Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NY Marathon Frankenstorm Impacted Goals!

Wherein I wax unpoetic about the upcoming New York City marathon and display almost no human-like sense of compassion for the folks in that region.  It’s post-Frankenstorm-Hurricane-Sandy-General-Freakout New York City Marathon week!!*

Oh my, look at the Runner’s World calendar on the wall, it’s well past time for the blog obligatory marathon goals post. Or, as I call them, List of Impending Disappointments. What would a run blog be without a statement of goals before a big race? And I’m certainly not one to extend a middle finger at blog clichés and traditions. Shoot, I have an alliterative post coming up next: Whackadoodle Wednesday Wackiness! And, guess what? I’m now a running coach! I love me some clichés.

Despite the rain literally raining on my marathon parade in NY right now, I’m pretty excited. Yes, I know people are suffering and it’s a bit uncouth to say how excited I am to run something so extraneous as a marathon down the same streets where, currently, people are canoeing to their homes. But you don’t come here for couthness** and sympathizing do you? Boy, are you in the wrong place. I hope you come for inappropriate blogging and a slight feeling of discomfort like I really shouldn’t be enjoying this because the guy’s a jerk but I can’t tear my eyes away.

As I look gaze into the mirror and rake my hand through my playfully floppish mane and gangnam-style dance my irrepressible pecs, I note the general gauntness of my figure. Sunken cheeks? Check. Loose fitting jeans? Check. Malnutritioned appearance that would make WWII era Louis Zamperini blush? Check. I appear to be on heroin. Don’t touch me; I might give you a paper cut.

In other words, I’m in marathon shape!

A few people at the mall the other day snarkily spat at me in passing, “Eat a burger fergodsakes, pervert.” To which I smiled that knowing, hungry smile of a soon-to-be marathoner. Then picked up my pants that had fallen to my ankles and cinched the belt another notch. When is Sarah McLachlan going to sing a sad song for the Feed the Marathoner campaign? Screw those adorable one-eyed ASPCA puppies.***

Mrs. Nitmos and I are due to fly to New York on Friday unless general plane/airport disruptions ensue. She will be participating in the Saturday morning 5k that starts at the United Nations building and ends in Central Park. I will be taking the recently drained (fingers crossed) subway at 4 am on Sunday down to Battery Park to catch the ferry to Staten Island. A corn-fed Michigan man with wide eyes and a nervous disposition riding a NYC subway at 4 am? What could go wrong?!?

I’d like to say that all of my summer long hard work during this “Tyler Perry Presents: Summer of Speed 2012” will come to fruition during this race. I’d like to say that but then I’d be a big fat liar. Truth is, I’ve trained adequately…even pretty good during certain stretches, but definitely did not kill myself out on the roads. I’m comfortable running the speeds I’ve been running the last few years and I’m slowly coming to accept that. Plus, I have a pile of empty fudge stripe cookie boxes and fun size Snickers wrappers that belie any attempts to convince myself otherwise. Oh, I’ll be lugging a barely distinguishable – but definitely present – Cheeto Layer along with me during the marathon. I’m actually about 2-3 pounds heavier than I normally am pre-marathon.

So maybe all of the gaunt talk was a bunch of bluster. Am I a big fat liar after all? Nah, I’m definitely still gaunt. And my pecs DID dance gangnam. The mirror don’t lie.

So, just what are the goals in this current Stormocalype climate? How can I use Frankenstorm to blame my failure to achieve my goals on something other than myself and my own training efforts? It won’t be too hard, trust me. Natural disaster = ready made excuse in anybody’s world!

The Goals (in Helvetica! and purple!):

A)   Make it to New York on time, find hotel has power.
2)   Do best to avoid Charity/Clean Up New York fund raisers by not making eye contact.
Z)   Beat 3:15.
VI)   If race turns into a waterlogged steeplechase, call it a “Tri” and buy Ironman car sticker.
AA)   Beat 3:20 if it is just not my day. Plan to blog that I stopped to help “victims”. Invent elaborate stories of my heroism.
7)   Avoid falling cranes from the sky.
Z)   Finish race and spend the next two days in New York eating and drinking nearly everything in sight…even aid relief supplies if they are in my line of sight. Ever have post-marathon sore leg muscles? Just as bad as not having a home. Give me the water and cheese.
X)   Leave NY dryer than when I arrived.

