Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Race 2010 (A late, late race report)

The Thanksgiving Day Race is always one of the most unpredictable races of the year in terms of weather. Maybe it's the second most unpredictable race. The first is the Heart Mini in March. In terms of sheer randomness of weather it really takes the cake. Thanksgiving comes in at a close second. It takes the cupcake. This year was no exception as we showed up to pouring rain and actually warm. What? That's right it was pretty warm for a rainy late November day. That's why I usually layer up to warm up and strip down as the race gets closer. Otherwise I end up doing a contortionist's act in my car trying to change outfits. That has happened...multiple times.

This year was much like last year as I came straight to the race from a 12 hour night shift. It's becoming my annual 10k on little to no sleep.  I can't really complain though, like most other night shifters my life has become a blur of work, naps, family and work. It's pretty amazing the conditions your body can learn to operate under. And with that in mind I've had to readjust my goals for the races. It's not going to be about running personal bests right now. It could be about that and will be again at some point, but for now it's got to be about more than that or I'll be very disappointed more often than not. Sort of like the Columbus Marathon.

For me it's about enjoying the run and seeing friends. It was an absolute victory on both those fronts. Saw a few people from Team in Training and the indomitable runner, cyclist, triathlete and ultra law student Melissa! Got a few photos along the way with my iPhone in its improvised waterproof case. Plastic wrap works like a charm, and it only blurs the camera slightly. As for the race?

The race was great. The rain let up to a drizzle as we were lining up and mostly stopped for the duration of the race. It was really quite awesome. Despite being tired I felt really, really good. I didn't micromanage my pace throughout the race. I just went with how I felt and everything worked out. Being carried along in a crowd of 10,000 other runners and walkers really encourages the A game. And it was brought. The only time I had any doubt or reservation was a bit after mile 4. I could feel the miles start to wear me down as the early race buzz was wearing off. It's at this point I just say to myself. I'll be done in under 15 minutes. I can do most anything for 15 minutes right? That little bit of suffering will be gone and the good feelings of accomplishment will last the rest of the day. Totally worth it. Plus there's pie when I get home! Bonus!

Even though I didn't concentrate on my pace throughout the race I couldn't help but see how I did afterwards. I was quite pleased.
Official Time: 44:14 Pace: 7:08 Overall: 534/10,757 Division: 47/563

Extra bonus! My 47th division place was enough to put me in the top 10% winning me this sweet award. This fun glass that I immediately cracked while washing in the sink. Doh!

It tastes like victory...and glass :-(

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The best camera is the one that's with you.

My new favorite past time is playing with photos in Picnik. It's inexpensive, easy to use, and best of all it's on the web. No fuss no muss. Girl, I'm gonna be lookin' soooo good in my photos. And if you're nice to me so will you. If not I can always zombify you.

Panographic Flower

Glassworks Remix Collage
Upper left was the original. The rest are the picniked results.

Capt. Duck McMasterson checks out the chicks.

Big time troubs. for daddy. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We win some, we lose some. We make people sing and dance for drinks...

happy to serve you

As of last night I'm officially back on the team. It's time to start fundraising again for Team in Training! After a two year break I've decided to run with team for the 2011 Flying Pig. It will be fun to get out with a new group and hopefully see some old friends again over the winter and spring for training. Game on people.

So, last night I was out for my first fundraising event at the Monday night Bengals/Steelers game. I've always avoided these fundraisers, because I heard they were sort of hit or miss as to being worth the amount of time and work for the money you receive. I figured Monday night football with Pittsburgh in town would be a sure fire win...for me, not so much for the Bengals unfortunately. If nothing else it would be a great opportunity to meet some of the team. It turned out to be a really fun time, and most likely really profitable to boot. There was a nice mix of people there training for Disney and for the spring Pig.

The highlight of the evening for me was watching and messing with the drunk people, and there were plenty to mess with there. My favorite line was, after getting their ID to look at them skeptically and say I'd need more proof of their age. Depending on their age range my common question and "proof" would be: "If you're really (insert age) what's your favorite Backstreet Boy? N'Sync member?" "Sing me a line from you're favorite Backstreet song?" to which several girls belted out lines from various songs. Hilarious. "I'm gonna need to see your hammer time." This also got the desired response. Awesome.

The evening was capped off watching a guy take the 10 sugars, 10 sweet and lows and five creamers he had just asked for and put every one of them in his coffee. Whoa dude. Stop...hammer time.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

It's that guy from Guitar Hero!

As Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young taught us through song it is important to teach your children well. Case in point: on Halloween it's very important your children are aware of their historical figures, pop icons and rock legends. When you are out with your kids, friends' kids and the like and you see this guy....

You don't want to be with the kid that yells out..."hey it's that guy from Guitar Hero!" or worse "it's Abraham Lincoln with a guitar!" Oh dear, sweet child o' mine. You're lucky Slash is an understanding guitar god with patience. Otherwise I would shred that ignorant grin right off your face. Believe me, it's so easy.

Don't cry, take them aside and embrace this teaching moment. Show them Paradise City, or welcome them to jungle because we got fun and games.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Run Like Hell Playlist

A heavy metal playlist for a rockin' run and party.

  • Symphony of Destruction - Megadeth
  • New Moon Rising - Wolfmother
  • Love Me On The Wild Side - Lady Sovereign Vs. Motley Crue
  • Hells Bells - AC/DC
  • Stacked Actors - Foo Fighters
  • Ace of Spades - Motorhead
  • Aerials - System of a Down
  • Wild Side - Motley Crue
  • Bulls on Parade - Rage Against The Machine
  • Don't Tread On Me - Metallica

Sunday, October 24, 2010

2010 Columbus Marathon Report

I've been considering for a week now how to look back at this race. My first attempt at writing about the race earlier this week turned into a whiny rant that will never see the light of day. It felt good to get it out though. It's been expelled out into the digital emptiness of the unpublished blog posts never to be seen again. As you can guess I was disappointed with the results of the race. The thing is I don't want to concentrate on what went wrong when so much went well, so let's break it down into three categories.

The Good

Let's start at the beginning. The start of the race, as I captured above on my iPhone, was awesome. This year we were broken up into corrals based on previous marathon times that were submitted while signing up for the race. My 3:34 and change finish 2 years ago earned me a spot in the second corral. This made it really easy to get right up with the 3:30 pace group at the start. Two years ago I got stuck way in the back of the pack and wasted a ton of energy trying to catch that group. This year I was able to get with my group and enjoy the start of the race without weaving around all the walkers and slower paced runners that decided to go to the front. Sweet.

We were off to a beautiful start on a wonderfully cool and clear morning. Within the first few miles I started my new feeding strategy: eat and drink early and often. I didn't make any changes in what I was eating before and during the race. I was just going to eat more of it. Peanut butter on bagels and bananas before the race and Gu and a Clif Bar to nibble on throughout the race. This strategy had worked well during my long runs and on race day. Basically I snacked my way through the first 20 miles of the race. I wanted to battle my tendency to run out of fuel by the end of the race and the tendency to run into cramps. It seemed to work! By the end I wasn't wasted and ravenous and the cramps never appeared.

