Monday, September 18, 2017

Barkley Fall Classic - 4th Finish

     I must have run the Fall Classic Saturday.  I can tell because I'm gimping around everywhere I walk and I can't squat to the toilet or get into my car. 
     My feet are fine. No blisters, thanks to Trail Toes.  But my glutes, hammies, quads, calves are all revolting.  They are pissed off.  
     Gina, Kyle, and I rolled into Rugby, TN Friday afternoon.  We checked into the Pioneer Cottage, our place we have stayed the last 4 years.  We then drove over to Wartburg for the packet pickup and map review.  
      We were able to say hellos and chat with friends!  Tim gave us the low down on the course for this year.  This year we were to go up the North Bird Mountain Trail, to the Jeep road, across 116, to the power line.  Down Testicle Spectacle to the Church.  Then back up and over down meth lab hill to the prison.  The up Rat Jaw to the fire tower.  The big rule of staying in the power line cut on these sections of power lines was going to be enforced, strictly this year.  Once we reached the fire tower,then we were to head to the Garden Spot, along the North Boundary trail, to Jury Ridge, Phillips Creek, and down Bird Mountain Trail, to the yellow gate, and the last section was the same, the Chimney Top trail to Spicewood and back to the finish. Basically, the first two sections were flip-flopped from previous years.  
     This course change was a bit diabolical, as we were to soon find out Saturday morning. 
We arrived at the start area about an hour before the start.  Unlike last year when we arrived, 10 minutes before the start. 
     My plan to was run hard until we hit the trail, so I could get in front of the main group, trying to be in the top 30 or so. So that is what I did.  However, the North Bird Mountain Trail is "runnable" if you are pretty fit, so every one kept on running.  So, John did as well. After about 30 minutes into the race I told myself, "John if you don't start taking some walk breaks, you are going to blow up."  So, I started to take some walk breaks.  We finally got to Tub Springs aid station!  But being as it's all down hill to the highway, we had to run that section fast a hell too.  You don't want to be stuck behind the conga line of folks going down Testicle who don't know where they are going and haven't protected themselves from the briars.  
     I chatted a bit with a nice dude, who had just done the Breckenridge Spartan Ultra Beast and placed fifth.  But, was like, hey man, we gotta run!  
     Once we reached the highway, We had a nice hill to walk up, going towards Fodderstack and the power line of Testicle.  We turned left and i pulled the work gloves out of my pack.  I was already wearing calf sleeves, arm sleeves,  and tights that covered my knees. I told the Spartan race guy who was with me, "This is where the race starts, follow me."  
     I started bombing down the hill, slipping, sliding, and busting new heart rate highs.  At about the 3rd section, I ran smack into a small conga line of about 10 folks.  I said, "On your left."  But they didn't want to move.  One guy says, "Hey man, we are in a line here, you need to wait."  I said, "Naw bruh, we gotta move."  It was clear they were not sure where to go or how to get there, so I just blew past them.  Basically that put me in about the top 8 to 10 or so.  
     Things went well until just before the sign to turn left to the church and the second aid station.  I got this killer cramp in my right calf, and had stop.  The cramp was so bad, my foot was cramping.  All those folks started passing me.  I downed like 4 S-Caps.  
     I had two problems.  1. It was so hot and humid I was sweating my balls off and 2, those calf sleeves were cutting off circulation to my calves.  Mostly because my calves are so dammed big, the calf sleeves barely fit.  
     I got to the church just in front of those folks though, because they inclined right of the proper azmiuth, and I dropped to the creek and went up the creek bed for a bit and then to the road.  The map didn't show us having to go exactly to the road.  Either way, We all left together, but I started cramping on the inside of both thighs, as we were climbing back up tot the power line.  
     I needed to back off a little bit, but I know that to be successful at this race, you gotta put the hammer down, and never let up.  I made it back up to Armes Gap and dropped down Meth Lab Hill, towards the prison.  I was recovering from the cramping but was still pretty border line. 
     Once I reached the prison, we were able to get more water and I hit up some more S-Caps.  However, by the time I got to the ladder to go over the wall, my inside thighs started cramping again.  I didn't want to get on the ladder, because I didn't want to cramp up and fall off the dammed ladder.  I paused a bit, climbed over, cramped a bit and sat down on the other side and talked with Keith for a minute or so.  
     With the cramping subsiding, and a few more S-Caps, I went into the tunnel and sat down in the water, to cool off my legs.  That seemed to do the trick.  So I started up Rat Jaw.  I could see large group of folks above me, prob 15 or so, in another conga line, picking their way through the briars.  My first instinct was a to start hauling ass up the hill, but thought it would be better to keep a more steady relaxed pace and just wait until I catch them. 
