Friday, May 29, 2009
I don’t write many serious posts so, if you prefer, feel free to fling boogers at the screen or do a hilarious cursing Tourette’s impersonation while reading this if it makes you feel more comfortable.
Today, I’m talking confidence. No, I mean CONFIDENCE. Lately, I’ve come across a number of posts and overheard a number of pre-race conversations where a runner says something to the affect that they’ll ‘never run that pace’ or they’ll ‘never be able to BQ’ or they’ll ‘never be able to run a whole marathon’ or they’ll ‘never have such sexy man legs as Nitmos.’ A bunch a nattering nabobs of negativism.*
With that attitude? You’re right! However, three of those four examples are doable with the right plan, proper motivation, and a positive, confident attitude. (Forget the legs. You couldn’t craft smooth lines of granite like mine if you hired the best and brightest from Beverly Hills.)
So, let’s focus on Attitude which begets Motivation and Training which begets CONFIDENCE.
If you are going to be any kind of competitive athlete – certainly running against your own personal goals qualifies – you need to have a certain amount of healthy CONFIDENCE. Not the faux arrogance I throw around this blog weekly. I’m talking real CONFIDENCE born from a marriage of a positive attitude and hard training.** You can’t show up at the start line of your race merely hoping to achieve a time goal when the pitch forked satan is jabbing you in the Doubt Sensors and cackling maniacally. You have to believe it. And real belief only comes from the weeks or months of work that took place before race day.
When it comes to running, I believe anything is possible. If someone asks me if I think they could run a marathon, I immediately respond ‘yes, but not in those jean shorts.’ Or someone says to me ‘I don’t think I can beat my PR’ for a race that is still weeks away, I say ‘sure you can – if you stop being such a pusillanimous pussyfooter.’ I’m not suggesting that merely wanting something leads to race day CONFIDENCE and success. You have to start with the positive attitude. The I CAN attitude. Then, put the plan and training in place. Through the ups and downs of training, maintain the I CAN attitude. By the time you show up at race registration, you’ll be brimming with CONFIDENCE and spewing self affirmations like a Tourette’s afflicted Stuart Smalley.
But it all starts at the beginning. Don’t hobble your self with self doubt and negativism. You can reach your goal given enough time, planning, a bit of luck, proper attitude, and $19.95 sent to me, here, monthly at Feet Meet Street for your dose of daily affirmations. It seriously makes me cringe every time I hear someone start off with 'I don’t think I can…' what? What have you already determined you can’t do? As an example, I’m so arrogant that I think I could do a 2:45 marathon if I didn’t have these little things called a full time job, full time family, and a penchant for sweets and beer and late night television. That’s okay. I’m not going after that goal by choice. But, keeping with the theme of this post (CONFIDENCE and positive attitude), I still believe I could get there if I tried.
Try it some time. Catch yourself before you start to say that you can’t achieve your race goal. Then, back up. Set a realistic goal. Allow enough time. Tell yourself you CAN and WILL. Then put in the work.
When you arrive at the start line, you can chuckle at all of the other runners getting their doubt sensors jabbed by the shoulder devil. You’ll know that you have lowered your chance for FAIL to small, uncontrollable factors such as weather, injury, swine flu, or – as the registrations threaten – death.
You will fly from the start with full CONFIDENCE that the goal will be yours. It has blossomed and developed from the itty-bitty confidence fetus from weeks ago. (Maybe insemination was simply reading this post?)
Behind you, slogging away with devil dipped shoulder, the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history will meander to their fate.
* Where have you gone Spiro Agnew?
** I have no idea about the gender roles each of these play so don’t ask. If I were to guess, I’d say positive attitude would wear the dress.
I can honestly say that I never, ever expected to make Spiro Agnew a vocal point for a blog post. Another item off my bucket list! I’m on a roll. Now, who knows any good quotes from Idi Amin?
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Three hour drive north to Traverse City. The beginnings of a sinus infection had left my throat sore and my normally angelic voice croaking like Harvey Fierstein. I had just bought the new Green Day album so I was singing/croaking out loud all the way up while green glops of sinewy fluid slung onto the dashboard and my family as they covered their ears and eyes in horror. Their steady pleadings to Stop Singing Like That and Stop Snotting Up The Family only goaded me to crank up the volume and sing-phlegm louder.
I did sign up for the Bayshore 10k. I felt like crap the night before but figured I could muster 40-45 minutes worth of work in the morning and then lapse into a childlike needy state for the rest of the day. My demands would be hot soup, foot rubs, and a soothing tassel-filled belly dance by Mrs. Nitmos.
The Bayshore is a fairly flat, fast course and features a 10k, half and full marathon. I’ve done the marathon but not the 10k. In fact, I’d never done a 10k before. The marathoners depart from the start area first followed a few minutes later by the 10k’ers. Since the 10k’ers are moving at a quicker pace, we get to run up the back of the marathoners between miles 2 and 3 before turning around and heading back.
I had targeted a first mile at 7 minutes followed by a second mile at 6:45 and then the remaining miles below 6:40. The hope was to come in around 41:30 or so. My SOS2 goal is 40:00 for this distance. With the lack of speed training this spring combined with the swirling mucus in my frontal lobe, I was just a curious as you, the reader, are about how this would turn out.
