Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mine Is Shorter Than Yours

The Capital City River Run Half-Marathon Race Report

So, I had this little half-marathon on Sunday. It’s a local race but one I’ve never done before. I prefer to travel looong distances and spend lots of money on hotels, meals, and transportation making a $50 race a $1000 event. Apparently.

But with the triumvirate of Chicago-Disney-Boston races in my rear view mirror plus a non-race trip (*gasp* there is such a thing?), the wallet needed a rest. Local race it is! How was it? As the old saying goes, "once you go local, there’s no going back."

It was nice to wake up in my own bed. By “my own bed” I mean, of course, the floor of my living room on an air bed. No, Mrs. Nitmos didn’t finally get wise. My parents were down to watch my colt run the mile race. Me they couldn’t have given a shit about.

I had targeted 1:29 way back during my SOS2 goal setting in the spring. By the time this race came around, I felt like I could easily beat that and considered lowering my goal. Glad I didn’t. I’m used to races not measuring exactly to the hundredths of a mile. They might measure on a different line than you run. You might have to work side to side to pass people. There’s normal human (and machine? Say it ain’t so Garmin p.b.t.n.) error. Normally, however, I come in pretty close to the actual distance give or take a couple hundredths of a mile.

The Capital City River Run starts out in downtown Lansing, Michigan and then veers right to hook up with the river walk trails. It bobs and weaves like, well, you would expect a river to bob and weave all snake-like. I figured it was important to really run the tangents for this race due to all the twists and turns of the path. I was tangent cutting like a tangent cutting mofo. As I watched runners in front of me swerve side to side down a trail, I cut a straight line bringing myself to the edges of both sides of the trail as it twisted through the woods. I remember mentally patting myself on the back and thinking ‘You are one smooth tangent running Mr. Geometry. Other runners, take note! Don’t give me lip or I’ll drop a radius on your ass.’

Somewhere between mile 4 and 5 my Garmin chirps started coming in well before the mile markers. Garmin is infallible, we know that, and I’m Mr. Geometry, we know that now too, so, clearly, they screwed up on their measurement. I really didn’t pay it much attention. Sometimes all the mile markers don’t line up but seem to come pretty close by the time you get to the end of the race.

As usual, I failed to follow my pre-race plan to run two to three 7 minute miles to warm into some 6:40’s. Instead, I ran pretty consistent splits. Here they are in all their glory:

Mile 1 6:45
Mile 2 6:33
Mile 3 6:54
Mile 4 6:43
Mile 5 6:43
Mile 6 6:53
Mile 7 6:50
Mile 8 6:47
Mile 9 6:43
Mile 10 6:34
Mile 11 6:44
Mile 12 6:27 * Best mile!
Mile 13 6:55 * Followed by worst mile! Coincidence?
Last .21(!) 1:21 @ 6:24 pace

Not sure why I eased off so much in mile 13 except with the almost tragic belief that I had my goal in the bag. I remember looking at Garmin as I passed the 12 mile marker thinking ‘1:29 is done maybe I’ll see how close I can get to 1:28.’ Then we arrived back downtown. And took a left, And then a right. And then another left. Where’s the f*%&ing finish?? I’m over 1:28 already!! And then a final right.

There it is. Holy crap, I better pick it up to beat 1:29.

I crossed at 1:28:51 according to me and cooled down for a few minutes slightly confused. How did I end up so close to blowing my goal? Well, ole infallible Garmin tells me I ran 13.21 miles. Apparently my definition of a half-marathon doesn’t match CCRR’s definition of a half-marathon. Mine is shorter. For someone trying to hit a goal, a 1/10th of a mile is significant time suckage (i.e. 40 seconds or so). In fact, if not for the time it took to run the extra 1/10 mile, I would have (barely) negative splitted the race.

Then, to top it off, they recorded my finish at 1:28:53. Robbed of two additional seconds! Bastards!

In the end, it was a fun race. The course was a bit more challenging than I had anticipated considering I train on almost exclusively flat sidewalks. No big hills but plenty of slight up and down bumps. I feel like I should have done better but I'll settle for this result. For now.

This is my only half-marathon (besides the Goofy Challenge which I don’t count as a separate race) so automatic PR! And, in the end, I did beat my SOS2 goal…though just by the plaque on my teeth.

Numbers? Yes, numbers:

1:28:53 time (Garmin sez 1:28:51)
13.11 miles (Garmin sez 13.21 miles)
6:48 pace (Garmin sez 6:44 pace)

42nd of 1503 overall
11th of 98 in age group

Meanwhile, my colt took second in the kids’ mile race finishing behind the leader by two seconds!

Photos? Yes, photos: (Feel free to order me some. I'll provide the shipping address.)