As I warmed up over the course of the first half of the marathon it became clear that it was going to be a good race.  By mile 13 I was humming at a good pace and feeling really, really good. Everything was going exactly as planned, so it was time to lay back, keep my cool and not push the pace. It would be really easy for me to get excited and blow it all between miles 15 and 20. I set myself on cruise control, kept the 3:30 pace group in sight and enjoyed the morning. I decided to go no music, no head phones and just enjoy the morning and the crowd support. It was the best decision I made that morning.

It was at mile 21 that I had a breakthrough moment. It was just after mile 21 that I realized I had plenty of gas left to finish the race. I realized the dreaded cramps were not going to come. Everything I had planned was working, and my goal of a 3 hour and 30 minute marathon was within my grasp. I closed my eyes, smiled and let my legs carry me on at a steady, smooth pace.

The Bad

It was at mile 22 that I had a breakdown moment. Just after the mile 22 marker my right knee suddenly throbbed with an intense pain that seemed to start from the outside of my knee and shoot across it. I was forced to slow to a walk. This was not good. This was not a muscle pain. This was some sort of ligament pain. Oh no. This wasn't good at all. Suddenly the 4.2 miles left were beginning to look like a very long way. I  walked for a bit before attempting to run. It lasted about 100 yards until the pain grew to much to bear. Attempting to stretch only caused my other muscles to burst into cramps. Ugh.

My mind began to whirl as I realized the race was slipping through my fingers, and my plans were unwinding right before my eyes. I wondered if I did something wrong. Did I not stretch enough? Did I go out to fast? Was it that douche canoe that kicked the cone in front of me at mile 13 causing me to do the most awkward and painful hurdle I've ever done??? It was hard for me to accept the reality that 4 months of training 6 days a week had gotten me this far. Uuuuugh.

The Ugly

Was my mood after the race. I was in a foul state of mind as I hobbled, walked, jogged the last few miles to the finish line. I had a fake smile plastered on my face, which probably looked more like a grimace, as the wonderful crowd encouraged myself and the rest of the runners. I wanted to appreciate every word, but I was not feeling it. I didn't stick around after the race for any amount of time. All I could think was to get out of there asap.

In the week since the race I've had a lot of time to mull over how things went. The day after the race I came down with a flu that kept me in bed for a few days, so I really had time to mull over the race. It was like going through the stages of grief: shock & denial, pain & guilt, anger & bargaining, depression, anger, more depression. All that was on the first day. Things have turned around as time has passed. I'm happy with what was accomplished, and look forward to doing it again. Maybe soon.

Part of my recovery was getting out on Saturday to pace for part of  a race and cheer on a friend and fellow runner. It felt good, and she was awesome. More on that later. Let's watch the beginning again. That was fun.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Hardest Part

4 months of training are done. 98 runs and 597 miles are behind me. All the heat, rain, aches and pain are over. All that is left is a 26.2 mile run. It's a little thing in the big picture of what it took to get here. Tomorrow is a victory lap. See you at the finish line.

Friday, October 01, 2010

A Masters Class in Procrastinating

I don't like to call myself an artist, but let's face it when it comes to procrastinating life is my canvas and procrastination is my most cherished tool. There is a subtlety to this art. Anybody can put something off and panic at the last moment struggling to finish that simple task that should have been done months ago. It takes, dare I use the word genius?, let's say a craftsman to start training for a marathon 4 months in advance; change the plans in the last 3 weeks, and sign up on the verge of sell out. All this is done with no pain and without breaking a sweat. Well, actually I sweat gallons over the last 4 months during training, and the pain has been excruciating at times, but that is beside the point! It's an art people.

With only two weeks left until the marathon it's like Christmas time. If Christmas involved long hours of running, waking up at 5 a.m. for those special hours and dealing with the long hours of being on your feet. Sounds a lot like the day after Thanksgiving for some of you dedicated shoppers to me. And you think I'm crazy. It's time to enjoy my celebration with lots of rest, good food, and planning for the big day. Is it too early to start carbo loading?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. - John Lennon

The 'Nati while on the run in Covington
Such is life. As I was planning and training for the Indianapolis Marathon forces were quietly gathering around me to disrupt these plans. Okay, maybe my plans were pretty shabby to begin with, and it only took a slight deviation to topple the house of cards that I had built. Whatever.

The bad news: Indy is out.  It just doesn't make much sense financially right now. Maybe this will happen sometime in the future. Although, it's gonna be a tough sell on another fall marathon. Summer running blows. The good news: Columbus is in! I'm returning to the battleground where I barely set a marathon pr and was soundly pummeled by the course 2 years ago. The marathon is on the same weekend, and the logistics will be much easier and cheaper. I'm back with a vengeance C-bus and this time it's personal and in 3D! It's gonna be awe-some.

More good news: I started a new position at work. Ow! It's been a great change and new challenge at work and has required a lot more of my time and effort which was part of the demise of the weekly training updates. My time was better spent in other ways, and frankly I was bored with them. I was definitely in a slump there for a while as the miles piled up and the aches and pains increased. I lost interest in rehashing my 40th 5 mile run on the same course. Here is all the update I have on that front: work and training are going very well and the slump is over.

The running slump is over thanks to a surprising source. Nike Plus is alive! A new app was released called Nike+ GPS.  As you can guess it uses the GPS in the iPhone rather than the foot pod. I won't go into details now, except to say that I've been using it for a week and it is awesome. I'm gonna do a complete review and write up next week with a little head to head battle with the old Nike+ and the Cyclemeter app. Should be epic.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Road To Indy Week 8: Meet me halfway

I can't believe it. I am at the half way point!  It's been a very fast build up and mileage, and I was a bit concerned about that when I started. I think up to this point I was doing 40 mile weeks in the height of my marathon training in the past. With the new program I'm already putting in 50+ mile weeks and getting ready to run the first of three 20 mile runs next weekend.

It has come with some aches and pains, but nothing that isn't manageable. I've been having a lot of pain in my shins and some pain in my left achilles tendon. It gets very tight after runs and especially in the morning when I first get out of bed. These are pains that could be easily remedied if I would make more time to stretch. I'll get right on that...starting tomorrow. Or whenever. I've got this under control.

Monday: The usual easy 3 miler, but with a little bit of a twist. Instead of just running the usual neighborhood route I headed into the neighboring subdivision that has a trail through the woods. I don't use it as much as I'd like to, but it's very hilly so I save it for when I really need something different. This was one of those days. excellent road/trail run.

Tuesday: Another 9 miler on the Little Miami Trail. Once again I found someone to "chase" on the second half of the run. It always makes a run better.

Wednesday: I returned to Lunken for today's run and what I've started calling "the gauntlet". That back stretch on the path is a flat long stretch surrounded by trees that don't really provide any shade. So you have no view of anything, no shade, and no mercy. It's just a long, straight endless path that wears you down. Maybe I'll start timing myself on the gauntlet. Let's make this long boring stretch interesting.

Thursday: I was struck down with the dreaded summer cold. There was no running today since I woke up and felt like my head was stuffed with cotton. Rest day.

Friday: Summer cold be damned. I was back on the road today hitting the hill down the street for some hill repeats. I was feeling all that awesome still, so the speed wasn't totally there. I did get 6 repeats in at a respectable time and finished up 6 miles feeling pretty good all things considered. It's kind of gross, but running with a cold actually helps clear out the sinuses. It gets things moving.

