Monday, June 30, 2008

Are you FIRSTy?

Wherein I make a return to the use of the “wherein” summary if only to point out that I’m using wherein again.

Normally, I’m not a big fan of using word substitution for comedic effect like I did in the title line. It’s easy. Cheap. And udderly ridiculous.


Unbelievably, the calendar on the wall tells me I’m 16 weeks out from my next marathon (Detroit). Already?? I’ve been so busy enjoying schedule free running, I’ve forgotten about the long, slow, regimented build to the marathon. It’s time once again to pull up a professional coaches training plan for my desired finish time, select ‘All’ of the carefully considered advice text and then press ‘Delete’ and overlay my own barely considered plan on their template.

That’s what I’ve done for my first 5 marathons. And besides the last 3 marathons - which found me limping to the finish line as a tangled mess of knotted muscle fibers and tendons – its worked like a charm! I got a BQ out of the second marathon so, Screw Them, I know what I’m doing. A string of near DNF’s isn’t enough to destroy my arrogance.

As most of you know, I’m in the middle of my self-serving, family-ignoring Summer of Speed. I’ve been capping my weekly long runs at 10 miles. I’ve been following FIRST’s advice* and going hard 3 days a week with some inadequate cross training thrown in.

I am a FIRST sycophant (+1). If FIRST was a person rather than a concept, I’d tell him how really cool his hair looks and ask to wash his Corvette. With my tongue.

The fact is that I’ve seen greater improvement in my overall speed in just 6 weeks than I expected. I laid out the following Summer of Speed goals on May 5th thinking these were ambitious but obtainable goals to meet by the end of summer. I haven’t tested myself in a race as of yet so my Estimated Time is a measure according to Garmin (praise be with him) during my training runs. Here’s an update:

Goal / Estimated Current Finish Time

5k Goal 19:00 / Estimate 19:10
10k Goal 41:00 / Estimate 41:30
15k Goal 1:05:00 / Estimate 1:03:00
10 Mile 1:06:00 / Estimate 1:07:20

Either I set the goals to low (or high?) or the FIRST method is having some quick, early success.

Normally, I have loosely followed Hal Higdon’s training plans which I still recommend to the beginning runner. Of course, by “followed”, I mean I used his template and stripped out everything but the weekly long run target. I think I’ll be doctoring the FIRST marathon training plan this time.

Those who have Jim Jones Kool-Aid style followed this blog for the last few years know I’m a congenital (note: I did NOT call myself a genital here) race pacer. Every training run is done at near race pace. I only run 3 days per week. Frankly, I feel like I’m wasting time by going out for a light “jog”.

So, FIRST plan, here we come! I’ll still be working towards my SoS goals while simultaneously building for the marathon. It should be a fun, sweaty, vomit soaked summer.

If you have a fall marathon planned, it’s time to pull out the training plans and get to work. And remember: if you don’t like how the training plan is laid out, there’s always a Delete button. Keep it fresh. Keep it fun.

Don’t give yourself Pfitz over it.

Happy trails.

* According to law suit resolution, FIRST does get to keep credit for the origin of this training concept. And I’m to keep at least 500 yards from the authors.

Did you know that you cannot set a World Record if your run was "wind aided"? Tyson Gay apparently rocketed through the 100 meters in 9.68 seconds at the Olympic Trials. Unfortunately, the wind was strong during those 9.68 seconds so the time will not stand as a World Record. It would seem that natural, uncontrollable elements - such as the weather - should not be taken into account. I guess, by this logic, a strong breeze is known as Nature's Steroid.

Sunday's Long Run:

10.0 miles
1:07:20 time
6:44 pace

This was a cool run as I was able to get my negative splits AND incorporate a Limbo run over the last 5 miles!

Splits: 34:08 / 33:12

Last 5 miles: 6:52, 6:41, 6:38, 6:34, 6:27. Limbo!!

With only needing to average 7 mins/mile over the next 3 miles, I think my unstated goal of breaking 1:30:00 in a half marathon is well within reach. Now, I need to find a half marathon to sign up for...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Paycheck? Yes, please.

Time is of the essence around these parts. My employer has foisted the burden of work deadlines upon my shoulders. They are asking me to - gulp - work eight hours a day. Eight!? There's posts to write, read and naps to take. This will have to be a quick entry. I can spare no more than 20 minutes. I'll have to ration out the other 7+ hours thusly: 4 hours of work, 2 hours of chatting with co-workers over coffee complaining about the amount of work I need to complete, and only one hour and forty minutes of my normal, extended super-sized two hour lunch break.

This is absurdity at its highest level. I have had weeks to complete my projects. My employer should know that I would wait until the last possible minute and then scramble to finish in time begging for extensions along the way. I have a track record. In exchange for a paycheck, they are making me suffer very reasonable expectations.

I won't be able to post about the record setting Limbo run last evening. Or the smashing 2:30 800's I recently ripped off. Mainly because I accomplished neither. But had I done so, you would not be able to learn about it.

And who's fault would that be? Mine? I'm trying to cram 4 hours of work into an 8 hour day. I'm not Superman. I am each of those root words individually but not as part of a conjunction.

My twenty minutes are nearly up. I'm a hunt and peck typist as you can tell. My employer is handing out paychecks today and, one can only assume, they expect some services in exchange. I will not play the fool to anyone. But I need race entry fees and shoes, so this monkey is going to dance for the grinder.

Let the work begin! I feel a work PR today. Mmmmm, I love the smell of dusty keyboards and coffee breath in the morning.

Happy trails.

Thanks for the ear bud tips! A certain brand of Sony bud seemed to be the most popular. I will need to check those out. During last evening's budless run, I caught myself visibly less angry and - dare I say - enchanted by the sounds of children's laughter from a nearby park. As a result, the sneering glance I shot their way was half-hearted at best. This cannot continue. I need some hard driving tunes to drown these mushy sounds out and restore my healthy, righteous indignation. Good day.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Clicking in Her Head

And other tales of the irregular.

