Wednesday, April 29, 2009
If you’ve done this, you are a De-Motivator.
I will be taking to the streets of Cincinnati this Sunday for the Flying Pig Marathon (which is waaay awesomer than the lame Phoenix Rock N’ Roll Marathon by the way*) with my friend. We will tame Cin City as a duo. We’ll be Batman and Robin (without the homoerotic overtones and “tingly” senses.) When this plan was hatched, the first thing my friend mentioned is that, while running with him, I’ll get to hear all the times people say to him “looking strong big guy.” Which he hates.
To be fair, he is bigger than the average U.S. male. He’s about 6’1-2” and roughly 200 lbs give or take. Not exactly gigantic…just the next size up from average. Go ahead and click on his site here and see for yourself (that’s him on the left). Not exactly Andre the Giant, right? Nowhere near Hurley from Lost either. Both of those guys I’d give a “Looking strong big guy” too.
So, what gives? And who thinks it is motivating to say “looking strong big guy?” By doing so, you are (a) implying that the person is a little on the LARGE side and (b) doing surprisingly well for someone so LARGE. It’s really a backhanded compliment and not one you want to hear 20 miles into a race.
I wonder if these same folks hang outside of Jenny Craig facilities just so they can compliment the patrons with “Hey, you aren’t nearly as big as I thought you’d be. You are at least 4 sizes down from the moon. Good job!”
Or tell a pimple faced teen that their pock marked cheeks look more like simple hail damage rather than asteroid craters. Good for you! (Add a wink and a thumbs up.)
Sure, I’ve caught myself marveling at the real short guy in front of me with those tiny little legs turning over two steps for my one and wondering how in the hell he keeps that pace. But, never in a million years, did I consider saying “Wow, despite the fact that you appear to be built to the perfect size to retrieve things I’ve lost down my backyard well, you are really fast!”
(Well, I considered it. But didn’t say it.)
Have you ever received one of those back handed compliments before? One of those moments where someone with a well intentioned, smiling face just sucked the life right out of you with an ill-timed or poorly worded comment?
Just to be clear, as a spectator you should probably never say the following:
“Wow, great job! I never thought you’d make it this far!” (Said at mile 5 of a marathon)
“Hey, thanks for helping but the volunteers should get out of the way of the runners!” (But you’re not a volunteer)
“You are the fastest plus size model on earth!”
“Aww, how cute! Look at you run!”
“Awesome job overcoming your disability!” (Though you have no disability.)
“Don’t worry, the aid stations are still open. Keep going!”
If you shout any of these things – even with the biggest smile on your face – you are an Unintentional De-Motivator. Please consult my spectator cheering advice post from last year for help.
I think the closest I ever came was during the Disney Marathon when an aid station worker started following me down the road waving a cup of Gatorade in my face and saying “You look like you really need this.” Er, thanks. I think. Truth is, I did so no hard feelings.
As this Dynamic Duo hits the streets of Cincinnati, I’ll have my Looking Strong Big Guy (LSBG) meter ready to count. We’ll see how many Jokers there are out there.
For now, the LSBG meter is prepped, ready and set to zero.
* Mainly because no one ever describes that one with the word “awesomer.”
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Subtitle: "1st Boston, 6th Marathon, 2nd Guessing"
Background: This was my 6th marathon and with the exception of an 18 year break between #1 and #2, I have dropped my time in each race, inching towards equaling my 2:57 as a 20 year old. After running a marathon in December (while breaking out the HK singlet 1.0) that had elevation changes “kinda like” Boston, I had 15 weeks to go until Boston. In that race, I went out WAY too fast and had an awful bonk, and still ran a 3:14:xx During my training, we had a baby in February, resulting in less sleep and less miles. My regular training partner did not run with me during this cycle, so I was left to do my tempo runs solo, which I did half heartedly. I was looking forward to running the race with my brother in law (HKRBIL), who brought his 12 year old son (HKR12YON) along.
Saturday: My wife (Mrs. HKR) and I arrive in Boston early Saturday afternoon. We grabbed our luggage and while at baggage claim, my wife’s best friend (Mrs. HKRBFF) from Michigan shows up to surprise her and to hang out with her for the weekend. Mrs. HKR was speechless for several seconds then all she could say was “what are you doing here!?” I had been planning this surprise since August and relieved to have this monkey off my back. After dropping our luggage off at the hotel, we headed out to the Expo. This is where things start going badly. I could not find where the packet pickup was located at the expo. We finally walked down a hall and I saw three runners with big yellow bags, so obviously, they will be helpful. I approached one of them and said, “Excuse me boss, where is the packet pickup?” He looked at me funny, pointed at his bag and said something in Icelandic or Norwegian to me…nevermind.
I finally found the packet pickup, but in doing so, I lost Mrs. HKR and child (SOHKR). I took my phone out of my pocket to find about 15 missed calls. Whoops. Well, we eventually reunited and when we did HRKBIL and HKR12YON had found Mrs. HKR. We stuck around the expo for a few more minutes, then headed off to dinner. As we walked down Boylston Street, walking in the other direction was Olympian Brian (and Mrs.?) Sell. So I asked if he had time for a picture, we chatted for a few seconds, got the picture and wished each other well for Monday’s race. Mrs. HKR and Mrs. HKRBFF had no idea who he was and HKRBIL told HKR12YON that it was “Ryan Hall”. Good times! After dinner, we got back to the hotel; I went through my “Sunday Night Checklist” and went to bed around 11pm.
Sunday: Up early, short walk to the T station, long wait for the next train, hoped on the train, made our transfers, then and as we walked out of the Hereford Station, I saw the 5k runners go by and cheered them on. Unfortunately, they were the 25 minute 5kers, so I missed catching HKR12YON run. Turns out he ran it in 20:1x and was one of the fastest kids under 13 in the race. After the race we stopped by Trader Joe’s to pick up snacks and while we were in the store, Mrs. HKR’s “little sister” (Mrs. HKR’sLS) who moved to NY about 18 months ago showed up with her family to surprise Mrs. HKR. (I am scoring some very difficult to acquire points this weekend, of course those points can vanish in an instant so I need to stay on my toes.) After another stop at the expo for the Adidas poster and other free stuff, it was off to church, then the girls went there way, and I went mine. Since I had some time to kill, I called a friend (FOHKR) to see if we could grab lunch. After I got lost (I suck) and made a 3 connection (red line to orange line to green line) 2 mile trip, FOHKR found me at Starbucks as I was donning my handsome home knitted hunter orange stocking cap. We hung out for about an hour, talking about a wide variety of things, then we reconfirmed our meeting location for Monday morning.