Saturday: It was back to the Little Miami for a 9 mile pace run. I don't know why I haven't been using caffeine more for my runs all these years. It works like a miracle. It helps that I don't drink caffeine all the time, so that shot of caffeine once before the run is like a shot of adrenaline. It may be partially psychosomatic, but that's fine too. Whatever the case I had a great run this morning. Caffeine and an overcast slightly drizzly morning makes Adam a happy boy.

Sunday: Wait. What week are we in? This is week 8 right? It's only the half way point. And yet.... I was feeling a bit nervous about this one. 19 miles so early in training? Crazy! With a shot of caffeine and a banana before the run, a powerbar for the run, and an extra bottle of water planted along the way I had plenty of fluids and food. The trail was well shaded and cool. The legs were feeling very good. I didn't feel really tired until the last 2 miles, but by that point all was well. Since there were lots of people out there were lots of rabbits to chase.

From here on in it's alternating 20's and 12's for long runs. Wish me luck. I'm gonna need it. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Road To Indy Week 7: I gotta get back in time

I'm officially one week behind on my weekly marathon training update. My bad. It's been kind of a busy week with this happening, and I caught a summer cold which really messed with my head for a couple of days. I don't deal well with the whole headachy, sinus drainage and pressure thing. It makes me want to stick a sharp object through my temple to relieve the pressure. Would that be an over reaction? I don't know how you people deal with the allergies and all that crap all the time. I'd have to move to Arizona or something.

Anyways, let's go back a week. I think 3 turns will do the trick, but don't let yourself see yourself or you'll go mad. Cut me some slack. It's been a Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family and my little girl loves her some Harry Potter. And that's the story I'm sticking with.

Monday: Had a nice easy 3 mile run through the neighborhood. I gave the Nike Plus another try just because I hate myself. I figured it would work with the iphone in the fancy arm band. I was wrong. It failed me again. Still dead to me Nike Plus.

Tuesday: I like to have a rabbit to chase. Have I mentioned that? Not literally, of course. But I find when I'm running amongst other runners in a race or even in an imaginary race as I try to catch some runner in the distance I almost always feel motivated. The Little Miami Trail is really good for this on busy days as was this Tuesday. I had a 9 miler to knock out and the trail was hopping. Those long, flat straight aways allow you to see runners way ahead and makes for a great target to run toward. The first half of the run was good. The second half was better on the way back. I really found a great pace.

Wednesday: Retreat from the heat. This was the first time this year I've had to take to the treadmill because of weather. Really the first time at all. I just couldn't bring myself to do another brutally hot run, so I took retreated to the gym for a 4 mile run on the treadmill at a slight incline. It was as boring as ever, but a nice relief from the heat. While I was there I tried out one of the fancy new computerized spinning bikes for a 5 mile ride as well.

Thursday: I ditched all the fancy iPhone and GPS equipment for a good old fashioned track workout. It felt really good to just get out on the track with a stop watch and burn down some 800 meter intervals. It's easy to get bogged down in all the crap they try to sell you with fancy gear and gadgets. Sometimes you need a reminder that all you need is a good pair of shoes and someplace to run. The pace on these intervals was perfect. Shooting for about a 3:30 800 meter pace. Nailed it.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: I did this.

Sunday: I met the running group down in Newport. Well, I sort of met the running group in Newport. I was running late from getting there after work, so I parked outside of Mokka, our post run breakfast spot this week, and headed for a run around the city. It was kind of nice to get back downtown and run the bridges into Cincinnati and back to Covington and through Newport. It's always been one of my favorite places to run. Unfortunately on this Sunday it was brutally hot. It made for one tough 12 mile run. The rest of the group finished before me and called me as I was heading into mile 8. I was feeling beat up and roasted by that point. They had just sat down and ordered my french toast. Oh man. It was on. Suddenly I had something to run for. I would have run through fire to get to that delicious treat.

Coming soon: revisiting that running movie marathon. For real.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Our little baby is all growds up

I can't believe my little girl is starting 4th grade today. We took a trip to her school last week for an open house where she got to say hi to some friends, and more importantly meet her teacher. On the way to the school I asked her if there were any teachers that she hoped that she didn't for the year. I was surprised to hear her say no.

I can remember every year going to the school's front doors toward the end of the summer with anticipation and sometimes trepidation to find out who would be my teacher for the year. It seems like every year there was at least one teacher with a bad reputation for one reason or another. There were the teachers that were very strict. The teachers that gave swats. Remember the days of swats and the stories of the infamous  paddle with holes in it? The mythical aerodynamic brute of a paddle that would leave you with a bruised butt and tears in your eyes. There were the teachers that favored a group of students: girls, boys, jocks, cheerleaders. And the teachers that had some sort of body odor issue. There was the story of the class of students leaving a bottle of mouthwash for a teacher with a particularly serious case of bad breath. Good times.

This year she gets to start the year with a curse and what I see as opportunity. She broke her thumb a couple days ago and will be going to school today with a cast. This is ice breaking gold as I told her on the phone. She gets to start the school year with a story; possibly a fantastic one. My advice was to spin the story to her advantage. She fell on her bike while riding down a hill. Or did she fall off her bike while finishing a world record setting jump over 4 of her neighborhood friends that were lying on the ground side by side? Or did she race into the street on her bike to save a kitten from getting run over by a car leaning over cowboy style to scoop the kitten out of the way just in the nick of time injuring her thumb in the process?

She didn't seem to want to use any of my fantastic ideas. Her loss.

Aiden through the years. I prefer to watch it in reverse and see her get younger and less grown up looking. You're freaking me out girl.    

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Newtown 5K Race Report

The Newtown 5K seems to be just a blur of heat and sunlight in my memory. I'm pretty sure I was there. I have a race number. I've seen the results. That's my name right there in black and white. By all accounts I was there, but I can't really account for much of it. Let's give it a shot.

I buzzed down to Newtown right after work and made a mad dash to get signed up then it was straight to the road. I was going to take full advantage of having closed streets on which to run. I had 9 miles to get in this morning. The plan was 3 miles before the race to warm up. The race. 3 more miles after the race. Seemed like a good plan at the time. What I didn't account for was the fact that it was Ohio. I think they said it was 115% humidity. Is that possible? Did anybody drown during the race?

Let's keep this short and sweet. The first 3 miles were pretty good. There were lots of runners out warming up, which always ups my game. I was feeling good, feeling super fast right up until the moment when a pack of teenagers (probably feral) cruised by me looking like they weren't even trying. I admit it. I had a brief daydream of tripping the front runner and watching them pile up like a car crash. Is that wrong?

The race was a flat, fast course right through the middle of Newtown. I don't really have much of a breakdown of the race, because it really does seem like a blur. I set myself on autopilot and just went with it. I had no particular goals for the race or expectations. By the time the race started at 9 am it felt like it was approaching 80 degrees and climbing. That does bring back one distinct memory of the race. It was an out and back course. Right before the turn around there were a series of trees shading the course intermittently. I remember feeling a distinct drop in temperature every time we hit the shade. It felt at least 5 degrees cooler. The sun was blazing that morning. I tried to keep it around 7 minute miles and finished up with about a 7:13 pace. According to my watch I was a little faster. They weren't using timing chips, and I know it took me at least 15 seconds to get to the start line. That would put me at about a 7:06 pace. Despite the heat and post work tiredness it felt good and that's what matters.

