Wednesday, March 31, 2010

2010 goals revisited... plus March stat update!

As March comes to a close its time to do some end of the month blogger paper work.

At the beginning of the year I posted my goals for 2010... now that 2010 is 25% done let's see how I'm doing...


1. Break 20 min in the 5k... Booya foolz!!!! Now technically I haven't even competed in a 5k this year... but since I ran the first 5k of my 8k under 20 minutes I have no trouble crossing this one off my list... maybe this needs to be revised to sub-19???

2. Break 1:35:00 in a half marathon... I guess I have to run a half marathon first... check back in with me on May 2nd!

3. Break 3:20:00 in the Chicago marathon... see above... check back in with me on 10/11/10...

4. Join the local running group... check that one off my list... plus I got the 10% discount off my shoes to prove it!

5. Donate to charity through running... first race of the year equals first donation... 16 dollars for the 8k, plus 8 more for the PR... although, technically I haven't actually donated the money yet... I'd like to wait till at least my half-marathon is over so that I can donate in a larger chunk

6. hit the track... although I have done some speed work I have yet to hit the track... mostly because my work schedule is 2:30 pm to 10:30 pm and I don't really feel comfortable hanging around at the High School track while school is in session... check back with me come summer

And last but definitely not least...

7. Have loads of fun... Well we're only 1/4 of the way through the year so I can't exactly cross this one off, but so far so good... I've been having the most fun I've had in a long time, not just in running but in life in general! Plus I have a lot of exciting activities lined up for the future... Good riddence to 2009, Hello 2010!!!


Next on the agenda March 2010 stat corner...

This month I decided I'd go ahead and use a picture of myself running instead of a picture of Albert Pujols so I dug up my rookie card from my old high school year book (although I still secretly wish I was Albert Pujols)...

March was definitely a good month with a mileage increase from February's 85 up to 125... also several break through workouts and a couple quality long runs... Hopefully I can continue these trends through April as I slowly approach the beginning of my Marathon training plan.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Confessions of a technology addict

I had quite the scare today… I was in the midst of getting geared up for my scheduled 4 mile recovery run… I had my IPOD charged and freshly Loaded with Jay-Z's “The Blueprint: III"... I had my heart rate monitor strap tight and safely adjusted to the locked position… but then as I tightened up my Garmin Forerunner 305 around my wrist and tried to turn it on I realized I had a problem… My Garmin would not respond… Nothing but blankness!!! Oh the terror!!!

I held down the "On" button for 15 seconds… still nothing… I began to panic… I started to mash the buttons in random order… I could feel my heart rate increasing (at least I think it was… no way of telling for sure without the Garmin to display the signal from my heart rate monitor strap)…

Thoughts started cascading though my head: How could this happen? It was fine yesterday… was the battery dead? I had it plugged in! What if it were dead? I guess I can still run today but how about tomorrow??? Do I have enough money in the bank right now to buy a new Garmin??? Should I buy it on-line and have it overnight shipped??? Or should I go to Best Buy??? How will I ever run again!!!!

I tried everything I could think of (mashing buttons… unplugging and plugging the USB connector… smashing the Garmin with a brick*)… nothing was working… there was only one hope left… Google…

I typed “Garmin 305 forerunner won't respond” into Google’s omnipotent search window, clicked “I’m Feeling Lucky”, and prayed…

.3 seconds later I was whisked away to “FAQ: Why won’t my Forerunner 205/305 turn on after charging?” ... 8 seconds after that I had my answer.

Turns out that you can "reset" a Garmin by holding the "Mode" and "Reset" buttons at the same time for a couple seconds... I held my breath and pushed the buttons... and guess what: It WORKED!!!!!

I was back in business... but my nerves were frazzled... luckily there was nothing left to do but settle myself with an (exactly) 4 mile recover run at a 75-80% of maximum heart rate effort!

*FYI... the picture I used for this post is a picture of my Garmin

Monday, March 29, 2010

Progressing through Progressions

So I'm running a half-marathon all the way off in May... Oh crap! That's like a little more than a month away!!! Time to get training...

So last monday I sat down to review my 2010 training log and what do I see... let's see:


3 - interval work outs a

3 - tempo runs a

Shamrock Shuffle: 5 miles at 6:30 pace a


January 18: 10 miles

February 15: 10 miles

March 6: 11 miles


I had the best of intensions to work in some more long runs but then life (spending 16 hrs 2 Sundays ago driving back and forth across central Illinois to help an old college friend move) and running (last weekend's race fell on long run day) got in the way... so with 5 more weeks of training until race day it was time to re-evaluate my plan and start building up some stamina.

My solution: back off on tempo runs, increase mileage on Wednesday's mid-week run, & go long on Sunday's NO MATTER WHAT!!!!

So last Wednesday (3/24), instead of going the 5 GA I had scheduled, I squeezed in a 10 miler... turned out to be a good run at a good pace, but by the end I could definitely tell my stamina was lacking.

