Tuesday, November 29, 2011

T-Day Over

A few things to consider. Last weekend Racer and I went and saw the Muppet movie. It was great. Now, if you are all things Muppets then I’m sure you already have your own Muppet Whatnot, but if you don’t then I suggest you get busy.

Now, far be it for me to think too deeply into something simple, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the love story of Kermit and Miss/Mrs/Ms??? Piggy. First off, are they even married? I vaguely recall a wedding scene in Muppets Take Manhattan, but according to a 2011 interview with Jimmy Kimmel the answer is no. NO?!? And this makes we wonder if they should really be celebrated as a couple. Seriously, the guy has been dating her for my entire life and they have had more fake weddings than Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears combined. The frog doesn’t need to commit because he gets the bacon for free…or so it seems. This sad love saga is equally as poor a message as Eminem and Rihanna’s Love The Way You Lie. What kind of example is this for young children?

So, last week I managed a few runs up in the crisp Colorado air. It sucked. My attempts to simulate low oxygen high altitude conditions by running in place in our steam packed bathroom failed to adequately do the job and after one mile I was praying for an angry mountain goat
to attack me and end my misery. There were none. Where have all the good goats gone?

I’m slowing getting back into running shape, but I’m enjoying the blessed struggle. As the winter slowly builds its momentum, preparing for its annual months of occupation, I’m feeling the urge to run more and more. It always amazes me how my desire to run waxes and wanes, and how other loves such as reading do the same—thereby creating a life where different passions rise and fall in such a way that one is always blooming as another begins its hibernation.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Winners and Unwinners*

So, Nitmos’ enemy is going to be speaking today at Playmakers. Sadly, I’ll be working and unable to attend. But, as they say, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.** And there are few things I’d like to see more than old Mr. Dick Beardsley try to physically and emotionally intimidate my former neighbor. Or to see Nitmos dismount from his majestic honey-soaked unicorn. Boy I would love to see two of the worlds coolest men square off. This title bout would be bigger than the Dos Equis man and Chuck Norris’ 23 day intergalactic and multidimensional battle. The crisscross of lasers and daggers and armies of monkeys was epic.

Very quickly, the list to top five showdowns of all time are as follows:

5. Merlin v Madam Mim
4. The guys (or girls) from here…
3. KITT v KARR
2. Brussels Sprouts v Asparagus
1. Dos Equis Dude v Chuck Norris

But tonight’s showdown has the potential to best them all. Remember, there can be only one man to enter and two to live immortally…or have I crossed my 80s movies up a tad. Regardless, I wish I could attend.

Also, I’d like to congratulate One Crazy Penguin as my winter giveaway. Amazingly, BoB was the randomly drawn winner, but she indicated she didn’t need any of this cool stuff. So, One Crazy Penguin, please send me an email with your address and I’ll get it off to you.


*Unwinners you may ask. Well, if 'un' is simply a prefix for 'not' then unwinner should be self evident, inconventional as it may seem.
** But the question remains, who is my enemy and who is the enemy of my enemy…

Monday, November 7, 2011

Giving It All Away...Almost

Seriously, Phil Collins suggested you just throw it all away, but that isn’t very environmentally friendly now it is. Not that the Brits are all that eco-friendly as it is…thank you very much industrial revolution. Cuz you know I know baby, that it is much better to give it away.

As winter approaches, post-work runs become ‘night runs.’ And few things are more depressing than going to work when it is dark outside and leaving work at 6pm and it is still dark dark again.

Now who will light up the darkness? Who will hold your hand? Well, if you win my giveaway, then you can light up the night with this Nike reflective vest!* You will shine like a beacon of hope as you slice the long hours of darkness. Sadly, I'm unable to help with the whole hand holding problem you have.

And memories will remind you that running on ice and snow is difficult. So the giveaway winner will also get a pair of ICEtrekkers. Sure, Yak Trax get all the glory, but these are way cooler—based entirely on anecdotal evidence and no actual field testing. But they are free so what do you care if they last a week.

Not so sure you are sold on entering my giveaway. How about this? What if I throw in two new Chocolate Raspberry Roctane Gu packets. All you have to do is leave a comment. And if that is too much work then I sure hope you don’t find yourself running at dusk, thinking about how much you really wished you had a Gu to help you through the last few miles of your run when you slip on some ice and then a car tragically runs you over because they never saw you crumpled on the ground. All of that can be avoided by leaving a comment…but only for one of you.

* Disclaimer: First, if you are engaged to me, you can't win. Second, the vest is a L/XL. If you are small, like Racer, then it won’t fit you. But it is still free. The ICEtrekkers are also a size L (M: 9.5 to 12.5; W: 10.5 +). But if you have smaller feet and you win then let me know and I’ll exchange them for a size that fits you.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

She Said Yes!



The Story of Racer


There exists, as sure as your eyes glance these words, a woman of unusual aptitude and beauty. A woman easily identified by her feisty persona and fiery hair. And although she is called by many adoring names, she is best known to my heart as Racer. A name which simply reflects the form my heart adopts whenever she is near; infinitely erupting in sweet palpations. But, I am perhaps giving away too much of the story. So I shall arrest my inadvertent attempts to spoil this ending and tell you a story of monsters in couches, ghosts in mountains, beluga whales, and miles of every kind.

Our story begins as Racer was preparing for a journey. Her preparation required she swiftly cover sunny southern roads. All of these hot and winding summer streets were purposely leading her to a northern city. All the while Racer remained unaware that a greater adventure awaited her under a flag of two light blue stripes and four red stars.

As months fell into weeks which diminished to days, Racer’s efforts intensified. Soon her preparation included speaking her fears and hopes to the night sky. Words I eagerly awaited to receive as they crashed around me amongst autumnal colors, even if they were not specifically intended for me. Her words touched my soul.

I befriended early morning hours simply to catch her words. I stole sleeping moments to dare a response. Gradually, Racer sent her star cradled words directly to me. There growing a conversation crisscrossing a nation guarded by fifty stars and thirteen stripes.

Our conversations quickly established a well trodden path between two souls, and a path leading Racer to alight into my world. And on the day before Racer would prove to herself that nothing is impossible, we met in an embrace of twisting anticipation and twirling joy.

The following day, chilly concrete and a clear sky awoke to battle Racer. Purposely crossing a line which signified her willingness to meet the challenge, Racer quickly found herself in a battle where every step counted. That day Racer was given every opportunity to quit before she finished, but she refused. For Racer found within herself a drive to continue when all excuses would allow her to stop, and when her body was pushed to its limits. Every step on every road she had ever paced built deep within a foundation of strength. Then, finally, the marathon of roads conceded and Racer emerged triumphant.