Right after I finished I grabbed some water after the finish line, eyed the food spread longingly and headed back out on the course. The final 3 miles was a challenge. My legs were still feeling good, but the heat was really taking it's toll. I pushed through it knowing that some of the people still out on the course were suffering much worse than myself. I felt bad for some of the runners as some of them looked miserable. Races in August are not cool.

Two things made up for the crummy conditions after the race. First was meeting up with Facebook friend and fellow Bataviain Leah. Hi Leah! Props to you for running the race with a child in a stroller. I did notice after the race that the child was absent from the stroller. I would have ditched the kid too. He was totally dragging you down. A time comes when kids need to learn to be self reliant, and if that time comes in the middle of a 5K run so be it. A very close second was that food spread after the race. They went all out. I would have taken a photo, but I was too busy stuffing my face with oranges, grapes, watermelon, bananas. It was the best fruit I've ever had. Ever.

Next year I think I'll sign up for the race, but just show up for the breakfast buffet. As all you sweaty runners come into the finish look for me. I'll be the one with a plate grazing on all the finish line fruits and pastry. It's gonna be glorious.     

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Road To Indy Week 6: Take me to another place

So far this has been an interesting exercise. It's amazing to look back and see that I've had the worst run and the best run of training this year all in one week. If you asked me about these days a few months from now there is no way I would think of them all happening only a few days apart. It seems inconceivable. That's how it goes sometimes, and that's one of the things I love about running. It's like a box of....something, what was it? Kittens? I think I'm having heat stroke.

Let's wrap it up and put a bow on it.

Monday and Tuesday: Two of the worst days of running I've had all year. The heat and humidity really got to me on both these days. I had one hot, terrible short run and one hot, terrible 8 miler. The dog days of summer are here for real and I'm over it.

Wednesday: After the last two days I just couldn't deal with another hot, miserable run. It's a rest day for me.

Thursday: Things start to turn around as I head to Juilfs Park for a tempo run. I was still feeling pretty worn out from work, but the weather was a little less crummy. The plan was a 40 minute run building up to near a 10K pace for about 5 minutes around the 20 minute mark. It didn't quite pan out that way as my legs weren't quite there, but it was better. I was able to maintain a good pace.

Friday: Another rest and travel day. After a long night at work and a two hour nap we packed up and headed out on the 5 hour drive to Pigeon Forge Tennessee for a little family trip.

Saturday: I had an easy 8 mile run scheduled at no particular pace. Instead of just a straight run I decided to mix it up. I did a 3 mile warm up before I ran this race. Then I did a 1 mile cool down. It was only 7 miles, but I figured 3.1 miles all out makes up the difference. It was by far the best run of the week and one of the best races of the year. It just felt really, really good.  

Sunday: 17 miles in August?!?! Are you kidding me? I despise you running plan. Another early day up and out the door to try to get in the miles before driving home. I ran up the strip past tourist trap hell and found a little running path that followed a river to a park. It was an unexpected and excellent find amongst all the pancake houses and tourist shops. The run wasn't great. I was pretty spent after racing yesterday and spending the day out and around Gatlinburg. I was able to squeeze in 15 before heading back to get packed up.

I hate to say it, but I'm ready for summer to be over. Bring on the cooler weather.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

West Hills 5K Race Report

Who in their right mind get's up at 5:30 in the morning while on a family trip and drives for 40 minutes into the next town to run a race? Oh wait, that would be me while in Gatlinburg over the weekend for a little family weekend. Saturday morning I was scheduled to run 8 miles for my marathon training. In the interest of staying on schedule and adding another state for this goal I rolled out of bed at 5:30 am hopped in the car and went in search of the West Hills YMCA in Knoxville.

With the help of my iPhone and the race flyer forty minutes later I rolled in to the race site feeling pretty good. I picked up a banana and a Red Bull on the way. I decided to do a little experiment. I'm not a big caffeine consumer. I don't drink coffee regularly and keep my consumption of soda to a minimum. This morning I was going to do a little performance enhancing by following the guidelines for caffeine intake that I had heard recently on Phedippidations podcast.  This could go either way. Either it will help or my stomach may decide to reject the stuff. Game on. 

Before getting caffeinated and race ready I needed to get in some miles. I decided 3 miles would be a good start. That would be a nice warm up followed by the 3.1 for the race and two to cool down. Good plan. I had a vague idea of the course based on some markings that I saw on the road, so I headed off in that direction. As I was running my mind wandered back to the race flyer and this line "Challenging 5-hill course...". Is it wrong and weird that I liked the sound of that? Don't judge me I hate flat courses.

I finished up the run feeling really good. It was do or die time. I had about 30 minutes until the race, so I headed back to the car and cracked open the Red Bull. According to the podcast and Run The Planet I should consume "from 1.5 to 4 mg/lb body weight (3 to 9 mg/kg) taken one hour pre-exercise". In my case that comes to about to about 225 to 600 mg. I underestimated how much I'd need as one Red Bull only has approximately 80 milligrams of caffeine per can according to the Mayo Clinic website. Maybe it's for the best. I'd rather underestimate rather than over do it and end up with a sick stomach.

Race time and so far so good. I was feeling pretty good. I had my caffeine, some more stretching and water. All systems are go. As I went to the starting line I realized this was truly a small community race. There were a little over 100 runners and walkers present. The weird thing was there were many more of the Vibram Five Finger shoes than I'd ever seen at a race before. Weird. I'd found a hot bed for barefoot running enthusiasts in the middle of Tennessee. Who would have guessed?

The race was on. Since it was such a small race there would be no mile markers and no mile splits being called out. I decided to just run with my stop watch. There would be no gps and no tunes to distract me. This race would be a good test to see how things are going in training. The first mile went by in a blur. I didn't push the pace really hard. I set a steady rhythm and just concentrated on maintaining good form, breathing and an even pace.

How many hills was in this race? As I entered mile 2 I was into a good race pace. There was very little flat ground on this course. It was a series of up hill and down hill stretches, and I was loving it. With each hill I would put on a little surge and increase my turnover trying to close the gap between myself and the next runner ahead of me. With each down hill I would try to not pound the pavement and let gravity do the work instead of fighting against the hill. 

I went into the final stretch of the race feeling somewhat tired, but with something left for a kick. There was one particular runner that I had been close to the entire race. I passed him early on. He came back and passed me during one of the down hill sections late in the race. In the final mile or so I kept him in my sight. We were done with the hills and heading into a park that I recognized as being close to the finish from the earlier run. I wasn't exactly sure how far it was, but judging by the time on my watch there had to be less than half a mile left. I picked up the pace and started to close the gap. 

Off in the distance I saw something orange. It had to be a cone leading in the finishing chute. I put on a full sprint.  Legs pumping, lungs burning I passed my target and through the finish line at 21:44. It was an average pace of 7:01 and good enough for a second place finish in my age group and 14th overall. Small races are awesome for that.

I stuck around after the race for a while and had a good chat with one of the barefoot runners about his crazy looking shoes. He said the same as many other runners that use these things. "I had [insert calf, shin, ankle problem here] and since I've started running in these my problems are gone." I think these people sleep with the shoes under their pillows and the shoes talk to them at night.

I'd say the race was a success on all accounts.

It tastes like victory.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Ten million fireflies

I find hot air balloons totally fascinating. The fact that you can fly through the air with nothing more than some cloth, strings, a wicker basket and a flame is amazing. We got up close and personal with some pretty awesome hot air balloons over the 4th of July weekend. They stayed on the ground, but put on an awesome show as they lit up the night.