     Just before where the power line turns left, I caught that pack, and went around them and started breaking trail.  The group splintered for a bit, but came back together, behind Rob Youngren, after we went over the capstone.  By this time, there were about 50 runners in the conga line, and I was somewhere about #8.  
     One guy reached the fire tower about 10 minutes before the whole conga line, and it was said they saw him taking unfair advantage by going under the trees to the left.  I don't know who that guy was.  
     Anyway, we reached the crowd of folks at the fire tower and began climbing up to get our punch.  As we were going back down the stairs, I thought, "Man I gotta haul ass back to Tub Springs, because I don't want to get caught behind all these folks at the aid station."  I really needed to make some shoe adjustments, but took off anyway. 
     I got to Tub Springs in good shape, got my water filled up, drank some Sword and was finally able to remove those dammed calf sleeves, arm sleeves, and put them all away in my pack with the heavy as soaking wet, leather gloves.  
     Onward we went up to Coffin Springs, over the gate, towards the Garden Spot.  About half way there is an old coal road that goes off to the right and some folks were wondering which way to go.  Little did I know,  a shit ton of those folks behind me, went down that coal road.  Which explains why only like 3 persons passed me from Garden Spot to the Yellow Gate.  Oh well.  
     I got the punch from Mike at the Garden Spot, after watching the eventual second place guy, run up the uphill to the Garden Spot.  I was thinking, "Shit, this guy is running this part, got dammit."  I busted my ass as we left there and got on the CT, where it's got the white blazes on the trees, in the top Northeast corner of the park.  But it was a quick recovery.  
     As I was running downhill, I was thinking, "Jeeze my feet are sliding around in my shoes and I need to tighten them up at the aid station."  Well, about 30 seconds later I took a hard tumble/fall and started cramping real bad again in my inner thighs.  I thought it would be best to go ahead and tighten up my shoes, now. So I did that and about 15 runners went by. Great!!! 
     I got up and ran to the coal ponds and wasn't looking and missed the left turn on to the true North Boundry Trail / North Bird Mountain Trail with the orange blazes.  No problem though, I knew it was wrong and turned around right away.  
     We cruised over to the Squire Knob aid station for our punch.  I counted the runners, and there were 11 in front of me, and about 4 at the aid station.  I made quick work of the aid station, but prob drank 3 bottles of water and one of Sword before leaving with two full bottles of Sword.  At around Phillips Creek, I was finally able to take a piss.  And boy it was yellow.  The eventual women's winner passed me just under the ridge before we met back up with the Cumberland Trail. 
     I cruised down the 12 or 13 switchbacks to the yellow gate, but stopped and got some water at the spigot at Big Cove Campground.  Some guy said I was in 8th place, and I figured that was prob about right.  
     I got into the aid station where Laz sends you out for the 3rd and last part of the course, but lost time dicking around with my water bladder.  I had put carbo pro powder in there before hand, but the tube got stopped up.  Really pissed me off.  I also had a hard time finding my drop bag with my poles, which after I got back on the trail, I thought, it was stupid to use them because they weren't truly necessary.  
     Tim Dines and I hiked up to Chimney Top but I was feeling weak and shitty.  I ate some fig newton style of bar at the aid station and it was causing me stomac upset.  So I stopped to throw up for a bit.  Tim took off.  
     Basically on the whole last section, I saw Tim and that was it.  I did finally catch Tim after stopping to chat with Kyle and Larry at the last aid station, on my way into the finish.  I passed Laz again and had just the short road section to go.  I thought for sure I'd catch at least one runner.  However, all the runners I passed were marathon finishers who either didn't make the cutoff, or didn't want to do the Chimney Top.  I did still haul ass all the way in.  However, I was 8 minutes slower than last year.  
     I milled around afterwards waiting on Gina to finish, ate my ribeye sandwich, talked with friends, drank some beer, vodka, and whisky. Gina finished about 12 and a half hours.  
     Kyle drove us back to Rugby where we all slept in, before driving back to Nashville on Sunday.  In  Nashville we had a great time Sunday afternoon.  We went to Printers Alley, to the Burbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar.  Then to Merchant's for drinks, fried green tomatoes, and pimento cheese.  Then to Rodizio Brazlian Grill, for all you can eat meat and a 36$ bottle of 8$ wine.  Afterwards, we stopped over at Legends Corner for a night cap, then an Uber Ride back to the hotel!  
    It was another successful weekend in Tennessee!  Gina and I have both finished the race 4 times, the whole 50K.  There are 7 of us left who have completed all 4, The Magnificent Seven.   Next year, I'm going to sign up as Yule Brenner.  The Pioneer Cottage reservations have been made.  If we finish next year, then Steve has a special award for us!  For the 5th year!  
     Now recovery!  Then more, Vert! More Miles. Get faster!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

John's Kaihōgyō

     UPDATE: 10/30/2017 - This will not be taking place this year.


