Sunday, February 28, 2010

ConocoPhillips 10K Rodeo Run Race Report

This was my 4th running race of 2010 already.  It was the ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run 10K.  Every year Houston hosts the largest Rodeo in the country.  Literally millions of people come to enjoy concerts, BBQ, games and off course, rodeo.  This is the race that kicks off the festivities and it is followed by a parade. Over 12,500 racers participated in the 10K and 5K fun run. To the right is a picture that Annie snapped about a .5 mile before the finish.  Even though it was only about 45 degree you can see from my shirt that I was working hard ... passing an elderly dude!
This race was slated to begin at 9:30am, which is a welcomed later start time giving it a chance to warm up.  Once the sun came up over the city skyline it really helped with the otherwise chilly morning.  In the past I have moaned about people slotting themselves at the wrong pace markers.  With over 12,000 racers I figured this would be a problem again so I lined up at the 5:30/mi pace marker (yes, I am aware of the hypocrisy of slotting myself wrong..hehe).  I was probably about 40 yards from the starting line and as I looked around (runner stereotyping - we all do it - leave me alone!) noticed that probably 90% of the people were once again slotted incorrect.  With the shear volume of people in the streets it would be impossible to even attempt to move up.  We were packed like sardines!

The gun goes off and it takes about 45 seconds to get to the starting line.  From here I put my head (and shoulder) down and take off.  Yes, I clipped and side-swiped a couple of people and make no apologies for doing this - tough love - maybe next time you will start were you are suppose to!  I was not alone either because some very fast world-class runners were in this race.

My first two miles were done at 6:46 and 6:44 respectively.  This is about 15-20 seconds faster than I am accustomed but I was still feeling pretty good.  Then as mile 3 began the course took us to an overpass of Hwy 59.  This thing was long and steep.  The uphill portion lasted about a .5 mile.  The down hill was much more gradual because it took us to another uphill.  This wasn't as bad but was still pretty steep.  It really slowed my pace as mile 3 was 7:15.   My 5K split was 20:50, so this is moving for me!

Then at about the 3.5 mile mark my stomach started to cramp - bad.  Not side stitch cramping - GI cramping!  Really I cannot think of a reason why this happened?  I was well hydrated and my nutrition was the same as it has always been.  But it was so uncomfortable that at the mile 4 water station I actually stopped and dry heaved over a garbage can - nothing came up.  However, I did garner some very disgusted looks from the teenage-aged volunteers manning the water station - so I had that going for me!  At this point I figured it was only about 2 miles to go and I could HTFU and just finish.  Without getting all gross and descriptive on you - since the vomiting didn't work - lots of "clinching" was done for the last 2 miles!

Mile 4 split was 7:53 (stopping didn't help!).  Mile 5 was 7:59.  Mile 6 was 7:41.  The final .21 was at a 6:16 pace.  For some reason the pain subsided some with about a mile to go and I was able to get a nice kick to finish strong.  Hello finish line and hello port-a-potty.

My final time was 45:37 this is a 7:20 average pace and was a new personal record surpassing the 46:20 that I did in 2009.  Even though it is a PR I am a little disappointed in my results. I really think if my stomach would have cooperated I could have done this in 44:00 - 44:30.  Heck, I wasted 30 seconds dry heeving.  But, this is a good learning experience because it shows that things do not always go as planned and you need to sometimes suck it up and make decisions on the course.

Overall, this was a very well done race. The post race party had a ton of things to do.  My friends came and brought their kids and they had a bunch of games for them to play.  Sponsors had tons of drinks and fruit and bagels.  Just really well put together event.

Here are my final stats:

Chip Time:  45:37
Overall Rank:  333/5520 (top 5%)
Gender Rank: 280/2818 (top 10%)
Age Group Rank:  44/478 (top 9%)

Race Day Pics:
Would love to see my time with this guy running behind me!

Pre-Race Crowd

Newly shaved headed Jeff at Start line

Bayou Place - start location

Only in Texas!

Annie and I pre-race.  My "toss" sweatshirt.

This is George (aka - Tater). We are dog sitting him this weekend!

Thanks for Reading,


Friday, February 26, 2010

10K Tomorrow and H20 Audio Trial Today ...


Long week my friends.  Very tired and very glad February is almost done.

I just got back from the pool and tried out the H2O Audio earphones.  It worked very good and I was impressed with how well they actually stayed in my ears.  Might have to go download some good audio-book thrillers for the longer swim days!

Tomorrow I am running in the ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run 10K it is down by Minute Made Park and supposedly 13,000 runners are participating.  That is huge for a 10K!  My PR for a 10K is 46:20 but at that time I was running 35+ miles per week.  But my overall fitness is stronger now so we will see if I can beat that.  My plan is to start toward the front so I do not have to play the zig-zag game.

After the race we have to get home because we are dog sitting a little English bulldog puppy.  My pugs are not going to like that at all.  But once they settle down I am going to try and get in a couple of hours on the trainer.  Should be a good day and our weather is supposed to be around 60 degrees.

Thanks for Reading,


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Swimming just got a little less sucky ...

What is the most mind numbing, bang your head against the wall boring activity?
  1. Running on the Treadmill
  2. Riding on the Trainer
  3. Swimming Lap after Lap after Lap
Pretty sure most of you would vote for the Treadmill and before I became a triathlete would have agreed.  But now that swimming has become part of my life swimming laps wins the contest.  Well, today lap swimming just got a little less sucky ... when these showed up on my doorstep:
What the heck is that contraption you ask? 

They are waterproof headphones that attach to your goggles.  Insert your iPod Shuffle into these suckers and you have music -- while swimming -- freaking genius!

Here are some pics of how it works (yes, I am aware that I look like a Chia Pet and need a hair cut):

My Swimming Goggles

H20 Audio Head Phones

With iPod Shuffle in the back (little silver thing) of H2O Audio

The company that makes these suckers is H2O Audio.  I just got them so have not had a chance to try them out.  I heard about them at the highly entertaining FatCyclist blog.  They cost $99 but Fatty has a discount code on his site so you can get them for $79. 

The system is supposed to come with 7 different sized ear-buds so you can find the right fit.  However, these were missing from my box when I opened them up today.  I left a message for H20 Audio about the missing ear-buds so we shall see how they handle it! Will let you all know how H20 Audio's customer service rates very soon.