Me doin' some bridgin'
Colt finishing the kids mile

Next up? The Detroit Marathon 5 person team which Nitmos = Two persons.

Happy trails.

P.S. Work still stucks.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bloggity Blah Blah

I'm afraid I've been neglectful in my blog duties this week. My inconsiderate employer has deemed it necessary to bring an already busy month to a frenzied peak over the last few days. If they weren't paying for my very survival, I'd have slapped them with a sequined glove and challenged them to a moonwalk duel. With the financial hammer hanging over my head, I'll continue dancing for 'em though - hair on fire or not.

All of this comes as I approach Sunday's half marathon. Or semi-marathon. Or 21K. Or whatever you want to call it.

I'm ready to run the race. It's local but rain showers are expected. That would be kinda fun. I've never ran a race longer than a 5k in the rain before. I've always believed I'm a mudder anyhow so this would go a long ways towards proving it.

Unfortunately, my Big Boss Man has robbed me of precious blogging time. Time I could have spent letting you all know how much pavement ass I'm going to kick. You know, typical F.M.S. bluster and pomposity...which ultimately ends in a humiliating defeat. But it's fun while it lasts. I love to pre-taunt a race course. Because, even if it ends up getting the best of me, I know that here in the snowy Midwest the snow plows will be coming around soon enough to scrape the shit out of the roads and leave a trail of pot holes in their wake. Either way, I win. Suck it, roads.

I'll be looking to break my SOS2 goal of 1:29. Considering I've done two 13 mile training runs below 1:30 in the past several weeks, I think this is a manageable goal providing there aren't any unfilled pot holes left over from last winter waiting to grab my foot and snap my Achilles.

I'll try to provide a race report next week. I'll also try to check in with you all some time soon as well. Until then, the BBM is shouting "Jump!" But I have no idea how high I should go? Maybe I'll ask.

I don't even have time to come up with a suitable blog post title...

Happy trails.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hermaphrodites! Running! Australia! Podcast!

If there's one group that doesn't get talked about nearly enough here at Feet Meet Street, it's hermaphrodites. (Oh, and Welcome Back my eastern European traffic!) I've long felt this blog was missing that hermaphroditic touch.* So, in an effort to correct that, we discussed Caster Semenya's sexual identity test results at length on the just issued, hot-of-the-press Banned On The Run podcast episode. Go there. Do it. Especially if you are hermaphrodite-curious.

An even better reason to go there, however, is to hear tales of running in the Australian outback from Kristina the Marathon Mama. She spent nearly three weeks trail running in the bush. She's like Dian Fossey except not gorillas but dingoes. (And I'm sure her fate will be much brighter.) Despite our best and repeated attempts to drag the conversation down to a childish, feces flinging level, Kristina somehow managed to divulge some interesting information. What a jerk. Take your fancy complete sentences and stories that don't end with someone farting in someone else's face to another podcast, will ya'. Try ending a sentence with a preposition once in awhile. I like to.

Of course, Vanilla, RazZ and Amy are there. Nothing I could do about that folks. As The Facts of Life so aptly taught us: "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life."

So, do yourself a treat this morning and download/listen to the latest podcast. You might laugh and learn, which is great. Or, you might be disgusted and annoyed for wasting your time with such drivel. In that case, won't the rest of your day seem so much better then? You're welcome either way.

We've now featured two guests in a row: John from Hella Sound and Kristina. Who is going to be next? It could be YOU so go do something interesting and/or benefit us in some way. I'm sure John and Kristina would both tell you that the podcast experience with us is completely wonderful. After all, the main feedback we get after taping is either (a) "who should be named in the slander suit I've prepared?" or (b) "how many showers does it take to wash the shame, regret, and humiliation of BOTR off of me?"** Such kidders!

Here's Episode 4 of BOTR.

Thanks to Kristina for joining us. And, trust me, it was no problem at all to include a link to your blog in a post that features HERMAPHRODITES so prominently. Go take another shower.

Happy trails.

* I just teed one up for you all, let's hear what you can do with it. Don't disappoint.
** Answers? (a) Vanilla and (b) Usually several showers combined with a deep period of introspection answering questions such as "How did my life turn out this way?" and "What did I do to deserve this?" plus time. Time heals all wounds.

Folks, my legs are shredded. Not shredded in the steroid-popping, muscle-bulging kinda way but dead dog tired. I guess I will taper for that half-marathon on September 27th. Ten days is a long enough taper for a half right? I could barely maintain a 7:05 pace for 9 miles last night.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Story Time w/Nitmos

This episode: The Adventures of Bell Man

This post has nothing to do with running. I know, I know, you come by here for deep running thoughts, advice, and tips so you’re probably feeling a bit lost. Unmoored. Floating in a sea of confusion and depression clutching the F.M.S. brand name as your only life preserver. Sweet, really, how you all look to me for advice. Hell, where else can one pretend to be a revered Professional Running Coach other than on the internet??? (After all, I can whip you up an authentic looking training plan with the best of ‘em.) But today I’m putting away my Bowerman series whistle and putting on my story time hat…

It’s the summer of 1991. My future of uninterrupted mediocrity is still ahead of me. Mrs. Nitmos and I are just a year into our courtship.* Back then, we still called it a courtship. We had class…and grunge music. You Gen-Y’ers (or Gen-Nexters?) might call it “tapping” or “hittin’ it” or “blumpkinery”. I’m not familiar with your weird, hip, post-Gen X vernacular. At any rate, we are dating.

To bank money for college (beer and grunge CD’s), I’m busy working my summer job at the Grand Traverse Resort, northern Michigan’s finest resort and home of the Michigan Open, as a bell man. Not a bell boy, mind you. Bell Man thankyouverymuch. Sounds more superhero-y that way….like I’m saving luggage from being displaced and/or lost while wearing spandex, mask, cape, and the giant letters ‘B.M.’ on my chest. (Hmmm, we need to work on the letters for the chest…) A bell boy would be my assistant. Think Robin.

Here I am slinging bags all summer. From airport shuttles to hotel lobby. From lobby to room. From room back to airport shuttles. Doing my small part to save the intrepid vacationer/businessman/professional golfer from a trip of misplaced clothing and toothbrushes. Without over-inflating my sense of self, isn’t a Bell Man really the backbone of the entire vacation experience?

In this position, a smile and thank you from a weary traveler is a generous reward. Of course, a more generous reward is a monetary tip (which the occasional asshole weary traveler would sometimes forget.**) A few bucks for the backbone isn’t much to ask, right? You’d tip your skeletal system if it meant the difference between standing upright or lying in a fleshy, gelatinous pool of skin, wouldn’t you?

Most of the passers-through and Samsonites went by anonymously with only the occasional What the F*ck Is In That Dude’s Suitcase? moment. There were a few that stood out though.

Metallica was in town for a concert and were rumored to be staying at one of the resort condo properties. A group of excited teens had me drive them around the resort grounds for over 45 minutes at two in the morning in vain search for Lars and James. Condo by condo we went. At each, I’d dutifully stop the van, let them out, and welcome their sad little faces back in a few moments later. It was funny really. They kept begging me to tell them Metallica’s actual location. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I, also, had no idea. So, instead I said, “If you give me a big enough tip, I’ll take you to their door.” They couldn’t come up with any money which, in hindsight, was just as well as I’d probably have had to kick them out the door at some random condo and then mash the accelerator with a cackle and a fistful of tens and twenties.

Then there was the time I didn’t pick up Stone Phillips (NBC, Dateline) from the airport. Well, I did…eventually. It was his misfortune to fly into a tiny, small town airport with the last flight at midnight. By then, the resort only has one Bell Man on duty. That night? Me. Unfortunately, for him, I was busy checking in some of the resort owners’ good friends. Who didn’t like their condo. Who had to be moved to another condo. Who also didn’t like that condo (discoloration on the carpet). Who had to be moved to the main hotel tower. And then have their car valet parked for them (another Bell Man duty.) By the time I got to the airport 90 minutes later, little ole Stone was standing under a street lamp outside of the airport lobby with his bag at his feet. They closed. Turned out the lights and went home. At this point, Stone was still a nobody. Just a reporter in to file a story for NBC on the local emergency helicopter service making some national news. Let me tell you, he was pissed. He took a few pot shots at me and the resort for our “service” as he called it sarcastically. I checked him in. No tip, as you would expect. But, the entire time, I had a smile on my face. The best I could have hoped for anyway from Stone was a fiver. The resort owners’ friends? $20! I win.

Finally, my most favorite brush with fame: Ernie Harwell. Those of you outside of Michigan might not know the name. Here, he’s one of our most famous and favorite sports figures who, well, never actually played a sport. The radio voice of the Detroit Tigers for 42 years and a presence in the newspaper and TV for much longer. Baseball Hall of Famer, historian, and well known all around classy guy. I grew up with his voice painting the baseball game in my mind’s eye. Warm, friendly, filled with interesting stories, whatever your trouble, you knew the three hours spent listening would be a highlight for the day.

There are new Tigers announcers now but when they say “Home run!”, I still here Ernie’s “LOOOOONG GONE!”. When they say “struck him out”, I still hear “he stood there like the house by the side of the road and watched that one go by.” He is a Detroit and Michigan and baseball legend. I don’t really get into goofy hero worship of athletes, actors, or politicians but this guy is as close as it gets to pure reverence.