I took off too fast. Again. (In fact, from now on, I’m just copying and pasting those same preceding 6 words into every race report to save time.)
First mile: 6:39 (featuring a first ½ mile of 3:03 before wising up a bit)
Second mile: 6:33
Third mile: 6:37 (turn around and head back)
Fourth mile: 6:33
During the fourth mile, I happened to recognize a passing runner going in the opposite direction. Normally, I don’t recognize anything but the shoes of the runners in front of me. I happened to look left and see Sun Runner passing by and we both managed a Hey-You-Look Familiar finger point (though only mine was with the index finger.) I don’t think I could have croaked out a hello if I tried.
Shortly after that, I heard someone shout “Feet meet street” from the crowd in the opposite lane. I waved, again, as my voice was incapable of mustering a shout. But then I thought, maybe that was just a person who likes to vocally express their physical actions. Maybe after shouting feet meet street, she said now I’m breathing in and out and moving legs or something like that. It was pretty presumptuous of me to assume that it was directed at me.
Fifth mile: 6:34
Sixth mile: 6:09
Final lap on the high school track: 1:19 (5:22 mile pace!)
Judging by the final 1.22 miles, I probably should have paced a bit faster early on and not run such a defensive, conservative race. Call it 10k Beginner’s Nerves. But behold the steady splits between miles 1-5! You could have set your watch by my metronomic pace (as long as you don’t mind your watch being off by a few seconds every 6 ½ minutes.)
Mrs. Nitmos and I sat up in the stands and watched some friends finish. I never did see Sun Runner come in so I thought maybe I had just vaguely taunted some random, unknown runner. I picked up an age group award. Thankfully, the 35-39 AG was considerably slower compared to the 30-34 and 40-44.
2nd of 82 in age group
36th of 1419 overall
Then, Mrs. Nitmos and I hoped in the car and headed back south 3 ½ hours to attend a wedding, eat prime rib, make fun of the bride and grooms relatives and friends, and drink the free booze.
Back in the car, heading north to Traverse City again for a Memorial weekend cook out. By now, both Mrs. Nitmos and I are spewing green nose mucus and our heads are spinning.
Back in the car, driving 3 hours home. Each stop along the way empties a handful of sickeningly moist Kleenex into a roadside garbage. If the raccoons get in there, you’ll see a lot of ‘em around northern Michigan with green Kool-Aid rings around their mouth. But that ain’t Kool Aid.
Our Memorial weekend was a blur of spinning, dizzy heads, nose expellants and the physical back and forth between northern and southern Michigan. It’s about as close as I want to come to being a Yo-Yo. I’ve been called a Yo-Yo many times but I’ve never actually resembled one before.
In fact, looking back, the only thing that held steady was my 10k pace.
And Congratulations to all the Memorial racers! You know who you are…
Friday, May 22, 2009
Post-Pig, I’ve been eyeballin’ some races to participate in through out this summer. I have a handy dandy homemade handwritten list right on my desk. It just screams I’m So Interested In These Races I’ve Even Taken The Extra Step To Manually Write Them Down. Sure, I could have just highlighted those same races on this Michigan Race Schedule flyer I have tucked beneath my homemade list but the thought didn’t occur to me at the time, so back off. A lot of things occur to me after the fact. I’m a regular Hindsight Genius that way.
I’ll be heading to the location of my ancestral home for this Memorial Weekend. As it turns out, there is a series of races on Saturday including a 10k, half marathon and full marathon. I took a pass on the full marathon a long time ago. I had visions of joining the half marathon but balked at the price ($90? That’s a buck for every minute I planned to run the race! Remember, I’m a cheapskate.) But they do have a 10k also.
I’ve gone back and forth more times than Arlen Specter’s political affiliation on whether or not to sign up. I’m not really prepared for a 10k. I won’t feel 5k/10k race ready for another month or so as my speed work is still in the beginning stages. Yesterday, I finally decided What The Hell, why not? Who cares if I flail about and finish a few minutes off from where I’d like to be? I’m sure I can still inspire a few of you to leave me milquetoast, half-hearted Nice Jobs in my comments right?
Besides, the price is right. As mentioned the half marathon costs $90. The 10k is $25. The 10k is 47.3% the mileage (6.2/13.1 for you math morons) of the half. But it’s 27.8% of the cost. That’s called a bargain. If it applied in this case, I’d buy the 10k registration in bulk. But not everything is toilet paper I guess.
Also, I need a baseline for a 10k. I’ve never, ever, never-ever run a 10k before. I always assumed that folks who run 10k’s are different from me. Maybe they’re hiding a vestigial tail or something. At the very least, they smell like cabbage and have small hands (name that movie.) So, instant PR…and one to shatter later in the summer (if I can stand the smell.)
My SOS2 goal is to break 40:00. For this race, I’ll be happy to limbo under 42:00 quite honestly.
The bottom line: I don’t really have a good reason not to run it.