Watch the bottom right hand corner of the video at the 2:05 mark. The reaction of the kids is classic.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Road to Indy Week 5: Same at is ever was

Over the course of 4 months of training you have bad weeks and you have good weeks. Then you have these weeks which are ridiculously hot, uncomfortable and at the same time completely forgettable. Let's say that's why it has taken me so long to post up the weekly wrap up. It's barely worth writing about. Move along...nothing to see here.

Wrap it up:

Monday: I had a run around the old home town: Batavia. It was slow and sore after a night of work, but nice to have a change of scenery. I always forget how small downtown area is in Batavia  With a 3 mile run I pretty much ran the entire downtown area. 

Tuesday: Another change of scenery as I headed out to Loveland to run an 8 mile run on that section of the Little Miami Trail. It felt really good. Surprisingly my legs were feeling much better than the day before. I had an excellent run with the added excitement of trying out a new running app.  Look at me the fancy beta tester. I've said too much. Lock it down. You never read that thing about the thing that I'm not testing, but I have to say it is pretty awesome.

Wednesday: Skipped my run today for more important things like hanging out with the kid and playing Mario Brothers Wii. You got to have priorities and the day's priority was conquering world 3. Mission accomplished folks.

Thursday: 5x or maybe 6x hill workout on the 5 mile trail at Turpin High School. (1/4 mile hill) I lost count and made myself rum an extra lap or possibly 5th. I'll have to go back and look at the stats.  Post work so as usual tired and stiff but by the end felt good and didn't mind the extra lap.

Friday: That  4 miler that I skipped on Wednesday was rescheduled for today. I ran the usual route from home with a delicious side of trail running.  I cannot live on asphalt alone. Sometimes I need to eat some dirt up. Yum.

Saturday: 8 mile pace run. As usual I started strong, too fast, and suffered at the last mile. I think lack of sleep catching up with me. That's what I'm gong with: lack of sleep and heat. Fact. 

Sunday: I finally was able to reconvene with the running group. It has been weeks and it was fun to meet up after the run for some delicious breakfast. Long runs are mostly about getting it done, so we can eat breakfast. Oh yeah, I ran 15 miles and it beat the crap out of me. The run beat the crap out of me, and that new, super secret, beta app is battery hungry. It ate my iphone battery about 3/4 of the way through the run. This is going to be a problem on long runs.

Coming up: more running, movies and a new video.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Running Movie Marathon

Of course Pitt is excellent. Duh.
In keeping with my all running all the time postings lately I've decided to get a little inspirational during my marathon training. It's been brutally hot outside, so I need all the help I can get. Let's have a little running movie marathon! (pun intended). These are two great tastes that that taste great together. I'm totally stealing this idea from my favorite movie podcast Filmspotting. They take a theme, genre, director or whatever and watch a series of movies over several weeks and review and talk about them. Who's with me??

The idea may be stolen, but the inspiration came the other day when I flipped on the television and caught the last quarter of a movie called Running. Michael Douglas as a 34 year old runner trying out for the Olympics?!!? Why have I never heard of this movie before? Did the makers of Run, Fatboy, Run steal their plot from this movie? Why was this entire movie shot in soft focus? So many questions from such a cheesy movie.

Here is the list of movies I've compiled so far. Some of these I've seen, some I've not, but they are all being considered. I'll probably pick five or six, the easier to get the movies the better, so if anybody wants to play along or make suggestions let's do this...

Across The Tracks - This is the only sure thing. Brad Pitt and Rick Schroder as brothers running on competing track teams?? Dude. I actually have a vague memory of seeing this movie at some point. I'm sure it will hold up as a classic. Available on Netflix and Netflix Streaming.

Running On The Sun - 40 runners compete in the Badwater 135. That's 135 miles across a desert. That's insane. Available on Netflix.

Run For Your Life - An excellent documentary about the life of the creator of the New York Marathon Fred Lebow. Available on Netflix and Netflix Streaming.

Run, Fatboy, Run - Simon Pegg as a lovable loser trying to win his girl back by running a marathon and learning many life lessons along the way. Comedy and hijinks follow. 

Spirit of the Marathon - Follow a group of runners at levels from first time marathoner to professional as they prepare and run The Chicago Marathon. The best running documentary or running movie I've ever seen. Period. Available on Netflix and Netflix Streaming. Also available right on the IMDb web page via Hulu with some commercials. Totally worth it. 

Without Limits or Prefontaine - Two movies about the man, the myth, the legend. Pre. Double feature? Both available on Netflix.

The Long Run -Grumpy old coach looking for one more shot at glory trains a young woman to race the Comrades Marathon in South Africa. You know, Hoosiers with running in South Africa. Available on Netflix.

St. Ralph -Kid tries to strike up a deal with God that if he wins the Boston Marathon his mother will be healed. Get out the Kleenex I'm sensing tear jerker. Available on Netflix and Netflix Streaming.

On The Edge - Some guy makes a mistake and trains to win some race overseas. Drama unfolds. It's life man. Available on Netflix and Netflix Streaming.

Chariots of Fire - Queue the theme music and do your slow motion running. It's on. Available on Netflix.

Running Brave - The story of one of the greats, Billy Mills, and his path to gold in the Olympics. Should be a good one, maybe. Unfortunately may also be hard to find. Not available anywhere as far as I can tell.

Personal Best - Two female athletes train together, fall in love, and probably face some sort of trials and tribulations along the way. Just guessing. Available on Netflix.

Running - That Michael Douglas stars as an aging runner fighting to do the one thing he loves and win the Olympic Marathon. Not available on Netflix, but I may try to catch this one again on Showtime. Cheesetastic.

Let's watch some movies.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Road to Indy Week 4: Back To Life, Back To Reality

From the Bridge to Paradise (Island)

 Remember last week when I started out kind of brutal and ended up in paradise? Thise week was kind of like that week in reverse. I wonder if they have any openings for dolphin trainers. 

Monday:  35 minute Open water swim. With only a couple of days left I decided to take a day off from running and spend the time in the ocean. There is something completely awesome about doing an open water swim in crystal clear ocean water. It was tiring, but exhilarating.  The entire time I was watching the bottom for cool shells and cool sea creatures. Fish would swim by in schools. The bottom moved and skittered away every now and then as I dove down occasionally to grab a cool shell. Why don't I live near a beach?

Tuesday:  Final run in paradise. The final 7 miles along the beach.  I took it easy and slow. Headed back out across the bridge from Paradise Island into Nassau. I ran along the beach on the sidewalk. A beautiful slow run. With the day off my legs felt very good, and now that I had a good idea of good places to run I felt right at home on the roads dodging traffic on the wrong side of the road. I could get used to this...

Wednesday:  Back to reality...3 slow miles on the regular Mt. Carmel route. It was the slowest running of this route so far.

Thursday:  5 x 800 intervals on the Nagel Middle School Track. I ran each 800 meter interval trying stay close to a 7 minute/mile. Each rest in between was a slow jog for 400 meters. It was brutally hot and I fought to get through the workout. All in all I think I did very well. The speed was up to par considering the heat.. Things are looking good.

Friday:  Rest and Relaxation...

Saturday: 7 mile marathon pace run on Little Miami Trail. The first few miles had trouble keeping pace. I felt like I was keeping pace, but apparently not. I was down a little bit. After I loosened up I was able to pick up the pace and finish strong.