Then yesterday (3/28), I hit the Rock Island trail for a 12 mile progression run...

So, just in case you don't know, a progression run is a training run where you start off slower and then finish faster... there are multiple ways to accomplish this: 3/1 ( run the first three quarters of the run at long run pace and the last quarter fast), thirds (break your long run into thirds running each third faster than the last), super fast finish (run most of the run at long run pace but then run the last 3-5 miles at near race pace), etc...

For yesterday's run I choose to use my own personal spin on thirds/halves: First four miles at MP + 10-20%, second four miles steadily build up the pace, and final four miles really push it in...

Here's the splits:

First Third
Mile 1: 8:20
Mile 2: 8:04 (a little too fast, but I had to pass someone on the trail who was running just slightly slower than me)
Mile 3: 8:20
Mile 4: 8:24

Second Third
Mile 5: 8:17
Mile 6: 8:15 (gradually picking it up before the halfway point)
Mile 7: 7:46
Mile 8: 7:28

Final Third
Mile 9: 6:51
Mile 10: 7:14
Mile 11: 7:07
Mile 12: 7:10

To sum it up: great confidence building run, though i'm not going to lie... it took a lot of focus to maintain pace and form during the final two miles.

Also of note: first 12 miler ever!!! I checked my logs and I had seven 10 milers, a few 11 milers, a couple of 13 milers, but absolutely zero 12 milers!!!

Finally: Great week of working out, but I think I need to CHILL OUT... I feel great about my progress as a runner, which results in harder and harder training runs... I have to remember to slow it down sometimes and get in some easy runs (easier said than done)... otherwise it's only going to lead to staleness, burnout, or injury!!!

and Lastly: Thanks to anyone who read these random training ramblings... I think I need to start using my daily mile account, because I'm thinking that detailing my runs on a mile per mile pace basis does not make the most interesting blogger material :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shamrock Shuffle in photos

Check it out... my electronic chip time (32:23) is actually SLOWER than the clock time!!! There can only be one logical explanation.... I RAN SO FAST I BENT THE RULES OF SPACE AND TIME!!!!

A Few more photos during and after my run... you best believe i GIMP'd those "proof" stamps right the f*ck out of my pictures... yeah right I'm going to pay 20 bucks for a photo... who's the sucker now!!!

<--- Charging up "Mt Everest"

Too tired for the paparazzi --->

<------ And here's a picture of lil' Paulo... don't be fooled by his stature; the kid is an animal... He ended up running sub-32 minutes!!!! Plus he's even shorter than he looks in this picture... Take note of how his feet are about a foot off the ground while he's in mid stride; that's levitation holmes!!!

UPDATE: Last night I went ahead and e-mailed in the photograph above of me crossing the finish line at 32:20... today I checked my results again...

I gained 4 seconds and 10 places through my "patented virtual e-mail kick"!!! Now, I'm in the top 500!!!! I feel better now, but it makes me wonder... what could my time be if I send in the picture below!!! :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shamrock Shuffle aftermath and what's up next...

Shamrock Shuffle finally posted my results... chip time 32:23... which puts me in 501st place... lol... funny thing was that I probably could have kicked past a couple of people at the end of the race but consciously decided that there was no good reason to put forth that little bit of extra effort. I was thinking that in a race with a 36,000 people field it couldn't possibly matter if I end up ahead or behind 1 or 2 of them... If I could have passed just one more person I could have been in the top 500 (for whatever arbitrary value that's worth) ... oh well, now I have a goal for next year... plus it serves me right for being such a whiny pussy at the end of the race!!!

(and speaking of whiny pussy)... man my calves hurt... I would think that after putting in nearly 1000 miles over the last 12 months the muscle soreness I'm feeling right now would be a thing of the past... I guess that just goes to show that it takes a lot more muscle force to propel my body at a 6:30 pace as opposed to my usual 8:00ish training pace (Meow).
Ok, so now that my racing season has officially started what's next??? The Illinois half-marathon, that's what!!! And what better way to both prepare for running the Illinois half-marathon and celebrate the University of Illinois Men's basketball team's advancement to the not-so-ELITE 8 of the NIT than buying a brand new pair of customized NIKE LUNAR-ELITE's...

That's right... I'm going to be stylin these bad boyz out all the way to the Chicago Marathon Corral B with a sub-1:36 half-marathon PR...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Shamrock Shuffle 2010 Race Report

The Race: Bank of America's Shamrock Shuffle 8k (4.97 miles)
The Site: Downtown Chicago next to Millennium park... same starting and finish points as the Chicago Marathon
The Time: 8:55 am (5 minutes to race)
The Location: The front of Corral A... reserved for me, the elitest of the non-elite, and anyone else who can run faster than 22 minutes in a 5k
The Weather: A surprisingly pleasant overcast day with a temp of about 38 degrees (after a previous day of sleet and freezing rain)

I was near the front so after the “gun” went off it only took me about 5 seconds to cross the starting line… not bad for a 36,000 people race… of course with only a hundred or so people in front of me the 36,000 people field was basically a moot point… for now anyway...

One of the few people in front of me was Paolo Tiongson, 11 years old, from Skokie, Illinois… It was pretty funny because the kid must have been about 3 ½ feet tall max and also kinda scary as he was swallowed by the stampede of runners charging out of the gates.

I tried to keep my pace under control and not start too fast. I focused on keeping my breathing relaxed, my upper body loose, and my stride fluent. Only problem was that everyone else must have been going way to slow because I was passing people right and left. Soon I passed lil’ Paolo (actually I probably could have hurdled him with out breaking stride) and I was well on my way to the race of my life!

As we approached the 1 mile mark I looked down at my Garmin and realized that something must be wrong… the Garmin said that I had already run 1.25 miles but my time was only at 5:40 (Downtown Chicago does a number on a Garmin… more on that later). I passed the mile mark at about 5:55, a new one mile PR!!! Great… except now the prerace adrenaline was starting to wear off and my “relaxed” pace wasn’t feeling nearly so relaxed anymore… FAIL!!!

Knowing that I still had four miles left and considering that I was beginning to feel sick to my stomach I knew I had to slow down… problem was, when you go out waaayyy too fast, and your in the front of a field of 36,000 people you’re inevitably going to start getting passed. I hate getting passed so I tried to hang on as best as I could for the next mile and subsequently hit the two mile mark at 12:25… a new 2 mile PR!!! Great… except now I was really starting to hurt and I still had about 3 miles left.

At this point I was just trying to hold on and not slow down too much… but as I lumbered along, I was really starting to get passed…. Chicked on my left, senior citizen on my right, senior chicked on my left again… and then here comes lil’ Paolo again blazing past me… Groan… very demoralizing yet I still forged on… and passed the 5k point at 19:55, a new 5k PR by over 2 minutes!!!... Except now I realized that before... you know, when I thought I was hurting... well, I was wrong because now I was really actually hurting…

And now the mental games started…. If I can just slow down and maintain a 7 minute pace for the next 1.85 miles I’ll still break 34:00, but if I can get to the 4 mile point in under 26 I can maybe break 33:00 I tell myself. So I keep the legs going, trying to keep at least some semblance of good form… plus I start randomly grunting and muttering obscenities at the course to distract myself from the pain I’m feeling.

I hit the four mile point at 25:50 and change and know that if I can just hold on for 1 more mile I can break my super secret goal time of 33 minutes and if I can push it at all during that last mile I might even break my double super-duper secret subconscious (secret even to myself) goal time of 32:30…

I continue on, fighting for each breath, willing my legs to keep turning over. I turn the corner onto Michigan Avenue and begin my final approach down the last long straightaway on my way towards Roosevelt hill and then the finish line. As I trudge down this final straightway, still cursing and grunting, still wanting to quit, and still getting passed on my left and right, I raise up my hands in an attempt to hype up the spectators(anything to distract from the fact that I’m about to keel over and die)… and then finally we make it to Roosevelt Rd… I’m almost to the finish… just one obstacle left… Roosevelt hill…

Anyone who’s ever ran the Chicago marathon is probably well aware of Roosevelt hill… most notable as being the only hill on the entire 26.2 two mile course and for the fact that it shows up right when you’re in your most vulnerable condition, making what normally would be a unremarkable incline into the “Mt. Everest of Chicago”.

As I turned on to Roosevelt hill I decided that I had quite enough of getting passed… it was time to do some passing!!! So I started charging up the hill… for about 10 meters… at which point a harrowing gust of Lake Michigan wind (“Windy” city ring a bell anyone) threatened to knock me on my arse. My charge was thwarted… so I just put my head down and forced my way up the rest of the hill at a pathetic saunter… And then I had crested the hill and I was making the final turn towards the finish… 300 meters and I'd finally be done with this whole debacle… finish line in site, it was time for the "legendary" kick… I picked up my pace, dug deep, and reached for that last bit… only to find that there wasn’t anything left… 10 meters later and I had slowed back down again and was resigned to just half-ass it in to the finish… I leaned forward letting the dead weight of my blood deprived head carry me as I stumbled on towards the finish line… until with about 100 meters left I heard my friend Symons’ fiancĂ©, Julian, yelling at me to push it… Damn it… I never should have talked all that shit about my “legendary” kick… oh well, I had to at least try... so I dug down once more, even deeper, and found that I did in fact have just a little bit of gas in the tank (inferior grade E85 at the very least)… and unleashed a “pretty much unexceptional, never to be spoken of again” kick slight but marginally acceptable speed up that carried me through to the finish.