What does Kaihōgyō mean?  It translates into English as, circling the mountain.   The wiki entry is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaih%C5%8Dgy%C5%8D


     I've been enamored with this idea for a few years.  I spoke with Gina about it in 2014 after reading John Stevens book: The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei.  

     I'm not looking for enlightenment per se, but discipline.  So these monks in Japan do a 100 days of a certain mileage going from temple to temple saying prayers, etc..  They do this for seven years and there is quite a bit of other things invovled that you can read about on the wiki entry. 
      I'll be turning 40 years old in November and I want to do something that is or seems impossible.  Because who knows how many years I have left on this rock.  

Enter, John's Kaihōgyō.

What does this look like for me?  It looks like this.  I am planning on starting Oct 30th 2017 and will finish 100 days later on Feb 6th 2018.  What will I do?  I plan to abstain from alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.  I started back on snuff a few months ago, so I'll be quit before this starts and will start tapering caffeine at the beginning in Oct.  I've already stopped alcohol, so hopefully I can maintain since my goal is no alcohol until Sept 2018.  Here is the rest of my plan:

40K a day running/walking with 5K a day of vert (vert will be achieved on the TM)
40K a day on indoor bike trainer*
10K a day on indoor rower*
100 thrusters @ 95lbs*
100 Deadlifts @ 185lbs*
100 Kettlebell swings*
100 Burpees
100 pushups
100 situps
10 minutes of planks
40 pullups

Basically, this will be 6 to 7 hours a day of  "working out".

I have 2.5 months to buildup to this, so that is what I'll be working on.  From now until then.

I don't really know if I can actually do this, but outside of my "El Camino de Lavaca Pilgrimage" Dec 4th - 10th my schedule is open and I have purposely kept it so.  I wasn't sure if I would really commit to this, but I think that I need this in my life.  The items above with * may get skipped on the El Camino days, but I'll see about having these brought to me each day so I can keep my goal.  If not, 93 days of the above is still killer.

Wish me luck, I'm going to need it.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Looking Ahead into 2018

Gonna be brief.

10 years ago I started running, one goal was to quit drinking and be a good runner.

10 years later and I'm mediocre at both.

August 1st 2018, Gina and I will be running the Trans Pyrenees.
http://www.transpyrenea.fr/important-info/roadbook/

This is the greatest challenge either of us have considered.  200K of vert, 535 mile, 20 days.

I want to be my best.

Also, I have a personal challenge of 880 mile bike ride across Texas in late Feb 2018.

Did I mention the 888K Infinitus as well in 2018? I'm signed up for that.
http://www.endurancesociety.org/infinitus.html

I don't know if I can complete any of these 3 adventures.

But I do know, that if I want a shot, I gotta be better.

From Nov 1 to 100 days later, I will run 20 miles per day. 

I have to get ready.

I will not drink any alcohol until Sept 2018, starting Aug 1 2017. 

I'm working on some diet options as well, but will up veggies and reduce meat.

Wish me luck.  Long road ahead.



Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Flavian Amphitheatre or Amphitheatrum Lazaruium

     In the modern era, none of us are competing in the arena before an emperor or throngs of cheering Romans.  Although it's very clear that Big's Backyard is not "The Coliseum", it is "a coliseum."  Laz is no Titus, however one could imagine him to be an emperor of sorts as well.  What's ironic is someone using a nom de guerre of Hebrew origin, celebrating a race cast in the historical context of a "gladiatorial fight to the death", when it was the imperial Roman Flavian dynasty who not only built "The Coliseum" but also destroyed the Jewish Second Temple.  Laz has put together a simple concept in a race, with no gimmicks.  For anyone who's ever said they will never quit, please come to this event.  This is no obstacle course race with faux challenges.  This race is the most authentic spectacle imagined in regards to one's will to continue.
     The concept is very simple.  At the start of the hour all the runners start running a 4.166 mile loop, and must complete that loop every hour. At the start of the second hour, this process is repeated again, and again.  You must answer the bell each time, at the start time, or you are out.  Every one is in first place at the start of each hour.  This process continues until every one quits, except the last man (or woman).  It's only 4 miles per hour.  A 15 minute pace.  Anyone in decent shape can run a 15 min pace right?  If you've ever read Stephen King's "The Long Walk" then this idea is even more intriguing. 
     We started with 46 souls who, with steely determination, vowed to be the last man or woman standing.  I mean, with the inspirational shirt we were given, how could we not be inspired?  This is a re-print of the painting by Jean-Leon Gerome called Thumbs Down, or Pollice Verso.


