Thursday, October 29, 2009

Help The Champion...if you want to...

Hi! If you're receiving this, you may be somebody who I know from way way back in High School, or maybe you gave birth to me (hi Mom!). See I sent it to everyone I know, and I'm asking you all for $5.00, and to pass this on to everyone YOU know (who has the means to come up with $5.00).

The deal is, I'm walking 60 miles over the course of 3 days to raise money for the Susan G. Komen foundation, to help find a cure for Breast Cancer. And sincerely, I need your help, and this cause needs your help.

In better economic times I'd suggest that to come up with the $5.00, you might forego everyday luxury items like a Flirtini, a handful of Itunes songs covered by the cast of "Glee," or a tip-of-the-hat from your favorite street mime. But I know these hard times have forced you to give these things up already. So instead I'm suggesting that you might forego:
* A can of baby formula,
* A bottle of prescription medication, or
* A co-pay for a swine flu vaccination.

If sacrificing pleasantries isn't your thing, here are some $5.00 ideas:

* Steal $5.00 from someone who is not looking.
* Steal something WORTH $5.00 from someone who is not looking and list it on Craig's list:(Click here for my example) (Editors note: YOU MUST READ THIS, IT'S AMAZING)
* Convince 20 friends to invest $5.00 each with you and then provide the most vocal of the group with an outlandish return. Give $5.00 to me, and hide the rest for seed money.

I know you've already donated to other causes and you've probably already bought a box of Thin Mints or Tagalongs this year as well. So I'm fully aware that this is a "not another one - I already gave money!" situation. But think about this, did those girl scouts put your name on a scrolling web plugin? I think not. Did those girl scouts sleep in a pink tent or walk 60 miles? Maybe. But you’re an adult, so get your mind off of girl scout cookies for once. Those delicious cookies may taste good, but they're downright evil compared to this walking bit. Here's why.

Many of us (myself included) haven't been directly affected by Breast Cancer (yet), and we wait until it affects us or someone we care about before we take action. But causes like this need a lot MORE people to care. They need my $5.00 and they need your $5.00 too. The "walking" part doesn't help the cure as much as the "you donating $5.00" part. The walking gets your attention and gives me a reason to send this e-mail, but the fundraising is what matters. I know we can make a difference.

I've asked for $5.00 by design. Do not give too much! It makes much more sense for you to donate $5.00 and then pass this along to a friend, or 2 friends, or 10 friends. If you give $20.00, it's certainly appreciated, but the true power of our combined ability lies within our influence! Just give $5 and pass it on! I intend to get this message directly to 1,000 people. If you all get it out to just one other person, and the average donation we get from that group is $5.00, we can raise $10,000! That puts a 1% dent in the unrealistic $1,000,000 goal I posted on the pink thermometer site. And that, my friends, is pretty cool.

To donate, just go here.

That's all I've got. Thanks for reading, and even if you don't want to donate $5.00, feel free to send me a reply and we'll just catch up or something. That's good too.

Finally, for you big spenders who like to hurt feelings:

1) If you give me $100 instead of $5.00, I'll write whatever you want me to write on one of my arms with a Sharpie marker for the walk. Feel free to humiliate me. If helping others doesn't motivate you as much as hurting feelings does, then hurt away!

2) If you give me $200 instead of $5.00, I'll bring a little megaphone with me and literally say whatever you want me to. Again, with the hurting feelings. I can take it. It's for a good cause. Finally, thanks for reading all this. If you're like me, you get a lot of these requests.

Don't feel obligated to donate. Even if you can spread the word instead of throwing in an Abe Lincoln, it will make a difference. I hope to catch up with you soon, and I'll see you on the other side of a painful 60 mile walk!


The Champion

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Never What You Expect

If you and hoped, even slightly, that you would see a race recap from the WMU Campus Classic 5K, stop reading right now. Stop. Seriously. Because you are not going to get it.

Why?!? Simple, I didn’t run it. WHAT??? Honestly, I didn’t run it. Did two weeks of post marathon slothfulness catch up? Did your plantar fasciitis finally become unbearable? Nope. And nope (but the latter still hurts badly). But, since you have persisted this far, I’ll tell you the story of why.

On Saturday evening I jumped onto the race webpage around 10pm to get directions to the race. When the page loaded I got that terrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. It appears the WMU Campus Classic 5K was run on Saturday morning.

So, your captain of the ‘running in circles’ team failed to realize his gland finale for the 2009 racing season was a Saturday morning race, and not a Sunday morning race. And that is why there will be no WMU Campus Classic 5K race report. I missed the friggen race.

Fortunately, I live in a 5K crazed region of the country. So I took a quick dip into the vast seas of the internet and found another 5K—this one scheduled to run on Sunday. And, in case you still care, my alternate 5K race report is below.