A question Mrs. Nitmos and I are often asked is whether or not she runs also. Short answer: No. Slightly longer answer: Only to get me a beer. The full and much more interesting version: No because “things click in her head.”

No kidding. When Mrs. Nitmos runs, “things” click in her head.

We’ve had much discussion around the home about what this could be. Is her mandible cracked or unhinged? Could the temporal lobe have become detached from rocking out at the Aerosmith concert during our first date in 1990? Could something have happened during love in an elevator, lovin’ it up while we’re going down?

Not sure. However, something’s clearly amiss as we are both under the impression things shouldn’t click when you run. I expect my hip to click when I run in 10-15 years or so. But not in the head. The clicking noise would no doubt drown out the voices. Then how would I know who to take vengeance on and with what instrument of punishment?

Maybe she’s pulling the wool over my eyes. In any case, its unnecessary. Running is my crazy thing. Watching endless amounts of HGTV house remodels is her crazy thing. Betcha wish I knew how to use those long straight steely things that make holes in wood eh, hon?

It’s amusing to see the reaction when someone discovers that one half of us fritters copious amounts of time away running while the other has no interest whatsoever. It usually ranges from Pity (for her) to Disgust (for me) to Apathy (for even asking in the first place). I don’t think it’s odd in any way that both of us are NOT runners. I couldn’t imagine having to pick up extra house work while SHE is out running. Why do you think I picked up this habit anyway? It’s way more productive than crystal meth. Plus, I don’t look as cool all gaunt from crystal meth. Gaunt? Err, never mind.

Mrs. Nitmos doesn't run but she exercises at various gym classes and flaunts her new expensive bike around while I pedal away on my Walmart Huffy Snakerock mountain bike. I know you’re thinking ‘Nitmos, that’s a pretty cool bike. Where can I get one?’. Easy. Take $40 to Walmart, buy some milk, and laundry detergent and pick up your Huffy on the way out. Stick around, you might get change. If you’re lucky, your bike will make a metallic clunk sound every rotation of the chain wheel as well.

I don’t think I’m the only one out here in a mixed relationship.

Despite this difference, we are a perfect match. A yin-yang thing going on. Though I doubt anyone would describe us as circular or sperm like (anymore).

I guess it could be worse. Mrs. Nitmos’ best friend doesn’t run either. The reason? If she does, her "throat bleeds."

Now, I have to deal with that beer joke I made several paragraphs ago. Maybe I'll take off in a run and listen for the click click clicking behind me as I make my escape.

Happy trails.

I wimped out. 82 degrees. I went for 4 x 800 (400 easy interval between) instead of 5. Not proud of myself but there it is.

800's of:

Total effort:

5.63 miles
6:32 pace

Monday, June 23, 2008

I Need A Bud, Man

Dude, I need to score some buds.

Seriously, my ear buds are not fitting and I need some new ones. I find I'm spending the majority of my runs pressing the gently sliding sweat soaked ear buds back into my ear hole. I don't have this problem during winter. The Eskimo hat keeps 'em firmly in pace. Summer brings higher sweat viscosity and no hat. And lots of ear bud slippage.

It doesn't help that I have three genetic factors working against me:

1) Allergies. God love the trees, grass, and flowers. I love summer. But Nature and I don't get along. There's a continual battle taking place for control over my sinus cavities. If "nature" wasn't a large, omnipresent, undefinable presence, I'd choke the living shit out of it. When the allergies strike, the ear buds become that much more difficult to keep in place.

2) Abnormally small ear holes run in the Nitmos' family. It's true. My ear holes are maybe the size of a pencil eraser. It's like trying to cram a marshmallow into a straw. I've considered cosmetic surgery. Very embarrassing. Try growing up as "the kid with tiny era holes" and see how often you get beaten up. They don't make ear buds for people like me because most electronics companies are ear hole bigots.

3) Stupidity. Despite knowing the ear buds don't fit, I continue to try to use them. It's been two years now. A lesser dense person would have already given in and found a suitable alternative. Not this hombre. I press on pushing my finger into the side of my cranium every 20 seconds over countless miles. I'm sure my neighbors think I have Tourette's - something I don't discourage anyway as it keeps them at a safe distance. "Being neighborly" is about as repugnant to me as holding the door for a senior citizen.

Sunday, I finally gave up and pulled the buds out of my ear and tossed the mp3 back at home. I wasn't in the mood to fight with it. I had to suffer the sounds of a warm, breezy summer day. The annoying flaps of the butterfly wings. The soothing songs of the morning birds. And the gentle rustling of leaves skipping down the sidewalk. Ugh. My running soundtrack normally involves the tortured shrieks of an angst-ridden, anti-social rock band. I enjoy the hammering in my head which flows down into the angry pounding of the pavement through my legs. That's what running is supposed to be: anger management. Instead, Sunday, I was carried away on the soft billowy clouds of a majestic summer morn.


I needs my rock.

I needs some quality ear buds.

Who has a recommendation?

Sunday's ear budless 10 mile long run had 2 goals: Beat last week's time of 1:09:07 and run a negative half split (something I did not do last week).


10.0 miles
1:08:24 time
6:50 pace

First 5 = 34:30; Second 5 = 33:56.

5 x 800 (with 400m cool downs in between) on Tuesday. Then I need to pull back for a week or so on the pace. My old friend plantar fasciatis is starting to creep in again. He's about as welcome as Dick Cheney at a gun safety demonstration.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tortoise vs. Hare: A Closer Look

History is written by the winners. It doesn’t make it accurate but that’s the way it is. It’s the main reason native Americans are described as “savages”. Al Gore is a crybaby. And Fonzi gets Pinky Tuscadero while the Mallachi Brothers are spineless Demolition Derby cheaters.

I was reading the fable The Tortoise and the Hare to my kids the other day. They were tiring of our 6th reading of The Ultramarathon Man so I thought, what the hell, I’ll throw ‘em a bone. I had a busy day of chores planned for them the next day anyhow and I’d need them fresh with well rested backs and quads. The car doesn’t change its own oil.

You remember this story. This is the one that tries to pass off the ridiculous notion that 'slow and steady' wins the race. What a load of crap. It’s time to correct this insidious communist propaganda that has been influencing young minds for generations. Here’s the story below if you’ve forgotten the details:

“Once upon a time there was a hare who, boasting how he could run faster than
anyone else, was forever teasing tortoise for its slowness. Then one day, the
irate tortoise answered back: "Who do you think you are? There's no denying
you're swift, but even you can be beaten!" The hare squealed with laughter.

"Beaten in a race? By whom? Not you, surely! I bet there's nobody
in the world that can win against me, I'm so speedy. Now, why don't you try?"

Annoyed by such bragging, the tortoise accepted the challenge. A
course was planned, and the next day at dawn they stood at the starting line.
The hare yawned sleepily as the meek tortoise trudged slowly off. When the hare
saw how painfully slow his rival was, he decided, half asleep on his feet, to
have a quick nap. "Take your time!" he said. "I'll have forty winks and catch up
with you in a minute."

The hare woke with a start from a fitful sleep and gazed round, looking for the tortoise. But the creature was only a short distance away, having barely covered a third of the course. Breathing a sigh of relief, the hare decided he might as well have breakfast too, and off he went to munch some cabbages he had noticed in a nearby field. But the heavy meal and the hot sun made his eyelids droop. With a careless glance at the tortoise, now halfway along the course, he decided to have another snooze before flashing past the winning post. And smiling at the thought of the look on the tortoise's face when it saw the hare speed by, he fell fast asleep and was soon snoring happily. The sun started to sink, below the horizon, and the tortoise, who had been plodding towards the winning post since morning, was scarcely a yard from the finish. At that very point, the hare woke with a jolt. He could see the tortoise a speck in the distance and away he dashed. He leapt and bounded at a great rate, his tongue lolling, and gasping for breath. Just a little more and he'd be first at the finish. But the hare's last leap was just too late, for the
tortoise had beaten him to the winning post. Poor hare! Tired and in disgrace,
he slumped down beside the tortoise who was silently smiling at

"Slowly does it every time!" he said.”

Let’s examine what’s wrong with this. First, “slowly” was not what “did it.” In fact, had the tortoise picked his pace up a bit, it wouldn’t have been nearly as close as it was. He’s moping along dragging his lazy ass shell around while the rabbit is sleeping. Sleeping! C’mon, dude, he could wake at any time. Get your shell in gear! Can you imagine how frustrated the spectators must have been? “Um, tortoise, now’s your chance. The hare is sleeping. Can you pick it up a bit? You’re a 10,000 to 1 long shot and I put a buck on you as a flyer. I’ve seen spilled molasses move quicker than you.”

Clearly, the hare had A.D.D. It’s a race. Why are you off eating and sleeping? It’s not like it’s more impressive to win a close race rather than blowing him away. Is it too much to ask for you to concentrate on the task at hand for a few seconds?? Apparently, it was.

We need to remember, again, that history is written by the winners. The Tortoise won. How? He’s clearly an inferior, poorly trained runner compared to the Hare despite having the advantage of a CamelBak for hydration. Are we getting the full story here?

I don’t think so. There’s some compelling evidence within the accepted history to suggest some funny business took place.

First, why is the Tortoise so convinced he can beat the Hare? He readily admits the Hare is swift and he must know his own training isn’t up to snuff. So, what gives? The Hare is described as volunteering for a nap as the Tortoise trudged along. Did he volunteer? Or was he drugged?

After awaking, the Hare supposedly decides that he still has time to fritter away – thereby making the race even that much more unnecessarily close- so he bounds off for some breakfast. This seems highly suspicious. We all know that eating during a race lends itself to cramping and other G.I. issues . Surely, the race experienced Hare is aware of this. Instead, did the Hare, perhaps, receive a Kerrigan thump on the knees from guys like these?

Whyyyyy? Whyyyy?

And no mention of calve cramping (my nemesis), a hamstring injury, or dehydration? Could the Hare have suffered any of these that impacted his ability to race?

Through it all, the Hare still manages a photo finish. The boastful Tortoise proceeds to gloat at the finish as if he knew all along he’d win. What a cocky jerk…and certainly indicative of a tainted race.

So, while history records the Tortoise as a modest, underdog champion, the Hare is remembered as a braggart idiot who received his comeuppance (+5).

Instead of valuable lessons like:

1. Don’t get into a fight if you are over matched.
2. Don’t show up unprepared to run.
3. Don’t rely on outside events to influence the results.
4. Turtles are assholes.

We are stuck with:

1. Being slow wins races against fast people.
2. Always snarkily predict victory before the contest.
3. Taunt the loser after winning.
4. Hares are assholes.

Something’s rotten with this tale. The Tortoise clearly cheated. History should judge him accordingly.

However, if I’m to accept the results of this “contest” as is, I’m inspired to pick up the phone and challenge Ryan Hall mano a mano to a marathon.

Even he can be beaten right?

Thanks for the unrealistic expectations Tortoise!

Thanks for nothing.

Happy trails.


Check out:

Ovens2Betsy provided one of the single funniest running related links I have read in awhile. check it out.

Good Luck to Viper on his Summer Solstice Challenge ultra. It's been nice knowing you.

Vanilla at Half-Fast provides a truly disturbing image NOT meant to dissuade anyone from marathoning.

