Monday, March 30, 2009

Hello Unicorn

Note: The following is a guest post by the mysterious Hello Kitty Mystery Runner who is currently training for the upcoming 2009 Boston Marathon. Please welcome this guest poster in an appropriate F.M.S. manner - by leaving deriding comments for him.

The Unicorn is the logo for the Boston Marathon and the Boston Athletic Association.
Pictured: Not the HKR...or me. though more animal bondage just like the last post.

However, lately, it has been feeling more like a monkey on my back.

I kinda feel an obligation to treat this race in a way that is respectful of it's history. The race is the most prestigious yearly road race in the world. Ryan Hall put it this way, "What is done in Boston lives on for all time."

I have turned my bib number into a virtual prison inmate number. I have turned my hobby into a job. Wake up early, go for a run, obsess about time and hills and food intake and weather and pre race logistics, then repeat tomorrow. Not a fun life for me and even a worse life for my family.

But thankfully that is starting to change. I realized early enough (just last week) that I have been treating an opportunity that countless runners, and non runners, can only dream of as an obligation. I hope to have fun with this race as the wig guy apparently had at the Tokyo Marathon earlier this month.

In 21 days I have an opportunity of a lifetime. For about three hours and ten minutes, I will run in front of 499,999 cheering spectators who for one day will fall in love with the Hello Kitty Runner. And one spectator (Mrs. Hello Kitty Runner) who will be glad to have her husband back after 8 months of 20 mile runs on Saturday mornings.

That monkey is coming off my back, being replaced with a Kitty and a Steers LDP logo and I am starting to treat this race as the reward that it is. I will do my best to run fast and to beat a few friends in a head to head battle. However, as I race the race, at the same time I hope to soak up the experience and enjoy the opportunity to be a Boston Marathoner.

If you watch the race live in Boston, watch for the Hello Kitty Runner and if you happen to be running in the race, remember that there is no shame in getting beat in the race by a 40 year old dude with a big Hello Kitty picture drawn on the back of his shirt.

Next Monday look for the fashion report. I stashed a black 30 gallon garbage bag into my pre-packing bag and have taken most of the pictures needed for the report.

Updates: Before my 20 mile run on Saturday, I dropped down to a weight that I am very satisfied with, then after burning 3500-4000 calories that day and eating only around 2000 calories, the next morning my weight ballooned 5 pounds. That one little extra teaspoon of butter catapulted my weight close to Nitmos-land. Not a happy place to be. Perhaps I should just chalk it up to more muscle to propel myself with.

Until then...Hello.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hello Hunger Pangs

Note: The following is a guest post by the mysterious Hello Kitty Mystery Runner who is currently training for the upcoming 2009 Boston Marathon. Please welcome this guest poster in an appropriate F.M.S. manner – by leaving deriding comments for him.

For 25,000 runners, March is the month of hunger.

Is unemployment the cause? Or is it the fact that there are 25,000 runners living in Africa, the place where our parents told us they would send our dinner if we didn’t like it when we were kids because “starving kids in Africa would love to eat that Tuna-Cornflakes-Velveeta-Broccoli casserole on your plate”. To think that all we would have had to say the first time we heard that as kids was, “Fine, I’ll get a box, mom, you get the stamps and let’s send it to them.” We would have never had to hear those words again. Not sure if it would have been worth the beating. But I digress.

By the way, I am not Nitmos.

I don’t look like him, don’t run like him, don’t be funny like him and don’t know the English language like him. I would like to say that my excuse for my writing style is that English is my second language, but it is not. I am just a product of the Michigan public school system.

I am called a lot of things, but around here, you can just call me the “Hello Kitty” runner. Yeah, that one, the one beloved by Eastern Europeans across Eastern Europe.

On April 20th, I will be running in the Boston Marathon. I have qualified for five Boston Marathons, but haven’t run it before. I am looking forward to an “Airport Taco-less” race, and a “positive split of 45 minutes-less” day.

Back to the month of hunger.

With the marathon only 28 days away, I am not at my goal weight (nor are about 24,000 other Boston Marathoners). I hope to lose another 2-3 pounds before the start of my taper in a week or so. What does that mean for me? Although I put in 50 miles per week on the roads, I don’t get to reward myself with Cheetos, Chik-fil-A chicken sandwiches, ice cream or anything else that I would like to eat. As I celebrated Nitmos’ birthday with him, his (saint of a) wife, the colt, the filly and his Garmin (pbtn), he cut the cake, passed out a slice to each of his family members (largest slice going to his Garmin (pbtn) ). With a smirk, he cut a piece for me, knowing that I would have to refuse or pay for the decision somewhere near the Johnny Kelley statue at mile 17 in Newton, MA. I passed and accepted Mrs. Nitmos’ generous offer of two small celery sticks. YUM! As I ate, the colt and filly scurried behind their mother and whispered in barely audible voices, “mommy, he scares us like how daddy scares us”.