My alternate 5K was a small race, with less than 100 people participating. Now, I had hoped to trail some fast college kids to pull me through to a 17:58. But given this field, it no longer seemed like an option. Oh, well, the burden has always been on me to run as fast as I can.

I get to the race early, register, and warm up. As I’m toeing the line I’m also fidgeting with my iPod. The gun impersonates a clap of lightning, and the race is off. Immediately five people blast out in front of me. And nobody else is around me. It is only at mile one (no clocks at this race) that I glance down at my Garmin and notice that in the commotion of the official start I failed to hit ‘start.’ It simply read (0:00:00). FAIL Spike, FAIL.

Well, I’m just going to have to run this one on feel. And right now I feel like I want to die. We are running along a river and all I want to do is jump in and begin my long overdue swimming lessons. I don’t, I just keep running. And pretty soon mile two is denoted by chalk writing on the ground. By this time, I’ve pretty much lost sight of the two runners I had before me. I’m wondering how fast they are going, and therefore how fast I’m going. But what I mostly think about is how the Pop-Tarts I consumed this morning are not happy with me. At this point I feel like I’ve settled into cruising speed, and that a sub 18:00 (or a PR) is out of the question.

As I near mile 3 I’m wondering why the Pop-Tarts are still so angry. When the finish line is in sight I buckle down and refuse to look at the clock. I’m just trying to get it over with.

As I cross I notice the clock reads 18:06.

18:06. Hummm…a new PR. And I’m quite happy about it. Yeah, I missed my goal. And yeah, had I known I was so close I could have pushed harder in mile two and the start of mile three, and made up those few seconds. But I won my ag, and would have won my ag at the WMU 5K as well. And bling is bling.

All things considering, I’m pretty excited. In a two-week span I BQed, destroyed 22 Pop-Tarts, ate Taco Bell 6 times, eviscerated a deer with my car, rocked McDonalds 3 times, loved BW3s once, ate pizza 9 times (including the night before my 5K and for lunch the day before Chicago), consumed more Dark Chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups than could be considered safe (and that’s not even taking into account all the other candy I enjoyed), drank Mt. Dew for 12 of the 14 days, made a rather non-specific “Zombie Survival Plan” (just meet me halfway), ate 7 doughnuts, and ran three times totaling 13 miles.

I love running.

Although I’m not going to disappear during my time away from serious running, I want to thank all of you for your kind words and support this year. Please know I’ve enjoyed sharing your ups, downs, aches and pains, triumphs, and stories.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Last Race

Sunday marks the last race of the season for me. I will be running in the WMU Campus Classic 5K.* I have always heard good things about this race. It should have some fast college kids to help drag my 32 year-old body through the finish line.

So let’s talk about goals for this 5K. I want to run a 17:58. And scheduling a 5K two weeks after my marathon seemed like a good idea. I’d be in good physical shape, I wouldn’t have any additional long runs to fret about, I can retool and focus on speed for a few weeks, and I’ll be well rested.

But I never went so far as to write down a training plan. Which has lead to this; its two days away from the 5K and, since Chicago, I’ve done three runs: an easy 3M, and to 5M at 6:30/M (read no speed work at all). Oh, and one yoga class. I’ve also had what can only amount to an intervention about my post-marathon eating habits. Look, lots of people would eat leftover cake from an office party at 7:15am the following day; and by lots of people I mean me. Those concerned will not be happy to hear that I’ll be heading to Taco Bell for lunch today (ummm…black taco).

But it’s Taco Bell Friday, and rules are rules.
Lastly, I’ll be shutting my running down for the next 8 or 10 weeks. During that time I plan on taking a swimming class, reading more books, taking a vacation somewhere warm (even cold runners enjoy the sun and sand sometimes), and attempting to negotiate a much needed peace between the star bellied llamas of East Lansing and the non-star bellied llamas of Okemos. I myself prefer alpacas.
tensions are running high
*Please note that Taco Bell is a sponsor of this race!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Special Shout Out

If you ever think running a marathon is impossible, or that only some people can run a marathon…you are wrong. Last weekend this wonderful blogger completed the Nike Women’s Marathon. During her training Ms. V. struggled as much as any human could, she shared it all, and she still managed to keep the best attitude possible. She finished a marathon, something she never thought possible. And she didn’t just do it for herself, she was a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as well.

Make sure you give her some props, she deserves all if it!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Stuff

I shall wax poetically for a moment—you have been warned. They say you should never try anything new before a marathon. I wonder if they include starting a new job the week before the marathon? Well, I looked high and low for ‘they’ but couldn’t find them. So I decided to do it anyway. Worked out fine. But this does mean posting and commenting will be a little sporadic for a few weeks (read: as I discover exactly what is contained in the “Acceptable Computer/Internet Use Policy” and how closely they monitor/enforce it.).

