Dad Versus…My 1st ultra-marathon 50K

Wake up…3:30am. The alarm is set for one hour later. Close my eyes. Must go back to sleep. Tossed/turned all night. Have somewhat of an idea of what I am up against today but still not completely sure. Running the Clearwater Distance Classic 50K/31 miler starting at 7am. With a neighborhood buddy, Raul, aka “The Beast”…16 years’ my junior, and a very strong runner who has completed a 50-miler before ( ). Beast. I am honestly terrified. I have ran marathons before. I typically hit “the wall” around miles 18-22. Realize if this happens today, I will have 9-13 additional miles to push through. Sleep is not going to happen.

Get up. Stretch a bit. Shower. Eat breakfast. Read the paper on iPAD. Stretch again. Drink tea. Because drinking caffeine to dehydrate myself seems like a great idea before a 50K. Take pre-marathon bathroom ritual. Bad day if this does not happen. Just ask The Beast. Start to get ready. Look at endless array of running “stuff” to get me through this day. Running should be simple. I have more gadgets, gum, Gu, Glide, gels, creams, compression attire, belts, etc. to outfit a small college cross-country team it seems. Apply about half of my Glide supply to strategic locations. And then add more. And then more. And…a tad more. Somehow get everything on or into a gym bag to get to the event. Notice my new running watch will not turn on…dead battery. My first snafu of the day. Quickly plug it in. Must have this gadget.

The Beast picks me up at 5:20am. We have approximately an hour drive to Clearwater. Stomach starts to turn/rumble along the way. Not good. Luckily, The Beast stops at a gas station. Have aversion to public restrooms. Especially gas station bathrooms. Overlook aversion today. Take care of business. Again. Quickly. Crisis averted. Arrive to Clearwater race location. Park. Random homeless guy immediately approaches. Immediately instruct random homeless guy to stop, turn around, and leave. Not interested. Random homeless guy considers trying to overcome my objection…but, wisely decides otherwise. Random homeless guy luckily leaves before I unleash The Beast on him. Continue to get ready. The Beast gives me MoleSkin to adhere to nipples. The Beast advises MoleSkin will not come off. Even after 31 miles of sweat and salty mess. Do not consider eventually having to rip said MoleSkin from flesh/nipples later in the day at this exact moment. Put super-sticky MoleSkin patches on nipples. Bleeding nipples are far worse than ripping consequences later. The Beast forgot to bring Ibuprofen. Become random homeless guy and start begging passerby’s for Ibuprofen. Score on first request. Random Ibuprofen pusher pours half a bottle of pills into my hand. Thank random Ibuprofen pusher profusely and pop half into my mouth, give some to The Beast, and put the rest in one of my 20 belts around my waist for later. Decide I have too much crap to carry for this race. Start to frantically consolidate “stuff” into one belt. I think I have everything.

Arrive at the race starting line. The race is allowing those walking or going at a slower pace to start 30 minutes early. The gun pops for these folks to take off. Look at The Beast, and shrug. We discussed starting with this wave during our strategy meeting. Decided the disgrace of race leaders flying by us after we had a 30 minute head start would be too much to take. Besides, we have 7 hours to complete…what could go wrong? Stretch. Get into ridiculously crowded start corral. No pacing groups…they succinctly instruct the faster runners to be up front and the slower runners to be in the back. Common sense, right? Good in theory, but this never works well. Line up with The Beast near the middle-front of the pack. Would have stretched more if I could move. Suddenly realize what a pig must experience minutes before slaughter. Somewhat of a fitting visual at this very moment.

Starting gun pops again. An absolutely stunning sunrise taking shape in the background. Temp in the 50’s with a high near 70 forecasted. Slightly overcast. Not bad running weather. This race consists of 5K 3.1, half-marathon 13.1, full marathon 26.2, and us crazy folks…50K 31 miles. Everyone starts at the same time. Chaos. The 5K rabbits dart about like someone is shooting rock-salt at them. The marathoners and ultra runners know we have a long day ahead of us and try not to get sucked into this chaos. Spend the first quarter-mile starting and rearranging all my gadgets. Shed my sweatshirt and throw it to a lucky onlooker at half mile. The Beast and I met before the race to discuss strategy. 10-minute pace…slow and steady. Get in and get out in 5-6 hours or so. At least this is the plan. Look down at watch. The Beast is setting about a 9:15 pace. Remind The Beast of The Plan. Stop to pee in bushes. Many people are, so why not? Even females. There is no shame in marathon running.

Mile 1…proudly announce to The Beast we are 1/31st of the way finished!! Mile 2. Announce we are 2/31st!! The Beast suggests we celebrate 5 mile increments instead so he does not punch me in the mouth by mile 10. Agree with The Beast. Reviewed course map before race. Several tall bridges, which will be challenging. Course map appears to run along the Clearwater coast/beach for nearly half the race. Envision a nice, peaceful coastal ocean view for the first 12-15 miles. Instead, see some really nice houses along coast completely blocking the ocean view. May have actually seen the ocean for 10 total minutes. Mile 5. Fast. And, a blur. The herd is thinning and spreading out…5K’ers long gone. Mile 10. Celebrate the next increment. Nearly 1/3 of the way home. Nice pace. Faster than our planned pace actually. All systems are go and feeling good. Running is a funny thing though…you can train and train…but, the mental aspect is most often the hardest part of the race. No ocean view threw me a curve. You get used to being passed by runners you think should not be passing you…but, adding the 5K rabbits into the mix makes things interesting psychologically also. Mile 15…another celebration. The 5K’ers and half marathoners are now long gone. Only the marathoners and ultras left. Do a quick systems check. Have been taking hydration at every stop and taking Gu nutrition every 5 miles. Legs feel great. Pace is good. Continue systems check. Head. Demons in check. Thighs. Check. Knees. Check. Shins. Check. Ankles. Getting sore but bearable. Feet. Sore, but not bad. New Hoka running shoes have amazing cushion…even after 50 training miles or so. Wiggle toes a bit. Houston, we have a problem. The first inkling of possible blisters shoots up the message board and into my brain. Psychological. We are yet to hit the halfway point. Suddenly realize I am in for a very long second half of this race.