Good luck to the many, many weekend racers! I hope your race is as big of a bargain as mine.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I’ve been trying to be more patient lately. For me, this requires a lot of practice. I get frustrated if there is a delay when shifting from Park to Drive before the Drive function engages. Sometimes I rev the engine until it kicks in and I dangerously zoom out of my driveway in the morning, car careening over the dip between the driveway and road, kids banging their delicate heads into the sunroof, and neighbors fleeing back to their porches leaving their newspaper and coffee twirling in the air like Witch Hazel's hair pins.
My TV does this annoying black screen for about 1.5 seconds when you change channels. Before it goes black, it displays the destination channel for a millisecond as a tease before removing it. I can’t tell you how annoying that is when I’m trying to check a game score “real quick” when switching off some crap reality TV program. I’ve trained my eyes to stare at the location where I know they put the score on the screen so I can catch it during the millisecond tease.* I’m just that impatient. I’d hate to have to wait an additional 1.5 seconds to see that score.
Which is why I’m congratulating myself today for the incredible amount of patience I displayed last evening at my local high school track. It was 800’s night! (Not 80’s night otherwise I would have worn my Hall and Oates concert t-shirt, quoted hilarious lines from Magnum P.I., and debated anyone about whether Rambo could take on an alien invasion all by himself (answer: he could))
I’m minding my own business doing these 800’s when some teenagers show up. Teenagers in baggy jeans. Isn’t that fad done already? When are the parachute pants coming back? One of them drops his mountain bike on the edge of the track so his back tire is covering lane one. The lane I’m running in. I spot this coming around the final turn and get immediately indignant. C’mon, dude, move the bike. Have some respect. And pull up your pants. I might even have thrown in a Sheesh, kids these days. Indignation was swirling inside my head.
Surely, as I pass, they’ll see the problem and move the bike. I pass by patiently moving into lane two. I round the next turn and look to the side. Nope. The little s.o.b’s aren’t moving the bike. They continue to jump the hurdles set up in lane seven (while holding their pants up with one hand.) I’m hoping the loose fabric catches the top of the hurdle and one – or more – of them go home with a skinned chin. Or a broken wrist (fingers crossed!)
I come around again. This time, I’ll make more of a show of this to prove the point. I’d love to time it just right so I can bump the tire with the tip of my toe as I jump just enough to send it spinning furiously. The rapidly revolving wheel would certainly illustrate their shame, right? Fearing a humiliating fall, I decide at the last moment to jump over the tire completely, stick the landing on the other side, and proudly bound off down the lane like a gazelle over a road side fence. Even this group of motley, slack jawed pimple poppers could grasp the symbolism of that action.
They don’t seem to notice. Or care. Or both. Instead, they mock me further by standing next to the offending bike and yuck it up about – what I can only assume – is their future plans to become Burdens to Society while I continue to circle a half lap away. By this time, my generic every day indignation has turned to seething indignation, which is a few steps up on the Indignation Meter (one step above righteous indignation). I’m mentally shaking an angry cane at them as I approach the fallen bike again. “Move the damn bike, you little punks. And pull up those pants!”
Instead, I say nothing. I’m not interested in getting beaten up by a gang of beltless youth. I quietly move into lane two and complete my last few laps.
Did you know that seething indignation is a decelerator? My final two 800’s, once the bike appeared, were the worst so far this SOS2. I spent so much of my time plotting out different scenarios in which I could get the idiots to move the bike that I completely forgot about my leg turn over, relaxed breathing, and focus. They robbed me of my 800’s just as they’ll rob me of my future tax money.
Let's see...bike....run...I’m not a triathlete but it dawned on me, with the intrusion of the bike, that I might have just completed my first “brick” work out. No!? I don’t know exactly what a "brick" is but I’ve heard tri folks talk about a bike/run work out to prepare for their races. If that’s the case, consider my brick cherry popped. You know what? It wasn’t that hard.(t.w.s.s.)
The hardest part of the brick seems to be finding a douchebag teenager with baggy jeans to leave a bike as an obstacle for your run. Physically, it’s not to bad. The bigger challenge is psychologically. Can you balance your patience/indignation?
As I left the track and started my one mile cool down run home, the little troublemakers flopped down onto the infield grass as if their general malaise and asshattery had worn them down to exhaustion. No doubt they wanted to get an idea on what it’ll be like sleeping outdoors on the ground after their parents kick them out one day.
I felt oddly triumphant for not giving in to my (strong) desire to step on and bend the tire rim. My patience won the day! I was tired myself from the three obstacles: the 800’s, the bike, and dealing with their nonchalant, vaguely threatening attitude.
Then it occurred to me: did I just complete a steeplechase?
* This skill also comes in handy during spontaneous celebrity nip slips that occur randomly on TV. Practice, people, practice.
Everyone congratulate Sun Runner for the BQ in Cleveland!!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I don’t wait for the seventh day of the week to rest. I pretty much rest every other day. Sometimes two days in a row even. I guess you could say I’m a Less Is More kinda guy (that’s what she said – beat you to it.) I run three days a week. Every once in awhile, if I’m feeling frisky, I might go four times.