Ever have a perfect—and totally unexpected—weekend? I had me one of those recently. You have a secret hope that things will maybe work out in your favor. You quietly hope you’ll catch a break or two as you lie awake in bed; painfully recalling all the breaks you failed to catch. And then, because sometimes the stars align, everything not only works out—not only perfectly—but even the most optimistic of secret hopes are eviscerated. All of which leaves you beaming and exhausted on a Sunday evening.

Speaking of evisceration, my beloved Eco-friendly SUV (read: destroyer of Earth vehicle) eviscerated a deer this past weekend. Now, it is deer hunting season in Michigan, but I’m not really a hunter. That fact notwithstanding, a deer decided it was going to race me as I was traveling 70mph on the highway. In case you don’t already know this, deer will explode when they squarely collide with the front of your car at that speed; but not before they decide to destroy your front end, radiator, and a little sense of diver security. Now, don’t worry, I’m fine. Although I am typing this post from the hospital, in a full body cast, using a very frustrating bendi-straw—I’m fine, really.

This of course means that I needed to borrow (or rent) a car for a few days. Fortunately for me, my family was able to help out. That’s the good. The bad is that I’ll be rocking my mom’s minivan. Yep, Spike is rolling hardcore in “Bunny1.” Aren’t vanity plates swell.

Finally, please take a moment to harass Nitomos for running the Detroit Marathon Relay along with Mrs. Nitmos, and Running and Living for rocking the Baystate Marathon.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chicagoland—Race Recap

If you want the short version, please click here.

For those of you willing to suffer the long version, here you go.

--The Expo—

On Friday I met up with Redhead (her cuz and cuz’s boyfriend) and BoB. We briefly hung out before they had to head back home. But I have to say, the short time we spent at the expo was fabulous. I mean, those FL girls rock!

Next I went and signed up with Nike’s 3:10 B corral pace team, and promptly dropped a few Benjamins at the Nike expo store. Then I headed over to the Asics store and proceeded to tell them how much I love their shoes-and bought a sweet green and white long sleeve running shirt that says “26.2 To Hell and Back!” I also picked me up a bad-a—and free—set of red wristbands. I capped off Friday night with some excellent Mexican from Uncle Julio’s.*

Saturday I returned to the expo (but too late to meet up with Irish Cream and Tom from Runner’s Lounge—sorry!!!), but was able to meet up with Frayed Laces. It was so awesome to meet all of my fellow bloggers. You are real people, and you are just as cool in person as you are on your blog!

--Race Morning—

I awoke at 5:15, with the goal of being down at the race at 6:00am.** Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans (at least the weather was working for me—as every prior marathon had temps that reached at least the high 60s—Sunday was low 40s). The main reason for the delay was a Gatorade bottle. Stupid Gatorade bottle. I had left it in my car, and left my cuz’s pad to go get it. When I returned I noticed that the door had locked behind me. Oh, and she lives on the third floor. So I knocked, and knocked, and knocked. But to no avail, she didn’t hear me. Thus, I was left with no other option but to use my super Ninja skills to climb a chain link fence, stand upright on it, and then jump three feet to the second floor balcony. From there I could use the steps to her floor. And of course, as I’m about to leap I’m thinking: “Spike race report: injured falling off of fence!” This little adventure set us back 20 minutes. But, I managed not to break my neck or twist an ankle, so that is good vary good start.

Then came the next pre-race screw up. Although I have never told you about this, I use to put my Gus in my shorts before I started stretching. Then one race a Gu packet exploded when I plopped down to stretch. Thereafter, I stopped putting Gu in my shorts before I stretched.

I tell you this because in my hurry to strip down to my racing outfit and get my stuff to the gear check before it closed, I forgot to put the Gus in. I notice this after I was forced to climb up and then jump over another chain link fence to get into the seated start corral. The seated corral guards had caused a huge backup because they were talking too long to get people in.

About five minutes before race and I’m thinking, “no Gu? How will I survive?” I dug deep and found my inner Zen runner, then decided I wouldn’t worry because I’d grab the Gu offered on the course—I’d just deal. I’m a big boy, I can deal.

--The Race—

I was in corral B, and lined up behind the 3:10 B pace team. My plan was to sit on them for the first 20 or 22 miles, then leave them to ensure a BQ. In all honestly, I don’t even know why I make race plans—I never follow them.

What I ended up doing is running ahead of the 3:10 B team and catching up with the 3:10 A pace team around mile 5. At that point I was about 1:00 ahead of a 3:10 pace. My new plan was to just ride with the A team the remainder of the way.

