Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I’ve spent the last two weeks in a wine-addled state of semi-consciousness. This time of year, rum is my usual intoxicant of choice. I find it goes with everything – particularly well with black outs. Not sure why but I got a taste for the grapes awhile back and I’ve been dumping Merlots and Cabernets and Chiantis done my gullet like a dehydrated marathoner. If they made wine flavored Gu CHOMPS, I believe I’d eat those too. Mrs. Nitmos made me agree to stop using up our mini Solo cups by pouring a dozen or so an inch full of J. Lohr Cabernet and, every trip into the kitchen, throwing one back down my throat and the other over my head, crinkling both cups, and tossing them onto the floor for the volunteers* to pick up.
Winos are funny. Who didn’t think Grady from Sanford and Son was hilarious? Good Goobley Goo! I remember him rubbing the booze onto his gums with his finger when he could only get a drop from the bottle. What a lush! But, let me tell you, it works. Swab the inside of that nearly dry bottle of Dynamite Merlot with your index finger and brush those last few drops onto your gums. Grady was a wise, wise man.
As the days have turned to weeks and different flavored aromatic bottles have passed by my lips, I have had time to consider my place in life. Literally, I believe I’m one foreclosure notice and used appliance box away from being officially labeled a wino. Instead, I’m just the eccentric dude that never leaves his house except to scuffle across the street in slippers to retrieve the mail. Or run.
Last evening I was about 3 glasses into a Cabernet as I surveyed the wreckage of my living room following another Christmas day: toys still in their packaging, remains of wrapping paper tucked into corners, empty wine bottles turned into pencil holders by the kids. My filly was playing with some iCarly figurines Santa had brought her. Their heads are interchangeable with the bodies so that the girls can wear different outfits. Only, the toy came with four torsos but only two heads. Quickly, my filly turned this into a decapitation/zombie game in which the headless torsos starting coming after the iCarly’s with heads and ripping them from their torsos.
Then, my unfocused eyes moved over to my colt busy playing a PS3 game on the TV. He received the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 game. He’s only (nearly) 12 but apparently Santa thought he could handle the mature subject matter. Between vino gulps, I watched as he gleefully shot up an airport full of civilians, throwing grenades, shooting up luggage, pumping a few extra rounds into an already bullet riddled corpse. Later, he called in an air strike on a Burger Town restaurant.
Watching my kids act out violence with their Christmas playthings as I drifted into a alcohol-induced haze, I couldn't have been prouder. This is what fathering is all about.
Santa is funny. In this time of peace and joy and goodwill towards men, he brought my house the gift of unrestrained violence. I’m not a pacifist but neither am I a war hawk. If this was the 60’s, I’d probably be at the flower power demonstrations but I wouldn’t be placing daisies into the barrels of rifles. I’d be there for the party only, listening to music, layering venereal diseases, and verbally condemning The Man, man. Fortunately, one of my strongest character traits is disassociation. While leaning towards peacenikery, I can simultaneously celebrate my colt’s successful destruction of a burger joint with a high five. Watching my filly’s headless figurines haunt the headfull, I’m merely reminded of the guillotine in A Tale of Two Cities. Disassociation: It’s what I do best.
My orgy of Roman-themed grape swilling will be coming to an end soon. Some friends will be coming by to raise some glasses, rat-a-tat a few unfriendlies with a thermal scope assault rifle, and welcome in 2010 on NYE. After New Year’s, I’ll leave the wine behind and return to being the modest, lovable, non-wino Nitmos you all revere.
Until then, Happy New Year! I will drink a toast to each person who comments!**
*Apparently, the “volunteers” aren’t quite as volunteery as I thought. Plus, I’ve never had an actual race volunteer call me a “stupid, drunk, sonofabitch.” As far as I know.
** Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll be drinking whether you comment or not. Frankly, you've all received about a half dozen toasts each by now anyhow.
Friday, December 11, 2009
So, what now?
This is the time of year to take some internal assessment of where you are at as a runner and where you want to go. Reflect on 2009 and plan for 2010. And eat too much cheese.
I haven’t finalized my thoughts on 2009 yet. It feels incomplete somehow. I ran only one marathon and it was a non-competitive fun run. I had planned so many other races that, for one reason or another, never came to fruition. The new web site I had hoped to launch? Still a collection of scribbled ideas sitting under my employers more pressing work demands. Register for Boston? Didn’t do it and now it’s no longer possible. 2009 was a good running year for me in the sense that I enjoyed the work-outs, fine tuned my weekly training regimen, and developed a greater understanding of what my body can and cannot handle at 38 years.
But races? Not much to show except a PR in the 5k and Half Marathon. Nice but I expected more challenges, more opportunities to test myself.
So, as I forge onward into winter running in long pants, hats and gloves, I look forward to a more definitive 2010. More races and results that reflect my level of training. Also, more FUN.
First, we have to get to 2010. There’s long, cold nights to deal with. The temptation is powerful to leave the Asics in the closet when the thermometer reflects sub 20 degrees. What I do now does matter though. These are important weeks. Important miles. I don’t want to backslide. Neither is it necessary to move speed and distance to a higher level right now. Maintain, maintain, maintain. Make 2009 count.
Times like these, you need to find inspiration from wherever you can. Articles in Runner’s World or a good book (I really liked The Perfect Mile). This is a good time to hook up with another runner to cajole each other out the door when it is too easy to say ‘not today.’ Whether it is the goal time at a spring race or just the desire to hold your current fitness level, find some way to become inspired.
I recently found inspiration from an unusual and unexpected source. As I’ve mentioned before, I coach my daughter’s second grade girls soccer team. After the official outdoor season, most of them continued on with me to an indoor season. Unfortunately, we were the only group of U8’ers (8 and under) that signed up. The girls had to play U9 and U10 teams. On top of that, these teams were not “recreational” like ours (U8 only plays rec league in our area) but competitive travel teams filled with girls committed to the sport through hours of practice. We were up against it, for sure. A win looked unlikely. How would they handle the inevitable lopsided losses?
Sure enough, the girls’ first two games did not go well at all. The losses were ugly. They stopped keeping score at some point in the first half (once one team goes up by 8 or more). But, then something happened. Even in the first two losses, our team fought hard to the final minute. They never gave up. They came back to the bench still smiling and ready for more.
In the third game, another loss, the score was kept the entire way. A loss….but closer. The following week, they would play the same team on back-to-back days. The first game ended with yet another loss, 8-0, but it was their best effort yet. Long periods of the game went by with even play. The little U8’ers, at an obvious size and experience disadvantage, were playing even with the dedicated U9/U10 team for increasingly longer stretches. The next day brought the same team. But this time the score was tied 7-7 with about eight minutes to go. A few late goals by the other team ended the upset bid but our girls were excited. They were working hard and seeing results.
The season just concluded. There is no magical fairy tale ending. They lost every game. However, after getting beaten soundly in the first two games, the team improved a little bit each week until the other teams had to really fight to win the game. I couldn’t have been more proud. They played hard. They had fun. It was a great experience.
Ultimately, the team benefited from taking the focus off the big picture: The scoreboard. Instead, we worked on little things. We worked on getting our non-attacking defenseman positioned correctly every time. When we had that, we worked on the forwards more quickly closing the gaps when the other team’s defense was trying to move the ball. Pieces and parts of the game. Bite-sized portions. The girls felt like they were having success even when the scoreboard reflected otherwise.
I’ve taken a lot from the experience to apply to my own training. I tend to focus on my time goal for a race while training. Sometimes it seems daunting and almost de-motivating. I’m going to start focusing on the smaller pieces that will lead to the big picture time goal. How can I modify my training plan to align to the race goal? Instead of 6 x 800’s, maybe I’ll do 8 x 400 just to mix things up. Can I shave a few seconds from each 400 or 800 lap? Maybe I need to hydrate more and earlier during a marathon to help fight the late race cramping. There are parts of our training that come together to form the whole race day results.
My daughter’s team found a way to be successful outside of the normal constraints imposed by the win-loss record. A positive attitude. Small improvements in specific areas. The courage to take on the challenge.
It’s not about the TIME. It’s about what you do to get there. I’ve found some inspiration to keep me going during these cold days and dark evenings.
I hope you find yours.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Banned On The Run
…Now with 96% Less Handsome!
There is a new Banned On The Run podcast. Go there and hear it now. Do that and you can be just like me! (i.e. Bewildered, confused and wondering what the hell happened…followed by feelings of shame and regret. In other words, like a typical Friday evening with Mickey’s malt liquor.) One thing you won’t hear is me. I took my handsome and didn’t phone in with it. I was too busy using my handsome powers to battle global warming.*
Though I’m not there, the other three do a great job of being….present. I’ve always felt their strongest attribute is attendance. Go hear their attendance! I believe the subject of running is even broached haphazardly on one or two occasions. Matt has promised a $20 gift card for the winner of the podcast contest.
