Thursday, December 31, 2009

Statistically Speaking: Favs of '09

It's that time kids. It's time for everybody to break out their year end/decade end lists of everything from the best music, movies, celebrity indiscretions to the best commercials. You name it there is probably a best of list to go with it. Here's my small contribution to the glut of favorites and bests. Here is a quick run down of my favorite music for the year of 2009.

Since Last.FM has tracked pretty much every song I've listened to in iTunes and on my iPod for almost 2 years these were pretty quick and easy lists to compile. We're going to keep it simple and go top 3 songs, artists and albums of the year.

Songs of the year:

3. Ludacris - One More Drink
I first heard this song at a WEBN fireworks party over Memorial Day Weekend. Thanks to my iPhone and Shazam I tagged it and picked it up the next day. It immediately went in to my running mix and heavy listening rotation. It's super catchy ear candy.

2. The Ting Tings - Be The One
Simple, catchy tune on a great album full of catchy tunes. This is another running mix mainstay of the year.

1. Neko Case - This Tornado Loves You
What better to describe the destructive side of love than a force of nature. I never grow tired of this song.

Artists of the year:

3. Neko Case - Brilliant songwriter and criminally under appreciated artist. Check her out. Now.

2. Lily Allen - Say it ain't so!! Hopefully she'll take some time off and come back kicking ass like she has on her first two albums.

1. Pearl Jam - Speaking of comebacks. I am a die hard Pearl Jam fan, and have every album they've released. I have nothing but respect for these guys as they ditched the mainstream, their label and went their own way to develop a Grateful Dead like following. This is the first album in a long time to get media attention and for good reason. It's brilliant.

Albums of the year. (Oddly this is not on the website, but only on the iPhone App.)

3. Pearl Jam - Backspacer
2. Lily Allen - It's Not Me, It's You
1. Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

If you don't own these albums. You are missing out.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cardiac Cats Candies

My  Christmas bag of Cincinnati Bengals M&M's were invaded by a stray purple candy. I'm thinking it was a  Baltimore Ravens or Minnesota Vikings M&M. As you can see though the encroacher was soundly smashed by the delicious orange and black candies. Let's say it's Fav-ra and his Vikings and this is a glimpse of the coming playoffs. Who Dey.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Race Report

Sometimes how you feel during a race is inexplicable. I've gone into races well prepared and sometimes something great happens, other times things go as planned, occasionally the wheels fall off. When I know I'm unprepared the result is usually as expected, but every once in a while something unexpected happens. This is one of those inexplicable races. It wasn't the best 10k I've run. I was almost 2 minutes slower, however considering the shape I've been in over the last couple of weeks it should have been 10 minutes slower.

It started about 10 days ago when I was taken to the emergency room having a hard time breathing, with a high fever and some other not so fun symptoms. I found out I had the dreaded H1N1. It was one of the most unfun nights I've had maybe ever and I've had my share. I did have the good fortune to leave the hospital that night with a prescription and orders to stay at home away from the rest of the world. I spent the next week taking Tamiflu, cough medicine and Advil while waiting for it to pass. As luck would have it I did get the vaccine which probably helped my recovery.

I was able to get out for my first "run" on Thursday. I couldn't take sitting in my apartment anymore. I went out for a slow walking, shambling run in which I had to stop every now and again to have a coughing fit. At least I was outside again.

By race day I had gotten in a couple more runs including a slowish interval session the Tuesday before the race to get my legs warmed up. I didn't have high hopes for the race, but I was determined to show up. To add to the odds against a good race I had to work Wednesday night before the race. I had been on my feet for 12 hours. I've run on mornings after my work shifts before and it's usually not good. My legs are usually tired and stiff.

So I rolled up to the starting line Thursday morning with conservative goals. If I could I wanted to hit some 7:30 minute/miles, and if things weren't feeling good I would just back off and enjoy the morning. And a beautiful morning it turned out to be at race time. It was clear, sunny and cool, a perfect day for racing.

The gun sounded at 9 am and 15,000 plus runners and walkers were off! The first few miles were all about being conservative. When you're running in such a large crowd it's very easy to get caught up in the excitement and take off too fast. I didn't want to get caught up and then pay for it late in the race. I found a pace where I felt comfortable and stuck with it. For those first few miles I tried to keep it around 7:15 minute/miles. You know...conservative.  I felt good. I mean I felt really good, but I forced myself to hold back. I always felt one breath away from a coughing fit with the cool air.

The course starts in downtown Cincinnati just outside the football stadium up through the city and back across the river into Newport and Covington, Kentucky looping back around to the stadium. We hit the halfway point in Kentucky. Everything still felt good. I held a steady pace. I watched some pull ahead and others start to drop back as they were worn down by that early rush. Damn I feel good. Is this possible? The other shoe is going to drop soon. I know it.

It wasn't until mile 5 that I let myself believe that I really was going to pull this off. The proverbial shoe never dropped. This was really going to happen. With 1.2 miles to go I finally opened things up. That last 1.2 miles were amazing. I clocked my fastest mile during the final stretch as I let loose and smiled to the end enjoying the sunshine, the crowd, the feeling of my legs pumping and the cool air in my lungs. It may not have been my fastest 10K or my fastest Thanksgiving Day Race, but it felt really great. It has me excited about racing again.

Friday, November 06, 2009

750 on the run

With my 7 mile run today I reached one of my major goals of the year. Or is it my only goal of the year? I can't really remember. Since it's the only one I can remember let's say it's my most important goal for 2009. Drum roll please....I surpassed 750 miles today! *Signals balloon drop and confetti cannons explode*!!!  Woohoo! As you can see from the photo above I was tracking my progress with a challenge group on Buckeye Outdoors.

I first mentioned this goal on a blog post back in April. It was just a means to keep me motivated and running throughout the year. It appeals to my competitive nature and totally worked. Maybe if I started it a little earlier I could have topped 1,000 miles. There's always next year! Next year I may use my iPhone along with a Nike+ chip and take on some challenges over there. I tried it out for the first time last night when I forgot my Garmin and borrowed Gina's chip for a run. While not the most accurate device, and far more simplistic than all the information the Garmin can provide I could totally get sucked into the social aspect of the Nike+ site.  Check out my one lonely logged run.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween '09: Run Like Hell

It's time kids. Dress up as your favorite super hero/character/rock star/slutty whatever. In my case it's my favorite rock star, but more on that later. This year Halloween kicked off with one of my favorite races: The Run Like Hell! This is my 4th running of the race and it has become very near and dear to my heart. I've run it in costume, just run it, and even volunteered on the Cystic Fibrosis committee that puts on the event. If you've never been out for the race check it out for sure.

This year I just went out to run the race. It was a last minute call since I worked the night before (until 7 am that morning) and the weather outlook wasn't so awesome. As the afternoon went on it stayed very warm and there was no sign of rain. I was feeling pretty good after getting some sleep, so I ran on over to the race site and signed up. This turned out to be more of an ordeal than I had anticipated.

After signing up for the race I decided to stop by the Running Spot and pick up one of the 100th Anniversary posters for the upcoming Thanksgiving Day Race. In my haste to get in and out I accidentally locked my keys in my car! I was flipping out. I walked up to my car, and the keys were hanging out of the ignition...mocking me. Luckily, after a chance meeting with my girl Gina she came to the rescue with the assistance of AAA. Thank goodness. If not for that it was pay a locksmith or break the window and pay for that. I considered breaking the window.

I made it to the race site with 5 minutes to spare. It gave me just enough time to squeeze up near the front. The street was packed behind the starting line and I didn't want to get caught in a mass of costumed bodies. Even though I haven't been doing any real training for 5k racing and didn't have any particular goal in mind there is a part of me that can't help but think about the top 50. I had come close a few years back. If I had a good race I might be able to crack it.

