Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

A few random Christmas related thoughts....

Why do I suddenly stop myself before I say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays".....I don't think it's because I feel the people I'm speaking to are anti-Christmas. I think it's because I want to make sure the people I'm speaking to aren't part of the ridiculous 'War on Christmas' crowd. You know who they are. Nice job at making people think twice over a simple holiday greeting (holiday, ofcourse, deriving from the roots 'holy' and 'day' and, therefore, very religious in its own right) . I've never been rebuffed by a holiday greeting by anyone except those not liking my choice of words as they weren't "Christmasy" enough. Good grief.

Why are office Christmas parties becoming so rare? We don't - and haven't for several years - have them at my office. Most people seem to like and want them. They don't need to cost much if run like a potluck. I think once offices cut them from the budget it is just easier never to restore them once business picks back up.

Christmas doesn't feel much like Christmas when there is no snow on the ground. How do the folks in the South and West manage? Can they relate at all to Frosty the Snowman?

I must confess that the Rankin/Bass movie productions from the 1960's - you know the ones (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin' To Town, etc.) - finally seem so old and worn they are almost unwatchable. At least, my daughter seems to like them. So maybe they still have their magic for the younger crowd. And I'm just getting old.

I defy anyone to not break into a chuckle when Ralphie actually does shoot his eye out in A Christmas Story. Though my favorite part is when he describes his father "weaving a tapestry of profanity that is still floating somewhere over Lake Michigan". Wonderful.

When is the last time you actually drank Eggnog? I'm sure people do but I don't believe I've had a sip since around 1986. And it wasn't very memorable then either.

Happy Holidays (or, Merry Christmas, if you prefer). It's time to take some vacation days, enjoy the holidays, do some running, watch some football, drink some wine and rum, and generally relax. See you all next year.

My New Years wish: Our world leaders find a way to bring peace and hopefulness to the innocents caught in the crossfire.

Oh, and a nice Rose Bowl Michigan victory wouldn't hurt either!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

2007 Bayshore Marathon Goals

First of all, I had a terrific 10 mile run this past Sunday. The weather was 50 degrees with some sun and I was able to wear shorts!! I forgot how nice it is to run without something (i.e. pants) wrapped around your legs. I finished the 10 miles in 75 minutes (7:30/per mile pace) and I really wasn't looking to push speed...just enjoyed the run and the weather. One of those nice days when everything seems to be working and you don't even feel tired. Too few and far between though unfortunately.

On to the topic at hand: the plan and goals for the 2007 Bayshore Marathon. There is plenty of time...still 5 months to go...but winter running can pose some problems and slow the progress down. For me, at least, it does. Normally, I only get out once a week in the winter. There are all sorts of excuses I use for this...too numerous to go into here. This year, however, I'm determined to get out at least 3 times a week through February before diving full bore into Bayshore training.

The plan is to maintain a high level of conditioning for up to 8 -9 miles through February. That means, coming out of winter, I would be in great condition to set a PR for a 15k if need be. Then, start building miles again as the snow melts. I don't want to try tackling 16, 18 mile runs on ice covered sidewalks. I'll use this time to rest the body and focus on "perfecting" a shorter distance...hopefully building a good platform to start from once the serious marathon training starts at the end of February.

I guess I'll be loosely following Hal Higdon's Intermediate I plan. I don't follow any plan right to the letter. I like to develop my own system...listening to my own body...and trying out my own ideas. If I feel like pushing harder one day, I do so. If I feel like relaxing and just enjoying a leisurely run, I do so. I don't like to feel confined to a running schedule. However, I do monitor the recommendations of the expert plans. Mainly, I watch to make sure my long run goals for the week are following the progression the plans suggest. I might go a couple miles farther or a few shorter but as long as they are within range, I'm good to go.

For Bayshore, I'm going to keep my goals reasonable. I did 3:36 in Chicago. I need under 3:16 for a Boston Qualifier. If I really bust arse, I might be able to get that at Bayshore. However, I'm expecting to only make an incremental improvement...a stepping stone to get me within range. So, the goal is to run a 3:27 marathon which is a 7:54/mile pace. I feel this is very doable. In Chicago, my splits were 1:49 (bad start)/1:47. In Traverse City, I'd like to hit 1:40/1:47. This is my reasonable goal. My stretch goal would be to hit 3:23 (1:38/1:45).

Ofcourse, this statement of goals is still 5 months - and a lot of running - away from the event. I reserve the right to modify them as training progresses. For now, this is where I'm at mentally. At least, I can obsess over this for the next several weeks. I am nothing if not a geek for statistics.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Ice Marathon and George Washington

What do the two have in common?
Nothing, as far as I know, except that they are both topics within this single blog entry.