Like many others, I also received a free thriv shirt in the mail. I had every intention of writing them a nice review. But then I see that every Tom, Dick, and Ian got one and already wrote a review so, really, what’s the point? However, since they gave me a free shirt, I’m going to at least mention them and link to their site. I might even do it twice.
Here’s a nutshell review. Generally, the first quality I look for in a running shirt isn’t bamboo. That’s what I look for as a torture device when presented with the hands and fingernails of prisoners. ** So, trying to sell me on BAMBOO IN YOUR RUNNING SHIRT! wasn’t as eye grabbing as Marketer McAdman probably originally envisioned. My nipples, upon hearing this proclamation, pulled a full turtle and tried to force a concave areola situation.
However, the shirt is soft. Like obscenely soft. Like I’m-pretty-sure-I-committed-a-sin-with-it soft. Mmmm, soft as a….oops, sorry, I prematurely metaphored.
In sum, it was a cool shirt. Comfortable. Nice to run in. My nipples came out of their shell. However, I’m a big time sweater. If I was a huge fat guy, I’d be the type that sweats when I eat. I already sweat eating Sweettarts. The shirt absorbed the sweat but didn’t really wick it away. So, a few minutes into the run, I have a large ole sweat stain in the middle of my chest. No big deal to me but those that like their sweat to fly off onto the pavement – or person – behind you, you may be outta luck.
Well, there, I guess I did review it after all.
Future races! No Boston? No problem. Marathons are like opinions.*** There’s no trouble filling up my dance card. The endless possibilities for 2010 are doing the ‘white man weeble’ inside my head. Bayshore Marathon in May? Yes, please. Perhaps this is the year I do the Dances with Dirt 50k? How about a return trip to Chicago, my favorite city, in October? A runner with a blank calendar and a race schedule is a dangerous thing.
If you are a race and desperately want a special appearance from Nitmos, better get your request in now!
Seriously with the vampire movies. They suck. And they don’t suck blood.****
Usually, this is the time of the year when I begin to rebuild my Cheeto Layer. Halloween always kicks off the cold weather refattening. But, oddly enough, I’m actually in peak running shape right now…with no race on the schedule. Go figure. You’d think 45 mini sized Butterfingers in two weeks would add a pound or two…
* It’s working!
** My weekend volunteer work.
*** Which are like assholes.
**** You need this footnote? They suck ass, okay?
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Things have changed around the Nitmos basement.* You may have noticed that I don’t blog much anymore. Maybe it’s the cobwebs and lingering smell of water leaks past rotting my brain. Or maybe it’s the instant access to my extensive cereal collection. Whatever, the ole blog has settled in somewhere south of dog walking and Yes, Dear reruns on the list of work distractions.
In the office, things were beige. And boring. The only link to anything non-work related was the interwebs. Somehow, Blogger had escaped their tight fisted site clamp down. So, being a man incapable of concentrating on anything for longer than 4 ½ minutes at a time, this blog and its compatriots were a perfect match. I make you laugh. I chuckle awkwardly at your feeble attempts to make me laugh. Then, I click away and bound down the distraction superhighway to the next destination all the while surrounded in beige and the distant murmur of interoffice conversation.
But the dynamic has changed now.
The beige is gone. The walls are a shade called “marble pedestal” which, I think, suits me perfectly, no? ** My dog sleeps at my feet as I work. I smell basement mold instead of Cube Farter’s ass burps.***
It’s too quiet in the basement so I’ve taken to flipping on the TV for background noise. The TV is behind me so, unless I twist around, I can’t actually see what is on. But I hear the not-so-distant murmur of flimsy plot development…with a laugh track. The channel of choice? Why TBS, of course. All of the 90’s classics! My new office is filled with Zack, Screech and Slater from Saved By The Bell, The Fresh Prince, Greg and Kim of Yes, Dear, Raymond and his crazy mother that Everybody Loves, The King of Queens and his bitchy wife, and baritone-voiced Bill Kurtis telling me about various American Mysteries (this is on A & E but I’m allowed one channel change.)
Now, through-out the day, I learn valuable life lessons served to me in bite-size comedic one liners lasting no more than 23 minutes….unless Zack drinks and drives, in which case it may require two episodes for us to reach the climatic moral.
In short, what I’m saying is that blogging is no longer my primary time suckage. I run. I dog walk. I eat cereal at odd hours. I listen to bad TV. You’ve all been replaced by Yes, Dear. And you, over there lurking but never commenting, you’ve been replaced by According to Jim. And Vanilla? He’s Robert from Raymond…which makes me Raymond.
Because, as we know, everybody loves Nitmos.
** If you don’t have an image of me as Discobolus ready to throw, then you haven’t been reading this blog for very long. You have lots of homework.
*** Which is a draw I think. I sometimes miss his game of Guess My Lunch.
Race update. I’m swirling with emotions right now. I’m a cyclone of disappointment and relief. You see, I had every intention of running the 2010 Boston Marathon…in my heart. But my head – and more importantly, my wallet – have been warring over the idea for months. I’ve dumped lots of family cash into running over the last few years and I was hoping to squeeze out one more big expense. If only the mean ole bankers weren’t in charge of the world….
Through apathy, the decision was made for me that I will not be doing Boston next spring. Registration has closed. I’ve known it was coming but I chose inaction. Which is a bit passive aggressive no? So, I’m relieved that the battle within is over. I will save money. My banker will be happy. Disappointed I am (in Yoda speak) at the conclusion. However, I think it’s probably the decision I think is best at this time.
But there will be other years…another Boston down the road.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
40 degrees. Constantly. Just chilly enough where you’ll be pretty cold for the first few miles in shorts but pretty warm during the last few miles if you wear pants. What would Hamlet do?* Here’s several reasons, prefaced in the great Hamletian tradition, why I hate cold weather running.
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous bloggers…
I hate putting the wind pants on. First, it covers my legs and, fuck, I got nice man legs. I think a few of the more masculine ladies would even be pretty envious. These babies should be high kicking somewhere on Broadstreet rather than covered in nylon and trapped in heat and sweat on a lonely mid-Michigan road. I don’t care if you think less of me since I dared to suggest that I’d make a terrific show girl. I’m comfortable and confident in my me. Besides, it’s not the fantastic legs that should open me up for scrutiny. It’s the lipstick.
To run, perchance in long pants. Ay, there’s the rub…
Second, I can’t stand the clichéd swish-swish sound of the pant legs as they rub against each other during the initial stages of the run. Probably not a problem for the less developed hamstring set amongst us but, for me, very annoying. Then, half way through, the pants are clinging to your legs with moisture and you entertain thoughts of stripping down right in the middle of the sidewalk and tossing them aside. And then being arrested (again) for indecent exposure.
To grunt and sweat under a weary run…
Third, it’s all about the nipples, man. They get cold when the wind blows head on. I’m not a turtle, little fellas, you can’t come back inside. Stand strong. Stand proud. This time of year reflects my nipple length/mileage inverse relationship. The longer the nipples grow the fewer miles I log. One or the other; you can’t have both. Sure, I’d love to be the guy with one inch nipples knocking out 50 miles per week but it’s not gonna happen. Rage on Midwest fall, rage on. At least give this fella some tassels.
And lose the name of action
Finally, I am a runner. That is what I love. That is what I shall do. Though the thermometer drops, the pants raise, the nipples extend, I will not die by the cold steel sword of winter.
To short, or not to short? It makes no difference. Either way, I’ll be out there running. It’s a simple answer. I will not be deterred. Hamlet, what an indecisive wimp. You can’t make up your mind and then you go swinging swords and flinging poison? Someone has ish-you's.
He wasn’t a runner.
* Besides stab and/or poison any and every body after a prolonged period of introspection.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Today, I’m going to be ‘that guy’. Not the guy with the unshaven face, permanently congealed to Adidas wind pants, walking the dog at all hours of the day. The guy everybody assumes doesn’t have a job and what a lazy sack of llama dung he must be and why does his lovely wife put up with him. And how many days in a row now has he worn those same gray wind pants and maroon sweatshirt?
I’m already THAT guy.*
No, I’m going to be that other guy. The guy running at noon. When others are racing to pick up their McDonald’s fat burger before their lunch hour expires, they’ll pass a certain hirsute runner knocking out a few miles. They’ll think ‘man, I really shouldn’t eat this Mickey D’s’ as they view my majestic stride and mesmerizingly taunt pecs that bounce once – for that is all they need to release their kinetic energy** in one quick snap out the nipple tops – with every foot fall. They’ll shove delicious salty French fried num nums into their holes and console themselves with the incorrect conclusion that, ‘sure, it’s easy for that guy to run. He’s unemployed. He’s one step up from a bum.’
