Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Big Bag of Popcorn

Aiden with the Goods
You think you're getting any popcorn old man?

Monday afternoon we celebrated one of those great American traditions: the beginning of summer blockbuster season. Forget about that second rate super hero Iron Man. This is the real deal. This is the new tradition of George Lucas resurrecting and destroying our greatest childhood movie heroes. This is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

How was the movie? Eh. It was fine. I wasn't really interested in seeing it, and didn't expect much. We had some family in town that wanted to see it, so we threw the kids in the car and took off for the movie theater. This did give me a chance to pass on one of my childhood memories to Aiden. In June of 1981 my dad took me to see Raiders of the Lost Ark. I would have been 7 at the time which is just a couple months older than Aiden. Yeah, I'm old. I was blown away by all the action and Han Solo in a fedora using a whip. I was also traumatized by spiders in the first 10 minutes of the movie and then later snakes. It was Aiden's turn to be traumatized. We were not disappointed as we first got scorpions and then ants. The digital creepy crawlies weren't nearly as creepy as the real spiders they used in Raiders, but still effective for a 7 year old. She wouldn't admit to being scared later, and said the movie was "good, but I had to drink some Coke to stay awake sometimes", which actually sums it up pretty well. I know she was scared when she was climbing up my arm during a couple of the scarier moments. I had to chuckle.

Adam, Aiden

Friday, May 16, 2008

360 Recovery Project II

It's been over a year since my great uncle passed, and I often think of him. After he passed I started seeing red tailed hawks, or maybe a red tailed hawk all the time. It reminded me of him and seemed fitting since they are very loyal and protective. He would appreciate that. So here is a quick entry I wrote about him after the service. It's also kind of funny, because after reading it again I realized I made part of it about me.

Remembering Uncle Howard
from April 17, 2007

This morning was the memorial service for my great uncle. It was a very nice service at the local Presbyterian church with lots of friends and family showing up and sharing memories of Howard. I always felt a special connection to Howard. We seemed to have a lot in common, and I found out today we had even more in common than I knew. First of all the service itself was something that I could appreciate. His body wasn't there. It was donated to the local University for learning purposes. I can totally dig that. First of all I don't want to be laid out, so people can stand around and look at the husk that was me. That isn't me, I'm gone. Besides who wants to be remembered as the creepy lifeless corpse. Put up a picture of me with my sweet, sweet, mullet. Second, I don't want to be buried. Since I'm not going to be taking up any real estate don't waste the chemicals and fuss just box me up and send me on to the school to be poked and prodded.

Enough with being morbid. Why I actually started to write this was that I learned a few things about Howard that I didn't know. His children each gave very touching eulogies for Howard, and I thought I'd share a few bits of information that I found interesting.
  • Howard was a lover of music. He loved classical, big band, and opera. His son told a funny story about how his wife Louise was not a lover of opera. She made a deal with him: I'll go do something on Saturday mornings and you can turn up the opera as loud as you want.
  • Howard studied violin at the Cincinnati Conservatory before joining the Navy. I had no idea, and I think that is way cool.
  • Howard was an agnostic. This blew me away. He was a fixture in the church. One story I heard today was that he was even asked to be a deacon in the church. His response was that because of his beliefs he might not be the right person for the position, so they asked him to be treasurer instead.
So it was with Howard. He put service before himself, served his country in the Navy and served the community through Rotary and the church, and despite being very active in the church he was never afraid to question the beliefs of those institutions. I only hope I can live to be half the man you were. We'll miss you Howard.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Run It Out

I've spent so much time training for the marathons for the last 9 months that I forgot about the most important reason to run: myself. Maybe I didn't forget, but over the last week and a half I decided to take a break from running. I was so burned out. This is only the second time I've run since the marathon. That may not seem like a big deal, but when you go from running 4 to 5 times a week to running twice in 1o days my body and my mind tend to notice. I feel more rested and less painful but not quite as focused.

This morning I was reminded why I really enjoy running. I had a sleepless night last night which will happen from time to time especially when I have a lot on my mind. Surprisingly, it wasn't a terrible night but I just couldn't switch off my brain. At about 4:30 I decided it was too late to get any real sleep so I would try to run it out.

Before I hit the road I pulled some songs from some various running mixes. This wasn't training this is running for fun and sanity music always helps. A quick stretch and I was on the road Physically I felt better than I have in a while. All the aches and pains of the marathon are a vague memory. Mentally I felt a little scattered at first, but as I settled in and evened out my breathing I started to focus.

Nothing else matters outside of this moment. I can feel myself start to sweat as I push my pace. I don't think. I just feel my legs as they pump out the rhythm and my feet pound the pavement. I listen to the music and it brings up the good feelings inside. Nothing else matters. Thoughts and stresses that were tangling me up start to unwind, but I don't concentrate on that. I breathe. I run. All those things that seemed so complicated and so pressing a short while ago seem to flutter out behind me like ribbons as they untangle themselves. They don't look all that difficult anymore. They make sense. I let them flutter out there in the wind and I run.