     This event was scheduled to start at 0700, but Laz and crew decided to start it at 0645 to give the last daytime loop the max amount of light.   Materially it does not matter when it starts, you have 60 minutes to complete each loop.  At 0645 Laz rang the bell.  We sauntered off in the typical ultra-marathon way.  Which basically means there were a few claps and half the field began walking.
     To the Mike's great entertainment along with Laz and Bill, the race had begun.  I venture to guess that there were many side bets made throughout the day.  Who would be first out, who would be out on loop 4, etc...  I could only run.  I ran with a Garmin for the first few loops to make I knew where the mile splits were and the time that I should be at them.
     The Start of the trail loop had a short out n back on the road, which would take me about 5min.  Mile 1 was just past the log that you had jump over once you ran down hill from the Big house and turned hard left. About even with a big, round hay bale on your right, close to the fence.  You needed to be at the Big house at 55min after the hour and at 57 min after, the hay bale.  Mile 1.  Mile 2 was where a big rock was in the middle of the trail, after you passed the cave and crossed a dry creek.  That needed to be 11 min after the hour.  Mile 3 was where the lolly pop completes the circle and you run the handle back to the Big house, to the start.  You needed to be there at 24 min after the hour. Back to the Big house at 35 min after the hour.  If you did this, you could have 4 to 5 min to spare between loops.  As you can see from my splits here.  I was running about a 13:15 mile pace.   Not too fast, but not too slow.  Here is what the loop looked like. Based on my level of training since the end of June, that's the best I could do.  And really, why do you need 10 min to stand around every hour?
     As Loop 1 progressed into Loop 2 and so on, one by one, and slowly our motley crew began to dwindle.  Some of the runners, it was very evident that they would not last long.  Whereas others, when they were no longer running, you felt a bit bad for them.  Around loop 6 or 7 I tried to lure some folks into a mental trap.  On the out n back, I said loudly, to no one in particular, but hoping anyone would take the bait, "Man it sure is hot, I bet one of you just want to quit.  Prob just tired, huh?"  No one really took the bait on my trolling, but one guy mentioned he agreed about the heat.  I made a joke about why the devil don't live in Texas.  He don't live there because once he came to visit and was upset about the heat and went on back home.  Many woes befell each person.  Some may have had to poop, some may not have been able to keep the pace, some were laid to waste due to hydration or electrolyte issues. Some lesser men, stubbed their toe. :)  By the end of Loop 12, there were only 18 runners remaining of the original 46.  39% of the runners remained after only a measly 50 very slow miles. 
     We started Loop 13, with 18 jovial souls who may have been confident that they would, in fact, be around when the sun came up.  Still standing.  However, this fate was not to be.  I watched loop 13 and 14 pass, sizing up the remaining runners.  This road loop, was an out n back style, so you could see every runner.  It was dark and almost no one wore a headlamp. Until the moon actually rose, it was hard to make everyone out, exactly.  I noticed two runners, one male and the other female, running fast, way out front.  It just didn't make sense to me.  Why would the run so fast when they didn't have to?  I mentioned this to one of my compadres, and noted with glee, "By loop 22, the 10th road loop, the lady runner would be out."  I had numerous friends that were out there.  In the dark, shuffling, running.  I did not feel bad, except for my left Achilles tendon, and a blister on my right foot that developed on about loop 9 or so. 
     Gina crewed me all day, and had done so in 2014, the first time I tried this event.  She's basically a champ.  Every loop, every time, she had what I needed.  Mashed potatoes. Nobody can mash instant potatoes like my woman.  And she had 1.5 scoops of Carbo Pro, .5 scoops of Vitargo in a 20oz bottle.  I used the Clutch and the Amp soft bottle handhelds from UD.  The Amp sucks, the Clutch is good. Every loop, I'd be like, "Did you salt these potatoes?"  She'd be like, "Yea, I put a bunch."  No matter what she said, I said, "Gimme that salt shaker." Then I'd put salt on those potatoes until they glistened in the sunlight.  We bought Velveta cheese to put in the potatoes, but it made me puke so, no more queso.  I was fortunate that the Mike's kept her entertained between loops and her preparing for the next loop, or it would be tough to get her to help me, other than the fact that she loves me and that feeling is mutual.  Basically, crewing for this event is bullshit.  I'd never do that. I hate crewing.  I'm a selfish basterd.  
     I'd been dealing with plantar issues on my right foot  IT band issues on my left knee since late June.  So the night before the race I did a crap ton of myofasical release work.  During the inter-loopal period, I'd try to release my psoas, my glute med, and piriformis with a foam roller and other devices.  Also, I had Gina push my ankles to my ears while lying on my back.  Of course the Mike's got some nice laughs out of this move.  All of these techniques kept me going, so I'm not going to complain. 
     Out on the road we pined for the Sun.  May the God Apollo, lay his rays up us so that we awake from this nightmarish dream. This dream of never ending out n backs.  We lost many friends in the night.  The fast lady runner on loop 22, her beau on loop 20. Among others.  But not until the middle of the 24th loop did Apollo's chariot begin to make it's way across the sky.  At this time and since the end of loop 22, there had only been 4 weary travelers on the road.  In reality there were 4 travelers, two weary and two ripe as spring chickens.  Myself, I was a weary traveler. 
     Starting loop 25 us weary few, "band of brothers" answered the bell.  As John Donne graciously reminds us, "We asked not for whom the bell tolls, it tolled for thee."   I almost did not complete this loop. I knew I was done for.  But, a remaining spark, a faint spark, grew into a conflagration inside of me and I thought to myself, "I'm not going to time out on this lap."  With 17 min and a mile to go, I ran and did not stop until I reached the timing mat with 2.5 min to spare.  As heroic as I felt, within the next 25 min all was changed.  Loop 26 at about 2 miles in, I sat on a rock. I fell asleep briefly.  I woke up the instant that I fell asleep, walked to the next rock.  Just past the cave.  I sat on that rock and immediately fell asleep again.  I reversed the course, took off my bib, and walked in.  I ended up with 4th place and 25 loops.  In 2014, I ran 29 loops.  However, I was not disappointed.  This year, the race ended on loop 29.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