My filly has already called me a hobo. Did I mention this? True story. My first day working from home, in fact. We were heading out the door for the drive to school and she viewed my whiskered chin (that may or may not have had a Frosted Flake shard caught in the lower southeastern quadrant), assemblage of mismatched, well-worn casual wear, and complete lack of time-angst anxiety on my face and innocently asked, “Dad, are you a hobo now? Cuz hobos don’t have jobs.”
I laughed (and immediately decided not to stoop down to retrieve the half-smoked menthol cigarette butt from the sidewalk – what a waste, right?) and explained to her the complex corporate financial maneuverings that led to the path in which daddy doesn’t shave or shower anymore. I’m not unemployed…I’m just de-officed, I concluded. She smiled – what a sweet condescending smile – and asked to be dropped off two blocks from school. Which was fine. I had kicked a rock next to the cigarette butt in an effort to conceal it during my corporate dynamic dissertation and was eager to retrieve it. Another bewindpanted Dad was walking his dog with a full beard (!) in the area at the time and that unemployed sonofabitch was not going to get it if I could help it.
Soon I’ll be lacing up for my inaugural lunch run. I’ll run by offices. I’ll run across busy intersections with folks hurrying to various business appointments. I’ll run by schools where my filly’s friends will ask ‘Is that your dad?’ and she’ll respond ‘No, that’s just some hobo I think.’ I’ll smile and wave as she turns and cries in humiliation.
I’ll do five or six miles. Just long enough to load up 15-20 emails to my Inbox. I’ll return sweaty and satisfied with full intentions to shower. But I better check the emails first. One leads to another and another and, before long, the sweat has dried and the nostrils don’t even recognize the stank. What’s the point of cleaning up now? Time to pick up the kids from school.
Back into the wind pants. Another day done.
I’m the lunch runner. I have a job though it doesn’t appear that I do. I exist in my own little world adjacent, but isolated, from everyone else….from normal societal hygiene customs. There are two types of people in the world: Those that wear wind pants to work and everyone else.
The lunch runners wear the wind pants. We may look and smell like hobos but we are not. We run on our lunch hour because we can. We don’t shower afterwards because we don’t have to.
I’m THAT guy.
* I was explaining my new home-work dynamic to another soccer dad at my son’s practice the other day and he said “I wondered why you haven’t been shaving.” Yes, yes, it has begun.
** You loose pec'ed, slow nippled folks would require 3-4 bounces at a minimum.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Now I have an awful habit of making fun of things that should not be made fun of. This might explain why I’m sitting in my home working by myself in a job that requires very little actual human interaction. Isolation! Maybe it’s not a coincidence. So, before we go any further, I promise not to fill this post full of off color Jonestown references. Not Guyana do it.
I am here to review my Summer of Speed 2 goals set back in May when a big, wide, never-ending world of summer was at my doorstep. The summer was my fartlek. I’d pet it and feed it and dress it up in funny sailor outfits and walk it around with a big red balloon and an ice cream cone. You know, normal stuff.
Now, as I look back at my goals and results, I have a sweet but slightly acrid and burning taste in my mouth. Like I just drank some Cherry Kool-Aid with….never mind.
Rhetorical questions? At least one more.
Numbers? Of course, numbers:
5k goal: 18:00
10k goal: 40:00 (and run my first one ever!)
Half-Marathon goal: 1:29 (and competitively race my first one ever!)
5k result: 18:22 (new PR but goal not met) FAIL
10k result: 40:24 (auto PR but goal not met) FAIL
Half-Marathon result: 1:28:53 (auto PR) PASS!
I realize those big red FAILs make the results look very Viperian in nature. But, I have to be honest. I set a PR in all three distances (two are auto PR’s though) but did not meet my goal in 2 of the 3. If I’m allowed one more rhetorical question, why?
[Serious paragraph portion of this post]
FAILure resulted from trying to reach two many disparate goals all at the same time. My training got a bit muddled as one run I was working on my 5k speed, the next run had me focused on the half-marathon, and a third run had me fartleking like a motherfartleker for no obvious reason. I think I stretched myself too thin (something that, if you knew me, would seem impossible) trying to obtain three unique goals all at once. My half-marathon goal was met. I believe my 10k goal would be in serious jeopardy if I ran one again tomorrow (the only result was from May just after announcing the SOS2) judging by leg #2 (6.2 miles) of the Detroit Marathon relay which saw me finish in 39:55 after a 6 mile “warm-up.” However, can’t count it. The point is, the only goal I still don’t feel good about is the 5k goal of sub 18 minutes. Attempting to go from 18:30 to below 18 minutes on only one day of speed work a week was a bit unrealistic. I’m smack dab in the middle of the Laws of Diminishing Returns when it comes to running. I don’t see big improvement gains any more. Instead, the time rock moves only a small amount and only after much straining and grunting and 2-4 sports hernias. I’ll take the PR and keep working at it with the realization that, for a 38+ year old dude with a full time job, two kids, and the weight of being Handsome in America weighing on his shoulders, it may take awhile to get there.
[/End serious paragraph portion of this post]
I’ll spend the winter going over my SOS2 strategy detailed in my patented 22 step process LQ8TMLRARMEMCATMGFMRRK. Maybe I missed a step? I don’t remember fighting a bear (step #18) but I did get into a slap fight with an ornery blue jay. Could that be it?
It’s grade time. Last year I received Pi. This year, a Lethal Weapon 2.
Mildly successful but ultimately forgettable
Until next year, consider the SOS complete. I may still jump into a race before the end of the year (I got my eye on a pretty little 10k in early December, for example.) In 2010, I may need to mix up my training regimen to re-energize my summer. A whole new paradigm to inject some life in this stale format. Something like…SOS3???
Yes, I’ll keep drinking the Kool-Aid until F.M.S. is stiff as a board.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Bottom line: Detroit did!
Things have been moving in a weird other worldly time warp around here. Officially, I am “working” from home. How perceptive of you to notice the qualifiers attached to “working”. (See, there they are again!) Unofficially, my “work” consists of me tidying up the basement, building a cheap Sauter brand desk, running my TV cable lines (priority!), and exhausting at least two cans of Lysol all over the strange oozes along the floor trim which I’m pretty sure contain the swine flu origins. At least, when I dabbed my finger into it and tasted it, it sure tasted like the swine flu. A lot like chicken. And now, my index finger, tongue and bottom lip have herpes. Is that a symptom?
This past Sunday, me, my brother, a friend and the lovely Mrs. Nitmos took to the streets of Detroit for a run. Now, it’s not unusual to run while on the streets of Detroit. That’s often how it’s recommended that you get from point A to point B on the city tourist guide. However, this was for a relay race.
Here’s the team breakdown: me, my friend (a one time marathoner but multiple time 5k and 10k’er), my brother (first race ever – didn’t train any further than 2 miles and not since July), and Mrs. Nitmos (first race ever and – despite a hip injury – was able to get in good training.) You may recall that our fifth relayer had to pull out when he selfishly shoved his face into an ATV dash and tree while tossing his co-riding daughter to the side to save her from injury. Jerk. Hope your selfish ribs and selfish broken jaw heal.
We knew we’d finish but were not too optimistic of a top time. Not that it mattered. Since we were in the “Open Mixed” category which requires three penises and two uteruses (at a minimum), we were expressly told that we could participate but not place. As a team, we were one uterus short of official qualification.
Legs 1 & 2: 12.2 miles (Me)
Leg 3: 6.6 miles (Friend)
Leg 4: 3.0 miles (Mrs. Nitmos)
Leg 5: 4.4 miles (Brother)
The great thing about a relay is sharing the event with friends and family. But, unlike other relays where everyone piles into a sweatlodge magic bus filled with stank and communicable diseases, this relay involved the team members taking separate buses to their assigned leg start and then waiting patiently with strangers for their teammate to arrive. You really only see your teammate in passing. And through the magic of cell phones.
I must admit that I lucked out. The first two legs are the most scenic: over the bridge into Windsor with the oddly beautiful sight of downtown Detroit off on your left*, through cheering Canadians**, and then back into Detroit by way of the underwater tunnel, around Joe Louis arena, and up into Corktown to Michigan Avenue arriving back near the finish line area for the leg #3 exchange. No bus ride for me!