At the end of the run I walk along the driveway and tilt my head back to the sky. The dawn is just starting to lighten the sky to show the low hanging clouds. For the first time in 2 days I feel like I'm outside my brain. Endorphins are the best drug. Everything is a little more clear. Everything is a little less complicated. Life is too short to tie myself up inside my brain. That's why I run it out.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

360 Recovery Project I

Once upon a time I had another blog over at Yahoo's 360 community. Friends and games and good times.....good times. Then Yahoo decided that the 360 community wasn't really an important part of their game plan and the services started to suffer and continue to suffer. I've been thinking for a while about rescuing my writings from the wasteland that is 360 and with the marathon over and not much to write about in terms of training this is the perfect time.

The 360 Recovery Project begins as I bring over a fun entry from about a year ago. This entry was brought to my attention by a friend, so this one is for her. Enjoy!

Usually when I get an IM message from a stranger I ignore it. Occasionally I'll converse with said stranger. Usually, it lapses into awkwardness or I get bored and move on. Very, very rarely does it go any further than that. I hardly ever mess with anyone that contacts me... but I've always wanted to. Today I got one of those random contacts. Below is the transcript unchanged with the exception of a little bit of commentary by me in blue. I shortened Shelly's Yahoo ID, so don't bother trying to message this person.

shelly: hi (long pause as I ignore)
shelly: r u there? (another pause, but I decide to bite)
me: hi
shelly: hi (another pause as I quickly loose interest. If you are standing at my front door you just said hi twice and stood there staring at me.)
shelly: hello r u gonna type
me: sure, what's up?
shelly: how old r u
me: 32
me: you?
me: what? suddenly nothing to say?
shelly: shut up (at this point I'm guessing age of 12)
me: shut up? I don't get it. You messaged me.
shelly: I HAVE TO GO
me: sure, bye (ready to forget about it and move on)
shelly: BYE FUCKER (oh no she di'nt!)
me: okay weirdo (Come on, I'm not going to cuss at a 12 yr. old.)
shelly: ugly ass (oooooh burn. You cut like a knife Shelly.)
me: haha, ugly ass? you don't know me. I am hideous though. freakish.
shelly: stop iming me i have to go ok (Oh no Shelly you won't get the last word)
me: ok go then
shelly: BYE (Shelly must be young or naive. By this time I would have put her on the ignore list)me: talk to you later. can we be friends?
shelly: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO (I'm sensing some negativity here)
me: that hurts. I thought we had something special here.
me: Just leave then! I'm not stopping you. Walk out the door! be that way! I love you. call me later?
shelly: ew no
me: you run so hot and cold. one minute we're best friends, the next you're asking me to leave. what's wrong? bad day?
shelly: stop i have to gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo if u dont stop im calling
me: my mom?
shelly: no just stopppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp
me: ok, but be careful there are a lot of freaks out there. bye.

That was fun. Honestly, what do you expect when you IM a complete stranger? I don't get it. I get these messages frequently from people wanting to chat, and I usually ask early on, "how did you find me?" More often than not the answer is 360. That's fine, but if you found me through 360 and you want to have a chat take a second and read my profile or a blog entry. It's all right there. I'm 32, I'm married, my interests are pretty well spelled out. I'm not hiding anything!
However, if you're a kid or under age please don't contact me I don't need that. If you want money, don't bother I don't have any. If you're starting a secret society looking to overthrow the governments of the world....drop me a line, I've got some ideas. If you're Shelly stop IM'ing strange men. I was just messing with you, but there really are freaks out there waiting for you.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Flying Pig Marathon 2008 Race Report

My 3rd marathon and 2nd Flying Pig turned out to be an interesting experience where I saw some great improvements that didn't lead to what I had hoped for: a personal record. The lack of success on that front was partially due to outside forces, but ultimately lands back on me. Every race is a learning experience including this one. Despite the lack of a PR the overall experience of the race was excellent. The improvements I'm seeing are due, in part, to the new friendships I've made leading up to this race. It's changed the way I train. It's changed how I experience race day.

Rather than going through a long, drawn out play by play of the race I thought I would play a little game of High/Low and re-cap some of the highs and lows of the race.


High: I nearly pulled off the perfect race day preparation. My pre-race plan went off without a hitch....mostly. The plan was to get up at 4, grab a quick shower to shake off the sleep, eat, dress, drive down and meet the TNT Team at their hotel for some quick photos, then meet up with Dave and the Striders to hit the start line. Everything went off without a hitch. I was out the door and on my way.

Low: Everything was going right on track until I hit downtown and was driving up to the parking lot and pulled ot my wallet. Empty. Oh no, I had left the cash I set out for parking on the table. Why didn't I just put it in my wallet? Who knows. It was just after 5 am. The major street closings weren't until 5:30 so I had time to find an ATM and get back over to the lot, no problem. 20 minutes later after a quick, frustrating drive around the city I found the ATM, grabbed the cash and was back at the lot. No TNT meet up for me. It was now 5:35. They were probably headed from the hotel at this point.