Ernie tapped me on the shoulder one fine summer day in 1991 and politely asked me to bring his car around. It was a modest car and it annoys me that I can’t remember the make or model. Chevy Caprice or a similarly styled Buick perhaps? Anyhow, I vividly recall repeating too myself, “I’m driving Ernie freakin’ Harwell’s car!” over and over again as I brought it to the front. He stood there chatting with the other Bell Men, shaking hands, and telling stories. I handed him the keys; he deposited a $5 bill in my hand. I felt embarrassed to take it actually. He shouldn’t be paying me. I’m pretty sure my Balance Due was pretty high by then.

He drove off with his wife and daughter and I never had another chance to meet him again though I listened often through 2002 when he finally retired for good.

These memories came flooding back recently as news broke that Harwell, now 91 years old and still active in various baseball media formats, was diagnosed with incurable bile duct cancer. No one lives forever but, if there ever was going to be a special exemption to that rule, I thought it just might be him. The Tigers held a special night for him Wednesday night where, in typical Ernie style, he came onto the field to thank the fans, smile, wave and depart with head held high.

Who knows how much time he has left? He made my summer of 1991. He made most of my summers brighter through childhood, the teen years, college, and, finally, as a married man with kids of my own.

Thank you, Mr. Harwell. And, though this post turned a bit more maudlin than I intended, here’s one more log for the fire: I still have that $5 bill. It’s hidden away in one of the deep folds of my wallet. A bit tattered and worn but still there as it has been for 18 years now.

Thus concludes the Adventures of Bell Man.

Happy trails.

* She’s clearly still hoping my better days are ahead. Sorry to disappoint.
** Which, by the way, the experienced Bell Man can spot a mile away: The non-tipper. The Joker to our Batman. The Nelson to our Bart Simpson. The adult acting career to Gary Coleman. These folks got their cosmetic bags placed on the bottom of the luggage trolley with the heaviest piece purposely squashed on top if it. A Bell Man scorned is not a pleasant experience…for you or your shampoo.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mistress Hammysnap

Sometimes training plans can be a real bitch. A real spiky heeled dominatrix, in fact. The kind that makes you cry out “Yes, Mistress Hammysnap*, may I have another!” at the lowest point of your long run.

I rolled out of bed Sunday morning with a belly full of celebratory beer mixed with a club sandwich and a heaping portion of seasoned French fries along with a bad case of Low Motivation. Why? Well, my college football filled Saturday afternoon went like this:

1) Watch last few minutes as one of my alma maters beat Michigan State on a last second field goal bringing a smirk to my face.
2) Watch Michigan take out Notre Dame on a last second touchdown bringing a big, wide, borderline euphoric smile to my face.
3) Consume beer/club sandwich at local restaurant. Not even care as kids barely miss smacking into lamps and whacking people in the face with pool cues as I sat at nearby table with goofy grin still etched into cheeks.
4) Go home. Watch Ohio State lose in the last minute. Smile is cartoony wide now and consumes whole face.

That, my friends, is called the trifecta! Or quadfecta if you include the beer and club sandwich. A good night.

However, life is all about the yin yang, the balancing of fate. For every Seinfeld, there’s a Bob Patterson or Michael Richards Show. The wider my smile got; the more leery I became of the payback.

So as I rolled from the warm, comfortable embrace of Mrs. Nitmos Sunday morning to tackle the long run, I knew I was in trouble. Mistress Hammysnap would smell the beer and detect the signs of unrestrained joy still dancing around the corners of my mouth. I would pay. Oh, yes, how ‘bout a nice spiked heel to your left hamstring around mile six??

I let the previous evening’s events circumcise my planned 15 miles to 13. The plan became 5 miles around 7:00 pace, 5 miles at race pace (6:45), and then 3 miles cool down in the 7-7:15 range. The half marathon is two weeks away and conventional wisdom tells me I should start to taper at some point after this run (but not in the middle of it – this isn’t OSU football after all.**)

Heavy. Sluggish. Tired. Damn, beer doesn’t make for good pre-run hydration. Mistress Hammysnap was beating me in the back like a derby racehorse just to squeeze a 7:01 pace out of me through 5 miles. Sweat? Buckets full.

And now I needed to get faster? The club sandwich was trying to find a way out like it was fleeing from a brothel raid. Pinch. Convince myself it’s just a hernia. Pinch a second time to slam the door shut. Run on.

ThankyoumayIhaveanother!? ThankyoumayIhaveanother?! I managed to please Mistress with the next five miles at a 6:41 pace. I left a lot of evaporative beer and club sandwich out on the course though. My hammies didn’t snap (thank you, Mistress!) but they did strain and start reciting a prayer just in case.