Final Stats:

Distance: 8K (4.97 miles)
Clock Time: 32:25, Garmin Time: 32:20, Chip time: XX:XX:XX???!!!!????!!!?? (a 5 minute impovement over last years race!)
Pace: 6:30 miles
HR Avg/Max: 176/187



As of now I still don't have any results from my race even though the results have already been published over at I called a complaint line and they told me that they've been having a lot of problems with results not registering, mostly because they switched from the Champion Chip timing system to the disposable D-tag timing system... Supposedly the D-tags are cheaper for the race organizers than the Champion chips... too bad they couldn't pass along some of that savings through the 45$ sign-up fee (grumble grrr...). I've been assured that they're working hard to fix the snafu so hopefully I'll get some official results eventually. After all if I wanted to rely on my Garmin to measure and time a race course I wouldn't have to pay 45$ race fee, 20$ parking fee, drive into downtown Chicago twice (once to pick up the packet and once for the race)etc... I could just head out the door anytime that I'd like... oh well, hopefully they can work out the kinks now, so that it doesn't happen to me again in the Chicago Marathon...

Speaking of Garmin, here's a picture of the elevation profile my Garmin captured while running through the city.

For those of you unfamiliar with the city of Chicago, let me assure you that there are not multiple 1200ft peaks to climb, unless of course I was superman and I was amusing myself by hoping over the Sears Tower... (but of course I'm not superman... or am I????)...

Also, after the race I was supposed to meet up with my friend Symons(who ran a 5 minute PR with a time of 36:45, BTW!!!) and his fiancé Julian at Buckingham Fountain... again for those unfamiliar with Chicago, that's the fountain most notably know from its apperance in the intro to the greatest sitcom of all time "Married with Childern"... (I'm being sarcastic there BTW... or am I????)...

Anyway, I wound up waiting at the fountain for 20 minutes before Julian eventually showed up so I spent my time doing a little two mile cooldown (or rather since the fountain sits right in the path of the freezing Lake Michigan winds and I was only wearing a t-shirt I should probably refer to it as a "stay warm" instead of a "cool down" since cooling down was not the issue)...Anywho, it was a real cool course so I decided to share it just in case one of you guys are in Chicago and want to run an awesome 2 mile loop(s)...

haha... that's it for now... hopefully I'll have some pirated race photos and some official results to share in the next couple days.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I won...

...third place in Razz's "Global Warming, My Ass*" 6.66 mile virtual race... (although according to his site my bizarro world evil nemisis ESEthan actually won)

I got to admit I feel kind of jaded... I was looking forward to the day when I was finally fast enough to enter a race and win some hardware (I was thinking like 3rd place in my age group in a local 5k or something)... I was going to write a blog post about it; talking about how I was a rising champion, slowly moving from the middle of the pack to the front of the middle of the pack.

Instead my first racing sucess comes in a "virtual" (read: not real) race in which most of the people running weren't even trying very hard... which makes the fact that I placed almost kind of embarassing.

Oh well, at least I got a real race this weekend although with 36,000 people signed up there's zero chance of me placing... In fact I could be in the top 10% of the field and still have 3000 people finishing in front of me... which is good! Because that ultimately means that the person I'm truely competing against is the one that matters the most: Myself (plus my buddy Symons of course)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dance like a butterfly, sting like a Bee

I’m ancy with anticipation. Why? Because my “unofficial” racing season officially starts Sunday at which time I will be traveling up to Chicago and participating in the Shamrock Shuffle.

This will be the third consecutive time I run this 8k (4.97 miles) event, which starts and ends and the same location as the Chicago Marathon and boasts a field of 36,000 runners. However, unlike the other two times I've ran this race, this time I'm actually in shape!

I don’t really have a goal time in mind, because I’m not exactly sure what my capabilities are at this point but I’d like to think that I could at least break 35 minutes. What I do know is that I’m ready to race! I’m ready to compete. I’m ready to get out there and toe the line with the baddest of the bad…. And when that gun goes off, you’d best believe I’m going to take off like a bat out of hell. I’m going to push the pain threshold to the very limits and then I’m going to push it some more. I’m going to be running like a madman down the streets of Chicago, passing foolz left and right, all the way to the finish line… and when the finish line is in my sights? Uh Oh… you better watch out then because I’m going to unleash my “legendary” kick!!!

Alrighty then… I feel much better now. I got the hard part out of the way a.k.a. talking mad shit… now all I’ve got to do is back it up.