The beginning of the race is downhill. As usual with most races there is a mass sprint at the beginning and the key is to not get swept up in the sprint. If I can hold back I will definitely be seeing many of these people once we hit the cemetery and the massive hill to the top. If I didn't see them there I would probably see them on the hills after the cemetery. There is only one race that I have done that is more hilly, The Reggae Run, and that's because it is all hill. The Run Like Hell is a series of hills with one mammoth one in the middle. The only good part is the downhill finish.

I felt pretty comfortable during the first part of the race. I kept a steady pace at the beginning and didn't worry too much about if I was passing anybody or if they were passing me. I just wanted to let the pace flow. I had plenty of time to punish myself on the hills...and were they punishing. Once we hit the cemetery we were  plunged into darkness. So we're battling up hill and then back down on a foot path in the dark surrounded by other unpredictable runners. It's not really the best setting to set a blazing pace. But no worries, it's a fun run right?

By the time we left the cemetery I was feeling pretty wasted. The climb up just about did me in. Working 12 hour overnight shifts seems to have taken its toll in terms of endurance. I'm not sleeping a regular sleep schedule and I can tell it's effecting my running. Even on training runs I often feel exhausted by mid-run. I just tell myself it's good training for tough races and push on, but still it's not helping. So, after leaving the cemetery I hunkered down and just kept up the best pace I could for the remainder of the race. I put the top 50 and my time out of my mind I would just enjoy the run. How often do you get to race at night surrounded by 3,000 other costumed runners?

So I let it go until the last 1/4 mile or so. I wasn't going to roll over and give up. As we topped the last hill I knew we had one turn left and a downhill straightaway to the finish. I stepped on the gas and finished strong as any self respecting competitor would. My official time was 22:19. It's a good time, but not my best. I ran a 21:21 in '06. I found out later I just missed the top 50 again! I'm not sure exactly by how much since some runners paid for chip timing and others didn't, but I know I was close. Next year it's on...for real. 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Culinary Adventures: Chicken and Dumplings Slow Cookin' Edition

There is something about the fall and winter that brings two words to mind: crock pot. It's all about warm comfort food on a cold, dark day. Gina and I became obsessed with the crock pot for like 2 days late last fall. We had big plans to crock pot our winter blues away. We'd put it on in the morning and come home to some warm soothing deliciousness. I bought a slow cooker recipe book and she bought a crock pot. It was so on! And then it was off. We definitely made one thing in it, possibly two things.

This year is different. Things are gonna change...I can feel it. This year it is on! For real! Maybe? Seriously though I'm digging the crock pot even more now that I'm working nights. I can pick up what I need on the way home. Throw the ingredients in...and voila! I wake up to a delicious, hot home cooked meal. Gina comes home from work to a hot meal. We could be heroes just for one day.

Today was just that day. I was craving some serious comfort food, and one of my favorites is chicken and dumplings. I decided to go with this Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings recipe from the Allrecipes iPhone app. It has become one of my favorite iPhone apps. I highly recommend it. I also recommend the Epicurious app as a companion recipe app. They're both free so, you know, why not? But I digress...

It's the simplest recipe imaginable...until you delve into the comments. People can't help themselves when it comes to commenting on recipes. They can't just say whether it's good or bad, or why they liked or disliked it. Inevitably they rewrite the entire recipe. A typical comment looks like this...

This recipe was great! It's so simple and easy to make. My (insert significant other here) and (insert number) kids kept eating it until they're stomachs ruptured and I had to take them to the hospital! OMG! hahaha. Anyway I made a few modifications: I changed it from chicken to beef, and added cumin, oregano, seasoning salt, parsley. I used beef broth instead of water to give it more flavor. I doubled the cooking time and changed the temperature by 20 degrees. Then I served it with my own family recipe sauce that has been passed down through the generations. I could tell what it is, but I'd be disowned. I know this recipe will be on the menu for years to come! 

Wait. What? Was the recipe great? If it was so great how come your preparation has absolutely nothing to do with the original recipe? I make fun, but the comments are usually helpful for spicing up a dish. I usually look over the comments and pick out a few modifications that are simple, and add to the recipe without becoming overly complicated.

For the chicken and dumplings I ended up going with this:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages  refrigerated biscuit dough, torn into pieces
    with these changes from the first comment
  • pinch of parsley, salt and pepper
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 3/4 can of low sodium/low fat chicken broth
  • 2 cans of mixed vegetables
I put in everything except the biscuit dough for the first 3 1/2 hours. I then added in the dough for the dumplings for the last 2 1/2 hours as suggested by the comment.

The verdict:
Gina and Aiden really liked it! Gina only suggested adding more vegetables. There actually was a lot of vegetables in it, but they were kind of pushed to the bottom by all the dough. I think I have a fix for that in my suggested changes for next time.

Next time: 
There are a few things I will change. First, I think I'll skip the cream of mushroom soup. The taste and smell was a little overpowering. It also thickened it up a little too much. Second I will use less dough. I think 1 can will be plenty for the recipe. I will also put it in later in the cooking process. With the cooking time and the extra time before dinner the dough soaked up a lot of liquid and turned the entire thing into a very thick stew. I want actual dumplings. Next time maybe an hour at most for the dumplings. Maybe add a few different seasonings which will be able to come through without the overwhelming mushroom soup. Other than that I think it's good.   

What should I throw in the crock pot next? 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall and Winter Plans

After spending 3 to 4 months training for a marathon or half marathon (as I did a few weeks ago) and the race is complete there is always a period afterward that is at once a relief and a bit of a let down. It's like post marathon depression. Crazy right? Probably. After months of structured training and weekly mileage I kind of miss it. I like to have a goal. Something to look forward to and a goal to reach. After a few weeks though comes the fun part. I get to look forward to the coming months and spring training! Ow!  Too much?

As I often do after months of running I'm looking forward to doing some other things this fall and winter. I have a few more races that I'd like to run:

These will be for fun. I have no particular goals in mind, no special hopes for a pr. I just hope we have some good weather and some fun runs. The fall is going to be about building some base miles and getting in some cross training. The goal is to get into the gym once or twice a week to do some strength training along with some spinning classes and outdoor cycling when the weather is nice.

In January it's on. I've committed to run the Flying Pig Marathon Relay again with Gina and a couple of her friends. This will be the 4th Pig Relay I've done and it's super fun every time. I'd also like to do a spring marathon. I have a couple of contenders right now that I'm considering:

Here's looking forward to spring!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Ain't No Party Like a Windows 7 Launch Party!

....An incredibly awkward, uncomfortable Windows 7 Launch Party!! People have laughed, made fun of, and spoofed this incredibly weird and awkward video released by Microsoft to promote their home launch parties for Windows 7. That's right home launch parties for Windows! Ow! They've laughed and laughed...and kept right on talking about it. This may be one of the most genius marketing moves ever made by Microsoft. The original video is approaching a million views on Youtube. Watch because it's a train wreck. They still gotcha.  Who's laughing now?

Most of the spoofs don't come close to improving on the weirdness of the original. This one is pretty good though....

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Dear Runner's World

Dear Runner's World,

I have a small issue I'd like to address regarding your magazine covers. Why is it that all of your magazine covers appear to be shot at your version of an Olan Mills Photo Studio? Sorry if the reference isn't universal. Google it, you'll see. My point is month after month we get the same glowing hard bodies in the same poses on virtually the identical pristine rural setting. This was brought to my attention once again when a link to the new cover was previewed on Twitter.

How about something different? Maybe this is the ideal running physique we all should be aspiring to and the gear we all wish we could afford, but having it featured every month so unimaginatively is quite frankly boring. Why not feature some of the wonderful runners with interesting stories from the pages of your magazine? Even those Rave Run photos are fantastic!