More psychological items. I have never ran a race with anyone as I prefer to go it alone in case the wheels come off. The Beast and I decide to stay together through thick and thin. This turned out to be a great thing. The Beast kept us below or at pace for well over the first half of the race. Easy conversation. The Beast is a cool dude. We strike-up conversation with random runners along the way. All nice people. A nurse esthetician. Kindly tell her I never want to see her in a professional setting. Nurse esthetician kindly tells me I want to see her in case I ever have to be put under as she has “the good stuff.” Ask nurse esthetician if she has good stuff now. Nurse esthetician laughs and advises “no.” Damn. Pass a marathoner with 4X 50 states marathon club lettering on the back of her tank top. This lady has completed over 200 marathons…one in every state at least 4 times…and is going strong. 200+ marathon lady is at least 60+ years old. Incredible. She is plugging away.  Pass 2 girlfriends laughing along the way…one of them screaming the lyrics to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” at the top of her lungs. Talk to a few other ultra runners briefly who are deep in their demon chambers.

There are 3-4 portions along the way where runners double-back and you can see the leaders and those in front of us. More psychological, because on one occasion we thought we are doubling-back, but this portion of the race was for half-marathoners. We continue to go straight. Mile 17. The first inkling of a blister problem becomes a true blister problem on my pinkie toe, left foot. Try not to panic, as I can actually feel the blister developing and expanding. I can feel the pressure increasing with each step. Weird. Try to shift running style a bit to have big toe take more pressure and take more mid-heel strikes. I know this will be bad news later. Somewhere along miles 18-19, start to feel blisters on big toes and the other pinkie toe develop. No more hiding this problem…it is run through it or quit time. I am at a 7 on a 1-10 pain scale with 12 more miles to go. Not good. Decide to run through it.

Mile 20. Celebrate another 5-mile increment. Except this time, neither of us are doing much celebrating. We have both hidden our inner-demons pretty well so far and yet still remain fairly close to our 10-minute per mile best case scenario finishing pace. The race splits off the marathoners from the ultras around mile 16-17. The ultras are now on our own 5-mile loop together…doubling back around at mile 21. Watching the double-backed runners running sub 10-minute pace at this point in the race is another psychological hurdle. I have trained hard for this race and other than the blisters, still feel great. The Beast finally advises his inner-demon problem…he has had stomach problems since mile 18. Not good. I will almost take blisters over this problem…but, both are bad. The Beast falls off pace slightly for a bit while struggling. I slow down. You go, we go…we are in this together. The Beast pushed me for the first 16 miles, I can get us through the final 8 or so. Maybe. We have been running the Pinellas Trail for what seems to be forever. No ocean view, fairly narrow asphalt path with bikers zipping in and out of us at breakneck speeds. Just to make things more interesting, there are several bridges along the way…including three going over roads on the Pinellas Trail. These bridges are extremely steep and way longer than expected…and, we know we must cross them again when we double back. More psychological demons to deal with. We finally hit the double back point, and now are able to see those behind us. The demons ease a bit…we are not last by a long shot as there are many runners behind us. We are probably middle of the pack or well better. This is good. The bad? We still have 10+ miles to go and must cross the steep bridges again.

Mile 25. Another “celebration.” If being in hell is a celebration, we are there. My blisters have now popped, which could be good and bad. Pressure is now raw skin. Fairly certain I am bleeding by now. My feet are almost numb, but am between an 8-9 on the pain scale. The Beast and I are not speaking much now as we both deal with the wall and demons. I picture myself as Pac-Man, gobbling up dots and steps ahead of me for a long time. We are now back on the path with marathoners though, and passing many of them at least eases the demons a bit. Mile 25. 10K more. We are 4/5th’s finished. We decide to eat this elephant in 5K chunks. Mile 27…now beyond marathon distance. Things are somewhat of a blur. My running app on iPhone decides to quit at mile 26…it decided enough is enough I guess. Have to dig gadgets out to play music as that stopped with the running app. Decide at mile 29 to turn off music altogether. Not even Eminem’s demons can get me through my demons now. Try posting to Facebook as I run…difficult to do even without doing 20+ miles. We have began to run/walk a bit now…to this point, we have ran the entire race except for hydration stops. Run up to and pass a young lady with “this is my first marathon” lettering on the back of her tank-top. She is visibly sobbing. Stop and walk with her for a bit to try to get her past her demons. Her demons are not going anywhere…she sobs harder, and nearly gets on hands and knees. My demons cannot take this…sorry. I ask first marathoner if she is going to pass out. First marathoner says no. Good enough for me. Start running again. We are now in the 10:40 – 10:50 minute pace finishing range and we are okay with that. We will finish below 7 hours…in the 5:40 finishing range. Stop to take a “selfie” with the mile 30 sign by other ultras who are walking at this point.