Far be it for me to question the wisdom of biblical precedent but six days of hard running in a row seems a bit excessive. I needs my rest. Besides, I think there’s some room to quibble here. We have two eyes, ears, arms, legs, kidneys, nipples, and lungs. The thing that makes us go – the heart – works alone. Can you say ‘design flaw’? Where’s my second heart? But two nipples? Really? I don’t claim to be All Knowing (just More Knowing Than You) but I believe the door is open for some serious questioning.
Did anyone hear thunder just now?
Since I take a rest day after every run day, I’m usually able to go hard (that’s what she said) every time out. I don’t run so-called “junk miles” (i.e. accumulated miles to inflate the training log but don’t have a defined purpose.) I know there’s a debate in the running community as to whether these extra miles help (or hurt) a runner. I long ago decided that I didn’t need that extra wear-and-tear and, combined with the various kid activities I seem to attend nightly, three days a week will have to do.
That’s why this weekend was so unusual. Probably pretty unremarkable for most but, for me, a real one time Water Into Wine experience. I ran three days in a row! To be fair, I was only planning to run Thursday, Saturday and Sunday but Thursday night soccer practice (and a date with game 7 of the Red Wings – Ducks series) caused me to shift this run to Friday. Viola! Three days in a row for the first time since, oh, I don’t know, 2005?
Friday was a pretty boring tempo run but Saturday saw the first of my 400 intervals! I targeted 1:20 as my pace with a relaxed lap in between. There was a nasty head(t.w.s.s.)wind to contend with whenever I turned north. I felt like I was parting the Red Sea of wind for each half lap. For the first time out for 400’s, I planned 4 x 400. Ease on into it. I’ll increase the intervals each time out. Intervals? 1:22, 1:23, 1:25, 1:23. Didn’t quite hit the target but I blame the wrathful wind god for punishing me for the consecutive days of running.
It was long run Sunday after that. And for this past Sunday, I defined ‘long run’ as 8 miles. Lame, I know. Without the angry wind, I was able to coast in with a 6:57 negative split pace. Adequate, for now (t.w.s.s.)
So, the SOS2 is off and rolling. A bit sloppy, amateurish and clumsy (t.w.s.s.) at first. I cut a few of the runs off prematurely (t.w.s.s.) Basically, I got a lot of work to do. But, in case you were thinking of leaving me snide comments, Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged.
Due to rest days, it might take me two weeks to get done what Others get done in one. That’s okay, I’m not omnipotent. I need to work at it. My running is still a little impotent (t.w.s.s.)
Soccer Update: My filly completed her short season with a record of 3-2. In games she played, they were 3-1. She netted 7 goals and about 5 more cross bars (or Close But Not Close Enough). Begrudgingly, I congratulated her on a "fine" season. I made sure that the entire team thanked me for the 3 wins and apologized to me for the 2 losses before we broke for the final time. I think I taught them an important lesson on responsibility. They really took it to heart. Several of them were crying while trying to blubber out their apology.
My colt's team is 4-0 with a Goals For/Against of 28-1. How do you punish a team for giving up one goal in four games without seeming unreasonable? I don't know but where there's a will there's a way.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Mrs. Nitmos has been hitting the gym lately. While not a “runner”, she is an “exerciser.” (Note: Not an exorciser which would be really cool.) Usually, her exercising doesn’t include a treadmill. I can’t blame her. Those things are rotten sonsabitches as far as I’m concerned. I avoid running on them at all costs. When the weather gets real foul in December to February, I might be forced on them three to four times during that stretch but that is it for the year. I find waiting an extra day and shifting my schedule a bit usually does the avoidance trick most times.
Anyway, Mrs. Nitmos decided to pound out a mile on the mill just for kicks. This is where the comedy ensues.
She’s milling away listening to the soothing - not at all shrieky - sounds of Linkin Park on my mp3 player and enjoying a nice run. She reaches for the stop button but inadvertently hits the increase speed button. I never noticed an Increase Speed button on the gym treadmills but she swears it’s there. Probably near the flux capacitor.
You can see where this is going right?
ZOOM! Off the back crashing to the ground and slamming into the wall behind the mill. My mp3 player goes flying. Linkin Park can still be heard being angry about something from the hopelessly tangled ear phones in the corner. Just as hopelessly tangled? Mrs. Nitmos limbs. She claims that she hurt her back and heiny a bit but, though a little embarrassed, otherwise quickly stood back up and pretended she meant to do that by muttering something about “Plyometric training being a real bitch.” In my mind, she was cartoonishly tied up with legs over shoulders and an arm wrapped around the head. Two people had to help her untangle the limbs and stand up.
The good news is that my mp3 player wasn’t damaged (although Linkin Park seemed really pissed off next time I listened to it.) Mrs. Nitmos wasn’t seriously hurt.
The bad news is that the scoreboard now reads Treadmill 1, Mrs. Nitmos 0. And the gym doesn’t have video surveillance for me to submit this to America’s Funniest Home Videos and win $10,000 (or approximately 125 pairs of Asics.)
That treadmill has a little devil in it. Maybe it would be better if she was an exorciser after all.