I know I can't be the only one that loves your magazine, but is growing tired of seeing the magazine show up every month with the young white hard body on the cover in a running pose. There is a class we are required to sit through at work called Diversity Training. Maybe look into it. I see runners of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities on the road everyday...and I live in Cincinnati. You seem to gear toward runners of varying degrees of experience. You want to encorage "newbees". Maybe your covers should reflect your audience and goals.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

State To State Half Marathon Race Report

"If you can run one 6:30 mile you can run 13." Those were the words of wisdom from Gina after I told her my goal time for the half was to break 1 hour 30 minutes. She immediately challenged me to run 1 hour 26 minutes. While 4 minutes doesn't seem like much time when you break it down into a pace over 13.1 miles it's a 6:51 pace verses a 6:33 pace. It doesn't really matter. It all became irrelevant around mile 9.5, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

This was the moment of truth. After spending 3 months working through my training program race day had finally arrived. I woke up around 6 am to get a quick shower and my pre-race grub. This time I went with an egg sandwich, a banana and a cup of coffee. I wanted to get in an early kick of caffeine. Honestly though, I think for future races I'll go back to the peanut butter, honey and banana. The egg sat fine, but I think it didn't stick with me long enough. By the end of the race I was starving and wasted.

We arrived in Oxford to an overcast and cool morning. It looked like a perfect day for racing. As long as it didn't rain or the sun decided to break through to scorch the runners out in the corn fields on the way to Indiana. I got in a quick warm up while Gina scoped out the Starbuck's across the street near the starting line and it was race time before I knew it.

Off the line I felt pretty good. Maybe I could run 13 6:30 minute miles after all! I knew this was just the adrenaline talking. If I let it go to my head it would be a quick 5 or 6 miles followed by miles and miles of pain. The plan was to stick it around a 7 minute mile and then see how it goes from there. For the first few miles things went perfectly. I would creep up around a 6:45 pace then draw it back to 7-ish. Eventually I found a few runners going at a similar pace and stuck with them. It was an "easy" cruise into Indiana.

The course was out and back. We started in Oxford, near Miami University, and headed out to the Indiana state line, across it for a mile or so and back. There were a couple little side loops on the way out and a straight shot back. That made the trip back a little shorter and should have been a mental boost knowing that you would get back sooner. For me it didn't quite feel that way. As we crossed the border into Indiana I could fee the first little bit of discomfort in my right hip. This isn't terribly unusual on long runs. I often get tight around my hips, so I didn't worry about it too much.

Some time between mile 9 and mile 10 I did start to get concerned. The discomfort had increased and now both my hips were growing tight. It was becoming difficult to maintain my pace at this point, and I had to slow down to regroup. I found myself caught out in no man's land between the ultra fast runners way up ahead of me and the slower runners behind me. As the discomfort increased and my pace decreased I lost the few people that I was pacing with earlier in the race. I slowed down concentrated on my breathing and tried to psych myself up for the rest of the race.

I could see the 10 mile mark approaching, so I talked myself up. Only 3.1 miles left. I know I'm out of the hunt for breaking 1:30, but I can still set a PR today. I did a quick calculation in my head. If I can keep the pace at 7:30 or faster I can still beat my PR of 1:35:55. Breathe deep, relax and let your legs do the work. With that it was back on.

Miles 11 and 12 went by at a snail's pace in my head. I pushed the pace as much as I could. Shortly after mile 12 I went through the strangest water stop I've ever encountered. Usually the volunteers at the water stops are very encouraging, jovial, fun people. This one was a different story. I swear everybody at that water stop was completely silent and almost solemn. It was like being handed water by the children of the corn. Did they know something I didn't? Is this some sort of death march? yikes.

I think what they knew and I didn't was that there was this ridiculous hill 100 yards before the finish line. They knew I was going to die on it. It was out and back, so we ran down this on the way out. It wasn't nearly that steep was it? Where did it come from? 99% of the rest of the course was completely flat. What sadistic race planner does this? I reminded myself that I had done my hill work. This little bump was nothing. That little bump took the last bit of energy out of me.

When I reached the top I could see the finish line. I summoned anything I had left in the tank and "sprinted" to the finish. Official time: 1:34:53. A one minute and 2 second improvement. Not the race I was hoping for, but any day you can PR is a good day. Hell any day pounding the pavement is a great day.

I'm not really sure what happened after the race. Gina has the post race coverage along with her trials and tribulations tackling a grande latte at Starbucks. All I know is I woke up some time later that day to head out to my parents with Gina to watch the Bengals pull off a miracle win over Pittsburgh and eat lots and lots of snacks.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Culinary Adventures: Chili Edition (Part 1)

Every year around Halloween the fam gathers at their usual camping spot along the mighty Ohio River for an annual chili cook off. Family members, friends and camping neighbors usually participate giving us a good sampling of 8-10 varieties of chili. The chili is consumed. The votes are cast and counted. The winner usually gets some sort of token trophy or plaque and more importantly bragging rights.

Usually I like to partake in the consuming of the chili and voting for the winner. I haven't thrown my chili into the mix. That's all going to change this year. I've decided to throw my hat into the ring, and I'm not going into this unprepared. Recipes will be tested to find just that perfect winning chili. Mostly it's just an excuse to make and consume lots of chili. Delicious, delicious chili.

This past weekend I started the testing. With the help of my two taste testers Gina and Aiden I'm going to crack the perfect chili recipe, or just eat lots of delicious chili.

I started with a basic chili recipe from I started with a little browning of ground beef, and onion saute.

Dump it into a pot with the beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, and seasonings.

Bring to a boil, followed by a simmer for 15 minutes. Then....we wait. That is the end of the recipe, and we could have eaten it right then, but we all know that chili tastes much better if it's allowed to sit for a while. Let those seasonings settle in and mature to perfection.

Flash forward a few hours and....

Voila! Throw some crackers and shredded cheese and we've got some delciousness happening.

According to the taste testers....
It was delicious. According to Gina it wasn't terribly spicy, but still had a nice underlying kick. That would be the extra bit of spice I threw in. Aiden gave it two thumbs up.

How could we improve upon this recipe?
More. Gina suggested putting in some more beans. Amp up the that spicy kick. I agree it could use a bit extra bite to it. Otherwise it was quite good. It was just as good when I took in the leftovers for lunch. Yum.

What's up next?
I'm not sure just yet. I'm checking out some other chili recipes to make this weekend. Ed's Chicago Cocoa Chili sounds very interesting. Whatever I decide to make I can't wait to chill out after the State to State Half with some delicious chili and the Bengals on the tv.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Diagnosis Wenckebach

What makes a normal sinus rhythm? What causes  a wide and bizarre QRS complex? Most importantly, what's a Wenckebach (2nd degree AV block, Type 1)? I've been learning about these and much more in an ECG class that I'm currently taking at work. I only wish it were all set to catchy pop tunes. Despite that shortcoming the class has been very interesting. All those little lines, bumps, and dips are starting to mean something. Hopefully I'll be able to put this new knowledge to work soon before it goes back to looking like lines, bumps and dips. I'll always know Wenckebach.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

On Schedule

17 days and 10 hours until race time according to the website. So in just about 2 1/2 weeks I'll be lining up to run the State to State Half. I haven't written about the training much, but that's only because things are going along smoothly. I don't want to jinx myself. The less I say the better. Crap, I hope I didn't just jinx myself by saying that.

The Higdon advanced half marathon plan has been a really great program. While it has definitely pushed me as far as mileage and difficulty of workouts I feel like it has been manageable. I like that it has mixed up the speed workouts. One week I've been doing 8 x 400s the next week 4 x 800s and then 3 x 1600s following. There is an overall progression to it if you look at the plan in total, but from week to week it gives enough variety to keep it interesting. I'm a big fan of Yasso's, but doing that steady increase every week 5 x 800, 6 x 800, 7 x 800... gets to be mind numbing. It gets tougher and yet more boring as the weeks and months go on during training. I need variety.