One mile left. Gut check time. Our families are at the finish line…we cannot have them see us walking during this now one mile run/walk adventure. My feet are numb and bleeding. The Beast is pushing through. We turn a corner, and see a large suspension bridge in the background along the course. Dread sinks in…could this be a sick joke? We are now within a half-mile of the finish according to our GPS watches…this large, tall bridge looks to be at least a mile long. We do not notice the arrow taking us down and away from the large, tall bridge until we are almost upon it. Crisis averted. Quarter mile to go, and the course takes us down a small, spiraling downhill spinning path off the bridge.This should seem easy, except my blisters and feet are screaming with the extreme turns. Consider screaming myself. Consider crawling. Decide to just keep pace with The Beast instead. We hear the cheer/screams of the crowd for those finishing ahead of us. We decide to nearly sprint the last eighth-quarter mile or so, see our families waving, and cross the finish line at the same time. I had goosebumps from the time I saw the finish line until after receiving the ultra-marathon medal. Because it was all about the medal, right?

We finish 31 miles in under 5:40 with a 10:50 per mile overall pace. Not fast, but we will take it. Many marathoners were finishing behind us, so there is that. This has been a learning experience. Five years ago, I would have never imagined finishing a marathon…much less an ultra at age 46. I have 4 more races scheduled ahead of me, and am considering a full Ironman…which, is a whole other beast in itself. I am glad I ran with a steady and strong running partner, even though he did hurl by the car when we left (sorry, couldn’t resist…30 year old’s. Hmpfff). The Beast lets me drive his Wrangler home so he could ride shotgun. The Beast instructs me to pull over at a gas station so he can deal with more demons in the restroom. The Beast is a beast. Get home. Take off shirt to shower. Had completely forgotten about MoleSkinned nipples up until this point. Try to slowly and easily pry these from my nipples. Not working. Decide to just grip it and rip it. And, almost pass out while screaming. Immediately pull the other one or I would have just left it there…forever being the one-nipple guy. Scream again. Jokingly tell The Beast about this later. The Beast properly instructs me on how to remove these in the future. A bit late.

What. A. Day.

Posted in Fitness, Marathon Training, Running, Running Advice, Running Tips, Ty Carver, TyCarver, UltraMarathon | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dad Versus…Christmas at the In-Laws. Part I.

Wake up…In the basement of my in-laws during our Kentucky holiday visit. Unfinished. Chilly. But awesome! Plenty of room, my own space, and I do not have a Little Human or Teen daughter laying on top of me. Pure in-law bliss. My choosing to inhabit the basement was not Mega-Machine approved. Mega-Machine is my wife’s mom…aka Machine. Mega-Machine is the Machine on steroids. Mega-Machine is awesome, has more energy than anyone I have ever met in my entire life…bar none. And, very giving. Very much lucked-out in the in-law department.

Teen daughter is spending the week from Louisville as well. Very much miss the Teen. The week is a blur. Mega-Machine purchased Monday Night Football tickets for myself and brother-in-law. Great club seats and lots of beer. Bengals vs. Broncos. Peyton Manning. And, he throws four picks. What? What?! Poured down rain the entire second half. But, great time. Tuesday night…date night with the Teen. Dinner at a nice restaurant, people watching at the ice rink at Fountain Square Cincinnati. Mt. Adams to sightsee. Mt. Lookout. Starbucks. Love spending time with my oldest daughter…super-cool young lady. Have not laughed this hard in a long time.

Christmas Eve. Carlton the pup has the privilege of sleeping with me in the basement last night. Carlton wakes up at 6am and punches me in the mouth to go outside. Continuously. Like a cat. Awesome. Take Carlton out. Run seven miles through Northern KY hills. In the rain. Not a flat patch of earth to be found anywhere. Crazy hills, but make it. Work. Church with the fam. Opening presents this evening. Santa in the morning. Another (very) large Christmas family get-together tomorrow. Driving back to Tampa twelve-hours all day Friday. Whew…

More to come…

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Dad Versus…Driving 800 miles for Christmas.

Wake up. Saturday morning. The Machine is long-gone to work as usual. In my own bed. Love my bed. But, know this is the last time I will be in it for about a week. For tonight we drive. All night. To Kentucky from Tampa for 800+ miles straight up Interstate 75 to my in-laws near Cincinnati. For the holidays. While in a weight-loss challenge. While training for a 50K ultra-marathon. With a new puppy, The Machine, and my 4-year old Little Human. This should be interesting.

Must run. At least ten miles…hopefully more. Get gear together. Ask neighbors behind me if they would like arrange a kid play-date prisoner exchange program plan today…with them going first. Neighbors agree, and take first watch. Take Little Human through the backyard and drop her off. Start run. Trying a new pair of shoes and insoles today four-weeks before the race. Very cushiony, feels good starting out. Until the blisters begin just before mile six. I need to get ten-fifteen+ in today, not good. Try to push through. Interesting what you think about while running sometimes. Thinking, this is happening on a training run during mile six…I’m running thirty-one miles in four weeks. In Clearwater. With no idea what the conditions will be with weather, etc. This. Terrifies. Me. Mile eight. At least two blisters get worse. Curse myself for switching shoes and insoles this far into training. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Head home while managing to get ten miles in…but, not good. And, have to drive twelvehours tonight.