I then went to HKRBIL’s hotel room to relax with the guys for about 2 hours before we had to go to dinner. HKR12YON had control of the remote and his choice of TV shows was “Jeff and Kate Plus Eight”. Why are three guys watching this show the day before the Boston Marathon when women are not forcing us to? I suck. Thankfully I fell asleep for a while and when I woke up, we were running late for our dinner reservation in the North End, just a block or two from Paul Revere’s house (which I did not see). So we arrived late. The girls arrive even later but thankfully the restaurant still gave us a table after a short wait and had a great meal. By now it was time for bed and then some. We got back to the hotel, updated my facebook profile, packed my yellow bag, and set two alarms for 4:30 am.
Monday: SOHKR, my nerves and my phone’s alarm clock all woke me up at 4:30, I slapped onto my nipples some Hello Kitty band aids, got dressed, and after some breakfast was on the hotel shuttle to the T station at 5:20 and arrived at the Park Street Station around 6:10. I made the short walk to Park Street church where I met FOHKR. We soaked in some race morning atmosphere, watched the cops direct traffic, saw the Navel Academy marathon team walk by then headed to the bus lines. FOHKR and I were two of the last people on the bus. I sat down next to Rachel from the west coast, while FOHKR sat immediately in front of me as we entertained ourselves during the hour long ride to Hopkinton.
After a short trip to the Athletes Village for a bagel, banana and some Gatorade, FOHKR and I took the walk to a mysterious house down the street, about a half mile from the start line, where we were promised a warm family room to stay in before the race. As we arrived, we were welcomed by the most hospitable lady that I could imagine. I knew that I would get a warm place to stay for a few hours and short bathroom lines, but she made us coffee cake and offered us coffee, toasted bagels, and juice. Shortly after FOHKR and I fell in love with our generous hostess, HKRBIL and his two friends arrived as well. As we waited to go to the corrals, we watched the marathon coverage on TV and obsessed over our final clothing selections for the day. We all made our final choices, dropped our gear bags off at the buses early and headed back to the house for another half hour or so. At around 9:40, we started the walk, found our corral, national anthem, fighter jets fly by then we were off to the start line. I lined up next to The Principal and behind HKRBIL. My goal time was 3:09, or 7:12 per mile or 22:24 per 5k.
The Start Line:
0-5k (23:xx) It felt like an accordion, jog, pick it up, slam on the breaks, jog again, then pick up the pace again, this time for good as we cross the Start line. The Principal and I have the same goal time so we start out together, chatting it up noticing the steep downhill start, but not letting the vacuum suck us into running faster than we should as runners flock past us. The Principal and I laugh as HKRBIL pulls over to water the foliage, then about a half mile later, I decided to do the same (not so funny now), I’ll see The Principal for the next time about 27 miles into the race. The first mile felt different than most races, just chalked it up to trying to be careful.
5k-10k (22: xx /45: xx) Since I don’t run in crowds often and not liking crowds, I stick to the side of the road. There I find some little spectators who are big fans of Hello Kitty and they show me the love. I am hitting my mile splits right on, but it is feeling harder than it should. I catch up to HKRBIL and chat and run with him for a few minutes. At a water station he takes off and that is the last conversation that I will have with anyone other than myself and God until I crest Heartbreak.
10k-15k (22: xx /1:07: xx) This is the “relatively flat” part of the course, but I feel like I am using too much energy to keep my pace as I am getting side stitches. Even though there are tons of people running near me, I don’t feel like anyone is running at my same pace going both up and down hills, so this feels like a solo run with a bunch of other runners and tons of fans along the course.
15k-20k (22: xx /1:30: xx) I don’t remember much about this stretch of the race except I think I felt the wind more here. Wanted to do some drafting, but didn’t work at finding drafting partners and didn’t run in the middle of the road where the bulk of the runners were. It is weird how lonely this race can be, it seems like everyone is ”all business”, even early on.
20k-25k (22: xx /1:53: xx) Here comes Wellesley and the halfway point in the race. The scream tunnel was a lot of fun, gave some high fives, no kisses and learned that college girls also are fans of Hello Kitty. I pass the Hoyts then cruise through the half in 1:35:xx, or about a minute slower than planned. During this segment, I really want to start picking up the pace, but trust the advice I received earlier from veteran Boston Marathoners to save something for the hills and the downhill finish, so I hold back for now. Rumor has it that FOHKR passed me in this segment. If I had known, I may have tried to latch on to him and see where it might take me.
25k-30k (23: xx / 2:17: xx) I was determined not to let a lack of hill training result in the Newton Hills beating me. As we take the right turn onto Commonwealth, the feeling is kinda somber as I know the next 5 miles will not be easy. I realize that I will lose some time here, but trying not to worry about it. As I run past the 17 mile sign, I think of Nitmos who at this point in the race last year “walked for a minute”, but that one minute walk turned into a positive split of about 25 minutes. I don’t dare walk any of this race. I just keep my head down, not bothering to count the hills, just run up then down then up then down until I am not running up any more. Some point during this stretch I started hearing cheers for “Batman”. Yeah, some guy in a Batman shirt and cape trailed me by about 10-20 yards for about 2-3 miles. He was probably a big Hello Kitty fan or perhaps thought that my shirt had a picture of “Cat Woman” on the back.
30k-35k (24:xx/2:41:xx) As I slug through the second half of the Newton hills, I am passing a lot of walkers and getting passed by a few runners who are having a better day than me. I am leaking time, not trying to burn all my energy before the downhill finishing miles. As I approach mile 20,the plan says to take a gel, but I am not in the mood so I don’t take a gel between here and the finish. I start looking for my “fan club” holding a cardboard Hello Kitty face that my daughter created. Just after cresting Heartbreak, I found my fan club. This was my favorite part of the race. I ran up to my family, said my hellos then right when I got to them I gave HKR12YON a kiss on the cheek, then took off again. The little speedburner chased after me with his camera, and ran alongside me in his jeans for about 30 seconds, interviewing me as he videoed the interview. This was by far my favorite part of the race including the start, scream tunnel, “the left turn” and the finish. I need to figure out how to get the video off my facebook page.