Cool down three miles. But “cool down” doesn’t feel like COOL DOWN when the pace is only 20 seconds per mile slower than the previous five. And those five were unmitigated torture.

7:05, 7:06 and then an unplanned sprint in at mile 13 with a 6:40. The final mile is the only in which I deviated from plan. Mistress Hammysnap didn’t have to time to take a pound of flesh in punishment. She was overridden by Master B.M. who exacted a pound of …something else.

13.0 miles
1:29:23 time
6:53 pace

I was a good boy. Mistress must have been pleased with the effort. I’m sure she’ll be there on race day wearing chaps, a bull whip and spiked heels. Saddle up!

Race day is on a Sunday (in two weeks). I better look at that Saturday’s football schedule to know what I might be in for.

Happy trails.

* The name is entirely fictionalized. There’s no way I’d pay to be ritualistically beaten – at a cost of $125 an hour – every Wednesday evening from 7-9 (discounted rates for multiple hours!). No way.
** Hey-ohhhh!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sarah the Cheetah, Slightly Faster, Attention Seeker

Sometimes, blog topics just fall right into your lap. We can thank the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden for the latest.

You may recall my sarcasm soaked congratulations to Usain Bolt for his world record 100m run in Berlin last month. If not, why don’t you? You should. There’ll be a quiz at years end. I’ll wait while you click that link and refresh.

Well, looky looky, we have another 100m world record holder. This time, in the animal world. The Cincinnati Zoo took it upon themselves to stage a publicity stunt 100m cheetah time trial. Here’s Sarah the Cheetah chasing her little stuffed toy to a record 6.130 seconds in 100 meters. On her second attempt that day.

On the first attempt, she ran 6.164. So she went from 6.164 to...6.130? I’ll ask the same question I asked in Mr. Bolt’s case: Does anyone notice anything odd about those two sets of numbers? Like the first number to the left of the decimal is still ‘6’? In this case, the only digit that changed was the one in the hundredths position. Bolt, at least, managed to lower the number in the tenths position.

Admittedly, 6.130 seconds is fast. Even for me. Using the McMillan Running calculator to extrapolate this out, Sarah the Cheetah could do a mile in 2:03, 5k in 7:04, and marathon in 1:09. Suddenly, Usain Bolt, Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall don’t seem so impressive now do they?

If you clicked the article link and read it – and again, if you didn’t, why not? – my favorite part is the last line where Sarah, after her sprint, “looked barely out of breath.” What a show off. Maybe if I had to chase after my favorite stuffed animal action figure, I’d run that fast too.

Way to be slightly faster, Sarah the Cheetah! But, next time, how ‘bout you just let us know when your PR changes to 5 something, at least, m’kay?

And since this is Animal Kingdom day on F.M.S., here’s a great picture of a gorilla with awesome nipples.

No word on how fast the gorilla is though. But does it matter? Not with nips like that.

Happy trails.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Let's Get Mental!

You should know that I decided to go all serious today at the last minute. I had some wonderful prose already created comparing the different parts of a marathon to the various Peanuts characters. The rant about Pig Pen was a knee slapping howler. You would have laughed. Trust me.

Instead, last night’s intervals – combined with reading Running and Living’s successful half marathon race report earlier in the day – got me thinking about the mental side of running and racing. There is a mental side to running. You’ll have to trust me, again, on this. I know it didn’t occur to many of you what with all the bright light bulbs to stare at. Pretty, I’m sure.

As runners, we talk about distances, paces, pulled hamstrings, energy chews, cross training exercises, and, occasionally, sphincter related topics. All physical. Hell, I like to get physical as much as the next guy. I spent grades 3rd-5th with a moderate to severe Olivia Newton-John crush after all. (Matching head and wrist bands with a leotard? Yes, please! Let’s get physical…physical...)

But what attention do we pay to the mental? Won’t anyone think of the mental? How do you train your brain for a race? How do you prepare to push through The Wall – a mental barrier – when the time comes? How do you practice pushing yourself harder and farther when the legs are burning and your lungs are ready to explode. When the physical starts to fail, the right mental approach can still keep you moving down the road. At least, that’s what I strongly believe.

Case in point: Last night’s intervals. I’m simultaneously training for a 5k, 10k and 21k (the SOS2 rolls on!) so I’ve kept my 800’s in the 5-7 interval range to work on different distances during other parts of the week. Yesterday was a planned 6x800 @ 2:50 pace. This is usually a challenge for me. Last time out, you’ll remember that I mindf*cked myself into a 2:57 pace right from the beginning. (See? Mental!) This time out, I was determined to not pre-determine my pace. Sure, I was shooting for 2:50 but I generally go with the flow of how I feel that day and not worry if I’m a few seconds off either way. I don’t want to run to an exact number. I judge myself based on perceived effort – for 800’s, RUN UNCOMFORTABLY HARD - and the pace just kinda happens.