Sunday: 2 Laps around Lunken for a 10 mile long run. This was the toughest workout I've had so far. For the first 7 miles I couldn't push above 9 minute miles. I was feeling very stiff, sore and tired. Thankfully it was an overcast morning with a nice breeze. Thank goodness for the clouds and the breeze. Lunken can be brutal on a sunny day. That back straight away just bakes in the sun. But this day I reached that back stretch for the second time, and was finally able to pick up the pace and shake off the soreness. This is what I need to feel to get used to fighting through those final miles of the marathon.

Coming soon: A running movie marathon....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Road to Indy Week 3: A.B. Iker International Runner

 Taken with iPhone and put together with Autostitch app. For real....

Suggested playlist while reading this entry: Soak Up The Sun/Sheryl Crow, Only Happy When It Rains/Garbage, Airplanes/B.o.B, White Flag/Gorillaz, Just Like Living In Paradise/David Lee Roth, Breaking The Law/Judas Priest,

I'll probably never have another week of running like this in my life. It started out as a hot, muggy and pretty miserable week trudging through the usual workouts on the usual routes. I had a little excitement on Tuesday, but not that exciting. Then things got really awesome on Friday as we boarded a jet to the Bahamas. By 5 pm that evening we were in our bathing suits and heading to the beach. Being the anal retentive runner that I am I wasn't going to miss a run. I made sure I had my running gear packed up and ready to go at 6 am Saturday morning. It's blazing hot, so I wanted to at least stay out of the sun. Besides it's vacation. I can't spend my day running. The troops would be waking around 9, so I had to be back and ready for some fun in the sun. Speaking of which, the Leap of Faith awaits. On with the wrap up!

Monday: Easy 3 miler. Ran a new route from the Anderson Mercy Healthplex to try out a new route. It was another hot one since I didn't get out until about 1 in the afternoon. It was slow and un-fun.

Tuesday: Hit the Little Miami Trail again after work for an "easy" 7 miler. After the previous day's heat I wasn't feeling super excited about the run. It was hot and muggy and within a mile of start...raining. I'm a fan of running in the rain. Great run.

Wednesday: Another 3 miles on the Mt. Carmel route I set up. It was supposed to be at an easy pace and for the most part it was, but I couldn't help but try to beat my own time in cyclemeter again. I did.

Thursday: 35 minute tempo run. I never quite got these runs right in previous trainin programs. I went back and looked into exactly what I'm supposed to run. You start off at an easy pace and about 20 minutes in pick up the pace to just below a 10k pace for about 5 minutes. This one would be handy to use the Nike Plus program with if it worked. At the point you could hit your power song and get an aural kick for about 5 minutes. It all worked out pretty well for me. I picked it up for the 5 minutes and dropped back down to an easy pace for the last 10 minutes.

Friday: Rest and Travel Day. I am leaving on a jet plane. Don't know when I'll be back again. (Actually I do, but for the purposes of this post I don't.)

Saturday: Just Like Livin' in Paradise. I was out for a 7 mile race pace run in a strange land without any idea of where I was running other than somewhere around the resort and the unreliable Nike Plus back in action for a couple of days. No cell phone service means no GPS service on my iPhone. Boooo. I ran into a fellow runner from New York in the lobby at about 6 am, chatted and asked him where he's been running. He mentioned crossing the bridge into Nassau and running along the strip. that sounded like good a plan as any, so I headed out toward the resort entrance and across the tallest bridge I've ever encountered. It was a seriously steep hill, but with a beautiful view of Paradise Island at the top. The run worked out really well. I headed out along the coast line sticking to the sidewalk. Once The sidewalk ended I headed back to the resort and to the foot paths.

At one point I got totally lost in the resort (this place is huge!) and had two choices: turn around and back track in to the main hallway of the resort and through the casino out the other end. How often do you get to run through a casino? I headed in expecting to get stopped at any moment, but at 7:30 in the morning there weren't many people around in the casino except for a few die hards staring intently at the slot machines. They didn't even notice me. I'm sure there was some security watching me on the monitors wondering what the crazy tourist was doing.

Sunday: Breakin' the law. I had a scheduled long run of 14 miles today, but I had to sort of wing it. Nike Plus failed me again at about 5 miles in. That's cool. I was half expecting it and was prepared. I wore my watch and had the time running. I'm not sure if I got my 14 in, but I got a good 90 minutes in. Once again I picked a random direction and just started running. This time I ended up running on to a golf course. As I ran by the entrance some workers at the guard station said something. I didn't hear and nodded and waved and kept on running. Laaa lala. It was a beautiful course with great views of the ocean and lots of birds scurrying around. I wound around the course and back out the same way I came in. As I passed by the station again one of the workers walked up to me.

He said in his stern yet polite Bahamian way, "Sir this is private property. We sent security out after you."

I was all, "Oh shit I'm sorry. I saw a bunch of grounds crew out there and nobody said anything." Actually they were very nice and all waved and said hi.

He just shook his head. That's right I'm a total bad ass. I out ran the Bahama golf course security force. Breakin' the law, breakin' the law...

Next week: Back to reality with Bahama stories and lots and lots of photos and maybe some video...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Road to Indy Week 2: You hit me once, I hit you back...

 Some days I feel like I'm in an abusive relationship with running. I clothe it in fancy running shoes, send it to school, feed it delicious food, buy it fancy gadgets, and even take it on vacation to Florida. What do I get in return? Sometimes running's really good to me. I swear running loves me...sometimes. I feel like it loves me. I swear guys it loves me, except for the times I think it wants to kill me. It wants to set me on fire and dance over my ashes. I think this can be best summed up in song. Then we're on to the weekly wrap up....

Monday: Started out the week with an easy 3 miler. Using my new running/cycling app (suck it Nike Plus) I saved the run as a 3 mile route that I'll be able to use during future runs to pace myself against. The app will tell me if I'm ahead of my previous pace or behind my previous pace at various points in the race. It's like my dream to race myself.

Tuesday - 6 miler on the Little Miami Trail at an easy pace. According to my running log "it was hot and I sweat a lot". It is July. Thanks Captain Obvious.

Wednesday: I revisited that 3 mile route and beat myself by 36 seconds (suck it me). It was still at an easy pace.

Thursday: This was my first tough workout of the week. After a warm up jog I hit the 5 Mile Trail. I sprinted up a 1/4 mile stretch of hill and jogged back down...repeat 4 grueling times. Between the heat and coming off a 12 hour stretch at work I was thoroughly exhausted by the end. Luckily on this schedule I'll only be doing this every 3rd week.  

Friday: Well deserved, much needed rest day....ahhhhh

Saturday: Race Pace Day. The lesson I learned this week was that race pace day isn't only about speed, maybe even less about speed as it is about practicing form. It was an excellent run where I felt very comfortable about maintaining a 7:43 min/mile pace. At the end of the run though I could feel my shoulders hunching up and my strides becoming heavier as I pounded the ground trying to keep pace. If I can learn to keep good form as I get tired it will make all the difference come late in the race on marathon day.

Sunday: 13 mile long run. Running was real sweet to me for the first 9 miles. It was about mile 10 that it kicked me in the hip. It wasn't a hard kick. It was more of a love tap to remind me it loves me, and to do a better job of stretching. Running believes in tough love. After a little regroup I gave running a slap back and finished up. Hydration is gonna be key for these long runs. I need to be sure and carry some water with me or plan these a little more carefully to hit more water fountains. It's getting real....real hot and long.

