Monthly Archives: October 2012

Benjamin arrives!

Hi everyone,

The big moment has finally arrived, Benjamin decided to join us for lunch on 22nd October! He was born a very healthy 7lb 4oz (3.275kg) and is constantly feeding and gaining weight by the second!

Signs of Ben’s imminent arrival began at 4:30am the day before when Brynn woke me to tell me she was having contractions. I called the doctor and he told me to come in in an hour if the contractions continued. An hour later we were walking out the door.

I was caught off guard by the early labour and had to get fuel for the car before making any OJ Simpson-esque  moves along the freeway. I got to the local Safeway only to find that the pumps were not working. Finding the attendant I asked what the matter was only to find they don’t sell gasoline before 6am! It was like walking “50 flaming miles to a pub with no beer!”

After a quick stop at another gas station it was onto the freeway for the 45 minute trip to the hospital. The doctor checked Brynn as soon as she arrived and confirmed she was in labour but with no dilation, meaning it might be another 48 hours before anything happened. Rather than head home we checked into a nearby motel to wait out the final hours.

And so a Sunday was spent walking around the motel parking lot and making the odd trip to Wendy’s or Starbucks. As the day went on the contractions became more and more intense to the point where we decided to go back to the hospital that night. This time Brynn was 3cm dilated and so she was admitted – the beginning of a new chapter was imminent!

After such a rough pregnancy with hyperemesis gravidarum the last thing we wanted for Brynn was a difficult delivery so we had decided on an epidural. Soon after being injected the pain of the contractions became much less painful and Brynn was able to get in a few hours sleep.

The next morning contractions became more and more frequent and just after noon Brynn began actively pushing. While things looked painful she managed to cope very well and at 1:56 Benjamin sprung out into the doctors arms.

I have to admit I was overcome with emotion and have never had to try so hard to hold back tears. Even though every parent says it, I was surprised just how special and life changing that moment was. I was expecting Ben to come out looking all slimy and screeching like a wounded harpy, but he just looked so perfect and settled down so quickly.

Our first family portrait

We spent two more days at the hospital, which went by without any surprises. I think the hardest thing was getting used to the sleepness nights that come with having a newborn baby, but they are a small price to pay.

Brynn is recovering very well from the delivery. She tells me that giving birth was easy compared to HG and having seen the impact of the illness on her I have no doubts. Now that Ben and the placenta are out she is already back down under her pre-pregnancy weight and once again able to eat anything she likes. HG iss a chapter we are very glad is over and an experience we wouldn’t wish on our enemies. Raising awareness is something we will continue to work for, which will hopefully one day lead to a cure.

Ben in his car seat on the way home from the hospital

On the competition front it just wasn’t meant to be with the Marine Corps Marathon. I felt great after Freedom’s Run and did a solid 10 miles a few days later. However, on my next run after that I felt really flat and when I got home my knee began hurting when I put weight on it in several positions. With Ben’s arrival I had a week off training and it did the knee the world of good, but a short run on Thursday proved it wasn’t 100% yet. As such I had all the reason I needed for pulling out of the race. My philosophy with marathons is you don’t toe the starting line unless you’re perfectly fit and healthy – if there’s anything wrong with you the race will tear you apart. Besides, I’d rather be at home getting used to being a new dad at the moment. There will be plenty more marathons in the future.

Now the challenge for me will be to work out the balance of working, training, being a husband AND being a dad. Seems like a nice problem to have!

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Freedom’s Run

Hi again,

Recovering from the Half Iron at Chesapeakeman proved to be a lot more difficult than I expected. The first week I felt incredibly flat and really struggled with the limited training that I did. The following week I started to feel a bit more human again, but reduced my volume to make sure my body was able to recover properly. It wasn’t until later in that week that I felt much confidence about racing at the Freedom’s Run half marathon, but come race day I was confident I would be able to break an hour and a half for the first time in a half marathon.

Seeing as Brynn is now full term with the pregnancy I didn’t even bother to enter the race beforehand on the chance Benjamin decided it was time for his birthday. I set an alarm for early Saturday morning and when he still hadn’t made an appearance it looked like the coast was clear for a good autumn race. I jumped in the icy car and made my way out to Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

When I arrived it was a brisk 29 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 2 Celcius), so after registering I headed straight back to the car. As the sun crept up so did the temperature and by the time of the race start it was back above freezing point.

The race began in the middle of Sherpherdstown, which is one of my favourite towns in America. It’s a quaint old village surrounded by nature and overlooking the Potomac River. Once the gun fired we quickly made our way across the Potomac into the State of Maryland and along the C&O Canal Towpath. After a couple of nice flat miles we hit one of the big hills, which gives Freedom’s Run a reputation as a tough course. I held a steady pace, but let a couple of people pass me going up. A few minutes later we were at the top and I soon passed those who had pushed too hard on the hill.

The run proceeded into Antietam Battlefield, the bloodiest battlefield of the American Civil War. On September 17, 1862 a total of 23,000 Americans lost their lives in a single day of battle. The National Parks service has done a tremendous job of preserving the battlefield and the tranquility of running through the hilly area early in the morning is in stark contrast to the feelings the soldiers must have felt on that tragic day.

