Workout Log

Check out my training log at See my race results at

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bike Commuting Update

I'd like to make an effort to track progress on my monthly commuting miles for 2012 (see goals here).

In order to hit 1500 commuting miles for the year, I'll need to average ~30 miles/week. I got a late start in January, so I had a little bit of ground to make up.

January: (didn't start until the 1/12)
Target = 125 miles
Actual = 86.3 miles

Target = 125 miles
Actual = 174.6 miles  

For the year, that's 260.9 miles commuting by bike (target YTD = 250 miles). Rough math says that I've saved about $52.00 in gasoline costs ($3.40/gal of gas @ 17mpg avg for my Toyota Tacoma). Technically, since we are a one-car family right now, my wife would be dropping me off at work a lot of days, which means 2 round trips per day instead of 1...and twice the mileage on the truck. It's not a stretch to say that bike commuting has saved my family close to $100 so far this year.

As an added benefit, I get a chance to get in a good frame of mind before getting to work, or unwind a bit from a rough day before I set foot in my house. It's hard to be in a bad mood after a bike ride!

If anyone is thinking about giving bike commuting a try, I'd highly encourage you to do it. Shoot me a message or leave a comment if you have questions and I can try and help you get started. There are certainly obstacles, but with a little work they are easy to overcome.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

2012 Fitness Goals (well kinda)

Well, it's March and I still haven't put my goals out there for people to see...that can't be good. I've learned in the past that if I have something I'd like to achieve but have doubts about whether I can, I tend to be more successful if I do the following:
  1. Write it down - usually this consists of me making some notes in Notepad or Word that I revisit a few times and refine them.
  2. Tell my wife, family, and close friends what I'm thinking - these conversations usually help with that refinement in what is actually realistic...or can keep me from setting goals too easy for myself.
  3. Go public! - by posting my goals here I'm essentially allowing anyone who wants to follow my progress and see whether I achieve them or FAIL. So, here we go.
So, 2011 I focused on triathlon and set metrics for each sport based on total distance for the year (see my 2011 fitness goals and how I did here). With 2012 I'm taking a slightly different approach. Partly because my focus is a little different now that I'm a dad and partly because all my goals aren't fixed "measurable" goals. However, I'm changing my focus to things that I'm really enjoying and having a lot of fun with lately.

Fitness-wise, for 2012, I'd like to focus on 3 things: commuting by bicycle, mountain biking, and weight lifting.

1500 miles  (~30 miles/wk average)

Mountain Biking:
Ride as often as I can and have a blast doing it!

Weight Lifting:
Target 3 workouts/week through May (This one is really more for my wife than for me...well not really, but she's really excited about it. I'll re-evaluate in June if this is something I really want to continue for the whole year).

This year will be different for me because I do not have a single RACE on my calendar. Now, I have ideas and dreams of events I'd like to do, but there are no actual plans to race. I'll have to see how this goes because being such a competitive person really drives me to train harder and achieve more. I do intend to continue some running and maybe even some swimming too, I'm just not setting goals around those activities.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Suburban Mountain Biking

Recently, Rachel and I have somewhat been neglecting our beautiful Weimaraner, Mia. With all the new things our little 7-month old is doing lately, and with my lack of running, we just haven't been getting her the exercise she needs. Weims are pretty high energy dogs, but as long as you let them burn their energy they are an absolute delight.

Since I'm sidelined from running due to a knee injury, but can bike without any pain at all, I've decided to start training Mia to run alongside me on my bike. Rachel and I had no plans for a Super Bowl party for the first time since we've been married, so I took advantage of the time. I hopped on my mountain bike for better control (those skinny road tires can be hard to balance on when a 80+ lb dog is pulling you different directions) and Mia and I headed out! She seemed pretty scared of the bike at first, but we kept after it and as long as we were moving she did just fine. I've got a leash that I can wear like a belt so I can keep both hands on the handlebars, otherwise I'm sure I'd crash.

We stick mostly to multi-use paths (MUP) near the house, but also do some off-roading along some bandit creek trails at the park. It's actually a lot of fun, especially when I can see the excitement and pure joy in my dog.