Today was my rest day and it is feeling pretty darn good.  I have been busting my hump at work and am quite fatigued and feel a cold coming on so this was a good day to put myself on the bench.  Back at it tomorrow with a swim and bike.

Thanks for Reading,


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Week 11, Day 2: 60 minutes Bike

The schedule called for 60 minutes and that is what it got.

I played a little game with the trainer today.  I started at 5:30 which is the exact time "The Office" begins on TBS.  Every time a commercial break happened I jumped to the big ring and just mashed at an RPE 10 level.  When the kids from Dunder Mifflin came back it would be back to the small ring and an RPE 4 range. Then "The Office" is on Fox again at 6:00 so I just repeated.  These are the things that need to be done to keep my sanity on the trainer - even if it is somewhat insane?  As soon as a commercial would come on I'd yell at my Pug, who lays next to the bike every ride, "GO! GO!".  Every time he would look up at me like I was a nut-job.  Such memories these hours on the trainer are creating!

Couple Thoughts:

- Watching American Idol right now.  Not really enjoying it that much.

- It is freaking freezing in Houston right now.  I am all for Congress investigating Al Gore.

- Lost is on right now but I like to wait like 20 minutes to watch so I can skip the commercials.  The DVR maybe the best invention in the last 10 years.

- Thinking if I do the 10K Rodeo Run this weekend that I am going to race the hell out of it.  My last 10K was done in 46:20 and I raced that hard.  Thinking I can do it in 44ish?  I've taken one race easy (Sugarland 1/2 Marathon - 1:55:xx) because I didn't want to "lose training time because of recovery" ... got a new perspective on that - Races are for racing...biatches.  But I reserve the right to channel my inner John Kerry and flip-flop on this as I see fit!

- Do any of you guys use tempur-pedic neck pillows  I tried one at the mall this weekend and it seemed awesome, but it is like $85?  If that type of cash is going to be dropped I'd love to hear a positive review or two?

- How's bout LaDanian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook both being released.  IMO, very solid move by both teams.  Youth is king in the NFL!

Thanks for Reading,


Week 11, Day 1: 90 minutes Indoor Trainer (27 miles)

According to my training plan this is to be a big week on the bike.  Here is how the numbers break down:

Mon - 90 minutes Bike
Tues - 60 minutes Bike
Wed - 75 minutes Bike
Thurs - Rest
Fri - 60 minutes Run + 30 minutes Swim
Sat - 90 minutes Bike + 30 minutes Run
Sun - 150 (2.5hrs) minutes Bike

Totals:  30 min Swim; 7.5 hrs Bike; 1.5 hrs Run

This is actually a very good week for me to be stuck indoors. Here in Houston we are supposed to get snow tonight and into tomorrow.  The temperature is going to get down into the low 30's and we could see a couple of inches?  I really do not even know how to react to this weather news, it is almost laughable at this point of the winter. 

On Saturday I might run in a 10K downtown.  The Houston Rodeo begins this week and they have a 10k run by Minute Made Park.  My buddy and I are going to try and do it but the online registration is closed so I have to stopped by the sponsoring running store and see if we can still sign up.  If we can't get in it is not a big deal it is just fun to race!

I had a pretty decent Trainer session.  The plan called for keeping it around an RPE of 3-4.  I drifted out of these zones to got higher a few times but overall stayed with the plan. 

Watched a movie called The Taking of Pelham 123.  It starred Denzel Washington and John Travolta and was about a group of criminals (Travolta) that hijack a NYC subway train.  It was an OKAY movie (2.5/5 stars).  Travolta is just beginning to look like a freak to me anymore.  He had a shaved head and goatee in this one and was screaming and ranting throughout the entire movie.  Seemed rather forced and unnatural.  But Denzel was his normal convincing self and Tony Soprano played the NYC Mayor well.  The movie had a couple decent action scenes and enough suspense and drama to keep me occupied while sitting on the bike, and that is all I can really ask for!

Today is going to be a long day of work for me but when I get home I'll put the butt down on my Adamo seat for another hour of trainer fun.

Thanks for Reading,


Monday, February 22, 2010

Week 10 Volume Recap of HIM Training Program

This is the halfway point of the HIM training program from BT.  And being that I am still a relative newbie to the triathlon world my body is handling the volume much better than I initially thought possible.  Last year I just did Sprint Tri training and then some higher volume running months (30-40mpw) once October started.  My average week would be 4-5 hours of training at the most.  This low number had me tired but it was a good transition coming off of the P90X workouts which took 6 or so hours a week but had numerous pauses and breaks during the workouts.

I really think that a corner was turned with my endurance training when a couple of 100 + mile months were reached running.  My body was learning to adapt to the higher mileage and this was done at a gradual rate so that injury never became a concern.  Physically I learned that my body can handle the volume but more importantly I now know I can handle it mentally.  As a matter of fact, over the last few weeks I have felt like doing more training.  I've tried to stick to the plan and will do this until after my April 24th Tri but after that I might try to bump the hours to 14-17 per week to see how it feels.

Here is my volume for last week:

Planned Volume:
Swim - 4hrs 30mins
Bike -  2hrs
Run -  1hr
Planned Totals - 7hrs 30mins

Actual Volume:
Swim - 2hrs 15mins (4300 meters)
Bike - 4hrs 26mins (79.80 miles)
Run - 2hrs  (13.25 miles)
Actual Totals -  8hrs 41mins (93.05 miles + 4300 meters)

Thanks for Reading,


P.s... I have a buddy, Mike, who has recently taken up running.  He is blogging about this at:  Please stop by and give him some positive mojo.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Reverse Tri Workout Day ... 10 mile Run + 22.8 mile Bike + 1500 meters Swim

The plan that is being followed is a 1/2 Iron Man training program that I found on  So far this plan has been very straight forward and easy to follow.  My results from the plan have been very good as well so a certain amount of Trust have been earned.  When the instructions for today said 30 minutes swim, 60 minutes bike, and 30 minutes run my initial thoughts were to just do the workouts in the normal s/b/r order, but then I read this at the bottom of the instructions:

Reverse tri order, back to back if you can schedule it.
Being that this program has gained my trust I thought, "what the heck?' and decided to give it a try.  I am really not sure what the actually training benefit of doing the workouts in reverse order may be?  Possibly just to mix things up a little or to see how your body responds starting the swim fatigued.  Not really sure?  Oh, and I was feeling extremely strong and fresh today so I tacked on some addition time (extra 1.5 hours) and distance:  90 minutes run (10.04 miles), 75 minutes bike (22.8 miles), and 45 minutes swim (1500 meters).