Know this is going to be a very long night. Try to nap while watching the best men’s college basketball team in the world destroy UCLA (UK, if there was any doubt). Manage to sneak-in about a twenty-minute nap around the carnage that is this game. Only twenty. Yikes. Get up and start packing. It is seventy-five degrees here and thirty-two where we are going. And I have to run every day. Pack a lot of stuff in a large suitcase. Have no idea how we are going to fit everything in the vehicle. Presents. Luggage. Puppy crate. Puppy. Little Human. The Machine. Make first attempt to cram what it takes for us to survive for one week into the SUV. Fail. Try again. Fail. Take my suitcase out and back to my room. Remove half the contents. Put only essentials back into small backpack. Really do wonder what I will wear for a week. Success. Everything fits in car. Kind of…

Seven sharp. Hit the road. Driving I75 North and ten-minutes in, Little Human asks if “we are in ‘Tucky yet?” This might be a long trip. Little Human then asks why we are not at the airport yet. We failed to give details to Little Human about our twelve-hour+ road-trip adventure. Little Human explains to us no fewer than twenty times we must fly to Kentucky. Not drive. Fly. Little Human loses argument and falls asleep two-hours later. Puppy asleep also. Decide to go into Dale Jr. meets Godzilla driving mode. Yes, I am the guy who will fly up within inches of your bumper and flash my brights if you choose to drive sixty-five in the fast lane. Fall into a row of cars going really fast. Hang with this group for about two hours. Amazed nobody was pulled over. Wonder what the odds are for me to be pulled over during this twelve-hour jaunt. At least 3:1. Hit the Georgia line and go through Valdosta. Know this is a speed-trap. Slow way down. No worries.

Now an hour North of Valdosta. Cruise control set comfortably at eighty-five. No traffic. Speed limit of seventy. I conclude there is no way I will get pinged for eighty-five. However, Trooper Bowen has other plans. Look in rearview mirror. Watch car driving ridiculously fast catching-up to me. Wondering if this is my long lost armada from a few hours ago. No such luck. An impressive array of strobe and takedown lights explode behind me. Immediately think about how I miss my cool red lights while I was a volunteer firefighter. The Machine begins jabbing at me. Nice. Pull over. I know this drill well. I have talked my way into a courtesy warning no less than twenty-five times during my lifetime. Have license out with hands on steering wheel with window already down. Trooper Bowen introduces himself. I bid Trooper Bowen a hearty hello and happy holidays. I ask Trooper Bowen a rhetorical question. “Was I going too fast?” Trooper Bowen agrees. Explain to Trooper Bowen I am driving to Kentucky for the holidays and thought eighty-five was a reasonable cruise-control figure given the current traffic pattern. Trooper Bowen agrees, except advises the roads are wet from the rainstorm. Ask Trooper Bowen what a reasonable cruise-control figure would be at this time of morning given the weather conditions. Trooper Bowen advises eighty or less. Consider debating Trooper Bowen on the physics of five miles per hour less with rubber and asphalt. Decide against this strategy. Decide to mirror and match his southern drawl as much as possible without mocking him, apologize, and go to my “old faithful”…I was a firefighter for twenty plus years. Trooper Bowen gives me a courtesy notice and begins to make small talk. Believe Trooper Bowen is fairly lonely tonight. Bid Trooper Bowen goodbye, set the cruise-control to eighty per his instruction, and recalculate my estimated arrival time based on using my one free pass warning tonight. Dammit.

Ten hours into drive and now in Kentucky. Making decent time. Everyone asleep. Weird how driving this far/long somewhat mirrors marathon running. It really becomes mental. Flip radio channels. Listen to an entire cycle of ESPN SportsCenter radio. Have made four stops already and have vowed to not make anymore. Have also drank enough coffee to make an elephant jittery. Decide to give in and wake The Machine to let her drive for a bit. Defeat, but I gave it a good shot. Arrive at in-laws in just over twelve hours. Not bad. Take a nap, watch football, and enjoy the time with family. Oldest daughter arrives from Louisville. Love having both of my girls together…and, very lucky to have the best in-laws in the world.

More to come…

Posted in Blog, Christmas, Dads, Fathers, Little Human, Parenting, Ty Carver, TyCarver | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dad Versus…Carlton, The King Charles Cavalier Spaniel Puppy

Wake up…Look around. The Machine is long gone to work. Peak season is almost over, but this is the peak of the peak this week. Fun times. Now have to get Little Human and Carlton ready. Having responsibility for an extra life form throws a wrinkle into my perfectly orchestrated down-to-a-science regimented morning routine. Walk to Little Human’s room. Little Human is already awake. Put toe in water to see what type of mood Little Human is currently experiencing this second/minute/morning. No toys whiz by head. Good sign. No screams to get out. Another good sign. Little Human appears to be in a snuggly, nice mood. Jump in bed with Little Human and enjoy snuggle time. Will never take this for granted.

Tell Little Human we have to pick up the pace of our morning schedule so we can walk our new puppy, Carlton. For such a little dog, Carlton Luke Tyler Carver has a long dog breed name. Little Human gets herself ready in record time. Go to stairs and listen for Carlton. No whining, no barking, no noise. Wonder to myself if Carlton escaped last night and ingested entire first floor. Walk downstairs with Little Human for breakfast. Carlton is safe and sound in puppy prison, just sitting there…watching. Completely chill puppy. Let Carlton out of puppy prison. Convinced whatever drugs the breeder induced this chill puppy with to have him remain so laid back will wear off eventually. Immediately open back door and out Carlton goes…obviously glad to no longer be in puppy prison. Give “go potty” command. Carlton complies, and goes potty. Shake my head. Am either the luckiest puppy/dog owner in the world, able to potty train in two days, or the pure evil genius of Carlton simply lulling me into letting down my guard…when he will then pounce on me with puppy pandemonium. Take Little Human to Pre-K. Carlton rides in car. Chill. Get back to home office. Take Carlton for longer walk. Carlton manages to go numbers one and two. Use pooper scooper. Fast. Efficient. Brilliant. I do not have to touch or smell poo. Can dump poo in neighborhood trash can. Pure animal efficiency. Get back home. Tell Carlton “bed” and he goes right in puppy bed next to office desk. I am a puppy whisperer genius. Carlton lays either in bed or lap all day while making calls. Take Carlton on no less than three walks per hour.

