Hannah’s Turkey Trot / The Woodlands TX

One of the biggest races around this house is the GE Run Thru the Woods held on Thanksgiving Day here in the Woodlands. Our annual turkey trot has been a 4 year tradition with the kids. Last year was a great year for me running with Parker in the kids race. We ran a good mile in 2008 and have some wonderful pictures of the event.

This year was different, because Parker did not want me to run with him in the 1 mile race. So he went on to do his own run without any parental supervision. Parker had a good day running a 9:30 pace.

However, the big race of the day was going to be Hannah and I running the 5 mile run together. Hannah has done several 5k’s through her Girls Run group, but this run was going to be 2 miles longer and with a huge crowd.

I thought she might be a bit nervous, but she was excited to start and only complained to mom about all of the clothes she had to wear because it was cold. We gave mom (aka Race Sherpa) our sweatshirts and got ready for the start.

As the gun went off, we let the faster runners go, then settled into our pace. We started out holding 9:30 miles and stayed close to that pace the entire time. Hannah never once stopped. She drank a cup of water at the aid station while running like a champion marathon runner and was not going to give up until we got to the finish line.

Throughout the run, we saw people we knew every few minutes so she had a cheering section. Some of our cheering section were a little shocked, because they were about to lose to a 9 year old!

The last mile was a tough one. I think both of us got a bit excited and we picked up the pace. With about 1/2 mile to go, Hannah asked to slow it up a bit, because she said she was really tired but was not going to walk. As we turned the last corner we had a bout 1/4 mile left and I told her we were at 48:00 and we needed to run fast to break 50 minutes. She picked the pace up again and we crossed the line with a 49:45!! She was 1508 overall about of about 3000 runners. However, she was 2nd in her AG and would have been 3rd if you count the 10 and under boys and girls.

Yes Hannah has one proud dad this Thanksgiving. More importantly, Hannah is proud of herself.

A Family that Races Together, Stays Together!

Wow what a weekend! As always the Monk Family was busy, training and racing and it was not just me this time. We had the Kiwanis Kids Triathlon in Bear Creek where Hannah and Parker both had outstanding performances.
Parker raced so well that he finished with 3rd place in his age group. Parker took off on the bike in 6th place and reeled in 2 people to find himself in 3rd at the start of the run. He ran fast and kept everyone behind him from catching up. I was really proud of him, because this was only his 2nd race and when we left the house, he told me that he was going to get a trophy. That is exactly what he did, and he got to stand on the podium and show it to everyone around!
Hannah raced as well, and did her best. She was a bit sick going into the race, but insisted on doing it anyway. Hannah is into swimming now and demonstrated a perfect freestyle at the event. She now wants to start swimming again, so Dad will sign her up soon for the Gators program once Girls Run is done.

We have more photos of the race published on-line: http://gallery.me.com/tmonk47229#100584

Proud Dad also made a short movie of Parker’s race:

As far as my training, I had a hard week consisting of several breakthrough workouts that got me pretty excited:

  • Tuesday was a track work out doing 5x 1200’s. I averaged 4:27 pace in some serious heat.
  • Thursday night was a key swim work out, where I saw 1:04 in several 100 freestyle swims.
  • Friday morning was a big run day where I did my long run, but with 5 x 2 mile repeats in the middle of the workout. Al Richardson met me for the repeats and I averaged, 6:46, 6:36, 6:26, 6:31 and 6:11 pace. I felt terrible during the first part of this run, but thanks to Al, we picked it up. Total run distance was 15 miles and about 2 hours.
  • Sunday was my long ride day, but again with some work in the middle of it. I had to do 2 hours at faster than Half IM pace and I did that and managed 252 watts, 44 miles total and a HR of only 152 bpm. The weather was hot and it was a challenge. The total ride was over 100 miles and about 5 hours.

Lastly, I am planning to race the Clear Lake International Triathlon this weekend. I hope to get a boost in my bike and run speed. Should also be a good test of my ability to run in the heat!