And this plan I was following pretty well. The crowds were great, loud and supportive. Big moments in the race this year was blowing past the water station where I collided with a runner last year and injured myself; passing mile 15, where I had to stop and begin my walk/slow jog to the finish last year; and running through Pilsen—where the crowd was beyond amazing. But most significant was seeing my Cuz and her family cheer me on around mile 5 and 11. Their enthusiasm and encouragement was of tremendous value.

I was surprised at how quickly we turned North on Michigan Ave at around mile 23.3. What I was even more surprised to feel was the twinge of my calves. A runner darted in front of me as we rounded the corner and I had to hop a bit to avoid him. It was when I landed that they started screaming. The same scream I’ve suffered in previous marathons. The same scream that ended an amazing race in Bayshore at mile 20.

I quickly looked at my watch and noted I was still 1:00 ahead of pace, so I pulled off and stretched them out for about 20 seconds. I just kept saying positive things like ‘run relaxed’ and ‘not this time.’ I only threatened them once. And they remained calm. Shortly thereafter I found myself right behind the 3:10 A pacers again.

At mile 25.2 (marked by a wonderful sign) I started my “Boston” chant. And several feet from the finish line, when I was sure a BQ was going to happen, I may have stopped and posed for the crowd.

I then crossed and experienced the joy of a great race. And the joy of a BQ.

--Post Race—

I met up with the Redhead, BoB, and a few others to soak up the joy of finishing a marathon. I also consumed a total of 20 Girl Scout cookies after the race. Man life is good.

So, congrats to the Redhead for finishing her first marathon, and special thanks to BoB for making a wonderful sign “Don’t Poop Spike!” Don’t worry, I didn’t during the race.

Also, congrts go to Sun Runner, who just set a new PR in the half!

* In case you are wondering what I ate on the ever important day before the marathon, I had Pop-Tarts, yogurt, and a banana for breakfast, pepperoni and mushroom pizza for lunch, and pasta for dinner at this amazing place. Note: I did have Taco Bell on Friday—as it was Taco Bell Friday.

** For race morning breakfast, I had Pop-Tarts, yogurt, and one and a half bananas.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Goal

Bayshore was my first attempt to really race a marathon. I had a perfect race going, then my baby cows decided to destroy everything. Calf cramps aside, I still managed a respectable 3:17.

My goal for Chicago has always been to BQ. I plan on sitting on the 3:10 pace group for the first 20M, then try to leave them. My training runs have all prepared me for this. I’ve done 5 20M+ runs, including two 24M runs. Now, the only thing left to do is to race.

Good luck to everyone running Chicago with me! And everyone else who may be racing this weekend.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ready to Race?

If you think that just doing your mileage, dutifully following a training plan and plodding through long runs on hot and sweaty summer evenings have you prepared to race a marathon, you have much to learn young padawan.

Based off of personal experience, I suggest the following non-running related items for consideration if you are racing out of town.

  • Bring your own alarm clock (or one that runs on batteries)
  • Bring your own pillow (or pillows if you use two like me). Nothing worse than trying to sleep on a hotel bed and not being able to sleep on their super hard/soft pillows.
  • If the hotel doesn’t have a refrigerator (or it does but it’s full of overpriced beer and juice which can’t be removed), bring yourself a cooler. A bag or two will keep it cool all weekend long.
  • Earplugs are good if you happen to be staying in a hotel where there is a wedding party (the after party is where it is at, but you may not want to be there). Make sure you test your earplugs with your alarm…trust me. In fact, ask the hotel if there is a wedding party that weekend before you even make the reservation.
  • If you are flying, I strongly suggest you carry on your race day shoes, and clothing, Garmin, and iPod. I mean, not that an airline has ever lost a checked bag. Plus, pretty much everything else can be bought at the expo.
  • Your favorite stuffed animal. I mean, if you have one, not that I do…would a grown man still sleep with a stuffed animal…pleeezzzzzz. Please don’t judge.
  • Tylenol and Advil.

And, just in case you don’t already do this, I can’t suggest strongly enough that you charge your Garmin two days before the marathon. And check it the day before. And some people can attest, things can go wrong the morning of—even if they manage to qualify for Boston.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Various Gods are Demanding

Yesterday, we moved our v-ball game from outside to indoors. The indoor game is quite different; much faster, higher jumping, harder hit balls (yeah, that just happened), and the playing surface has no give. Apparently the Volleyball Gods desired a sacrifice, and they got a little skin off of my left knee. Thus is the penalty I must pay.

Then the ever demanding Running Gods required I sacrifice a run. So, I attempted a 6M tempo run. I was about 30sec slow per mile, with snot as thick as Jell-O (eat that Bill Cosby…on secondhand, don’t go near it). But I had to do the run, even knowing my illness would prevent a solid effort. I’ve run through sickness before, and the Running Gods always require at least one run. There, take it. Just leave me alone come October 11, 2009.

Outside of these two activities, I’ve been sleeping, and watching movies. Nothing else, I swear.