Starting with the former, how tough (and slightly crazy) do you have to be to run in the Antarctic Ice Marathon? Now, I'm up for a challenge as much as the next runner but, c'mon, spending 4- 5 hours or more battling the elements while racing across the frozen tundra (and I ain't talking Lambeau Field here) for 26.2 miles? I bet the crowd support at this event would best be described as "sparse". There are 9 competitors in this years event...placing your odds at winning around 11%. Not bad. Included in the field is England's Tim Harris who will complete his seventh marathon in seven weeks on seven continents which is apparently some sort of world record. No word on what kind of vacation time this guy gets. I want his job.

If you don't think that's quite enough of a challenge, I guess you might be more interested in the ultra marathon (62.1 miles) kicking off a few days later at the same location? Apparently, there are 3 French participants planning to complete both the marathon and the ultra.

The marathon is scheduled for December 12th while the ultra kicks off on December 15th. Good luck. If I can collect enough cans to arrange for the $15,000 registration fee, maybe I'll join them one day. That must be one helluva participant t-shirt.

As for the latter, George Washington, I must confess to being slightly amused while recently reading a bio about him regarding the venomous attacks on his personal character he absorbed while president. He was labeled as "treasonous" and senile by his contemporaries, namely Jefferson and Madison, for espousing Federalist views. I found it especially ironic considering the current political climate in which those who disagree with President Bush have been labeled as unpatriotic, treasonous, and cowardly. Jefferson and Madison, anti-federalists, were the pre-cursor to the formation of the early Republican party. The war of words has been there from the beginning, I guess.

Fortunately, old Georgie knew better than to stoop to his rivals level and remained above the fray. He was aware that history would stand taller than petty partisan bickering.

Monday, December 11, 2006


I had fully intended to state my training and race goals for the 2007 Bayshore Marathon with this morning's post. Here I was getting my work day in order, grumbling about the number of things I need to accomplish this week, and cleaning out my Inbox after taking a few days off when I came across an email from a buddy. Normally, we chat about politics or social issues. Since we both seem to sit on opposite sides of the political spectrum, the debates can get lively. I was expecting another debate to begin while opening his email. What I found instead was a truly inspiring that will stick with me for a long, long time. I'm thankful he sent this to me at just the right time. I immediately stopped complaining and reminded myself how lucky I am.

For those of you who have run a marathon...a triathlon...or never had to overcome much at all, prepare to meet a man and his son who you will never forget. This is a man who would not give up on his son no matter what the experts told him. A man who pushes, pulls, and carries his child through marathons, triathlons, and, for that matter, life. He does it so he can give his child moments of joy they share together.

Maybe some of you have already heard this story before. I had not. Please click the link below and be prepared to be inspired like never before. Don't forget to watch the short You Tube video at the bottom of the article as well. What these two have accomplished is nothing short of amazing. If you are prone to crying, make sure you have plenty of tissue by your side. Really, just when you want to give up on the human race after watching the death and destruction on the nightly news, you are reminded again about the strength and depth of the human spirit.

Meet Dick and Rick Hoyt


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sidewalk vs. Road Running

This is a question I've pondered for quite some time and I guess I just have to ask out loud: if a perfectly viable sidewalk is present, why would you run on the road?

Let me explain the motivation for asking. I live in your typical midwestern suburban subdivision...plenty of sidewalks, plenty of traffic on the one lane roads. Perhaps because I'm near almost all of the schools in our community, traffic can be very intense at times and , no doubt, many of those cars are filled with teenagers engaged in usual teenager distractions. Not to mention parents dealing with cell phones, kids, coffee, and their favorite radio station.

Now, I understand the benefit to running on the packed dirt on the side of the road as opposed to the hard concrete of the sidewalk. Believe me, whenever my knees ache a bit after a long run, I wonder about the pounding they took every step of the way on the concrete. On a typical run, I'll pass 3-4 people running along the side of the road during this intense period of post-school, post-work traffic while I scamper by 8 feet to their right on a safe, smooth, well-lit sidewalk. I've watched the cars come to almost a complete stop because they couldn't veer into the oncoming lane due to an opposing vehicle. And I've seen other cars make the veer with little warning or window to make the move. Now, I've driven on these same roads thousands of times myself and, being a runner, I am very diligent about keeping an eye out. However, I can't say that there haven't been times where I've been momentarily distracted enough to find myself kicking up dirt and gravel along the shoulder and thinking "thank God there wasn't somebody there." And, at night, forget about seeing anyone on the side of the road if another car is blasting their headlights in your eyes.