Attend liver-intolerant neighborhood “work from home group” at café for lunch…in our neighborhood. The “water-cooler.” A few people order drinks. Love our neighborhood. We chat about the pros and cons of working from home. Flexibility in schedule, but work too much. Isolation, but no traffic. No office politics, etc. People talk about being lonely while working at home. Lonely? I have marathon training, ESPN 24/7, Call of Duty on Xbox when interviewing a really poorly qualified candidate should I choose to partake, 250 open positions, and now a puppy. And job search candidates to keep me entertained all day. Interesting mix of peeps at function. All super-nice. Liver-intolerant neighborhood has an impressive array of talent wandering around. Love this neighborhood.

Must pick-up my Little Human and somehow feed it. And myself. And a puppy. Gulp…

More to come…

Posted in Blog, Dads, Fathers, Little Human, Parenting, Ty Carver, TyCarver | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dad Versus…A New Puppy.

Wake up. Friday morning. D-Day…or, P-Day to be exact. For today, we purchase our puppy. Put up a valiant fight, but finally succumbed to the fact that if Little Human and The Machine want a puppy, we are getting a puppy. Researched numerous dog breeds. Have always been a large dog breed guy…Labs, German Shepherds, Malamutes, etc. Decide on a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel instead. Good disposition with kids, sad eyes but cute, not too big hopefully equals not too big of poos. Convinced our brand new house is soon to be a urine/feces puppy mess.

Have the usual work at home day. Enjoying the quiet of the house, perhaps for the last time. Wondering how I am going to interview candidates with a pooch running around. I will figure it out. Leading the recruiting function with a large television group in the media industry is definitely interesting…never a dull moment.

Do new puppy gear needs search online. Make list. Drive to PetSmart. Get cart. Look at the vast array of puppy merchandise beckoning me in. So. Many. Choices. Decide to get help. Find a PetSmart employee. Explain to her the gravity of the situation. In less than four hours, I will have an animal in my house I am not yet prepared for. PetSmart employee laughs. PetSmart employee promises to hook me up. PetSmart employee explains every detail of every purchase at great length. My brain is now as full as my cart. Did not really need to know every ingredient in puppy food, but okay. PetSmart employee is very thorough. Check out. Perky PetSmart cashier asks “getting a new dog?” in a voice about eight-octaves above a cartoon character’s voice. Voices in my head quickly take over. Sometimes I listen. Sometimes I immediately blurt out what the voices tell me to. Realize Perky PetSmart cashier is just being nice, but still. Look Perky PetSmart cashier dead in the eyes and tell her “no, I am trying a new parenting technique for my four-year old daughter…do you think this cage is big enough?” Perky PetSmart cashier nervously laughs, looks away from eye contact, and scans my items more quickly. Success. Must make puppy collar name engraving thing. We have not officially decided on a name yet. Text The Machine while standing in front of engraving machine. Three to four names fly between us. Typing and erasing on engraving machine while we text. Carlton Luke Tyler it is.

Drive seventy-five miles to pick-up puppy. Park in driveway. Wonder what I am about to walk into. Knock. Lady in ridiculously low-cut shirt with rather large…ummm…yeah…answers door. Look around. Consider immediately saying “nice puppies!”…but refrain. Because Nice Puppies lady is only holding one puppy, mine. Nice Puppies lady plops my puppy in my lap. Nice Puppies lady goes into a thirty-minute dissertation on puppy care, AKC registration, vet care, etc. etc. I smile and nod and try to maintain appropriate eye contact. Super nice lady, but good God. Pay for puppy. Fairly certain I could have put a nice down payment on a new Jeep Wrangler for what this puppy cost. Or new puppies for The Machine. Puppy and puppy survival kit in hand, walk out door. Nice Puppies lady waves goodbye and bids me good luck. Picture Nice Puppies lady jumping up and down the moment door clicks closed in celebration. Get in car. Brought puppy hauling box crate thing. Look at Carlton’s face. These eyes…geesh. Cannot put puppy in box. Puppy goes on lap. Drive seventy-five miles home with Carlton in lap. Wonder which bodily fluid Carlton is going to bless the Lexus and my lap with first. Go puppy bodily fluid free during trip home.

Arrive home. Choreograph surprising Little Human with new puppy with The Machine. Little Human is upstairs. Put Carlton in small puppy carrying crate box thing next to Christmas tree. Still trying to figure out how to pull off Santa bringing this thing two-weeks early. Call for Little Human. Have video going. Little Human bounces downstairs. Tell Little Human Santa brought her an early present. Little Human walks over to Christmas tree, sees the puppy, and immediately screams and cries she does not want a puppy. Little Human sprints upstairs. Look at Carlton. Carlton looks at me. Sad eyes look ever more sad. Look at The Machine. We laugh. And, I got this on video. Awesome. Call Little Human back downstairs. Little Human on stairs throwing semi-four-year-old-fit. Little Human cautiously takes a step or two downstairs, peers over railing, and checks out Carlton again. Two-minutes later, they are best buds. Success.