Only a few days later, sore from prevailing in a momentous battle and carrying her shield of perseverance, Racer and I rejoined. Together again, we first clasped hands under the eerie light of jellies. Acting as silly as penguins and as loving as beluga whales, Racer and I realized something special awaited if we were brave enough to fight for it. But, Racer still had southern roads to conquer, and so she went away.

Yet, not long after, Racer would sneak away to rounded mountains. There, nestled in caverns of ancient cliffs, Racer was confronted by the ghosts of her past. As wrathful spirits sought to accost, our ever-running hero was at a crossroad. Racer could jump off to one of several byways, thereby avoiding the haunts of prior years, or she could stand and vanquish her tormentors.

Racer, of course, chose to fight. On a sharp winter day, standing on a wooden bridge, Racer and I wiped away tears stolen from us by a westerly blowing winter wind. On that arc of wood spanning a river, Racer and I said “I love you.” And, amazingly, the ghosts of Racer’s past where stripped away. She was protected from them forever by her newly found armor, an armor of vulnerability.

Still, Racer and I remained separated, I under a banner of blue enshrouding elk and moose, Racer under a banner of diagonal red lines cutting through white. But such emblems only represented an obstacle of distance, and Racer and I continued to throw words to each other across the night sky. A love growing across a nation.

One day, while Racer transversed country miles, monsters asleep in couches awoke. Upon returning home, exhausted and unexpecting, the horrible monsters attacked. Like the worst kind of monsters, these monsters invoked Racer’s own fears and self doubts.

A battle for nothing short of Racer’s own happiness was at stake. And Racer will tell you, there were times when she felt she could not win. The feeling of invincibility she had previously known was waning. Racer struggled and faltered. She collapsed amidst despair. But Racer would not succumb to her inner monsters, and she rose like a phoenix. For deep within she found her strongest weapon, an absolute belief in her own strength. Racer rose and wielded her sword of confidence, slewing every monster.

Now, armed with the sword of confidence, the shield of perseverance, and an armor of vulnerability, Racer knew only one thing remained missing…a banner of her own making. Thus began the last quest Racer would ever embark upon alone. For, Racer could see that I too was seeking a unique banner. So Racer braved her way to a land of winter skies above miles and miles of rolling hills.

Only, not every quest goes as planned. One day, while seeking a prize to serve as a token of my desire to spend all future nights gently sending words across a table, under the security of a shared roof, and not across the starry night, I was entrapped. I had been ensnared by tentacles of woe and dismay. I was trapped. And only my brave Racer could save me.

Racer set out to rescue me, confidently returning to where our adventure first began, to the home of jellies and beluga whales. Arriving at the fourth stroke past the afternoon hour, to the place where our hands first clasped, Racer found me waiting to ask one question. One question that would deliver us into each other’s arms forever. An answer that would allow me to mark this day with a white stone.

Friday, October 14, 2011

So Confused

The Redhead says she loves surprises. So, yesterday, as we cuddled on the couch and were watching—somewhat confusedly—American Horror Story, I decided to give her a little surprise. I turned to her lovingly and yelled “Boo!” She was very surprised.

But I wouldn’t categorize her response as indicative of someone who ‘loves’ surprises. Relationships are so confusing sometimes. Moreover, this gives me pause to reconsider her birthday surprise. See, I gave my buddy an extra house key and told him to sneak in late at night dressed as a bloody killer clown, armed with a fake knife, and yell “You’re gonna die! So enjoy your 30th birthday!!!”
Perhaps this would not be the kind of surprise she is very fond of.

On running related news, I continue to run, but not fast.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

To Run or Not to Run

What is the alternative? Lots. Sadly, there are lots of things one could do other than run. The Redhead has been swimming and riding her bike (when her Dr. allows) although she has been told to do nothing but stimulate her bone for the next few weeks.



But swimming? Biking? I can swim if it is to save my life, but I don’t swim for pleasure, or exercise, or any other reason other than to not drown. You’re a runner, so you’ve heard this idea expressed before. A friend says, “You run marathons? That’s crazy! I only run from the cops!” Basically the same idea. Only, swimming to save your life is easily distinguishable from breaking the law and then running from the cops because 99 out of 100 times you are not swimming from the cops to save your life. Plus, when a friend says that to me, my first reaction is to say, “If you only run when you are running from the cops, they will catch you every time. Seriously, even the out of shape donut loving ones will catch you. That is a terrible approach to avoiding the police. I strongly suggest you start running more often to ensure you can actually escape the cops…otherwise running from them will only provoke a billy club beat-down when they catch you. And they will.”



And now to biking. Seems everyone is all about bikes. The Redhead got a trainer, and then there’s this person, this person, this person, this person, and even this person to name a few who ride. But I’m not so sure I’m going to hop on the uncomfortable seat fad. Really, wasn’t it only a decade or three ago when you were using your new pogo-ball? Remember breaking open your first thigh master, eager to feel the inner burn? I’m not so sure that bikes will not suffer the same fad status. And of course, I’ll go get me a bike and the next thing I know unicycles will be all the rage. Doubt me. Let’s talk about how minimalist shoes and gear was all the rage until the rise of nude 5Ks.





Yep, I think I’ll stick with running for now.

A huge congratulations to everyone who heroically ran Chicago this past weekend. Seems the windy city decided to give another hot and angry day for the marathon! Your finish is something to be extremely proud of.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

These Long Runs are Killing Me Smalls

Or so I blurted out as the Redhead reflexively pulled covers over her head to shield her eyes from the light that fluttered in the room. She mumbled, “How far did you go?” “Five miles,” I replied.

A mutual laugh.

Getting back to running is like getting back to most things. And, the attitude you adopt is likely to determine whether you stick with your return after a few weeks. There is something inherently humbling about struggling to finish a 5M run at a pace you would consider, under normal circumstances, a very easy run.

Struggling to do something your mind—notwithstanding all the reason and experience and tempered expectations you can enumerate—is the most difficult task any runner faces when coming back from an extended break or injury. And attitude is the factor that determines your willingness to continue to struggle through these ‘underperforming due to unreasonable expectations’ runs. With time and effort come better times and longer runs.

If you chose to have a negative attitude about these early runs, you will quickly feel defeated and your exuberance and desire to run will diminish. Soon you will be finding reasons to not run. A negative attitude spreads fast, and lingers longer than two weeks of positive runs.

This is why I chose to have an attitude of bemusement and pure enjoyment about these early-return-to-running runs. When, after mile two, my internal doubt voice begins to suggest shorter routes, I try to force a laugh and accept the joy of effort and pain. While a negative attitude takes almost no emotional energy to adopt, maintaining a positive attitude is a daily effort. But, an effort well worth the results.

And this attitude was most helpful during my extremely difficult (insert sarcasm) of a 400, 800, and a 400.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Posty Post

Sometimes you need to just stop making promises (heartfelt at times and vague at other times) that you are going to get back to running and get out there and run. And if you are really struggling to turn that decision to run into action, like I was, then the best thing is to just sign up for a local 5K and go get your guts stomped out. Consider my guts stomped.

