: the gps accuracy and variety of fitness tracking.  I am able to track a wide variety of events such as swimming (yes it is waterproof to 50m), hiking, running, biking, cardio, etc.  It also has an incorporated coaching program that allows you to follow guided coaching programs through a multitude of exercises.  The device also allows you to sync weather and allows you to pay for products (but I am not using the pay functions yet).  What sold me on the Fitbit brand was the level of detail regarding fitness tracking.  My older Garmin 610 was probably one of the best gps fitness trackers when I bought it (back in 2012) but it fails in many areas that the newer Ionic succeeds (newer devices are like smart watches, really, and I'm sure Garmin has something similar but I have converted to Fitbit now).  I am able to track weight, trends, daily food and caloric intake, heart rate, accumulated steps and sleep data.  I love this device.

Another wonderful feature is the simplicity.  For example, I am using a Samsung S6 smartphone and Fitbit app.  The Ionic syncs via bluetooth (my old Garmin 610 required a bluetooth antennae plugged into a laptop or computer).  After syncs, I simply goto the Fitbit app's dashboard and select a variety of pages or functions to review or share.  The above picture is an example of screenshots taken from my Fitbit app's dashboard from my 30 mile bike ride.  I can then edit the screenshot and load it into a grid-style photo app then share it to any social media outlet of my choosing.  It literally takes me around a minute to screenshot everything, edit, then share!

I am very pleased with the Fitbit Ionic.  But I feel obligated to let you know of some of the bad things about this device...  I feel that the Ionic requires more frequent charging than my previous Charge HR 2 did.  I could get an entire week out of my Charge HR 2 but my Ionic needs a charge about every 3 days.  Not a big deal at all (since I don't usually sleep with a watch).  But if you like to sleep with your watch to get sleep data...  Don't count on this device to last long before a required charge.  Also, I haven't taken it into the pool yet because I am scared of it getting damaged.  Yes, it is waterproof up to 50m.  I am also worked about it getting into salt water too (which I'll explain later).  It's just too expensive of an investment for me to worry about, I guess I just need to get over it and wear it into the pool (or shower).  Lastly, the apps are few and far between.  Fitbit will surely add more apps as time progresses, but launch applications were very limited.  I am unsure of how well the pay security protocols are, so if you are looking into paying with this device research that before you use that function.

Upcoming Events
Finally, I am proud to announce that I am starting to get back into casual sporting events and group activities.  I am registering for a sprint triathlon (March 2018) which includes a short 300m swim, 12.8 mile bike ride, and 5k.  This should be a good start for me to get my feet wet (lol, I'm not a strong swimmer).  The longest I've ever swam was about a quarter mile, and I remember how much of a struggle that was for me (that's why I joined the USAF and not the Navy, lol).  Well, I have always wanted to compete in triathlons regularly - cycling and running weren't intimidating to me (like swimming).  I am also planning on registering for a two-day 150 mile bike ride (May 2018).  This ride is for a good cause, it is to help raise awareness and funds for Multiple Sclerosis.  I once rode 72 mies, so this two-day event will more than likely be my longest distance (if I can finish).  I am also contemplating a 100 mile ride next summer, the Hotter than Hell Hundred (August 2018)...  One of my college roommates completed this before and I have always wanted to ride a "century" (I only wish it weren't in the dead of summer, lol).

So, tons of updates but the good news is I am getting back into form and training again!  I doubt I will ever be able to run like I once did but I will take it slow and steady.  I will post more when time allows and drop more reviews on current gear I now use (bike accessories, clothes, etc).  As always, thank you for your continued support and encouragement.  I wouldn't be able to do these things without the wonderful support of my loving family, to include my amazing wife and four children!  I also owe a great bit of gratitude to my close friends that have been there with me through the good and bad...  I appreciate ya!  God bless!

Happy swimming/biking/running!
 "Fight the good fight, finish the race, and always keep faith"
 2 Timothy 4:7