Monday, March 15, 2010

6.66 Virutal RR

I signed up for the race innocently enough… a 6.66 mile virtual run? Sure sounds fun. Count me in… But then I started to see the signs. I had stumbled onto something big. Something dangerous, yet alluring… I started to recognize patterns…
  1. It started with the title: “Global Warming, My Ass!* 6.66 Mile run”… but move the comma and you get… “Global War, Ming my Ass!* 6.66 Mile run”… A running ritual which, if successfully completed, could set off a chain reaction resulting in a global war that could set human civilization back to the Ming Dynasty!!!
  2. That’s right, the Ming Dynasty 1368-1644… you know who else was alive during the Ming Dynasty? LEONARDO DEVINCI (made famous in the Devinci Code by Dan Brown)
  3. But let’s take a closer look at the name Dan Brown. A two syllabic name, Daniel, shortened to Dan, followed by a single syllabic last name, Brown. Guess, who else’s name follows this pattern? Al(bert) Gore! Creator of both Global Warming and the Internet… The two phenomena which make this little event possible… Plus you know who else’s name follows this little pattern (or "code" if you will) Thomas Hanks. That’s right the notorious Forrest Gump himself!
  4. Now let’s take a step back to the whole Ming Dynasty thing… Who would benefit from sending us back to the Ming Dynasty? An Archeology Student Of Course!!! Why study the past when you could live in it!!! And you know who’s a archeology student? Xenia, the person who suggested the distance for this race (the conspiracy deepens!!!)
  5. And speaking of Xenia, do you happen to know who Xenia’s BFF is??? Beelzebub!
  6. And now let’s go back to the all-important comma. Without it there would be no asterisk in the race title… the final clue that busted this whole conspiracy wide open… go over to Razz’s blog and check out the asterisk. Looks harmless enough, right… but when I zoomed in and enhanced… here’s what I got.

There was no doubt in my mind. I had somehow been invited to take part in an ancient (circa 1996) runner’s ritual; a ritual where runners across the blogosphere sacrifice their time and effort to the Running God’s. I knew the dangers I would face if I continued down the path I was on. Unfortunately, I had already committed myself by heedlessly typing “I’m in” in the comment section of a blog. It was too late to turn back now! I must run the virtual race and see how it all played out.

I scheduled my race day for Saturday, a day when I was already scheduled to do a 5 mile tempo run. Appropriately, it happened to be cold and rainy on Saturday… (feel free to read this part out loud in a Dana Carvey church lady voice) how convenient! I was therefore resigned to head to my gym to complete my virtual race on the (cue thunderous echoing voice) Dreadmill of Doom!!!

I stepped onto the Dreadmill of Doom!!! and attempted to program in a custom distance of 6.66 miles… and after some head scratching, cursing, and button mashing I was on my way. A nice 6.66 mile tempo run at a 7:16 pace.

It took about 15 seconds for the treadmill to get up to speed. So I figured I’d briefly knock down the pace a tiny bit to make up for lost time. I was now at 7:11 pace.

The first mile went by without a hitch. The pace was brisk but manageable. This isn’t so bad I thought to myself… but then, suddenly, at the one mile mark exactly, the treadmill started to slow down to a 15:00 minute pace... all by itself!!! (read: having nothing to do with my inexact abilities to properly program a treadmill) That’s right, the Dreadmill of Doom!!! had become possessed by a demonic spirit.

The slowdown was fairly brief, but now I had lost even more time. There was only one thing to do… Bump up the speed again, this time to a 6:58 pace. I figured I’d maintain that pace till the 30 minute mark and then start easing back down, thus accomplishing a solid (if a little fast by my standards) tempo run.

I continued on at this clip until the 3.33 mile mark. Halfway done but now I was beginning to hurt and I was starting to regret those last 5 beers and steakburger with cheesefries I had consumed the night before.

At this point I decided to check my heart rate with the hand grippers; big mistake! As I5 curled my fingers around the metal grips I got a reading, 165, but after releasing the grip the machine continued to register a heartbeat. There was only one plausible explanation: the daemon spirit in the treadmill had stolen my heart!

It was now 30 minutes in and I had gone about 4.25 miles. I was also starting to get extremely tired and dehydrated. However, I couldn’t risk slowing down now. If the treadmill were to stop at this point I could only logically assume that my daemon possessed heart would stop as well!

I told myself that I should just hold on till the 40 minute mark. I forged ahead. As the 40 minute mark approached I was starting to question if I was going to be able to finish. Luckily at this point the treadmill reached 5.66 miles and the daemon decided it was time to take over again! Again, the treadmill began slowing down to a 15 minute pace... all by itself!!! This time I was ready however, and quickly bumped the pace back to a 7:30 clip. With one mile left I clenched my teeth and finished out the race. As the 6.66 mile mark approached the machine began to count down: 3,2,1… and then mercifully the belt slowed to a stop. I had done it! I had survived the virtual run, beating the daemon and escaping its icy grasp on my way to a brand new 6.66 mile PR!!!

Final results: 6.66 miles, 47:16, a 7:06 AKA 6 minute and 66 second per mile pace

Epilog: If your reading this it means you are one of the few survivors of the global war. Welcome to the second Ming Dynasty. All in all it’s not so bad here. Sure, the zombie emperor can be cruel at times and eating with chopsticks is a pain in the ass, but you get used to it. And hey, look on the bright side… the vases are amazing!!! Just becareful not to break one… it might just contain your soul!!!! HAHAHAHAHA

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Too much time... Too little time

Warning: Stream of consciousnessy type post

Lately I've found myself posting on this blog a lot... Pretty much because a) I enjoy it & b) I've had a lot of free time on my hands and screwing around on the internet always seems a lot more appealing than actually attempting to accomplish anything productive.