So with 2 weeks left I am optimistic about the race. My goal is to break 1 hour and 30 minutes. It's a tough, but attainable goal and I got a little boost today. I've had some tough workouts over the last couple of weeks. I've been battling fatigue from working long overnight shifts that require a lot of time on my feet. On top of that I think I've been suffering from a bit of training fatigue. I haven't done some of the races I planned on doing along the way to prepare for the half, so I haven't seen any of the fruits of this training yet. Today though, after a week of struggling through some less than awesome workouts I felt like I had a break through of sorts. Over the course of the four 1 mile repeats I did I felt at times great, bad, tired, re-energized, and worn out during the final interval. When it was all said and done I managed to maintain a sub 7 minute pace per mile. It's what I had planned and executed all out on the roads. These weren't intervals on a flat track, but out in real life racing type conditions. It was a much needed morale boost. I look forward to lining up in 17 days, 9 hours and 40 minutes. But who's counting?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

What I'm reading (The Farewell to Reading Rainbow Edition)

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog

As it has been widely reported and blogged about that after 26 years Reading Rainbow is no longer going to be making new episodes! I can't say that it had a profound effect on me, but I appreciate a show that promotes reading for fun. It is something that I want to encourage in my own daughter, so to see an ally fall is sad. Thankfully she is a reader and is just getting old enough to start the Harry Potter books. That should keep her busy for a few years.

Speaking of reading for enjoyment, my reading list just increased by one book. Beloved has been set aside for now, hopefully to be picked up later. Gina suggested a new book to read in conjunction with my entering the medical field and working toward nursing school. This afternoon I started reading Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande.

I read the Introduction this afternoon and I'm hooked.

Medicine is, I have found, a strange and in many ways disturbing business. The stakes are high, the liberties taken tremendous. We drug people, put needles and tubes into them, manipulate their chemistry, biology, and physics, lay them unconscious and open their bodies up to the world. We do so out of abiding confidence in our know-how as a professional. What you find when you get in close, how messy, uncertain, and also surprising medicine turns out to be.
See what I'm saying? I've got to go. I've got reading to do and report back on later.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


File this under running and reading and possibly nerd I think. So, I was doing a tough run earlier today when, as usual, my mind started to wander. I was having a tough run and started to think about other things to possible forget about the pain and stiffness in my legs.  I snapped back realizing I was slowing down. I needed something to focus my mind. I needed something to get over the pain. I needed a mantra. I've used several in my runs. Usually it's just something I come up with in the moment. Something specific to the situation. So here is what I came up with today.

I've been listening to The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King on my way to work. This seems unrelated, but I'll get there.  Having spent many years with this series reading each one eagerly as they were released It's fun to be able revisit them as audio while driving. It makes the commute much more enjoyable. The readers they've chosen are also excellent. Anyway, in the third book the gunslingers have a creed, a mantra, that they use to clear their minds, to focus.  It is...

I do not aim with my hand; he who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
I aim with my eye.

I do not shoot with my gun; he who shoots with his gun has forgotten the face of his father.
I shoot with my mind.

I do not kill with my gun; he who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father.
I kill with my heart.

-Gunslinger's Creed

 Today I was thinking about that and adapted it to use while I was running...

I do not run with with my legs. I run with my body. (check your form)

I do not pace with my legs. I pace with my mind. (pain is all in the mind, deal with it)

I do not win with my legs. I win with my heart. (gut it out)

It helped as a reminder that there is much more to running than those two pumping legs below me. Even though they may be tired, sore, stiff or in pain that is a small part of what makes up the run. I can overcome that. Take stock of what's going on down there, but don't let it dictate how you feel about the run. There is much more. 

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bohlke 5K Race Report

There are 'A' races and there are 'B' races. The 'A' races are the ones you plan for specifically, sometimes for months in advance. Currently the 'A' race in my sites is the State to State Half Marathon at the end of September. That race has my full attention and a 3 month training plan that is in full swing. Along the way I'll pick up some test races, tune up races and the like to get ready: 'B' races. The Bohlke 5K falls under the second category. My only real expectations for the race were to maintain under 7 minute/miles, and hopefully place well in my division and overall.

It was a tough course. The course started with a short downhill stretch which can only encourage sprinting out too fast from the start. If I were to let that happen it would be all over but the cryin' on the way back as the last half of the race was a series of hills with varying degrees of difficulty.

I started at the front of the pack, but let the likes of Chris Reis and the fools that were going to sprint out with him go. I've been drawn into that little game far to many times. I wasn't feeling super awesome at the start anyway. After a week of working nights, a day of play in the sun, and a night of play and drink I wasn't prepared for a sprint start and a climb back to the finish. I would start easy. The fast runners could fight it out. I'd see the pretenders before the finish.

I can't say that I ever felt great. The morning was heating up quickly. As I passed the first water stop I missed getting any water because an overly eager kid volunteer fumbled the hand off spilling the water all over the ground. I cursed his father for having such a clumsy son. Not really, but I thought about it.

Before the halfway point we started climbing back toward the finish. Despite being tired, and thirsty (stupid kid), I was encouraged as I began catching up to the early sprinters. Ha! Suckers. I could have been you sucking wind right now while I caught up with me (you). Instead, I'm me catching up with you as you fade. Enjoy the hills! In my mind I was passing up Summit Country Day soccer players that regularly pummeled us in high school soccer tournaments. That explains the confused looks I got when I would yell "This one's for the Bulldogs!" as I ran by them.

The final mile was a matter of survival as we continued the climb back to SCD school. I had enough energy to muster up a respectable sprint to the finish line on the football field to the sounds of the Rocky Theme over the PA. Not a bad way to finish the race.

After the race I hung around for the awards ceremony. Anna Bohlke, the race marshall and wife of Marc Bohlke, for whom the race was named gave a touching speech and thanked everyone who came out. From the flyer...

Help support The Bohlke Scholarship Fund in memory of Mr. Marc Bohlke and his dedication to the entire MVC family. A portion of this money will also go to the Miami Valley Conference and its mission to provide a quality athletic experience for all its student athletes.

The results:

 14 ADAM IKER           35 M CINCINNATI      OH   20:43  6:41    11/129  M

Monday, August 17, 2009

Take Me Out To The Bobblehead Night

Reds Stadium Panorama

Which is more of an outrageous statement? We only went to the Reds game Saturday night because it was Brandon Phillips Bobblehead Night? or...This is the first bobblehead night I've attended, ever. Crazy right? It seems like they have a bobblehead night every other week, and I've never been to a single one. Face it, only the die hard fans are going to the games to see the Reds these days. The rest of us go for bobblehead night. They got crushed by the Washington Nationals. Let's Go Redlegs.

Which one of these statements was overheard at the ballpark this weekend?

A) He never was very good at ball sports.
B) Second Base!
C) The Washington logo looks like the Walgreens logo.

The correct answer is....

C! While we were enjoying our slices, or possibly the nachos, the lady sitting behind us pointed out to her husband that The Washington logo looks exactly like the Walgreens logo. Haha! Suck it Washington. You may have beat us, but your logo sucks. Let's go Redlegs.

Major League baseball team/The Pharmacy America Trusts (according to their website)

The other two statements were, in fact, said this weekend. Neither one of them had to do with baseball.

That's a little slice of an awesome weekend. The events in order:

sea doos, nap, bar, sleep, race, tubing, ball game, camp, run, sea doos

It began and ended with sea doos, as every weekend should begin and end. I'll post a blog about the race a bit later, but for now, let's all bask in the glow of Brandon Phillips Bobblehead...

BP Bobblehead

Let's Go Redlegs!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Culinary Adventures: Artichoke Edition

Maybe not so much adventures as a need to stretch our culinary wings a bit. Gina and I were discussing our diets the other day. She came to the conclusion that we eat approximately 4 different meals: chicken and salad, chicken and au gratin potatoes, chicken (mcnuggets) and french fries, and taco night. This is actually made with hamburger to throw something different in the mix. This may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not far off. It's easy to get stuck in a dietary rut.

Today I decided we need to break out of the rut and get a little something different. While I was wandering around Fresh Market this morning after work I happened upon some really good looking artichokes. I haven't had artichokes in ages. Steamed artichokes and a simple dipping sauce is the best. I whipped out the handy iPhone with my Epicurious app. and found this recipe for grilled artichokes with sesame dipping sauce. Perfect.