What is Ultrarunning to You?

     This post is really a "call for comments" and maybe a bit more.  Some of us have been running/ultrarunning for 10 years, some for 5 and some for 20 or more.  What is enough?  Is 5K enough?  If you've run 100 miles numerous times, is that enough?  What is the next thing?  After 7 or 8 years do you, or have you thought, "Man WTF am I doing? Why am I still doing this?" 
     You got some runners that 5k is enough and they do them for 20 years, and thats just fine. Maybe they jump into a marathon or half from time to time.  Then you got some folks who run around for 6 days or 200 miles or walking for 100K etc...  It seems that there is no satiation to their quest of achievements.  Some folks take up the "next challenge" because it it truly challenging, and sometimes it's because everyone else has done it, so I want this on my bucket list. 
     Then there are folks who try to court sponsorship claiming that because of X,Y,Z factors, they are the most awesome and they have this story.  Whether it's contrived or not, I will leave it up to the reader to interpret.  Still others just go about their bad ass achievements and they aren't seeking any limelight.  They just deliver, and everyone else can stand there, agape.
     Where do you want your running to take you? To what end and for what purpose?  Is running the end you seek, or some other end?  Can you achieve them with out the fan fare and hoopla?  Does anyone even give two shits? 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Squashed Plans

     The last time I wrote in this blog I told about how I planned to do a canoe race and to ride my bicycle across Texas.  Well, both plans are squashed. I figured out by the end of Feb that the canoe race was not going to fit into my schedule.  I wanted it, too.  For some reason my pickup truck quit running, so I worked on it a bit and couldn't get it figured out. With the truck not running, it's pretty hard to haul a dammed canoe around in my G37. 
      The canoe race was not a big loss.  If I wanted to spend the money, I could have got the truck going but decided that I would table the boat race idea. I had slowly started dumping money into the bike anyway and didn't want to be carrying around a ton of debt.  One of my side goals is to be completely out of debt by 41 including the house.  So, no big deal. 
      The bike ride training was going good all the month of February and things seemed to be on track.  I even rode 150 miles down to almost Port Aransas.  I needed to get new shoes because the shoes I had were too narrow and were making my feet go numb if I rode for more than a few hours. 
       After the new shoes and cleats came in, I figured I should go and get fitted, since I don't know shit about cycling shoes and cleats.  I did that, and right away in early March I developed an IT band issue in my left knee.  After about 200 miles, I went to a different place which does fittings on a computer with some software.  I feel better, but the IT band is still nagging me.
      Reluctantly, I've decided to reschedule my bike ride across Texas until late October or early November this year.  Luckily I was able to change my plane tickets and not take a hit on those.  My most import goal of the year is another attempt at Nolan's 14, so I will be focusing on hiking and running from now on out. 
      After about 30 days, I'm hoping that I can get back on the bike with no knee pain and can work that cross-training into my schedule.  Ultra-marathons and mountains are what I like the most, so I'm eager to get started on my incline treadmill hiking.  I even broke out the hypoxico machine and did 30 minutes on it today as well. My diet is slowly taking shape; I'm hoping to finally get down to a weight which is conducive to hiking up 14'ers. 