Since it was Super Bowl Sunday and there was absolutely NOBODY else outside, I let Mia run around off-leash for a while. She was loving it! I put together a short video of our adventure.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

From Marathon to Bike Commuting

The New Year's Eve Marathon that I ran on 12/31/11 left somewhat of a bitter taste in my mouth...and all over my body really. It was the kind of bitterness that left me feeling somewhat disappointed in the result (I was undertrained), but also left me wanting to sign up for another marathon and really focus on training properly, toeing the line and knocking out my 3:30 goal. Ultimately, I was stuck in this gray zone of not committing enough time/effort to training for a marathon but still committing enough time to it that I was somewhat neglecting my husband and father responsibilities. That left me with a pretty crummy feeling all around. After taking the 1st week of 2012 off from running, I laced my shoes back up and went out for an easy jog. Truth be told I was feeling some severe stiffness and slight pain in my right knee and wanted to see if a jog would work it out (felt like I had just slept awkwardly on my knee or something). Well, that run was abruptly stopped 1/4 mile after it started and I walked back home in a lot of pain. I self diagnosed my injury as knee tendonitis (given that I was severely undertrained for my 26.2 mile effort the week before). I decided this was a clear sign that I needed to take some time off from I haven't run since Jan 6. I don't know when I'll venture back out for a run, but for now I'm enjoying the time off.

It's not in me to sit around and be lazy...I would literally go crazy if I didn't have some kind of fitness outlet, so I've rekindled my passion for cycling. Partly out of choice and partly out of necessity. The Ballard family has been a 1-vehicle family since mid-December as Rachel's Explorer died and we opted to sell it rather than invest over $4,000 in a rebuilt or used engine. Given that Rachel needs a vehicle during the day while I'm working, I've been commuting by bike a lot in the month of January. I've really found a joy in commuting that I didn't really know was there. I've been spending a good bit of time on some of the Plano MUPs (multi-use path) and just enjoying the beauty of cool mornings biking along creeksides and passing beneath the major roadways. It's nice being off the roads and away from traffic for the most part. I've mapped out a really nice route that is just over 6 miles in length one-way and is over 50% MUP.

Route from home to work (red portions are MUP)

In addition to mapping out a good route, I've had to do a little work on my road bike to get it in commuter shape. I installed a low-lumen white blinking light on the handlebars, a 15W halogen light on my stem, and a ridiculously bright red blinkie on my seatpost. There are evenings where I just get caught at work and can't get away before dark, so it's crucial that I'm visible to drivers in case I have to ride home in the dark. Also, since I'm riding a good bit on MUPs, I need to be able to illuminate the trail so I can see where I'm going. I have to say I'm pretty happy with the lights. Rachel checked it out for me and agreed that I'm VERY visible.

I was able to ride 3x/week for 3 out of the 4 weeks since I started bike commuting. The one week I missed I had a sinus infection and didn't get on the bike at all. Here's a plot of my commuting trips for the last 4 weeks:

I haven't decided any commuting goals for 2012 or anything like that. For now I'm just enjoying the riding and trying to do it about 3x a week.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2011 Workout Goals vs. Actuals

Well, 2011 is over and it's already February of 2012. Hard to believe! I wanted to updated my 2011 goals and track how I did. It was a great year in which I accomplished a number of firsts...first Ironman, first road marathon, first trail marathon, first ultra (pacer)...oh yeah and FIRST TIME DAD!

Anyway, here's how I did:

Swim Target: 175,000 yards
Actual = 133,944 yards
Delta: -41,056
Percent Complete: 77%

I started off the year pretty well and joined a "bandit" Master's swim group at the Dallas Texins Activity Center on the TI campus at 635/75. This was semi-convenient as I started a 6-month assignment in February that put me down at that TI site a few times a week (I normally work at our Plano site). I slowed down quite a bit in March as I spent 3 weeks in Taiwan on business. I did manage to find a pool, but had difficulty finding the time to get to it consistently so my distance suffered. I came back strong in April training with the Master's group and really made a hard push in my last month preparing for my Ironman. I showed up on race day very well prepared and the Ironman swim went VERY well for me. I exited the water in the top 1/3 of the field and felt as if I hadn't put forth much effort. I took time off in June/July as I prepped to be a daddy and then once Olivia arrived just never hit the pool consistently. Last time I was in the water was October! Yikes.