I left the main course up to Fresh Market by picking up some of their delicious bbq chicken kabobs to grill along with the artichokes that I would prepare.

If you're playing along go to the recipe and start cooking now.... and voila!

The photo doesn't really do it justice. It was really good. I wasn't as big a fan of the dipping sauce as Gina, but it was not bad. Here's looking forward to more culinary adventures.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Reading List

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog

It occurred to me today that I've been wanting to write about some books I've been reading while I was scanning through NPR's Audience Picks: 100 Best Beach Books. I've read some of these books on the list, but I've never actually read any of them on a beach. I read one of them, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy on a plane going to and returning from a beach. Does that count? Finished the entire book in those two sittings. Great road trip book.

I don't know how I've gone so long without writing about books. I'm a constant reader, but I guess I don't feel particularly smart enough to comment, write about, or critique books. The huge hole in my reading education I'm about to reveal will clue you in on why I feel this way.

After a conversation with Gina which resulted in surprise and disgust on her part she decided that I needed a reading list. I needed to be educated on good books. Come on! I've read Into The Wild. Does that count? More looks of disgust. It's been fun to have a reading list. To have a guide through the good stuff. Here's what I've read so far, and what I'm reading now. This is no book review or explanation of the plot just a little rumination.

The Catcher In The Rye - J.D. Salinger

There was a lot of pressure on the first book of the reading list. If I didn't like it I was warned it could be a relationship deal breaker. This is one of, if not her all time favorite book. I liked it, but didn't love it. It was a close call, but I think I have a pretty good reason for feeling this way. I think she identified with the main character much more strongly reading it when she was younger. Maybe I'm wrong, it's just a theory. I have to say it did stick with me. I look forward to revisiting it sometime soon. Maybe when Aiden is a little older I will share it with her.

Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs - Chuck Klosterman

Something a little lighter. This is somebody I can totally identify with: a dude that is just as self obsessed as he is obsessed with music and popular culture. His books are like having a conversation with the funniest person you know. I devoured this book and took a little detour off the reading list to read his book Killing Yourself To Live. In my opinion it's even better, since it's the same self obsession and wit wrapped in some semblance of a narrative.

One Flew Over The Kuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey

Startling, Trippy, funny, scary and heartbreaking. Despite the physical differences of the character in the book and the fact that I've never seen the movie Jack Nicholson is R.P. McMurphy in my mind. If you haven't read it go read it right now. If you have read it check out the audio book read by Ken Kesey.

But Enough About Me - Jancee Dunn

This is my pick as "best beach book". She is the female equivalent of Cameron Crowe. The book is autobiographical, self depricating, hilarious and gives great insight in to some huge celebrities she has interviewed.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - Dave Eggers

Another autobiographical work. I didn't realize how many of these I had read. He has a wonderfully distinct style that makes for a wonderful read. He's also gone on to do some great things with the fame and money he earned from this and his other works. Look him up.

Beloved - Toni Morrison

What I'm reading right now...errr..what I started reading a month ago, put down and haven't picked up again. I have to say the book didn't grab me immediately. Gina warned me at the outset that I'd have to give it some time. I just don't know if I want to invest the time to get in to it. Maybe I'll set it aside and come back to it at a later date. Maybe while I'm adjusting to a new schedule with work and all I need something a little easier to digest.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sweet Times Coming Down...

It's my first week on the night shift. I was very nervous about the first night. I imagined that about 3 am I would hit a brick wall and it would be all downhill from there. They would find me curled up in the fetal position in the break room snoring. It didn't turn out to be that bad. I was kept busy all night taking care of patients and learning the ins and outs of a new position in the ICU. It was very interesting monitoring all the patients right from the desk with the fancy new equipment.

I didn't hit the wall until about 5 am. By then I could push through to the end with thoughts of laying my head down and blacking out. After unwinding for a couple hours that is exactly what I did. I slept hard for about 4 hours.

I think The Commodores summed it up best. It's gonna be alright...

Friday, July 17, 2009


Let me count the ways I love you iPhone. I'll save that for another post. Today I'll be sharing some photos taken with the iPhone and put together with a fun little app. called AutoStitch. While not perfect, the results are pretty impressive for an inexpensive app. and it's super easy to use. Click the photos to go to the originals on Flickr. Click on "All Sizes" in Flickr to see the full size versions.

The Bob Dylan Show
Fifth Third Field in Dayton, Ohio

Taken during The Bob Dylan Show.

Contemporary Arts Center
Contemporary Arts Center. Cincinnati, Ohio

Taken tonight while we were downtown. I was reprimanded for not knowing the architect of Cincinnati's new downtown centerpiece. Do yourself a favor and read up on Zaha Hadid and the CAC here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fall Race Plans

Today begins training for the fall race season. There was a last minute addition that has me kind of pumped. Initially I was going to do the White Tail Trail Half in October as my main race for the fall, but after hearing that one of Gina's co-workers is running the State To State Half I quickly did some calculations to see if I would have enough time to train. Yep, it has been added to my schedule as my A race for the fall. Competitive? What? I don't know what you mean Gina.

My excuses are: the addition of the State To State will give me the opportunity to go for a PR for the half distance, where I'm hoping to come in around 1 hr. 30 minutes. The White Tail Trail Half will be more for the experience of doing a trail half. It will also hopefully provide for some competition..against myself...for the PR.

For the training schedule I chose Hal Higdon's Advanced Half Marathon training program. I like that it mixes up the speed work with 400, 800 and 1600 intervals over the course of the training. It also includes lots of race pace running and good mileage. I'm pretty excited to get back on to a training schedule (because I'm sick like that).

So the tentative summer/fall race schedule looks like this:

I don't know what it looks like yet. The training schedule suggests racing on certain dates, but I may have to juggle that around a bit depending on work and when races are scheduled.

Off for a run!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Show In The Stands

Which happened to be at The Bob Dylan Show…

A warm afternoon at the home of the Dayton Dragons with Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Bob Dylan, and 7,000 of our closest friends. Make that 6,998 of our closest friends, because the two ladies behind us were annoying as hell. Do I really need to talk about the music? It was awesome. I loved it. These are three legends of music that you either like or dislike. I'm not going to sway you, but if you don't like them you are dead wrong my friend.

Anyway, back to the real action. We sat down in our seats to enjoy Willie tear through a great set with the energy of a guy half his age and probably while high. Go Willie. This big group came in to take their seats behind us and the two ladies directly behind us starting blabbing immediately. I don't expect quiet at a ballpark concert, but they were shrill and talking loudly about everything that happened to them that day right in our ears. Then they would clap at the end of the song as if they heard anything! I couldn't hear it! I think Gina was going to punch one of them in the face at one point. It would have almost been worth it to get kicked out. We chose to move, because the dirty looks weren't working.

We found a spot in a little side grassy side area (click on photo above for the view from that spot) with some chairs lined up along the top. We chatted with a couple of ladies next to us, enjoyed some “jumbo” corndogs and listened to Mellencamp tear it up as he made every classic sound new again. It was a little off to the side of the stage, but you could see the front of the stage well enough and, once again, the real action was in the stands. This time we happened to sit down right behind a couple that was high or drunk or some combination of the two. The woman spent most of Mellencamp’s set on her back with her eyes closed. They both were grungy and covered in, what appeared to be, needle marks.

At one point the guy jumped up and ran toward the poor people sitting in the stands off to our right yelling something completely unintelligible, stumbling and laughing. The lady nearest him must have been horrified, because it wasn’t long before she grabbed the first guy in a uniform she could find to report the guy for his behavior. Later he jumped up and asked a few ladies next to us to watch his girlfriend because she is “stupid”. Really buddy?

Some of the other crowd highlights included a man running around the crowd of the in field doing a very jubilant version of the Macarena, and several guys of all ages being escorted away stumbling and weaving. Good stuff.