I had put 4 hours down as our expected finish time – anticipating someone else taking the first leg – which placed me in a pace group at the start going a bit slower than I wanted. After the bridge bottle neck, I had a lot of time to make up in order to make my goal of 7 minute miles. Here are the splits for your perusing boredom:
Mile 1: 7:23 (Not too bad but lots of side to side running around people)
Mile 2: 7:18
Mile 3: 7:56 (Bottle neck as we smash together into one lane for the bridge on ramp)
Mile 4: 7:41 (I’m dying inside…get me over this bridge!!)
Mile 5: 6:13 (Off the bridge and flying down the off ramp in Canada)
Mile 6: 6:40
Mile 7: 6:37
Mile 8: 6:20 (Underwater tunnel!)
Mile 9: 6:20 (Around Joe Louis arena)
Mile 10: 6:26 (Lots of time to make up…get on your horse!)
Mile 11: 6:36
Mile 12: 6:28
Last ½ mile: 2:58 (6:00 pace!)
Officially: 12.2 miles in 1:24:56 (around 6:58 pace)
My Garmin recorded 12.5 miles instead of 12.2. Part of that was probably due to the side to side weaving through traffic.
Friend kept the momentum going and knocked out his 6.6 miles at goal pace (just under an hour) then handed off to Mrs. Nitmos.
The unfortunate part of our leg assignments was that I would not see Mrs. Nitmos on the course. (Fingers crossed for a photographer on her leg!) She completed her 3.03 miles (according to mapmyrun) at goal pace of 10 minute miles! A huge accomplishment for her as she’d never run at all prior to a couple of months ago.
After three hours of waiting, my brother, who had read the newspaper front to back at least three times by then, took the hand off from Mrs. Nitmos. Unbeknownst to her, the adventure was just beginning.
Through all of the exchanges, we kept in touch by phone. I waited at the finish sipping nice warm coffee (it was 29 degrees at the start but warmed to about 40 by the time our last relayer took the exchange) and watching overall winners come in. Friend had just arrived back at the finish when I received word that Mrs. Nitmos was on the bus heading back. I was settling in for a 20 minute wait for Brother to bring us home when….
Brother comes heading into the home stretch! Holy shit we are ahead of schedule. He finishes. We are altogether…except for Mrs. Nitmos.
Where is she?
Turns out, she’s on Hellbus. The driver took them for a spin on the highway completely lost. They should not have been on the highway. Then, back in town, couldn’t find the drop off zone. He’s refusing to open the doors a few blocks away from the finish and is instead circling and circling Detroit searching for the drop zone with an increasingly agitated group of runners who are, by the minute, receiving phone calls from their team that they have missed the finish. Time goes by. Phone calls are made. Mrs. Nitmos informs me that a near melee is breaking out on the bus. People are yelling at the bus driver and threatening him with physical abuse. An hour has gone by (the bus had to drive no more than 3 miles.) I can hear the shouts in the background of our phone conversation and I’m getting a bit concerned for Mrs. Nitmos. She tells me people are pounding on the bus windows whenever they see a street cop to try to get some help to GET THEM OFF THE DAMN BUS. Threats are made. A stabbing seems eminent.
Finally, the bus driver defies his radio bosses orders and opens the door. He tells his boss that he’s afraid for his safety and he’s letting people off. He never did find the drop zone.
We reunite with Mrs. Nitmos.
Despite the Hellbus experience, Mrs. Nitmos seems to have enjoyed the event. The team is thrilled. We ended with these numbers:
Steers Long Distance Project
Place: 18th(!) of 244 in Open Mixed; 66th of 629 of ALL relay divisions
I’m very proud of Mrs. Nitmos. Hopefully, she’ll consider doing another relay in the future! Considering we had two first time runners, this went about as well as we could have hoped.
Except for the bus ride.
* Detroit is pretty cool the more you squint at it.
** “Looking good, eh!”
Obviously, I am aware of the 3 fatalities that day. Though I didn’t know any of the people who died, some other parents from my son’s soccer team did know one of the gentlemen. And though I finished near mile marker 12 at nearly the same time as one of the fatalities was occurring at this same location, I did not see or hear about any of it until much later in the day.
Friday, October 09, 2009
My one and only first wife, Mrs. Nitmos, is part of our Detroit Marathon (Oct. 18) relay team, the Steers Long Distance Project. We’ll be toeing the line 9 days from now in sunny (overcast) and beautiful (dilapidated) downtown (burnt out) Detroit (not Chicago)! Not only will Mrs. Nitmos be doing Detroit, the entire four person team will be doing Detroit! It’ll be a regular ole gang…never mind.
This will be Mrs. Nitmos’ first race ever and I’m pretty proud of her for putting in the training, overcoming a hip injury*, complaining about having to go for a run, but slavishly doing it anyway and sucking the enjoyment right out of the event. You’re a runner now, hon!
We’ve had a series of unfortunate events leading to this relay: One team member decided to violently push his face into the dashboard of his ATV just to experience broken ribs and a wired jaw. Selfish! After that, our five person team became four. And I became two people** as far as the relay is concerned. One relay member – a non-runner - is hoping to start his training soon so you can guess how his 4.4 mile leg might go. Mrs. Nitmos’ hip injury has finally healed. And then, to top it off, the Detroit Marathon folks made us all run out and buy passports, since the race goes briefly into Canada, and then subsequently (really, at the last possible minute before you would never get your passport in time for the race) decided that only the people actually running into Canada needed the passport. By then, our team had already shelled out the bucks amidst much grumbling about how much this relay was costing. Screwed for being pro-active!
Turns out, after all the musical chairs of leg assignments, I’m the only one that needed the passport as I’ll be doing the first two legs: into Canada over the bridge and back into the U.S. through the underwater tunnel for a total of 12.2 miles.
The thing I’m most excited about is the chance for Mrs. Nitmos to be part of a marathon event rather than waiting patiently for hours on end at a finish line. I’m hoping she gets the full experience: the cheering crowds, the wayward snot rocket, the adrenaline rush, the a-hole spectator who shouts “Almost there!” when you are no where close to being done, and, of course, the grabbing, painful calf cramp. Well, maybe not the calf cramp. I’ll save that just for myself. Apparently.
Though I tease Detroit – it’s an easy target after all – the race is actually pretty cool. And the city itself needs some sympathy. It’s like the punch drunk former champion with cauliflower ears and arthritic hands trying to rise off the mat before the 10 count. You can’t help but cheer it on.
The SDLP will be doing Detroit. Mrs. Nitmos will be doing the north end neighborhoods, specifically. All of us will be leaving with a satisfied smile on our face. After all, who knows if we’ll ever do it again. Who knows if Mrs. Nitmos will ever run another race? Probably not in Detroit anyhow.
Nobody wants sloppy...never mind.
* Her first runner’s injury. Brought a tear to my eye like when you see your child take his first steps. Or when your favorite college team wins the Rose Bowl.
** This is actually a reduction for me as well since I generally consider myself having the “strength of 10 men.”
Good luck to all of the Chicago marathoners this weekend!!
I see many of you are envious that I'll be working from home from now on. One person asked about the fate of Cube Farter. I'll let him know you were concerned. Yes, me, Cube Farter, all of us will be going home to work. It wasn't just me that was evicted. I've already reworked the family budget to lower the amount spent on gas and shampoo but raise the amount spent on toilet paper and coffee. (Unless I can steal enough supplies before I leave...)
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Every quarter end is particularly busy. I’m not an accountant though with the way I celebrate an unexpected $20 in the family budget you could be excused for thinking that. No, I’m one of the good guys.* My job facilitates people getting paid. Of course, those people are sometimes health insurance carriers or people with illness or terminal diseases but let’s focus on the positive. A $250 check in the mail always distracts one, at least temporarily, from renal disease. Or so I assume. I once won a free Coke from a bottle cap game and completely forgot about my foot blister so, extrapolating that out…
On top of all that, my company has EVICTED me from my plush, 6x6 neutral colored cubicle! In the frenzied quarter end rush, an e-mail BINGed into my e-box telling me to e-getthehellout. In two weeks.
I’m not fired. No, they made it pretty clear that the company has a place for someone with my squared jaw and ample shoulders. (I could tell they were implying this by their choice of the more angular Courier New text type for my email versus the others' Arial.) It’s just that this place is now at home. Or at a local coffee shop where I can be ‘that guy’ sitting at a table for 6 hours sipping a mocha latte and wearing a Bluetooth.
So, on top of finger flying, retina burning, blog depriving work, I’ve also got to pack up my cube, carve out a place at home – which for the time being will be my kitchen table – and move the hell out of the office. I’ve been evicted. My cube has been foreclosed (did you already read the footnote? Bankers are jerks, aren’t they?) I’ve spent the last two days shredding documents like former officials holding torture memos. These documents seemed important when they were at work and stored in my desk. Now that I need to carry them home? Funny. They don’t seem so important anymore.