My training is in the barn. The hay is already done. There’s nothing left to do but run the race…if the race occurs.

My Wal-Mart discount sweats are purchased and ready to be worn once before discarded at the start for the Hobo Christmas that starts at the same time as the marathon. Hope they enjoy my donation! Merry Hobo Christmas.

Believe me, I have feelings too. I feel the pain coming from New York and I’m sympathetic. But, after my training 21 miler, I didn’t see anyone from New York massaging my cramping leg muscles youknowwhatI’msayin?! #karmaisbitch****

I know everyone is concerned about the folks on the East coast but, while you are praying, say a few words for me. I’m running a freaking marathon people not sitting around looking at all of my drenched photo albums.

And I’m not saying it’s going to come down to this but, if it come’s down to this, guess who’s in pretty good shape to get to an Ark first if there's foot race? Mrs. Nitmos, better keep up, we need to go two-by-two. The unicorns, then us, then the llamas….

Llamas?!?!? Not on this hypothetical Ark. I'll end the human race right then and there before a llama boards that Ark...

Happy trails.


* For the sake of argument, let’s assume there will be a marathon.
** It’s a word. If not, it should be.
*** No, don’t do that. I like puppies…almost as much as I like turtles.
**** I kid because I care.


I may post photos regularly as the weekend progresses. If you care to follow along, you can follow me at @nitmosruns on Twitter.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What Beer is Best for Your Long Run?

I don’t encourage drinking alcohol before a long run.  I don’t discourage it either.  I’m realistic when it comes to my own habits.  I have a few beers on Saturday night.  I do my long run Sunday morning.  That means, every single one of my long runs is fueled, in part, by beer.  Add in the fact that it is football season, tortilla chips are flowing like salsa flavored electricity, and friends are over to help you yell at people on the TV and your long run just became more challenging.

I don’t fight it.  Beer:  It’s gonna happen.  Didn’t someone once say something about if it is inevitable you might as well enjoy it?  That's me.

So how do you mitigate its effects on your long run?  I suppose I could drink less.  But the football players on TV aren’t done running around and need my encouragement, berating, and directional assistance.  I cannot properly provide these things with water or Gatorade.  And, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the football is played all day according to channels 201, 202, 203, 231, 233, and 256. 

I suppose I could have only fruits and vegetables on Saturday.  I do:  there’s an orange wedge in my Oberon.  Sometimes I have some coconut flavored rum to switch things up.  Diversity!

I suppose I could do my long run Saturday morning before football begins.  But bad news there, my Friday night looks quite a bit like my Saturday night except with less football.

No, it’s inescapable really.  The beer will be drank.  But what brand is best?  I don’t mind a little gas.  Gas is fun, exciting and suspenseful.  I’d like to avoid the lump in the belly though.  Running 20 miles with rock gut is an unpleasant experience.  That means Heineken is out.  Good beer but it sits in my upper intestines like an unemployed Wall Street occupier. 

This past weekend was the Dos Equis experiment.  My friend provided the beer so I had no choice but to drink it.  Surprisingly, it went pretty well.  I was able to knock off my 16 miles with little to no gas and no rock gut.  This has me thinking that maybe I can squash a sixer of Sam Adams Octoberfest this coming Saturday.  But I don’t want to fly to close to the sun on wings of barley too soon.  Gas is okay.  A shart is entirely different.

Does anyone have any personal success stories?  Blue Moon, Moosehead, Leinenkuegel?  Something of more quality and/or substance?

Once I cross this hurdle, I can move along to my greater issue:  How pure does the meth need to be to fuel my long run?

Happy trails.

I always wondered what it would be like if I was one of those over exuberant jackhole parents watching their kids play sports.  Oh, wait, I do know.  And now so do you.  BFP ALERT!  Razz's car will be given away soon.  Don't miss out.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

How to Train Your Braggin'

One of the most important skills a runner must learn is how to properly brag.  Running is hard.  It doesn’t always go the way you want.  After months of training, you may show up to the starting line during a total rainstorm.  Or your hammies ache.  Or you have a bad b.m. waiting in the wings ready to pop out for a little how you do? right around mile 3.  Or, most likely, you half-assed your training and would rather be home eating pie.  Anything can go wrong.