Some of the concert highlights?

Willie - “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time”
It always makes me think of my grandma singing it and brings a smile to my face.

John - “Small Town” alone on stage with an acoustic. One of the few times he slowed down and changed a line of the lyrics at one point to say that he wrote that song when his wife was 13.

Bob – Honestly, I was surprised by the entire Dylan set. Never seen him in concert, so I didn’t really know what to expect. He had an excellent band and it was a fairly rockin’ bluesy set. I would have to hear the set again to pick out a fav..or maybe see him again.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Adam's Workout Plan

This long distance dedication goes out to Debie in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Debie somehow found a list of songs that I had posted a couple years ago on the message board for a cycling group on Sparkpeople. I'd be curious to see those songs that I was working out to 2 years ago. I suspect many of them are still in regular rotation on my iPod.

Debie asked me what I'm listening to lately that gets my butt moving during workouts. After a quick consult of my trusty shuffle that I run with and my recently listened to songs in iTunes I put together a workout mix, or plan if you will. It keeps me moving, but what's most importantly is if you use this mix you won't have to deal with Ray Ray's broke a$$ no more (see track 9). If you want another, and better, mix I would check out the 5 Minute/Mile Mix Gina gave me last spring prior to the Flying Pig Marathon. It is guaranteed to have you running 5 minute miles (the mix master nor the writer cannot be held liable for failure to run 5 minute/miles. If you do succeed at anytime after listening to the mix the mix master gets all credit for helping you reach said goal). I consider it the gold standard of running mixes. It is still in regular rotation, and I'm constantly striving to her level of mix-manship.
  • This Tornado Loves You - Neko Case
  • Can I Get a... - Jay-Z
  • Search and Destroy - Peaches
  • Joker and The Thief - Wolfmother
  • The Fear - Lily Allen
  • Superstition - Stevie Wonder
  • Animal - Pearl Jam
  • Bohemian Like You - The Dandy Warhols
  • The New Workout Plan - Kanye West
  • Like This - Girl Talk
  • Ghetto Pop Life - Danger Mouse & Gemini
  • Movies - Alien Ant Farm
  • Sex On Fire - Kings of Leon
  • Be The One - The Ting Tings
  • Poker Face - Lady Ga Ga
  • Lisztomania - Phoenix
  • Paper Planes - M.I.A.
  • Give Me A Beat - Girl Talk

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Two weeks in with the new job and things are going really well. My reservations for going in to mursing school are the following in no particular order:
  1. Going back to school and working full time is going to be hard going, and I'm not a super young dude anymore.
  2. Sciences were never my strongest classes. I'm more of an English and Lit. guy.
  3. I've never been in a job that required patient care before. What if I hate dealing with people in such close proximity?
One of those reservations has been put firmly to rest. I really enjoyed my first two weeks of work. Working with the patients was great and any nerves that I was experiencing during the first day quickly disappeared. Most of the patients are happy to see the PCA's. It makes a big difference to them to stop for a minute and chat. It is something that I will always try to remember. No matter how busy my day is or how tough things are going I am primarily there to help them during their stay.

So, tomorrow begins a new week with a new set of challenges that I'm looking forward to taking on. It's going to be a tough one since I'm facing 3 twelve hour days in a row. It will be so worth it, since on Friday Gina and I will be on the road to Dayton to see our friends John, Willie and Bob.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hyde Park Blast

This blog post is made possible by the ever supportive girlfriend Gina who is pictured above laughing with my daughter, the less supportive but tolerant, Aiden who is being mauled by the Charmin bear at the Piglet Run back in May. I made them get up early Saturday morning so I could run the HydePark Blast.

I was told that I owe them big time. They're right I do owe them big time. This isn't the first time, and won't be the last time they've been drug out early in the morning as I ran some race. As Gina likes to say, never underestimate the effort the spectators put in on race day. If it weren't for the support of friends and loved ones we would be running through empty streets with nobody to cheer us on except each other. So give it up for all those that support you on race day.
The race can be summed by two words: hot and hilly. I had no time goal or PR goal since it was an oddish 4 mile race. I started out the race wanting to do about 7 minute miles. By mile 2 or so the sun was beating down and the day was heating up, so it became more about just getting to the finish line without stopping and looking good for the photographers.

Generally I met my goals. I don't know about looking good for the photographers, but I was just off my pace goal by a bit. More importantly I had a good time at the race, saw some friends and familiar faces and spent the rest of the day recovering poolside with the support crew.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day One

This week is a new beginning with a great new job. I hope it's going to be a great new job. If it turns out to be a not such a great new job it should, at the very least, be a stepping stone and a great incentive to continue with nursing..nay..mursing school.

I've spent the last two days in orientation of Mercy Health Partners for a PCA job. For at least the next two to three years I'll be in the trenches assisting the nurses and doctors doing the gruntiest of the grunt work. I'm excited and a little apprehensive about the whole deal. What if I hate it? What if I can't take the various gross things that I'm bound to encounter in the coming years? What have I gotten myself into?? I could have taken a nice easy customer service job where I would have sat at a computer dealing with customers over the phone at a nice safe long, long distance. No bodily fluids, weird smells. The horror.

Pull it together man. We're in this for the long haul. This is about the future.

Let's look at the bright side. I felt excited at the orientation. I sat through many speakers, managers and administrators over the last two days blowing varying amounts of smoke and hopeful words into various orifices. Some of it I could take or leave, but some of it struck a chord. Common themes were compassion, community and service. I can dig these things.

It's going to be an interesting ride. Interesting for all these things and the fact that the hospital I'll be working at is the hospital that my mom has worked at for close to 30 years. Many of the people have known me since I was a little kid. It's the hospital that I would visit several times a year growing up to get stitched up. Should be fun...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ride Cincinnati

The word for this post is "fun". Count how many times I use the word "fun". It's "fun".

I couldn't say it better myself...but I'll try. No, I won't. It was a great ride for a great cause. The Ride Cincinnati for Breast Cancer Research is a ride I've been meaning to do since it started 2 years ago and finally made it.

It has been so long since I've done a fun ride like this that I kind of forgot they are. I'm really bringing it with my adjectives. It was fun.

The highlight of the morning was chillin' and checking out the variety of bikes that people ride. I should take more photos of fun bikes and their riders in the future. There were a couple that caught my eye including this fun looking bike. The lady riding it said her partner talked her into getting a bike and she needed one that was pretty much "unbreakable". I don't know about unbreakable but it is distinctive and cute.

Hopefully we'll get out for at least one more fun group ride this year. I've done a number of these in the past, but usually by myself. Gina was right. It is more fun to have a partner at your side..who you can steal snacks from in a pinch.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Goals for May:
Running = 75 miles
Cycling = 100 miles

The results are in. I didn't quite make it to both my goals. I reached my running goal with 13 runs totaling 78 miles including 3 races making for an excellent month of running. I didn't make it for cycling. I was able to get out on my bike 5 times for a total of 56 miles. Even though I didn't get in as many miles as I would have liked it was still a good month for riding.

Looking forward to June I think I'll set up the same distance goals. I'm looking at some fall half marathon options, so I may need to start training for that soon. A couple of options that I'm considering are the BayState Half Marathon (anybody up for a trip to Massachusetts? Gina?) or the White Tail Trail Half Marathon. I always enjoyed trail running, but don't do it that often. Maybe this one would give me incentive to hit the trails more this summer and stay off the hot, hard roads.

As summer kicks into gear there is lots of great riding and running to do, and lots of fun races to seek out. It's looking nice outside right now. I think I hear my bike calling.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Redlegs Run For Home

Some races are worth running just for the experience or the loacation and the giveaway that comes along with the race. The Redlegs Run For Home is one of those races. The race begins behind the reds stadium and ends inside the stadium next to the field. So, I'm so exhausted by the end of the race that I don't really get to appreciate the finish inside the stadium. Details. Still, it's a fun race and you get a free Reds ticket for running.