It was ugly, even the start was ugly. Not having run consistently or much at all for the past five months, my goal was simply to not hurt myself and average sub 7:30. Utilizing a local 5K to raise money for the unfortunate children of fursona parents, or something along those lines, I just laced it up in an attempt to jumpstart my running.

As you can imagine, a 5K to benefit neglected children of fursona does not draw a large crowd. And I was pretty much assured an AG notwithstanding the 10 year age group categories. But that was because only three guys were in my age group.

All that said, the first mile was just what I wanted, a sub 7. Now, in theory, I should have been running faster, seeing how there were several furries in hot pursuit (a lion, a tiger, and an aardvark), but I’m out of shape…and way out of running shape.

If the Redhead was there to observe, she would have thought it less of a wild-animals-chasing-me scenario as it was a guy dressed like the new triple stuffy.






Yep, pretty much me. A little help Shaq?

Regardless, it was more important that I get out there and start running than find the perfect 5K to make my return. Also, I’ve finally got a new marathon. Next spring I’ll be doing the inaugural Lansing Marathon. Inaugural, in case you don’t know, means first. Lansing is my ‘adult’ hometown and I’m glad they are finally getting a marathon. We have several marathons in MI, but I would argue only three are well know within the state (Detroit, Grand Rapids [those two always on the same day], and Bayshore [in Traverse City]). Now, we also have the Martian Marathon and the New Year’s Day Get Your Hung Over Fat Ass Running Marathon, and these; but not much more.

So, it is my hope that the Lansing Marathon can join the ranks of well known and respected Michigan Marathons. Regardless, I’m thrilled about the idea of running a marathon on roads I know and train on.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Running in the Hot

It is time to get back to running because the week of gluttony turned into the month of gluttony. Typically I go for a 5K or 10K PR after a marathon cycle, but I started to feel some weird knee issues. I went to the sports doctor who told me, based on my description of the injury, that she feared the worst. But, after examining my knee, I was informed I was being a baby. I protested and told her I was tough. She said if was really tough I wouldn’t be there; I only had a strained quad. My prescription was to ice and stretch. I mostly took more time off.

But on Friday I ate a yogurt and nearly puked. Time to run again.

On Saturday I got up early for a long run. I thought 8 easy miles would be fun. No worrying about time, only fun. And it was. During my run I had two important thoughts: 1) I need to make it a priority to run more in hot hot angry sun conditions; and 2) during the first mile I think crazy thoughts. Seriously. During mile one of my 8 miler I thought I’d just bump it up to 10. I always do this. During mile one I think I’ll start doing two-a-days or 30 mile long runs. Hummm…why so brave in mile one?

On Sunday I began my running in the angry sun with a 4M in the low 80s. It was awful. I love it. Nope, I did not.


Also, I've done a guest post about spectating over at Tales of a Running Mom.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Otherwise: All Things Go

I got out of bed

on two string legs.

It might have been

otherwise...


This Boston couldn’t have been any more different for me than last year’s Boston. The preparation for this Boston was significantly better than last year (see 3 runs last April compared to three runs the week of the marathon). I can honestly say I’m in better shape than I’ve even been for any of my previous marathons. My training was ambitious, and my goal was equally lofty (for me).

And yet, this year’s Boston is so similar to last year’s in one very important way: Weather. Last year the weather in Boston for the days leading up to the race were cloudy and rainy and in the 40s. Then race day came and so did temps in the 60s. Now, I know some people think sunny and high 50s going into the mid 60s is perfect racing weather—but it all depends on what side of the Mason-Dixon line you live on. For me, that kind of weather spells overheating and cramps.

This year the weather before the race was cloudy and rainy and windy and 40s or mid 50s. And again, on race day the weather was sunny and going into the 60s. I will admit I was disappointed to see this, but I wasn’t going to allow that to prevent me from trying to run my race. As a runner, you try to control so many things; but you can never control the weather (and if you can, than you and I need to have a little chat!). You train for months. You wake up on race day and you take what is given. Regardless, you give your best.

Last year on the bus ride out to Hopkinton I was nervous, anxious, and uneasy. This year I made a special playlist of awesome pre-race songs to get me into the zone. Also, because this is the kind of thing I do, I decided to run the marathon in a pair of Saucony Kinvara’s. They are significantly lighter than my Asics 2150s and, seeing how I am a midfoot striker, I wouldn’t have a problem moving to a more minimalist shoe. If you don’t recall me talking about these new shoes it is because I bought them 8 days before the marathon. I had about 15 miles on those kicks before I laced them up for 26.2. Needless to say, the Redhead strongly opposed this decision, which is why I didn’t tell her I was going to race in them.

This year, several amazing things happened. First, by chance, I got to meet the guy who was on his 45th consecutive Boston Marathon—the longest active streak of any runner. He was extremely nice and very relaxed for the race. I guess 45 will give you some level of comfort. I also saw Ryan Hall doing sprint outs before I went into my coral.

At the starting line the excitement was unbelievable. Thousands of runners were there to go rock it. I was ready. And so was the angry sun. It is sometimes hard to explain to non-runners why running under a blazing sun is so difficult, even if the temps are mild. So, typically, I just show them the sunburn I received while running under the hot sun. I got burned again this year despite wearing a shirt and hat. The Redhead likewise got burned from spectating. My body was just not prepared or adapted to running in the 60s. Every long run (and all runs but one) were in 40 degrees or below. Most were below 30.

I trained to run at 10am. I did each long run at 10am. I was not trying to avoid the sun and noon heat. Only, here in Michigan, it just never hit spring. In fact, it snowed where we live on Monday.

But, back to the starting line, I took the first mile slow, a 7:15. Then I just relaxed and never looked at my watch again until the half. A 1:30ish half. Right on pace. But at mile 10, well before the maniac screams of Wellesley, I knew my body was working hard to keep my effort. At every water station I took one water to dump on my head, then another to drink as much of as possible. I easily consumed over 60ozs of water on the course. I was hydrated and, for the first marathon ever, didn’t suffer calf cramps. My only regret is not wrapping my body in Arctic-Ease.

Soon I was making the 90 degree turn that signals the start of the Newton Hills. I ran those true, but my pace was slowing. Still, I ran every step up those hills. Sadly, by mile 22, I felt like my heart was going to explode out of my chest. I was overheating. I hit a water station and walked through. I did this a few more times over the last five miles. No matter what I tried, I just couldn’t get my body to cool down sufficiently enough to resume my desired pace. On a day where so many had amazing and record breaking times, this weather was too much for my pasty self.

But, I was still having a wonderful time. I never felt angry or frustrated. I knew I would be rounding onto Boylston soon and I would be giving the Redhead a huge kiss. After frantically looking for her on my ‘runner left’ (outside of Trader Joes) I told her how much I love her and I motored home for a 3:14:xx.

This is a good time. Although it is about 12 minutes slower than what I wanted. I do feel a bit like I had a bad race. Unlike Grand Rapids, there is almost no shade on the Boston Marathon course, so I couldn’t forestall the effects of the angry race day sun. I had a bad race but I still managed to run a good time. This only goes to show how prepared for this race I was.

So, another Boston; another ‘perfect’ race day. Another marathon race day where the sun shows up and cooks me like a lobster—and equally unwilling. This is the marathon. This is the reality of life. There is only so much you can control. But you can always control your outlook and attitude. I loved this Boston. I gave everything I had to try and reach my goal. I’m proud, even if I didn’t accomplish a specific time. There is no loss of joy because I was 12 minutes slower that I wanted. There are only wonderful memories of another trip with the Redhead. A game at Fenway in the freezing cold. Going to the Fine Arts Museum for the very first time—again. Walking in the rain to get cupcakes in Beacon Hill after date night. And, of course, a sexy kiss somewhere after mile 26—which was probably an additional six to seven minutes added to my time.

Lastly, back home in the D I walked over to the conveyer belt to grab the jumbo suitcase the Redhead and I shared during our trip. Alone, as all other passengers had already grabbed their belongings and departed, I noticed a Hansons/Brooks bag circling. Moments later Desiree and her husband walked up to grab their belongings. I told her how amazing she did and how proud everyone was of her. She then asked how my race was (I was sporting the marathon jacket). We talked for a few more minutes and then she was off. Sadly, I didn’t ask her if she got any of the free water they had at the finish line.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Nothing To Do But To Do It

Meet the lazy Nothing-Doings,

All they do is stand around,

When it’s time for doing nothing,

Nothing-Doings can be found,

When it’s time for doing something,

You won’t find a single one,

Guess what Nothing-Doings! Our date is for later next week. For I have a few more days of doing things before I do the big something.

Goals: I want to average a sub 7:00/M average; although I would be happy if I managed to run a sub 3:05. Regardless, I will run with heart and joy.

The time is now to lock in and do something. There is always time for doing nothing later on…

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Update

Thanks everyone for the positive vibes. I'll post again before the race and give my goals...likely tomorrow. Also, thanks Sun Runner for continuing the poem...I was beginning to think nobody would notice the National Poetry Month theme I have going.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Howell

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical... Less than one week. Hummm. Every run last week was a fail. My tempo run was nowhere near close to my goal. Worse, my final long run was a disaster—a 9M run at marathon pace. The week before I did 13.4 miles at MP -4 seconds per mile and felt amazing. This week I was never into my run even though I was ahead of pace at mile 4 and even at mile 5. For some reason I was never emotionally involved in the run. At mile seven I should have been able to pick up the pace and get even. Instead I had my slowest mile. I ended the run at MP +3 per mile, or about 30 seconds behind my goal. Phfffffttttt. And here is the point. If you take any long run for granted, the odds you will be able to rally out of a poor run are slim. Which is strange, because there are several levels of emotional involvement to a run. Most times my emotional state is focused and with a slight edge. Sometimes I just find myself going through the motions. I'd like to tell you that I've never stepped to a starting line without being fully engaged emotionally; but I have. I try not to, but sometimes it happens. Even at big races. Does this leave me worried? Honestly. Not really. In less than a week I'll do everything I can to be emotionally fired up. So, when the jets fly over and the gun sounds, I'll be ready to stomp on the throat that is the Boston Marathon.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Green Wheelbarrow

so much depends
upon


how you decide to look at life. I for one have decided that being a State Farm Insurance representative has to be the worst job ever. Seriously. I used to believe SF employees were like all other insurance employees and worked a regular 9 to 5. Wrong. Apparently, SF has been bestowed with Genie like powers which it passes along to its authorized agents; thereby allowing its agents to grant wild whims for idiotic customers.

Seems you can make your automobile mishap into an 'anything I ever wanted or desired' fantasy. Want a sexier significant other and Bob Parker to relax in your new hot tub while LeBron James plays a tiny violin? Your SF agent can make it happen. Get fired from a job-- just go crash your can and you can magically have your SF agent appear and command them to eliminate your boss while also delivering the girl from apartment 4F into your arms. Yep, that isn't at all slightly frighting.

Worse. Can you even imagine the stress you would constantly live under if you were a SF agent? It is 2am and you are sound asleep; but somewhere a client gets into an accident. Poof, you are whooshed out of bed to...what else...work. Seems SF expects its employees to work around the clock. Seriously, I would be afraid to go to the bathroom; heaven forbid you are taking your time on a solid number two when *POOF* you are whooshed away. And there you are, god knows where, scrambling to get your pants up. Then you are expected to smile and begin assessing the damage.

Away on a family vacation; better hope every single one of your customers knows it. Otherwise you could be whisked away from your family and the beach only to find yourself in a crappy car being attacked by rabid buffalo. As an employment attorney, I strongly suggest you read the fine print before you become a SF agent.

Yep, taper has me a little on edge...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Running by Woods on a Windy Evening

but miles to go before I sleep
but miles to go before I sleep

My training program schedules a 13M run two weeks before the real race. It is supposed to be a marathon pace run; basically a tune-up race. I love to find a half and make this a dress rehearsal. So, the Redhead and I headed down past woods that are lovely, dark, and deep; to participate in the Martian Invasion of Races. Below we are at the expo with a new friend.

At the expo, we met up with several other wonderful bloggers. I always love meeting other bloggers and getting all nerdy about running with them! Sadly, soon we were off for some dinner and then to the hotel. (I'll let the Redhead talk more about the blogger meet-ups while I try to focus on my race report).



On the morning of the race, I had to carry a few things for the Super Spectator. Yep, everything but a purse. The pre-race hours flew by as several fellow bloggers who were getting ready to run either the full, the 10K, or the half like me came over to say 'Hello.'

The weather was perfect, sunny and mid 30s. As usual, I was running a bit behind and I had to sneak into the throng of runners seconds before the start. BANG! I was off, running easy and doing everything I could to stay on pace. And I was on, staying within 5 seconds of my pace for each of the first six miles. But mile six was +5, and I made the major mistake of trying to pick up lost time in one mile. Causing mile 7 to be -15 seconds. I should have slowed down. I told myself to slow down. I didn't slow down. I went -12 for mile 8. Crap.

Worse, I began noticing my Garmin was sounding off early, way early for miles 7 and 8. Strange I thought, I was dead on for the first six. Humm... But I had to focus on trying to slow down. F--A--I--L. I went -5 for mile 9, -5 for mile 10, -5 for mile 11, +2 (better) for mile 12, and -7 for mile 13. This may not seem like a lot. But when you add them with much-too-fast miles 7 and 8, I was about 40 seconds fast for my race goal.