The Marathon Mama employs more very funny and sly wit when discussing her Dirty Little Secret.


Limbo Run Thursday was a success:

5 miles = 7:04, 6:53, 6:49, 6:42, 6:18!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Limbo Mania

The recent edition of Runner’s World discussed a speed boosting work out called “progression training”. While it’s not exactly the same thing as my patented “Limbo” training, it is close enough to launch an unwarranted lawsuit asking for ridiculous seven figure damages. That’s how I roll. Another of my personal mottos: “What’s a week without an overblown, irrational lawsuit.”

Progression training is described, by McMillan, as “begin running at a slow, easy pace but finish at a fast pace.”

Limbo running, a F.M.S. created training technique, is similar in that you start out at an easier pace and finish at a quicker pace. However, in order to be a successful Limbo run, each mile (or whatever equally incremental distance you desire), gets progressively faster. It’s not just measuring the beginning and end points but specific milestones along the way. For me, I choose a nice comfortable loosening mile – not too slow but not quite to my “comfortably hard” pace either – and then try to shave a few seconds off each mile (i.e. getting under the limbo bar set by the previous mile) until I finish with my quickest mile at a predetermined target pace.

If I’m doing a 5 mile Limbo run and my “comfortably hard” pace at this distance is 7:00 minute miles, I might start my first mile at around 7:05-7:10 to loosen up and then start subtracting seconds each mile (second mile 6:55, third mile 6:50, etc.) until my 5th and final mile is around 6:35. That’s the plan anyhow. Unfortunately, lately my third or fourth miles have actually gone back UP in time blowing my Limbo.

It’s a challenge to keep the time going DOWN as the miles go UP. It’s also my favorite type of training run. It mixes things up and keeps me focused on speed as I get tired. Plus, I look cool choking for air as I whiz past my neighbors on their nightly stroll spraying them with wicked sweat from one of my race shirts covering my flailing arms. It’s a real attention grabber.

The challenge, as mentioned, is to actually increase speed as you get tired. Also, to maintain some pacing discipline. If your first mile is 7:05 and your next mile is 6:00, well, your next three miles need to keep getting faster. Is it gonna happen? For me, no. So, you better have a good read on your pacing. Of course, it helps tremendously if you are already baptized in the Church of Garmin (praise be with you).*

I choose to tackle my Limbo runs by combining them with the accepted industry standard fartlek style. I’ll alternate a comfortably hard pace with mashing the accelerator back and forth at least once during each mile. If any of you don’t use fartlek style runs, you should. They’re wonderful for building speed and confidence (just don’t get caught with your mouth open during one of ‘em. Get it? Get it?) Plus, its also fun to say “fartlek” and giggle like a school kid.

The beauty of the fartlek, besides its awesomely disgusting sounding name, is that, when you pull out of a fart lick, er, fartlek, you find yourself resuming a speed that is actually faster than what you were probably doing going in. You may not even perceive it at first. But Garmin don’t lie (praise be with you).** Try it. Do a few fartleks and notice how your resumed comfortable pace is suddenly faster than you intended!

An easy way to understand this is through an obvious and familiar example to all. When you rob an orphanage, you tend to accelerate quickly from the scene – way above the posted speed limit. Then, realizing you are going fast and ought to slow down before drawing attention from the local fuzz, you pull back your speed. Try as you might, you don’t end up back under the speed limit. Your adrenaline is surging(you just robbed the orphanage, right!?) so you are still going a bit faster than planned. Next time you steal money from innocent children, notice this effect in action.

A few folks have asked what my “limbo” runs mean so I thought I’d take the time to explain it. Also, I’ve been reading several accounts lately of different speed training various runners have been doing to improve their overall speed. Since I’m self indulgent, I thought I’d go ahead and pretend like you wanted to know about my favorite form of speed training.

Whatever you do, if you want to increase your speed, you have to push yourself. You have to push your lactate threshold. The only way to BE faster is to TRAIN faster. There’s many plans out there. Some of them have merit. But, unlike the Limbo run, none of them have received the F.M.S. stamp of approval.

Happy trails.

* And also with you.
** And also with you.

No Limbo run last night. Just the standard 800's. I'm trying to ramp up some speed for a couple of July 5k's I have planned.

Total effort:

5.70 miles
6:35 pace

4 x 800 (with 400 meter cool downs in between). 800 laps of:


Next week: 5 x 800 @ 2:50 pace.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day (Non) Race Report

Wherein I make a lame comparison to a day being like a race and make completely unwarranted jokes at my - and my family's - expense for your amusement.

Morning Hours 8:00 – Noon

I awoke yesterday ready for another gift filled, praise accepting Father’s Day. I believe I trained properly (i.e. dropped the appropriate number of hints, been unusually kind to the kids in the lead in days.) And I know I’ve earned it. Trophy #1 and Trophy #2 have benefited from another year under my tutelage. They have really started to accept that Dad simply isn’t going to make that much money and that they’ll have to adjust to having very little.

Curiously, as my eyes fluttered open, the wife and kids were not applauding in a semi-circle around my bed!? My wife was not holding a silver platter full of delicious fruits, breads and spreads. My kids were not holding out a robe and slippers. Even the new puppy failed to bring in the newspaper. No one was to be found. The only company I had was the stale smell of unventilated body odor.

What the hell? Ungrateful bastards.

Ah, but they must be out polishing my new Waverunner. What a surprise!

Nope. I found the kids like every other morning: watching Sponge Bob and picking their noses. The forced smiles and reminders to “wish Dad a Happy Father’s Day” were truly heartfelt. I smiled and hugged each of them whispering to each in an almost imperceptible tone ‘ungrateful’. Consciously, they didn’t seem to hear but subconsciously is where that would be felt.