So how do you make sure the race still goes right, at least, as far as any of your non-running friends or acquaintances are concerned?

You brag.  Loudly and repeatedly.  And you never let an annoying fact get in the way.  It doesn’t matter that you walked off the course 17 seconds after the gun.  Barely anyone you know runs right?  They’ll never know the difference.

But you have to be clever about it.  There’s always one office Johnny Asshole that’ll take the time to dig around the internet looking for your race results.  And, God forbid, race photos.  You know as well as I that a photo of you holding your knee with your head flipped back in a painful grimace is a dead giveaway that maybe you weren’t actually crowned King of All Runners and carried around on the shoulders of the defeated for 45 minutes.

However, you can, in fact, BE the King of All Runners if you follow these simple rules.

  1. Never use your real name when entering a race.  You’ll never be found on an internet race results check.  Or sites like Athlinks.  No one can ever judge your actual times.
  2. Always enter an age group at least two categories older.  I’m 41 but I typically compete in the 50-55 age group.  It’s so much easier to win age group awards.
  3. Only enter small races with no internet presence.   Believe it or not, there are still races that only advertise through flyers and mailings or signs at your local running store with no race results posted online.  Jackpot!
  4. Enter races at least two hours from home.  Anywhere closer may put you in contact with someone that knows you.  Too risky.
  5. Wear your race bib over your face like a 19th century bank robber.  Race photographers are a pesky nuisance determined to ruin your carefully constructed web of lies.  One image of you panting in a sweat drenched shirt to catch up to a 12 year old girl blows the whole sham.
  6. Order various first place trophies from a trophy shop at least three cities away to display on your desk.  Do NOT put a name of the race on the trophy.  NO PAPER TRAILS.
  7. Make sure you running friends and non-running friends never mix company.  You’ll need to tell each group horror stories about the other group so they’ll never want to mingle.  This might mean two separate home holiday parties but that’s the price you must be willing to pay.  Just make sure to remove the trophies before the ‘running friends’ holiday party.
  8. Always have a knee or ankle wrapped in gauze.  This is a readymade excuse for skipping out on the local charity run that folks in the office are always participating in. 

Follow these 8 simple rules and you can brag all you want, repeatedly, obnoxiously, and with complete immunity to discovery.  It takes a lot of work to set up this fantasy life but, heck, if you want to be a great runner you need to put the work in.

Or you can just work really hard at the running and forget the other stuff.  But who has time for that?  It’s much better to follow those rules and, just to be safe, keep a horrible performance evaluation on hand in case Johnny Asshole gets a little too suspicious and clicky-clicky with his skeptical finger.

Your title as King of All Runners - and the respect and prestige of your friends and colleagues - is just a bit of planning and a short drive three cities away to a safe-distance-from-home trophy shop!

Happy trails.

Have you added Bottle Fed Parents to your reader yet?  No?  What's your deal, man?  We may be planning a surprise giveaway to anyone who comments.  We might not be but there’s always the possibility that we MAY be and that's what you should really focus on.  You can’t win if you don’t comment.  I have a hilarious post up over there today about Chutes and Ladders.  You’ll never know what I said unless you go there and find out.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

21 Run Salute

After all of these years, there’s still something about that 20 – or 20+ - mile run.  It still seems like something special.  At times like this, I wish I was a real wordsmith to describe my feelings.  Instead, let’s all collectively envision James Earl Jones standing on a baseball field wearing suspenders, an uncomfortably itchy hat, and waxing poetic in his sonorous baritone about the magic of twenty mile training runs.  While you’re at it, go ahead and read this entire post with JEJ as your inner narrator.  He really ups the classiness of this shit box, I think.  (You don’t need to have your inner JEJ say “shit box” if you don’t want to.)