This time, I settled in at a 2:52 pace. Pretty close to the goal. I was working hard. My first four intervals were all right at about 2:52 on the nose. The 5th gained a few seconds as some exhaustion kicked in. On my last recovery lap, the Doubt Demons started creeping in. Physically, I was tired. But completely exhausted? No. Not if I’m being honest and understanding the difference between energy depleted EXHAUSTION and just REALLY TIRED. Still, the Doubt Demons were telling me that I couldn’t do this last interval anywhere near 2:52. I’d be lucky if I got under 3:00.

I listened to these little bastards all the way around my recovery 400m, swatted them to the side and started my last 800. But I still heard them shooting poison darts into my brain during the entire first lap. After 400m of the last 800, I stopped. Garmin (p.b.t.n.) read 1:30. I was disappointed for giving in. I stood there for about 10 seconds or so with my hands on my hips breathing deeply. I was tired. Really tired. But exhausted? Nah. I had convinced myself that I was exhausted. I was mindf*cking myself again. I still had more to give.

So I wiped my brow with my one Newton-Johnesque sweatband, flexed for a moment as someone was running by on the track (I usually lose 2-3 seconds per interval flexing and preening for people as I run by anyhow), and took off for the last 400m.

With restored confidence - with the mental side now buttressing the physical – I knocked out the last 400m in 1:22.

This is an area I still need to work on. This is an area I think most runners need to work on. I need to sharpen my understanding of how my mental side works with/sometimes against the physical. What is exhaustion versus just really tired? What is the difference between giving all as opposed to giving most? When you get really tired and the Doubt Demons spring up, can you successfully conquer them and actually increase your pace? When the physical energy fades a bit, you need to count on the mental to push you along.

Last night was a small case study that I’ll be thinking about for awhile. I need to tune in to what is going on between the ears as much as I do with what my Garmin (p.b.t.n.) reads. I know that in 5k’s, in which you pretty much run all out the entire time, I’ve pulled back periodically convincing myself that I needed to save something for the last ½ mile. And then, when the race is over and the first quick wave of chest heaving tired washes over and recedes, I’ve found myself questioning why I let up during mile two. Why did I give in a bit? Mind games! Mindf*cked!

I need to get Mental. Hell, let’s all wear sweatbands and spandex and get mental! Practice pushing yourself a bit further and faster periodically. Don’t think you can do one more lap? I bet you can. You just need to convince your brain to take the lead especially when the physical side wants to give in. If you are like me (and why wouldn’t you at least want to be?), this is the challenge. Don’t let the mental drag down the physical. In fact, the mental should back-up and carry the physical.

I guess what I’m saying in all these words, was already captured more poetically and concisely in C.W. Longenecker’s poem:

The Victor by C.W. Longenecker

If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you like to win, but you think you can’t
It is almost certain you won’t

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,
For out in the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow’s will.
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are,
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man.
But soon or late the man who wins,
Is the man who thinks he can.

But that’s if you prefer snooty poets. I prefer ONJ.

A place where nobody dared to go
The love that we came to know
They call it Xanadu

Okay, okay, I know it doesn’t really have anything to do with this topic but still catchy no?

Let’s all go out and find our mental Xanadu. (See how I tied that neatly together?)

Happy trails.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

When Half is All There Is...

Well rested after the big Labor Day weekend? Not me. If I was in the Old West, I'd say 'this hombre is plum tuckered out.' If I was in The Big Lebowski, I'd say 'the human body is, like, not supposed to work like this, man.' If I was Vanilla, I'd say 'give me your house and your savings and your most pleasingly shaped kidney so that I can continue to feed the fires of my foreclosed live unicorn bonfire.' (Which is not at all relevant to this discussion. Odd, no?)

My legs are tired. My hammies are a little pissed. I tried to cram some extra hard running in this last week to make up for the week I spent eating free desserts and developing communicable diseases from greasy handled rides. Intervals? Yes, a couple sessions. A race pace 8 miler? Check. By the time I got to Sunday's 13 miler, I knew it was going to be a real Labor. (Honestly, you knew that was coming right?) Thirteen miles is no big deal, normally. But on the heels of a tough week, it felt like 20.

Another hard week awaits and then I'll probably pull back a bit to rest up for the big half-marathon. This is the first time in 4 years that I don't have a fall marathon on the schedule. Just a half marathon. A half marathon? Where's the satisfaction in that? That's like popping a ripe conical pimple only to find out half of the whitehead is still stuck inside. What a let down. That's like brushing only your bottom teeth. You don't go away with the same feeling of satisfaction of a job well - and fully - done.