Johnny "Kitty" Kelley

March has been a month of perpetual hunger for me, I wake up hungry, go to sleep hungry and, 5 minutes after dinner, I am hungry. And the weight still isn’t coming off. I feel like Sisyphus (not the disease, the Greek mythological character), but instead of rolling a boulder up a hill, I am rolling a Philly cheese steak sandwich, or perhaps a slice of cheesecake.

Now you would think that I could escape the temptation to eat at work, when I am away from my home’s refrigerator, but NOOOO! There is one that mocks my quest for weight loss at the office, a silent mocker. Down the hall from my office space standing sentinel is a llama piñata. I am sure it is chock full of Krackle candy bars, Jolly Ranchers, Snickers and other yummies (by the way, I hate it when adults say the word, “yummy” to other adults). I walk past this smug, mocking llama piñata several times a day and one of these days I am going to beat it with an old, smelly, Asics 2130, size 10. That day may be the “other” Fat Tuesday, Tuesday, April 21, 2009. Until then I shall continue to eat celery sticks, ice chips and glasses of water with “a very small” wedge of lemon.

Llama pinata (ed. note: apparently in bondage)

In the coming weeks I will be back to share with you my wardrobe for the race and believe me, if you are thinking, “I have just wasted four minutes of my life that I will never get back”, you will surely not want to miss the Boston Marathon fashion post. Until then…Hello.

Thank you, guest poster. Hopefully, he will bring me more exciting installments of his preparations for the big day!

I need content here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cheeto Layer

I recently had a birthday and, while running that evening, I experienced a few revelations that I’ll share with you for no other reason than I can. And you know you want it.

It dawned on me that, since I’ll be running Boston next year just after my 39th birthday, if I want to qualify again I’ll only need to meet the 40+ year old age standard. All future attempts to meet the Boston qualifying time will be against sub 3:21 instead of sub 3:16. Yay for five extra minutes to slack off! This certainly balances the coming need for Viagra (double entendre!)

Then the next thing that occurred to me is that I can’t seem to shake the 5 pounds of winter blubber I picked up while ass massaging the couch over the last few months. I can feel it jiggling around when running. It’s like I’m perpetually stuck in the late first trimester of my man pregnancy. I’m pretty sure though that, if my abdomen was sliced open, a cute little under developed Nitmos Jr. wouldn’t come tumbling out. Based on my diet, I’d expect it to be some Cheetos. And possibly a few stale farts.* Normally, I develop a manageable winter Cheeto Layer for extra warmth but this particularly one is being a little persnickety about leaving. And it’s not too happy about those 12 plus mile training runs either.

And then I was thinking about this weird Age-Race Goal Paradox I seem to suffer. The older I get, the lower I seem to set my race time goals. Now I’m not exactly an old man but I’m no spring chicken either. If I was Michael Jackson’s music career, I’d be in the post-Thriller Bad years. I’m still looking to set new PR’s in all distances but I realize, at some point in the future, this will probably be unrealistic. Setting lower race goals will be Dangerous and, eventually, HIStory. I’m not Invincible.

The final thing I realized is that I really hate talking on the telephone. Everybody wants to call and chat with you on your birthday. I hate that. I spent three years as a customer service rep for a major American automobile manufacturer where, every time the phone rang, I knew that I was just about to have an argument. It’s led to a Pavlovian response to a ringing telephone that has never quite gone away. The birthday well wishers are unintentionally triggering annoyance and a snarling of my lip with every call. Happy f*%$ing birthday to me.

Flying Pig Marathon training is progressing at Cheeto Layer pace. Two 20 milers in the weeks ahead.


18.5 miles
2:15:31 time
7:20 pace

Each 6 mile segment got progressively faster. Negative splits!

* I think my couch opened an OHSA case against me, by the way.

Five Peas in a Pod

Edit 3/20/09: Nothing to see - or hear - here. Instead, let me tell you about things I like:

Puppy dogs, rainbows, balloons, clouds, lollipops, daffodils, full length skirts, unicorns, lederhosen, cotton candy, pastel colors, sensible slacks, trampolines, parades, Steel Magnolias, things that rhyme with "run", giggling babies, cinnamon, ranch houses, Nickelback, twice yearly dental appointments, bunnies sitting in an Easter basket and sentences ending in prepositions. Of.

That is all. Go about your business.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. I’m getting glimpses of my True Self. My sabbatical is approaching an end though I’m not quite there yet. In the meantime, I hope to have a special guest post from someone running the Boston Marathon next month in the days ahead. He better not leave me hanging now. It’s advertised.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I Met the Enemy

And he is me.