Just to do things a little different I did a VLOG (video log) recapping my day after each workout.  I just watched them and found that they are quite boring, but maybe someone will enjoy.  I have zero video editing skills so these are unedited and at times shaky.  They have that "Paranormal Activity"/"Blair Witch" feel to them - expect without the demonic possessions and stuff.

Picture #1 -  Me looking fresh and ready to go right before run:

Video #1 - After 10 mile run.  Looking pretty fresh still:

Video #2 - On the Trainer:

Video #3 - After the trainer ride, looking pretty beat:

Video #4 - After Swim, looking better than I feel now:

Yes, it appears I grew a beard from the first pic to the final video.  That is not uncommon for this hairy SOB.

Overall I had a really good time pushing my limits.  Normally on longer training days I will keep the heart rate low and work on building base.  But not today!  The pace on the run was 8:55/mi.  On the bike I followed a Race Day DVD and did a number of intervals and big chain work.  In the pool I ended with some hard intervals in the 1:55/100 M range.  Right now my legs are feeling a little tight but I usually feel this after I run more than 10 miles.

Good training day.  Tomorrow is going to be an AM swim and then an easy PM recovery ride on the trainer.

Thanks for Reading and I hope you enjoyed the videos,


Friday, February 19, 2010

Big Weekend Planned

Yes, I am still here!  It is uncharacteristic of me to be away from the blog for this many days but I was pulling some 15-18 hour work days and the blogging suffered.  Luckily, the training did not suffer to bad.

Pretty exhausted after the long week but I am relaxing tonight and preparing for a butt kicking this weekend.  Tomorrow is going to be a reverse Tri day - 10 mile run, 1 hour ride, and 1 hour swim!

Sunday is going to be another long swim day and ride day.

That is all.

Thanks for Reading,


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Week Nine Recap of HIM Training Plan and Gross Pic

How'd I do last week?

Planned Volume:
Swim - 2 hrs
Bike - 2 hr 30 mins
Run - 4 hr 30 mins
Planned Total Volume - 9 hours

Actual Volume:
Swim - 2 hrs (3000 meters)
Bike - 3 hr 35 mins (64.50 miles)
Run -  3 hr 27 mins (24.71 miles)
Actual Total Volume - 9 hours 2

This week was right on the plan as far as volume goes.  The bike got an extra hour over the run.  Part of this is because I lost a run day on Thursday because of work.  Saturday was an off day but I added a bike instead of run.  Another part is that I am a stronger runner than cyclist right now.  So, if it is a toss up I will jump on the bike!  My race in April is an Oly Distance Tri (Even though I am doing a HIM Training program).  The Olympic distance is a 10k run and I am confident this can be done in 46-48 minutes, even more confident after Sunday's 7:44 pace in the Half Mary.  With that being said, bike and swim need the most work.

My legs were feeling very good this morning.  Much more fresh than I figured they would be!  Annie is not so lucky, she has been limping around in complete soreness for the last two days.  I feel bad for her.  She is using me as her servant so I don't feel that bad.  This morning I got up early and jumped on the trainer and watched Jack Bauer on the Tivo.  I actually felt bad for the Russian gangsters who were torturing Jack because we all knew they were going to die a very painful death - and they did.  This morning was a solid hour.  I did big ring intervals with every commercial, fun little game to battle the boredom of the trainer.  After work I went to the pool and swam for about an hour.  Worked on some drills and did 4x100 intervals and then some slow practice on my technique.  Ended up doing 1500 meters (?? lost count a few times).   Good day.

Okay, this next section is gross.  You may remember the Nasty Blister that I got on my heel during the Texas Trail Run 50K.  Well, it reappeared this weekend and I took a pic....yeahhhh!!!

I stuck the Garmin next to it so you could have an estimation of the size of the blister.  The funny thing is that it does not hurt at all. If it wasn't so ugly you wouldn't even know it is there.

Not sure what to do about this reoccurring blister.  I use body glide on the foot and it has now happened with two different types of shoes (trail and running)?  Has to be something about my stride that is causing this?  Anyway, thought I would share with my blog family! 

Tomorrow is a scheduled 30 minute swim.  That is all? Sometimes this training plan is too easy (-:

Thanks for Reading,


ps -- might have errors in this post, Lost just finished Tivo'ing and I need to watch it ... Lost is awesome so far this year!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Annie's Austin Marathon Race Report (...and Pics)

Today is the first Guest Blogger Day at the Carrot.  Those shoes will be filled by my lovely wife Annie who competed in her first Marathon yesterday.  Without further adieu here is Annie's Race Report:

So as Jeff said, we got to Austin Saturday afternoon and headed straight to the race expo to pick up our packets.  Driving into the parking garage was a madhouse so I had no idea what to expect when we got inside.  We got inside and it was crazy, but not as bad as I thought.  We were able to meet up with Jeff's cousins and head over to pick up our race packets and backpacks.  After that we walked around a bit and checked out some of the booths.  I ended up buying a headband that was suppose to stay in place and be super absorbent  (more on that later).  With not much else to do at the expo we all decided to head out.  Jeff's cousins headed home and we headed to the hotel to check in and meet up with our friend that came to support us.

We met up with Elizabeth and Jim and scrambled to find a place to eat dinner since we didn't have reservations anywhere.  We were able to find a great place and had an awesome pre-race dinner.  We headed back to the hotel, hung out for a bit and then around 8:30 headed to our room to hit the sack.  Being that I really didn't sleep well for most of the week before the race(had nightmares and crazy dreams about the marathon), I was really hoping for a decent nights sleep!  I think I finally really fell asleep around midnight!