Take Carlton for first liver-intolerant neighborhood walk. Of course, immediately see three neighbors. One neighbor laughs and says “nice dog, Paris.” Nice. Dallas and Fireball drive by and ask me to immediately relinquish my man card. It is as if nobody has seen a 6’4 dude walking a fu-fu King Charles Cavalier Spaniel puppy before. This is supposed to be the part where I write about Carlton crying all night, poo’ing and pee’ing everywhere, and basically chewing the entire house. Funny thing happened though, this dog rocks. Put puppy in crate for the night. No crying. Played with toys. Slept. Woke up next morning, took Carlton for walk. Carlton places bodily fluids outside the house. Get back inside, Carlton runs back into crate, plays with toys, and watches cartoons with Little Human. No barking, perfectly behaved. Fairly certain Carlton is lulling me into a false security for his puppy onslaught this weekend. We shall see.

More to come…

Posted in Blog, Christmas, Dads, Fathers, Little Human, Parenting, Ty Carver, TyCarver | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dad Versus…Running 34 miles in 3 days

Wake up. 4:45am EST. Sunday morning. Went to sleep about three-hours earlier. Somehow thought it was a good idea to attend a liver-intolerant neighborhood Christmas party, succumb to peer pressured Fireball shots, and run a half marathon the next morning. Get gear together. Stretch a bit. Beautiful morning in Tampa. Cloudy. Misting rain. Not too hot but not too cold. Have this going for me at least. Jog three-miles in liver-intolerant neighborhood to get blood flowing while needing to get sixteen-miles in for the day. Ultra-marathon training is no joke. Meet PC at 6am to drive to race site. This is PC’s first half marathon. Remember my first half marathon. Pure agony. Making today all about PC. Very cool accomplishment signing-up for your first half and following through. Glad to be a part of it.

Arrive at race site. Small race. Cool people. Laid back. Not crowded. Have ran Chicago, Marine Corps in DC, Cincinnati Flying Pig, etc. The crowds can be enveloping. Register for race. Receive cool long-sleeved tech shirt. Stretch with PC. Was not even sure of the official race start time. Completely winging-it today. Not sure how many runners are in this. Perhaps a few hundred. Have nothing prepared two-minutes before the gun. Pop in gum, get Nike app up and running, ask PC if he is ready for this madness. PC says he is. His longest run ever is nine miles. His longest training run was four for this race. We shall see buddy. Gun pops. Start running. Tell PC this is his race…I am just tagging along. PC sets consistent 10:15 – 10:25 pace. And maintains it. Mile three. All systems still go. Have never really ran a race with someone the whole time. Talk about stuff. PC has interesting stories. Nice being in-shape and being able to talk while running. We have a few hours to kill, so why not? Mile six. The race participants have really thinned-out. Such a small race they have not completely closed the roads. Running on shoulder and a car flies by out of nowhere. Holy F. Felt the wind on that one. Move farther over on shoulder and eventually sidewalk for a bit. Crazy. PC maintaining consistent pace still. Coach PC on breathing, cadence, etc. PC is a beast. Mile eight, and the race doubles-back. We see the leaders. And everyone behind them. Humbling. But we are making consistent progress. Eventually, we are the ones doubling-back and see everyone behind us. This is the good part of the race. PC picks up steam.

Mile ten, ask PC how he feels. PC advises he feels good. Push the pace just a bit. PC’s goal was to finish in 2:25 or under. On 2:20 pace. Push PC to 2:15 finish pace. PC digs-in. As with most races, there is a hill at mile twelve or later. Because race planners are evidently generally sadistic in nature. Coach PC up the hill. Lean into it, do not look up, etc. Running at 9:00 pace. PC is a beast. Look over at PC. Sweat pouring profusely off PC’s visor. Coach PC downhill. Lean back. Let the hill do the work. Still 9’ish pace. Half mile from finish line. Wall meet PC. PC meet wall. PC stops and walks. I walk next to PC. Advise PC he has twenty-five paces or less to get his stuff together…we are not walking across this freakin’ finish line. PC is a beast…we start running. Fastest pace yet. Wheels come off again within 200 yards of finish. Tell PC to put his arm under mine and I will drag him across finish. We are not walking. PC finishes strong. 2:15. Proud of that guy. Post-race. Pictures. PC’s wife is there at finish. Free beer. Food. Music. Awards. Lots of beer and food. Being from a liver-intolerant neighborhood, we, of course, overdo things. Promised PC I would not divulge what happens next. Welcome to racing buddy.

Wake up. Monday. Decide to take 5K jog. 5K jog becomes five-mile run at pace. Should have probably taken the day off and not over-train, but feel good. Basically do the same thing Tuesday morning. Set out for 10K run to stretch the legs. 10K becomes ten-miles. Ten-miles become 13.1. Thirty-four miles in three days. Dumb. The thought of the 50K/31-miles in six-weeks still terrifies me.

More to come

Posted in Blog, Fitness, Marathon Training, Running, Running Advice, Running Tips, Ty Carver, TyCarver | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dad Versus…The Santa “Death Train”

Wake up…Saturday. The Machine is again working the weekend away. Snuggle with Little Human for a bit. Little Human is extra-snuggly today. Love extra-snuggly Little Human. Let Little Human dress herself. Little Human never disappoints. Little Human runs downstairs and looks utterly homeless. But cute. Feed Homeless Little Human. Take Homeless Little Human across the street to Tin Cup’s and wash my car. Just kind of show up. Tin Cup has car washing down to a science.