Visting The Schloegels


On Thursday we took a trip up to Kanas City to visit our good friends the Schloegel’s. Matt is my old training partner from California and one of my closest friends.

I have to credit Matt for being my inspiration for getting into the sport because when I met him, he had done 2 Ironman races with one of them being Kona. He could run and ride fast.

When I purchased my first bike, Matt was there to take me on my inaugural ride. Matt basically took me to a hill in Lincoln, CA, and dropped me while he climbed away. At the top he said the following: “You can draft on the flats, but you can tell who is in shape when you start climbing.” Boy was he right. I spent over two years trying to chase him up and down the mountains of California. I could never climb like him and he always inspired me to try harder to just keep up.


Our friendly competition only increased as we trained for Ironman Couer D’Alene together for the 2005 and 2006 races. Matt tried to make Kona in 2005, but fell a bit short. But on a 95 degree day in 2006, he qualified again for Kona and raced there the same year. I fell short by 2 places and from that moment on, used it as motivation to get me across the line in Wisconsin in 2008.

This weekend reminded me how much I miss racing and training with my good buddy. Houston has been a wonderful move for us as has KC for Matt. However, we definitely had some good times training for IM races in California.

The Schloegel’s are busy people chasing down 4 girls and his wife Bebe is a superstar raising such a beautiful family. She was a great host and packed our weekend with great activities. The highlight being an outdoor production of the Wizard of Oz at the KC’s outdoor theater. The kids have never seen the movie, so they loved sitting outside in Kansas with their friends and watching Dorothy try and get back home.

The subject of our special trip to Paris for the 2010 Tour De France did come up. So stay tuned and who knows, next summer might include a mountain top duel between Matt and I as we race a stage of the tour.

It was a beautiful weekend in Kansas City and we thank the Schloegels for an awesome weekend.

38 Years Old

Today is my 38th birthday. It seems like yesterday that I was sitting in Denver with my friends the Salazar’s and Fricke’s for my 30th. You do have to wonder why life seems to go by so quickly.

Here is how I would sum up my life at 38:

Marriage: Awesome
Kids: Awesome
Health: Awesome
Job: Awesome

Overall Grade: A- (You can always improve!)

To sum it up, I feel better at 38, than I did at 28. I also could not be more positive about the future.

I am taking a few vacation days for the rest of the week, so it will be nice to spend time with friends and family.

Early Birthday / Tired Legs

This past week was a good one, with some great work appointments in Austin, some great training and it was topped off with a nice early birthday celebration with family.

I turn the big 38 on Thursday, but my parents came over for some grilled buffalo and tri-tip and we enjoyed a nice afternoon by the pool. I got some awesome gifts, including a coffee mug with tons of Ironman stuff on it and a bamboo sushi platter for my ever increasing sushi habit. It was a low key affair with family and it could not have been a better time.

My mom also hinted at volunteering at the Ironman. I hope she does it!

As far as training, I had a really good week. I had an opportunity for a ride during my trip to Austin. I loaded up the bike into the Element and took it with me on the road while working this week. I also talked Mike Young into driving over so we could get in a before work 60 miler while in Austin. We did a ride called the Mansfield Dam loop. It had 3300 feet of climbing and compared to Houston, it was a nice test of the legs. I felt really good going uphill and feel my cycling is really improving.

I also have to go on record that Mike is no longer droppable. I had big plans to ditch him on the first climb and despite his broken spoke, he never went away. It is official, I can’t drop him on flats and cannot drop him on hills either. He now has to have a 2:30 bike split at the Longhorn 70.3. He no longer has any excuses. Here is a view of our route:

Austin is such an awesome place to train. You have Barton Springs for open water swims, Town Lake trail to run on, countless hills to bike on and all from a downtown destination. I plan on many more trips over there in the future.