The alarm went off at 4:30am and we got out of bed to start getting ready for the race.  For people who know me, getting up this early on the first alarm is an accomplishment in itself as I am NOT a morning person.  Overall with running this has been one of my biggest obstacles to overcome, waking up early for training runs and races.  Anyway, after getting up I took a quick shower, got all my stuff together and got ready for breakfast.  Now, I don't think Jeff has mentioned this about me before but I am very OCD about my running routine.  Mind you, I am not this way with anything else in my life.  At home before a run I have a whole wheat bagel with natural peanut butter and a small cup of coffee.  So naturally I needed to have this same breakfast this morning.  I brought my whole wheat bagel and peanut butter from home with me.  I headed down to the hotel breakfast to toast my bagel then back up to the room to eat and grab the rest of my gear.  I headed downstairs, met up with the rest of the crew and we headed over to the starting line.

Jeff took off to find his spot as I headed to my pace group.  My goal was to finish the race in 4:30:00, so that is the pace group I positioned myself with.  When the gun went off, well we slowly walked to the finish line.  When we finally got there, 9 mins later I hit my Garmin and finally started running.  Unlike Jeff, the people who had slotted themselves in the wrong spot didn't bother me so much.  Maybe it was because this was my first big race and I was busy taking in all of my surroundings, or maybe it was because I wanted to make sure I didn't let adrenaline take over and start out to fast, either way I really enjoyed the start of the race.  I was really having a great running day, in a great groove and was keeping my pace, despite the fact that my knee started bothering about 2.5 miles in.  I also had to go to the bathroom, but every port-a-potty line was so long.  Finally around mile 4.1 I spotted a shell station and thought why not.  I popped in and took a quick bathroom break.  I was very glad I did this as I later found out Jeff's cousin spent 20 mins in a bathroom line!  

So far the hills were gradual and not that bad.  This all changed at mile 8.  This hill really snuck up on you as you turn a corner.  At this point in the race my knee was really bothering me and I was really wondering how I was going to finish.  About half-way up the hill I ran past one of the wheel chair participants and decided to HTFU and keep going.  I told myself over and over that my knee didn't hurt and kept going.  I was still running, but having a hard time keeping the 10min pace I wanted to.  The next couple of miles were pretty uneventful.  At mile 10.5 is where the half marathoners split off from the marathoners.  It was at this point where I really realized what I had signed up for.  The next big hill for me was around mile 12.5.  Luckily as this point I met up with another runner and we ran the next couple of miles together which was a big help to me.  

My next turning point was at mile 19 where I had to use the restroom again, luckily the line wasn't too bad this time.  I was in line and some guy from the water station came over to give us some encouragement.  I asked him what time it was and he told me 10:45.  I realized at that point I was not going to meet my time goal.  I think this is where I hit my wall.  After using the bathroom I freaked out and had to pull it together to start breathing normally again.  I pulled it together about halfway through the mile and kept going.  It was also at this point that I stopped at one of the medic stations to see if they had any biofreeze.  They didn't, but they did have Tylenol which I gladly took!

After mile 20, which was the most I had run in my training I pretty much just kept telling myself, make it one more mile, you've come this far.  At the next mile, I repeated myself, and so it went.  I also didn't stop at any of the other water stations.  I used them during the beginning of the race so I could have my hydration belt to use in the last miles and that worked out very well.  At mile 24 I spotted that 5 hour pacer and decided my new goal would be to come in a head of that group.  I kicked it up, pushed hard and kept going.  Coming around the corner down the final stretch I pushed all my pain aside and picked it up.  It was at this point that I saw my cheering section of Jeff, Jim and Elizabeth.  That was the final boost I needed.  I crossed the finish at 5:01:31.  Not what I wanted, but in the end it was a great race.  I am proud that I finished, and that the only time I walked was through the water stations.  As beat up as my body feels right now, I will go back next year, hopefully with a healthy knee, to beat my current time.

Oh, and BTW, the stupid head band that was supposed to stay in place slipped off 3 times -- money well spent.

One more thing, I want to get a tattoo to signify my accomplishment and was wondering if any of you guys have seen anything cool or have any ideas?

Thanks, Annie

Here are some pictures from the weekend:
At the Expo with my Cousins Bonnie and Erika
Annie and Jeff the day before the race
Big ass steer at The Driskell Hotel Bar
Our friends Jim and Elizabeth and baby Walt
Annie and I with Bonnie and Erika before the race
Annie and I right before the race
This was parked on Congress and 6th street - love college towns!
Finish right in front of State Capital
Jim and Walt getting ready to Cheer for Annie
Annie right after she finished
Finisher's Medal
Annie looking strong at the last mile
Annie and her friend Susan

Thanks for Reading!

Chocolate #9 Agave Energy Gel Contest Results ... And the Winner is ...

We had a total of 31 entries for the box of Chocolate #9 Agave Energy Gel.

In order to select a winner I seeded everyone by a number in the order that you registered.  If you had three chances you had three numbers.  If you had one chance you had one number.  Quite simple.  Then the numbers were plugged into and the winning number was 17.  Which was:

Stefanie from The Princess Runner

Congrats Stefanie and I hope you enjoy the Chocolate #9!

If you read this post please send me an email at:  jeffirvin at gmail dot com and let me know where to send the box to.

If in the event that we do not here from Stefanie in the next 48 hours her name will be removed and the numbers will be randomly generated again.

Thanks for playing everyone and stay tuned for a couple more raffles coming up.

I also have another new product review coming up this week!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Austin Half Marathon Race Report

After a fun couple of days we are back home and relaxing.  Annie completed the full marathon and I am very proud of her.  She had some issues with her knee but sucked it up and finished strong.  She will put up a race report later.

We went to Austin on Saturday morning and went directly to the Race Expo to get out swag.  It was extremely crowded but we ended up meeting up with my cousins and getting registered rather easily.  After that we went and checked into the hotel and found our friends Jim and Elizabeth.  They were at the Driskell Hotel bar on 6th and Congress and we meet them there.  This place was very cool.  Old and classic - my type of place. After that we went to dinner and then it was off to bed.

The alarm went off a 4:30am and we started our pre race routines.  We meet up with the crew in the hotel lobby around 5:30 and had some breakfast.  The forecast said the temperature at start time was going to be in the low 30's but when we walked out it was around 45 degrees - perfect weather!