I need some work. 3 x 800 at 2:54, 2:58, 3:02. Ugh, that ain't gonna beat 18 minutes in a 5k. I'm going to do some 400 repeats on Saturday (instead of the planned mile repeats) and then an 8 mile long run Sunday. Speed begins....now!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Many times, I sit at my desk – smelling Cube Farters intestinally emitted Arby’s residue – and wonder what I’ll do with myself When I Grow Up. I have a perfectly grown-up job that pays the mortgage and keeps my weekends soaked in beer. However, I can’t say that I expected to spend my days mentally categorizing the sound, smell, and, yes, taste of a middle aged man’s mid afternoon gaseous excretions from a distance of eight feet. I majored in Economics for chrissakes (though, to be fair, my minor was Bung Expellents.)
From a career perspective, I might still be holding my nose, both literally and figuratively, and performing the demanded tasks. From a running perspective, my goals and path have never been clearer. I know exactly where I want to go. And how fast I want to get there.
Besides the SOS2 goals and the BQ pursuits and the marathons, I’m looking forward to the summer of 2011. I’ll be 40. I’ll qualify to pursue the USATF Masters All American road running certification administered by the National Master News publication. Why is that important I ask myself rhetorically? It isn’t. Except there is a chart full of numbers that says You Did Something That Some Person Somewhere Decided Was Significant In Some Way. And I really, really love the word Some (apparently.)
The USATF has issued guidelines for runners – men and women – in five year age groups from 5 km to marathon distance. If you can meet that standard in a documented event, you are a USATF certified Master. Judging by my love affair – and pursuit - with the BQ standard, it’s not so much of a stretch to see how this would appeal to me, right? I love trying to obtain a goal that Someone I Don’t Know has set. (Too bad I don’t also have the same drive when trying to meet Someone I Do Knows goals – my boss – or maybe I wouldn’t have a thick, slowly evaporating cloud of spicy curly fry odor strained through roughly 23 feet of a man’s small intestines hovering around my head right now.) I’m pretty sure that, if you hung a tennis ball on a string 30 feet over my driveway and told me that other folks my age have been able to jump up and grab it, you’d see me out there every day arms extended practicing my leap.
As I look over the standards, I’m fully capable of meeting each and every one of them right now. But I’m 38. There’s still nearly two years of knee synovial fluid degeneration. There’s still a few thousand miles to run. There’s still time for…get those damn kids off my lawn I’M KEEPING YOUR BALL YOU LITTLE PUNKS….
Sorry, where was I?
If you are over 40, you might want to check these standards out for yourself to see if you can gain certification from Somebody. If I can just maintain my speed over the next two years, obtaining the USATF Masters certification will be easier than complaining about Kids These Days. 2011 should be fun!
I hope that makes Someone happy.
Now, where are my shorts and wing tipped shoes, I need to cut the lawn...
* But perfectly acceptable for a trigenarian so you’ll still see plenty of references to fecally related topics sprinkled liberally here over the next 22 months. Don’t worry.
My filly's 2-0 soccer team record became 2-1 last night after a 10-4 beat down. My filly? Four goals. I guess it should have been eleven then, shouldn't it? No dinner for her.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Now open for business!
If there is one thing I know, it’s never to meddle with a good thing. Keep beating it into the ground until folks want to whack you with a sack full of baby kittens. Thus, I’m compelled to name this summer’s planned, grueling speed sessions the Summer of Speed II (SOS2). If the slogan looks familiar, it’s because last year was the Summer of Speed (I, implied). See? Keep on pounding. I’m like the Dana Carvey of summer running slogans: No joke is too old or tired. Have you ever heard me make a llama joke? Check back in 2017, you’ll here another. Isn’t that special?
Last year, I promised to win age group awards to hug and caress and name the same as my two kids. I did that. I now have a medal and a coffee mug named after my kids. In turn, my kids are now named Cheap Medal and Coffee Mug. My colt, Cheap, refuses to answer to his name but little Coffee-y has a few extra scoops of sugar for the both. (Can I get a rim shot here?) While it’s weird having inanimate objects named after my kids, it’s even weirder trying to carry on a conversation with them. There’s only so many times you can say “You look great today!” without getting any kind of a response, you know?
So what am I after this summer? More mute, standoffish age group awards? Maybe a little something – other than the usual - falling from my anus? Dairy this time? Frozen treats? Nah, I’ll stick with traditional time goals. For now.
5k goal: Sub 18:00
10k goal: Sub 40:00 (and actually run one for the first time ever!)
Half Marathon: Sub 1:29 (oh, also actually run one competitively - WDW Goofy doesn’t count.)
HOW DO I GET THERE?
Run. Run hard. Run often. Threaten things.
MORE DETAILS FOR HOW DO I GET THERE?
1) Lose the Cheeto Layer.
2) Quit job. Leave Mrs. Nitmos and the kids. Live in tent in the park near track.
3) 800’s on Tuesday.
4) Tempo run Thursday.
5) Mile repeats Saturday.
6) Long run Sunday.
7) Repeat, building number of intervals.
8) After a few weeks, beg to return home to Mrs. Nitmos due to lice and squirrel rabies.
9) Retrieve age group medals from garbage bin.
10) Make inflammatory and threatening comments about bald eagles.
11) Explain comments to FBI.