Got me thinking about some of the elements that actually go into creating a successful blog.

1. You have to be at least marginally interesting (although this is the internet after all so the bar isn't exactly set very high, especially considering that this guy has something like 10 million views on some of his youtube videos).

2. You have to maintain the blog through frequent updates. Otherwise, people will lose interest.

3. You don't want to post too often otherwise you'll over saturate the market and people will lose interest. Also you'll be contributing to "blogger guilt". That's when you're too busy doing "real world" activities to keep up with your own blog or comment on the blogs you follow. Yep, that's a real thing! says so, and it's on the internet so it must be true!!! that got me thinking about "Tivo guilt" ... Yep, that's real too, and even has it's own story. That's when you have a Tivo full of shows and not enough time to watch them.

...which led me to think about how sad we humans are and how we'll never be truly happy...

We can transmit our thoughts to billions of people worldwide, we can watch 1000's of television programs on 100's of channel at anytime we want... and are we satisfied??? No... we're guilty!!!... Hate to be cliche but what would the starving children of Africa say about that?

I say this all in a tongue-in-cheek way but it is funny how easily we begin to take the miracles in our lives for granted (cars that can take us anywhere we want whenever we want, planes that can fly us halfway around the world, even television) and start focusing on the negative (the price of gas, cramped airline seats and flight delays, there's nothing on tv tonight or my screen is only 42 inches 720p and i want a 55 inch 1080p.

Anyway, that's enough about me being a bummer for one day.

I think I'm going to ignore it all for now, enjoy the simple things in life, and go for a run!!! All I'll need to be happy then is the great outdoors, a soothing wind at my back, and the warm sun on my face... of course a wrist mounted GPS device that can pinpoint my location anywhere in the world within 10 feet while recording my heartrate... and BTW, can't they make this thing any smaller?!? IT'S LIKE WEARING A DAMN BRICK ON MY WRIST!!!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tales from the Gym (part 3)

This will (hopefully) be my last tales from the gym for the foreseeable future… I’ve ran the last 4 days (24 miles) outside and I think I’ve successfully readapted for the time being…. But for now... here it is... another exciting installment of TALES FROM THE GYM!!!

Chapter 3: Track Bowling

My gym has a indoor track - 13 laps to a mile - which means if you try to run anything much faster than an 8 minute mile pace you begin to feel like you’re running in the gravatron…

Here’s a little diagram I mocked up of the track setup.

Now this track has 3 separate lanes and it’s common policy at the gym for all runner’s to occupy the outermost lane while walkers use the inner two (which are 14 laps to a mile and 15 laps to a mile). This is fine except, as you can see, there are 5 separate doorways that all open onto the outermost lane of the track. --- So that means that if I wanted to run a mile… hmmm, lets see… that’s 13 laps… times 5… carry the 2… = ABOUT A GAZILLION opportunities for people to step directly in front of you while you’re trying to run!!!

Now sure… they’re multiple signs hanging on, around, and in front of each doorway advising members to “Caution: Please Watch for Runner’s When Entering Track”. However, if you’ve read my previous “Tales From the Gym” post, then you’re well aware that reading and following signs is not a forte for many of the people who frequent my gym... which leads to the phenomenon that I’m going to discuss today: Track Bowling.


Track Bowling - When you're running around the track and run smack into someone as they step out in front of you.

The Spare - When they step out leaving me just enough time to channel my inner Barry Sanders (or for my younger readers: Chris Johnson) and nimbly dodge out the of way... sparing us both from injury and disaster.

The Strike - A direct hit!!! When they step out in front of me at I don't have enough time to dodge, but do have enough time to get my guard up to protect myself as I run them over!!!

Foot Fault - They step one with just one foot, giving me time to either hurdle, parry, or stomp the offending foot.

The Sleeper - When you dodge around one person only to run into another who is occupying the middle lane.

The Hook - When one of the walkers in the middle lane is too occupied texting on their cell phone to notice they're coming up on a turn in the track causing them to walk straight into the outer lane while allowing me to follow the curve and hook into them.

7 - 10 Split - When the same person walks out in front of me on one side of the track, walks across the inside of the track through the exercise equipment area, and then walks out in front of me again as I come around on the other side of the track... normally some meathead going from the stretch room to the weight room or vise-versa.

The Turkey - When the same person walks out in front of me three times in a session... Funny thing is that they always have that shocked deer in the headlights look when they realize that I'm barreling down on them... common buddy, three times in one workout? WTF... are you the guy from Memento or something?

Gutter Ball - When the entire track is occupied because "El Gordo" the fat trainer and his buddies are standing around in front of the weight room shooting the shit and you are forced to run off the track onto the exercise equipment area to get around them.