Tell Tin Cup about interesting afternoon with another neighbor, Hi-Def and JD. Came home yesterday to an awning tent setup over Hi-Def and JD’s SUV with four fairly frantic people surrounding vehicle. Mosey on over. The SUV inadvertently locked itself. With a dog inside. A dachshund named Tampa. Two folks are trying to break-into the vehicle to save Tampa. It is eighty-degrees and sunny. The other two, Hi-Def and JD are frantically calling people and talking to Tampa to unlock the door. I would be frantic as well if my kid/loved one was locked in a hot car. I get it. Try to calm frantic folks. Whip out phone, Google locksmith, find one 2 miles away, they show up seven minutes later. A long seven minutes. Talk Hi-Def out of breaking window with hammer. Try to calm JD. Tampa looking at everyone like we are insane. Tampa is not in distress…everyone else is. Locksmith shows up. Less than a minute later, Tampa is free. Crisis averted. Love my neighbors…always excitement or something to do.

Set out to run 10-15 miles when The Machine finally gets home. Training for 50K ultra-marathon is no joke. It is nice and hot by this time. I did not fuel properly for this run. Was pretty sure I was going to call a taxi at one point. Pushed through for 5. One third. Yikes. But, live to fight another day. Interesting how mental running is at times. You think about weird things. Weird. Immediately have to shower and get ready for a crazy day. For today is our neighborhood Christmas Santa party…complete with the “Death Train.”

There is fair warning from the neighborhood about the Death Train on Facebook. I could not visualize this from the description though. See Death Train in real life. Holy smokes. Picture a fairly large kids’ train with the ability to go really fast. And by really fast, I mean fast. Five cars. A lot of kids buckled in looking very nervous. Parents look nervous. Consider calling fire department to put them on standby. Miraculously, nobody is injured. Santa comes out so children may sit on his lap. Some children freak out. My Little Human looks freaked out but says she is going to do it. Little Human has freaked out every single year when we do this to her. Santa is pretty scary, I guess. Little Human sits next to Santa. First year of pictures without her screaming bloody murder. Success.

Watching all this unfold in eighty-degree temps and palm trees everywhere is surreal. Plus, I am dehydrated and my feet are not happy. Leave this party. Go to another. Two-year old birthday party. Start drinking heavily. Not water. Become further dehydrated. Awesome. Push through and drink more.  Leave to go to another party. Christmas party for just grown-ups. Fairly certain liver-intolerant neighborhood is trying to execute me. And, I am now running a half-marathon bandit-style with PC in the early morning. Nice. Somehow, babysitter comes back for more after the last disastrous debacle. Communicate more clear/concise instructions to sitter this time. No beads. No Play-doh. No markers. No sugar products. Period. Keep it simple. Consider drinking water. Drink more beer. Tomorrow should be fun…

More to come…

Posted in Christmas, Dads, Fathers, Little Human, Marathon Training, Mop, Parenting, Ty Carver, TyCarver | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dad Versus…Decorative Bed Pillows

Wake up…at my normal time. There is an unusual life form in bed beside me. The Machine is not at work at her normal 4:30am. Weird. Everything is now out of kilter. The fine-tuned schedule I have established getting Little Human ready for Pre-K is now complete chaos. Everything out of order. Our usual potty, brush teeth, get dressed, breakfast, sunscreen application is now breakfast, and everything else happens at the kitchen table. Minus the potty. Watch The Machine and Little Human speak a different language while doing The Mop. Little Human wants “Elsa braids”…whatever that is. The Mop does whatever The Machine wants…lays down, does tricks, speaks, rolls over, etc. Why is it so easy for her and so hard for me? Chaos finally ends and the dynamic duo depart for school and work. I am alone. In my office/house/confined space. Silence. Nice.

Make bed. Look at the pile of decorative pillows that adorn California-king bed laying on floor. Decorative pillow pile almost reaches window level. 6-10 decorative pillows at all times. Bend down and start arranging decorative pillows neatly on bed. Mess with The Machine from time to time and make teepee shapes or weird geometrical figures with decorative pillows. This rebellious act sends anal-retentive Machine into near panic mode most of the time. Place decorative pillows correctly according to plan today. Count in seconds the amount of time it takes to retrieve and arrange decorative pillows. 30 seconds. Begin to do simple math of how much of my life is wasted by retrieving and arranging decorative pillows. 30 seconds times 7 days in week equals 210 seconds. 3.5 minutes per week. 3.5 minutes weekly times 52 weeks equals 182 minutes…or, just over 3 hours yearly. I can run 20 miles in 3 hours. I can watch a football game in 3 hours. I can do a lot of things in 3 hours. My 3 hours yearly are spent retrieving and arranging bed decorative pillows. I have been married 5 years now. 15 hours total spent retrieving and arranging bed decorative pillows to date. I could run 4 full marathons with this time. When I ask The Machine why we must have decorative bed pillows…her answer? “They look pretty.” TO WHOM?!?! Nobody parades through our house! Ridiculous…

Run 5 miles. Hard. 25 miles in 4 days now. Am now officially in shape. Working on pace and increasing miles. Just trying to get my feet/knees to cooperate with the rest of the program. Have good days and bad. The thought of the 50K ultra-marathon 6-weeks away still terrifies me. 30+ miles. Still wondering when this new wall will hit and how to overcome this both physically and psychologically. Does the new wall now hit at mile 24-28 or still at 18-22 as with marathons? Will be interesting.