And now I have to deal with working from home issues. I really don’t need to shower anymore. I can wear my boxer shorts and a t-shirt all day, all night, and all the next day again (and the day after that? Maybe.) Shaving? Not a chance. Deodorant will be optional. I’ll be sitting within feet of my running shoes. Lunch time runs are now a reality! I don’t even have to shower when I get back. I can simply call into my next meeting with salty sweat hardening to my temples like concrete freed from the tired old "non-offensive odor" and "wearing the same clothes on multiple days" social memes.
There are some real advantages to this. Oprah. Dr. Phil. Is Springer still on? I don’t know but I’ll soon find out!
I will miss the anal symphony Cube Farter performs for me every afternoon. But I can create one of my own now. I’ve learned my pinching techniques from the master.
Just me, my dog, my computer and phone, my boxers, my running shoes and no social customs or expectations hanging over my head.
This can’t end well.
* Incidentally, with all the well deserved negative press health insurance companies are getting these days, let’s not forget who really wears the black hat in this struggling economy. Bankers. We shouldn’t forget about the economy-killing, panda-murdering bankers.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
So, I had this little half-marathon on Sunday. It’s a local race but one I’ve never done before. I prefer to travel looong distances and spend lots of money on hotels, meals, and transportation making a $50 race a $1000 event. Apparently.
But with the triumvirate of Chicago-Disney-Boston races in my rear view mirror plus a non-race trip (*gasp* there is such a thing?), the wallet needed a rest. Local race it is! How was it? As the old saying goes, "once you go local, there’s no going back."
It was nice to wake up in my own bed. By “my own bed” I mean, of course, the floor of my living room on an air bed. No, Mrs. Nitmos didn’t finally get wise. My parents were down to watch my colt run the mile race. Me they couldn’t have given a shit about.
I had targeted 1:29 way back during my SOS2 goal setting in the spring. By the time this race came around, I felt like I could easily beat that and considered lowering my goal. Glad I didn’t. I’m used to races not measuring exactly to the hundredths of a mile. They might measure on a different line than you run. You might have to work side to side to pass people. There’s normal human (and machine? Say it ain’t so Garmin p.b.t.n.) error. Normally, however, I come in pretty close to the actual distance give or take a couple hundredths of a mile.
The Capital City River Run starts out in downtown Lansing, Michigan and then veers right to hook up with the river walk trails. It bobs and weaves like, well, you would expect a river to bob and weave all snake-like. I figured it was important to really run the tangents for this race due to all the twists and turns of the path. I was tangent cutting like a tangent cutting mofo. As I watched runners in front of me swerve side to side down a trail, I cut a straight line bringing myself to the edges of both sides of the trail as it twisted through the woods. I remember mentally patting myself on the back and thinking ‘You are one smooth tangent running Mr. Geometry. Other runners, take note! Don’t give me lip or I’ll drop a radius on your ass.’
Somewhere between mile 4 and 5 my Garmin chirps started coming in well before the mile markers. Garmin is infallible, we know that, and I’m Mr. Geometry, we know that now too, so, clearly, they screwed up on their measurement. I really didn’t pay it much attention. Sometimes all the mile markers don’t line up but seem to come pretty close by the time you get to the end of the race.
As usual, I failed to follow my pre-race plan to run two to three 7 minute miles to warm into some 6:40’s. Instead, I ran pretty consistent splits. Here they are in all their glory:
Mile 1 6:45
Mile 2 6:33
Mile 3 6:54
Mile 4 6:43
Mile 5 6:43
Mile 6 6:53
Mile 7 6:50
Mile 8 6:47
Mile 9 6:43
Mile 10 6:34
Mile 11 6:44
Mile 12 6:27 * Best mile!
Mile 13 6:55 * Followed by worst mile! Coincidence?
Last .21(!) 1:21 @ 6:24 pace
Not sure why I eased off so much in mile 13 except with the almost tragic belief that I had my goal in the bag. I remember looking at Garmin as I passed the 12 mile marker thinking ‘1:29 is done maybe I’ll see how close I can get to 1:28.’ Then we arrived back downtown. And took a left, And then a right. And then another left. Where’s the f*%&ing finish?? I’m over 1:28 already!! And then a final right.
There it is. Holy crap, I better pick it up to beat 1:29.
I crossed at 1:28:51 according to me and cooled down for a few minutes slightly confused. How did I end up so close to blowing my goal? Well, ole infallible Garmin tells me I ran 13.21 miles. Apparently my definition of a half-marathon doesn’t match CCRR’s definition of a half-marathon. Mine is shorter. For someone trying to hit a goal, a 1/10th of a mile is significant time suckage (i.e. 40 seconds or so). In fact, if not for the time it took to run the extra 1/10 mile, I would have (barely) negative splitted the race.
Then, to top it off, they recorded my finish at 1:28:53. Robbed of two additional seconds! Bastards!
In the end, it was a fun race. The course was a bit more challenging than I had anticipated considering I train on almost exclusively flat sidewalks. No big hills but plenty of slight up and down bumps. I feel like I should have done better but I'll settle for this result. For now.
This is my only half-marathon (besides the Goofy Challenge which I don’t count as a separate race) so automatic PR! And, in the end, I did beat my SOS2 goal…though just by the plaque on my teeth.
Numbers? Yes, numbers:
1:28:53 time (Garmin sez 1:28:51)
13.11 miles (Garmin sez 13.21 miles)
6:48 pace (Garmin sez 6:44 pace)
42nd of 1503 overall
11th of 98 in age group
Meanwhile, my colt took second in the kids’ mile race finishing behind the leader by two seconds!
Photos? Yes, photos: (Feel free to order me some. I'll provide the shipping address.)
Me doin' some bridgin'
Colt finishing the kids mile
Next up? The Detroit Marathon 5 person team relay...in which Nitmos = Two persons.
P.S. Work still stucks.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
All of this comes as I approach Sunday's half marathon. Or semi-marathon. Or 21K. Or whatever you want to call it.
I'm ready to run the race. It's local but rain showers are expected. That would be kinda fun. I've never ran a race longer than a 5k in the rain before. I've always believed I'm a mudder anyhow so this would go a long ways towards proving it.
Unfortunately, my Big Boss Man has robbed me of precious blogging time. Time I could have spent letting you all know how much pavement ass I'm going to kick. You know, typical F.M.S. bluster and pomposity...which ultimately ends in a humiliating defeat. But it's fun while it lasts. I love to pre-taunt a race course. Because, even if it ends up getting the best of me, I know that here in the snowy Midwest the snow plows will be coming around soon enough to scrape the shit out of the roads and leave a trail of pot holes in their wake. Either way, I win. Suck it, roads.
I'll be looking to break my SOS2 goal of 1:29. Considering I've done two 13 mile training runs below 1:30 in the past several weeks, I think this is a manageable goal providing there aren't any unfilled pot holes left over from last winter waiting to grab my foot and snap my Achilles.
I'll try to provide a race report next week. I'll also try to check in with you all some time soon as well. Until then, the BBM is shouting "Jump!" But I have no idea how high I should go? Maybe I'll ask.
I don't even have time to come up with a suitable blog post title...
Friday, September 18, 2009
An even better reason to go there, however, is to hear tales of running in the Australian outback from Kristina the Marathon Mama. She spent nearly three weeks trail running in the bush. She's like Dian Fossey except not gorillas but dingoes. (And I'm sure her fate will be much brighter.) Despite our best and repeated attempts to drag the conversation down to a childish, feces flinging level, Kristina somehow managed to divulge some interesting information. What a jerk. Take your fancy complete sentences and stories that don't end with someone farting in someone else's face to another podcast, will ya'. Try ending a sentence with a preposition once in awhile. I like to.
Of course, Vanilla, RazZ and Amy are there. Nothing I could do about that folks. As The Facts of Life so aptly taught us: "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life."
So, do yourself a treat this morning and download/listen to the latest podcast. You might laugh and learn, which is great. Or, you might be disgusted and annoyed for wasting your time with such drivel. In that case, won't the rest of your day seem so much better then? You're welcome either way.
We've now featured two guests in a row: John from Hella Sound and Kristina. Who is going to be next? It could be YOU so go do something interesting and/or benefit us in some way. I'm sure John and Kristina would both tell you that the podcast experience with us is completely wonderful. After all, the main feedback we get after taping is either (a) "who should be named in the slander suit I've prepared?" or (b) "how many showers does it take to wash the shame, regret, and humiliation of BOTR off of me?"** Such kidders!
Here's Episode 4 of BOTR.
Thanks to Kristina for joining us. And, trust me, it was no problem at all to include a link to your blog in a post that features HERMAPHRODITES so prominently. Go take another shower.
* I just teed one up for you all, let's hear what you can do with it. Don't disappoint.