The 300 game - When I complete an entire indoor track workout without running into or dodging anyone!!! (BTW, has yet to happen)

Something that always amazes me at the gym: How people can manage to be so completely self-absorbed while simultaneously lacking any semblance of self-awareness…

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The smell of fresh air, roadkill, & exhaust (plus global warming is real!)

Finally a run worth blogging about!!!

It was a beautiful day today. Full sun and 49 degrees! You know what the temp was when I went running last Saturday? 29 degrees. That's a 20 degree swing in one week people.... and global warming is a lie???... Global warming is real!!! And I have the data to prove it!!! In fact at this rate of global warming we can expect temperatures in the 160's by the end of April!!!... but I digress.

49 degrees, full sun, put on some shorts its time to run.

I had a 4 miler scheduled for today but decided that since the weather was cooperating so nicely I would switch it up and do the 11 miler I had scheduled for Sunday instead.

First outdoor long run of the year and longest of the year! I started out "easy", watching my heartrate, trying to keep in around the 140 BPM range. After the first mile I realized that I was running a 8:00 pace, not a tempo pace by any means but probably faster than long run pace, but the heart rate doesn't lie so I kept going.

I headed out into the countryside. The air was clean and fresh, at least until I started passing the dead raccoons... ahhh the smell of roadkill. There's nothing quite like a lung full of that. Oh well, better than concentrated gym member B.O.

Hit the 5 mile point at 39:00, one minute ahead of 8:00 pace. By now my heartrate was up to 150... still not bad though. I told myself I'd try to keep up the pace till mile 8 and then I'd ease it in... Oh the lies we tell ourselves while we run.

At mile 7 I came out of the countryside and back into the city. I was greeted by the wonderful smell of car exhaust. Yum!!!

At 7.25 miles I hit a monster hill (.4 miles long according to Garmin). This slowed my pace and upped my heartrate to 170. By mile 8 my heartrate had crept back down to 160 but I had lost some time and was now only 10 seconds ahead of 8:00 pace. Oh well, time to ease it in right? Wrong!!!

I heard somewhere that it's good to finish long runs at a strong pace so that you're body could adapt to maintaining speed when you're fatigued... So I went ahead and kicked it up a notch and sped up to a 7:30 pace, ending my run winded, tired, but satisfied. All in all, not as fast as I hope to be, but a lot faster than I expect to be considering it's the first week of my training cycle and my longest run in 5 months!

Any other smells that I enjoyed during my run; the smell of a guy standing on the corner smoking a Swisher Sweet and the old lady across the street, getting into her car, who was wearing way too much old lady perfume (funny enough, of all the smells I encountered on my run, this one was by far the worst... I literally had to hold back a gag!).

Overall stats: 11.01 miles, 1:26:17, 7:51 pace, HR avg 152, HR max 180

Friday, March 5, 2010

Back to the Gym

As mentioned in my previous post I’ve been recently experiencing the trauma of transitioning from running on a treadmill to running outdoors. I had expected that my body would be somewhat resistant to the change, so my original plan was to battle through for a couple of runs until my muscle and tendon conditioning caught up with my ambitious training regiment. However, after what happened last night I’m thinking I might have reevaluate my approach.

Let me set the scene for you… it was late last night. I had finished my Chamomile tea and was feeling sleepy so I changed into my flannel Batman pajama’s (with the footies of course), donned my nightcap, and entered my bedroom chambers for good nights rest.

I climbed into my most comfortable bed, complete with bunches of billowing blankets and pillows a plenty, and settled in under the sheets. I let out a deep sigh and prepared myself for the warm embrace of deep soothing slumber.

…But then, just as I was drifting off, I noticed a slight feeling of discomfort in my lower legs. I twitched slightly, trying to shake it off, but that only seemed to amplify it.

“I must be laying in an uncomfortable position” I thought to myself as I turned onto my side.

…And thus began the multiple hour fiasco of me tossing and turning in my bed trying to attain that just barely out of my grasps feeling of leg comfort. Yes, my friends, I was dealing with an acute case of RRLS (Runner’s Restless Leg Syndrome).

Not sure how many people out there have experienced RRLS before. For those who have, you have my deepest sympathies… If you haven’t consider yourself lucky… And if you’re not sure what RRLS is here’s a rundown for you.

RRLS is a special case (extra special since I made it up) of the more encompassing medical condition called Restless Leg Syndrome (as seen on TV)… I first encountered it when I began training for my first marathon back in June of 09 when my mileage jumped from 6 miles a week to 25 miles a week… For the first 6 weeks of training I spent just about every night tossing and turning to no avail trying to find that perfect position (my wife will testify to this… and she had the bags under her eyes and bruises on her shins to prove it). Eventually my body adapted to the training but those first 6 weeks were a nightmare… I’m talking about a serious case of the Jimmy Legs (John Stewarts moniker for RLS)!!!

