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!


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.

It’s a Process

Training is a process. Sixteen weeks, eighteen weeks, or (insert number) weeks, it is a process. A training plan should push you both physically and mentally. No, this doesn’t mean doing a few logic questions after your long run. A good training program should ask you to do something just outside what you can do with any sense of comfort. Every training schedule I’ve ever done has been marked with several workouts that fell short of the expectations. It is these fails that lead me to the point of this post.

I always have to remember, it should be more about perspective than perfection. And I haven’t always had a lot of perspective. Way back when, I used to be insanely competitive. Once, a gathering of friends at a local park decided to take advantage of the beautiful spring day by playing some volleyball. Now, I am by no means an amazing v-ball player, but I can hold my own. Sadly, my desire to win found me trying to hit every ball that went over the net. Worse, I was so frustrated at my friend that I drew a small square in the sand and told her not to leave it—ever!!! She cried. I yelled some more because crying never helps. We still lost. All over a ‘fun’ game amongst friends. This is what a total lack of perspective can do.

Worse, it took me years more to tear my focus on perfection away enough to allow for a little perspective. But, perspective is a wonderful gift. It allows you to stretch a meaningful smile as you walk away after a difficult run which finds you shot of your goal. It helps you accept that times are slower in snow—always—even when efforts seems like it is more.

After five weeks of training, I do not have a single week which is not adorned with red. Alas, perspective says this is alright. I shouldn’t plan on being in marathon shape at week six, or there would be more six week marathon training plans.

Conditions alter times, perspective alters your ability to accept such times. So, before you find yourself berating yourself, I hope a little perspective helps you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

As Flexible As

this guy?!?
The most important element to a successful marathon is flexibility in your training. And I'm not talking about the ability to bend it like Beckham, or like the contortionist below.

No, I'm talking about the ability to have some 'give' in your training plan. Sure, when some people get their nice and new training plan, all shiny and full of perfect expectations, we promise we will be so utterly devoted to it that it would make a high school girl think we were being a little clingy. We stay up late thinking of ways we will please our new little training plans and how this time things are going to be different.

But, honestly, things won't be different. You are the same lazy slob as last time and if your old training plan ever gets your new training plan's phone number she'd set her straight. Wait...that isn't quite what I wanted to talk about.

Back to training. So, you might wake up on a Tuesday morning and grab all of your workout stuff and plan on doing your track workout later that evening when you car hits black ice and spins on the highway. Then maybe your car decides to hit a wall of concrete and is completely destroyed. Given the propensity of SUV's to do cartwheels, I was glad all that happened was my vehicle smashing into the highway barrier. But, Tuesday's track workout was off the books.

Alas, I was--amazingly--uninjured. And I just pushed that silly little track workout to Wednesday. Yeah, that made my pace workout on Thursday night extremely difficult, and I bailed on the last two miles of it. But I was flexible about it.

If you can't allow for a little flexibility in your training schedule, you are sunk. Training for Grand Rapids I rolled an ankle and had to eat a long run. But the ability to make some adjustment and to trust in both your prior training, and your remaining training, is unquestionably the most important trait necessary to survive the difficulty of training over the course of four months.

So stay bendy my friends.