Even though I never run hills and Austin has hills everywhere I decided that I was going to run hard and start fast.  Push the upper limit of my pace until the course made me stop.  Well, the gun went off and all the morons running 10 and 11 minute paces decided today they were going to run 3:20 marathons? What I mean by this is that people never know how to slot themselves.  If you are running the marathon and plan on finishing at 4:30 do not begin with the 3:30 pace group.  I spent the first three miles playing zig-zag around these people.  Don't get me wrong, I respect anyone who has the guts to go out and run, whether you are a 6 minute/mile runner or 14minute/mile runner -- just start where you are supposed to.  It is unfair to the other runners behind you.  My 5k split 25:25 - that should tell you how much I was slowed by this(end rant).

Now back to the race.  The hills were many and the hills were hard.  I absolutely loved them - the change in terrain was so cool.  It added a whole new mental dimension to running that I just don't get in the pancake flat terrain in the Houston area.  The worst hills were at mile 8 and at mile 12.2.  The last one my HR was at a nice steady 162 BPM at the base of this monster.  Within a few steps up this beast I looked at my Gamin and my HR was 185 BPM!  By the time I sauntered to the top I was beat.  Luckily the rest of the way in was a slight downhill to the finish.

Okay, onto the times.  With the hills I was hopeful that I could break the 1:50 mark.  About 3 miles into the race I wasn't feeling all that great but then around mile 5 I found my zone.  Here are my stats:

Chip Time 1:42:09
Overall Place 485 / 8482
Gender Place 377 / 3396
Division Place 74 / 595
5K Time 25:25
10M Time 1:18:31
Final Rank 485
Final Time 1:42:09

My pace for the race was 7:47/mile.  I am thrilled with how this race turned out.  I beat my half mary PR by 14 minutes and finished around the top 5%.  Less than a year ago I could barely hold a 10:00/mile pace in a 5K and now I am holding a 7:47/mile pace in a half marathon.  What has me really encouraged is that I could have pushed harder.  A few minutes were left on the course.  My Garmin has not been synced yet but I know for a fact that my splits were negative from about mile 5 to the finish. 

Overall this was just a great race.  Austin is a beautiful city and the volunteers and crowds were incredible.  We finished running right past the Texas State Capital building and this was just an awesome way to finish.  We cannot wait to do this race again next year!

My comfy bed is calling right now but I'll post some pictures tomorrow - we got some really good ones!

Thanks for Reading,


Friday, February 12, 2010

Week Nine, Day Five: 1.5 Hour Trainer + Austin Trip

**If you haven't registered to win the 24-Pk of Chocolate #9 Agave Energy Gel Click Here **

This will probably be my last chance to post until after the Austin 1/2 Mary on Sunday.  Annie and I plan on leaving tomorrow morning around 9AM.  It is about a 3 hour drive to Austin so we plan on hitting up some Cracker Barrel breakfast (they have turkey sausage and whole wheat french toast!!!) and then getting on our way.  Annie is looking forward to going to the race expo and then hanging out in Austin with our friends and family.

Unfortunately my parents were unable to make it in because of all the snow in Western PA.  My mom was going to walk the 1/2 but I guess old man winter had different plans.  She should bill Al Gore for the $75 non-refundable entry fee!  

Our race team is going to consist of our friends Elizabeth and Jim and my cousin Bonnie and her husband Rick and their daughter Erika.  Erika is a cross country runner for her high school team and she is going to try and keep up with me (or probably I will try and keep up with her) for the half.  Bonnie is going to run the half and will probably stay with Annie for the first 11 miles when the course splits and then Annie will go off on her own for the full 26.2.  I am going to carry a camera and hope to get a bunch of good shots.  

I am planning on starting with the 3:40 pace group for the race.  If anyone is going to be there I'll be the skinny guy with a long sleeve yellow compression shirt and a white running hat on.  Come by and say hello!

Also, on Monday morning I will tabulate all the entries for the Chocolate #9 contest and get the name of the winner out .

As for my training.  Yesterday was a leave at 7AM get home at 11PM work day.  Which means absolutely no training happened.  It was probably a good thing because when I woke up my body was feeling beat up from the volume of the last few days.  But today was much  better.  I was able to get in a hard 1.5 hours on the indoor trainer this evening.  And right as I finished my wonderful wife had brought home some whole wheat pizza and salad - it was glorious!

The plan for tomorrow is to get up early and get on the trainer again for at least 45 minutes.  I really wanted to go swim but my stupid gym doesn't open until 8AM on Saturday.  They suck.

Thanks for Reading,


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Week Nine, Day Three: 2000 Meters Swim + 6.01 Miles Run

Another solid workout day.  At 5pm I went to the pool and busted out 2000 meters - in an hours time.  I took it nice and slow and worked on form the entire time.  After that I hit Subway, grabbed a turkey footlong and ate it in traffic.  Got home, checked my work email and then had a long talk with myself about going on a run.

It was 35 degrees and was spitting sleet.  I really did not want to run in that weather but I decided to suck it up and go.  Ended up doing 6.01 miles in 55 minutes.   Good run.

Three days into this week and I have done three double workouts. Actually I have done double days on 4 of the last 5 days.  My body is still feeling pretty good and the legs are feeling fresh.  With the Austin 1/2 coming up on Sunday I was thinking about doing a little taper but on the run today I decided to screw that and just keep going.  Taper, schmaper.

My parents were supposed to fly into Houston tomorrow from Pittsburgh and were going to spend the next 5 days with Annie and me.  My mother was going to walk the half and we were going to meet up with my cousins and have a mini-family reunion.  Well, thanks to the recent bout of indisputable evidence of global warming in the North East all flights have been canceled and airports closed.  The earliest they would be able to get out of PIT would be on Monday.  That sucks because Annie and I were really looking forward to seeing them and we feel bad for my mom because she had been training and now has to miss the race. 

Tomorrow is going to be hard to get my work in.  I have a CE course from 6-9 tomorrow night and am book up all day long long.  I might have to move some things around and do more on Friday!

Thank for Reading,


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Week Nine, Day Two: Swim Lessons + 30 Minutes Trainer

**If you haven't registered to win the 24-Pk of Chocolate #9 Agave Energy Gel Click Here **

Okay, time to get back to the workouts.  On Sunday it was 18 miles on the bike and then I visited my old buddy Tony Horton and he led me through 16 grueling minutes of Ab Ripper X.  I forgot just how darn hard ARX can be.  I made it through every rep - had to stop at 40 on the mason twists.  Not too happy about that (wanted to do 50) but the vomit coming up my throat made me stop (you are welcome for that visual).