I think the word "half" is not doing 13.1 miles the justice it deserves. A 5k, 10k, 15k, marathon, etc. get their own unique title. A half marathon gets a qualifier of another race distance just to let you know how inadequate it is. Oh, you're not a full marathon. Just a half? If you are doing a 5k, you don't say that you signed up for a half 10k. If you did, the first thing people would think is 'why isn't he just doing the full 10k? He can only do half of it?'

I don't know what we should call half marathons to give them the respect they half deserve. A triskaidekaphobiathon? A baker's dozen race? Nitmos' shoe sizeathon? (Admittedly, this probably won't catch on.) Something other than "half."

I'm not a half wit, there is nothing to be done about the title of my September 27th race at this point. I'll run it hard; no half assing it here. Hey, look at that last sentence. A semi-colon! A "half" colon.

Two and a semi weeks until my semi-marathon!

Happy trails.

Last week, 8 miles @ 6:44 pace. This week, 9 miles at the same pace and a 15 mile long run. Oh, and 6x800 at 2:50 pace and 3x1600 at 6:00 pace.


I always like it when the object of my teasing then appears in the comments. Hi Mrs. Beardsley, how are things?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Dick Beardsley's Ego

The unmitigated gull it takes to send me an email announcing that a Dick Beardsley movie is in production. Me!!! That’s like Wile E. Coyote sending the Roadrunner an invitation to his birthday party. But that’s what happened. I’m wandering through my email the other day searching for any new ideas people may have for obtaining prescription drugs from Canada, stretching my penis, or claiming prize money from a Ugandan bank*, when I come across an email from the Dick Beardsley Foundation asking for people to enter a contest to name the upcoming Beardsley bio movie. And, get this, they refer to him as the “marathon champion.” Snort. Guffaw. Eye roll. (play along, this isn’t a visual medium.)

You’ll remember my completely one-sided and largely fabricated rivalry I have with Mr. Beardsley. It came to a peak on the summit of Boston’s Heartbreak Hill during the 2008 Boston Marathon. I was able to put together a crudely photoshopped, mildly slanderous photo of the Beardsley Monster as I saw him that day. He destroyed my baby cows.** Marathon champion, motivational speaker (seriously, check him out if you can), subject of feature film he may be but nobody – NO ONE – puts my baby cows in a corner.

Beardsley Monster circa 2008 (artist rendering - but very accurate)

The email gave the appearance of a mass media emailing announcement rather than a personalized attack on yours truly. Heck, some of you may have even received it. Don’t believe it. This whole thing…the movie, the references to Beardsley as “marathon legend” and “marathon champion”, the inspiring life story…are all part of a coordinated multi-pronged F.U. designed to undermine my bid for redemption at the 2010 Boston Marathon.

Clever, Beardsley, well played.

If you click this link, you can go to his foundation web page and enter the contest. (Hurry, today is the last day for entry!) I want you to pay particular attention to the subtle little slam aimed at me towards the bottom. It says:

How To Enter (For Regular Folks):

Nice. “For Regular Folks”?!? Way to build yourself up while putting me in my place. I may not have running “awards” or have been part of the most famous marathon in “history” or survived “near-death encounters” with farm equipment *** or appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records or been the subject of books/films. And I may work an 8-5 job**** and live in the suburban Midwest and lack notoriety and personal wealth. But “regular folk”? The gull! Snort. Guffaw. Eye roll.

You’ve gone too far Mr. Beardsley. I had to print that email on non-standard 11’ x 17’ paper just to get most of your ego on it.

I’ll see you on Heartbreak Hill in 7 ½ months for a second go ‘round.

Between now and then, you keep getting soft making self-aggrandizing feature films and drinking your Minnesota style lattes with pinkie finger extended while twisting your dastardly pencil-thin curled mustache.

I’ll keep running.

We’ll see who the “regular folk” is then.

Happy trails.

Remember to enter today in order to be eligible for the prize!

* I have a transaction in process to claim over $150,000 from a Ugandan bank right now! If I disappear from the internet suddenly, you’ll know I got too rich for the rest of you. I just had to send off my social security number….
** For you Feet Meet Street beginners, “baby cows” refers to my calf muscles. Keep up will you? You’re slowing the rest of us down.
*** Though I did see Son In Law starring Pauly Shore so I’ve had my own near death farm related experience.
**** Who am I kidding? It’s more like 8:50 – 4:30. But don’t tell my boss.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Beep Beep Beep (The Sound Fat Makes)

The Mobility Cart Vacation recap

Many of you guessed correctly. We were in Florida last week. More specifically Disney World. Yes, I consciously signed up to take the family – kids and all – to Disney for a week in late August. What gave it away? The $5 bottle of water? Or the mind numbing stupidity of such a choice that could only be associated with yours truly? What? Is it hot and humid in August in Florida or something??