Sunday was the day for my high-water distance 21 mile NYC Marathon prep training run.  I always try to do three runs in the twenty mile range before a marathon.  Usually something like 20 miles, 21, then 20.  Sometimes I do three, sometimes I do two but three is always the plan to begin with, at least.

After my first 20 miler two weeks ago and the leg destroying 15.5 trail running last weekend, I was as curious as all of you about how this would turn out.  My right shin was still a bit tender from the trails at DwD last weekend and both quads had been complaining like sweatshop workers from this week’s track work.  And like a good sweatshop supervisor, I ignored them and told them to work harder anyway or get turned out on the street.

Once you've built up your stamina and overall conditioning for regular 17-18 mile runs, you know that the first 15 miles of a long run are no sweat.  Well, not no sweat literally but figuratively.  I’m a sweater by nature.  I sweat a ton.  Sometimes I have to change my shirt after going #2 in a poorly ventilated restroom.  Three miles in to any distance, I look as if I've been dipped in magic waters.

But the hard part comes in those last 5 miles.  Everything else is just biding time until you get to about mile 15-16 and then the legs want to start chiming in with their opinion about this whole twenty mile run business.  Funny thing is…it is never the cardio that gets me.  My breathing is nice ‘n easy; my hair, moist but impeccably well-coiffed; pecs, buoyant and inviting.  Legs?  That’s where the trouble starts.  The one constant through all the years – somewhere around mile 17 – has been the soreness in the legs.  Marathons have rolled by like an army of steamrollers.  They’ve been erased like a blackboard, retrained, and erased again.  But leg pain has marked the time.  The entire preceding paragraph is all my invention by the way.

 Twenty miles is the distance that exposes your body’s weak spots.  For most of you, that probably means your jaw or looks or sense of humor hurts.  For me, that right shin and left hip and quads were aching.  When you enter the twenty mile zone, it’s payback time for any pre-existing weakness you were able to cover up on shorter distances.

As I limped into the house and barely managed to stop myself from curling up on the floor and sucking my thumb for an hour, I poured a nice tall glass of chocolate milk.  There is nothing better tasting after a long run than chocolate milk.  It’s like having Blatz beer injected directly into your veins.*  Try it and see.  As I gulped it down, I noticed my daughter peering at me strangely, as if I was James Earl Jones that just wandered into the house.   I was seated at the table rocking back and forth and stamping my feet.  Oh, the right shin wanted to cramp out and I was battling by the second to keep it stretched and loose.  I've had a shin cramp one other time – during the marathon leg of the Goofy Challenge – and it took out the calves and feet with it as my entire lower leg turned into a pretzel.  I smiled meekly and croaked “I’m fine” in between convulsing and stamping feet.  I must have looked like a Crystal Blatz addict.

But the 21 miles were accomplished.  After a half hour of torturous leg pain, my body gave in and me and my stupid marathon plans won again.  In two weeks time, as I set out for my last 20 miler, I’m sure I’ll have completely forgotten about this run.  So load up the canon and fire off the 21 Run Salute!  Stand on an aircraft carrier 8 years prematurely and declare Mission Accomplished!  Crush a case of Milwaukee’s finest!  Whatever your preferred form of celebration.**

But the celebration shall be short-lived.  The marathon waits for no one.  It does not care about your tough training runs or leg pain.  It cares only about the distance and the people who dare to run it.  It reminds us of all that was once good, and that could be again.  And people will come, reader, people will most definitely come.

I came up with the preceding paragraph entirely on my own.


Happy trails.

* "Crystal Blatz"
** For me, it was actually standing around a soccer pitch and watching the filly knock in 4 goals (and hit two other crossbars, arrrgghhh) in a 5-1 victory over one of the better club teams in southeast Michigan.  Like how I added a soccer update in there?!  Buried it right down here in the asterisks so you’d have to work to get it this time.  Clever, no?  Don’t worry, soccer season ends in less than three weeks.

Ian introduces himself at Bottle Fed Parents today.  You might remember him as the guy who used to call himself Vanilla and leave snarky comments here before I chased him out of run blogging.  Go there and give him a gentle pat on the back and a "Nice job Buddy!" like people do to the slow kid.  Go ahead and pop over for a visit to the BFP.