My point is...why would you put your safety into the hands of hundreds of potentially distracted drivers when you can control it yourself? Sure, my knees may not last as long...maybe 15 years from now I'll be kicking myself (if the prostheses allows ofcourse) for not saving my knees and joints the wear and tear. However, I may also have successfully avoided being run down in the street by a 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix whose driver dropped their CD case on the floor moments before coming upon me.

I guess we all have choices to make. Certainly, the roads, the availability of another option, the intensity of the traffic, the degree of your death wish all play a factor in your decision on where to run. For me, while my knees hold up, I'll be on the sidewalk. The road runner may be glancing at me with that knowing he-is-killing-his-knees smile. That's okay. Because I'll be looking at that approaching SUV and hoping the driver is paying attention.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Early Christmas

Is anyone else excited about the release of new Asics GT2120's?? I've been running the 2000 series for several years now and I love them. Much better than the Adidas Response I was wearing before that. I know, I know, runners are always defensive and very particular about their brand of shoes. I'm no different. I'm also not shy about pushing my preferred brand either.

Now I just need to put a little addition into my Christmas wish list...along with a few stars to the left....maybe a quick highlight...let's add a circle...and maybe an arrow coming in from the right. There, hopefully my wife will see it.

Monday, November 27, 2006


I'm a newbie at this but I'll give it a shot. Thanks Mike.

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?

I really need a haircut.

2. How much cash do you have on you?

99 cents. I couldn't buy a pop today so I'm stuck with water.

3. What’s a word that rhymes with “DOOR?”

Store. Next.

4. Favorite planet?

Mercury seems pretty cool (not literally ofcourse). It never gets no pub though.

5. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone?

I wish I knew. Someone stole my cell phone months ago.

6. What is your favorite ring tone on your phone?

I forgot.

7. What shirt are you wearing?

Typical button-up, garden variety office work shirt.

8. Do you “label” yourself?

I accept labels given to me. And they call me Unforgiven.

9. Name the brand of your shoes you’re currently wearing?

Born brown casuals.

10. Bright or Dark Room?

In this office? Nothing but flickering bright fluorescent lights baby!

11. What do you think about the person who took this survey before you?

I'm thinking if his pace per mile was charted over the last year it would look like a steep hill going down while mine would look pretty flat.

12. What does your watch look like?

I don't wear one except when I run. That's a circa 1995 Timex Ironman with all the button text rubbed off from sweaty fingers.

13. What were you doing at midnight last night?

Watching the Outtakes from an otherwise forgettable movie called 'You, Me, and Dupree'.

14. What did your last text message you received on your cell say?

Don't have my cell. Weren't you reading?

15. Where is your nearest 7-11?

Corner of Aurelius and Jolly Rd.

16. What’s a word that you say a lot?


17. Who told you he/she loved you last?

My son Nick.

18. Last furry thing you touched?

My 13 year old dog Amber.

19. How many drugs have you done in the last three days?

One bottle of Blatz (I didn't buy it, trust me). One glass of Traverse City's finest wine.

20. How many rolls of film do you need developed?

I believe there is roll in my old camera somewhere. Wonder what is on it?

21. Favorite age you have been so far?

Hmmm, 25 was pretty cool I guess.

22. Your worst enemy?


23. What is your current desktop picture?

Me and the fam at Comerica Park watching the Tigers win a thriller.

24. What was the last thing you said to someone?

"Didn't I already watch the security training video?" (Shhh, I should be working)

25. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly what would it be?

Teleportation is the future. I'll take the million bucks.

26. Do you like someone?

For what reason?

27. The last song you listened to?

Something by Alice in Chains...can't remember the was on the radio.

28. What time of day were you born?

7 PM

29. What’s your favorite number?


30. Where did you live in 1987?

At home in Traverse City with the folks. Still a pimply faced high schooler.

31. Are you jealous of anyone?

Too many to count.

32. Is anyone jealous of you?why?

Well, I should point out that I used to drive a Saturn....

33. Where were you when 9/11 happened?

At work, gathered around the meeting room television.

34. What do you do when vending machines steal your money?

Push the buttons frantically a couple dozen times in the vain hope that the machine is just teasing and will see how serious I am about getting my money back. Hasn't worked so far.

35. Do you consider yourself kind?

To those I know, yes. I can be a bit prickly to those I don't.

36. If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be?

Male = arm or back.

37. If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be?

How 'bout Latin? Not particularly useful but at least you could read all those clever slogans on governmental buildings, currency, and law books.

38. Would you move for the person you loved?

Sure. Haven't really found "home" yet anyway.