Bike Target: 2,000 miles
Actual = 1,848 miles
Delta: -152 miles
Percent Complete: 92%

I had a nice ramp in mileage during Ironman training, but after taking time off in June/July just never got back on the tri bike. I dabbled on the mountain bike and on my road bike as a commuter, but never got serious about biking in the 2nd half of the year. This took a backseat to running. I'm dissapointed in myself for not pushing through and knocking out the last 150 miles I needed to achieve my goal (I had 6 months to do it and just didn't!).

Run Target: 500 miles
Actual = 715 miles
Delta: +215 miles
Percent Complete: 143%

I know it's all relative, but wow 700 miles! I'm extremely happy with what I accomplished running wise in 2011. I know in comparison to most marathoners and ultra runners this is extremely meager, but considering my highest total yearly mileage up to this year was less than 400 miles, this was a huge accomplishment. I had a decent ramp to Ironman, but certainly could have trained more and arrived a little better prepared. This felt like my weakest area in IM, but that could also be attributed to the fact that it came last on race day when I was already tired. After taking June/July mostly off getting ready for Olivia, I started running again in August to begin training for my first road marathon. Along the way, I paced a good friend during his first 100 miler trail race (incredible experience), and ran my first trail race in Rockledge Rumble 30K+. I fell apart after Rockledge though and really lacked in training leading up to the marathon. I had to adjust my expectations going into the marathon on New Year's Eve, but I arrived at the finish line with a smile...albeit much slower than I hoped for!

All in all it was a great year! Looking back and reflecting on it I can't help but be happy with what I accomplished, despite coming up short distance wise in swimming and biking. I basically made the choice to focus on running the 2nd half of the year as I discovered being a new dad required a little more time than I thought.

I'm still struggling to set goals for 2012, but will get around to that shortly. I have a feeling it will focus on mountain biking and maybe a couple XTERRA tris. I will probably also get back to weight lifting as well and try to keep my girl know what they say, "Curls for the girls!".

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Catch up...

Well, I've been in a blogging rut ever since I finished my Ironman. I suppose I've had a few things going on in my life lately that have been occupying my time, but still, I've pretty much abandoned my blog. See, I've worked on my IMTX race report here and there, but never really finished it because I wanted to include pics. It took a while to gather the pics from my dad and bro-in-law and then upload them to my mac (which has a full hard drive hence I can't really upload any more pics until I clean it up). But I have a bunch of other things going on in my life that are much higher priority than cleaning off my computer's hard drive. I'm slightly OCD and want to post things sequentially, and since I haven't finished my race report didn't really want to post anything else until I got that done...and so I've abdicated my blog. Well, no more...

So let's catch up...
I was absolutely thrilled with my first Ironman and couldn't believe I nailed my 12 hour goal. Since I spent so much time, effort, and energy on getting ready for that race, I pretty much committed the next 2 months (June/July) to Rachel and getting ready for our first baby. On July 11, our little joy decided to make an early entrance and blessed us tremendously! Life as a dad has been absolutely amazing, but I won't act like it's been all fun and's had it's challenges. The first couple months that Oliva has been here I pretty much had no triathlon/running aspirations other than to just do enough working out to stay sane. My main focus has been trying to be the dad that God wants me to be...of course I keep falling short, but such is life. I learn and I try to do better next time. Olivia's been very patient with me learning how to change her diapers and clothes, feed her bottles, burp her. She even tolerates my singing to her (and forgetting most the words to children's songs). I've really gotten pretty awesome at making duck and monkey sounds for her...sometimes I get a little carried away when I get her to laugh and end up scaring last night. Anyway, it's been a great couple of months with her and Rachel and I can't wait to see each new thing that she learns how to do. Rachel might be the best mom I've ever seen...besides my mom of course. She's been absolutely amazing with Olivia and has been good at coaching me along on how to care for a baby.