For my third running of this Redlegs 5k I decided on a novel idea. For this race I'm not going to go all out in the first mile and blow up in the third mile struggling to make it to the finish line. For real this time. Things are gonna change...I can feel it.

I lined up at the front of the starting line as I usually do these days to avoid congestion. I noticed a young girl near me lined up at the front. I'm bad at guessing ages, but she looked young to me, maybe a freshman in high school. There are always people that line up at the front that should really be toward the back. I'm not saying this out of snobbery. I never presumed to line up toward the front until recently as I've improved and found it frustrating and a waste of energy to work my way through the pack on these courses that are often tight at turns. Point is, she looked like one of those kids that line up at the start, sprint 100 yards and then slow down or stop.

As the gun went off that familiar surge of adrenaline went through me all though to a lesser degree than sometimes since I just raced a week ago. Having the memory of a painful race still fresh is the best antidote for an overeager start. I settled in at around a 6:30ish pace. The goal was to clock in a couple of 6:30's and see what was left in the tank for the final mile. A nice flat course on a relatively cool day was perfect to try and bring it in under 20.

As we taking the first couple of turns during that first mile I noticed the girl again. She was at about my pace so I stuck with her for a while. In a race with about 3000 participants it's easy to find somebody to pace. I settled in and cruised through the first mile at 6:26. A little fast, but I was feeling really good.

At some point I lost track of my pacing friend. Oh well. I flew by the water station and closed out the second mile at 6:33. Still on track to break 20 and I felt like I had some juice left. I ran up next to a young kid who asked me in an exhausted, out of breath voice how far it was to the finish. Less than a half mile left I told him. Less than a half mile left?? Sweet. I picked up the pace and left him behind.

The last couple of turns lead into the stadium. Crossing mile 3 I had about 45 seconds left to bring it under 20. I gave it all I have left and crossed the finish line with an official time of 19:48. Excellent race. I was feeling good about it. A few minutes after finishing I bumped into that girl that I saw at the starting line. I asked her how she did. 18:10 she responded. Whoa.

Official Results:
75 of 2792 total.
M35-39. 9 of 188 in division.
66 of 1388 males,
Time: 9:48 Pace: 6:24

Saturday, May 30, 2009

You Gotta Be Hungry!

For each one of these delicious chocolate chip cookies there is an equally delicious championship ring.

Reds Run For Home 5K post race. More to come...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hunger Walk & 5K Run

As a last minute decision on Monday morning I headed downtown to run in the Hunger Walk & 5k. The night before I had decided not to go, but per usual I woke up around 7 am and knew I had to go or I would regret it. I know, I'm a weirdo, but knowing that I had sort of committed to going made me think I should show up.

The course was out and back. It started at a small park in downtown and wound up to Eden Park and back down. It was all uphill on the way out and all downhill on the way back. No problem. The plan was simple: haul ass up the hill and fly back down. right? right.

I went straight to the front of the starting line. I was determined not to get stuck in the middle of the pack and waste my energy having to navigate my way to the front. At the starting gun I took off and quickly broke away with a group of 6 or so other guys. Mile 1 kicked off with a quick downhill from the start and on to a little stretch of flat road that slowly began to increase in grade as we headed toward Eden Park. I checked my Garmin and realized I was practically sprinting at sub 6 minute/miles. I forced myself to let off the gas a bit and let the front runners pull away. I knew if I didn't ease up I'd pay for it dearly on the hill.

I felt good and loose as we entered mile 2 and was in full on hill running up Gilbert Ave. As we got up closer to Eden Park I thought I would see the leaders heading back down. I thought we would be turning around at the entrance to Eden Park. Man was I wrong. We took a right on Eden Park Drive and continued to climb toward the top of the hill. The hill was starting to take it's toll as my breathing became more ragged. Just a little further. Just a little further. The turn around was at the top of the hill.

Down we went on Gilbert heading into mile 3. As usual by this point I was tired and questioning my sanity. Why do I do this? It's amazing how long a mile can suddenly seem during a race when you're trying gather your wits and composure after a hill. Each step becomes an effort. Each breath feels forced. I took a couple of suggestions from this month's Runner's World to regain control. Both of them worked!

The first was for side stitches. I was feeling a bit of one coming on as I was heading back down the hill. The suggestion is to notice which foot is striking the ground when you inhale and exhale. Then switch the pattern. I did a little skip step while running to change the rhythm of the run. Worked like a charm.

The second bit of advice has to to do with dealing with pain and fatigue in general. If fatigue begins to set in, or I'm getting sucked in to my head by negative thoughts I repeat a mantra. For me simply counting works. Sometimes I'll count my steps. This time I counted every time my right foot struck the ground. It took my mind off the pain and refocused my breathing.

With the finish closing in it was time for a strong finish. I had been watching a white shirt ahead of me for most of the race. He would pull away a bit then I would reel him back in. As we approached the finish I had him in my sights and decided to try to pass him. With one turn and a small hill left I dug in and started the finishing sprint. I pulled up on him on the final hill and edged past him. As we crested the hill I glanced back to see if he was there. He was falling back. I pulled away for a strong finish.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Pigs Fo Sho!

Pigs Fo Sho made their relay team debut this past Sunday at the 2009 Flying Pig Marathon. We weren't the fastest relay team, but we were definitely the team with the most style. We were looking sooo good. Gina took the first leg of the race coming in with her usual flair and style. I rode my bike down to Eden Park to see her come in for her leg, and Ryan pick up the second leg. It was lots of fun to ride along the route and see the leaders come speeding down Madison Rd. and the pack of people running up through Eden Park.

I then hussled it back home to do a quick change and jog to the start of my leg on Wasson. After a short wait Ryan came in strong and I was off. It was loads of fun running my leg with a reasonable goal and no need to push it. I was able to soak in the marathon day atmosphere on fresh legs and without the worry of those final 6 miles that the full marathoners were going to face. I gave high fives to the kids in Mariemont. I collected a couple of Gu packs to save for another day. I sent texts to Missy and Gina letting them know about my progress. I cruised in to set Missy off on the final leg of the Pigs Fo Sho debut race.

While I missed running the full or half a little bit that morning as I watched the runners go past me while I waited at my start the feeling quickly faded as we headed out that afternoon for a celebration barbeque where I could move around without the post race sore legs. Still, next year it might be on.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Goals for May

Back in the days of sparkpeople it was easy to stay motivated within the community that constantly presented challenges and feedback from fellow members to keep its users motivated. Since moving away from spark people it's not always easy to keep motivated with no feedback from a community, fewer encouraging words from other athletes. Thanks recently to an update on the great site I've been able to get back into challenge mode amongst a group.

The challenge I am taking part in is to run 750 miles in 2009. It seems a little daunting, but reachable, so to keep up the challenge I'm setting a goal for May to run 75 miles and additionally bike 100 miles in preparation for the Little Miami Triathlon at the beginning of June.

Let's get moving.

Running = 75 miles
Cycling = 100 miles

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cinci Rat Race 10K '09

For a massage and a pop. That was to go to the winner of the Rat Race last Saturday. I bet that I could beat Gina's 5k time while I was running the 10k. Neither of us had a very good race, but I still owe her a massage and a pop. Enjoy. :)

It's a flat, fast course. I PR'ed there for the 5K last year. All I had to do was maintain a 7 minute/mile for a few miles and then bring it on in for a new 10K PR. It all sounded so easy in my head. Despite the fact that I haven't had a good run since the Heart Mini a couple weeks ago I thought come race day I would be up for the race. I thought I would perform. I was overly confident and not prepared for the my second running of the Rat Race, and my first 10K since the Thanksgiving Day Race in 2007. The heat and the cheeseburger I had for lunch didn't help. Stupid! I paid for my lack of preparation and poor choice of a pre-race meal big time.

Lesson probably not learned. I've been down this path before. Except last time it involved some biscuits and gravy and a treadmill.