12) Move age group awards into Cheap and Coffee’s room.
13) Continue weekly running schedule.
14) After massive argument, return Cheap Medal and Coffee Mug to their bedrooms and move age group awards back to well-dusted and polished shelf.
15) Turn up the heat on the 800’s and mile repeats to push faster and faster until sessions end in a pile of track side vomit.
16) Make quixotic statements about Captain Stuebing, from The Love Boat, being the messiah to people at the grocery store check out line.
17) Get really into the color orange for awhile.
18) Fight a bear.
19) Make sure there are incremental improvements over every single month in speed/ intervals/overall distance according to my running log.
20) Realize the situation is untenable, find foster parents for age group awards once Mrs. Nitmos makes it clear that Cheap and Coffee are going nowhere.
21) Return to park with poison laced acorns for the rabid squirrels.
22) Kick ass on race day.
See? Simple, easy 22 step process that anyone can do. No one gets killed. Very few get maimed. Some feelings are hurt but time – and age group awards - heals all wounds. Ever see anyone with a Mr. Sad Face while polishing their Hicksville USA Race for the (Important Local Charity) 5k medal? Didn’t think so.
Sometimes I find it easiest to remember things by using an acronym. So, here’s the easy to remember acronym for my patented 22 step process: LQ8TMLRARMEMCATMGFMRRK. You may modify it slightly to tailor it to your individual needs, however, do not remove the position of the bear fight at #18. This is very, very important and will become obvious as you go through the process.
The plan is in place. Now I just have to execute it.
I expect to get faster. This makes me excited.
Schwing!! (Excellent, Party time)
Friday, May 08, 2009
This is also the time of year where resident Michiganders (or, Michiganians, if you prefer) shed our shroud of seasonal depression and emerge from our defrosted hovels to the bright glowing orange sphere in the sky. It burns our pale skin. I go from translucent white to red quicker than a naughty kids ass.
Speaking of the Michigan Pale, here are some pictures from the Pig. Notice how comfortable we are wearing our pink medal lanyards. Not even a hint of a threat to our naturally ingrained machismo etched on our faces. Sure, when the person handed me the pink medal , I did pause for a moment, wonder if she was confused, consider flexing-talking-about-football-burping all at once so I could get the dark black lanyard with the orange flames which I was sure was back there somewhere before relenting and taking the pink one. I didn’t have the energy to argue. Believe me, if (when) I was sent to the Big House on a ten year arson stretch, I’d be wearing make-up and calling myself Nitmette within 4 hours.
That's my ride home in the background, the show boat Majestic
Of course, me again with the wonderful Mrs. Nitmos.
I don’t want to steal photos and bring the long arm of the law down on me (see previous Nitmette discussion above) so, if you are really motivated to view more flattering mid-marathon Michigan Pale pictures, enjoy these beauties here (near the half mark) and here(finish) and here(gansta posing).
I forgot to mention the food at the finish. Damn if they didn’t have Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls! Me and Little Debbies have a long storied history. And Swiss Cake Rolls? Puh-leeze, little bundles of heaven. I don’t eat much of that junk anymore though. In fact, the five Swiss Cake Rolls I shoved on my five fingers like little tiny finger muffs – cream oozing out the top - and consumed whole in a manner that would have made the dearly departed Linda Lovelace blush, were probably the only ones I’ll have all year.
The sun is shining, the hell birds are squawking, and the weekend promises to be full of sun. I’ll be busy getting my Michigan Pale off. Hope you will too.
(You know what I mean)
Happy Mother’s Day.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
I realize that running sub 4:30 is a huge challenge for some just as obtaining my own time goals is a challenge for me. And that other runners destroy my PR’s all of the time in every single race.*
But, lest you think I’m getting soft, I would like to remind everyone of some other unique talents I have that are unequivocally better than you. And for which you should feel ashamed.
- I was once able to recite the entire script of The Breakfast Club by memory.
- Until a horrible accident left a permanent burn mark near my right thumb, I once set my college dorm record for most amount of dental floss burnt with a Bic lighter in one sitting.
- I am still the reigning Nitmos Household Champ at living room wrestling. I toss my kids around like, well, how you would expect an adult to toss small children around.
- I have consumed three consecutive individual size chocolate puddings through a straw (beer aided.)
The Flying Pig Marathon was always about fun for me. It’s a pig marathon for chrissakes. The medal has a pig, front and back, with wings and wearing some sort of bondage mask over his snout as near as I can tell. Fun right? I love mythical creatures. Especially those with wings (Lord, please tell me there is a Puking Unicorn Marathon somewhere.) So, though I trained almost as hard as I normally do, I had almost no mental pressure going into the race. No PR chase. No BQ chase. No pressure. Just run. As long as I follow the official course, I’ll eventually finish right?
Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t my normal modus operandi. I’m an inveterate PR chaser. If the PR is a dude with a broken back being rushed to the hospital after slipping on some ice outside of WalMart, I’m the slip-and-fall attorney speeding after the ambulance. Me and PR’s go together like Larry and girls at the Reagle Beagle.
In fact, I rarely sign up for a race unless I feel there is plenty of time to train to get a PR. I won’t even sign up for the race otherwise. Someone may say, “Hey Nitmos, there’s a half marathon in three weeks. Want to get in on it?” Sure, I could run a half marathon. But I don’t have nearly enough time to properly train to make a PR attempt so “no” I say. I’ll line up a different race.
Weird, right? I think I got wired with a few too many competitive neurotransmitters.
On one of our first dates, Mrs. Nitmos and I decided to play basketball to determine who would have to pay for tickets to an Aerosmith / Black Crowes (hey, they were big once) concert. We played to ten. I chivalrously spotted her five to start the game. What more can you ask? Maybe a little bit of a jump shot, I guess. I was swatting her shots aside like flies at a picnic. Final score? Me 10, Eventual Mrs. Nitmos 5. Scoreboard! She bought the tickets.
I didn’t know how I would feel about Not Competing in an event. I thought it might feel sticky somehow. Turns out, it was a huge relief. And a ton of fun. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to turn into one of those Just For Fun guys anytime soon. But, I think, every now and then, it might be nice to just show up and run nice and easy and throw the time goals right out the window. It was pretty liberating. I felt so loose and relaxed during the race that I really absorbed the experience more. I had some interaction with the spectators and took in the nuances of the course. I had a big ole smile on my face – instead of grimacing in pain – all the way into the finishing chute.
It was pretty cool.
Now, a few days after the race, I feel really invigorated. Refreshed. There was something cleansing about experiencing a marathon free from pressure. Like a deep high colonic cleansing (except I didn’t need to lie on my side and bring one knee up.) Basically, I feel extremely focused again and ready to push myself this summer. I’m not sure I would have felt that had I destroyed myself at the Pig.
Ready, set, go...I’m ready to burn up some miles like so many strands of dental floss.
* Of course, those “runners” are known as Assholes.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
For me, this is an interesting race to report. Typically, the crux of my race reports are based around whether or not I was able to achieve my time goal and the obstacles that posed an impediment. In this case, I was not going for any particular time goal. I had decided long ago to run this one out along with a fellow marathoner friend. In short, I had decided to relax, run, and have some fun.
And that is exactly what I did.
Based on time, this would be the slowest marathon of my seven so far. However, would it be too syrupy sweet to suggest that this one might have led the way in smiles and enjoyment? A regular sugar glazed ham event, if you will? I’m awaiting visual confirmation from the event photographers but I believe I’ll see one of those goofy Yes-I-Do-See-You-With-A-Camera smiles (tee hee) in every photo.
But let’s back up just a bit…
Mrs. Nitmos and I rolled into town sans kids early Saturday afternoon. The non-threatening 1980’s soft pop/jazz of Steve Winwood was playing on the radio at the time. Cincinnati is about a five hour drive for us. Just far enough to wish you had XM radio but not far enough to actually consider buying it. After hotel check-in and expoing, we wandered the near empty Cincy streets for about 45 minutes to confirm our suspicions that this was yet another city-in-transition - like Detroit - caught between it’s industrial past and industrial-less future. Then, we kicked back in the lobby bar for a tall one (I told you I wasn’t taking this one too seriously) as my running partner, Mike, would be arriving shortly.
After a dinner of the most pesto green soaked chicken pasta dinner you could imagine, it was time to head back and rest up for the race. First, though, a quick trip into Walgreen’s for the official Nitmos pre-race Breakfast of Champions: Pop Tarts. As I step to the counter, I hear “Mike?” (Believe it or not, Nitmos isn’t my real name. And, yes, the same name as my fellow marathoner.) There is a person standing next to the counter waiting for a response. My brain is furiously flipping through my internal voice-face Rolodex for a match. No hit. I get slightly panicked. Normally, if an unknown person approaches me and calls me by name, they are either (a) looking to serve (another) summons/restraining order or (b) punch me in the gut.
“It’s S_____.” Pause, Rolodex still flipping.
“sRod.” He says finally. Bingo.
I know sRod. He’s commented here on F.M.S. for many moons. I doubt he wants to punch me. I tense my abdomen muscles just in case however.
And then I have a flash of enlightenment. You people are real! Real live flesh and blood. You aren’t figments of my imagination…nameless, non-existent bits and bytes that have gained self-awareness and, instead of trying to take over the human world ala The Terminator, are content with leaving snarky little comments on my blog. It was nice to meet a fellow running blogger in person.
After brief well wishes, Mrs. Nitmos and I and our partners in crime* are off to the hotel for some shut eye.
The Flying Pig is billed as a hilly course. However, the elevation map deceptively implies that there is just one big hill to crest between miles 6-8 and then it is “all down hill from there.” (A phrase we would be told countless times by a bunch of lying spectators. The Flying Pig leads all marathons in pure, unadulterated liars. Also, one guy, wearing a foamy beer hat, kept promising us “beer just up ahead”. We saw him three times. He promised us that beer every time. Guess what? No beer. Liar.) Truth is, after you ascend the big hill, there is a series of undulating slopes and minor hills over the next 18 miles to the finish.
Mike wanted to keep to 9:10 miles or so for the first half and come in around 2 hours. We didn’t quite keep the pace and managed the half in 2:06. Unofficially, we were shooting for 4 hours. But the elevation map (liars!) promised a gentle downhill slope after the 8 mile mark all the way to the finish (liars!)