39. Are you touchy feely?


40. What’s your life motto?

People are stupid. People are smart. Often at the same time.

41. Name three things that you have on you at all times?

Wedding ring, wallet, and, seemingly, underwear.

42. What’s your favorite town/city?

Traverse City, I guess.

43. What was the last thing you paid for with cash?

I bought McDonalds 4 days ago. Haven't had cash on me since then.

44. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it?

Seems like I sent a quick hello to an old college buddy several months ago.

45. Can you change the oil on a car?

Yes. Pretty easy really. Drive into this building...command that the oil is changed...provide a form of away. Not much more to it really.

46. Your first love: what is the last thing you heard about him/her?

I believe she is searching for her missing boyfriend. At least, that's what CNN keeps reporting. No matter, I forgot all about her after the Physical World Tour ended anyway.

47. How far back do you know about your ancestry?

I know one half of the family came to the US from Russia in the early twentieth century while around the same time the other half came from Germany. Somewhere since then the two halfs merged eventually creating this beautiful specimen. Thank God for immigration!

48. The last time you dressed fancy, what did you wear and why did you dress fancy?

Was there a wedding or funeral recently? I don't recall.

49. Does anything hurt on your body right now?

All systems go.

50. Have you been burned by love?

Love's fickle flame flickers fleetingly...

I suppose at this point I'm to 'tag' another party? Alas, no one really reads this blog and the only two bloggers I have actually met before have already been tagged. I'm sure I'll be breaching some blogger etiquette here but I'll let this grape whither on the vine...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Not So Fast

Okay, so maybe I'm not so true to my word . I haven't been able to do much work on the look of this page. It is still on the agenda...just not sure where. I will get to it. I will. I really, really will. In the meantime, let's talk future races. I've been deciding between the Flying Pig in Cincinnati and the Bayshore in Traverse City, MI. I'm going with (drum roll please):

I like the idea of the flat, fast course. I want to get a better idea of where I stand for a Boston Qualifier. In Chicago, as you may read below, I employed a bad strategy and I don't feel like I ended with a true representation of my level of training. I think the Bayshore, versus the Flying Pig, is a better fit at this point. Though now the Pig will be on my calendar for next year. Plus, I have the "home field" advantage. This is my home town. I'll have friends and family. It'll take place over Memorial weekend making an all around nice experience.

More to come on training goals...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Birthing the Blog - It's Crowning!

This blog has been operating in the dark crevices of Blogger Land for several months unbeknownst to (almost) everyone. It is a shell: structurally and aesthetically. Not much to look at. Updated infrequently. No bells or whistles. However, I have recently noticed some linking to this blog by some friends. Oops. I guess I should have worked on this thing a little more. I feel like that moment when you get up early, smelly and uncombed and wearing last nights clothing, and try to get a newspaper at the local gas station only to run into several people you know. And they are looking you up and down like 'what the heck happened to you!?'

So, I should get this thing together a little bit. I'll bring in the blogterior decorator to measure for new drapes and show me some color swatches. Give me a few days and I'll see if I can turn this from the boring, basic template to something suitable for a special layout in Better Blogs & Gardens.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Starting Point...At The Finish Line

It's over. I completed the Chicago Marathon in 3:36:48. Happy that I finished strong having never run that distance before. A little disappointed also. I felt a sub 3:30 was certainly possible but I made a critical mistake prior to the start of the race: I stood to far towards the back of the pack. I knew this might be a problem but I assumed there would be open running lanes that would allow me to move up quickly. Nope. People were running shoulder-to-shoulder and I exhausted a ton of energy criss crossing from one side of the road to the other trying to pass. Whenever an open curb presented itself (like in the Lincoln Park area), I raced up on the curb and passed dozens of people before jumping back into the stream at the next obstruction. I did not anticipate the running pack would be this dense. I bet I passed well over 20,000 people along my race. I was never able to recover my time enough to challenge 3:30. Next time, I'll know better. Still, I'm very pleased to have finished with a sense that I could do even better. That is a nice feeling and one to carry into the next marathon. So, at my finish line, I found a starting point on what to improve on for the next one.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Short and Sweet

I'll keep this brief. I don't want the people who don't read this blog to not have to spend time not reading it. Make sense?

The Chicago Marathon is a few days away. My aching foot has been sore since my last long run (see previous post) and has caused some chinks in my normally unwavering confidence. However, some decent results, foot soreness-wise, on a 13 miler and 9 miler have patched over a bit of the confidence pot holes. So, I'm ready to roll. Looking for a sub 3:40....hoping for a sub 3:30...not sure what to expect until I complete this first marathon.

Short and the marathon course right? Right!