When I returned home, I got in a long run of 2.5 hours or 19 miles Friday morning. I did most of it in the dark before work and it was still 78 degrees with 100% humidity. However, at about 7:00AM a big storm blew in and it cooled off. I had only 30 minutes to go on the run and decided to pick up the pace. I clocked off some 7:00 miles and finished the run strong despite being at 15 miles at the time.

Saturday was an easy ride with the Woodlands Cycling Club then time with Shani and Hannah at the Doll hospital in Old Town Spring!

Sunday morning came with me waking before my alarm and I did not feel rested at all. The 2 cups of coffee did not bring me to life and to my surprise, I was not hungary at all either. I started my ride at 6:15 and found my legs to be heavy, sore and nothing like they did when I had the great idea to push the pace for the last 4 miles of my 19 mile run. I was scheduled to do 5:30 or 110 miles. I did not have it and had to rely on Mike to pull me home in 4:30 or 85 miles.

I hit this point several times last year training for Wisconsin. When you have a bad day, you have to cut it short, eat a lot of food, rest and try again later.

I have 10 weeks to go and I am already pushing big volume weekly, despite my work schedule. The past few weeks I have averaged, 200+ miles on the bike, 9000 meters swimming and 45 miles running. If I stay smart and recognize the signals my body sends, I will be ready for the big day.

Lastly, we are off to see the Schloegel’s this weekend in Kansas City. I always look forward to seeing them and spending time with Matt. I don’t know if we will get a ride in, but I will make sure we run!

12 Weeks and Counting

I have hit the 12 week mark until the big day in Kona. I have to say, my training could not be going better. I am even starting to have illusions of racing well there and not just finishing the race. However, the goal still remains to just finish. At this point, I feel great, I am not too tired and I am healthy!

I also feel that July is such an awesome month to be training. Why? Le Tour!! With the tour on TV at night, how can anyone not be inspired to log some miles?

I also have to admit that I told Shani last night that I was going to be a bit sad on Sunday when the tour is over. The problem with the race is it is so long, that you get used to watching and following it for the month. When it is done, you go through a bit of Le Tour withdraw.

One big difference for me this year in my training, is the incorporation of running at the track. When I am in town, I try and make it up to the Tuesday night track workouts. They have been a lot of fun and my coach, Dana does a great job hosting them.

For example, this past week, we warmed up then did 4 x 1600’s. I started a bit slow with a 6:24, then went 6:08, 6:01 and 5:54. My legs felt strong and my breathing was real relaxed. This point last year, 6:30’s would have been a stretch. To go under 6:00 in the heat of Houston is really starting to get me more excited about racing. I have learned to really enjoy something I always frowned upon. Bottom line is this, if you want to run faster, you have to run faster. I am really enjoying doing just that.

This week is somewhat of a rest week, so the workouts are much shorter and my long ride this weekend is only 4 hours. This will be nice after riding Centuries for the past few weeks. The week is also absent a long run. My total training time will top out at about 11 hours compared to the 18 and 21 in previous weeks.

Lastly, I wanted to share this awesome picture of Shani, Hannah, Parker, Uncle Scott and Tina. Shani and the kids just got back from a wonderful 2 weeks in California and they had a wonderful time. Uncle Scott took everyone to the San Diego Wild Animal park for the Roar and Snore and camped out at the park one night. The kids had a blast! They could not ask for a better Uncle.

Good Luck to everyone racing at IM Lake Placid this weekend!

Spring Break 2009

Spring break has come to a close. This year the family stayed home because Dad had to work and we had Mimi come and visit. I know Shani and the kids had a blast with Mimi and sometimes just having family around is a great vacation.

We also were blessed to have the our close friends the Schloegel’s visit from KC. Matt is my old training partner and close friend from California. I don’t know what it is about him, but we seem to pick up where we left off. Matt and I were able to get in an evening ride and an early morning run. Just having them stay the night was a lot of fun and we caught up during a wonderful dinner. Matt has 4 girls and my heart goes out to him once they all become teenagers.

I finished off the week with a long ride of 4 hours and a 30 minute tempo run. It is always nice to be out on the bike, so although my workout was not that great with tired legs, I loved being out there.