35k-40k (25:xx/3:06:xx) By the time I reached the top of Heartbreak, I know that I was not anywhere near my goal and most of my focus and competitiveness left me as I just wanted to run fairly strong to the finish. I think I could have run these last few miles about 2-3 minutes faster, but the reward of a 3:14 or 15 did not seem worth it. As I crossed over the turnpike a guy was stumbling on and off in front of me. As I approached I decided to bag my time and help him to the side of the road to get him some help from a spectator or help from the railings on the side of the road. However, as I passed him he seemed to be doing better so I left him to take care of himself.
40k-42.195k (11:xx/3:17:xx) Keeping it just under an 8 minute pace, not killing myself to squeeze out a few extra seconds. I take the right hand turn onto Hereford, not even noticing that it is uphill, then I turn left onto Boylston and run to the finish line. About halfway down Boylston, I run up to Captain America, I think about running with him to the finish line, perhaps getting my picture in the paper, but decide against it and pass him quietly. I get about 100 yards from the line and make good on a promise to my kids. I break into their “Hello Kitty Dance”. I complete it just before the finish line then cross the line with arms in the air, fairly happy with my results.
Post Race: I think the hardest part of the race may have been the never ending finishing chute. After getting my bottle of water, I got my space blanket (asking for a size medium) then off to the food bags and finish medal, my calves started cramping up in the cold. Just before I got to my baggage bus, I went to the medical tent for some salt, they gave me a chair and a crappy cup of broth. It was the best tasting crappy cup of broth that HKR has ever had, then out of the tent to my bus. After a short wait, I got my gear bag and bumped into a very happy and warm The Principal as I got dressed in warm clothes. The Principal’s goal was 3:09 and he ran a 1:35/1:31 for a 3:06. I walked for another few hundred yards on my way to the “H family meet up section” where I found HKBIL (3:10) and short wait later Mrs. HKR, SOHKR and HKR12YON arrived.
Shortly after the race I was pretty happy with my time and the experience. However, as the days have passed, I have gotten angry with myself and my performance. Even though I didn’t have much spring in my step, I still left a lot of time on the course and I feel that around mile 18 or 19 I just quit on myself. I will be taking another week off from running, but when I get back, I will reduce my mileage for a few months, but run more “quality”/speed stuff and shoot to break or get really close to my 21 year old PR of 2:57:xx.
Until we meet again…Hello.
Thanks HKR and Congratulations! You didn't find my cleft calf on Heartbreak by chance did you?
Now, back to regular scheduled programming...
Friday, April 24, 2009
I don’t coach just to “win.” I coach to crush souls and destroy dreams.
The winter has made them weak. Our first game was this past Sunday and they loped and lolly gagged around the field like, well, first graders playing in a park. That will not cut it. We need to be a lean, mean fighting machine. The kind of wrecking ball described so aptly by Mickey while training Rocky. I want the kind of kicks that thwap off the opposing kid’s abdomen so hard that their future child won’t even think about playing soccer. I demand a rapid fire scoring attack that leaves the other team slurping their post game juice box in between heaving sobs of defeat.
You might recall that I documented our fall season experience quite a bit (starting here.) I was never satisfied with the way the team rounded into form. They didn’t taunt enough after scoring. They hardly ever bent over, made a smooching sound, and waved their rears in the opposing parents faces. Forearms to the back of a defenders head while the ref was looking elsewhere? Not a one. And you’d think maybe, just once, one of my kids would realize why I brought that folding chair to each game. Yeah, right, to sit on.
My team came back and won Sunday after a rousing halftime pep talk (by your truly, of course) erased a 3-1 deficit and turned the game to a 5-3 victory. My filly scored a goal. Just one. Since she scored just one goal, I gave her an appropriate Congratulations: I clapped with one hand also. Want sound to go with that clap? Score two goals.
This season, things will be different. Which is why I’ve instituted a training technique called Four Snakes and a Rhino. The seven kids arrived at practice last night with, I’m sure, high hopes that “things would be different.” Na-un. They won’t be. I could immediately see that on their crushed little faces.
I had an obstacle course set up complete with the cones for weaving the ball through, flag stations for executing a perfect throw in, and a speed tunnel to race to the goal before the finishing kick. Sounds easy right? They even brightened a bit thinking maybe things would be different.
That’s when I informed them - in the most deadly serious way possible - that I had stayed up all night digging a huge pit somewhere on the field in which I placed four deadly snakes and a snarling, ill-tempered rhino. And then I covered the pit over with grass to blend in. If they stood too long on one spot, they’d fall in. And the team would be without one slacker. Better be fast!
Their eyes grew wide. They bought it! One child barfed and called out for mommy. Mommy wasn’t going to help you kid. You are on Coach Nitmos time now. If they only knew that there was no pit. No snakes. No ill-tempered rhino. (Honestly, first graders are so gullible.) If they only knew how hard it is to obtain an actual rhino (and the expense and red tape involved), they’d thank me for all of the hours of wasted effort!
They executed the drill wonderfully albeit with a few too many tears for my taste. That’s all right, I believe there is an expression that says something like “tears are just weakness leaving the body.”
Our next game is Sunday. The few days of sleep for the kids between then and now might be filled with night tremors, nightmares and sudden convulsive shrieks. It’ll all be worth it when they stand victorious blowing kisses to the defeated team being escorted to their cars* under the concerned gaze of the attending, city mandated police officer.
If my team should lose? Well, I’m sure they’ll enjoy our next practice and our new drill: Five Fingers and the Bamboo Chutes.
* aka Losermobiles
Last night, 9.5 miles @ 7:07 pace. I'm attempting to arrange a late registration into the Bayshore Half Marathon held on May 23rd. This will give me a short two week recovery time after the Flying Pig Marathon. I'd like to use this half marathon as my baseline to work against for some summer speed work. We'll see if I can get in.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I haven’t really discussed my race goals for the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio – or Cin City – which is less than 10 days away! I haven’t really discussed them because I don’t really have any. In fact, by the hour, I’m changing my plans on how I’m going to run this race.
I long since decided that I’m really just going to run this race for FUN. I didn’t train for a PR. I’m a few pounds off my ideal race weight. My Cheeto Layer is still present. Though physically I’ve done all of the training, mentally, my mind has been elsewhere.
Last year, I blogged about Setting Race Goals and included a category called “I Like Shiny Things.” I mentioned that I didn’t understand folks who don’t set a race goal and run just for fun. A year later, here I am not setting a race goal and running for fun. I guess I like shiny things too.
I think I could run a 3:15 or so. I could probably do it but I’d be muthaf’in’ all the way up that hill between miles 6-8 and then wishing death to random inanimate objects by mile 23. Generally, I love to swear and condemn things to death but, without going for a PR, it would seem pointless, wasted cussing. I reserve that kind of useless profanity for other drivers who aren’t following Nitmos’ Personal Rules of the Road. Or the football referees who clearly have their head up their asses if I can see the penalty all the way through my TV from my couch in Michigan.
I’ll be in Cin City with a buddy of mine – a fellow Steers Long Distance Project member (and not the Hello Kitty Mystery Runner that just completed Boston) - and I may run part or all of the race with him at his pace. Both of us have trained well but have not trained hard for this race. If I run with him, I’m looking at around a 4:00 finish…but a more enjoyable experience. Misery loves company after all.
In the This Little Piggy nursery rhyme, I assume the piggy that had roast beef is the one that gets what he wants…pigs out…goes for a PR in roast beef eating. (implied)
Last evening, I decided to be the piggy that will go wee wee wee all the way home without a (race goal) care in the world.
This morning, I reversed and decided, you know what, I trained fairly hard for 4 months and should do the best I can.
As I type this, I’m again thinking how many times do you have a chance to run a marathon with a friend?
Wee wee wee?
I like shiny things… Well, not shiny but a baby in a pig outfit! This beats a Vanilla in a Gorilla outfit any day on the Cute Scale.
But, then there’s roast beef…
…that looks pretty good. Maybe not as cute as the baby but certainly more delicious.
Either way, I’ll make it to the Finish Swine.
If I decide to go wee wee wee all the way home, no one better tickle my feet. I hate being tickled. I mean it.
Or I’ll cut you like a side of roast beef.
(The baby and finish swine photos taken from the Flying Pig marathon website.)
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
However, I don’t like to cramp. I cramp regularly. Seemingly monthly. Due to this, I get moody and irritable. Wait, wait….this isn’t going where I wanted it to go…
Back up. Rewind.
Do you ever sometimes have that, um, not so fresh feeling?
Crap, did it again. Rewind.
I love pounding out the miles during marathon training. In fact, even as my long run mileage grows, I start dreaming of greater distances. I get a raging case of mileage envy: Ultra marathons…transcontinental marathons…run across the Atlantic in an inflatable water ball (Amelia Earhart, eat your leather clad heart out.)
Then, the muscle cramps hit and my ultra dreams fade like an ill fated circa 1937 circumnavigational flight of the globe.
And then I saw her.
She sat innocently, sweetly by the table under the shade of the white tent. I thought she was a mirage. Her silhouette shimmering through the haze of a warm, bright sunny day. I was in pain. I was at mile 33 of a back to back half marathon/full marathon event. I reached out. She was there. She offered cooling relief to the touch. A wisp of her minty freshness tickled my nose. I was revived. I ran on. (Apparently, I was also inspired to write in short, choppy bad Hemingway sentences.)
Though the love of my life, Mrs. Nitmos, and the kids waited at the finish line, I met my new found mistress four more times before completing the event that day. She was irresistible. She is irresistible. She is cool. She is life. She smells wonderful. She loves three word sentences as much as I.
Or, as I call her, the Giver of Life. Hope When All Other Hope Fades. Magic in a Bottle.
I discovered her on the Slopes of Mt. Doom (i.e. an overpass aid station near the Disney Studios at the Disney Marathon) as my calves, groin, shin and abdomen (seriously!?!) muscles simultaneously revolted. One generous application and I could no longer feel my legs. And I could continue to run.
So far, the Disney Marathon is the only marathon that provided this aid station beauty. The other marathons have only had some cheap imitation whore. A roadside concubine for every Tom, Dick, and Brenda seeking relief.
I’ve bought my own now. When my IT band flared up recently, I slathered this gentle mistress on and let her do her work. When my calves felt twitchy, I gave them a rub with Madame Biofreeze and all was well.
Mrs. Nitmos isn’t entirely pleased with this arrangement. She was fine with her moving into the cupboard but less so with my insistence that she appear in the family portrait. Before long, the cupboard seemed too cold and lonely and I made plans to move my colt and filly into the same room so she could have her own space. Mrs. Nitmos nixed those plans but we compromised with bunk beds in my filly’s room (though I made sure Biofreeze got the top bunk!)
I plan to have her with me at the Flying Pig Marathon.
I’ll always run back to Mrs. Nitmos at the finish line but Biofreeze will be with me every step of the way. We’ll run. We’ll sweat. We’ll soothe. We’ll write short, manly Hemingway sentences. We’ll finish.
I recommend you do the same.
(Believe it or not, I was not asked to provide a review of this product or provided a sample. I was just that inspired. Find her at your local chiropractor's office, massage therapist, or medical supply office. No prescription needed.)
Congratulations to the Hello Kitty Mystery Runner who completed the Boston Marathon in the neighborhood of 3:16-3:18. He was targeting 3:10 but, considering the headwind yesterday and the difficulty of the course, a very, very strong showing! Race report to come?! Also, congratulations to The Running Laminator on an unbelievably awesome time, Ovens2Betsy for a terrific race, and Frayed Laces for a gutty performance! And any others that I missed...
Friday, April 17, 2009
I’ve been reading about lack of motivation on several blogs lately. It’s viral. It’s sweeping the running blogs like STD’s in a retirement village. What’s the deal? What happened to your motivation? Don’t you have a race on the schedule or something?
Apparently not. At least, the common theme I see falls into one of two categories:
(1) No race planned yet or
(2) Race planned but don’t really care to train that hard for it (i.e. bored with it.)
Now, don’t leave it up to me to supply motivation. I’m the over-the-counter antidote to motivation. I’m De-motivation served in a chiseled, rugged, broad shouldered bottle. When a doctor recommends me for Acute Motivation Overabundance, he says "take two and then… relax with a cigarette." When my filly asks if our puppy is the cutest in the world, I respond with "She’s cute but I’ve seen better." When my colt approaches with those eager, hoping-for-approval eyes after he finishes 4th in a mile race, I tell him "Good job…but those three kids over there did a GREAT job."
I don’t like to be a wet blanket. I don’t even want to be a dry blanket. Heck, who wants to be a blanket of any degree of moisture? I just don’t want excuses. Recently, my colt has been complaining of pain near his left ankle. He just started in with spring soccer as well as the school’s Mileage Club (running laps around the school during lunch recess.) The pain isn’t going away. He might have a stress fracture. We are keeping an eye on it but, for now, he must continue to participate. The way I see it, you either have a fracture or you don’t. “Stress” is just a qualifier for “fracture.” I don’t like to equivocate. Either it’s fractured or it’s not. Many times, I overhear people talking about me and asking if I’m “mildly retarded.” Don’t qualify it. Either say I’m retarded…or not.
Motivation. I guess it comes down to why we run in the first place. Do you run to satiate your competitive drive…to secure PR’s…to challenge for race awards? Do you run for general fitness or fun? Do you run to calm the voices in your head that keeps telling you to set fire to the neighbor with the Siberian Husky that howls and howls all day and all night every single day 24/7 while the owner is out whooping it up at the bars all evening long and then pulling into the driveway with the red Ford Explorer at 3 AM and waking up your two kids with the growling muffler and the car doors that apparently won’t close unless they are slammed really hard…?
Zhit, zorry about that. I just broke my ‘z’ key zomehow. I’ll use ‘z’ instead.
I alwayz make zure I’m not ztuck in that void, that weird zpace, between racez. I alwayz have zomething on the calendar to keep me motivated and looking ahead. If I don’t, I ztart wondering why I’m bothering with a run on a drizzly Tuezday evening. I’ll zkip it and make nachoz. I adhere to a ztrict Race Muzt Be On The Zchedule policy. It keepz me motivated. It keepz me running towardz zomething. It keepz people and thingz from burning.
Hooray, for replacement ‘s’ keys!
To those stuck in The Space Between, I highly recommend getting a race on the schedule. Try one you’ve never done before. Don’t keep running the same old races. If you find yourself not training as hard, maybe you’re simply bored with the event. Push yourself…sign up for a race slightly longer than you’ve gone before. Run a completely different event. Only do large event races? Try a small event. Only run road races? Try a trail race. Or a relay event with friends.
Whatever you need, do it. It’s depressing the hell out of me to continue reading about it. (Consider that I watched Requiem for a Dream back to back to back and was still smiling and trying to light my farts with a Bic lighter by the end of the third showing.)
What’s happening is that The Space Between your races is crawling into The Space Between your ears.
And I can’t set fire to that.
So, how did my make-up 20 miler go on Monday? It didn't. If you want to know why, you'll need to ask my lying local weatherman and a group of stubborn, polyester sweatsuit clad septuagenarians that like to read magazines while walking on a treadmill at my local gym. Walking!?! That's what the mall is for.
I did manage to take on the 20 miler on Wednesday evening. Imagine an out of control wagon full of flaming hay barreling down hill until it slams into the side of a barn. That's how it went. I went out way to fast...didn't control my pace...and then crashed and burned after 16 miles in a pile of dehydrated human wreckage. I was dry as the hay. I staggered on for one more mile and decided it wasn't worth it to continue to push so hard 2 1/2 weeks before the marathon.
17 miles @ 7:21 pace (first 14 miles @ 7:08 pace before the wagon hit the barn)
I reviewed my training logs and it seems I always have one terrible training run before every marathon. This was it for this one. Hooray.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Obsession is the name of the game. Ever since I qualified for Boston in November 2007, this race has been in the back of my mind. After I completed my December 2008 marathon, I have been pretty focused on preparing for my first and, quite possibly, my last Boston Marathon. In the process, annoying my family.
If I nail my race, I can go home feeling good about myself for conquering Boston’s fabled course. Put on the scorecard: Hello Kitty Runner 1, Boston Marathon 0. And frankly, I will not be interested in any best two out of three deals. You don’t do this when you win the lottery and you don‘t test fate if you get lucky and execute at Boston. This race will cost me about $50 per mile if you count up entry fee, flights, lodging, food, etc. And this is with only my wife (Mrs. Hello Kitty Runner) and I. When I announced to the family that I registered to run, my daughters put on their BoSox hats*, searched the internet for “Boston’s best clam chowder”, and started packing their suitcases. You should have seen the looks on their sad little faces when they realized that they would be stuck at home for the weekend.
As for my plan for the race, I will go with a hybrid approach.
Miles 1-5: This part of the race is mostly downhill and many get sucked into the vacuum, let their adrenaline get the best of them and run way too fast (until they crash and burn). I plan to run the first two miles about 10 seconds slower than my goal pace of 7:15 (editor's note: this equates to a 3:10 full marathon), then run 7:15’s (times adjusted for hills) through mile 5. My approach for this stage: Lollygag!
Mile 6-13.1: Relatively flat is how some describe these miles. Of course Nome, Alaska is relatively warm compared to Antarctica. I will shoot to maintain 7:15’s here. I’ll probably give a few kids a “High Five” as I pass. Runners are still in a good mood at this stage of the game and will be loving the Hello Kitty on my back. I’ll probably look like the Pied Piper out there. I look forward to running through the scream tunnel created by the Wellesley College ladies, however, I’m not kissing any of them, but I might make their day by flashing my HK band aids once or twice. As I finish the first half, I hope to come through in about 1:34:30. My approach for this stage: Cruise and Flash!
Miles 13.1-16: The lull before the storm. We are still in a relatively flat part of the course, and as we approach the I-95 overpass we arrive at the beginning of “The Hills”. I hope to just stay controlled and relaxed as five of the toughest miles of the course are waiting for victims. My approach for this stage: Brace for the frying pan to the head!
Mile 21-26.2 At 21 miles, I’ll be 225-250 feet above the finish line with no significant uphill portions of the course to go. Nothing bad about gently dropping 50 feet per mile over the last 5 miles. During this stage of the race, I’ll pass the Boston College students handing out beer, have Fenway park’s CITGO sign in my sights for several miles, eventually running past it, then a quick right and left hand turn onto Boylston Street. The plan is to take back some of the time that I gave up on the hills, and at some point in the game, I shall revert to the battle tested “War of Posts” strategy of running just one mile at goal time, then to run to the next street light, building, or decaying llama until I hit Boylston street, then give it everything I have until about 50 yards from the finish line when I break out into the “Hello Kitty dance” that HKR daughter #1 created in February. My approach for this final stage: Negative Post Dance!
*they don’t have any Red Sox hats. Who wears Red Sox hats anymore?
**the much lesser known half cousin of Heartbreak Hill
Monday, April 13, 2009
I did not even drink a Blatz. Double shame!
As guests at the in-laws home, I watched my just turned one year old dog throw up her birthday treats all over their dining room rug. The shame trifecta!
There’s nothing better than asking a relative or friend to put up with you, your family, and your family pet and then have that pet spill stomach bile and partially digested Milkbones all over their floor. I was so embarrassed, I had to leave the room while they cleaned it up. No matter how many times I watch two seventy-three year olds bend down on creaky joints and clean up after my animal (or kids), it never gets any easier. I just can’t watch. And I spare them the vicarious embarrassment of having to see me be embarrassed so I leave the room. I return when I no longer hear the gentle metallic tap of the Medic Alert bracelets against the tile floor.
I was supposed to knock out my last 21 miler on Sunday. Instead, I watched my kids spin around on the driveway on new scooters, eat enough candy to make Augustus Gloop blush, and find enough reasons to hide in another room while critical dinner making tasks were being handed out.
I didn’t have to help with dinner (or clean up!) but I didn’t get my 21 in either.
Now I’m in that torturous limbo territory where I’m so close to taper but….just…can’t reach…it. The forecast calls for rain both today and tomorrow. If I wait until Wednesday, I’m getting into that Do I Even Bother area. I don’t like to miss 20 milers. It makes me feel sad, sport a big pouty lower lip, and complain about things loudly in an annoying baby talk way. Believe me, Mrs. Nitmos can attest to this.
I may have to spin the 20 away on the treadmill tonight purely out of necessity. Or I might watch a Pauly Shore movie. Equal punishment (though only one will help prepare for the marathon.)
I hope you all had a terrific Easter. Mine was nice too. Except, when the bunny came for me, I got a basket full of droppings. That ain’t chocolate. And they don’t go down easy.
Incidentally, a woman asked me at the Easter gathering what an “adequately good time” is for a 5k. Without thinking much (remember my brain to mouth pipeline a couple of posts ago?) I responded “around 8 to 8:30 minutes per mile." Then, later, I got thinking – which I’m apt to do – and realized that might be a tough target time for a new runner. But, her fault. She didn’t define “adequately” and I should never be consulted for advice. Anyone who knows me knows this.
Friday, April 10, 2009
John has been an F.M.S. supporter for many months now and I appreciate his enthusiasm, misdirected though it may be. He seems to like this blog. I suspect he might also have been a huge fan of Family Matters if that is any indictment of his judgment.*
Anyway, John has a cool new site called Hella Sound. It’s “running music, synced to your pace and designed to burn calories.” No, it’s not a method for you to put on earphones, sit on the couch and try to shove a whole, unbroken Dorito into your mouth** while the sounds of Hella Sound melt away your waist line. You still have to run. Or work out.
This is a musical accompaniment to your work out. A soundtrack for your run. And it is timed to your running pace. Pretty cool eh? You can use your legs to keep the beat to the music instead of looking like a douche bag playing air guitar or air drums*** as you knock out the miles.
Also, it’s original music. Not some lame Muzak version of existing hits.
Here’s how it works: You go to Hella Sound, you buy their first offering How To Turn Around a Bad Day (more songs will be coming soon!), you download it to your iPod or mp3 and you RUN. Pretty easy.
First, though, you’ll want to calculate your pace to know which speed/pace of the song you’ll want to download. It’s simple. He even has helpful instructions here.
Also, John tells me he has performed each song at each different pace. He has NOT sped up or slowed down the same song artificially.
I have checked this first tune out myself. I downloaded it and put it into a loop with some other existing music on my mp3 and set it to random play.(Note: The song is 30 MINUTES long!) I narrowed the number of songs down so How To Turn Around A Bad Day would repeat a couple of times. I listened to it in parts three different times during a 2 ½ hour long run. I also heard it again during some speed interval work a few days later.
Here’s my honest review:
When the song comes on, I did find myself automatically syncing my stride/pace up to the beat of the music (so it is important to select the correct speed of the song!). The song is completely instrumental but it has a number of different stylings that progress you through the 30 minutes: indie rock, funk, jazz, Latin, African drums, bass. When the tune came on, I used it as a chance to remind myself to relax, loosen up, let the music turn your legs and focus in on my breathing and stride. I did find myself being carried down the road on a tidal wave of sound. I didn’t expect this. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about the concept at first but I DID match my stride to the song beat and just go with the flow!
I was pleasantly surprised by my reaction on the long run. But how about a speed workout? Obviously, when doing speed work, your stride quickens…your pace is different. The tune came on right in the middle of one of my 800 intervals. It didn’t match pace. I noticed that it didn’t match and immediately tuned it out. There, it didn’t work as well.
Overall, I think it is a pretty cool concept but one that is most useful during your steady pace longer runs. For me, I’m not sure the style of music fits me for non-stop 2 ½ hour running. I’m not saying that I didn’t like the style - it was an entertaining change of pace to what I normally listen to – but not something I’d choose to hear for 2 ½ hours straight. However, as part of a mix of songs, it was terrific!
My recommendation? Go to Hella Sound, buy it, and put it into your song rotation. When it comes on, use it as your queue to reconnect to your body, focus on your breathing and stride, relax, and pump your legs to the beat of the music!
Also, John is offering a special $1 discount (the song normally costs $5 for 30 minutes of original music!!) to Feet Meet Street readers. You can get it for $4! Just enter – appropriately enough – LLAMALLOVERS (note the double “LL” in both spots) after you select Add To Cart in the “add coupon” location.
Where else can you get 30 quality minutes of running music for less than a Wendy’s #1 without onion, regular size?
C’mon, help out the small, entrepreneurial start up!
Also, John has informed me that he has a bag of orphaned kittens and that he intends to drown one every hour in his bath tub unless someone orders the tune that hour. Not a kitten lover? Well, after he works through the kittens, he has a bag of puppies. Don’t like puppies? Guess what’s next? That’s right, a bag full of grandmas.****
Won’t you save a grandma today?
This post was brought to you by a one armed midget pimp. And the National Consortium of Kitten Drowners. And, of course, weird internet searches.
* I have no evidence to back this up. Just connecting some dots.
** My typical Saturday night, by the way.
*** I still reserve the right to air drum to Rush songs.
**** The information in this paragraph was completely fabricated…as far as I know.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
A few years ago, some of you may recall a TV public service announcement against domestic violence making the rounds where an off-screen couple were heard arguing before the angry hubby started smacking his wife around. Or choosing an odd time to violently fluff his pillow. The action occurred off screen so you couldn’t be certain. Either way, the woman started crying and complaining that ‘it hurts’ (which leads me to believe he wasn’t fluffing pillows after all!) The hubby – in a Jim Carreyesque-over-the-top sarcastic tone – then started mocking her by repeating “Ow, it hurts, it hurts.”
Is it wrong that I found that commercial hilarious?
No, seriously, I laughed every time. Now, for the record, I want to make clear that I Do Not Condone Domestic Abuse. There are a few loons out there that – no matter how clear you make a joke – can’t seem to catch on. No, domestic abuse sucks.* Are we clear?
But, boy, was that commercial funny. I have an odd ability to break down an otherwise tragic event into smaller disassociated actions and somehow find a nugget of humor in one of those fragmented pieces. The hubby’s mimicry was so ridiculously over-exaggerated, I just found it funny. Who talks like that? In another example (to further destroy my already teetering character), I was watching this really good movie once when a scene came on where this one armed man is staggering around with this confused look on his face until he found his other severed arm, nonchalantly picked it up by the sleeve, and walked away. Surreal? Check. Amusing? Kinda. I chuckled a little, I have to admit.**
Disassociation. It’s what I do. I’m sure there is some larger psychological thing going on here but what might be your Undiagnosed Mental Disease is my Lovable Character Trait.
What does any of this have to do with running?
Well, frankly, there’s been some domestic abuse going on around my house and I’m the victim. No, Mrs. Nitmos isn’t hitting me. She is making me watch a lot of reality based TV however which is a form of abuse, of course (i.e. American Loser and Biggest Idol or whatever they are called.). And she continues to make something called “ham steak” for dinner against my vigorous protestations.
This abuse is more of the interpersonal variety. For the first time in four years, I don’t have a fall marathon already on the schedule. I’m toying with the idea of scheduling a 50k ultra. Yes, my virginal Ultra! Already, my legs are not too happy with me just from regular training schedules. As you know, my calves have even staged a few Operation Shutdown style sit-ins in the middle of a few marathons which, last I checked, are 26.2 miles. The 50k is 31.1 miles.
I like my leg muscles. I don’t mean to hurt them…and they don’t mean to hurt me I’m sure. We just have one of those stormy relationships were sometimes things go to far. My shin suddenly shows up with an unexplained bruise from “falling down the stairs.” Maybe an IT band is stiff and sullen and no longer interacts with the other IT bands. That’s just how things are.
I know you are all thinking that maybe I’m not doing right by my legs. You’re wrong. It’s not me, it’s them. They need to change. They need to look in the mirror. If I want to run 31.1 miles, I will.
I haven’t decided if I’m going to pull the trigger and sign up for the ultra. I’m afraid that my legs and I will start fighting again. We'll start fighting like the ShawWow guy and his hooker. Then I’ll have to explain the black toenails and the cigarette burns all around my ankles all over again.
I guess – if I do – I’ll sign up quietly. I’ll buy my legs new socks, shoes, and treat them to a soothing massage. Then, I’ll just show up at the 50k start line and they won’t know what hit them.
By the time they realize it isn’t a long training run and start screaming out in pain, I’ll just sneer, cackle maniacally, and mock them:
“Ow, it hurts, it hurts.”
It’s not me. It’s them.
* Unless it’s for a good reason, of course, then it's totally warranted.
** I’m ashamed to admit that the movie was Saving Private Ryan and this scene occurred in the horrifically bloody opening D-Day battle sequence. The man was clearly in shock as he just lost his arm. See, when you look at it in context, it’s not funny at all is it? And I'm a real jerk.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
In a little less than two weeks, I will wear what might be the greatest fashion statement in the history of the Boston Marathon. Yeah, Katherine Switzer donned the very fashionable gray hoodie top and gray sweat pants,
and there is the pink tutu runner
well, um......never mind. Yes, I confess, my choice of running gear for the fabled 26.2 mile run from Hopkinton to the Boston Public Library might be a fashion statement, but it won't be the greatest of all time...unless you are a big Hello Kitty fan! And who isn't?!?!?
Here is a little background: I stayed at a friend's house the night before I ran a marathon in February, 2007. I packed all my gear, my "to do list" and everything. My host cooked up a big bowl of pasta for dinner that we enjoyed with their two young daughters.
Well, as I got everything ready the night before, I realized that I forgot waterproof bandaids for my nipples. GULP! I asked my friend if they had two waterproof bandaids in the house and a minute later he came back with two bandaids from their daughters' stash: Two Disney Princess waterproof bandaids. I think they were Jasmine and Ariel.
Fast forward to November 2008. As I ate dinner the night before my marathon, a friend presented me with a box of Hello Kitty bandaids for race day. I felt great in the race - the whole race - and ran about 4 minutes faster than I had fathomed.
Shortly after I crossed the finish line, my family and friends found me and I flashed them the Hello Kitty bandaids. This was likely the greatest moment in their lives.
Since then, I wear something Hello Kitty in each race I do. In December I placed 2nd overall in my Hello Kitty yellow singlet 1.0.
For the big race on the 20th, here is what I plan to wear:
Visor: White Nike Dri-Fit visor. I have worn a HK bandaid on the bill of the visor in a previous marathon but I think I will go with the plain white or possibly wear a red bow on the left side of the visor. We shall see.
Gloves: I live in Florida, so if it is below 60 degrees at the start, I will wear gloves (editor's note: below 60? Wimp!), at least until I cross the start line.
Option #1: I will likely go with the thin off-white gloves with the index finger chewed off (thank you sister's dog). What is really great about these gloves is that since the finger is chewed off, it is much easier to hit my lap split button on my watch.
Option #2: some pink stretchy gloves that I "borrowed" from my daughter.
Watch: a crappy Timex watch that only remembers 8 splits/laps with really small numbers. I refuse to buy a Garmin (pbtn) and Nitmos refuses to loan me his as he is smart enough to know that if I hear 100 dumb Hello Kitty comments during my race that eventually I will crack, rip the Garmin (pbtn) off my wrist and throw it at a 4 year old little blonde girl from Des Moines who is waiting for her dad to run by.
Bandaids: two water proof bandaids and a HK bandaid on top of each of them. It is the best way to keep them sticking for 26+ miles.
Shirt: I will be wearing the fabled yellow Hello Kitty singlet. Bib on my stomach (as opposed to my chest) small HK picture on the upper right side of my chest. I have made an upgrade to the singlet recently as I have added a 6"x6" HK on the back, just below the red Steers Long Distance Project logo. Depending on weather, I will wear a blue long sleeve shirt under it or just wear a sweatshirt or long sleeve shirt in the beginning of the race...and of course, the outerwear will have a HK on the back as well. I feel kinda bad for the men who I beat to the finish line. Nobody wants to run their only Boston Marathon, and lose to an old dude with a HK picture on the back of his shirt.
Socks: white WrightSocks. I have worn them in about 5 marathons, they are my favorite pair of running socks. They are thin and have two layers to reduce blisters. We'll see about the blisters and lost toe nails at around 1:10 pm on Monday.
Shoes: My Choco Kitty shoes will make their racing debut. They are a pair of black Asics 2130s that I bought in February. Some fun things about these shoes are that not many people wear black running shoes. And black shoes make you look slower (it is a proven scientific fact). So, how would you feel if you ran behind a dude wearing a yellow HK shirt and as you watched him, you thought to yourself, "he looks really slow, yet I can't pass him. Am I running that slowly?" Totally demoralize the Anti Kitty crowd, that is what it is all about.
One last thing that I need your help with: I've been told to expect a lot of ribbing from fellow runners for my choice of shirt. With that in mind, if you can help me with something to write on the back of an old race bib below the HK picture to humiliate, or make a fellow runner laugh, I would be appreciative and to show my appreciation, Nitmos will give a free pair of shoes to the person who provides me with what lands on the old racing bib. (Editor's note: You see those shoes above? Yes, you can win those!)
Until next Monday (with my race day strategy)...Hello.
Monday, April 06, 2009
That’s not to say I might not disappear again unexpectedly for days at a time as sudden, seismic work demands occur. These intermittent breaks might be a new F.M.S. way of life going forward in this ruinous, employee slash and burn, economic landscape.
Right now, I am Hailing Caesar.
I’m asking “How high?” in response to decisive commands to elevate.
I’m lying my ass off and telling the boss he’s the Fairest One of All as he preens in front of Nitmos, the Magic Mirror.
I’m not saying I’m kissing a lot of boss ass these days. I’m just saying my lunch seems to consist of an unusual amount of partially digested corn pieces and the odd peanut or two. And fingernails. My boss is the nervous sort.
If I disappear again, I expect it’ll be measured by days rather than weeks or months. No more than my average crack induced blackout typically lasts though.
So, what did I learn on my sabbatical? What insights did I discover about my True Self?
Well, I bought a new pair of jeans. They fit nice. And some new dress casual shoes to match my khaki pants. I ruminated for awhile about how I don’t have to shovel snow off the drive these days or cut the lawn. I have no outside yard work whatsoever for the next few weeks.
Yes, I couldn’t blend into suburbia any better. If there is a common shade of tan, I might just be that.
Professionally, physically, financially, I’m pretty average. Look out your window, I might be that guy there. Or that guy over there. Or, more likely, that bewitching fella over there with the Cheshire cat grin and the coal-to-diamond forming buttocks.
But there is one area in which I excel: Snarkiness.
My journey of self discovery brought me to the foot of a hill. A mound. Nay, a mountain. A mountain formed of tangled arms, legs, race bibs, and tears of disillusioned runners.
There was but one way to go: Up.
I have spent the past few months ascending Mt. Snarky to assume my throne. I have grabbed hold of the twisted, knotted calf muscles of defeated runners and pulled myself up inch by inch. I have leveraged my feet on the contorted, dehydrated jawbones of failed marathoners. I have mopped my sweaty brow with the pony-tailed mane of the female runner (or, on occasion, that of the rare aging, hippie male.) The wind beneath my wings has been the groaning breaths of agony beneath my heels.
It took me two months to climb this mangled pile of roadside runner wreckage. After cresting the summit, I scanned the horizon. Sure, there were taller surrounding mountains, basking in sunlight, built on a foundation of happy race reports and inspiring training tales. I looked down at the carcasses below my throne and the shadowy foundation of near-miss PR’s and disappointed race reports. I threw my arms out, tilted my head back, and let out an echoing muwahahaha.
This is my mountain. These are my souls and soles.
And, yes, there is a cold breeze that blows here. My pasties can not down umbrella fold over my distended nipples to attach to my areola. I’m as naked as a jaybird. A nippled, cold jaybird. A nippled, cold, jaybird with diamond forming buttocks.
Others can occupy Mt. Positive and Mt. Motivation. I’m quit content here on Mt. Snarky. I have settled in to view the horizon and drum my fingers on the handrails as I dream up blog posts. You might wonder what a throne cushion made of broken dreams feels like. A lot like velvet, surprisingly.
I’m back. I have a full tank of snark. I’m ready to regale you with more tales of running, racing, and rife.*
My mountain might not be the tallest. In fact, it’s pretty average sized.** But I know how to use it and that is all that matters.
Or so Mrs. Nitmos tells me.
* That should be “life” but it ruined my alliteration.
** But girthy!
Flying Pig Marathon training is proceeding on schedule. I'm going to come in a little light on the mileage for this "fun run" marathon but I'm okay with that as a PR and BQ are not the goals. Last several Sunday long runs have been: 16, 13, 17, 18.5, 15, 20, and 14 miles. This Sunday is the 21 miler and then taper!