Not really. But you can’t say the “I met the enemy” without the matching “and he is me (or us)” part. Symmetry, people, symmetry.

I was in my local running store the other day when I happened across a flyer innocently announcing the arrival of my Boston Marathon nemesis, Dick Beardsley, on Tuesday March 3rd, for a meet-and-greet, autographs of his books, followed by a lecture. I let out an indignant snort through my slightly over sized and upturned-like-a-ski-jump nose. Sure, I thought, Beardsley just happens to be coming to within a mile of my home for a presentation. Right. And I just happened to be doing chin ups on the window sill outside of the girls’ locker room in eighth grade.

You may remember our long running and completely fictional feud documented here and here.

Beardsley, or Beardzilla, appeared in his human form last night sans Godzilla body and laser Gu shooting eyes. He chatted amiably with local runners as he sat at a table signing their books and posters. I arrived a bit late and just before the scheduled speech but I could feel the tension once I walked in. Clearly, Beardzilla was here to take an early appraisal of me before our second tango on Heartbreak Hill. He got the better of me last year but, in this second game of chicken, Beardzilla blinked first. After all, I didn’t fly to Texas to do a speech within a mile of his home did I?

I spent the few minutes before the scheduled speaking time looking over the new shoes, perusing the running shorts, and fondling the wicking socks. A long and steady line of folks – or his “minions” as I call them – approached his makeshift altar for some sort of written instructions inscribed onto the front flap of their Beardsley bibles. Obviously, I’ve underestimated the depth of this anti-Nitmos conspiracy.

I could feel his eyes burning into the back of my calves as I wandered about the store. I’m pretty sure his head spun around backwards like The Exorcist’s Regan when I silently moved behind him. We were like two caged tigers pacing, alert and vigilant, each waiting for the other to make the first move. In the background, a large screen projection of the final minutes of his near miss in the legendary 1982 Boston Marathon (chronicled in Duel in the Sun) repeated in a loop. Every six minutes or so, Beardsley would barely lose again to the “unbeatable” Alberto Salazar.

Finally, Beardsley took the floor for his talk. His forked tongue* spewed out hilarious tales of awkward teenage rejection, inspiring anecdotes about his running failures and how his positive attitude carried him forward with each new setback, and his almost unbelievable tragedies involving tractors, T-bones, trucks, and cliffs all occurring within a short time frame. His stories about his drug abuse were heartfelt and emotional. Beardsley’s voice trembled and almost broke as he revealed the hurt it caused to his family and friends.

In short, the man appeared distinctly human and genuinely likable. For a brief period, I even regretted superimposing his head onto a Godzilla body and assigning him all sorts of maniacal characteristics. An apology felt in order.

Dick and Jill Beardsley now run the Dick Beardsley Foundation to benefit those struggling with chemical dependency. As he mentioned last night, it’s a difficult charity to garner contributors as – unlike cancer or diabetes or muscular disease sufferers – those suffering a chemical dependency are often looked upon as weak and are left to struggle with their disease on their own. Folks leap to help out a cancer patient but frown at someone with a chemical dependency. Just try coaching your daughters soccer team after 14 beers and see what I mean. You can really feel the negative vibes from the parents. Trust me. It’s a worthwhile charity and one I recommend you all check out and, if you feel motivated, contribute. Here’s the link again.

When the talk concluded, I realized 80 minutes had gone by in a flash. I had the feeling the man could talk all night if you let him. Sadly, we did not get to hear about how his eye got glued shut though I will never approach a tractor again, thankyouverymuch. I was intermittently inspired, laughed my ass off, motivated and touched by his personal stories.

Then, it dawned on me. I had been mesmerized for over an hour. He’s a mind control ninja. Obviously, he had decided that, physically, I would not be beaten on Heartbreak Hill again but, maybe, mentally, he could destroy me.

Nice try.

The final laugh is on him. We are only six weeks out from the 2009 Boston Marathon. However, I will not be returning to Boston until 2010.

Ha and ha.

Happy trails.

* Unconfirmed.

I am still sabbaticaling. You have not cried out loudly and repetitively enough for my return. My ego takes tremendous stroking and you are all treating me like some anonymous, easily replaceable blogger and we both know that ain't the case. Sadly, March promises to be even more busy for me than February.

I am preparing diligently for my "fun run" Flying Pig Marathon on May 3rd. Despite the freezing ass weather, I have hit every scheduled run - a first for January and February training for me. My love for marathon training was renewed this past weekend when, after four weeks of long runs in the 15-16 mile range, I did an "easy" thirteen. I love the fact that a half marathon is considered an easy training distance!

Sunday: 13 miles @ 7:18 pace in full on Sherpa training gear.

Last night: My first Limbo run of the year! 5 miles @ 6:55 pace. Miles of 7:14, 7:03, 7;02, 6:45, 6:29.