Now to pick back up on that Garmin discrepancy. As I got to mile 12 I was sure the mile markers were off by .3M. So, at 13.1M I hit the lap button to get an accurate 'half' time. Then finished the 'free mileage' they were so kind enough to secretly give us runners. When I was done, I asked other runners if they found the course was long, and they all said yes. (To be fair, very quickly after the race the race directors responded on their Facebook page by acknowledging the course was long and that times for the 13.1 will be based on your average pace.)

Despite being further than I expected, it was still a great race and I was pleased with the result.



Afterward, fellow bloggers joined to discuss running and to eat. While there I was able to meet several additional wonderful bloggers and I harassed Bill until he finally could take no more and left. Sorry Bill, you rock and I annoy people I like. Just ask the Redhead.

Finally, a special 'Thank You!' to the Redhead! She was an amazing fan and spectator even though we all know it was killing her to not be out there running with us. Don't worry, when you get better I'll watch you run as often as I can. I'll cheer for you even if you are doing a 4M training run on a treadmill.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Congrats....sorta

The winner of my worst giveaway ever is Harold. The Redhead selected his name out of my dirty sweat-soaked baseball hat. It seems her hand was guided by the running gods after he protested how the lady bloggers have all the good giveaways. Sadly, he may have a point. If there was such a thing as a 'cup' for runners, I'd do a weekly giveaway to help even the Karmic score.

And now begins the taper. I generally eat healthy during my training, but during taper I am an extra good boy. No candy, no chips, no fries (American or French). More veggies and less donuts. It is the worst three weeks of my life. If it were not for Taco Bell Fridays, I may as well give up on life. Why do I do it? Simple: because I think it helps me on marathon day (and regardless of whether it does or does not physically--the moral boost is enough) and because of the Week of Gluttony that follows.

During my WoG after Grand Rapids, I sat down at an all-you-can-eat-pizza-buffet when it opened, and left when it closed. I even took a short nap between rounds. It was beautiful.

Yep, I'll do pretty much anything to fit into that summer bikini that is PRing at Boston in a little over three weeks.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Worst Giveaway Ever

For reasons not really worth discussing right now, Adidas sent me a free shirt. It is a great shirt. I know, because I already have the exact one. Even the same color. So, I'm giving it away. If you would like a blue Mens medium Adidas shirt, just leave me a comment about the worst running gift you've ever received.*

I know. I know. A giveaway that excludes so many based on gender? Well, I'm sorry ladies, they didn't send me a free Womens shirt. But there has to be someone you know and love who may like this gift and therefore warrants your participation.

Winner will be randomly drawn out of a hat by the Redhead.

_____

Running related: this is my last week before taper begins. Which means this is my last long run of 20M+. I'm nervous. I'm planning on 23M. The last two 20M runs have been average (read, I fell apart during the last seven miles). I'd like to have a decent run before taper.

Additionally, I'm just not sure if I should go back to the 'Hills of Death' course, or run the equally challenging 'Tomato Hill' run. If you want, feel free to influence me. A vote for either course will count as an entry if you are lucky enough to have never received some running related piece of crap.




*To past winners of my giveaways. If you have the audacity to suggest that anything I sent you qualifies I will laugh and then send spoiled cookies to your home...I still have your address.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Terrible Tummy

I was set to have an excellent 10M run. Goal was sub 70 min. I ended up doing 7.5 in 75 minutes.

The first three miles flew by and was enjoying the great spring temps. And yet, somewhere around mile two I noticed I wasn't focusing on my breathing or my tempo. Instead, I was focusing on one thing in particular: bowel lock-down. After three and a half amazing miles of running, I had to stop and walk or else very bad things were going to happen.

Longest four miles ever. The drawback of running in the wilderness. At one point my stomach growled to loudly that I scared a bear.

You may not wish to know such things...but all runners have to deal with this at some point. It is an inevitable as a Facts of Life Reunion.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Long Way Gone

Memoirs of a Runner

A rough long run. Long runs are not supposed to be easy. The past two have been difficult. First the HoD taught me a little lesson. This past weekend I made the mistake to trusting the weatherperson and what the weather was supposed to be in three hours, and not dress for what the weather actually was. If one of the cardinal rules of running is ‘dress for the actual weather,’ I sinned. It was such a perfect morning, sunny with little wind and high 30s. But the person on the TV swore the weather would get super cloudy and windy and start to rain/snow as the temps drop to the mid 20s before noon.

And even a really strong-paced long run means several hours outside. So, I overdressed. And Nature, that sweet but fickle temptress, kept the sun and highs temps around. Therefore, by mile 5 I was already deeply regretting my clothing choice. And, sadly, with a Smartwool undershirt and a long sleeve shirt on top, I felt layering down was not an option. Excuses:

  • Route does not take me within ½ mile of home until end
  • Would require stopping and *gasp* stopping Garmin to rearrange shirts
Defense of aforementioned excuses. It would have meant tying my Smartwool shirt about my waist and wearing it that way for 15 or so miles and it jostles up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and…uggg so annoying. Or, it would mean taking said shirt off and sticking it into a mailbox or tying around a street sign with the hope that nobody wanders by and takes your rather expensive piece of running equipment—or wonders why there is a sweaty shirt in with their Saturday mail.

Also, I hate to stop my Garmin on a long run. If I have to use the bathroom on a long run, I don’t stop the Garmin. If I have to stop and wait for a long light, I typically don’t stop the Garmin. And, I would not have allowed myself to stop my Garmin for my poor wardrobe choices.
But the third excuse and driving force to not do anything about being too warm was Ego. Yep, Ego. Ego tells me not to stop the Garmin…because there is no ‘justifiable’ pause of your time during a race. And Ego says you should be a good enough runner to run through it. I’m sure Ego would say the same thing even if I went out on a 20M long run in the dog days of summer and wore full winter gear. Sadly, when Ego wins I rarely emerge victorious as well…I’m working on it.


So, I only have one 20M more long run left before Boston. Two more weeks until taper. And I’m feeling about the same did before several prior marathons…somewhat optimistic. Somewhat concerned. Too bad Ego is shouting at the top of his lungs about “Done deal” and “All good, where are the Girl Scout Cookies?”

Friday, March 4, 2011

Winner Wha?!?

On Thursday the Chicago Marathon sold out. What does that mean? Well, other than the fact that 45,000 crazy people will be spitting, farting, burping, sweating, sending snot to the ground (and hopefully that is all)* through the great city of Chicago while it is an unseasonably warm 85 degrees.

It means that Tahoegirl over at got miles? was the winner of my 'how long till Chicago Marathon sells out' contest. The rules were closest without going over and her 672 hours guess was closest to the 741 actual sellout time. Tahoegirl is a cookie loving runner who was awesome enough to come out and support the Redhead and myself at our Grand Rapids races last October. But her awesomeness isn't why she won...or is it?!? And what did she win?