After several miles in Antietam I found myself running through the town of Sharpsburg and on my way back to West Virginia. Looking at my watch I knew I was on track to breaking my target time and I knew the majority of the remaining miles would be downhill.

As I crossed the Potomac once again I felt surprisingly good – much better than I’d ever felt at the end of a half marathon before. I dug deep knowing I’d have to trip over to miss my goal time (and hey, I’ve done that before!) and put on the after burners as I ran towards the finish line in the Sherpherd University stadium. I crossed the line in 1 hr 28 minutes and 49 seconds – a full minute ahead of my target time and still feeling surprisingly fresh (though my calf muscles didn’t want me going any further!) I finished 8th overall and am finally starting to feel like an endurance athlete.

The race gives me a lot of confidence as the Marine Corps Marathon approaches in two weeks time. My goal at the beginning of the year was to run a Boston Qualifier at the MCM, but I let go of that plan when they lowered the qualifying mark to 3 hours 5 minutes for my age group. So instead I’ll just be happy to run a new personal best time and not end up on an IV at the finish line.

Of course, those plans are once again contingent on when Benjamin decides it’s time to come! If he hasn’t arrived by then I’ll see about finding another marathon (perhaps Richmond) to finish out the season.

Brynn’s been feeling great the last two weeks and this has without a doubt the best two weeks of the pregnancy for her. She’s actually starting to enjoy eating again, which was something we’d given up hope for until after pregnancy. She still can’t wait until it’s over though and I can’t blame her in the least. She’s been a real trooper throughout the entire pregnancy as she has battled Hyperemesis Gravidarum. If pregnancy were a marathon she would looking at the finish line, quickening her pace and looking strong, showing hyperemesis a clean pair of heals.

ChesapeakeMan Skipjack

Hi everyone,

Finally I have gotten the monkey off my back! I completed the ChesapeakeMan Skipjack on Saturday and have now finished a half-iron distance race. It turned out to be a very successful day – I finished much quicker than expected in a time of 5:03:21, won my age division by over 20 minutes and finished sixth overall!

I woke to my alarm at 6am on Saturday – a definite sleep in as far as triathlons are concerned. It took me about 3 minutes to get ready and I was out of my motel and on the road to the race start.

The 1.2 mile swim took place in the Chesapeake Bay, which was a little choppy owing to a strong wind. After swimming a few ocean swims in Australia it was nothing though, it just made it harder to catch your breath occasionally. I didn’t realise it at the time because of the siltiness, but the swim was very shallow and some people actually walked most of the way! I swam the whole thing though and emerged after 34 minutes in 12th place – I took it pretty easy but it was definitely one of my better swims.

I managed the fastest transition of the field in T1 and got going on the bike very quickly. The 64 mile course involved an out and back section followed by a long loop. The out and back went very well – I picked up a couple of people early, but got passed by almost as many – you get that when cycling is your weakness. Once we hit the loop section everyone had pretty much found their position on the course (though we continually passed people who had started the full iron event earlier) and I was neck and neck with a guy in the next age group up. We traded places several times, but he managed to drop me in the last ten miles or so pretty convincingly. I kept cool and just reminded myself that my best leg was yet to come.

After another good transition I hit my stride on the ten mile run course. I fell into a comfortable rhythm and saw the cyclist who dropped me a short way off in the distance once I hit the straight. I passed him pretty quickly and then looked for the next runner ahead, but there wasn’t a soul to be seen. I could see for close to a mile into the distance and there was not a soul in sight. I was very glad for all the long runs I’d done alone over the last few months and just focused on maintaining my cadence and technique. Once I hit about the three mile mark the race leader went past, heading back in the opposite direction. Every couple of minutes I would pass somebody else, but there weren’t many people so I knew I must have been in a pretty good position.

About a half mile from the turnaround a girl ran past in the opposite direction. Whether they admit it or not, I don’t think there is a man on this planet that can accept to be outrun by a girl, even if it’s Paula Radcliffe or Kara Goucher. I am certainly no exception to the rule! She seemed a long way away and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make up that kind of ground, but it wasn’t going to stop me from trying! About another mile later I could see her in the distance, so kept pushing until I caught her with about a mile to go to the finish.

I increased my speed even more over the last few hundred metres and had a strong finish. As I crossed the line I got ready for that horrible feeling that generally follows long races, but I actually felt pretty good. I was able to walk around and talk straight away. Everything just came together on the day!

Sadly, ChesapeakeMan is my last triathlon of the year, but I do have a couple more running races planned that are nice and close to home. I’m hoping to run a half marathon in two weeks time in West Virginia (Freedom’s Run) and then the Marine Corps Marathon two weeks after that, but it all depends on when Benjamin decides it’s time to arrive. Then (in addition to being a parent) I’ll be in for a long cold winter of Ironman training – it’ll probably be a lot like Rocky IV. Maybe I’ll incorporate a beard, some woodchopping and a few gruelling games of chess with a Soviet into my schedule.

Speaking of Benjamin, his kicking has been getting a lot stronger over the last week and he’s moving further down Brynn’s tummy. I think he might be in a hurry so I’m predicting he will arrive a week early, which would mean only three weeks from now!