Monday, October 02, 2006

No Fear

For me, I need the reassurance that my body can handle the physical and mental pounding 26.2 miles exacts on the body. During this entire summer of training, I've been working toward getting to that level of confidence that (1) my body could handle this and (2) I would be happy with my time. I know time isn't everything but I'm a competitive person and it has been important to me. That's why I love running. There is no one to get angry at. No opponent that outplayed you. No referee that made the wrong call. Just you against the clock. How hard you trained can be directly measurable against your results (give or take for other incidental factors). I love that. It is a very emotionally introverted sport. It allows you to be happy with yourself as well as all of the other contestants independently.

That being said, on Sunday,I finally reached that level of confidence I desired. It has been building all summer and yesterday's long run of 21.5 miles validated my physical and emotional readiness. I left my house shortly after 7 AM and did three 6.2 mile loops back around to my house. After the second loop, I popped back inside to wish my now-awake daughter a Happy 5th Birthday. At each break, I had GU and water (and changed shirts once due to the embarrassing red splotches on my chest from you-know-what). Then, ended with a 3 mile trip up to the local high school and back. 21.5 miles in 2:49. Three minutes ahead of 8 mins per mile pace!! Maybe 3:30 is attainable after all. Very satisfied. Despite the extreme ankle pain that has hit me later that day (and caused a slight limp this morning), I consider the last long, long run a big, big success.

On to Chicago with full confidence! No fear.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Winding the Top

Twenty miles are in the books. Actually, I can't be sure it was exactly 20 miles. The path I was on claims to be a mile in length. It is a circular track and I tried to stay in the middle. Did they measure from the inner edge, outer edge, middle? It makes a difference. My time seemed to be roughly 20 seconds faster per mile than I would have thought so lets estimate conservatively and call it 19 miles (20 laps X .95 miles). It's a nice, flat run except for a few minor 12 foot elevations just to make sure you are awake. Plenty to look at around the park to keep you interested. The problem is that when you circle a track 20 times you start to feel like you are winding up a top or - for the Superman fans out there - turning back time by circling the globe counter clockwise. Each training run winds another loop around the top. That's the hard part. The marathon should be just a matter of pulling the string and letting it spin! (Yeah, right.)

As I was unwinding from this run, however, I was immediately assaulted by a man rushing towards me just spewing questions at me like: when I was marathoning? how much had I trained? how many miles would I do next week? All of this would have been fine and good but I just finished 2 1/2 hours of running, dude. I'm whipped. I'm thirsty. I'm pretty sure my calves are going to lock up rendering me immobile for the next several hours. And is that a pain in my liver? Is that normal? C'mon give me a chance to rest. I tolerated him for a moment until I realized that what he really wanted to do was tell me about his first marathon experience and proceeded to give me a bunch of advice. I had heard it all before so I politely (at first) ended the conversation and made the exhausted walk to the car. Talk about bad timing. I'm thinking this dude is the type that hits on the widow at a funeral with the "you here with anyone?" line.

19 miles (20 laps) in 2:32. 8 minutes per mile. On pace!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What's in a number?

20 miles...that is my next milestone. I have run far enough now during my training runs where finishing the marathon doesn't seem quite as daunting. Something about a nice round number like 20 seems much more impressive than 18 or 19. If I get the 20 knocked down with relative ease, I will feel supremely confident going into October 22nd and the Windy City. Chicago Marathon, here I come.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Making Progress

Going good from 13-15 miles. Need to increase stamina and distance. Starting to cramp and fade a bit around 11 miles. 10 weeks to go...

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Is a blog like a muscle? If you don't use it, do you lose it? I don't know what the rules are of the Blogger Nation but, in my continuing effort to defend my little .25 acre in the Great Blog Subdivision, I felt I should make an update (i.e. flex) at least once a month.

Still, not much time or energy to add anything of value right now. I have my eye on one of the new Gateway products with all the bells and whistles. If another Pre-Election-Vote-For-Us check appears in my hands, I might have new motivation to become a more active poster. New computers are fun. As it appears a desperate politician (with a check in his hands) isn't anywhere on my horizon, I'll go back to picking the lint, dust, fingernails, and food crumbs from between my old Dell keyboard keys. Good day.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Knowledge is Power

James Madison wrote in 1822: "A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance. And a people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hunter S.

Much quoted, much beloved:

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"--Hunter S. Thompson

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Until I'm motivated to add an entry which, sadly, is not now, I'd like to redirect you to a friends blog:

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

April 25, 2006

Just thought I'd mark out a little territory in the blogspot just in case I'm so motivated which, sadly, is not right now.