The Winner

The Puker

Sunday, April 05, 2009

If you can dodge a wrench...

Please don't throw wrenches. I couldn't dodge the ball either. So you thought the dodgeball craze came and went with the movie of the same name 5 years ago? I can assure you it is alive and well thanks to the Cincinnati Recreation Commission.

Thursday night I got a taste of the dodgeball life when I was invited to play in the final regular season game for the...ummm..they never told me if they had a team name. Isn't that the point of joining these things? You must to have a witty name.

According to Missy Thursday morning via IM (because all important communication in the 21st century is by IM or text), "it is our last game of the season and... we are playing the first place team...hahaha. we are gonna get creamed. it will be so fun!"

So what. They're the first team in a recreatioal dodgeball league. Nobody takes these things seriously. We'll go out throw the ball around and have a good time. But she added..."for real, we are gonna get creamed...this team is a beast" Oh crap.

I could tell you how they had three dudes that I'm pretty sure were on performance enhancing drugs and went into a 'roid rage on the dodgeball floor. According to one of my teammates still dazed, "He was 3 feet away from me. He could have thrown it easy instead he beamed me in the head!"

I could tell you how by the end we were all hesitant to go back out on the floor. "It's cool, I was in last game. Go ahead."

I could tell you how we got creamed. Instead I'll link to these photos and with a little bit of historical revisionism make us look like the champions we are in our hearts. Eat your hearts out other dodge ball playing team losers.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

It's so shiny

I'm a sucker for new gadgets. I don't run out and buy every gadget that comes along, but I would if I could. You'll be mine soon you smooth, sleek iPhone. Well, probably not, but I can dream.

When it comes to running my all time favorite gadgets are two great tastes that taste great together: the iPod Shuffle and my Garmin Forerunner 305. These two little gadgets have really changed how I view long runs. The Shuffle weighs practically nothing and clips to any piece of clothing, so my music is not at all a hindrance. The 305 gives me constant updates on my pace, heart rate and time while on the run. It's all the extraneous information you could ever want on a run and more when you download it on to your computer.

I love these toys. I would never give up these toys.. unless... Ooooohh, new shiny ones! Yay! All of a sudden Apple and Garmin have released new versions of my favorite things! Now, I know that Garmin released the 405 a while ago, but I've heard and read mixed reviews on it. It was never really a contender.

So now we have the new iPod Shuffle which apparently is smaller than a AA battery. I applaud Apple for making these amazing breakthroughs in ever smaller mp3 players and computers that have just as much, if not more, power and functionality as the dinosaurs from 3 months ago we all have now, but I think they've hit the wall on size. While I appreciate their ingenuity I don't need an mp3 player I might easily swallow. The size also means all the controls have been moved on to the headphone cord. I cannot run with Apple's ear buds. They constantly fall out of my oddly shaped ears. I buy cheap earhook ear buds in bulk, because they stay on and they aren't going to last long. I'm sticking with my 2nd generation beauty.

While Garmin may have missed the mark with the 405 I really like the looks of the new 310XT. It's so new it isn't even on their website. We'll see how it functions, but I already like that they have kept the screen size and the button placement while making the casing smaller so it doesn't look quite like you're waiting to be beamed up to the Enterprise. Now it just looks like a cool calculator watch from the 80's. I dig it. According to the specs it also features longer battery life and is waterproof for triathlons. I swore off triathlons 8 years ago after getting pummeled in the murky waters of East Fork Lake, but I might try another with this bad boy on my wrist just to see how it would work.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Heart Mini '09 - 2 Beats

You always hope for ideal conditions when planning a race. It would be great if it were always in the mid-50's, maybe a little overcast so you don't have to worry about sun burn or annoying glare. How about a nice breeze , but not too windy please? It all sounds great. It's what you always hope for, but rarely get. Today was none of that and worse.

Race morning it was pretty ugly with high winds and rain. Ugh. Gina and I lined up for the 5k. My job for this race was to pace Gina and bring her in to victory. Things didn't go quite as planned. I failed. I was later informed I was a "bad pacer". Still, we had a good race despite the cold, rain and wind. Thanks mostly to the fun race mix Gina had put together. I'll have to work on my pacing skills for future races. I will lead her to a pr. fo sho.

When it came time for the 15K things hadn't really improved. The wind was still blowing and it was still raining intermittently. My goal for the race was to beat my time from last year of 1:05:05. It was my goal, but honestly I had my doubts about running a pr this year. I had a list of excuses: Last year I was training for the Flying Pig Marathon, so I was putting in a lot more miles at this point. I am just recovered from my IT band injury from the fall, so I started training later than usual. I am under some stress, so my head might not be fully in the race...blah, blah. I'm such a self defeaters sometimes. Still, I would give it all I have and if it falls apart so be it.

The race begins...

The race is out and back. We head out of the city on Rt. 50 to a turn around point and come back. It's more downhill on the way out and up hill on the way back. With that in mind I decided to forgo trying to run negative splits and decided to go out a little faster than 7 min/miles to build a cushion and try to hold on up the hills on the way back. I don't know if that's a great idea, but it was the plan. Maybe I'll try for negative splits next year.

The first 5K was a breeze. I kept my pace between 6:45 and 7 minute miles just trying to keep my stride smooth and get into the groove of the race. It was spitting rain off and on which actually felt pretty good. As for the wind..not so much. Once you leave the city and the buildings to block the wind you're out in the open where the wind can be brutal, and it was. At this point though, I wasn't feeling it. The first 5K was a very good 21:17.

The second 5K is an interesting one. I'm out to the turn around at just about the 4.5 mile mark and it's back toward the city. Nothing particularly spectacular about that. It becomes a little more of an uphill battle, the legs start to feel the miles accumulate, but overall things were well under control. The kicker comes at mile 5.8 where I make a right turn off Rt. 50 for a short, but grueling hill climb. It's actually slightly less grueling than in years past. They've pushed the start back a little and the turn around up a little, so it's .20 miles of torture instead of..well..more.

Fortunately I was well prepared for .2 miles or more of torture up Torrence. As part of my training regimen I always include at least a month of hill work. For the Heart Mini that involved a couple weeks on another hill and 3 weeks of doing 1/4 mile repeats on Torrence. Run to the bottom of Torrence, turn around up Torrence. Repeat until you want to kill yourself. So, as I turned to go up Torrence it felt like just another day out running. I shortened my stride, put my head down and gutted it out. It was the least amount of fun you can imagine having. That would be no fun.

Mile 7 was spent trying to recover from the hill. It was my slowest mile at 7:20 and the point at which I started to calculate how fast I would need to run the last 2.3 miles to pr. If I could just keep it under 8 min/miles I should be there! This could actually happen.

Mile 8 was spent mentally preparing myself for the final climb. It is a two part ball buster. You head up a hill that isn't terribly steep, then it flattens out a bit for a few yards. Then, bam!, up a steeper grade to the top. ball. buster.

I hit that hill between miles 8 and 9 and I was hit back smack in the face by a mean head wind. I gritted my teeth and leaned into it. The runners near me probably thought I was crazy because late in the race I become sort of delirious. I'm pretty sure I was grunting, growling like an animal when I wasn't cussing at the wind.

When I cleared the hill I knew I had done it. The final .3 miles felt like a victory lap. A painful, cold, quad aching, calf cramping victory lap. I smiled all the way in while keeping my eye on the clock near the finish line as it neared 1:05. I knew I had about a 20 second delay from the time the clock started until I crossed the finish line, but I pushed it just in case.

I smiled and waved at Gina as I crossed the finish line in 1:04:53. A small margin for improvement, but it felt like a great victory over the injury that plagued me in the fall and early in the year as well as the weather that seemed to do what it could to make the race uncomfortable as hell for all of us. Suck it weather.

We celebrated with a great brunch with some friends of Gina's and enjoyed the rest of the day by doing absolutely nothing. She has her own perspective on the day along with a moment that we can all aspire to achieve in racing. Check it out.