Monday morning was an hour and five minutes on the bike which was 19.5 miles.  It was a hard effort but I was feeling great afterwords.  After work Annie and I got into our run gear and ready to walk out the door and realized the sky looked like a heck of a storm was on the way.  I jumped on and not only was the radar map covered in red and yellow we had tornado and flood warnings - not exactly ideal running weather!  But not to deterred, we went to the gym (different gyms - long story).  I ended up doing 5.6 miles on the treadmill (yuk) in 50 minutes which is an easy 8:56 pace.  Another Good Day!

That brings us to today:  MY FIRST EVER SWIMMING LESSONS!  So, I am going to a place called FINS in The Woodlands.  I set up an individual lesson with the owner, Liam.  He has worked with Triathletes in the past.  We got started and he had me swim a few laps so he could see what he had to work with!  The good news was that he said I had a good base and really didn't need much work.  This to me was also the bad news because I am slow and in my mind if he didn't need to tweak too much than I might just be destined to always be slow!

After working on a few drills I was starting to feel rather "slippery" in the water.  By the end of the lesson I was feeling downright confident. He gave me some catchup drills to work on but really I just need to focus on my pull and keeping my elbows high. When this was done correctly I felt like a different swimmer - this is very exciting.  I'm going to alter my 1/2 IM Training Program and add a few extra swim workouts in to beat in the new muscle memory.  I am going back to see Liam at FINS again in 2 weeks to assess where I am and where I need to be. 

Also this evening while watching Lost I jumped on the trainer and rode for an easy 30 minutes.  My legs were feeling a little heavy after all the volume from the last couple of days and a light trainer ride always loosen me up.  Another solid day of working out!
  • is an excellent blog that has raised tons of $$$ for Cancer research.  Aside from that herculean effort it is also a very funny and informative read.  Mr. FatCyclist has decided to venture into the multi-sport universe and do an Ironman.  If you are a pure runner, swimmer, or cyclist and do not do Triathlon you probably think us Triathletes are an odd bunch of people. And Elden writes a pretty funny post describing how he is going to have to modify his behavior to become like us -- Good Stuff -- Click Here.
  • On Sunday my wife Annie is running her 1st Marathon in Austin.  I am doing the half and will be her Sherpa/pacer for the 2nd half (Yes, I am an awesome husband).  And if we are lucky we may get our first Guest Blogger here at the Carrot - she has agreed to post her race report.
    • Here is how the conversation just went:
    • Jeff - "Do you want to post a race report on my blog?" 
    • Annie - "I guess, will you help me?"  
    • Jeff - "Yes." 
    • Annie - ".... on her laptop.....long pause....I WANT a CHUG!!! ..... inaudible squeal"

    • What the heck is a Chug?  A cross between A Pug and A Chihuahua, yes, really!

We are not getting a CHUG.

Tomorrow is a 30 minute morning run and then an hour at the pool.

Thanks for Reading,


Monday, February 8, 2010

Win a Box of Chocolate #9 Agave Energy Gel Give-Away

Earlier today I did a review (HERE) of Chocolate #9 Agave Energy Gel.  I really liked the product so I emailed the company and asked if they would like to provide a 24 -pk box ($32.45 value) for my readers.  They thought it a fun idea and agreed.  So this will be known as the first reader appreciation contest on Dangle the Carrot ...

If you are not familiar with Chocolate #9  please read my review and if you are a runner, cyclist, swimmer, or Triathlete you know how many darn gels we go through and getting 24 free is pretty cool.

Okay, so here is how it will work.  You will have 4 different ways to enter and can have up to 4 total entries in the contest:

1) Leaving a comment on this post will net you 1 entry.
2) Following Dangle the Carrot on Twitter will net you 1 entry. (Click Here for Twitter account)
3) Becoming a Follower of Dangle the Carrot through your Blogger/Blogspot account will net you 1 entry. (Upper right hand widget ---> )
4) Link Dangle the Carrot to your blog and that will net you 1 entry. (

For example, if you leave a comment and say, "Hi, I am Jeff from Texas.  I am now following you on Twitter and Blogger and have linked you to my blog: "  ... Boom, 4 entries right there, baby.

Now if you are already a follower on Blogger, Twitter, and have a back link you will also receive the total of 4 entries - assuming you leave a comment.

This is going to be like the movie School Ties (good movie btw) and we will use an Honor Code.  If you post it in the comments, its as good as gold!

This contest/drawing will begin today and the last entry will be accepted on Monday, February 15th at 8am.  I will then post the winner on Monday evening.  I will assign a number to every entry and use one of those random order generators online (just like in my fantasy football leagues).  Make sure to check back on Monday to see if you won because if you do not have a blogger account I will have no way to get in touch with you. 

Few Disclaimers:

I am not a lawyer nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express so this is probably all meaningless but here we go.
-  If the winner does not claim prize within 48 hours the runner-up will win.
-  Only eligible if you live in the United States or Canada.
-  I am not associated with Chocolate #9 in anyway so if you do not like the product don't blame me.
-  Since it is a free box you probably cannot return it for cash. 
- All decisions about the contest are made by me and I have the right to change the rules as I see fit.

Also, a big Thank you to John at Chocolate #9 for the free box!

May the luckiest athlete win!


Product Review: Chocolate #9 Agave Energy Gel

Last month I won a drawing on for a box of Chocolate #9 Agave Energy Gel.  I had never heard of this gel and have always used GU or Hammer so I kind of forgot that I had even won this when it showed up at the front door last week.  

Now as is normal with me and any new product I usually do some research before I try.  I easily found the manufactures website and here is what they say about Chocolate #9:

Chocolate #9 is delicious, dark chocolate, agave powered, energy. We leave out the preservatives, patented complexes, and junk sugars, delivering a gel that's easy on the stomach, rewarding to the taste buds, and low glycemic index. Chocolate #9 is diabetic friendly, vegan, and gluten free. Put yourself on pace to experience peak performance. Choose Chocolate #9 today.