      It is not always the case that one lays out plans and those plans come together.  I thinks it's all for the best.  I hate cycling anyway.  If you think walking for 24 hours is boring, try riding in a canoe for 24 hour or more. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Two Goals Till June

     I figured since I don't know much about cycling and even less about canoeing, why not try some epic adventures regarding these activities.  Two goals I have this year are to ride my bicycle across Texas and complete the Texas Water Safari
     For the cycling, I spoke with the owner of Action Bikes here in town. I'm sure he thinks I'm crazy, but I've dropped my bike off at his shop to get it fixed up with the things I need.  Such items as, lights, hand pump, good tires, and a rack of some sort.  Who knows what else.  I mentioned this idea to some friends who told me about two separate cycling groups, the Hill Country Randonneurs and the San Antonio Wheelmen. These groups have rides of various distances, so I guess I will link up with them.  I picked up a bike trainer off Amazon so I'll do some riding each day during the week as well.
     I'm not sure how long it will take to ride across Texas, but the distance from New Mexico to Louisiana, is about 860 miles. I plan on starting at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino and ending after I cross the state line at Orange, TX. After a some training I think I should be able to ride about 200 miles a day.  We'll see.  So about 5 days.  I plan on going Vol State style with little sleeping, etc...  Riding across the state just sounds like a cool adventure, so I'm in.
     The canoeing is another animal all together.  I don't know shit about canoeing.  I do know one of the guys here around town that has done the race 5 or 6 times and I was able to link up with him this weekend.  He was a wealth of information.  I'll be trying to link up with him as the year progresses and do some training runs.  In the immediate future, I'll be taking a canoe out on Town Lake.  I'm a member of the Texas Rowing Center and they have canoes to rent.

:::::::--------  Update, I started this blog a few weeks back. So as way leads on to way, already there have been changes.

Cycling - I got the bike back from the shop.  Rode pretty good over the last two weekends with a big weekend planned this weekend as well. 
Canoeing - I have a "learn to paddle" class scheduled for Saturday in San Marcos, TX which I'll ride my bike to and from.  About 70 miles.  I linked up with a dude who rents canoes, and has finished the race like 35 times.  After the paddling lesson, I'll go check out what he has for rent. 

Training -  What I'm doing?  Quite a bit actually.  I'm not at 100% of my target goals, but here is what I'm striving for.

0400 - Wake up, foam roll light stretch. Breathing exercise with Expand-A-Lung.
0430 to 0730 - 1.5 hrs on TM walking at incline.  3K row, 3K ski erg, 3k ft Versa Climber. Easy 3 miles with my dog to get her in shape for the summer. (or 1 hr bike) Various core exercies.
1130 to 1230 - Lunch - some rowing, ski erg VC, with heavy DL, GHD exercises and Heavy KB swings.
1700-2030 - Run. Spend some time at 90% max HR or above. Intervals, tempo, etc... Then 1 hour bike.  

Weekends until April will revolve around lots of cycling.   Up to 10 hrs in one day.  Some paddling, and vert training after April 

That's where I'm taking my training for now.   Doing a lot of twisting core work and Indian clubs for the shoulders.  Need to get in some push ups. 

These goals are totally out of my wheelhouse, but I like to do stuff that is challenging. I still have Nolan's 14 this year.  Three big goals for the year.  And if the cards play just right, a Hardrock to complete.  I'm a bit apprehensive, but that helps to sharpen my focus.