Afternoon Hours Noon – 6:00

The hours are moving along pretty swiftly here. I’m well hydrated. My nutrition has been okay. The kids are being spanked at their regular intervals. I'm keeping Mrs. Nitmos busy trying to keep me happy.

The hot air balloon, filled with the original 1970’s cast of Charlie’s Angels to take me on a sky tour of the area with champagne, cheese and gentle temple massages, never materialized. Weird. (sigh) Another year without knowing Bosley’s touch…

Evening Hours 6:00 – 11:00

I’m getting a little run down by this point but it’s almost over. The day of my worship is close to ending. Time to soak the family for all I can get. I have prepared a list of ways I have benefited the kids’ lives and gathered them for the ceremonial reading. I close the list with the dramatic pronouncement that ‘they wouldn’t be here if not for me’ and, of course, Jagermeister.

By this time, Mrs. Nitmos has wrapped the kids around and pulled them close in an almost guarded fashion. To the casual observer, it would appear she’s being cautious toward a threatening stranger but I know it’s because she doesn’t want me to hurt my eyes trying to see each of them if they were all spread out across the room. I could get a neck kink or strain an eyeball. It’s yet another magical Father’s Day gift!

Despite the special day, chores and other tasks still needed to be done. And that meant only one thing: Time for me to go for a long run. With the chicken dinner sitting like a rock in my gut, I proceeded on my late evening 10 miler. I could hear the wife and kids let loose with wild applause as I closed the door behind me. What a wonderful send off (though they might have started the celebration before I actually shut the door so I could take in the full effect!)

The heat and humidity took its toll but I managed to complete the planned distance. I had hoped the stowaway in my lower G.I. would pull a DB Cooper and parachute out at some point mid flight. No luck.

10.0 miles*
6:55 pace

Back home, the kids settled into bed. They looked at me with tired, fearful eyes as I again reminded them that everything they had was owed to me. And, I believe, Mrs. Nitmos played a roll as well. If they ever create a Mother’s Day, she can strut around like an arrogant peacock also.

I completed Father’s Day in the expected time and pace. It was not a PR nor did I LQ.** However, the family showed how much I truly mean to them by my gift. As my wife and kids huddled together during my reading of my fatherly accomplishments, Mrs. Nitmos through, what can only be described as tears of joy...and sobs, blurted out:

“You’ll never know how much we actually love you.”

A bit cryptic but, I think, really a wonderful thing to say.***

The Finish

The stats for the day:

0 Waverunners
3 utterances of “Ungrateful”. (If you took the under, you win!)
0 visits by Charlie’s Angels
0 temple rubs by Bosley
1 solid long run
1 reference to Jagermeister

* My 15k split was at 1:04:30 which would be a new PR for me by nearly 3 minutes! Unfortunately, it was not in an officially timed race so, sadly, it doesn’t count.
** Lap dance Qualify.
*** Of course, none of this actually happened except the part about the long run. Mrs. Nitmos, the kids and I had a terrific day.**** It’s also true though that I didn’t get a hot air balloon ride with the 1970’s version of the Charlie’s Angels.

**** I wanted to note the return of the multiple, over indulgent use of the footnote!! Also, I wanted to note for posterity how lucky I am to have a wife and kids such as mine. Or, at least, ones very similar.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Verbalizing the Verb

Wherein a yawning women ruins my day (and other language infractions)

I’m chatting with a co-worker the other day as I’ll reluctantly do from time to time. She’s droning on about something or another…blah blah blah son in college blah blah blah new TPS report...etc. I was busy calculating in my head planned paces for Sunday’s 10 miler so I really didn’t have any idea what she was saying. She stops, stretches her arms over her head, opens her mouth and yawns. Nothing unusual there except – as she does this – she says with mouth still agape “YAWWWNNN”.


Uh, what’s that all about? You were yawning so….you said Yawn?

Now I’m looking at her all crooked headed like a dog watching a butterfly. She continued on with her story but now, instead of calculating paces, I’m trying to determine what just happened. Then, she did it again. Arms up. Mouth open.


What in the hell is going on? Did I miss a memo somewhere? Are we supposed to verbalize our actions now? It’s not enough to simply do them but we actually have to say what we are doing? A verb is typically something that happens right? We can see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, etc. Its often unnecessary to actually put a word accompaniment to it.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against verbs. They’re some of my favorite things. Eat. Sleep. Run. Read. Listen. And, ahem, other stuff (winking at you Mrs. Nitmos). Just try to create a sentence without one. Not easy. :)

Once Sleepy McYawnslot finished her Tales of the Bland and Uninteresting, I wandered down to the break room for a pick me up coffee consumed with this idea of verbalizing our patently obvious actions. I met another co-worker – a fellow runner – so obviously we had to stop and compare notes. He mentioned his crazy ass 20 milers in this sweltering heat and, I thought, maybe I’d just try out this new concept Sleepy just inflicted upon me.


“Um, what?” He said. “What did you say?”

“I said ‘Guffawing’. In fact, big guffawing. I can’t believe you are hitting those miles in this heat.”

I could tell by the confused look he hadn’t been initiated into this new VV* movement. I wasn’t going to explain it. Let him wear it around like a saddle for the next few hours like I would be doing. And screw him for cranking out 20 miles in this humidity.

This is really obnoxious. Imagine the problems this could cause.

On my way back from the break room, I spotted my boss and tacked away from his path. The only word that came to mind was Loathe. I thought it best not to tempt it.

For the rest of the day, I mulled over this idea of verbalizing our verbs. It burrowed into my skull and nested like an intestinal parasite. It ruined my evening run. Turn up the mp3 as I might, I could not keep the verbs from running through my head and out my mouth.

Run. Run. Run. Run. Run. Breathe. Run. Run. Run. Snot Rocket. Apologize. Clean (stranger’s leg). Run. Run. Run.

