Monday, January 29, 2007

Skating, Sledding, and Running...Oh, My

Amazing Carnac: Name three things you did in one day that you wish you hadn't.

Okay, so maybe not as funny as Carson. However, true nonetheless.

Our community had a weekend full of free activities. We decided to take advantage. I'm always up for free entertainment. There was bowling, ice skating, sledding, hot chocolate, ice campfires, hockey games, etc.

Rather unwisely, we decided to pack all of these events into one 24 hour period.

So, by noon Saturday, my son and I were off to a high school hockey game (our team won with 3 goals in the last 180 seconds just when things looked bleak)...followed immediately by ice skating. Or, pinballing around the ice with 200 other people also into Free Skating (who woulda thunk others would want to take advantage of this also?!). Side note #1: My 5 year old daughter actually skated by herself - with the aid of a big orange pylon - for the first time ever. How proud we were!

After a quick rest at home, it was off to "moonlight" sledding. Of course, it was difficult to see the moon - let alone anything else - with the two high wattage flood lamps positioned at the top of the hill. Mixed with the 80's pop music blaring from the speakers, it created this surreal experience...shadow people walking silhouette projectiles flying towards you from the top of the hill as you scramble back to your feet. If I had a glow stick, a pacifier, and a sack of E, I would have thought we were at a rave. Fortunately, there were only a few minor collisions...and a few more hard, spine jarring bumps to the posterior as we obtained lift off over a few of the hills cliffs.

A little camp fire...some hot chocolate and chatting with others...and it was back home.

Sunday mornings run was the very definition of Grin and Bear It.

My MP3 lost its battery charge after 12 legs were back hurt...and my left pectoral hurt (why?). I managed to push through and complete my planned distance. After all, I am on "official" marathon training, right?

8 miles
1:02:53 time
7:52/mile pace

I am happy to report that the ice and snow have been the perfect anecdote for my Garmin Fever. I have been forced to slow down. As a result, I've noticed that if I pull the pace back a little, I enjoy the run more. This would seem obvious but, for a congenital race pacer, it is good to be reminded.

Also, I've enjoyed the challenge winter running presents. I'm wondering why I didn't get out more in previous winters.

Side Note #2: I have yet to fall while running on ice (knock on wood). However, during Saturday's sledding, I would pull my daughter back up the hill with her seated in the sled. It was a nice little work out as the hill was, basically, just a big ice mound and very slippery. So, I managed to pull her to the top without slipping, I've managed to run without falling, but, of course, while standing still...on top of the hill...wearing hiking boots...I fell right on my back and head. Go figure.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The State of ME

With the presidents State of the Union address tonight coinciding with today being the official kick-off day for my 18 week training program for the Bayshore Marathon, it seems like an ideal time to step back and take my own personal overview of where things stand. On this blog, I'm The Decider and so get to make the only speech. Like the Democratic response tonight, your rebuttal will be confined to the lesser forum of blog comments.

I accept your applause, fake smiles, and oddly detached, impersonal hand shakes.

Staring down the barrel of another 18 week training plan, I'm a little nervous and a little excited. These next 18 weeks will be a bit more intense than the last. More miles. More sweat. More aches and pains. Worse weather.

I won't have the excitement - and fear - of training for my FIRST MARATHON to motivate me.

I won't be training for a large, crowd-friendly event. This will be small and sparsely attended. I will need to look inward more to carry myself through.

Though the energy created by the debut marathon has faded, it has been replaced with a confidence that wasn't there before. A marathon distance is achievable. I can and will run the distance strong. I know that now.

As of the start of this program, I weigh 163 pounds - down from 172 last summer. My body weight is good. My overall health is excellent. The foot pain from last October has receded to a minor, very occasional ache. No concerns.

I will continue to run 3-4 days per week. I will continue to weight train 1-2 days per week. I will continue to crunch out 580 sit ups 4 times per week (don't ask me why I settled on that number).

I continue to monitor my nutrition. Not fanatically. There is still plenty of room for beer, pizza, and the occasional fast food meal. But I'm trending towards more fruit and vegetables and less caffeine. And that is good.

My plan is in place. My goals are attainable.

I look forward to the next 18 weeks and embrace the challenge of taking the next step toward a Boston Qualifier.

I look forward to the flat, fast Bayshore course.