** Answers? (a) Vanilla and (b) Usually several showers combined with a deep period of introspection answering questions such as "How did my life turn out this way?" and "What did I do to deserve this?" plus time. Time heals all wounds.
Folks, my legs are shredded. Not shredded in the steroid-popping, muscle-bulging kinda way but dead dog tired. I guess I will taper for that half-marathon on September 27th. Ten days is a long enough taper for a half right? I could barely maintain a 7:05 pace for 9 miles last night.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
This post has nothing to do with running. I know, I know, you come by here for deep running thoughts, advice, and tips so you’re probably feeling a bit lost. Unmoored. Floating in a sea of confusion and depression clutching the F.M.S. brand name as your only life preserver. Sweet, really, how you all look to me for advice. Hell, where else can one pretend to be a revered Professional Running Coach other than on the internet??? (After all, I can whip you up an authentic looking training plan with the best of ‘em.) But today I’m putting away my Bowerman series whistle and putting on my story time hat…
It’s the summer of 1991. My future of uninterrupted mediocrity is still ahead of me. Mrs. Nitmos and I are just a year into our courtship.* Back then, we still called it a courtship. We had class…and grunge music. You Gen-Y’ers (or Gen-Nexters?) might call it “tapping” or “hittin’ it” or “blumpkinery”. I’m not familiar with your weird, hip, post-Gen X vernacular. At any rate, we are dating.
To bank money for college (beer and grunge CD’s), I’m busy working my summer job at the Grand Traverse Resort, northern Michigan’s finest resort and home of the Michigan Open, as a bell man. Not a bell boy, mind you. Bell Man thankyouverymuch. Sounds more superhero-y that way….like I’m saving luggage from being displaced and/or lost while wearing spandex, mask, cape, and the giant letters ‘B.M.’ on my chest. (Hmmm, we need to work on the letters for the chest…) A bell boy would be my assistant. Think Robin.
Here I am slinging bags all summer. From airport shuttles to hotel lobby. From lobby to room. From room back to airport shuttles. Doing my small part to save the intrepid vacationer/businessman/professional golfer from a trip of misplaced clothing and toothbrushes. Without over-inflating my sense of self, isn’t a Bell Man really the backbone of the entire vacation experience?
In this position, a smile and thank you from a weary traveler is a generous reward. Of course, a more generous reward is a monetary tip (which the occasional asshole weary traveler would sometimes forget.**) A few bucks for the backbone isn’t much to ask, right? You’d tip your skeletal system if it meant the difference between standing upright or lying in a fleshy, gelatinous pool of skin, wouldn’t you?
Most of the passers-through and Samsonites went by anonymously with only the occasional What the F*ck Is In That Dude’s Suitcase? moment. There were a few that stood out though.
Metallica was in town for a concert and were rumored to be staying at one of the resort condo properties. A group of excited teens had me drive them around the resort grounds for over 45 minutes at two in the morning in vain search for Lars and James. Condo by condo we went. At each, I’d dutifully stop the van, let them out, and welcome their sad little faces back in a few moments later. It was funny really. They kept begging me to tell them Metallica’s actual location. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I, also, had no idea. So, instead I said, “If you give me a big enough tip, I’ll take you to their door.” They couldn’t come up with any money which, in hindsight, was just as well as I’d probably have had to kick them out the door at some random condo and then mash the accelerator with a cackle and a fistful of tens and twenties.
Then there was the time I didn’t pick up Stone Phillips (NBC, Dateline) from the airport. Well, I did…eventually. It was his misfortune to fly into a tiny, small town airport with the last flight at midnight. By then, the resort only has one Bell Man on duty. That night? Me. Unfortunately, for him, I was busy checking in some of the resort owners’ good friends. Who didn’t like their condo. Who had to be moved to another condo. Who also didn’t like that condo (discoloration on the carpet). Who had to be moved to the main hotel tower. And then have their car valet parked for them (another Bell Man duty.) By the time I got to the airport 90 minutes later, little ole Stone was standing under a street lamp outside of the airport lobby with his bag at his feet. They closed. Turned out the lights and went home. At this point, Stone was still a nobody. Just a reporter in to file a story for NBC on the local emergency helicopter service making some national news. Let me tell you, he was pissed. He took a few pot shots at me and the resort for our “service” as he called it sarcastically. I checked him in. No tip, as you would expect. But, the entire time, I had a smile on my face. The best I could have hoped for anyway from Stone was a fiver. The resort owners’ friends? $20! I win.
Finally, my most favorite brush with fame: Ernie Harwell. Those of you outside of Michigan might not know the name. Here, he’s one of our most famous and favorite sports figures who, well, never actually played a sport. The radio voice of the Detroit Tigers for 42 years and a presence in the newspaper and TV for much longer. Baseball Hall of Famer, historian, and well known all around classy guy. I grew up with his voice painting the baseball game in my mind’s eye. Warm, friendly, filled with interesting stories, whatever your trouble, you knew the three hours spent listening would be a highlight for the day.
There are new Tigers announcers now but when they say “Home run!”, I still here Ernie’s “LOOOOONG GONE!”. When they say “struck him out”, I still hear “he stood there like the house by the side of the road and watched that one go by.” He is a Detroit and Michigan and baseball legend. I don’t really get into goofy hero worship of athletes, actors, or politicians but this guy is as close as it gets to pure reverence.
Ernie tapped me on the shoulder one fine summer day in 1991 and politely asked me to bring his car around. It was a modest car and it annoys me that I can’t remember the make or model. Chevy Caprice or a similarly styled Buick perhaps? Anyhow, I vividly recall repeating too myself, “I’m driving Ernie freakin’ Harwell’s car!” over and over again as I brought it to the front. He stood there chatting with the other Bell Men, shaking hands, and telling stories. I handed him the keys; he deposited a $5 bill in my hand. I felt embarrassed to take it actually. He shouldn’t be paying me. I’m pretty sure my Balance Due was pretty high by then.
He drove off with his wife and daughter and I never had another chance to meet him again though I listened often through 2002 when he finally retired for good.
These memories came flooding back recently as news broke that Harwell, now 91 years old and still active in various baseball media formats, was diagnosed with incurable bile duct cancer. No one lives forever but, if there ever was going to be a special exemption to that rule, I thought it just might be him. The Tigers held a special night for him Wednesday night where, in typical Ernie style, he came onto the field to thank the fans, smile, wave and depart with head held high.
Who knows how much time he has left? He made my summer of 1991. He made most of my summers brighter through childhood, the teen years, college, and, finally, as a married man with kids of my own.
Thank you, Mr. Harwell. And, though this post turned a bit more maudlin than I intended, here’s one more log for the fire: I still have that $5 bill. It’s hidden away in one of the deep folds of my wallet. A bit tattered and worn but still there as it has been for 18 years now.
Thus concludes the Adventures of Bell Man.
* She’s clearly still hoping my better days are ahead. Sorry to disappoint.
** Which, by the way, the experienced Bell Man can spot a mile away: The non-tipper. The Joker to our Batman. The Nelson to our Bart Simpson. The adult acting career to Gary Coleman. These folks got their cosmetic bags placed on the bottom of the luggage trolley with the heaviest piece purposely squashed on top if it. A Bell Man scorned is not a pleasant experience…for you or your shampoo.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I rolled out of bed Sunday morning with a belly full of celebratory beer mixed with a club sandwich and a heaping portion of seasoned French fries along with a bad case of Low Motivation. Why? Well, my college football filled Saturday afternoon went like this:
1) Watch last few minutes as one of my alma maters beat Michigan State on a last second field goal bringing a smirk to my face.
2) Watch Michigan take out Notre Dame on a last second touchdown bringing a big, wide, borderline euphoric smile to my face.
3) Consume beer/club sandwich at local restaurant. Not even care as kids barely miss smacking into lamps and whacking people in the face with pool cues as I sat at nearby table with goofy grin still etched into cheeks.
4) Go home. Watch Ohio State lose in the last minute. Smile is cartoony wide now and consumes whole face.
That, my friends, is called the trifecta! Or quadfecta if you include the beer and club sandwich. A good night.
However, life is all about the yin yang, the balancing of fate. For every Seinfeld, there’s a Bob Patterson or Michael Richards Show. The wider my smile got; the more leery I became of the payback.
So as I rolled from the warm, comfortable embrace of Mrs. Nitmos Sunday morning to tackle the long run, I knew I was in trouble. Mistress Hammysnap would smell the beer and detect the signs of unrestrained joy still dancing around the corners of my mouth. I would pay. Oh, yes, how ‘bout a nice spiked heel to your left hamstring around mile six??