Enough. A decision was made. I’m going to go ahead and state I’m anti-VV. I don’t care if that makes me a verb bigot. Judge me all you want.

Type Type Type



* Verbalized Verb

Happy Father's Day this weekend! This is always a special time around the Nitmos home. It's my chance for me to tell my kids exactly what I think of them based directly on the quality of the gift I receive. I look forward to this all year. The over/under on my use of the word "ungrateful" currently sits at 4.

Five hard miles in the humidity last night. Again, I missed the Limbo for the 3rd straight time!

5.0 miles
33:58 time
6:48 pace

Miles of 6:54, 6:54 (hundredths of a second under the first mile according to Garmin!), 6:41, 6:51 (missed!), 6:39.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mt. Runmore

I was batting the idea around the other day about creating an inspirational poster containing the legends of running. Something like Mt. Rushmore but with the heads of the top American distance runners past and present. I even had a spectacularly clever title: Mt. Runmore. (See how I traded out the ‘sh’ for an ‘n’. Clever, right?)

I sat down at my desk all excited with crisp, clean drawing pad and a freshly sharpened charcoal pencil. I was about to make my mark on the world. This poster would appear in school gyms, athletic stores, and homes through out the running community. It would be spectacular. It was only then I remembered that I have almost no discernible ability to draw. Crap.

So I watched a rerun of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody with my kids instead.

But, I thought, at least I can get a blog post out of the idea. If Vanilla can get a post out about his magical ability to own two similar watches, I can certainly dump this brain trash onto the net. It won’t be the masterpiece I initially envisioned but a post is a post. This blog is kind of like the Cliff Notes of my running life anyhow. Plus, if anyone else comes up with something similar in the future making tons of money, I’ll be able to reference back to this as grounds for my law suit.

I’ve seen many references to the “running Gods” in various posts and articles. No, no they weren’t talking about me (blushing). More like a non-defined group of accomplished runners who transcend us mere mortals and have somehow unlocked the secret to effortless, record setting running.

We have current Olympians Ryan Hall, Deena Kastor, Dathan Ritzenhein, and Brian Sell.

There’s legendary distance runners and coaches Hal Higdon, Dick Beardsley, Pete Pfitzinger, Jack Daniels, Jeff Galloway, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Bill Bowerman.

There’s the James Dean of the sport: Steve Prefontaine.

Of course, distance running involves more than just marathoning. You’ve got ultra marathoners, like Dean Karnazes, 5k, 10k, 15k, and half marathon specialists. There’s a wealth of folks to chose from in races of all distances.

What makes a running God? Is it collecting first place awards like Pam Anderson collects alcoholic, has been rocker husbands? Is it someone who grabs a monumental but, ultimately, one time historic victory? For example, I doubt ANY of these runner’s listed above won the 35-39 year old age group at the Legend 10 Mile Trail run held in Lansing, MI last August. Does that mean THEY shouldn’t be on Mt. Runmore but whoever did win that age group in that race on that day should be? Maybe. It’s open for debate.

So, who’s on your Mt. Runmore? Who epitomizes distance running to you? Who inspires you? Who doesn’t care and would really just like to hear more about this History of Farting book I referenced awhile back?

If and when we get around to building this important monument, I promise not to locate it in one of the Dakotas (not sure which one). Really, folks, one of the Dakotas? That’s where you build Mt. Rushmore?? I guess the only way I’ll see it is if they create a Mt. Rushmore Marathon some day. And, even then, the swag must really be worth it. (Here’s to dreaming of a medal with all 4 presidential busts on it. Pretty clunky…but clunky chic.)

Happy trails.

By the way, you don't know how close I came to employing my spectacular Photo Shop skills again and superimposing my own running legends heads over the presidents on the photo above. Remember the Beardsley Monster Photo Shop? Yeah, you were in for more of that.

Incidentally, I should let you all know that I received an email from both Dick and Jill Beardsley recently saying they had viewed my depiction of him as a Gu shooting, Heartbreak Hill stalking, lizard monster and thought it was funny. Whew! All along I thought it was a possibility he might eventually see the photo once my blog became bigger than the Beatles (and by "bigger than the Beatles" I, of course mean, bigger than the band Nu Shooz. They were a real band. Look it up.)

I was prepared to challenge the old man to a run off if he had issues with it. How fast could he be these days? Turns out, pretty darn fast. He's in his early 50's and still rockin' out sub 2:50 marathons. Good thing it didn't come to that. I would have had to resort to a defense I do a lot in life: cowering.

Check out his foundation when you have some time.

But he's still my nemesis. I will be back to tango on Heartbreak.

Last night I actually made it to the track for some 800's !! Due to the hurdles piled in lane 1, my 800's were more like 853's according to online science nerd calculator.

Total run effort including cool downs:

4.91 miles
32:10 time
6:33 pace

3 x 853's = 2:54, 3:04, 3:06.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Dog in the Oven

Based on yesterday's post footnote, many of you speculated that Mrs. Nitmos had a bun in the oven. She felt so strongly about this she even made her thrice yearly appearance in the comments section to dispel this rumor. Rest assured, I am no longer allowed to have children. Physically, I remain as vigorous and prolific as ever (oh yeah!). However, Mrs. Nitmos, certain local and state laws, and various parenting groups have all coalesced around prohibiting me from, as they say, “inflicting any more damage onto the world.”

No, no bun in the oven. More like a dog in the bun. Or a dog in the oven. That is, we have a new dog. Some of you may remember we lost our last family dog in November.

She is every bit the pissing, whining, and licking machine you would expect for an 8 week old Brittany spaniel.

Introducing….Bella Nova.

Taking a cue from Brangelina and Madonna, we did an international adoption here. She’s Canadian, bred just outside of London, Ontario, but we’re trying not to hold her universal health care against her. She’s lucky she’s not male. With the Red Wings winning the championship, her name would have been Stanley (no matter what Mrs. Nitmos says.)

The wife and kids took her for her first ½ mile loop around my neighborhood. Between all the itching, laying in the grass and general insubordination, Garmin said she finished in 29:10. Not good. We’ll need to do better than 58 minutes per mile. This will be our summer baseline from which to start.

My daughter is going ape shit crazy with the new puppy. We have to physically separate her from Bella so the poor dog can get some sleep. And when the dog falls asleep on the floor, my daughter stands over her and stares asking over and over again “When is she going to wake up? When is she going to wake up?”

Here she is too tired to wait any longer.

The next few weeks will be busy around our place. There’ll be lots of discipline, begging for needs, and licking. And then we’ll have to deal with the dog too. (insert rim shot here).

Happy trails.

Have you ever gone running while wearing 3 pairs of socks, snow pants and four woolly sweaters? I swear I just did. It was so darn humid on Sunday my planned "hard"10 miler became an easier sweat soaked 7 miler. If it's true that I'm full of piss and vinegar, it all come out through the pores on Sunday.

7.0 miles
7:03 pace

Friday, June 06, 2008


I used to run this semi regular feature called "Randumbness" about, as you would guess, various random and dumb things going on. It was a nice page filler. You thought you were getting actual carefully constructed content. Instead, you were getting fluff, filler, time wasters. I'm not saying this to foreshadow this post. I'm just saying the post title is Randumbery and if you can put 2 and 2 together....well, we'll both be pleasantly surprised at your cognitive skills.

Kristina, the Marathon Mama, has tagged me. By order of blog etiquette, I am compelled to respond.

The Rules
Each player answers the 5 questions on their own blog. At the end of your post you tag 5 other people and post their names. Go to their blogs and leave a comment on their blogs telling them they've been tagged and to look at your blog for details. When they've answered the questions on their own blog, they come back to yours to tell you. (Ed. Note: I will be blatantly violating these rules and only selecting 1 other person.)

1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?

Pretty much the same as now…lots of arm swinging and knee pumping with increased heart rate and cardiovascular pressure. I would describe my running then the same as now: like a graceful gazelle (with sexier knees).

Now, if I interpret the question another way, I was NOT a “runner” in 1998. Lots of basketball running but no road running. Who wants to run like that anyhow? Those guys (and gals) look like they’re dying! And they must be DESTROYING their knees.

2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?

Best: The 2007 Bayshore Marathon. The conditions were perfect. I was in great shape. The course is a runner's dream. No distractions. Scenic. Largely flat. I was peeling off miles 10-15 seconds ahead of planned pace and feeling very comfortable…until mile 18 or so then, like all my marathons, it became a grind. But, by then, I was pretty sure I had a BQ day going if I could just hold it together. I remember barely being able to stand after crossing the finish but my countenance was emblazoned with a silly perma-grin (see my avatar for example as that photo was taken 20 minutes after finishing). BQ!

Worst: Chicago 2007. I got water and was able to finish. But this was the first salvo in my ongoing battle with calve cramping. I think this picture about sums it up.

Mid cramp!

And you might ask yourself why I’m wearing a dark blue shirt on a 90 degree sunny day. Good question. It was October after all.
3. Why do you run?
To express my disdain for those slower than me and provide an outlet for jealousy to those faster.


For mental and physical health.
To keep up with my ever speedier kids.
To maintain my Adonis like appearance ad infinitum.
Unusual childhood infatuation with the Six Million Dollar Man and an excuse to make bionic noises.
I’m an enormous stat geek. Garmin!! Oh, my, heaven.
4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?
Best: No miraculous words of wisdom here but, I think, some runners think they’ll naturally get faster just by running at the same pace every run. If you want to BE faster, you have to TRAIN at faster paces. Fartleks, track repeats, whatever. Push yourself.
Worst: Trying to help a beginning runner with form when I didn’t even really know what I was talking about. It sure sounded good though.
5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.

When my favorite sports teams win it all, I like to claim ownership of that victory as if I was part of the team and had something to do with the accomplishment.

For example, we won the Stanley Cup!
Suck on that!
I tag SRod. Get to work!
Vote Update:
Voting on my next book selection is now closed. The final numbers:
Slash 44%
Portnoy's Complaint 22%
Arrowsmith 13%
Arrow of God 11%
Other 11%
As luck would have it, I currently own Slash and Portnoy's Complaint so I don't actually need to go out and buy a book based on these results. Suckers! You fell right into my trap. And, if I'm allowed another insult, SICKOS! You voted for, in this order, Sex, Drugs, Rock N' Roll and Masturbation....over satire of the health care industry and a complex examination of father/son relationships. This doesn't surprise me. Had I nominated a book on the History of Farting, I'm sure you would have voted for that also.
So, Slash and Portnoy's it is! I have taken your 'Other' suggestions as well and will be adding them to my reading list. Particularly the Rushdie book which sounds very interesting.
Exciting family news coming Monday!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Michigan Mile

Wherein I take a general air of familial superiority and harass unsuspecting children.

This past Saturday was a wonderful day for the Nitmos clan. Time for the annual Michigan Mile: A one mile fun run for the kids starting at Oldsmobile Park in downtown Lansing (home of the class A Toronto Blue Jays minor league affiliate the Lansing Lugnuts) and looping around the outside of the park and back ending at home plate. It’s a great event and one my kids do well in. Far be it for me to suggest my kids are better than yours though. This is not the proper space for that.*

At this point, I have trained my kids well and see them as little more than objects to do my biding. I had a filly, aged 6, and a colt, aged 10, running in the event. They were under strict orders to not embarrass their Dad in any way. The race strategy was simple: Pull, bite, or kick your way to the front and then punch, gouge and expectorate (+2) on all challengers before passing the finish line in a gallant backwards trot. If some jerk dared to pass and the race strategy could not be employed, collapse to the ground feigning injury and, if possible, blame the winner for the maiming.

It’s a simple tenet that forms the cornerstone of the Nitmos philosophy: Win Cheating or Lose Blaming.

I watched with maniacal, hand-rubbing glee as my colt lined up with the other 10 year olds for the start. He was off like a shot! Not nearly enough punching to suit my tastes but the little bugger was near the front! Outside the stadium, I caught him rounding the corner in 7th place. A careful intrusion of my foot onto the course instantly vaulted him to 5th! Trippy McFallsalot and Ima Poorhurdler wailed in pain as I retreated back inside the stadium for the finish.

In through the center field fence they galloped. But where is my colt??? There he is in 6th place. Clearly, he knew by now his favorite goldfish would be in for a one way swim down the family’s mini “whirlpool”. Sixth!? But wait. Another kid, Slowy McPuffsalot, made a move on the outside 30 yards from the finish. My colt was in danger of falling to 7th (and missing dinner!)

“Push him in the head!” I yelled like your average proud father. “Destroy his soul!”

Instead, my colt dug deep and rejected his training. He sped up! Poor race strategy, if you ask me. It’s always better to immobilize your competitors. Alas, his plan worked. My colt came in 6th out of roughly 200. He posted a mile time of 5:47 (mile distance yet to be officially verified). But as I explained to him, ‘you are the first kid across who isn’t on steroids. All of the other kids are cheaters.’ I gave him a nice tussle of his hair. Then reminded him we had to flush his goldfish down the toilet. Sixth is not the new first after all.

My filly was up next. Due to her age, I would be running with her which was fine by me. This time I could make sure proper race strategy was employed. Last year, she sprinted out quickly apparently misunderstanding “one mile race” with “20 yard dash” and we walked much of the way. This year, she started with a nice even pace.

I launched into my “helicopter technique” on a few occasions to clear some needed running lanes. My filly trudged on with nice even strides. This time, she made it the entire way without stopping to walk at all. Her time was almost exactly 9 minutes. A solid effort. But not solid enough to save the heads of three more dolls which would be ritually lopped off later that evening. She finished roughly 30th of 200 but around 7th place of 6 year old fillies.

After both races were complete, it was time for another important life lesson: post race gloating. I made sure to mention to any parents I knew how proud I was when my kids came in so much further ahead of their kids. For those few parents whose kids came in ahead of mine? Well, of course, I barely acknowledged their existence.

Filly and Colt (to be renamed trophy #1 and #2 later this summer)

Another great day at the old ballpark!

Happy trails.

* However, this is the proper space down here. My kids are, in fact, better than yours. Sorry about that. Truth hurts.

Check out:

The Marathon Mama took the time to let us all know everything we accepted as fact is, in fact, not fact.
Congratulations to Mir for setting a new PR and getting within BQ range!
Don't miss sRod's irregular series profiling Gym Carnies! We've all seen and smelled them.

Also, don't forget to influence my next book selection by voting in Monday's post poll. As Topher pointed out, you'll be staring at the book cover for, potentially, the next several months so vote wisely.

Monday, June 02, 2008

POP! The Don is Dead.

Wherein I celebrate the conclusion of reading drudgery and offer you limited control over my life.
Don Quixote is complete! The grind is over! I love reading but there are 2 books now that have challenged me to the point where reading stopped being fun and became a chore. This one and Tender is the Night. I had actually knotted the noose and strung it over the beam before, mercifully, coming to the end of Tender. Don Quixote was just tooo loooong. Not boring, like Tender, or difficult. Just way, way to descriptive of limited action scenes. Basically, the book is 1100 pages long (my version) and there are really only about 7-8 key events that take place. The other pages are filled with repeated descriptions of people mocking Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Amusing but, you know, we get the point already. They’re stooges. Larry, Moe and Curly can convey that in less than 30 seconds. How did Cervantes not expect folks to go ahead and flip on the TV at some point? Honestly.

I did gain one huge benefit from the experience: use of the word “wherein”. I’ve been using it a lot lately and will continue doing so until you all are sick to death of it. I suffered; you will too.

So, what's next? More reading of course.

Hesitantly, I offer you this little control over my life. I wouldn’t trust any of you to babysit my dirty socks but I’m going to step out on a limb here. I can always completely ignore your choice anyhow if I don’t like it. Here’s the next book nominees along with a completely inadequate brief description (provided by

Arrow of God (Chinua Achebe)
Author of Things Fall Apart, a must read for all and one of my favorite books. “Set in the Ibo heartland of eastern Nigeria, one of Africa's best-known writers describes the conflict between old and new in its most poignant aspect: the personal struggle between father and son.”

Arrowsmith (Sinclair Lewis).
One of my favorite writers and one of the few books of his I haven’t read. More satire. I can never get enough. It “recounts the story of a doctor who is forced to give up his trade for reasons ranging from public ignorance to the publicity-mindedness of a great foundation, and becomes an isolated seeker of scientific truth.”

Portnoy’s Complaint (Philip Roth)
A risqué choice here. The book promises to use the word ‘masturbation’ a lot so I’ll be doing lots of immature snickering. “This modern classic of the Jewish American experience centers around one Alexander Portnoy, who on the couch of his psychoanalyst, confesses everything from his adolescent preoccupation with masturbation to his subjugation by his dominating mother, Sophie.”

Slash (autobiography)
Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll? ‘Nuff said. This is an autobiography I can relate to…except mine would be called Soda Pop, Couch, and Conformity.

Please cast your ballot below. If you select ‘other’, you will be required to put a title in the comments.

Happy trails.

Another round of fartlek running on Sunday:

8.0 miles
6:47 pace

I did the same course I completed two weeks ago in an eerily similar 54:13. Maybe...could I be, a robot?