She got two Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch Cliff Bars, two Chocolate Crunch Macrobars. An amphipod to keep her save during night runs, a pair of PhD Smartwool socks, and a Yankz shoelace replacement. Congrats again.


Also, to my fellow runner who I almost ran over at 8pm this evening. Do not wear all black and run at night. Rocking only long black pants, long black shirt, black hat, only two thin reflective lines on the bottom of his pants, and running in the street is a great way for someone to hit you with a car...even if they are a fellow runner and would feel really bad.

* Interesting story...I was going to use the word 'snoting' but I decided I would look it up before I did so. A quick Google search will reveal why I decided to rephrase.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Statistics is Just a Fancy Way to Lie II (Part B)

Trends are promiscuous numbers being somewhat monogamous...


And just so you know, this may be a bit long as well...

Below, for all of the moments of glory or failure are numbers from my long runs for Bayshore 09, Chicago 09, Boston 10, Grand Rapids 10, and current training for Boston 11. I'll note a few things under each graph, but I save the more in depth discussions for last. And a special thanks to the Redhead who decided to take these from a scrap piece of paper and put then in a graph.



In Bayshore I used the Hal Higdon's Intermediate II marathon plan. The key idea for this training plan is the middle week tempo runs as well as the Saturday/Sunday tempo/long runs. I was attempting to BQ. Of note, I ran the Earth Day Marathon as part of a long run.



KEY: If there is a parentheses after a number, that is what I ran. So, if it says 12M (15.7) then I ran 15.7M (or a 25K race); but if the number is smaller than I ran the shorter distance (see week 10 of Chicago 09). An '*' indicates I ran with someone else at their pace.



What I did well: A 19M run at a sub 7 pace.



What I didn't do well: Too many races (4 5Ks) and runs longer than supposed to.



Short Race Day Recap: Calf cramps at mile 20 destroyed me...destroyed me something awful.




For Chicago 09 I used the FIRST training program. The FIRST uses a track workout, a tempo workout, and a long run, plus two training days (can be running, but must run at slow pace). Plus, it is a 16 week program.



What I did well: 24M run at a 7:06/M pace.



What I didn't do well: Stayed up late, consumed over 150oz of Mt. Dew night before week 9's 18M long run. Lots of Mt. Dew will cause you to throw plastic patio furniture and have a melt down.



Short Race Day Recap: Sat on pacers for race, felt great, and got a BQ.




This one is ugly. I've said it before...I did an awful job training. Number of runs in April before marathon...3. Still using FIRST...in theory at least.



What I did well: Did all of my long runs.



What I didn't do well: Track workouts, tempo runs, or any other type of mid-week running.



Short Race Day Recap: Knew I was undertrained, tried to enjoy and run comfortable, still had major calf cramps.




Used FIRST again, but modified mileage because: 1) I'd taken a ton of time off and was out of running shape; 2) I wanted to try back to back 20M weekends.



What I did well: Had faith in my training plan and kept getting in better running shape despite weeks of not seeing results. A 23M long run at a 7:02/M average.



What I didn't do well: Begin with a base of any kind, stay positive for the first few weeks.



Short Race Day Recap: Had a wonderful race for 20M, 8:09/M avg for last 10K not so hot, still managed a BQ.




So, what does it all mean. Really, I could point out some trends and other things, but the reality is this...the numbers don't really mean all that much. I know when I'm in good running shape, and when I'm not. I've had awful runs during training cycles that led to BQs, and amazing runs during a training cycle where I was trying to BQ but didn't.


One common factor I've had is, when not following a pacer as I did in Chicago 09, I tend to blow up around mile 20 regardless of training (see Bayshore 09, Boston 10, Grand Rapids 10). After Bayshore I began to add 22M, 23M, even 24M runs, but I still seem to blow up on race day. Suggestions or ideas?



Sure, the numbers can get all gooey and sexy and may cause Nitmos to need a moment, but guarantee a great race? Nope. And worrying about the numbers is wasted energy, which is why I try to focus on effort more than numbers. Remember, there are no 4 week marathon training plans. So accept that you will have good runs and bad runs over the course of 15 to 18 (or more) weeks of training.

This is not an easy process, but it should be a joyful one. And when I minimize my complainnig and bemoaning, I realize it is a wonderful journey.

Statistics is Just a Fancy Way to Lie II (Part A)

Numbers....numbers...numbers...

I don't often delve too deep into the number on this blog. Honestly, I'm more interested in how we as runners approach long runs, races, running in general, and other philosophical or mental aspects of the sport. I also love the overwhelming support and encouragement bloggers share with one another (well...this guy and this guy have some issues to work out).

But, I won't pretend that I don't look at the numbers or think about them. I just know to never get too caught up in them. And the story below is illustrative as to why getting caught up in the numbers is a bad idea.*

Thus far this training cycle I've done three 20M+ runs, a 20M, a 22M, and a 22M. My average pace went 7:09/M, 7:14/M, 7:18/M. You could argue I'm trending downwards, notwithstanding the fact that I'm in better running shape than I was three weeks ago when I ran my 20M. So what accounts for this? A few things. First, my first 22M run was the weekend following my 20M. Back-to-back 20M runs is demanding, and a slight drop off is understandable. While this weekend I decided to return to the Lansing area and run my Hills of Death route (pictured below). So, despite being my slowest average, my 7:18/M pace is significantly better than I've ever run on that route (besting my 7:43/M top spot from last year).

And, yet, I don't feel overly optimistic about my HoD run because of the way I fell apart over the last seven miles. As you can see from the graph below, I started to really 'chunk-up' time during the last third of the run.



Still, at mile 20 I had a 7:15/M average; but the last two miles (also the first two miles) were unshoveled sidewalk lightly covered in a fresh layer of snow--the kind that conceals ice and matted down clumps of snow perfect for rolling an ankle. On my way out I nearly fell three times. By the time I returned to these miles I was unable to pick it up or even run fast enough to maintain the 7:40ish average I had for miles 17-20. Basically, the first time through the hills went well, but on the second round the hills ground me up like a piece of low quality processed meat.

SPAM...so good.**



In case you ever want to run this fun little 11M out/back, you just start at the MAC and head north on Hagadorn to Grand River. Take Grand River east to Park Lake Road. Follow Park Lake north until you get to a road called Coleman (you cannot miss Coleman because you look to the right and see three angry hills). Go east on Coleman until it dead ends, run west back on Coleman to Park Lake and turn north again. Take Park Lake north until you hit the I-69 ramps. Turn around, then enjoy the hills again. The elevation gain is 2523, the loss is 2546, with a net of -17. Below is the elevation chart for my first 22M. NOTE: This route involves lots of road running. Basically, there are no sidewalks on Park Lake or Coleman north of Lake Lansing. If you are not comfortable running on roads, this is not a route for you. As always, be safe out there.