The cool, drizzly morning gave way to a little post rain humidity and warmth. And more slopes. Oh, and more liars. Did you know that the “half way there” spot of a marathon isn’t 13.1 miles? No, according to the spectators, it apparently exists between miles 11-16. For over 45 minutes, we continually heard people shout “half way there” at us. Really? Where? In hell?! Liars! Sorry, when I’ve gone 16 and there is only 10 to go, shouting “half way there” is not exactly motivating. Is it too much for a little math? “38.85% - rounded - to go!” would have been more encouraging.
Neither Mike nor I took this marathon as seriously training-wise as the others. Physically, I did all of the scheduled training and, despite my 4 lb Cheeto Layer, was in pretty good shape. Mentally, however, I was never focused on pushing hard for this race.
Still, 16-17 miles in, I was feeling great. We were traveling at a slower rate than I normally run and I could feel this sub layer of energy bubbling and ready to burst. (Or maybe that last Gu didn’t sit right. Either way, something was inside of me that needed to come out.) The Flying Pig features a final timed mile to encourage finish line sprints. With 8 to go, I was toying with the idea of busting out a 6:30 minute mile or so for the end just for kicks.
Around the 17 mile mark, it was clear we weren’t going to hit 4 hours. But press on we did sprinkled with a few walking breaks. It was near mile 19 that I saw my favorite sign, propped up by an apparently catty and bitter woman. In big, bold, mean-spirited letters, it said “Run Faster Skinny Bitch.”
At 20 miles, my quads were starting to tighten from the non-stop rolling slopes but I still felt pretty fresh. I decided to run out in front of Mike a bit to see if I could pace him over the final 10k. He was battling hard and alternating between moments of darkness and bursts of energy. I tried to balance “gentle pushing” against “felonious torture.” He kept telling me to Go Ahead and Take Off. He probably wanted to be rid of his tormentor.
Things got a little bleak in the 23-24 mile range (including the only LSBG comment for the entire race from a water station worker!) but, as usual, we came out the other side. After one more lie (yet another race official telling us “last hill then it is all down hill to the finish” only to see one more hill after that), we spotted the Finish Swine at the bottom of the final slope.
We both finished in 4:26:32. Officially, he finished in 2156th and I in 2157th (of 4014). I like to think that, if the clock went to hundredths of a second, I might have beaten him by a hundredth or so. Just sayin’. We’ll never know.
The LSBG meter finished at an acceptable ‘1’.
Overall, this was a fun event. The course is pretty challenging. It’s probably the hardest one I’ve done. I would not recommend going for a PR or BQ on this course.
Most importantly, I had a great time running this race! I’ll have some thoughts later this week about how throwing away a time goal changed the entire complexion of the event. I was clapping my hands and pumping my fist all the way to the finish. A total blast! In fact, I think I did manage to wee wee wee all the way home (and I don't mean urine soaking my shorts!)
My recommendation for the Flying Pig? Run it for fun. Run it for a challenge. Run it to bathe yourself in every imaginable mildly humorous pig reference you could desire (Can I hear a “snout rocket” from anyone? No?) Run it purely to be astounded at the out and out liars that reside in the Cincinnati area.
Just don’t believe a word anyone tells you.
* No, this doesn’t mean that I stole the Pop Tarts.
Next post: Thoughts on running a marathon without a time goal.
Friday, May 01, 2009
Besides, you didn’t really think I’d let a cheap opportunity pass - this whole week - without talking about my pig marathon and swine flu, did you?
For the Flying Pig, I think I’ve decided to wee wee wee all the way home rather than go for the roast beef. I’ll be running with a friend. He suggested that we wear medical face masks all the way to the Finish Swine to prevent contraction of the disease. I think we should wear this:
Swine Flu infected pig
Either way, I’m definitely writing this little poem I composed across my shirt:
For my snout
See, folks will laugh uncomfortably at first and then get slowly appalled. Uncomfortable laughter followed by simmering feelings of hatred is a typical – and beloved – reaction after an encounter with Nitmos. Just ask my grandparents.
I’m getting excited to run this race. Believe it or not, this is the FIRST official race of the year for me. It kicks off my Second Summer of Speed (SSOS) which I will be formally announcing soon. I’m going to treat this marathon as a rolling, sweaty party on feet. The kind of party that involves pain, anger, despair, brief suicidal thoughts and fist shaking at that one jackhole spectator shouting “Almost there!” at mile 18. (I might explode on him....and then he'll think I had Mad Cow disease instead.)
I’ll finish it when I finish it.** I’ll finish with a pig eating grin on my face and no trace of influenza in my veins. Like most marathons, I’ll probably finish it feeling slightly lethargic, maybe even nauseous with a slight fever, runny nose and probably a little diarrhea. Oh wait…
Besides the whole pandemic-pig thing, there’s good vibes in the air for this race.*** I’ve got the fever to run. And it’s contagious.
Race report to come!
** Preferably slightly south of 4:00 hours please.
*** Which is way better than bad microbes in the air, if you ask me.