Coming next week: Running on Paradise Island!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Road To Indy Week 1: Nike Plus is dead to me.


After finishing the Columbus Marathon in October 2008 I was done with marathons. What does this have to do with Nike Plus? We'll get to that..It was the fourth in about a year and a half and Columbus kicked my butt and kicked me squarely in the quads. Soooo, here we are and I've started to train (in July) for that which I sworn off (because it always ends in pain). To quote Vizzini:

You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is "never get involved in a land war in Asia" - but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never start marathon training in the summer!" Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha...

That's not exactly right, but whatever. So off we go on a 16 week training program that will culminate with the running of the 2010 Indianapolis Marathon on October 16th. Things are gonna change I can feel it. This time around I've decided to go with Hal Higdon's Advanced Marathon Training Plan. I'm a little late starting since it's an 18 week program, so I started on week 3. It's for those who want all the pain of the marathon and a big heaping plate of training runs. Each week I will give a little update and a rundown of the week's training. Don't worry I'm getting to why Nike Plus is dead to me.

Monday: Intervals on the track. This was my first time on the track in a long time, and it felt great. I warmed up with a mile of running then knocked out a 4 x 800 workout at about a 10K pace with a 400 jog break in between each interval. I finished up with a 400 all out and an 800 cool down. The total was 5 miles.

Tuesday: off

Wednesday:   8 x hill repeats. I wouldn't normally do hills and speed in the same week, but this is the day I started the program after fumbling around looking for the right one. Typically I pick a hill that's about a 1/4 mile long, but was stuck with a short hill, so I figured that 8 repeats would almost equal 4 x .25 mile hill repeats. Felt pretty good. Weather was great...about 73 and sunny.

Thursday: 3 mile run at a an easy pace. These runs will be on Monday and Wednesday from now on, and occasionally will be replaced with cycling or swimming as the summer goes on to mix things up.

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: 6 mile race pace. Tempo runs and race pace runs are going to be key. I was missing these in previous training programs. I plan on doing these regularly to get comfortable with the pace and build endurance. For Indy I'm hoping to break 3 hours and 30 minutes which means I'll have to maintain a pace faster than 8 minute miles. I can do that easily over short distances, but the true test comes after about mile 18, and this is where things fall apart every time.  Today's run was brought you by the long boring loop that is Lunken Airport Trail.

Sunday: 8 mile long run. aka The Day Nike Plus died. I met up with the running group for our long run this morning bright and early at 7 am. I'm glad we did, because it was already hot out. Any later and it would have been unbearable. Everything was ready to go: music - check, sunglasses - check, Nike Plus - check. Off we go from Mt. Lookout Square.

Fast forward to about 20 minutes into the run. I start thinking it's kind of odd that I haven't heard the soft coo of the Nike Plus girl in my ear counting down the miles. Certainly I've covered a couple of miles so far. I pull my iPhone out of the iPouch and I was iPissed. I had a few choice iWords to say and they all started with f. On the screen I see what is pictured above. 20 minutes and 0 miles. I owe my iPhone an apology for all the harsh language it had to hear. I'm sure it's innocent in all this. I blame Nike Plus. You are dead to me Nike Plus. I'm over you. If this were an isolated incident that would be fine, but this is the final straw in a series of annoying incidents. The rest of the run to Eden Park and back went smoothly. I finished about 8.5 miles as I just figured out thanks to routes feature. The pace was about perfect as I wanted to keep it about a minute slower than race pace.

Post run was awesome. The perks of running with a group and one of them having a pool...and living close to excellent eats. Thanks Beth! I new we could do it!

It looked something like this....

Tomorrow morning begins week 2!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

In the summertime when the weather is high....

Final game of the softball season and Aiden has hit her peak. She goes 2 for 2 scoring 1 run and looks like Johnny Bench in his prime behind home plate. Wrapping it up in style and on her birthday no less. Happy birthday girl!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

50 Races, 50 States...50 Years?

The Warrior Dash has revived my interest in racing. For a time I was feeling kind of burned out and uninterested in racing. I'll still do some of the major events like the Heart Mini and the Flying Pig, but I wasn't excited about races. Partly I feel like I've hit a wall with my performance. Some days I feel like I've run as fast as I'll ever run. I always enjoy trying to beat myself and improve upon my times. It's getting harder and harder to do. The other part is working at night. It's making it very hard to get motivated to train. I'm usually exhausted when I get off work at 7:30 in the morning, and it's so hot when I wake up in the afternoon that running is just un-fun. Something had to give, and it was my training.

Now I'm feeling a bit of that loving feeling....from racing which will give me a reason to train. Heading out to Illinois also reminded of another goal that I had made for myself a while back. I thought I had written about it, but apparently not. I had set a long term goal, more of a lifetime goal, of doing some sort of event in all 50 states. I don't care what it is, bike, run, tri. It's an excuse to travel and try out new races.

Here is my tiny list so far. It's sad really...

  • Ohio - 2007 Flying Pig Marathon
  • Kentucky -  2007 Jingle Bell Run 5K
  • Florida - 2008 Disney Marathon
  • Michigan - 2007 Miles for Meals 5K
  • Indiana - ?!!?
I've done several races in Ohio and Kentucky. I just picked one to list. What's up with Indiana? How have I not done any races in Indiana? This is really disappointing and will have to be fixed this year. Maybe a fall marathon in Indy? Or...maybe a shorter race in Indy and one of these:

Steamtown Marathon - Scranton, Pennsylvania

Bay State Marathon - Lowell, Massachusetts

Anybody have a couch I can crash on?

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    I am The Warrior

    bang, bang I am the warrior

    How did the Warrior Dash go down? It was exactly like this classic video by Scandal, only with more mud and less dancing, but only slightly less dancing.

     It was a little longer than a 5K. There was 12 more obstacles to conquer than you're typical 5K, unless you count heat as an obstacle.  So, 11 more obstacles to conquer than something like the Redlegs Run For Home 5K. There was a lot more mud than you're typical 5K. It was a hell of a lot more fun than any 5K I've ever run.

    As we lined up at the starting line. Beth asked, "so are you sticking with the group?" Well, maybe...I can't make any promises. A few minutes later the race began with a burst of flames from over the start line. Shootin' at the walls of heartache bang, bang I am the warrior. It was on. Once the race is on all bets are off. I stayed with the group for about....well I didn't.

    The race is a bit of a blur. Looking back at the course map doesn't really help. I could swear we hit the slithering swamp and the junkyard jam a lot earlier in the course. Here are my impressions of the race:

    The fire goes off and we're running. I'm thinking I need to slow down. I need to slow down. It's so hot I'm gonna regret taking off fast. I turn to the runner next to me as I often do during a hot race and say, "It's so damn hot...milk was a bad choice." Then I run away while the runner is laughing or looking confused. Either way I win.

    We hit some woods and blessed shade and....mud! The trail is slick as hell as we wind our way along the trails. I scamper across the planks. Don't fall..don't fall...don't fall...

    Junkyard jam...I jump, I climb over old beat up cars.... a muddy slope into and dive into a huge watery mud pit. OMG it stinks...