Choosing sports...
Workout wise I was very hesitant to make any official plans or goals until I could see how difficult it would be to consistently get workouts in with a newborn at home. I decided to go for efficiency and focus on running since I can literally walk out the door and get a solid workout in under an hour. Biking just takes to long to get all the gear ready and then to get a good workout you have to invest a lot of time. Swimming is probably the most efficient overall workout, but I have to go to a pool for that making it not as accessible. I've really developed a love for trail running. Really, I've always loved trails and being outdoors in nature so that's no surprise. Plus, I kind of have a legacy to carry on!

Arkansas Traveler 100...
My friend Jacob is doing his first 100 miler trail run in October and honored me in asking if I was interested in crewing for him. I was ecstatic to support him in such a big endeavor for him and excited for the opportunity. I know all along Jacob was just using me to get closer to my dad (who is an ultra running machine). Next thing I know, I'm now supposed to crew and pace Jacob for somewhere between 17-33 miles and my dad is going to crew! Of course I'm only kidding. This should make for an awesome weekend in October when we get Jacob to the finish line in <24hrs time at his first hundred miler.

Rockledge Rumble...
I decided to make my entrance to trail racing at a local race put on by NTTR (North Texas Trail Runners) in November. It's at Northshore trail on Lake Grapevine and I entered the 30K race. I'm just looking to finish and get a taste for trail running more than being competitive, so we'll see how this goes.

New Years Double Marathon...
I secretly hoped I'd have enough time to train for a marathon but really wasn't sure if it would be a reality with a newborn. I decided to give a training plan a try for a few weeks and see how it went before committing. After going fairly well, I decided to do the White Rock Marathon. After another week of pondering before I signed up, I came across another Marathon called the New Year's Double in Allen. It's 15 minutes from my house, less than half the price, and is a ~6.5mile out/back course so Rachel could easily spectate instead of fighting the thousands of people in Fair Park to maybe see me once during the race! I signed up this week and training is in full swing.

In August I began a new position at work. I'm part of a technical rotation program where I change jobs every 6 months into different key areas of DLP. I'm 1 year into the 3 year program now and it is an awesome experience. Only hard thing is I'm the new guy every 6 months and feel like I don't know what I'm doing because there's a new learning curve to get over with each job.

In addition to spending the last few months before Olivia was born getting the house ready for a baby and preparing the nursery, we had our first major problem with our home. We had a water leak from our air conditioner condensation line (in the attic) which trickled down an interior wall and seeped onto our wood floors, master bathroom walls and cabinets, and master closet walls and carpet. Ughh, what a hassle. Fortunately, our homeowner's insurance has been awesome through it all (highly recommend State Farm). Anyway, since we were only 3 weeks away from the due date when this all happened, we scrambled to get things patched up and basically band-aided the damages until we could get used to having a newborn. This week we decided to start tackling all the repairs and also do a little remodeling while we are at it. So, we are replacing our wood floors, redoing some sheetrock, lots of texturing/painting, and updating our master bath all at the same time. I'm getting to learn a lot about DIY home improvement jobs though so that's kind of cool.

I guess that's all for now. I'll leave you with this horrible old country song from the 90's that came to mind as I was writing this blog...


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

July Update - 2011 Distance Goals

Well July wasn't a great month for workouts but I expected that. I'm now the proud father of a BEAUTIFUL little girl which severely impacted my workout volume. I wouldn't trade my time spent with her for anything though!

I only put in about 5,000 yards in the pool, 50 miles on the bike, and 25 miles running.

Swim: 175,000 yards
YTD Target = 102,083 yards
YTD Actual = 116,392 yards
Delta: +14,309 yards)
Percent Complete: 67%

Bike: 2,000 miles
YTD Target = 1,167 miles
YTD Actual = 1,759 miles
Delta: +592 miles
Percent Complete: 88%

Run: 500 miles
YTD Target = 292 miles
YTD Actual = 343 miles
Delta: +51 miles
Percent Complete: 69%