I look forward to experiencing a small, quiet course without the many distractions. I embrace the challenge of taking on Bayshore in a more one on one, me versus the road, simple structure.

I look forward to the sweat, miles, and smiles on the way to the finish line.

Overall, the state of good. And ready to roll.

Happy trails.

At this point, I assume there is applause all around. I believe I struck a bi-partisan note.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

16 Degrees

Let's put the facts together: 16 degrees, icy roads, uneven surface. Sounds like perfect conditions for a run right? The first real smack of winter this year has given me my first excuse not to run. I took 5 days off...hibernating inside...longing for the 35 degree dry days from long, long ago (just last week). Yesterday, however, I wrapped up in an extra layer and decided to give it a go. And I'm glad I did.

When you haven't run on an icy surface in several months, it is a little uneasy at first. I felt like baby Bambi trying to walk on uncertain limbs. The sun was bright. The ice was rutted and uneven; fossils from the prior days activity. I stepped gingerly until gradually picking up some speed. Every now and then, a foot would slide out from under me but never to the point where I felt in danger of falling. In fact, it was always a nice reminder that I needed to keep my pace under control as the icy patches came quickly. I glided over a few before I realized that disaster was just a slightly more rounded rut away.

I was going for only a quick 3 miler to test the conditions. This turned into 5 1/3 miles as it was just such a nice, relaxing run. The ice was keeping my normal pace down and I found myself enjoying the sun, the crunch under each foot, and the overall stillness of the day. Is there anything better than ice covered trees illuminated by the wintry sun?

At one point, I passed a woman and her two dogs. She corraled them off to one side so I could pass. I attempted to give her the runners head nod and "hi". The head nod worked okay but I said "thigh" instead. My tongue was frozen.

All in all, it was just such a pleasant, refreshing experience that reminded me again why I love to get out, pound the road, and work up a good sweat. Even in 16 degrees.

For the day, with a suppressed pace, I managed:

5.31 miles
43:30 time

Friday, January 12, 2007

Goofy Challenge Here I Come

Okay, I sucked it up and paid the ridiculous entry fee for the 2008 Disney World Marathon (the picture shows 2007 - they don't have their 2008 logo up yet!?) which takes place exactly one year from today. A little early to be placing a registration, right? A lot can happen in a year and I've already committed to this race. And at a non-refundable, exorbitant fee also. I must be nuts. That fee HURT.

However, we are pretty confident that we will be meeting this commitment. When I say "we", of course, I mean my wife and family. It's not too hard to convince them to take a trip to Florida. My son will be having his 10th birthday during the week leading up to the marathon so why not make it a big event...for him and for me.
Still, that fee HURT.

Also, since I signed up for the Goofy Challenge (half marathon on January 12th and full marathon on January 13th) I wanted to get my registration in early as it is limited to 3,000 entrants and it fills up. I don't know when...but I don't want to be on the outside looking in. If I'm going all the way to Florida...pulling the kids out of school for a week...spending the cash...might as well do the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge right? How often will we make this trip? Not often..if ever again.
Because...that fee really, really HURT.

So, that brings my tally to 2 marathons registered for over the next 12 months. I want to do 3. I'm looking for one more registration in the September-October time frame. Chicago is always a possibility (and fits nicely into the calendar). So is the Detroit Marathon late October. Hmmm, decisions, decisions...still time to consider these. I have a list of around 15 marathons I'd like to do. I really didn't want to run the same marathon a second time until I worked through my list once. But Chicago was really fun.

Anyone else looking at Disney 2008? (OUCH!)

Thursday, January 11, 2007


In light of the recent goings on in the political and sports world, I found the timing of this kinda unusual. Now, I don't know if this is for real or someone's hacked-up photoshop work but it sure looks real to me. I can't see any markings indicating this is somehow a least, to the naked eye.

Anyway, I received this photo from a friend of mine...a Buckeye fan. He said there was a pep rally prior to the National Championship game in which he was able to snap this photo of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel. Its weird when sports mirrors life.

This must have been taken in the football stadium. Is that the press box behind him?

And where's his sweater vest?