High: Gina's "Five Minute Mile Mix". I chilled out at the car for a few minutes while I made my final preparations and listened to my friend Gina's "Five Minute Mile Mix". I popped open the trunk door while I loaded up on Gu, electrolyte tabs and tied my shoes. Everyone showing up in the lot got some of Kanye "Stronger", Beck "Earthquake Weather", or Gwen Stefani "What You Waiting For". They didn't say it, but I think they were quietly thanking for that little early morning boost. Thank you Gina and you're welcome Flying Pig runners.

We're so fast we're blurry before the race!


High: Having a good running partner to pace with during the race. Dave has been a great running partner during training and on race day. A little trash talk gets the competitive spirits up. Pushing each other during training gets the race pace up. Someone that can make you laugh and talk about anything for hours while running keeps it fun. I hope to beat him in many more races.

Far, Far Back from the starting line

Low: Getting stuck in the back of the pack. At the start of the race we got stuck way back in the pack near the 5 hour pace group. We were shooting for 3:30, so this was kind of a nightmare. We spent 9 miles weaving around runners and walkers as we tried to get up to our goal pace. We added an extra 1/4 mile onto our run with all that weaving. In retrospect we should have pushed a little harder at the start. I was 5 minutes behind my time last year at the halfway point. Despite the fact that I felt like I ran a better second half than last year I didn't make up those 5 minutes.

High: Having a Garmin 305 to help set the pace. This gadget is a dream. During the race I could see my pace at any given moment and make adjustments as necessary. I have a tendency to go out to fast at the beginning of races, so this will be the perfect tool for that.

Proud to wear the Purple Jersey

Running for Team in Training. The crowd support for TNT runners is phenomenal. They have "scream teams" spread throughout the course to give support to the runners. It is such a boost to hear your name called out and see the groups of purple yelling and giving high fives. Dave would have to reel me in whenever we would pass one of these groups because it was such a rush that I would pick up the pace.

Low: Leg cramps. It is a consistent problem with me. I sweat very heavily and my body seems to fall out of balance at some point during the marathons. I have been working on pushing back the point at which this happens. Last year during the Pig it happened at mile 19. It was nearly debilitating. The last 7 miles were a nightmare. During Disney they struck even earlier due to the high heat and humidity that we weren't prepared to deal with. This year during the Pig I decided to drink a lot of Gatorade early on, take on a steady stream of Gu, and hydrate as much as possible. It really worked. The first cramp hit at mile 20, but it wasn't bad. I was able to stretch it out and get back on pace. I had a few cramps in the final miles, but none of them touched what I had gone through in previous marathons.

High: I was able finish strong. Thanks to a fellow runner and friend that I made during the Disney trip I finished the last couple of miles strong. I met up with Steve early in the race and we exchanged hellos and talked. He said he would be there during the final miles and sure enough he was. At about mile 24 he came out of nowhere and talked me through the final hill of the course. I think I was talking mostly nonsense to him as I pleaded, begged, threatened, and made deals with my legs to fight off the cramps that were threatening and push through those final miles. I owe him for that.

Post Race

High: Snacks! What better reason to run all that way! If you ever thought about running a marathon or half marathon this might put you over the top. About 10 feet after the finish line you get draped in a mylar blanket and handed a shiny metal. You walk another 15 feet and your surrounded by snacks: bagels, chips, bananas, oranges, ice cream!, juices, water. It kind of makes the whole thing worth it. If you don't feel like waiting until the end you can always go by the Gina school of running.

Low: Pain. Now that I've reached a goal that I've been working towards for 4 months, and I've finally stopped running everything hurts. I mean EVERYTHING hurts. The best thing to do is just keep shuffling along and collecting snacks to eat, because everything else is pretty much out of the question. Sitting is okay, but standing back up is a challenge, and I don't really need another challenge today. Stairs, hills, and any sort of step is pretty much out of the question.

High: Sharing the achievement with friends. I spent 4 months training with Team in Training and the Striders. Nothing makes the achievement sweeter than sharing it with fellow runners. We all love our families and are sooo thankful that they are there for us during those months of training and on race day, but when you can see the joy, pain, relief, disappointment and other emotions of another runner it's on a totally different level.

High: Family. After that last paragraph I realized I was being silly. Of course families are hugely important! You are the best I love you all!

Low/High: Ice bath. This awful/wonderful act of craziness can really improve recovery after a marathon. It's not that big of a deal. On your way home pick up a 5 lb. bag of ice. Fill up the tub enough to cover your legs and dump previously mentioned bag of ice in to the water. Step into the tub. Take some deep breaths and psych yourself up. Sit down. No really, sit down. Come on man! You can do this! GO! Once you get yourself into the freezing water you can just feel the heat seeping out of the muscles. I recommend a pair of headphones or something else to take your mind off the c-c-c-cold. I swear it's worth it.

These are some of the highs and lows. There were so many more memorable moments from this race that I could go on. There was coming across the bridge back into Cincinnati early in the race and feeling the bridge bounce under the pounding of thousands of runners.

There was this guy:

The Official Time: