Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Things Fall Apart: The Weight of Winter

Sorry Beautiful, but I’m into my winter 10, and just to be honest, it turned out to be a winter 12 this year. Whew, I feel better now.

So, since the OUC 5K, I basically forgot to run for a while, and therefore my running habits haven’t been going strong. In fact, they got pretty ugly pretty fast. I’ve had an 8M long run and a 10M long run sitting around and talking trash for weeks now. I asked the sloth sitting next to me to get my back, but he said I made him look productive. Make him look productive?!? That jerk has been wearing the same pair of my underwear for the past five days. Sometimes I hate the sloth more than the goat.

And then the Pillsbury Dough Boy called and said I was fat. I told him to come on over and say it to my face, but I really just wanted to bake that little punk and later him up with butter—then enjoy crispy deliciousness.

But training for Boston starts this week, and I finally managed to get a 10M run in last weekend. The real problem is training fast in snow. I believe there is a limit to how fast you can run in the snow. My best guess is that I can only hit about 80% workout effort on snow covered sidewalks/roads. After that, pushing it only serves to greatly increase the likelihood of a fall.

Point and case, on clear and open roads I hit 5M in 25 degree temps at a 6:50/M average; on snow covered sidewalks I could only manage 8:05/M for my 10M. Then, on mostly clear sidewalks, I could hit three mile repeats at 6:10, 6:19, 6:14. So, for everyone out there dealing with the same crap I am, I feel ya!

And finally, tomorrow I leave to Chattanooga to go spend time with a certain wonderful Redhead. We will be doing out first ‘long run’ together. I believe, in running relationships, this is considered the ‘biggest test’ there is. I better not fail.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oh, I See How It Is

The Redhead informed me the ladies have themselves a little ‘girl only’ bloggers gift exchange. Well, I guess I’ll just have to follow my hero's inspiration and start my own blog chapter of G.R.O.S.S.

Because it’s probably a little too late for the blog boyz to get organized, I’ll just list what I would have gotten a few of the male bloggers out there.

Nitmos: a stick and ten minutes in a back alley with Dick Beardsley so they can work out their issues

Viper: a six pack of Bush Light and two used coasters

Vanilla: only allow his wife a two minute head start so he might have a change to catch her in a skirt chaser 5K.

TGS: a lifeguard to actually watch him during his next surfing contest

Adam: a three month old National Geographic for all his ‘fun’ times spent on hotel treadmills

Paul: a keyboard to eliminate his accent

Lam: a tech shirt that says “Yep, I’m faster than you” (because the guy is so darn humble)

If I forgot you, I have two pairs to old running socks and one goat who now insists upon eating only dollars. Stupid goat.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Racing With a Purpose (Race Recap)

There are many different reasons to pursue during a race. I was thinking about this as I headed south for my 5K this past weekend. I was looking forward to running the OUC 5K because the weather was expected to be better than in Lansing-which did get some snow after all. However, running in ‘better’ weather was not the driving purpose to running outside of the Lansing area.

I’ve only been on a ‘maintenance program’ with my running, with one to two short runs and a long run of 8 to 12 miles every weekend. So, I wasn’t in peak racing shape, or even great training shape. Therefore, a PR was really unlikely. One aspect of my running that I enjoy is that I don’t feel compelled to PR every time I toe the line for a 5K. Therefore, my purpose was not to PR before the end of the year. I had a greater purpose this weekend.

And yet, the purpose of this 5K was more than a ‘just go out there and have fun’ attitude. I wanted to run hard; and I’m never opposed to any bling I may earn. However, my purpose in running this race was a greater than getting some extra bling.

Also, I just recently received, as an early present (thanks Santa), a new Garmin. The 405 should be pretty cool, and this would be my first opportunity to test out my new toy. Alas, the first road testing of a new Garmin failed to be my primary purpose this race.

Moreover, I had agreed to act as a ‘final .5M’ pacer; meaning I would double back after my race and help to motivate and encourage through the final and difficult last leg of the race. And I can tell you from previous experience, being a pacer for a friend is a great honor and tremendously enjoyable—even if they are tired and less than enthusiastic about your enthusiasm. While being a cheer pacer is excellent, it wasn’t my true purpose for this race.

As for the race itself, I started off trailing the lead pack. This put me and about five others in the second tier of runners for this race. For the first mile I led the second pack, but slowed a bit when the course went from concrete to brick. My first foot-strike on the bricks made my plantar fasciitis scream. And shortly thereafter I was passed by two runners.

I tried to stick with them, but they seemed to have something that second mile that I didn’t. It killed me a little to watch them pull away. Also, because I was running a new course, I didn’t have a solid idea of where I really was or how much remained in the race.

As I rounded a corner I noted a significant straightaway, and during this stretch I realized that the two runners I had passed had not only ceased to distance themselves from me, but that I had gained about 10 feet on them.

I began to summon my inner motivational voice: “Run faster you loser!” The long straightaway rounded into the final stretch. I furiously picked up speed. As the runner in front of me gained on his opponent, I was gaining on them both. About 30 meters from the finish I managed to pass both runners—but not without a valiant effort and attempted re-surge by one of the two runners to withstand my pass.

Immediately after finishing I spun around and jogged back down the course to meet up and begin my home-stretch pacer responsibilities. And, when that was done, I performed the primary purpose which had brought me to this specific race.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Weekend Jumpstart

I’ve put in some long work hours these past few weeks—even with the recent long holiday I need a little vacation. If I’m forced to train for Boston in cold and stupid Michigan, I better slot a little getaway.

This weekend the only local 5K is the Dashing Through the Snow 5K, but snow is not expected to last around here this weekend. Plus, the only thing more depressing than Lansing not having salt bagels after a race is partaking in a race with the word “snow” in it when there is no snow on the ground. Therefore, I think I’ll utilize the Runner’s Word Race Finder and find me a better 5K.

I’ll drop a race report, and let you all in on a little secret, next week.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An Open Letter to Party Store Owners

I will be mailing this letter this week.

Dear Owner of the Northern Party Store,

I wanted to take a moment and thank you and compliment your excellent staff. On the Saturday following Thanksgiving I decided I would attempt to undo—if that is even possible—the horrific carnage and possibly irreversible cholesterol damage I sustained during Thanksgiving and the following day.

Despite what I’m sure was the consumption of, conservatively, about 7500 calories during a ridiculous 48 hour period, a run seemed like a good idea. But then again, all bad ideas seem like a good idea at the time—just ask my friend Joe about buying his wife a snowplow for Valentine’s Day.

Because I was visiting my parents, and don’t know the area well enough, I decided to utilize the rails-to-trails trail; beginning my journey close to the fabulous Midland Tridge.

First, however, as some background information, you should know that I am a dedicated long distance runner. I’ve completed several marathons and regularly embark upon a run of 10 miles or farther just for fun. Now, before you begin to judge me too harshly, trust me, I understand how sick and slightly masochistic that sounds. But I tell you, I just love to run. I once even ran 12 miles around an indoor track that required 5 laps to complete a mile. Think about that, 4 left turns per lap and 5 laps per mile…yep, 240 left turns. It took me two days before I could turn right again. I totally know how Derek Zoolander feels.

Anyway. I was just over 4 miles into what I was hoping would be a 10 mile run when the Thanksgiving turkey, gravy, delicious stuffing with cranberries, and about 100 ounces of Mtn. Dew began to seek revenge. Boy were my innards revolting, churning and thrusting and threatening to make a new exit if I didn’t… well, you get the point. And here I am, surrounded by woods and almost nothing else, facing the great long distance runners conundrum: “Do I act like a bear and utilize the wilderness, or do I try to salvage some inkling of my humanity and turn back now (Note: turning back would mean an 8 mile run because I was running and out/back route)?”

Then, a ray of heaven’s light shone down and I saw the Northern Party Store sign. I ran across and used your restroom. What is significant is that your staff was completely understanding to the fact that I was not there to buy a Gatorade or maybe a Twix candy bar. Tired and probably sweating gravy, I went directly to your bathroom without haste.

Sometimes stores will have a policy that prevents people from using the restroom unless they patron the store. This rule sucks. It sucks even more if you are an avid long distance runner such as myself. And, as an aside, do you really want to place a part sweat and part gravy soaked fiver sitting in your cash register? No, of course you don’t. Can you imagine the kinds of negative emotions a bill like that would have on the other innocent bills in the register?

But, those stores have you at their mercy I tell ya, I mean sometimes you have to go and the only currency you have are a few pine-comes you picked up during your run.

Fortunately for me, Northern Party Store has (or isn’t enforcing) such a policy. Therefore, as a token of my appreciation (and in hopes that you will not alter the status quo regarding runners using the restroom), I have included five dollars.

God bless you and my mother’s delicious stuffing,

A Running Bluebear

P.S. I do hope to do future long runs on the aforementioned trail, and therefore hope this fiver will ensure an open restroom in the event of another emergency.

P.P.S. In case you were wondering, no physical damage was done to your restroom; but your toilet may suffer some lasting emotional scarring; to wit the enclosed fiver will not even begin to cover the cost of professional therapy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Turkey Trotting: Race Recap (and some other stuff as well)

Early Thursday my cuz and I woke up, donned our pseudonyms and other race gear, and made our way to the great city of Detroit* for the Turkey Trot 10K. Check out the cool tech race shirt below.

Now, my cuz has been running on and off for the past three years; occasionally training for a 5K or 10K here and there. But, his quasi-residence in Orlando has provided him with the opportunity to run a few Disney races (a 10K and 13K) recently. His enjoyment in those races led him to sign up for the Disney Marathon in early January.

Cuz asked me to join him for a portion of his marathon—which I readily agreed to do—and this 10K was a practice session for our upcoming run.

Now, returning to the above mentioned 10K race, we rolled down into the Dirty D with lots of other folks on a cool and crisp day. The start of the race utilized both sides of a street divided by various shrubbery, then wrapped around a traffic circle. So, depending on what side of the street you lined up on, there was staggered start. The two sides rejoined after the traffic circle.

The race itself was fun; we held a good conversational pace and joked during the course. The people lining up for the parade (which followed the race) were energetic, and many crowd hive-fives were dispensed.

When the 10K and the 5K split apart, someone may have yelled “quitters” and “I see your 5K and double it” and maybe a “10Kers do it for twice as long.”

We finished strong and were rewarded with delicious food—including salt bagels. I don’t know what the deal is in Lansing, but in the greater Dirty D area post race salt bagels are a staple. A race director would sooner go without water than salt bagels. But not here in Lansing where people barely know what a salt bagel is. Sometimes my town is depressing.

On Saturday I headed out for a 10M run down the rails-to-trails trail near Buck and Bunny’s abode, and was 4M into at 10M out/back when the need to use a restroom manifested itself. Fortunately, I saw a party store and was able to maintain some of my runner’s dignity.

Finally, I decided to run one last 5K this year, and it will be this weekend, baring any unforeseen dramatic changes in the weather or loss of motivation due to weekend late nights.

*Such things are notably subjective