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Garmin Fever

I suspect I'm experiencing the same thing common to a lot of new Garmin users. I strap on my new toy...tell myself to relax and forget about the INSTANT FEEDBACK tied to your arm...and run a "normal" training run. Only, I know I have the ability to check my time at each mile interval...or, for that matter, at any other time. What a wonderful - but dangerous - tool. I'm sure I'll get more comfortable (and did - more on that later) but, for now, the temptation to break new land-speed records is soooo tempting.

So on Friday (another day in which I could have worn shorts but didn't), I completed just over
5 miles in 35:59...or a 7:02/mile pace.
Again, I didn't mean to go that fast...I just couldn't help it.

By Sunday, with the legs a little tight from Fridays run, I was determined to relax and get used to the Garmin without feeling the urge to push it. And I think I did. Yesterdays results were a little more in line (though still a little fast for a LR training):

8 1/3 miles
1:01:42 time
7:25/mile pace

I am already registered for the Bayshore Marathon for this Memorial weekend. I'll probably complete the registrations for all my marathons for the year by the end of this month. I'll be posting another announcement soon on my second registration. The plan is to do 3 over the next year.

The funny thing about this running....

In the summer of 1999 I started running because...
(1) I always wanted to try it.
(2) I noticed the late 20's flab from a sedentary lifestyle starting to creep in.
(3) I thought it would be a great way to stay in shape for my favorite sport: basketball.

Over the course of the seven plus years I have noticed a transition from running to stay in shape to play playing basketball to aid as a cross trainer for, this year, not playing basketball at all so I could concentrate only on running. This is the first time since 1996 that I won't be setting up my basketball league (open gym) in February. I feel a little guilty...but the league was becoming just another hassle I don't need right now. And I'm trying to pare my responsibilities down to just the core things.

Has it reached OBSESSIVE LEVELS yet??

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy New Year...Minus One Toe Nail

I'm looking forward to 2007. There were a lot of unexpected stresses in 2006. Mostly your typical family related stresses from having young children in the house...lots of time and energy to make sure you are not the one parent on the block screwing up your kids. You know how it goes: unfounded fears, paranoia, an undefinable need to "compete" with the other kids at your kids school. Sometimes you need to step back and take a deep breath and say "Enough!". So, it is nice to leave all that behind in the memories of 2006 .

I'm not going to lay out a statement of resolutions for 2007. I never keep them anyway. So, I'll just create a sorta wish list of things I hope happen this year.

I hope...

My family and friends have a healthy and happy year.

I can remain injury free for this running year - one in which I intend to push harder than ever before.

I can find some enjoyment in a job that seems increasingly mundane.

My wife and I can somehow find that mythical balancing point between work, kids, and "us" time. I don't believe it exists...but we'll arrive one day as the kids continue to grow.

Lastly, I hope each of my kids develop a real sense of passion in their lives. What I mean is that they learn to really dive into a project, hobby, activity with real enjoyment, energy and focus...stick with it...and know a real sense of satisfaction and accomplishment as a result. I intend to make this vague goal my project with them this year. Not sure how yet...but we'll try different things out and see if they work.

As for other thoughts to begin the new year:

My black toe nail has finally...almost...fallen off. I developed it last July and have been too much of a wimp to do the home remedy or go to a doctor. I was content to let it grow out on its own. It was stubborn but, lo and behold, on New Years Day it finally came off. Mostly. So, I start the new year with 9 1/8 toe nails. We'll see how many I finish the year with!!

I've never been a reactionary Fire The Coach type of guy. There are lots of reasons a football team fails or succeeds. However, I think it is time that Lloyd Carr steps down at Michigan. He just cannot get his team up for the big games anymore. It is obvious that he is being outmaneuvered in every big game. The Rose Bowl being just the latest example. Give him next season - with a largely senior class - as a swan song and then, Sayonara baby.

Is there anyone better in Detroit sports history than Steve Yzerman? The man is one of a kind.

Finally, my wife surprised me big time with a Garmin of my own for Christmas. In reading other blogs, it seems to be the gift of choice this year. She choose the Garmin 205 for me and that is exactly what I would have chosen as well. I can't see me strapping up a heart rate monitor before every run anyhow. I completely did not expect this. However, I am really enjoying it. As previously mentioned, I am a statistics geek and this is right up my alley. Yesterday's run: 6.32 miles in 46:47 for a 7:22/mile pace. I love that kind of info!!

Happy New Year.