No spring break in Texas is complete without pictures of the kids in the bluebonnets. Our neighborhood is covered in the Texas State flower so we had to head out about 2 blocks to snap some great pictures.

I am off to Seattle tomorrow to interview some candidates for our opening there. I hope we find someone good.

Saturday is an Off Day

After working all week and mixing in training when I can, I have come to really enjoy my Saturdays. For about 2 years now, I have made Saturday my off day from any training.

Using Saturday as a day off works out great because we typically have family activities like games and other things to do with the kids. Trying to fit a workout in around all of that just causes unnecessary stress for me and my family.

Sunday’s morning’s usually start with an early morning long ride so starting the ride on rested legs is always a bonus. After being off all day, I get up extra early on Sunday and look forward to my ride.

On another note, last night was Parker’s first T-Ball scrimmage. We have been practicing almost every day for months since the end of the fall season. At 2 of his 3 at bats, he hit the ball to the outfield and played pitcher and short stop for 3 innings. My son has worked so hard to get better and last night it showed! I was so proud to see him playing well and most importantly, enjoying being at the game and trying his hardest to make things happen for his team.

As this is an off day, we will head outside in a few to play some catch and his coach gave us some drills to work on as well. Hannah has her Girls Run starting soon so I am sure a short ride or run with her is in the works.

Saturday is not a day to just sit on the couch, but one where our family takes time to do fun stuff. Even my honey do list can be fun. (I just don’t let on that it can be fun or it will get way too long.)

Enjoy your day off, and be ready to hammer down on Sunday for a 3-4 hour ride.

You Have to Bet to Win

I had an awesome weekend with my Dad at the Le Berge casino in Lake Charles, LA.  My Dad is not much into endurance sports,  so we find other ways to hang out!

We got there Friday night and enjoyed an incredible buffalo steak dinner followed up with some 3 card poker and pai gow.  The steakhouse at the casino is one of the best I have ever enjoyed.  They specialize in a buffalo bone in rib-eye that is out of this world.  We washed it down with some red wine and great conversation.
My brother in-law David also joined us along with my dad’s close friend Ron Masparo.  David flew in from Pittsburgh and after he thawed out, he found some time to golf with me on Saturday.
So what do I mean you have to bet to win?  If you want to hammer the house,  you have to show no fear in betting the house.  I come from a long family of gamblers (this is a good thing), that are not afraid to bet to win.  Unfortunately, I must come from some other side of the family because I am afraid to bet to win.  I enjoy winning some cash,  but the size of my bet compared to those that know how to win is a joke.  
How did my dad do?  To protect him,  let’s just say he should write a book on the title of this blog post.
You don’t train much for an Ironman in a casino.  Instead,  you call it a weekend off and enjoy time with your father and brother in law.  Kona is still a long way off and plenty of time for me to lay down some big training bets in the weekends to come.

No Weekend Ride

It is Wednesday and I am returning from a one day trip to Denver to interview a candidate for our opening there.  When I lived in Sacramento,  the travel time prevented me from doing to many one day trips.  I have learned to never underestimate how awesome it is to sleep in ones own bed at night.

My training is a bit on the rocks this week because of work and an upcoming trip to LA over the weekend for my Dad’s birthday.  Although I am not riding,  the weekend should be a lot of fun and I am really looking forward to it.  We plan on some golf Saturday and plenty of action in the casino Friday and Saturday night.  My brother in law is flying in from Pittsburgh to join us as well.
I will get most of my workouts in prior to leaving and it is still so early in the season that a few missed rides are not going to mean much.
Lastly,  I finished one of the most awesome books I have read in a long while.  It is called Shadow Divers.  An amazing story about 2 guys that find a sunken U-Boat and spend years of their lives trying to identify the boat and its crew.  I am not a scuba diver, but you don’t have to be one to enjoy this read.
It is still early and I am off to get in a 1 hour run before work.  Still warm here so the heat will feel good.