    Running, or more like jogging, as I'm soaked from head to toe and covered in mud. I can see out of one sunglasses lens. Water! Me: "how many glasses of water can I take?" volunteer: "as many as you need." I grab a couple and douse my sunglasses to see again., legs so, run....hay...climbing...cargo net...climbing...about a million little hills...legs so tired...



    After being slightly singed it was back into the mud as we crawled under barbed wire (for real) and on to the finish!

    I found out later that I came in with a very respectable time of  25:50. After the race it didn't really matter what the times were. To the victors go turkey legs and beer...and we were all winners.

    More photos to come....

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Thursday, June 17, 2010


    I'll find out this Saturday as I head out with a group of friends and warrior wannabe's to Joliet, Illinois. What trials await us to determine if we are warriors? According to the battleground map we'll be facing such obstacles as the warrior wall, hell's hills, slithering swamp, satan's slope and so on.

    Unfortunately this year I will be more of an unofficial warrior. I am running in place of somebody that is unable to attend and it was to late to get the registration changed into my name. I'm sure he has good reason to drop out, and quite frankly we aren't all cut out to be warriors. The community needs farmers too. Maybe he could compete in some sort of Facebook Farmville Challenge. Too harsh?

    Unofficial warrior or not I am taking my task very seriously. I've removed my bed from the bedroom and have been sleeping in a pit of mud. I wake up every morning scale a cargo net into the kitchen and eat fire for breakfast. It's a good start.

    Friday, June 04, 2010

    The Fastest and Funniest LEGO Star Wars story ever told

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I posted this hilarious video (still makes me laugh) of Star Wars being retold by someone who has never seen it.

    Now let's go back a long time ago in a LEGO galaxy far, far away....

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Forest Hills 5K

    Any given race could be your best or worst race..

    This was almost literally a last minute decision to run in the Forest Hills 5K. As I was walking out the door at 7:30 am into a sunny, warm morning I knew I would regret skipping this race. I quickly changed clothes in my car and took off for Nagel Middle School. This was more than just another 5K. This was a fund raising event for my cousin Heather's school district. In addition to the race there was a festival that included a fun mascot race. Before that though, a quick race summary.

    I came into the 5K with low expectations. I had just finished a 12 hour overnight shift that was spent mostly on my feet. I've been experiencing achilles tendon pain and calf pain. I'm pretty sure one or the other is going to snap and roll up like a fruit roll up one of these days. Because of this I didn't have a good race at all for the Pig. All things considered I figured if I could make it through the race without the fruit roll up effect I was good.

    I was able to work my way up to the front of the pack at the start which was very good. This was an out and back course, so the roads got very congested very quickly. You can play a little Where's Waldo with the photo above. Look for the white hat, red shirt. I won't go into the gory details, because at this point I don't remember the details. I remember Thunderstruck kicking off the race in my ears and thinking this is gonna be damn good race. I remember heading out on a lot of downhill and thinking oh crap, I need to run back up those hills. I remember having something left in the tank and targeting the runner in front of me then mowing him down.

    The result was a very solid 21:37 time and a second place finish in my division. Good run, well done.

    After the race I stuck around to meet up with the family and catch Heather run in the mascot race. I've got some pretty sweet video that I was planning on editing together and posting here. Maybe someday I will. In the meantime enjoy these photos.

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    The Swimming/Flying Pig Marathon

    It's 55 degrees with a light breeze. It's a little overcast. Maybe it's sunny and there are puffy clouds floating lazily along offering an occasional break from a warming sun. I feel weightless. My legs are pumping rhythmically and feel like I could go all day. I'm running the race of my life. There is no pain. The finish line is up ahead, and I have reached the pinnacle of my racing career. I am Pre. I am Bolt. And I am Benoit as she won her second Boston Marathon in a world record time. Then I wake up.

    I am standing near the starting line of the Flying Pig Marathon in the pouring rain at 6:45 in the morning.  I have a trash bag with a whole cut out of the bottom over my body trying to keep some square inch dry with no success. My fingers are so soaked my iPhone has stopped responding to my touch. Maybe it's for the best, because I'm pretty sure that if I get my playlist fired up it's going to send a death shock up through the headphone wire and into my brain. Fortunately, as the gun goes off to start the race I get the tunes rolling and I don't die of a sudden shock.

    It's an hour later and after slogging it up the hills into and out of Eden Park I'm wishing that there had been a sudden shock that killed me at the start line. I've been running an hour and my legs still haven't quite loosened up and my stomach is starting cramp up...and then I wake up. I said I wake up. Oh no, I'm awake. Crap.

    This pretty much sums up my experience at the 2010 Flying Pig Half Marathon. It was wet and soggy. I didn't have a good run at all and my iPhone had a near death experience that lasted for 4 hours after race. I'm fine, but I think it's suffering from PTSD. I can't say it was a total waste of time. Any day out on a run isn't a terrible day, and I did learn a few things.

    • Technical running shirts are awesome. Heavy weight technical running shirts in the rain are terrible. After about 10 minutes I felt like I was running with a wet blanket wrapped around my upper body. When running in the rain forget about planning to stay dry at all. Plan to wear the lightest material that will hold the least amount of water possible. Those dudes that run in speedos don't seem so ridiculous after all. Who am I kidding? Yes they do.
    • There is no such thing as a 100% waterproof pouch/case, especially when you have to open it. I was using an iFitness belt to keep my iPhone and a few things in. It didn't get rain directly in it, but there was so much moisture in the air combined with me opening the pouch and fiddling with said iPhone spelled doom. When in doubt leave the expensive stuff at home.

    • In case of electronics meltdown due to moisture don't freak. There are several remedies for wet electronics that don't include spiking them on the ground when they quit working. Here is one that I was reminded of by a friend on Facebook. Thanks Nathan. Finally I have a use for all those little bags of rice I get at the pig and other races. 
    • Any given race could be your best or worst race no matter how well prepared you thing you are. I suffered pain my knees and tightness in my calves for no really good reason. I also suffered some stomach discomfort. Not sure why. I ate the same thing I've eaten before dozens of other races with the exact opposite results. It's a mystery.
    Finally, as I put the pig to bed again for another year, maybe I should say always enjoy the run and the experience. Or, any day running is a good day. That's not true. Some days I hate the run. During races like this I want to quit. I could be sitting on the couch right now reading a book, watching a movie or anything else that doesn't involve rain, pain and running. Then the race is over, and I dry off and the pain subsides.  After a good meal and a few hours on the couch with that movie or book my mind drifts to the pig. Next year. It's gonna be 55 degrees and sunny.  I'll be well trained. I'll be weightless....

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    March of the Flying War Pigs

    Less than a week left until the Flying Pig Half Marathon!  It's time to get my running mix on. This year I decided to go 100% kick ass rock and roll. "You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention." That's exactly what I did Rob. Thunderstruck blows it up and makes me want to kick somebody in the teeth every time. "Then you got to take it up a notch..." Listen Rob this is my mix, my rules. I decided to cool it off a bit with a mid-tempo bar brawling rocker. Then I bumped it up 3 notches with my fist in your face, and your face on the floor.  You get the point.

    I took the mix for a 6 mile test run this morning and it does indeed totally kick ass. I found myself having to slow it down a bit to meet my goal pace. That is a very good sign. Then I punched a squirrel in the face.  I knew the mix was ready. That squirrel should have never stepped to me. Welcome to the jungle squirrel. You're gonna diiiiiiiieeee.