I let the previous evening’s events circumcise my planned 15 miles to 13. The plan became 5 miles around 7:00 pace, 5 miles at race pace (6:45), and then 3 miles cool down in the 7-7:15 range. The half marathon is two weeks away and conventional wisdom tells me I should start to taper at some point after this run (but not in the middle of it – this isn’t OSU football after all.**)
Heavy. Sluggish. Tired. Damn, beer doesn’t make for good pre-run hydration. Mistress Hammysnap was beating me in the back like a derby racehorse just to squeeze a 7:01 pace out of me through 5 miles. Sweat? Buckets full.
And now I needed to get faster? The club sandwich was trying to find a way out like it was fleeing from a brothel raid. Pinch. Convince myself it’s just a hernia. Pinch a second time to slam the door shut. Run on.
ThankyoumayIhaveanother!? ThankyoumayIhaveanother?! I managed to please Mistress with the next five miles at a 6:41 pace. I left a lot of evaporative beer and club sandwich out on the course though. My hammies didn’t snap (thank you, Mistress!) but they did strain and start reciting a prayer just in case.
Cool down three miles. But “cool down” doesn’t feel like COOL DOWN when the pace is only 20 seconds per mile slower than the previous five. And those five were unmitigated torture.
7:05, 7:06 and then an unplanned sprint in at mile 13 with a 6:40. The final mile is the only in which I deviated from plan. Mistress Hammysnap didn’t have to time to take a pound of flesh in punishment. She was overridden by Master B.M. who exacted a pound of …something else.
I was a good boy. Mistress must have been pleased with the effort. I’m sure she’ll be there on race day wearing chaps, a bull whip and spiked heels. Saddle up!
Race day is on a Sunday (in two weeks). I better look at that Saturday’s football schedule to know what I might be in for.
* The name is entirely fictionalized. There’s no way I’d pay to be ritualistically beaten – at a cost of $125 an hour – every Wednesday evening from 7-9 (discounted rates for multiple hours!). No way.
Friday, September 11, 2009
You may recall my sarcasm soaked congratulations to Usain Bolt for his world record 100m run in Berlin last month. If not, why don’t you? You should. There’ll be a quiz at years end. I’ll wait while you click that link and refresh.
Well, looky looky, we have another 100m world record holder. This time, in the animal world. The Cincinnati Zoo took it upon themselves to stage a
On the first attempt, she ran 6.164. So she went from 6.164 to...6.130? I’ll ask the same question I asked in Mr. Bolt’s case: Does anyone notice anything odd about those two sets of numbers? Like the first number to the left of the decimal is still ‘6’? In this case, the only digit that changed was the one in the hundredths position. Bolt, at least, managed to lower the number in the tenths position.
Admittedly, 6.130 seconds is fast. Even for me. Using the McMillan Running calculator to extrapolate this out, Sarah the Cheetah could do a mile in 2:03, 5k in 7:04, and marathon in 1:09. Suddenly, Usain Bolt, Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall don’t seem so impressive now do they?
If you clicked the article link and read it – and again, if you didn’t, why not? – my favorite part is the last line where Sarah, after her sprint, “looked barely out of breath.” What a show off. Maybe if I had to chase after my favorite
Way to be slightly faster, Sarah the Cheetah! But, next time, how ‘bout you just let us know when your PR changes to 5 something, at least, m’kay?
And since this is Animal Kingdom day on F.M.S., here’s a great picture of a gorilla with awesome nipples.
No word on how fast the gorilla is though. But does it matter? Not with nips like that.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Instead, last night’s intervals – combined with reading Running and Living’s successful half marathon race report earlier in the day – got me thinking about the mental side of running and racing. There is a mental side to running. You’ll have to trust me, again, on this. I know it didn’t occur to many of you what with all the bright light bulbs to stare at. Pretty, I’m sure.
As runners, we talk about distances, paces, pulled hamstrings, energy chews, cross training exercises, and, occasionally, sphincter related topics. All physical. Hell, I like to get physical as much as the next guy. I spent grades 3rd-5th with a moderate to severe Olivia Newton-John crush after all. (Matching head and wrist bands with a leotard? Yes, please! Let’s get physical…physical...)
But what attention do we pay to the mental? Won’t anyone think of the mental? How do you train your brain for a race? How do you prepare to push through The Wall – a mental barrier – when the time comes? How do you practice pushing yourself harder and farther when the legs are burning and your lungs are ready to explode. When the physical starts to fail, the right mental approach can still keep you moving down the road. At least, that’s what I strongly believe.
Case in point: Last night’s intervals. I’m simultaneously training for a 5k, 10k and 21k (the SOS2 rolls on!) so I’ve kept my 800’s in the 5-7 interval range to work on different distances during other parts of the week. Yesterday was a planned 6x800 @ 2:50 pace. This is usually a challenge for me. Last time out, you’ll remember that I mindf*cked myself into a 2:57 pace right from the beginning. (See? Mental!) This time out, I was determined to not pre-determine my pace. Sure, I was shooting for 2:50 but I generally go with the flow of how I feel that day and not worry if I’m a few seconds off either way. I don’t want to run to an exact number. I judge myself based on perceived effort – for 800’s, RUN UNCOMFORTABLY HARD - and the pace just kinda happens.
This time, I settled in at a 2:52 pace. Pretty close to the goal. I was working hard. My first four intervals were all right at about 2:52 on the nose. The 5th gained a few seconds as some exhaustion kicked in. On my last recovery lap, the Doubt Demons started creeping in. Physically, I was tired. But completely exhausted? No. Not if I’m being honest and understanding the difference between energy depleted EXHAUSTION and just REALLY TIRED. Still, the Doubt Demons were telling me that I couldn’t do this last interval anywhere near 2:52. I’d be lucky if I got under 3:00.
I listened to these little bastards all the way around my recovery 400m, swatted them to the side and started my last 800. But I still heard them shooting poison darts into my brain during the entire first lap. After 400m of the last 800, I stopped. Garmin (p.b.t.n.) read 1:30. I was disappointed for giving in. I stood there for about 10 seconds or so with my hands on my hips breathing deeply. I was tired. Really tired. But exhausted? Nah. I had convinced myself that I was exhausted. I was mindf*cking myself again. I still had more to give.
So I wiped my brow with my one Newton-Johnesque sweatband, flexed for a moment as someone was running by on the track (I usually lose 2-3 seconds per interval flexing and preening for people as I run by anyhow), and took off for the last 400m.
With restored confidence - with the mental side now buttressing the physical – I knocked out the last 400m in 1:22.
This is an area I still need to work on. This is an area I think most runners need to work on. I need to sharpen my understanding of how my mental side works with/sometimes against the physical. What is exhaustion versus just really tired? What is the difference between giving all as opposed to giving most? When you get really tired and the Doubt Demons spring up, can you successfully conquer them and actually increase your pace? When the physical energy fades a bit, you need to count on the mental to push you along.
Last night was a small case study that I’ll be thinking about for awhile. I need to tune in to what is going on between the ears as much as I do with what my Garmin (p.b.t.n.) reads. I know that in 5k’s, in which you pretty much run all out the entire time, I’ve pulled back periodically convincing myself that I needed to save something for the last ½ mile. And then, when the race is over and the first quick wave of chest heaving tired washes over and recedes, I’ve found myself questioning why I let up during mile two. Why did I give in a bit? Mind games! Mindf*cked!
I need to get Mental. Hell, let’s all wear sweatbands and spandex and get mental! Practice pushing yourself a bit further and faster periodically. Don’t think you can do one more lap? I bet you can. You just need to convince your brain to take the lead especially when the physical side wants to give in. If you are like me (and why wouldn’t you at least want to be?), this is the challenge. Don’t let the mental drag down the physical. In fact, the mental should back-up and carry the physical.
I guess what I’m saying in all these words, was already captured more poetically and concisely in C.W. Longenecker’s poem:
If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you like to win, but you think you can’t
It is almost certain you won’t
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,
For out in the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow’s will.
It’s all in the state of mind.
If you think you are outclassed, you are,
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man.
But soon or late the man who wins,
Is the man who thinks he can.
But that’s if you prefer snooty poets. I prefer ONJ.
A place where nobody dared to go
The love that we came to know
They call it Xanadu
Okay, okay, I know it doesn’t really have anything to do with this topic but still catchy no?
Let’s all go out and find our mental Xanadu. (See how I tied that neatly together?)
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
My legs are tired. My hammies are a little pissed. I tried to cram some extra hard running in this last week to make up for the week I spent eating free desserts and developing communicable diseases from greasy handled rides. Intervals? Yes, a couple sessions. A race pace 8 miler? Check. By the time I got to Sunday's 13 miler, I knew it was going to be a real Labor. (Honestly, you knew that was coming right?) Thirteen miles is no big deal, normally. But on the heels of a tough week, it felt like 20.