Above is the elevation graph for my first 22M run around the greater Howell area. Elevation gain is 2178, elevation loss is 2190, net is - 12. Now, compare the above two routes to another 'difficult' route.

Elevation gain is 1129, loss is 1545, and the net is -416.



* In Part B of this post I'll talk in depth about trends form five different marathon training cycles.

** Down goes another potentially lucrative endorsement deal.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Unrunning

A few things unrunning.

Bedtime Story

First of all, if you ever wanted to get a little insight about the daily lives and interactions between the Redhead and myself, then enjoy this little recap. The identities have been removed to prevent the tarnishing of either party's reputation. One party unjustly claims that the other 'bigger' party is a cover hog. The other party adamantly protests and says there is no evidence to prove such an unjust act. The alleged aggrieved party insists the 'bigger' party is a brute and takes said covers purposefully. To which the 'bigger' party responds that control over the covers is war. Plain and simple...an all out war every night.

What Goes Around

Several weeks ago the powers that be decided that I would hit a patch of black ice and send my top-heavy SUV spinning at 70mph on a highway. The roads were clear up to that point, and it was at 5:30am. Fortunately, I put said SUV into the concrete wall (as oppose to going into the ditch and likely rolling like one of Ren and Stimpy's logs). Several kind strangers helped me that day. So, today, it was my turn to help out several strangers. Armed with nothing more than a new all-wheel-drive crossover and a shovel, I helped dig out four different cars at various points today. I did this because I believe I owe Karma something. Also, I'm using said kindness as a reason to not do a 5M maintenance run today.



Too Much What

During the lunch break at the company retreat, I went directly to the desert table to secure the best of what was offered. A coworker saw my triple chocolate cheesecake and said that there was too much chocolate. Believing ignorance must always be fought instantaneously and with the power of enlightenment, I informed her that saying such a thing is like saying someone gives you too much joy. I also told her I would accept her apology.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

BAAseline Adjustments

I know you know about what they did. I get that changes were necessary, but I have a difficult time with the idea of BQing but possibly being blocked out of the race. In theory, you could BQ every year, maybe by just one second, and you could never actually be accepted into the race. If you have a background in philosophy and history then such a thing poses quite the mental quandary, as it calls into question what it really means to BQ.

That said, it seems I need to make some adjustments to my training. No longer will training to run a 7:15/M average be acceptable (at least not until I get a little older). So, I adjusted my training times and goals. Which means my I-can't-wait-for-this-weekends-easy 13M run became a run at 7:00/M pace.

Before I get to the numbers, a quick discussion about expectations for a run and the actuality of a run. While sitting around yesterday and planning my run my goal was to start off with a 7:05 to 7:10 mile for the first two to three miles and then build up to a 7:00 pace until around mile 10, where I would try to pick up the pace to around a 6:45 to 6:50.

Yet, I make these plans knowing I'd be running a modestly hilly route. It is almost as if I make my running plan on the assumption that I'll be running a perfectly flat course. It wasn't until mile three (a 7:10 into 25mph winds) that I actually realized I'd need to modify said running plan to account for the miles into the wind and the hilly miles; then try to push hard during the flat miles and the miles with the wind at my back.

This meant a run with all kinds of crazy fluctuations (like a 6:46, 7:10, 6:55, 7:10). After mile 9 I was about 30 seconds slow. This meant turning 'it' on for the last four miles, going 6:39, 6:48, 6:50, and 6:35. These last four miles were enough to give me a 6:57/M average.

This just demonstrates the point that you can't always run the exact pace you want every mile (unless you are on the treadmill), but you can still get to your overall goal if you can accept the slower miles the terrain forces you into and pick up time on the miles that will give them to you.

Ah, running. So easy. So hard.

Also, seems I owe the Redhead something cotton.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Bad Friday

If you are lucky, sometimes in life you discover keen, if not profound, insights about yourself. Friday was such a day for me. Why? Because on Friday I realized my badassness is limited only by my dumbassness.

Profound eh?

And what event brought me to such an insight? The fact that I realized I was a week off on my training plan. I was supposed to go 10, 13, 15, 12, 18, 13, 18, 20, 22 (there are more, but these are the import numbers for the story). Friday I realized I had gone 10, 13, 15, 12, 18, 20. Seems I forgot about that step-down week of 13M and instead did my first 20M run early. Score a point for my dumbassness.

Therefore, on Friday evening I had to redesign my long run training plan, and I had to decide if I should run the 22M I had been preparing for all week long.

While attempting to rearrange my plan, I did desire to keep my slotted back-to-back 20M (or more) runs. This was something I introduced into my training last fall for Grand Rapids, scheduling a 20M then a 22M. I had an 8:07/M pace for my 20M and a 8:38/M average for a 2 mile shortened run of only 20M. What should be noted about the second 20M run back in August was that it came after getting a massive blister in the CRIM and that I pretty much had a runner out-of-my-mind experience where all comprehension of time was lost and I felt like I was running well past midnight even though it was closer to 10pm. The Redhead will tell you, I returned a different person than when I had left.

But I was feeling confident after my 7:10/M average for my first 20M run last week, and so I decided to go ahead and rearrange my schedule and run 22M on Saturday. I set out with a goal of averaging around 7:15/M pace, with the goal of no mile slower than a 7:30.

Despite dropping one 7:35 during mile 16, I averaged a 7:14/M pace. I’ll be doing that missed 13M next week, and my legs are eagerly looking forward to the step-down.

The Marketing of Boston (Not The Boston Market)

I’ll admit, I may have hated on Adidas last year a bit for their Boston Marathon line. So this year I’ve been closely watching them. First, they offer—for the first time ever—the “Boston Qualifier” line. Clearly an attempt to capture the market of runners who managed to qualify but were not lucky enough to get a spot in the 2011 race.


Now, it should be noted that during the first few days the BQer clothing was available, Adidas also offered a green 2011 BM running singlet as well as green running shorts (sorry ladies, but I believe they were the men’s shorts). Almost immediately Adidas pulled the BM clothing, leaving only the BQer line.

In case you didn’t know, the original BQer clothing had purple all up in it. Then Adidas, likely because of poor sales or consumer complaints about how crappy the colors were, changed the colors to make them more consistent with Boston’s blues and yellows.








Because Adidas pulled the pictures, I’ve done my best to give you an idea of what they looked like. And if Adidas has a problem with my crappy Word Art skills they can just send me the originals and I’d be happy to put those pictures up. Oh, and don’t think I didn’t try calling Adidas immediately to let them know I was interested in ordering the removed items they had changed overnight. And don’t think I didn’t spend a good hour on the phone with various ‘customer service’ representatives as I tried and tried to see what had happened—me playing the distraught customer the entire time—or to see if I could still order the old items.