The nutrition contents of each pack are:  70 Calories, 75mg Sodium, and 15 Carbs.  The ingredients are composed of Organic Agave and Breakfast Cocoa processed with Alkali.

Being that I try and eat as clean as possible the Organic and gluten free claims jumped out at me in a positive way.  So, the only thing left to do is put the Chocolate #9 to the test during one of my long training days.

My Chocolate #9 Agave Energy Trial:

Well, last weekend I had a bike to run brick scheduled and figured I would give the Chocolate #9 Agave a try.  Before I jumped on my bike I grabbed a pack and the first thing I noticed was that the pull tab ripped of really easy.  Sometimes with GU I tear off the tab and it is a mess of plastic and tin foil  This makes it difficult to get the gel into your mouth.  The Chocolate #9 had no such problem.  Then I took a swig of the gel and it tasted really good!  A rich, dark chocolate taste - this I liked!

After about an hour on my bike and right before the run I took another Gel.  The one thing I noticed was that I did not get that little burst of energy that normally comes with other gels.  Not sure how I felt about this but my body reacted well to the nutrition intake.  After 45 minutes passed another gel was needed.  However, normally my body knows that I need a gel because my energy level usually takes a little dip.  Well, this was not the case today.  My energy level was fine and I knew a gel was needed because I looked at my Garmin and it said 45 minutes had passed.  I finished my run strong without any GI issues and have used the Chocolate #9 a few other times.

Chocolate #9 Agave Energy Gel - Pros:
- Tastes Great.
- Efficient Packaging.
- No Bonk.
- Energy was consistent

Chocolate #9 Agave Energy Gel - Cons:
- No Initial Energy Burst.
- Only Chocolate Flavor is available.

My Summary of Chocolate #9 Agave Energy Gel:

I absolutely love it!  The chocolate flavor makes it taste more like a dessert than an energy gel.  I actually ate one yesterday as a snack.  At first when I did not get the energy burst that is common with other gels I was skeptical, but when the crash or bonk did not occur either I realized this was a good thing.  My body was not just receiving an artificial boost from a bunch of sugar it was processing good, clean nutrition. 

In order for me to give Chocolate #9 a fair review I feel first we must look at the claims from the manufacture and see if they measure up!  First, they say that it is Easy on the Stomach,  I've had about 10 packets now and have had zero GI issues.  Second, they claim it is Rewarding to your Taste Buds, this is a complete understatement because the gel is delicious.  Lastly, they claim a Low Glycemic Index, not really sure how to measure this but if they mean no sugar than this claim is spot on. 

Now that it is apparent that I love Chocolate #9 the final question is How much does it cost?
- The manufacturer's website lists a 3-pk for 4.99 and a box of 24 for $32.49.
- GU Energy Gels are $32.40 for a 24-pk.
- Hammer Energy Gels are $30.00 for 24.

Since I received my box free this is the first time I looked at the price of Chocolate #9 and am pleasantly surprised at the cost.  I figured it would be much more expensive just like everything else that is Organic or Gluten Free.

Chocolate #9 will be my gel of choice for all endurance training and racing from this point on.  I plan on using it during the Austin 1/2 Marathon on Sunday and will let you know how it performs in a race.

Thanks for Reading,


***Check back in later tonight to find out how you can win a FREE box of Chocolate #9***

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Morning Ramblings ....

Got a lot to do today ....

Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Sunday, we're going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don't know, I don't know if we'll have enough time.

Actually have not a lot to do today and am loving every minute of it.  Onto the Ramblings ...

  • Really am not rooting for either team today.  Just would like to see a good game.  It would be nice to see Drew Brees and the Saints win since they have been one of the bottom feeders of the NFL since their inception.  And it would be good for the city...

  • Congrats to the Carrot!  As of last week it has hosted over 30,000 individual visitors.  Now I really have no idea if that is a lot of visitors or not but I do know that it is like 2 times as many people that usually go to a Pittsburgh Pirates home game!  So I have that going for me ...

  • Movie Reviews:  Movie #1:  ZOMBIELAND was very entertaining!  One of the more enjoyable rentals we have seen in a while.  Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg were hysterical and Annie and I laughed through the entire flick.  Bill Murray cameo was awesome.  Movie #212 Rounds was a decent action movie starring some wrestler dude named John Cena.  He is a cop whose wife is kidnapped by an Irish terrorist and is sent on a bunch of "tasks" to get her back safe.  Think Die Hard 3.  Not going to win any awards but enough action to keep you engaged while on the indoor trainer.  Movie #3Twilight was crap!  Plot sucked. Acting was awful.  Directing was amateurish.  Really have no idea why all the chickadees in the world go crazy over this movie? ...

  • Today's food is going to be very bad.  Back when I was a fatty I used to make deep fried chicken wings with a bunch of different sauces pretty much every Sunday during football season.  Well, Annie has talked me into preparing this crap fest of unhealthy goodness for today's game.  It has been over 2 years since we have ate this and it probably won't kill me but I just do not like eating like this anymore...

  • Wanted to give a shout out to a few of my fellow Triathlete bloggers out there who help inspire and motivate each and every day: 
    • First is KC over at the 140 Point 6 Miles.  KC not only logs some crazy training volumes but she is always extremely positive and seems to find the silver lining in every situation.
    • Next are two Tri Geeks, Jason at Tri-Tech Blog and Mike at 26.2 is my Cooldown!  these guys always have the latest and greatest in Tri gear and are directly responsible for some of my own Tri Geek purchases.
    • The next blog is by Tri Daddy Diesel over at TRI DIESEL.  He always seems to motivate while making me laugh at the same time.
    • And finally another blog I enjoy is The Road by Patrick Mahoney.  Patrick is a pretty good writer and storyteller.  He also has a pic in his header that looks like the Gopher from CaddyShack so it cracks me up every time I see it!

  • If you have a blog or know of others blogs that I might enjoy please post the URL up in the comments below...
I hope everyone has a happy Super Bowl Sunday and that at least the commercials are good!

Thanks for Reading,


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Week Eight, Day Six: Brick - 1 Hour Bike + 1 Hour Run

What a beautiful day in the Houston area.  The temp was in the low 60's with blue skies!

After I got home from picking up my clipless shoes that I left at the Tri shop it was time for a ride.  Was able to get in a hard 60 minutes and was sweating like crazy.  I had a transition area set up in the garage and toweled off, tossed on my Brooks running shorts and shoes, and hit the road.

I ended up jamming out to a GN'R and PJ medley on the iPod and did not even look at my Garmin until about 55 minutes in to the run.  When I got home it said the run was 6.66 miles - that about a 9ish/mi pace. 

Overall a good workout day.  I was going to go to the pool today but decided against it.  On Tuesday I am going to be taking my first freestyle swimming lesson.  I found a place that works with triathletes and am very excited to get started.  I've decided to not swim again until Tuesday because I am sure my entire technique is going to be stripped down to the bare essentials.  It should be awesome!

Oh, here are some pics of the new saddle on my QR:

Thanks for Reading,


Friday, February 5, 2010

Week Eight, Day Five: 30 Minute Run

I got my new saddle today - the ISM Adamo Racing Saddle!  It is very comfortable and I cannot believe how good it feels on my ass.

When I got home I strapped the bike back onto my trainer.  Got changed and grabbed some water bottles and went to jump on the bike and that is when I realized that my clipless shoes were nowhere to be found.  I left them at the damn Tri shop ... which is 30 miles from my house in the center of Houston.  Guess I have my morning planned!

So, since the biking was out I decided to go for a short run.  I did 3.5 miles at a gingerly pace over 30 minutes.  I did not push it because tomorrow is 1hr bike, 1hr run, and 1hr swim.  All beginning after I go get my stupid shoes.

Thanks for Reading,


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Week Eight, Day Four: Rest Day and Gear Stuff

Today was a nice rest day.  I actually felt like doing a workout but have a s/b/r back-to-back-to-back training day scheduled on Saturday so I figured I should follow the plan and take the rest.

Tomorrow I am taking my bike down to Tri on the Run.  It is a Tri specific retail store and I stopped by this afternoon in between appointments.  They have the saddle that I want in stock ... it is the Adamo Racing Saddle.  And they were cool enough to offer me to bring my bike in and we can see which style of the Adamo saddles fits the best.  Can't wait to try it out because my current saddle is killing my arse!

Over the next couple of weeks I have a couple of new items that I am going to try out.  The first one is a hydration product called The Right Stuff.   It was developed for Astronauts by NASA and has since been introduced to the endurance athlete.  It is a Gatorade like product except it doesn't have the Carbs and Calories.  The people at The Right Stuff were kind enough to send me some of the product.  I am going to try it out on Saturday during my long workout and then again next week during the Austin 1/2 Marathon.  A review will follow shortly thereafter.

I also won a box of Chocolate #9 from the Beginner Triathlete website.  If you post a product review they enter you into a monthly raffle and last month I was the victor!  This stuff is a lot like GU and Hammer Gel but is organic.  Going to try this out a couple of times also.

So, will be reviewing the Adamo Saddle, the Chocolate #9, and The Right Stuff.  This should keep me busy for a while.

Thanks for Reading,


Steve in a Speedo?! Gross: Online Workout Logs Review

Steve in a Speedo?! Gross! is a very funny and informative Triathlon Blog by Steve Stenzel that I read daily.  He just posted an excellent review comparing online training logs.  This is something I have spent countless hours trying out myself and as I was reading Steve's review realized we had very similar experiences with these sites.  He reviewed Wellsphere, DailyMile, Training Peaks, Buckeye Outdoors, and Beginner Triathlete.  Steve included screen shots of each site as well as his pros and cons.

For those of you looking for a place to enter your training data please check out Steve's awesome review:

Does It Work: Beginner Triathlete, Buckeye Outdoors, Daily Mile, and Training Peaks

Thanks for Reading,


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Carrot Programming Notes

If you are a frequent visitor of the Carrot you probably noticed that the blog's layout has changed.  For awhile I have been looking for a clean looking layout that would allow for widgets on both sides of the main body and also a tool bar under the main header.  This template allowed for both!  Note the comments are now listed directly under the Main Title of each post.

The main reason for the change is that more and more information is being added daily to the Carrot and I wanted to make the cataloging and review of this information much easier.

Another reason for the change is that I really enjoy reviewing new products and writing about my experiences.  This template allowed for a Product Review link in the top toolbar so that is where all the reviews will go.

So, let me know what you think ... love it or hate it!



Week Eight, Day Three: 30 Minute Bike + Missed Swim

 This morning I got in an intense 30 minutes on the trainer.  I forgot to turn on my box fan and ceiling fan ... it was HOT!!  I was dripping sweat about 5 minutes in and thought about getting off the bike and turning on the fans but then figured I live in Houston and might as well get used to it!

The swim did not happen today and I really have no excuse.  After work I came home and jumped on the computer to finish up some emails and reports I have been working on.  Then next thing I know I am downloading a new layout for this blog???

I am going to make it up because this is such a light week training-wise.

Thanks for Reading,


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Week Eight, Day Two: 30 Minute Run + 30 Minute Bike

And so it begins .... The Final Season of Lost!  I just spent the last 2 hours getting my brain scrambled by this crazy show.  The writers of Lost really need to win every major award for writing every single year.  This show is just so good and I can't wait to watch again next week. I almost wish I had never started watching Lost so that I would have 6 seasons of episodes for the trainer  ... I'd never want to get off the darn thing!

All righty then ... Today was a 30 minute bike on the trainer in the morning.  I pushed it pretty hard since it was only 30 minutes and was feeling awesome after the ride. 

After work today I came home and tossed on my kicks and some shorts and headed out.  It was a little cold (high 40's) but after a couple of minutes I warmed up real quick.  I ended up doing 3.58 miles in 30:27.  That is a pace of 8:31/mi which has become a rather comfortable pace for me.  I'd say it is in the RPE 3 zone. 

Week Eight, according to my training plan, is a recovery week.  I am still doing 9-10 workouts but the length is not as long.  Part of me wants to do more but I still have 12 weeks of this plan to go and I am guessing the rest weeks are included for a reason.  Sooooo ... I will just keep the intensity a bit higher than normal.

Tomorrow is 30 minutes Bike and 30 minutes swim.  Also, I have another product that I am going to put to the test and then do a review and will explain a little more tomorrow.

Thanks for Reading,