Work. Have a few incredibly hard positions to fill. Like finding a needle in 10 stacks of needles. But hey, if it was easy…anyone could do it. Jump on bike to ride to neighborhood café for lunch. Witness an accident. Go into former EMT/firefighter mode to help. Still miss these days from time to time…it’s in the blood. Speaking of blood, yikes. Person lives. Crisis averted. Finish work. Pick-up Little Human. Arrive home to see her neighborhood friend playing outside wearing Elsa dress. Little Human must immediately run inside to change into her own Elsa dress. Elsa’s run around while I have beer with liver-intolerant neighborhood friends. Work on more Christmas lights. About to have quarter bowling and dollar beer night with liver intolerant neighborhood friends. Will be interesting…

More to come…

Posted in Blog, Dads, Fathers, Little Human, Mop, Parenting, Ty Carver, TyCarver | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dad Versus…December 2nd, 2014

Wake up…4:30am. To the sound of The Machine getting ready for work. I use the word “Machine” for my wife actually in an endearing way. The Machine works an insane amount of hours while leading human resources for opening a new million plus square foot distribution facility. The Machine is also an Adjunct Professor, fixes Little Human’s lunch every morning, etc. etc. The Machine is constant efficient motion. Unbelievable. Cannot fall back asleep after The Machine leaves. Decide to catch up on last two DVR’d episodes of The Walking Dead. Nothing says “good morning” like a zombie apocalypse. Sometimes feel as though I am in a zombie apocalypse. Still PISSED they killed off Beth. Really?! COM’ON!

7:00am. Try to wake Little Human. Little Human does not want to wake up. Snuggle with Little Human instead. 7:20am…still trying to wake Little Human. Resort to tickle monster. Tickle monster always does the trick. Have developed a pretty solid morning routine with Little Human during The Machine’s fourteen-hour workday schedule. Little Human can now dress herself, brush her teeth, etc. The Mop is another story. The Mop owns me. Why is it SO FREAKIN’ HARD TO DO HER HAIR?!?!?!?! Spray water. Spray de-tangler. Try running the brush through. No luck. Still tangles everywhere. Feel like I am ripping the hair right out of Little Human skull. Spray more water. Spray more de-tangler. Mumble to myself. Suck my thumb and rock in corner for a bit. Finally get The Mop to lay down…albeit partially. Get ponytail thingy. Ponytail thingy falls to floor. Little Human will not be still. Lost all momentum I once had with The Mop. Let go of The Mop. Pick up ponytail thingy again. Manage to get ponytail thingy around a portion of The Mop. Try to double-back and then triple-back the ponytail thingy. Definitely do not have surgical dexterity. So. Freakin’. Hard. Third attempt, semi-success. Put bow in The Mop. Put beret clippy things on side of The Mop. Inspect work. The Mop looks a step above homeless status. Success.

Take Little Human to Pre-K. Give Little Human kiss goodbye. Little Human eyes her favorite teacher and runs off…always smiling. Except when not screaming at me. Miss Little Human already. Arrive back at home office. Working from home is interesting. It is always here. Zero in-person interaction. Except with cool neighborhood peeps. Consider running. Have ran 20+ miles in three days. Decide my old body needs a break. Besides, I am in email hell. Dive into email hell. I support 53 TV stations in 37 markets nationwide with 240+ openings. Picking priorities is no joke. Good thing I did not run. Look at schedule. Eight interviews on the books. Sigh. Blink, and the day is done. Time to get Little Human…favorite part of the day hearing her scream “daddy!” and run into my arms. Good stuff. Cool neighborhood kid goes with me to pick-up Kennah. Watch them play. Have small tragedy. Overcome small tragedy. Play with Little Human. Take Little Human on a wagon ride. Park. Etc.

More to come…

Posted in Blog, Dads, Fathers, Little Human, Mop, Parenting, Ty Carver, TyCarver | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dad Versus…Christmas Lights (Part II)

Wake up…Sunday morning. Sore from 13.5 mile run yesterday. Feet. Sore. Knees. Sore. And know I am about to be on my feet for most of the day. For today is the dreaded Christmas light installation day.

Feed Little Human. Take Little Human with me to begin the Christmas light installation extravaganza. Have rented a hydraulic lift “Cherry Picker” (CP) with two other neighborhood guys. We begin at Fish’s house. Fish is the designated CP driver for the day. Fish is in for a long day. There is a learning curve to setup the CP. The CP has outriggers and a 35′-40′ reach. Navigating yards with sprinkler heads, landscaping, and two-story homes with large porch overhangs is not easy. Expected to be finished all three houses in four hours. Finish Fish’s house in just over five hours. Reposition CP no fewer than six times trying to get the correct angle to reach house. Finally use a ladder on top of the roof at one point. I am on the ground crew…and, witness near death experience numero uno. Nobody dies. Move to house number two. Wolverine’s. Even taller than Fish’s. Finish this house in just over 2 hours. No near death experiences, but his lights did partially blow down a day later. Fail. My house. Number three. No longer on ground crew, I go up on the CP. Reach pinnacle of house and the CP goes into alarm-mode. Loud alarm mode. Like “danger Will Robinson” loud alarm mode. The CP has gone off-center while settling into the grass. While 40′ in the air. Nearly 500 lbs of human in the CP basket. Not. A. Great. Feeling. Come down. Kind of quickly but kind of not. Reposition CP for tenth time today. With the help of great neighbors, extra ladders, while on the CP, finish right at dark. Eight hours after starting. Would ladders have been easier? Perhaps. But, we had a CP. It was the principle at that point.

The Machine brings Little Human outside to see the house when completed…while covering her eyes to surprise her. Little Human opens eyes. Little Human lets out a scream of joy and starts dancing up and down the sidewalk while singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Eight hours, but well worth it and mission accomplished.

More to come…

Posted in Blog, Christmas, Christmas Lights, Dads, Fathers, Little Human, Mop, Parenting, Ty Carver, TyCarver | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment