Friday, October 31, 2008

On A Dark and Stormy Night...

As a light evening rain descends, I lace up my Asics and head for the door with dreams of tempos and fartleks dancing in my head.

It’s Halloween and the little neighborhood beggars are out in force. There’s a princess and a ghost. There’s an Obama mask and a McCain. Of course, there’s the teenager with a pillow case wearing nothing more than his favorite college sweatshirt bending the rules to take his bounty. They emerge from the night into the street lights and swarm towards the nearest house. For the small ransom of a piece of candy, they can be ejected from your porch.

The town is alive with laughter, feigned fear, and dogs barking after every doorbell. With dried, defeated leaves crunching under each step, my Garmin and I weave through the trick or treaters down the sidewalk and out of the neighborhood. My breathing is heavy at first as my lungs reject the cold evening air. I head into the darkness leaving the muffled shouts far behind.

With steady, guarded pace, I forge down the familiar empty sidewalks into the night. I know this path well but, in the moonlight, it takes an eerie, menacing feel. The tree branches bend a little closer reaching out to grab me as my shoulders brush past their twisted fingertips. A car approaches. I can see the gentle rhythmic rain streaking into the shiny black pavement by the headlamps as I squint into the blinding light. Elongated tree shadows spring up suddenly and shoot towards me until the motorist passes and they disappear again.

I’m alone now. My legs churn down the darkened path. I know this route and run it by memory. The leaves and twigs snap under foot. The rain is cool and refreshing as it dimples across my cheeks.

There are miles to run. Garmin doesn’t make a sound. Even the insistent mile marker chirping has abandoned me this night. I automatically make my turns as if on cue. Each new path brings a fresh blend of sounds and smells. Occasionally, I veer close to another neighborhood and the giggling children and spastic dogs are heard through the barrier of trees that keeps me isolated and enveloped in darkness.

My thoughts drift to my family and friends. The strides are light and easy as I recall tales of Halloween past and visions of Halloween futures. As a young child, I remember the fear when approaching the first house and having to utter trick or treat to an unknown neighbor. I wanted the candy but I’m not sure I wanted to pay that price. As always, my desire for the sugary sweets triumphed over the shyness. Years later, I’d see this same emotional battle play out on the face of my first child as a tormented Buzz Lightyear slowly mounted the porch steps. Of course, he’d also chose the sweets.

The minutes and miles pass by. I become aware that my clothes are a sticky mixture of sweat and rain water. My Asics long ago gave in to the splashing puddles. An audible squish announces the arrival of each foot fall.

As I return to my neighborhood, the streets are quiet again. The children have gone home. The porch lights are dark. A smashed pumpkin lies in the street in ruins under the glow of the lamp post. My pace – and pulse – quickens when a couple of late night scrounging squirrels chase each other along a branch, shaking it ominously, as I glide by.

Home. The run is over. The rain and shadowy darkness could not destroy the satisfaction I feel as I sit with one leg crossed on top of the other unlacing my shoe. Sometimes a run fits just right into your life. It’s perfect. The kids in their costumes…the swirling, crunchy leaves…the comforting solitude of the moonlit sky.

Could it have been a dream?

I turn to Garmin to retrieve the glorious numbers and place an exclamation point on the evening.

As quickly as a dream begins, it can turn to a nightmare.

I forgot to press Start.


Happy HAUNTED trails.

Note: The preceding was an excerpt from my future memoir titled Tales of Things That Never Happened.

Head over to Nic's to congratulate him on his puke free (though tantalizingly close) 50 MILER!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Anatomy of a Positive Split

Bear with me as I exercise my instinctual geek love of numbers. If I could find a way to bathe in a percolating hot tub of statistics, I would do so. The more numbers to the right of the decimal, the better (and I find the numbers in the hundredths position really cleanse the under carriage). I look at statistics these days the same way I used to look at the Farrah Fawcett poster on the back of my bedroom door.*

I’ve spent a few posts recently outlining my marathon strategy because (a) I knew you were dying to read about it and (b) it was a convenient way to mock Vanilla and Viper and their ridiculous negative split strategy and (c) there wasn’t a better way to reference the Revolutionary War ass whooping Washington laid on lethargic, overconfident General Cornwallis. And who doesn’t like a Cornwallis reference with their morning coffee?

When reviewing my Detroit Marathon splits, you can see a well developed positive split in full effect. This positive split is so well developed that it might as well be called the Nitmos Split. If that wasn’t obvious enough, what I’m saying is that I’m well developed. The War of Posts against stubborn General “Cramp” Cornwallis becomes obvious in those post 20 miles.

My Garmin could not get a satellite signal before the race. I didn’t fight it too hard as I figured it would probably lose signal in the underwater tunnel anyhow. So, I hit the lap button at most mile markers. Those markers I missed are averaged across the mile splits and shown in italics.

Behold a steadily declining pace:


1 6:53
2 6:53
3 7:03
4 7:48 (Ambassador Bridge going up)
5 6:41 (Ambassador Bridge going down)
6 6:48
7 7:12
8 7:12
9 7:12 (somewhere in here the tunnel down/up happened)
10 7:12
11 7:04
12 7:06
13 7:10
14 7:13
15 7:13
16 7:16
17 7:23
18 7:17
19 7:21
20 7:41 (First signs of a twitchy calf and reactionary easing of pace)
21 7:34
22 7:39
23 7:40 (Notice how I’m bleeding seconds every mile since 21??)
24 7:52
25 8:10
26 8:13 (Miles 21-26 = War of Posts and the defeat of the marathon!)
.22 1:44

This is one steady decline in pace. If charted, it would go up from start to finish almost in a straight line except for a flat part in the middle.

You might think this was a long way to go to compare myself to George Washington again. It’s true I am a lot like George Washington but considerably more developed (remember previous discussion above?) Besides the obvious though, you can see that, once again, I chose to completely ignore my pre-race strategy to run easy for the first 5 miles in the 7:20 range, pick it up to 7:10 miles until about the 16 mile mark and then settle back into a 7:20 to 7:30 range from there on out and as long as I could. Basically, this rabid cheetah took off all hopped up on high energy adrenaline and completely ignored the carefully considered race plan.

Those two 8 minute miles really stick in my crawl. They cost me my PR and, really, I felt pretty good coming down the home stretch to post those numbers. I think I coasted in not wanting to blow the race out due to recurring nightmares of knotted legs and staggering to finish in my recent past. I blame Cornwallis and the British if you want to know the truth.

So, there you go, if you don’t have enough numbers from your own Garmin to ogle…to love…and caress…and, well, whatever your fancy, feel free to make sweet analysis on my numbers. I’ve been soaking in this statistical bath for a few days now. I’m going to try to ween off of it by reading a baseball almanac over the weekend.

Happy trails.

* I always thought nerdy Kate Jackson was the cute one but they never made posters of her.

So that you know, the Parents defeated the Kids in the annual grudge/soccer match 6-5. My colt had 2 goals despite my best efforts to slide tackle into his ankles. This was the first running I did since the marathon and it was painful. Yes, of course, I also scored 2 goals (thankyouverymuch) but, since the format of the game was a Parent would play goal for the Kids team and vice versa, I ended up letting in the winning Parent goal. So, shame on me. The full box score is as follows:

Parents 6
Kids 5
Broken Tibias 0
Parents with Pulled Hamstrings 2

My filly also played on the side of the Parents team. I didn’t think she would be allowed to play so she showed up wearing sparkly gray slipper shoes. With every kick, a sparkly gray shoe flew into the air. She might have had difficulty running around the field but, with just a few clicks of the ankle, she could have transported to Kansas on a moments notice!

Monday, October 27, 2008

2/7th The Way to Hell

In the last post, I covered Gluttony. I have the sugar ring permanently stuck to the corners of my mouth to prove that I have been indulging in this sin with enthusiastic zeal. I knew I needed help this weekend when I mainlined the creme filling of a jelly donut. What a rush.

Next, on my tour of the 7 Deadly Sins, is Sloth. Believe me, I’ve been slothing like a motherslother. I haven’t run at all since the Detroit Marathon. I’ve thought about it and I think that counts on some level. I had every intention of busting out a nice 3 miler yesterday but once you mainline creme filling you start noticing the walls of your house seem to breathe in and out…in and out…and your dog helps herself to your guitar and plays a sad tune heavy on the G chord with metronomic clapping accompaniment from Mark Twain and his Calaveras County jumping frogs. It’s not unusual for me to believe I’m hanging out with deceased literary figures; Sylvia Plath is always following me around (and, word to the wise, she’s a real downer). However, those frogs!? What a mess. Fortunately, they flew away on their little froggy wings before I returned from my Creme Coma.

I’ll have to shake out the rust tonight. It’s Kids vs. Parents night to wrap up my colt’s soccer season. The 11 year olds will be racing around, eyes all aglow with the hopes of impressing their parents, while I’ll be looking to tally a few broken shin bones. You have your goal; I have my “goal”. If the final score is Kids 3, Nitmos Broke Your Tibia 2, guess what? I won. While the tibia will heal over time, I’m pretty sure their self confidence will be destroyed for years to come. Lesson? Don’t bring a soccer ball to a broken leg fight.

Meanwhile, my filly completed her final game yesterday with a rousing 6-5 victory. She tallied four more goals and a few more plates of humiliation served up cold to sprawled defenders. Of course, “scoring goals” is not the primary focus of the league. It’s about fun and skill development and blah blah blah. By my count (who’s counting?), she netted 19 goals in 6 games for a 3.1 goals/game average. So, of course, my response to her was “why didn’t you score 4 goals per game, hon? Get a little lazy this year? Sleep in the car and think about what you could have done better.” I’m a great coach.

All in all, both kids were pretty unslothful, er, deslothful…hmmm, possessing few sloth like characteristics in their respective soccer seasons. Mrs. Nitmos and I were pretty proud of them. Sure, they each could have preened a bit more after their goals for our tastes but there’s time to learn. As coach of my filly’s team, my completely unbiased appraisal is that I did a FANTASTIC job with them. Most of the boys on the team stopped picking their nose during game play by the 3rd game. Only once did a player leave the field of play to pet a friend’s dog while the game was in action. Sure, I could never get one tow-headed child to stop singing Queen’s “We Will Rock You” during every kick off (or humming the Indiana Jones theme when racing after a ball) but some things you have to tolerate. The little Juice Boxers played hard and that’s about all you can ask of them. Well, that and maybe a few more goals for next season.

So tonight I will be exorcising the demons of a second deadly sin. Between 5:30 – 7 Eastern Time, listen closely. The wind may bring the sounds of snapping bones and anguished cries to your home town. If you hear a symphony of pain floating in with the breeze, you’ll know Team Parents have won. And won hard.

Now that I think of it, tonight I may be able to make a smooth transition from deadly sin Sloth to WRATH upon the tender tibias of my community youth.

Fate keeps serving me up slow pitches down the middle. I’ll keep hitting them out.

And, beware Mrs. Nitmos, Lust is on the To Do list.

Happy trails.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Get Me A Bucket

One of my favorite old Monty Python sketches is the one where the inhumanly fat guy goes into the restaurant and proceeds to eat a small buffet of food before announcing to the maitre d’, “Get me a bucket, I got to puke.” And then he pukes. Everywhere. On himself, on the table, on the maitre d’, on the other diners. He fills the bucket…and the floor...and people are slipping and sliding all over it. The entire restaurant is covered in green and brown vomit.

Yes, I find things like this funny. I also chuckle during eye surgery shows on the Discovery Channel. Watching a cornea get owned is hilarious!

I feel a little like this fat guy this week. After a marathon, I indulge in sweet, sweet gluttonous behavior…temporarily. I’ve been consuming Oreo’s like they’re amphetamines at a Grateful Dead concert. I have a ring of Lifesavers on each pinky finger at all times (which makes it hard to type until – there! – I eat this Butter Rum one off). And you don’t want to know what I’ve been doing to donuts.

Probably some time next week, I’ll get back into the regular schedule of running, stretchy banding, crunching, and push-upping but post race I like to see just how close I can get to a cholesterol induced heart attack in one short week.

I was talking with a friend recently about running and weight. It’s true, most of the top marathoners are pretty svelte. They could double as broomsticks. Carrying less weight around for 26.2 miles certainly would seem to be easier than carrying more weight. However, does that mean we should diet to the point of starvation to get gaunt like them?

I guess, if you want to get really, really fast and are totally committed, the answer might be Maybe. Or if you really like the way Michael Jackson looks. (Be forewarned though, you cannot wear a blanket over your head during a marathon for safety reasons though you are perfectly welcome to put “Blanket” as your name on the bib.) A gorilla suit? Also okay.

For most of us though, there is a balancing act between our desire for speed and our desire to consume beer and eat deep fried jelly beans by the handful. In fact, I read all of the time that the main reason some folks run is simply so they can eat whatever they want without gaining weight. True. But you could also eat whatever you want as a bulimic without nearly the same amount of effort.* So, being “in shape”, which roughly equates to “being faster”, must mean something to you.

I take note of the folks passing me in a race. I’d like to think that everyone is in tip top shape…no extra flab anywhere…cut abs…long, strong limbs. But, you know what? Many of them pretty much look like regular people you pass on the way out of Burger King. They might have a little belly. They might be tall and skinny…short and round...horizontal and parallelogram. They definitely have a smug Look How Fast I Am sneer projecting through the back of their head because they’re assholes for being faster than me.

If they don’t need to crunch abs to exhaustion and dine on vegetables and steroid soaked “magic” vitamins to pull off a 3 hour marathon, then why should I?

I’d love to see a study of race times and human weight to see the improvement as the pounds are dropped (all other variables – including training effort – remaining the same). I’m sure it’s been done. If it hasn’t, I now own the idea and you scientist’s will need to pay me for it. If it has, then, why didn’t you tell me before I wrote this ridiculously outdated post?

The way I see it, if you want to maximize your race time potential, you do what you can, as a regular human runner**, to balance eating healthy and training as hard as you can within the time you have. If your weight decreases and, finally, stabilizes at a certain level and you’d have to take extra, extreme measures to continue losing (think cheese grater to the abdomen), you’ve probably hit that point where you need to ask yourself if it’s worth the additional sacrifice. This is your normal, human runner race weight. You may as well look to your training now to maximize your speed.

I’ve seen guys 50 pounds heavier than me and with a noticeable belly zip by me 20 miles into a race. I doubt they’re thinking “Boy, if only I lost a few, I could really fly by that little, bewitchingly handsome twerp even faster.”

Anyone who reads this blog should (a) first get their head examined and then (b) realize I enjoy racing against a PR or a time goal. Some do. Some don’t. I do. There are times I think to myself, maybe if I lost a few more pounds, I could get that much faster.*** But this is the weight I’ve stabilized at through normal human efforts to eat nutritious and still drink beer, eat candy, and swallow lamb fries by the dozens (what are those things?).

No, this will have to do. I’m not getting any gaunter through normal means. I’ll just train a little harder if I want to be faster.

For now, though, keep the bucket handy and the small, whole-chicken-resembling babies away from me. Anything I can reach that reasonably smells like food goes in my pie hole.

Don’t look now but I spy a Twizzler lying innocently on my desk. Or is it my ink pen? We’ll soon find out…

Happy trails.

* Not endorsing, just saying.
** If you’ve won a marathon, you no longer qualify as a human runner. Same if your starting corral starts with the word "Elite".
*** This is usually followed by the thought “why mess with perfection?” or "look how strong my biceps are...does anyone notice?"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Detroit Autopsy/Dueling Metaphors

I spend a lot of my idle time (re: work) drawing comparisons to completely unrelated things or events. I enjoy trying to connect a hamster to Charles Manson and how they both might fare at mile 20 of a marathon. Looking back, I might have thrown a few too many metaphors in what with the whitehead, the Applebee’s stallion celebration, and the revolutionary war strategy War of Posts when ramping up to the Detroit Marathon. I forgot who my target audience here is. You like brightly colored lights and balloon animals. My bad.

So, with Stridex pad covering my pore divot, let’s press on to the wrap up headlines for this marathon experience. I’ve made each headline a different color to try to hold your attention.

The Funny

There was a L.A.R.P. convention going on at the hotel we stayed at the night before the race. What is L.A.R.P? Live Action Role Playing organization. Said another way: Dorks from their parents’ basement dressing up like their favorite avatar which usually involved some sort of deathly face paint and/or black trench coat and swords. They gathered to pretend they actually are the people they pretend to be online. If I did that, I’d show up being a cynical, sarcastic a-hole….er, never mind. While it sure was amusing to see the costumes and “characters” throughout the hotel, I did feel a bit sad for them as well. The kind of sadness you feel for Martin Lawrence. You know he’s trying but he’s just not funny.

The Best Gift Never Used

The evening before the marathon, the fam and I enjoyed a pasta dinner with fellow Steers Mike and Tange and GLRG Lisa. (Mike and Lisa ran. Stop by and congratulate them. Tange had some lame excuse for not running...can't remember what it was.) Tange brought us a gift. A wonderful, useful gift. Eloquently wrapped in newspaper, he presented us with an empty wide mouth Powerade bottle and black garbage bag. Why? So, of course, we could cover ourselves with the garbage bag and urinate into the PissBottle™ wherever we might be standing to avoid the port-a-potty line. What a great idea. And considering my need to urinate like a race horse pre-race, it would have come in handy had I remembered to grab it on the way out of the car that morning. See, I shouldn’t have looked the gift race horse in the mouth.

The Race Review

Thumbs up on the Detroit Marathon. The only negative was the city, which is an administrative mess, didn’t seem to go out of the way to support it through signage, traffic control, or advertisement compared to Chicago, Boston and other races. The course itself was very entertaining. The Ambassador Bridge crossing goes into my top marathon memories of all time. The 3 mile jaunt around Belle Isle is right up there as well. I recommend!

The Nitmos Review

I’m pretty pleased with how I ran this race. Sure, no PR is a bit disappointing but I can’t say I really went for it either. Here’s the deal: I was on a 3 marathon crampfestpalooza string that needed to be broken. Coming off of Belle Isle near the 20 mile marker, I was getting the familiar grabbing in my lower legs that usually precedes a complete knotting of my calves. At this point, I transitioned from an offensive, aggressive running of the race to a defensive Don’t Let this Happen Again posture. I stayed focused on positive thoughts, refused to stop running even when a massive twinge would grab on a couple of occasions, and maintained a nice steady albeit slower pace. I could have gone faster and finished below 3:10. Had I tried that though, I might easily have destroyed the race entirely by melting down (or knotting up, whatever your preferred visualization). No, I needed to finish this one on the run.

Despite missing the PR by 11 seconds, I feel reinvigorated for marathoning. Outside of the persistent baby cow rebellion, I felt GREAT during this race. One of those…'I can ran all day feelings' that come around once every now and then.

Why Not A Complete Cramp Out?

Some ideas:

This race was 20-40 degrees cooler than my last three.
I back loaded my Gu intake rather than going every scheduled 5 miles (thanks for the tip, Tange!)
I popped several salt tabs starting at the half point through 20 miles.
When the cramps threatened, I focused on Napoleon the Unwitting Pacer’s back, stayed positive, breathed easier, relaxed the legs, and REFUSED TO STOP.

Future Plans

With BQ for 2009 AND 2010 firmly in place, when shall I re-engage the Beardsley Monster? Unless all of you want to take up a collection and do your own Nitmos Bailout plan, I’m not sure 2009 is in store. I may be looking at 2010 which gives me awhile to plan my assault on Heartbreak Hill, part II. All of you that desired a photo opportunity with me will need to qualify again for 2010. Sorry. Don’t worry, it’s worth it. I take a good photo.

Photos You Say?

Disheveled but pleased

Being squatty with the kids

Spooning! (Or assaulting?) Her eyes say Help but it was inevitable.

The whitehead is popped, the stallion ridden, the battle at each posts successfully fought. Now, it may be time to pork the pig.

Happy trails.


Besides the folks mentioned above, don't forget to congratulate Sarah for a terrific debut marathon performance in Detroit as well!

Monday, October 20, 2008

2008 Detroit Marathon Report: Not to C

The question in my last post was To C or not to C?

The answer? Not to C….officially.

Unofficially, I fought off the cramps like a cramp fighting mofo from their first twinge at 19.5 miles through to the finish.

But let’s talk in typical linear race reports detail fashion as I know that’s what most of you are used to and I don’t want to confuse anyone by jumping around all non-linearly…like a Savlador Dali warped rhombus or something.

The Arrival

Can you say clusterf*ck? I can. It’s spelled D-E-T-R-O-I-T city streets. We arrived downtown at 6:15 for a 7:10 start. And then crept along at roughly 4 winos per 15 minute pace for the next 40 minutes until runners everywhere, including myself, jumped out of our cars in the middle of the street to run to the start line. I felt sorry for the runners who were driving themselves and couldn’t leave the car idling next to Bummy McCarjack. Did they make it to the start in time? Who knows? Good luck, Mrs. Nitmos and kids, I don’t envy you continuing to “drive” in that mess.

The Get Go

I don’t know if a race horse really has to urinate badly. It’s a long held belief that people have to “piss like a race horse”. If so, count me in. There was no chance to get through the port-a-potty line in time so I decided to find one on the course. Starting in corral B, I should be able to get to one before a line developed. Alas, I had forgotten the pre-race gift from Steer Tange which would have solved that problem (more on that in the next post).

Off we go, down past old Tiger Stadium, around mile 1, which is partially demolished. A tear welled up and promptly froze on my cheek on mid face descent. It was mid 30’s at race start.

No port-a-potties.

Over the Ambassador Bridge at mile 3. This was a highlight. Looking to my left, the Detroit skyline was illuminated by the rising sun. I’m now convinced any city looks beautiful off in the distance with a new sun behind it. This was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen during a marathon. No jokes. It really was neat.

Into Canada off the bridge and wrapping around to the riverfront. It’s funny, the Canadians looked just like us. I didn’t expect Centaurs but, you know, something different.* Detroit still on my left as we go along the river for about 3 miles. The miles are flying by. I feel great. In fact, I have to remind myself to pull back as a few of the miles dipped below 7 minutes here and I wanted to maintain 7:10/mile through the first 16 miles or so.

Into the underwater tunnel for the return trip to the U.S. It’s warm in the tunnel but, you know, pretty cool also so I barely noticed. It’s one mile long. I don’t know what I clocked but probably close to a 7 minute mile here which will be printed onto an Underwater Mile certificate I’ll receive in the (e)mail some day, as I understand it.

Back in the U.S.S.R **

Finally, a port-a-potty just after the tunnel. If there was one before this point, I don’t remember seeing it. I jump in and unleash the stream. My internal waste management system and I have had a long and stormy relationship. Of course, I’m hoping for a quick expelling and back onto the course. Does it cooperate? Well, at some point, I remember looking down at the non-stop stream and muttering out loud ‘I always knew you hated me. Why are you doing this now? End already. I’ll pinch you off. I really will.’ Meanwhile, roughly 17.5 million runners passed by and Garmin leaped forward about 47 minutes. I might be exaggerating.

Back on the course and peeling off miles like a race horse. A different kind of race horse this time. I crossed the half mat at 1:33:02. I was seeking 1:34 so I’m pretty happy here and feeling strong. But I always feel strong at this point. Trouble lurks ahead. To C or not to C?

Can I have Seconds?

The second half of the race poses some challenges. Less crowd support. A three mile jaunt on Belle Isle which is the caving point for many a participant in this race, or so I’ve been warned.

I start popping some Endurolyte salt capsules I brought along for the first time for this race at 16 miles. I’m digging them out of my Ziploc sandwich bag while running along the Detroit riverfront walk in full view of two police officers who must be considering what this person is doing with a sack full of pills. Images flash through my mind of being tackled over the railing into the Detroit River Miami Vice style.

Until the 17 mile mark, every mile has been at 7:17 or less.

Ring the Belle

I had been warned multiple times that the 3 mile loop on Belle Isle is tough. It’s the most difficult mentally. It’s windy. There’s not much crowd support. At 17 miles, we entered Belle Isle and I was feeling like I could run all day.

Having never been to Belle Isle before, I was checking the park out. I was still pacing in the 7:15-7:25 range. The 3 miles went by in a flash. I don’t know what the concern was here. For me, it was a great break in a “normal” marathon road miles.

The only down side was just before leaving the island. I felt the familiar grab in my lower left leg. The beginnings of a calf cramp at mile 19.5. Crap.

Don’t Sell Myself Short

I was determined to fight the cramps off as long as I could. I had latched onto the back of this short, body builder looking dude running a nice pace. I immediately judged him as probably having a Napoleon complex but figured I’d pace behind him as long as I could before passing him and slapping him on top of the head with a hearty ‘Way to go, Spanky!’.

Coming off of Belle Isle I got an unexpected motivational boost. Brian Sell, A Brooks-Hanson team member and one of our U.S. Olympic team marathoners from Beijing, was stationed at the 20 mile marker. I recognized him immediately as I approached. He was standing with a group of folks in red jackets just past the bridge. He looked at my bib, saw my name, pumped his fist and yelled “Go Mike Go!”.*** And how can you not put a little jump in your step when one of the worlds finest marathoners just called you out by name?

My whitehead is oozing all over the course. I’m being swept down the road on a river of diseased skin pore secretion. I’ve run the race I wanted if I can just keep the cramps away. At 20 miles, I’m at 2:23:40.

I followed Napoleon for the next 3 miles. Each mile in the 7:30 range. I’m in full on War of Post mode. I have several minutes banked for a BQ. I fully accept that running negative splits is the preferred marathon method. At the 21 mile marker though, there is simply no way I’m speeding up. But I am drawing inspiration from the knowledge that I’m way ahead of BQ pace. Between miles 21-23, I challenged Napoleon but immediately felt a grab in the calves each time. Just run, baby, at a nice easy pace. The legs are not allowing sub 7:30 miles at this point even though, cardio vascular-wise I feel great.

The 3:10 pace team passed me at mile marker 23. I secretly wanted to beat 3:10. I stepped it up in a vain attempt to keep pace, watched my left leg kick out to the side in a cramp, and decided, no, I’m happy at the pace I’m at.

Mile 24 Napoleon started pulling away. Mile 24 and 25 were my worst at 8:06 and 8:13 respectively.

Rounding the corner to the finish, I knew I was close to a PR if I could give one last burst. The BQ was in the bag. I decided to give what I had. What I had was 2 fast steps and then both legs cramped and kicked off to the side like the worst Rockette audition in history. Nope. I’ll just finish the race and call it a day.

I crossed officially in 3:12:29. My PR is 3:12:19.

10 lousy seconds. Oh, well.

I didn’t cramp out to the point of ruining my race.

I BQ’ed again.

I’m quite content with that.

Some things you may be wondering about: I did, in fact, actually spoon Mrs. Nitmos at the finish. There is a photo somewhere once I find it. My stallion arrived in the form of a Chevy Equinox which did transport me to the nearest Applebee’s. ****

More thoughts and amusing tales in the days ahead as I confined this entry to just the Detroit Marathon itself. Thanks for reading this ridiculously long post.

Numbers? Yes, numbers.

3:12:29 time
7:21 pace

192nd / 12,584 total runners
26th / 940 in age group

Note: These placement numbers look off to me (as in Too High) but that is what is published as of now but may be subject to change. We'll go with it for now.

Happy trails.

* Just teasing, Canadians. I know you don't look like half-man, half horse beasts. But no tails did surprise me.
** As in Back in the United States for Some more Racing.
*** I don't put "Nitmos" on race bib. Otherwise I just know some jerkwad will say "Go, Nitwit, Go!" which is not nearly as motivational as you might guess.
****And the "nearest Applebee's" was, in fact, my filly's two soccer games which we hopped in the car to get home just in time for her to play. And she scored 5 more goals in the 1st quarter of one of the games!

Friday, October 17, 2008

To C or Not To C

…that is the question.

The “c” word has been bedeviling me lately. Not lately. It’s been awhile. So…longly?

I don’t mean the “c” word in the traditional way you freaks think I mean ”c” word. Not the “c” word that makes men and women cringe upon hearing it. Women cringe with deep, heartfelt disgust. Men, of course, cringe in an outward socially acceptable manner to hide their inner snicker.

No, I’m talking about the other “c” word That Shall Not Be Named. This one feeds on normally healthy leg muscles and turns them into twisted, knotted strands of rotini pasta. If Wheaties is the breakfast of champions, this is the brunch of a code red marathoner.

This is the question for Sunday’s race. To “c” would, in short, suck. To not “c” would put my dreams of a triumphant stallion ride to Applebee’s within reach. To not “c” AND obliterate my PR would leave me considering self-immolation at the finish line because, really, what’s left to do? And how cool would that be?

Mrs. Nitmos is a glass half empty type and has vowed that we are leaving the gas can at home. Kill joy.

During my 17 mile warm-up for my 15k this Sunday, I’ll be constantly evaluating my hydration levels. The weather looks nice. It should be between 50-60 degrees and partly cloudy. This will be the coolest marathon I’ve run since May 2007. I’m more of a gas can half full type so, optimism!

If you think this post was slid in at the last minute just to garner another round of “Good lucks” prior to the race from everyone who already said that in a previous post, you might be right. Pretty sly wasn’t it? I might have another entry timed to release an hour after the marathon starts that says something like, “I’m running the race now and I just passed mile marker 8. I stopped to say Hi to everyone. Wish me luck.”, and then you’d feel obligated to put yet anotherGood luck” in the comments.

Or this post was merely a way for me to pretend that I read Shakespeare and know lots of quotes from his voluminous works but chose the most obvious one for your benefit, not mine. Since no one actually reads Shakespeare these days, I’ve found it’s pretty easy to google search a couple key quotes and character names and drop them into every day conversation so people really think I’m well read. I’m a bit like Iago that way. After all, I did just read Don Quixote over the course of 7 months, wind-aided.

I will not apologize for this shameless Shakespearean name dropping or comment pandering. I am Falstaffian.

The training went well…the weather conditions are near perfect. I’m looking forward to, at the very least, a fun race on Sunday. Anyone got a light?

Otherwise, it’ll be me making that cringe face because of the “c” word.

Happy trails.

As always, special thanks and gratitude to the lovely and patient Mrs. Nitmos, frequent reader but infrequent commentator, and the kids for tolerating another marathon training season. You are the pelvic bone on which these legs twirl (no? not a good metaphor?)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Over The Bridge and Through The Tunnel... the Detroit finish line we go!

I won’t further defile Lydia Maria Child’s song by contorting it beyond recognition. At least, not until the end of this post. See her much more enjoyable version here.

Three days until the Detroit Marathon and my whitehead is coning up nicely. This sucker should be fun to pop. I can feel the pressure behind it…the flesh circling it is a nice deep shade of red. Like a sunburn. Oh, yes, this is a gusher. On a completely separate note, has anyone ever popped someone else’s back whitehead with their teeth? I’ve always wondered that.

I’ve been blog MIA the last few days. My employer continues their stubborn insistence on “deadlines” and “non marathon related work”. Like, dude, chill out. Have a seat…pass the dutchie on the left hand side* man…

I’m looking forward to this marathon. Michigan is my home state. Detroit is the queen city of this state. Sure, the Queen might be a little elderly, loaded up with shingles, dementia, and wearing a cubic zirconium crown but, still, she’s the Queen. The coolest aspect of this race is that it progresses into Windsor, Ontario across the Ambassador Bridge after mile 3. We spend 4 lovely miles along the Canadian waterfront. I guess this would be the time to blow out a knee and enjoy deductible free health care.** And then returning to the U.S. after mile marker 8 in the underwater tunnel. In fact, this mile long tunnel provides you a certificate with your timed “Underwater Mile”. Okay, that’s kinda cool, but I fear it’ll just goad me into unwisely speeding up at mile 9 just so my certificate can record a pretty number.

Also, I don’t think Garmin is going to like being in a tunnel. Under water. For a mile. I’m sure there will be some frantic resetting going on after emerging back on the U.S. side.

After the bridge/tunnel double international border crossing, we are treated to the sights, sounds, smells of greater Detroit. Now, this might be a chance for a less sympathetic blogger to make a bunch of cheap jokes at Detroit’s expense. Fortunately, I’m often referred to as one the least sympathetic person anyone knows. So, let’s proceed:

There have been reports of shoe jackings in this marathon. Poor unfortunate runners left standing shoeless up on cement blocks on the side of the road. Sad really.

And the biggest threat to the race is the caravan of folks fleeing to live in the suburbs. Hopefully, we’ll get a break in the wagon train to pass the marathon through.

This might be the only marathon going where you need The Club for your Gu pocket.

I kid, I kid. Actually, Detroit has taken a lot of lumps over the years from the press, lingering public perception, recent mayoral scandals, and unsympathetic jerk bloggers. The Queen is bloodied and staggered but trying to rise from the canvas. Give her a break, people, there’s a lot of good folks and good things happening downtown. We Michiganders *** like to think she’s on the rebound.

This taper has been fantastic as far as tapers go. I’ve rested. I’ve tuned up with a few fast miles on some shorter runs. I’ve become increasingly agitated. I’ve fantasized about my post race spooning celebration with Mrs. Nitmos. I ran over the neighbor cat with the lawn mower. Yes, everything a taper should be, this one has been.

Let’s get it on!

Over the bridge and through the tunnel
Now the finish line I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the race done?
Hurrah, I feel like I’m going to die!

Happy trails.

* Is there anything sweeter than a bunch of children singing about drug abuse?
** I’m not making any political statements here. Just an observation for the sake of humor. Save your commentary.
*** Yes, we really call ourselves that. Or Michiganians. The debate rages.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Randumbery IV

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.

Behold as I loosely tie four unrelated events together to form a tapestry of Random Juxtaposition that’ll both amaze and confuse you. Thankfully, you, my readers, are famous for your short attention spans and inability to comprehend a direct insult so you’ll merrily jump from topic to topic and feel reinvigorated, amused, and satisfied by the end. You won’t know what any of it means as I’ve used a few big words but you’ll have a smile on your face anyways!

Chicago Zombie Stagger Marathon 2008: The Redux

So, did you Chicago marathoners enjoy another unseasonably warm day? It wasn’t as bad as Heat Wave 2007 as I understand it but still pretty warm. I might suggest they move the race up to 7 AM in the future (and back a few weeks!?). Two warm days in a row no longer constitutes a “fluke”. That is now a “pattern”.

I did 8.5 miles on Sunday morning and it was pretty warm here (roughly 200 miles north east of Chicago). Even at that distance, I had some sympathy dehydration. I even thought about jabbing a fork in the back of my legs to simulate a locked hamstring but then I realized, nah, I got my own torment scheduled for this weekend.

At least you had water this time right!? Right??

What? You thirsty?

And speaking of warm weather…

My filly was in soccer action Sunday afternoon during the peak heat. A few of her teammates were not able to make the game so NO SUBSTITUTES. You want to hear children complain? Force them to run after a soccer ball for an hour under a blazing heat without a break and – in one case – without a water bottle. The township, for some reason, insists on “safety” as the primary concern. That’s funny because, as the coach, I insist on “scoring goals and mercilessly taunting opponents” as my primary objective. As long as I’m able to field enough players to still obtain this objective, the others can be rolled off the field into a Useless Player pile on the sideline as far as I’m concerned.

One gal came to me in the third period with cracked, dried lips whispering in a barely audible voice, “Water…water…”

I looked at her incredulously, ”What? Do I look like a fire hydrant? How ‘bout maybe you score a goal and then we’ll see what we can do about some water?”

One of my favorite parts of coaching is the community/parental authorized freedom to yell at children. It’s really liberating. And I’ve noticed how my volume and Subtle Insults Per Minute ratio increases as the game goes along and the children become worn down and miserable. I’m convinced though that my belittling of their soccer abilities and physical appearance coupled with the harmful tugging of their puppy dogs’ ears truly helps them become better players. At the very least, it makes me feel great and lessens the need to drink as much every evening.

For the record, my filly? Four more goals. She’s a karate chop soccer ninja!

The team staggered to the end of the game without one dehydrated collapse. Call me Mr. Safety.

Hi Mr. Safety!

My colt is doing community service this year for his school as a Traffic Control Safety. Basically, he is to shepherd the little over sized back pack wearing tots across the road to elementary school in the morning. Now this is different than the “forced” community service his Dad does. But we both wear orange vests and do the service in, or near in his case, a ditch.

Some mornings, as I stab at the litter in the ditch, I say “hello” to my son.

He ignores me. The police officer reminds me not to speak to the children.

We bond, I think.

So far, he has done his job admirably. None of the children have been run down, let alone winged, on his watch.

He has a solid record: No Kills. I’m proud of him and try to hug him and tell him so all the time. Until the officer tasers me, of course.

Electroshock Rules.

After the Detroit Marathon this weekend, I’m seriously thinking about going in for some muscular, skeletal realignment. The collection of marathons has me in a knotted mess these days. I’m pretty sure my left pelvic bone shouldn’t be jutting out to the side like that to the degree where I can carry my key ring around it. And my right knee cap has inverted and bends backward now. How'd it get back there?

Maybe I can combine it with the lobotomy Mrs. Nitmos scheduled for me. She tells me this is a fancy word for full body massage. I can’t wait for my lobotomy, then! She’s so sweet.

Happy trails.

Mizfit is doing community service time of her own and talking PINK and breast cancer awareness. Head on over and click some cool links and share a story!

Friday, October 10, 2008

War of Posts

This isn’t an announcement of a new flame post war between Vanilla, Viper, and I. You all know that the good ship F.M.S. is always the innocent victim of these unprovoked attacks anyway. I remain vigilant for these assaults from the pro-llama caucus.

Instead, ‘War of Posts’ refers to my normal marathon race strategy. There’s been some talk in recent days about how to run a marathon: Start slow and fade, start fast and crash, run even splits, run negative splits, start out sprinting and quit after mile 14 when shitting self. I’ve read race reports recounting every strategy imaginable. One jackhole even thinks he’s going to fly away on a horse to the nearest Applebee’s for industrial grade beer after his marathon. Idiot.

Viper will be testing out the negative split technique this weekend. The benefits are argued pretty well in this article here and passed to him by Vanilla in his comments. The two are yammering away about this like a couple of old bitties fighting over a new pattern in a knitting circle. Here are some other good negative split resources.

Of course, a negative split would mean that you run the first half of a marathon slower than you run the second half. When others are fading in the last few miles, you are actually picking up the pace compared to your first 13 miles. It’s been done before. Nic did it just recently in back-to-back marathons. It sounds pretty great. Who wouldn’t want to run their fastest at the peak of exhaustion 3,4, maybe 5 hours into a marathon?

In fact, it sounds pretty close to ideal. And that’s why I don’t, nay can’t, follow that strategy.

I would suggest that running a negative split requires an incredible amount of discipline and a deep understanding of your own abilities. You have to know your pace for a full marathon. You have to control your pace despite the energy and excitement generated by the event. You have to know that, when you reach back to turn up the pace potentially a couple of hours and a baker’s dozen miles into the race, you have that energy in store. It will be there. You won’t reach into the cookie bin and come up with...crumbs. Otherwise, you’ve simply started out slow…and have nowhere to go but hope to maintain a bit longer before the fade.

The negative split is not a myth. A lot of professional runner’s, top tier nonprofessional runner’s, and other very experienced marathoners approach a race with this strategy. They’ve practiced it. They know the cookie bin is full when they need an extra bite. They’ve trained by increasing pace as their body fatigues. In short, these athletes know full well what their bodies are capable of and at what pace they can maintain 5, 10, 20 miles down the road.

I don’t feel I’ve trained in the manner necessary to perform a negative split. I don’t feel I understand my pacing as well as I would like either.

For kicks, I attempted a negative split for my 21 miler recently. I started slower…got a bit faster for a short period of time…then crashed and burned turning in one of my worst 20+ mile training times ever. I felt sluggish at the beginning and it rippled through the rest of the miles. I hadn’t practiced it before. I felt off from the very beginning.

Instead, I tend to employ the War of Posts concept. This is the old Revolutionary War strategy George Washington used to battle the overwhelming British army. It’s a defensive technique to battle from station to station, never risking the entire over matched Continental army in one single battle to prolong the war and slowly wear out and discourage the British.

I run for the 20 mile marker. I’m comfortable at that distance. I don’t go all out in the early miles but try to maintain a nice comfortable pace slightly ahead of my goal finish pace. At 20 miles, I switch to General Washington mode and employ my War of Posts. I run to each mile marker. If I fade a bit in pace, I fade a bit. I’ll outlast the markers. The finish will come before I’m finished. I’ll wear a powdered wig and consider lying about timbered cherry trees. I may fade but I’m still running when the marathon gives up.

I don’t normally like to compare myself to the father of our country. I leave that up for all of you. The similarities are pretty obvious I think outside of dental hygiene and a desire to have my portrait painted while looking sideways. However, until I obtain the conditioning and discipline I need to negative split, my marathons will most likely continue to be a War of Posts.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing that a War of Posts is better than negative splitting. Just the opposite, in fact. I am suggesting that a negative split is the sign of a seasoned, well trained, and developed runner. Either that or someone who started out woefully slower than their ability so had an abundance of energy late. Like the modern American military, a War of Posts is no longer the preferred strategy. They have evolved from the humble beginnings of farmers (new runners) with their pitchforks (wearing high top basketball shoes for the first run). For the beginner, though, it might be the only available option to keep you in the race and within sight of your goals for as long as possible.

Have you attempted a negative marathon split in your marathon? How did it turn out? Feel free to disagree in the comments but understand that we’ve already established my parallelism to George Washington which would make your contrary opinion pretty traitorous and mine fairly historic, patriotic and monumental.

But you can play Benedict Arnold if you like.

Happy trails.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I did in fact run a negative split in my very first marathon running a 1:49/1:47 split. However, this was completely unintentional. I was trapped behind roughly 35,000 runners and was boxed in for the first 9 miles before finding daylight. Lesson: Don't stand in the back of a race with 35,000 participants unless you want to run THEIR pace.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I Hate Baby Cows: 2008 Detroit Goals

I don’t know why I even bother setting marathon race goals anymore. They are rarely accurate. My s.o.b. traitorous calves have submarined my marathons lately. If I could find a way to remove them and walk around without my feet flopping around like two recently de-streamed trout, I would do so.

I won’t attempt to put together a full dossier of my calves' crimes against my running career. It’s well documented in my archives. Let’s just say that they are currently under house arrest but still full of insubordination. If the pain sensors weren’t transmitted to my central nervous system, I’d have pistol whipped them by now.

Though I espouse the value of positive thinking going into a marathon, I’m torn between visions of (a) small, thatched roof villages under air assault amidst scream of pain and fear and the phrase The Horror The Horror repeated endlessly versus (b) a heroic vision of me gliding easily to the finish with a new PR, calves joyously reunited to the Great Nitmos Cause, and my stallion ride up and away into the air leaving an adoring crowd below.

Really, it could go either way.

Obviously, I prefer the airborne stallion ride because, you know, a flying stallion. Awesome! I’d be a regular Harry Potter at a quidditch match* but a flying horse trumps a frickin’ broom.

Based on my training for the previous 5 marathons, I have posted faster training times at similar distances. The faster times have felt easier. The post long run leg discomfort has been minimal compared to the other training sessions. Basically, from 18 miles and under I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life.

Unfortunately, there are two problems. First, for those of you not "in the know", a marathon is NOT 18 miles. It happens to be 26.22. Really, the first 18 miles are just warm-up for the last 8 when the race really starts. If I could convince the race directors to let me finish the marathon at the18 mile mark and then go ahead and extrapolate my official race time out the remaining 8 miles, that would be really helpful. But they are sticklers for the ‘run the entire race’ thing. That’s a bit assholish, I thought, but, hey, it’s not my race to set the rules I guess.

Second, and more importantly, those damn calf muscles! I’ve had 5 long runs in between 17-21 miles. Three of them were great! Two of them ended with me sucking my thumb and blubbering the kind of blubber that involves streams of clear nose-cry snot running into my mouth due to some calf cramping. It’s never the cardio. I feel great. I can knock off 20 miles with barely a labored breathe. In fact, on my 20 miler a few weeks ago, I took up smoking at mile 12…finished 3 cigs by mile 16…decided to quit at mile 17…spent much of mile 18 in withdrawal before getting the monkey off my back for the final 2 miles. No, the cardio is fine. It’s all about the calves. Will they or won’t they revolt? (Yes, I’m aware "calves" could be humorously confused with, like, cows. I’ve made this joke before and won’t get sucked in just for your sophomoric amusement.) I wish the answer was in black and white. It’s spotty though.

So, here I’ve assembled, as promised, a Two-Pronged approach to my 2008 Detroit Marathon goals. If you were thinking ‘hey, he just can’t make up his mind how this will turn out’, you’d be right. See discussion on black and white calf revolution in the preceding paragraph. And (fist raised) Moo, Fight The Farmer!

Two Pronged Goals

Prong One: Baby Cow Goal

Let’s face it. There is a 50/50 shot another defcon 1 situation will emerge somewhere around the 20 mile mark. Despite my assortment of anti-cramping products I’ll be lugging around like a mule in the Peruvian mountains (i.e. Gu, Endurolyte salt tabs, voodoo amulet), the old familiar tugging and twitching may begin. If this is the case, my Baby Cow goal will simply be to beat my best cramping PR, currently set at 3:59.


Prong Two: Beardsley Goal

The man is a menace. He defeated me once on the slopes of Heartbreak Hill. I seek retribution. To return, I need a 3:16 or less. Minus calf revolution, I should be in position to challenge my 3:12 PR.

3:12 or less

I’ll be curious as all of you are to see how this turns out. I’ll be coddling my calf muscles over the next 10 days. They like deep tissue massages and walks on the beach. Yeah, they are wimps.

Happy trails.

* That’s cool, right?

Update: I forgot about my own Race Goal Setting's post. You don't think I remember any of this crap I type, do you? Viper's recent post reminded me. It appears my Detroit goals fall into the "Fight or Flight" category. I even used the "two pronged" term in the description.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Taper Envy

Tapering. The time honored tradition wherein an aspiring marathoner, after months of diligent and disciplined training, watches all of their hard work rendered useless by feelings of slothfulness and gluttony. The marathoner gains weight. They definitely get slower. Their body simply forgets how to run anything further than 12 miles. And all sorts of aches and pains flourish in soft tissue areas of the legs that, only a few days ago, was a Statue of David styled physique of chiseled rock.

Or, at least, that’s what we think.

It’s taper time again. My race whitehead is developing nicely. This is a real pus filled one too. Think pyramid shaped, custard filled donut taped to my nose. Can’t wait to pop it. And, if it really is custard, eat the contents.

How to taper properly?

I admit to this being a weak area in my training regimen. The miles go down, begrudgingly, but inevitably the confidence wavers as well. For some reason, if I don’t bang out an 18 miler on the weekend I start to feel like I’m incapable of running 18 miles – even after just a week of taper.

And, of course, the panic over every little leg muscle anomaly starts to play with your psyche. Oh. My. God. What is that??? A lump? Have I developed a nasty, itchy knot on the side of my leg? Holy shit, my race is toast. I’ll never be able to work that out in time. Oh….wait…just a mosquito bite. That should be fine. But, look over here, I’m oozing an orange powder. My leg is rotting from the inside. Shit. No…no…I’m okay. I was eating Cheeto’s and scratched my mosquito bite. That’ll wipe off. Whew.

Being a veteran of 5 previous marathons, I’ve learned to not hyperventilate over every little muscle soreness. It comes with the territory after weeks of tempo runs, limbo runs, and long runs. The taper WILL in fact provide much needed rest and recovery.

If we pray to Garmin (p.b.t.n.), we should Trust in Taper.

To that end, I present to you my Do’s and Don’ts of proper tapering. This is as much for me as for you because, frankly though I appreciated the kind thoughts about my filly’s sudden seizure, I don’t remember receiving any cash gifts in the mail. Apparently, not one of you picked up on, what I thought, was a fairly obvious signal to send me cash or checks in denominations of $20 or more. Honestly, I feel like I need to spell things out for you people sometimes. Thoughts and well wishes are nice but nothing heals like a bath tub filled with your money.

Taper DO:

1) R.I.C.E. any real or perceived injuries.
2) Refuse to participate in any household chores. Carrying a laundry basket most certainly puts you at risk of back strain and endangers the PR.
3) Cut back on the miles by 10-30% (depending on the plan) each week.
4) Continue to eat but EAT RIGHT. The cake, rum, sour balls and Vicodin will have to
go. Don’t starve yourself though thinking you’ll gain weight due to fewer miles. This is a good time to bring out your inner Fruit Salad maker. And eat your green veggies.
5) When running, visualize success in your race. Only think positive thoughts.
6) If you feel like being negative, vent your anger towards inanimate objects or your least favorite farm animal. Or go to the zoo and eat peanuts dangerously close – but just out of reach – of the spider monkeys. It’ll make you feel better.
7) Prepare your list of excuses as things may not go your way and you don’t want to look like a doofus standing there with no plausible reason why you walked off the course 8 miles in. Start complaining about a twisted ankle even though it feels great. Throw in a limp or two around friends and family. If you meet your goal, it’ll seem like even more of an accomplishment due to your “twisted ankle”.
8) Say nightly prayers to your mitochondria. Hopefully, they are big and long by now and may simply want to hear whispers of sweet-nothings to prevent from drying up.

Taper DON’T:

1) Run even more miles….slide in an extra 20 miler. You are not Superman. This will not help your race.
2) Less miles will free up extra time to play with your kids or visit family. Resist the urge. This is the time for maximum selfishness. Spend this time double checking your race equipment and hydration plans. Your family is a distraction.
3) Decide to see how fat you can get by embarking on a diet of cheeseburgers. While this would be amusing, I doubt it would help your race. Stick to the fruit and veggies and non-cheese soaked protein.
4) Become completely inactive. There will be time for that after the race seeing as how your legs will be so destroyed you’ll be basically immobile. Do some bike riding and walking.
5) Don’t do household chores you’ve been long neglecting. I find that it’s nice to think about all of the things you have to get done when running. You don’t want to take these thoughts away. They provide something to think about during your run. A steadily growing Honey-Do list is a great source to burn away nervous energy while watching TV.
6) Become addicted to Ecstasy. A marathon in no way resembles a rave and your pacifier and glow stick will not be welcome.
7) Waste time responding to your spam emails about how to enlarge your penis through a magic pill. Based on complete speculation on my part, it doesn’t work. Instead, compose an email to the pharmaceutical companies to see if they can provide a pill that will make your mitochondria bigger, longer, and thicker and pleasure your spouse. Mrs. Nitmos often cites my mitochondria as my sexiest feature.
8) Do not allow a llama into your home. If you have before, you know what I mean.

For those tapering, enjoy! For those not tapering, what’s your problem? Even if you don’t have a race coming up in the next two weeks, you can still say you are tapering. It sounds official and gives you a great excuse to taunt zoo animals. Also, there’s lots of leaves falling from the trees. You want to rake them up? No, you need to taper.

Happy taper to those tapering! And let me be the first to say, my, how big your mitochondria look. Very impressive.

Next up: My Detroit goals. I’m going two pronged with the goals so you don’t want to miss that. I find using the term “pronged” is a clever way to demonstrate that you don’t know how to make up your mind but still want to sound official.

Happy trails.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

21. Jokes.

Back to our regularly scheduled shenanigans…

Thanks to everyone for their kind words, thoughts, prayers, etc in the comments
section of the last post. I’m so glad I gave up real live friends for ones that exist only in the bytes and artificial synapses of my computer. When I get bored, I can log in and pretend I’m having a conversation. When you bore me (which happens often),
I can simply turn you off. What a great relationship. I highly recommend it. Plus, I don’t get punched in the eye nearly as often as I did with my human friends. Score one for nerddom!

As for my filly, she’s leveraged her seizure to the tune of 5 new Webkinz from various relatives. She’s worked us like the banking industry is working over Congress. It’s a gluttony of pop culture designed to distract and heal her sore body. You know we’ve gone overboard when the Eagle Webkinz purchased on Sunday is the “old” Webkinz by Tuesday, according to my daughter. (Insert mildly distasteful joke here) Heck, I’m thinking of having a seizure myself to let a plethora of new Asics rain down upon me. (End mildly offensive joke. That’s how we roll at F.M.S. You don’t come here for biscuits and honey after all.)

In final Mr. Serious tones, thanks again everyone for your concern. My filly is doing
great and, like this blog, is back to her regularly scheduled duality of lovableness
and attitude. Harvard is going to have its hands full come 2019.
In other news, I did manage another after work 21 miler. A few days late but I felt it was important to get it in as I only have one other 20 miler logged. Judging by my lingering hamstring and calf pain, I’m not sure it was the right choice. It’s done though and taper has begun!

To recap, I planned three 7 mile loops arriving back at my front door for some water, Gatorade, Roctane Gu, and – a new item – an Endurolyte salt tab. Anyone that has been with me here for awhile knows that recurring cramping as been an issue for me over the last few months. I’m not opposed to trying new things. If the salt tab doesn’t work, the next idea on my list is the replacement of my calve muscles with those stretchy bands that I love to…stretch. They seem really flexible and never cramp up. The next idea after that is to capture a leprechaun and force it to perform magic cramp healing spells on my body (they do that right?) and, also, serve me Lucky Charms as that seems like it would be a stereotypically hilarious thing for it to do.

As I mentioned, I wanted to pull back on pace a bit compared to my 20 miler two weeks ago. That was at a 7:09 pace. I was looking for a 7:20 – 7:25 pace for this run.

Miles 1-7: 7:13 pace and feeling good.
Miles 7-14: 7:24 pace and getting some complaints from the hamstrings.

After my second break with one more loop to go, I had some sensitivity in the hamstrings and the legs were a bit sluggish. Miles 13 and 14 were in the 7:42 range which I did not appreciate. I wouldn’t even look at Garmin for several minutes. I will not be mocked by my own GPS watch.

I regrouped and took off for the last loop determined to stay under a 7:30 pace. I wasn’t feeling it today so it was Hold On One Mile At A Time mentality. Miles 15 and 16 were back in the 7:15 range.

Mile 17 crept up to 7:40 range as the calves started twitching and my desire to become a crackhead returned.

Mile 18 and 19 were in the 8:30 range as someone secretly encased both of my feet in cement when I must have been busy reading Garmin the riot act. The calves were poking out of the skin every 20 seconds or so to see if now would be a good time to cramp up.

Miles 20 and 21 were what I called a “controlled stagger” in the 9:30 range.

The cramps threatened…snarled…bared teeth, claws, and yellow eyes. Whenever I attempted to speed up – TWITCHahahahaha, got ya’, sucker! Enjoy 9:30 pace because we ain’t going any faster.

Post run, I wallowed in my stank for awhile then drove up to the pizza place for a large pepperoni pizza. Wisely, I sat on a towel so as not to saturate my seat with runner sweat. Unwisely, I forgot to take the towel into the house upon return. You can imagine the odor wafting out of the car door the next day. If you think it smelled something like you imagine Vanilla smells like, you’d be right. (Feel free to speculate on the source of Vanilla’s odor in the comments. Is it rotted animal? Clown vomit? A combination of both?)

The last BIG long run didn’t exactly go as planned but, still, taper, baby!

Miles 15-21: 8:21 pace and partial hallucination including, but not limited to, the desire to pull off and nurse the syrupy goodness from a passing tree.

I’ll chalk it up to a busy, stressful weekend and poor nutrition and move on.

21.0 miles
2:40:56 time
7:40 mile/pace

Being in the 35-39 age bracket, my BQ line is at a 7:28 pace and this would not have gotten it done. Boo cramping, booooo!

After consuming pizza, I rolled my sleeping daughter off the couch and onto the floor with a big THUNK. Spinal taps, CT scan, MRI, EEG, and multiple needle torture? Excuse me? Ever run 21 miles?

Get off the couch.

Happy trails.

I have been absent in ridiculing, er, commenting on everyone's training plans. I will make the rounds in the days ahead. Rest assured I will be keeping a keen eye out for spelling, grammar, footnote usage and comparison's to mythological creatures (big bonus points for anyone who works in a Centaur.)