Another hard week awaits and then I'll probably pull back a bit to rest up for the big half-marathon. This is the first time in 4 years that I don't have a fall marathon on the schedule. Just a half marathon. A half marathon? Where's the satisfaction in that? That's like popping a ripe conical pimple only to find out half of the whitehead is still stuck inside. What a let down. That's like brushing only your bottom teeth. You don't go away with the same feeling of satisfaction of a job well - and fully - done.
I think the word "half" is not doing 13.1 miles the justice it deserves. A 5k, 10k, 15k, marathon, etc. get their own unique title. A half marathon gets a qualifier of another race distance just to let you know how inadequate it is. Oh, you're not a full marathon. Just a half? If you are doing a 5k, you don't say that you signed up for a half 10k. If you did, the first thing people would think is 'why isn't he just doing the full 10k? He can only do half of it?'
I don't know what we should call half marathons to give them the respect they half deserve. A triskaidekaphobiathon? A baker's dozen race? Nitmos' shoe sizeathon? (Admittedly, this probably won't catch on.) Something other than "half."
I'm not a half wit, there is nothing to be done about the title of my September 27th race at this point. I'll run it hard; no half assing it here. Hey, look at that last sentence. A semi-colon! A "half" colon.
Two and a semi weeks until my semi-marathon!
Last week, 8 miles @ 6:44 pace. This week, 9 miles at the same pace and a 15 mile long run. Oh, and 6x800 at 2:50 pace and 3x1600 at 6:00 pace.
I always like it when the object of my teasing then appears in the comments. Hi Mrs. Beardsley, how are things?
Friday, September 04, 2009
You’ll remember my completely one-sided and largely fabricated rivalry I have with Mr. Beardsley. It came to a peak on the summit of Boston’s Heartbreak Hill during the 2008 Boston Marathon. I was able to put together a crudely photoshopped, mildly slanderous photo of the Beardsley Monster as I saw him that day. He destroyed my baby cows.** Marathon champion, motivational speaker (seriously, check him out if you can), subject of feature film he may be but nobody – NO ONE – puts my baby cows in a corner.
Beardsley Monster circa 2008 (artist rendering - but very accurate)
The email gave the appearance of a mass media emailing announcement rather than a personalized attack on yours truly. Heck, some of you may have even received it. Don’t believe it. This whole thing…the movie, the references to Beardsley as “marathon legend” and “marathon champion”, the inspiring life story…are all part of a coordinated multi-pronged F.U. designed to undermine my bid for redemption at the 2010 Boston Marathon.
Clever, Beardsley, well played.
If you click this link, you can go to his foundation web page and enter the contest. (Hurry, today is the last day for entry!) I want you to pay particular attention to the subtle little slam aimed at me towards the bottom. It says:
How To Enter (For Regular Folks):
Nice. “For Regular Folks”?!? Way to build yourself up while putting me in my place. I may not have running “awards” or have been part of the most famous marathon in “history” or survived “near-death encounters” with farm equipment *** or appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records or been the subject of books/films. And I may work an 8-5 job**** and live in the suburban Midwest and lack notoriety and personal wealth. But “regular folk”? The gull! Snort. Guffaw. Eye roll.
You’ve gone too far Mr. Beardsley. I had to print that email on non-standard 11’ x 17’ paper just to get most of your ego on it.
I’ll see you on Heartbreak Hill in 7 ½ months for a second go ‘round.
Between now and then, you keep getting soft making self-aggrandizing feature films and drinking your Minnesota style lattes with pinkie finger extended while twisting your dastardly pencil-thin curled mustache.
I’ll keep running.
We’ll see who the “regular folk” is then.
Remember to enter today in order to be eligible for the prize!
* I have a transaction in process to claim over $150,000 from a Ugandan bank right now! If I disappear from the internet suddenly, you’ll know I got too rich for the rest of you. I just had to send off my social security number….
** For you Feet Meet Street beginners, “baby cows” refers to my calf muscles. Keep up will you? You’re slowing the rest of us down.
*** Though I did see Son In Law starring Pauly Shore so I’ve had my own near death farm related experience.
**** Who am I kidding? It’s more like 8:50 – 4:30. But don’t tell my boss.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Many of you guessed correctly. We were in Florida last week. More specifically Disney World. Yes, I consciously signed up to take the family – kids and all – to Disney for a week in late August. What gave it away? The $5 bottle of water? Or the mind numbing stupidity of such a choice that could only be associated with yours truly? What? Is it hot and humid in August in Florida or something??
I don’t like to pick on people. You know that about me. Some people though, unprovoked, call me a "terrorist." Others may say I’m “unfit for civilized society.”* And yet still others maintain I “show occasional glimpses of standard human characteristics that provide a fleeting hope that years of therapy may yet yield a infinitesimal movement to a desired result.”** Whatev. The Nitmos clan did Disney World! Along the way, we managed to mock people in mobility carts!
Now, before you judge, understand that it was very humid out. We were standing in lines that led to very limited entertainment conclusions (you’ve been on It’s A Small World right?). And I like to make hasty snap judgments about people. It’s one of my favorite activities.
Beep beep beep. In come the motorized mobility carts. The rider resembles McDonaldland’s Grimace. The only disability I see is the inability to control their trans fats. As Cross Country Squared said in the last posts comments, we (I say “we” as we were on the trip with another family of four – that’s right 4 kids total!) were basically playing her game of Fat or Crippled? You know what? 90% of the time our judgment was Fat. Grimace here. Mayor McCheese there. These weren’t disabilities. Sorry if that sounds rude – I’m not normally like this as you know – but try waiting in line for 30 minutes to see a plastic Peter Pan only to be bumped further back by a gluttonous, beeping mobility cart rider and his/her family of 17. Sorry sir, you’ll need to wait 5 extra minutes while we load up Jabba and company. It’s only 90 degrees with 90% humidity but bring that cart to the front of the line. Enjoy your day!
After a few days of that, my friend and I decided that mobility carts should come with a labeling system on the back. Like a license plate displaying the name of the disability. If “Trans Fats” or “Oreos” appears on the plate, sorry, no line cuts for you. If that means you don’t go to Disney World and become housebound until either Richard Simmons or a crane shows up to bring you outside again, so be it. It got to the point where I started seriously questioning why I bother running and attempting to eat healthy. Shit, if I just grew my ass four sizes, like a backwards Grinch, I could get right on every ride, every bus right away? Tempting. Where’s the Cheetos? Here I am walking around these never-ending parks on my own legs like a sucker. Beep beep beep, here I come.
Enough with my mobility cart diatribe. I’m accused periodically of being long-winded so I’ll wrap this vacation recap up with RazZian bullet points.
- We had a great time despite the heat, humidity, mobility carts and, well, being at Disney World.
- It’s a Small World still sucks.
- They still need more roller coasters and other vomit inducing rides.
- There’s not enough Purell in the world for that place.
- Can you get herpes in your eye from a swimming pool? I think I did.
- They offered their free dining plan. Every meal came with a dessert. I’ve never eaten so many desserts in my life. Another few weeks eating like that and I’d be in a mobility cart.
- I have an unexplained rash now. No further details will be provided.
- Mrs. Nitmos hates Minnie Mouse. I think she’s sexy in that red and white checkered mini skirt. Can you guess how I tormented Mrs. Nitmos?
- This bullet point format does not allow me to expand on the near assault I got into with the airline agent at the Delta/NWA counter at the Orlando airport. Let’s just say I had to step away from the counter and let Mrs. Nitmos handle things or daddy would have spent the night in the lock up. Wearing mouse ears. Or “prag ears” as they are called in Orlando lock up.
- We tried to leave on Saturday but Disney somehow knew we still had money in our pockets. Pluto, Goofy, and nunchuk wielding Chip n’ Dale met as at the gates. Oh, yes, we could leave….if we emptied our pockets. Or we could stay until Sunday. We stayed until Sunday.
- I did manage two runs during the week of approximately 3 miles each. Absolutely saturated in sweat. How do you southern runners do it?
Here’s some carefully selected photos from the trip. There’s a beefcake shot of me in the pool below. Don’t sprain your index finger scrolling.
My little monster waiting for Rock n' Roller Coaster. Cute right?
Colt being afraid of the looming Tower of Terror
Ha! you thought I'd give you a beefcake shot of my chiseled pecs and rippled abs? You were kidding yourself. Just me and my begoggled offspring sitting in the laundry tub. I say "laundry tub" because what you can't see is Mrs. Nitmos submerged and scrubbing trousers on my rippled six pack abs. That's how we do.
Disney already in Halloween mode. Sheesh.