All my efforts were for not. Sure, I never really intended to order the stuff, but I wanted to try and figure out what had happened. The best I could get was that the purple colored items were no longer available. I insisted, but some must still exist. If I could order one last night, they surely they exist? “No, sorry.” was all I got.


That said, some other changes are shown below (new on top, old below).



Then, a little over a week ago, Adidas decided to release the first run of official BM 2011 clothing. This includes the “Official Marathon Jacket.” As you can see, Adidas decided to "Go Green" with their clothing line.





Now, a more detailed discussion about the “official” jacket. Last year it looked like this.





This year it looks like this.







Basically, the exact same jacket with the exception of the new colors. Or so I thought. First, I noticed that there was something strange about the packaging of my jacket. Can you spot the mistake? Hint: Boston is all about the right numbers.





No, I’m not talking about the hefty price of $95 buckers. Answer: the tag for the jacket is from the 2010 product line. Excellent job on that one Adidas. Not only did your customer services associates stonewall me from getting the ‘extinct purple’ products, but they seemed to be a little confused as to what year this is. But back to the price. $95 is a lot of money. And I get it; a BM jacket carries some clout amongst fellow runners. But tell a non-runner you spent that kind of money on a running jacket and they will stare at you the way a deer stares into headlights approaching at 75mph—that is, awestruck and slightly unable to comprehend.


So, when I spend that kind of money, I at least want a quality jacket. Last year’s was of sufficient quality. But this year’s jacket is not only as expensive, but friggen cheap a$$ Adidas decided to omit the embroidery and simply screen-print the lettering/logos. WFT!!!

I swear to God (or FSM), please allow Nike or Asics or some other company to replace Adidas as the clothing sponsor for this race.* Please. Pleeeeeaaasssseeee! And I’m not the only one who feels this way, just take a look at the comments people have left under the “Official Jacket.” Not happy folks out there Adidas.

*Heck, I’d even give Under Armor a chance.

A small story of redemption for Adidas. My favorite shirt I purchased from last year’s race was a yellow t-shirt that simply had a distressed light blue unicorn head and “26.2” underneath the picture. One day the Redhead and I were shopping at Meijer and a little girl in a cart saw my shirt. She then excitedly uttered: “Mommy! Mommy! I just saw a unicorn!” The mother, busily trying to find the correct box of Rice-a-Roni, mindless uttered, “I’m sure you did Honey.” As we walked away the little girl protested, “I did! I did!” To no avail I’m sure.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Long Run/5K Weekend

The wonderful thing about the Super Bowl is that it is always on the same day as the Super Bowl 5K race in Lansing. This is a great race to test where your fitness level is early in the year...maybe.

Comparing your running fitness to the previous year's fitness level is never as straight forward as comparing the results of one 5K race to the same race the previous year. The truth is that 'where' you are on the island of Runland--located somewhere between your head and your heart--has a lot to do with where you think you are. If you think you are standing on Runland's cliffs of despair then you run like it. If you are somewhere in Runland's forest of underprepared and looking for a way out, then you know the only way out is hard work and dedication. And if you are in the great flatlands, the key to Runland's kingdom is yours.

Let me explain.

Last year at this time I had run a 22M long run the day before dropping a mid 19min 5K. The pace for the 22M run was 7:55/M. This weekend saw a 7:10/M average for my 20M long run and a 10 second slower 5K. Sure, it could be argued that I'm obviously running my long runs at a much higher rate; therefore, the slower 5K time is natural. Yes and no. Last week on my 18M I only managed a 7:55/M average. True, last weekend's long run was mere hours after 6 inches of snow and run mostly on unplowed country roads. But the better road conditions from a year ago are tempered by the fact that I was running the 'Hills of Death' route.

The times from this year and last year are not so dramatically different that one can simply declare a definative change. And yet, unquestioningly, I am at a much better place in Runland than I was this time last year. Even though my times are roughly comparable. And this is the big secret. It is more about where you believe you are than what the times are.

As for the race itself? Like last year, the first mile was on clear roads, but the next mile and a half were spent on disasterously mushy subdivision roads where you foot slid with every step you took. It was druing that part of the race that my legs, like last year, began to feel every step of the massive long run 24 hours prior. By the time I exited the subdivison I was ready for the race to be over. I just tried to pick up the pace a bit and grind my way to the finish where the Redhead and Jen B were there to cheer me on.

Monday, January 31, 2011

FFers & Chicago Marathon Contest

Last Saturday the Redhead and I awoke to six inches of freshly descended snow. Hopes of an excellent 18M were buried. I do most of my long runs out on country roads to avoid the traffic. In the summer, such a plan is great. In the winter, such a plan can mean very difficult miles on poorly—if at all—plowed roads. Ugh. Now I can only hope for better conditions for my first 20M this weekend.

On Sunday we joined team Frosted Flakes for the Frostbite Marathon Relay. The Redhead, Kevin, Jennie, Riz, Shiz, Jessie, Tim and myself made up the 8 person (in case you were not counting) relay. I strongly suggest you read this for a more detailed recap.

I’ll just say that the idea of the race is great and my team members were awesome. I had a most excellent time as we moved from station to station and as we wildly cheered our fellow tu-tu rocking runners. Because I had the last leg, nature was calling while the team was out in the back woods of greater Holland. But I recalled the last exchange was by a market, and I was thinking I could score myself a nice comfy bathroom trip. Sadly, I had forgotten that Holland is the Michigan equivalent of the “Bible Belt” and that almost nothing is open on Sunday.

Desperate times lead to desperate actions. Which is why I ran to the church located behind the closed market and asked a rather concerned congregation where a guy wearing a tu-tu could find a bathroom. I was not immediately kicked out, but I wasn’t asked to stay for donuts either.

That notwithstanding, the best part of the race was finishing with all of my peeps. Well done!


--Contest--Contest--Contest


The Chicago Marathon goes on sale today. I bet it sells out in 24 hours. Anyone else wish to place a bet? If you guess the correct number of hours, or are the closest without going over, I’ll send you an awesome prize package full of awesome stuff. This should sound like an awesome offer—and this is because it is.


--More Random Crap--More Random Crap


A post about thoughts about running...


Angry Birds = Angry Runners

Angry Runners

It has been sloppy outside as of late. My past several pace workouts have been done on slippery roads because, heaven forbid, the fine people of Howell ever decide to actually shovel their sidewalks. These runs have left me feeling like an angry bird rocketed out of a slingshot and barreling towards certain destruction. Sure, you may end up with enough 'three stars' to get yourself a golden egg, but it doesn’t always end so well for the birds sent heat-seeking towards little green pigs.


Maybe you can relate to those little angry birds in such a meaningful way that you end up ordering three of them. Maybe the Redhead doesn't like them as much as you do. But they are family now.


Yes, I made a home-made fort and slingshot using the Redhead's elastic exercise bands.