I don’t like to pick on people. You know that about me. Some people though, unprovoked, call me a "terrorist." Others may say I’m “unfit for civilized society.”* And yet still others maintain I “show occasional glimpses of standard human characteristics that provide a fleeting hope that years of therapy may yet yield a infinitesimal movement to a desired result.”** Whatev. The Nitmos clan did Disney World! Along the way, we managed to mock people in mobility carts!

Now, before you judge, understand that it was very humid out. We were standing in lines that led to very limited entertainment conclusions (you’ve been on It’s A Small World right?). And I like to make hasty snap judgments about people. It’s one of my favorite activities.

Beep beep beep. In come the motorized mobility carts. The rider resembles McDonaldland’s Grimace. The only disability I see is the inability to control their trans fats. As Cross Country Squared said in the last posts comments, we (I say “we” as we were on the trip with another family of four – that’s right 4 kids total!) were basically playing her game of Fat or Crippled? You know what? 90% of the time our judgment was Fat. Grimace here. Mayor McCheese there. These weren’t disabilities. Sorry if that sounds rude – I’m not normally like this as you know – but try waiting in line for 30 minutes to see a plastic Peter Pan only to be bumped further back by a gluttonous, beeping mobility cart rider and his/her family of 17. Sorry sir, you’ll need to wait 5 extra minutes while we load up Jabba and company. It’s only 90 degrees with 90% humidity but bring that cart to the front of the line. Enjoy your day!

After a few days of that, my friend and I decided that mobility carts should come with a labeling system on the back. Like a license plate displaying the name of the disability. If “Trans Fats” or “Oreos” appears on the plate, sorry, no line cuts for you. If that means you don’t go to Disney World and become housebound until either Richard Simmons or a crane shows up to bring you outside again, so be it. It got to the point where I started seriously questioning why I bother running and attempting to eat healthy. Shit, if I just grew my ass four sizes, like a backwards Grinch, I could get right on every ride, every bus right away? Tempting. Where’s the Cheetos? Here I am walking around these never-ending parks on my own legs like a sucker. Beep beep beep, here I come.

Enough with my mobility cart diatribe. I’m accused periodically of being long-winded so I’ll wrap this vacation recap up with RazZian bullet points.
  • We had a great time despite the heat, humidity, mobility carts and, well, being at Disney World.
  • It’s a Small World still sucks.
  • They still need more roller coasters and other vomit inducing rides.
  • There’s not enough Purell in the world for that place.
  • Can you get herpes in your eye from a swimming pool? I think I did.
  • They offered their free dining plan. Every meal came with a dessert. I’ve never eaten so many desserts in my life. Another few weeks eating like that and I’d be in a mobility cart.
  • I have an unexplained rash now. No further details will be provided.
  • Mrs. Nitmos hates Minnie Mouse. I think she’s sexy in that red and white checkered mini skirt. Can you guess how I tormented Mrs. Nitmos?
  • This bullet point format does not allow me to expand on the near assault I got into with the airline agent at the Delta/NWA counter at the Orlando airport. Let’s just say I had to step away from the counter and let Mrs. Nitmos handle things or daddy would have spent the night in the lock up. Wearing mouse ears. Or “prag ears” as they are called in Orlando lock up.
  • We tried to leave on Saturday but Disney somehow knew we still had money in our pockets. Pluto, Goofy, and nunchuk wielding Chip n’ Dale met as at the gates. Oh, yes, we could leave….if we emptied our pockets. Or we could stay until Sunday. We stayed until Sunday.
  • I did manage two runs during the week of approximately 3 miles each. Absolutely saturated in sweat. How do you southern runners do it?

Here’s some carefully selected photos from the trip. There’s a beefcake shot of me in the pool below. Don’t sprain your index finger scrolling.

My little monster waiting for Rock n' Roller Coaster. Cute right?

My little monster soccering over the colt.

Colt being afraid of the looming Tower of Terror

Ha! you thought I'd give you a beefcake shot of my chiseled pecs and rippled abs? You were kidding yourself. Just me and my begoggled offspring sitting in the laundry tub. I say "laundry tub" because what you can't see is Mrs. Nitmos submerged and scrubbing trousers on my rippled six pack abs. That's how we do.

Disney already in Halloween mode. Sheesh.

Drinking beers (me) and pineapple juice w/coconut rum (Mrs. Nitmos and friends). I married up didn't I?
Beep beep beep, Happy trails.
* From my arrest warrant.
** From my first psychological evaluation.