I thought that RRLS was behind me, but now it appears to have reared it’s ugly head again… and so I must decide what approach I’m going to take to rectify it. The way I see it I ultimately have to pick between two unsavory choices: I can either power through and keep running and deal with the consequences of a broken sleep cycle, potential injury, and a grumpy sleep deprived spouse OR I can temper my transition to the pavement by heading back to the gym and taking a more calculated approach of slowly weaning myself off the treadmill*…

After tasting the freedom of outdoor running, the idea of returning to the treadmill is not exactly palatable but the proposal of powering through until my RRLS self-corrects is pretty much out of the question (if I value my marriage that is)… So there you have it… looks like I’m heading back to the gym for one last hoorah!!!

*Funny enough, after writing this post I found an article in this months Runner's World where Jeff Galoway details a plan for transitioning from treadmill to pavement. His plan starts with going outside once the first week you start the transition and running a minute, walking a minute, etc... Then you slowly build from there. I figure at that rate I'll be running fully outdoor just in time for next year winter!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Word Verification of the Day

As I've mentioned before I have an excessive infatuation with the “Word Verification” feature on blogger (the fake word that you have to type in order to post a comment). An infatuation so excessive that it’s warranted me to write not one but now two posts completely dedicated to the phenomenon… At this rate expect to see a weekly column dedicated to “Word Verification” with in the month (Wordy Wednesdays seems to fit the unwritten guidelines of a blogger weekly reoccurring column), followed by an entire blog dedicated to the “Word Verification” feature by the end of the month.

For now though I’ll just focus on the post at hand.

Today, while signing up for Razz’s “Global Warming, my Ass!* 6.66 Mile Run” I happened upon a “word” that left a particularly foul taste in my mouth.

That word: teobagr

Not quite sure what a teobagr is but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with when you drink too much during a college party and pass out on the couch (not that I would know anything about that).

Anyway, just had to share.

*The views expressed in this race title are the views of the race director, Razz and do not neccesarily reflect the views or policies of the author of "Rise of a Champion"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Re-acclimating to the Great Outdoors

As of late I’ve resumed an old running habit of mine; namely running outdoors.

The recent weather has still been sorta crummy but now that I’ve officially started “training” I decided a reasonable dose of “manning up” was in order… And so for the past not one, not two, but three runs I’ve braved the elements (slightly icy with temperatures in the upper 20’s) and headed outdoors for my runs…

Because this was my first winter of consistent training, I was surprised to find that transitioning from the treadmill to the pavement has proved a more taxing task than what I had originally anticipated. I had read that outdoor running can present an increased challenge in comparison to treadmill running because factors such as wind resistance, uneven footing, varying terrain, etc… Academically this all makes perfect since to me… Yet it was still easy enough to gloss over those facts when I was sitting in the warm comfort of my office, sipping cocoa and designing my training plan. In the end I was ill prepared for the initial toll that the transition would put on my body.

First off, I’ve rediscovered muscle soreness in places I haven’t felt for a long time… There’s this one spot on my upper calves, another on my right foot, and yet another at the front of my shins; basically all the muscles that I haven’t utilized while running on a treadmill but have suddenly called on to keep me balanced and upright as I navigate the gravelly, post-winter potholed streets of my neighborhood.

Also there’s been the re-introduction to hills… I mean WTF?!? I mean check this out dude… I’m running along and suddenly I’m running at an incline and then next thing I know I’m running down a decline…
“So, what’s the big deal?” you might be thinking to yourself…
Well, get this… I didn’t even touch the incline adjust button on the treadmill. The road just magically changed its slope all my itself!!!

Finally, (and let me warn you, I saved the "best" for last) I became re-acquainted to a particularly nasty old running buddy of mine… today a phenomenon that I’ve previously seen referred to the “poopy cramps” struck me halfway through my 5 mile loop… Luckily, it was a gaseous false alarm and I was able to quell it with just the right amount of butt clenching… However it did get me thinking about how an emergency situation just doesn’t have the same gravitas at the gym because you’re always with 100 feet of a bathroom (BTW, for the benefit of my general American reading public, that's a third of a football field)… Of course if you do find yourself having to pass a gaseous unpleasantry at the gym you still have to concern yourself with releasing it with just the right amount of pressure to render it silent and just the right amount of trajectory so that the hot chick running on the treadmill at your left could plausibly believe that the source of the abominable perfume could be emanating from the sweaty dude on the treadmill at your right… a attained and refined skill all in itself... but I digress.

So to sum it up: Running outside is really doing a number on me so far. I’m sore!!! I mean, at least it’s a good kind of sore… the kind of sore that’s really just your body's way of letting you know that it’s adapting… but sore none the less.

So now the question is: How is this going to affect my training plan? Hopefully not much… Hopefully in a few weeks time I’ll have worked the kinks out and will be back to my old pavement pounding self. For now though, I’m thinking I might have to reevaluate the next week or two of my training regiment… possibly schedule an extra day or two of rest in there? I have seven months of hard training ahead of me that leaves plenty of time to make up lost miles assuming that I’m healthy!!!