Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Personality Sucks

The (Brief) Ele's Race 5k Race Report

I'm still on vacation. And dripping with honey. I've taken a quick, sticky break to bring you this 5k report. I'm sweet like that. Really sweet, in fact.

Someone (I can't remember who and I'm not going to look it up while on vacation) once said that you run a race like this: The first mile with your head; the second mile with your personality; the third mile with your heart. Well, apparently my personality sucks. I ran an 18:22 a few weeks ago and I wanted to eclipse that and set the bar lower at 18:15 at Ele's Race. How did I do? Not well. 18:24 (since amended to 18:26 in the days that follow for some reason.)

Here's the comparison between the two 5k's:

Mile 1: -10 seconds! Looking good.
Mile 2: +16 seconds! WTF!
Mile 3: Even
Last .11:
-4 seconds!

What the f*** happened in mile 2??? The so called "personality" mile. Maybe I'm not super awesome but actually a shrinking violet? I felt pretty good too. There was a decent headwind going west in mile 2 but I followed a Lurchian fellow to help cut down on the wind. Then, half way through mile 2, we turned and had the wind at our backs. It makes no sense.

Maybe I shouldn't have started my vacation early. I do remember the honey starting to harden into a gooey paste sometime after the first mile.

Numbers? Yes, numbers:

Official time: 18:26
Official pace: 5:56
Overall place: 33rd of 1349
Age group: 4th of 64

Miles of 5:38, 6:09, 6:03 and last .11 of 36 secs (5:27 pace)

Back to ignoring all of you. Until next week.

Happy trails.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Round Two

My 5k two weeks ago went okay if not exactly how I was hoping. Now, it’s time for round two this coming Sunday. This particular 5k is just a hop, skip, jump, Golfdome leap, and four lane highway crossing away from my house.

I like to do well in local races. There’s the odd chance that someone might know me and, if I put up a bad time, I can almost see inside their head as they think ‘Geez, I see that guy running all over the place and that’s the best he can do? What a waste of his time.’ Plus, as my kids grow, I’m starting to notice that some of my son’s friends are entering races. These are kids I used to coach. Kids whose shoes I had to tie repeatedly so they wouldn’t fall on their little juice box stained faces.* You think I want to lose to a few 11 and 12 year olds so they go back and rethink the adolescent mental pedestal they placed me on? Besides, I’ll quit running local races long before most of the kids have the ability to zip right past me.

Earlier this summer, I was out on a run and a neighborhood walker stopped me (i.e. yelled at me as I ran by while wearing my mp3 player) to say “hey, can you still do 6 minute miles?” By now, I’m about 20 feet past her before I came to a stop, turned around (while thinking ‘Not if you are going to stop me like this’) and said “Yeah, why?” Not real eloquent but what would you say, smartass, if some random stranger flagged you down in the middle of a run and seemed to know all about your 5k pace? “Nothing”, she shrugged and then gave me the thumbs up sign to which I even more eloquently replied “Okay, thanks.” And ran on.

I was slightly unnerved by the encounter and you can bet I spent the next several miles pondering how this stranger knew who I was, my 5k pace, and that I was someone deserving of a thumbs up signal on a regular basis. From then on, every clump of trees seemed to conceal a stalking neighbor with a speed gun. Plus, there was the added bonus of becoming suddenly hyper conscious of your running form. Just watch how your limbs seem to flail about when you think people that know you are watching. And examining you.

Maybe this person just saw me at the last local race. Or maybe she’s just a real astute judge of speed. I’ll never know.

One thing I do know is that I don’t want to chance another random encounter with this stranger later this year and have her say, “Oh, down to 6:10 miles now, eh? Still decent...I guess.” With a so so twist of her flat hand.

Happy trails.

* For any parents – or prospective parents – out there, here’s a simple request from a disgruntled, slightly vindictive volunteer coach: Please tie and DOUBLE KNOT your child’s laces before sending them off to practice. It’s always when I’m tying some kids shoes that another child has pulled up the orange flags and is launching them through the air like a spear nearly impaling yet another child. The blood is on your hands if that happens.

I’m out of town spending some quality time with the fam next week. We’ll be camping, eating, drinking, running, swimming, boating, and doing many unmentionable things with honey. I made Mrs. Nitmos aware of this a long time ago: This week would be Honey Week whether she likes it or not. I’m an absolute joy to be around for 51 weeks out of the year so it’s not too much to ask to tolerate excessive amounts of honey for one little week. I may have a post timed to detonate some time next week though so you don’t go into depression without me. The only reason I wouldn’t have a post is if honey has filed a restraining order and I’m entangled in a legal bee’s nest. (rim shot please)

For those of you on pins and needles stalking my 5k results,
this is the race I’ll be running. And, who are we kidding, you all know my name. My goal is a modest sized PR jump to 18:15. How did I do?

I also might run
this 5k on Saturday, August 1st if I can assemble a costume in time. Uber liberal Michael Moore may be mc’ing the event so I’m trying to design something provocative. Suggestions?

Don't forget to visit Half-Fast and contribute some $$$ to his ACS relay. Don't be a cheapskate. You've gotten at least $10 worth of laughs over there right? Sure, he probably owes you some money for reading some of the other posts but let's just concentrate on the credit side of the balance sheet for now.

Also, we still would like some feedback on the Banned on the Run page. Do it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How Fast is Fast Enough?

I think I’m going through a mid life running crisis this summer. You might have noticed an uptick in posts talking about age and PR’s and Wilford Brimley and cane shaking anger at inanimate objects. The other day I stopped mid run to chew out a sapling tree for having its branches hang so low. The thing just seemed to smirk at me and tauntingly twist its low flung branches gently towards me in the wind. Smarmy sonofa…Trees these days! I shook my head disgustedly at the full grown Oak behind it. Nice parenting.*

I’m in the dog days of the Summer of Speed 2. I’m eyeing two more 5k’s within the next 10 days. Then, it’s probably time to go full throttle in training for my half marathon goal. The 5k goal (sub 18) will need to go on the back burner for awhile. I may revisit it later this summer/early fall. Or I might not. My race calendar is as spotted right now as Wilford Brimley’s livered hands.

I’m a busy dude. I’m a Man About Town. Kids need raising. Jobs need worked. Lawns need cutted. Trees need berated. Lakes need swam. Boats need boated. Play along: (subject noun) needs (predicate nouned). Though I’ve never been formally asked, I assume the mall, local eateries and my running store want me to stop by for informal, charitable (apparently) appearances. Basically, the summer of running goes by in a 1x 400m interval blink of an eye.

Like most, it’s hard to work the runs into the schedule sometimes. My needy kids want love and affection - or,so they tell me, “a simple ‘hello’ would be nice” – but neither of those things shave off valuable seconds in a 5k. Who’s got time for playing baseball? Or giving hugs? Or picking them up after soccer practice? Or calling them by their given names? Daddy’s training very hard with the limited time he has and unless you are going to help him run or show TV shows (like my new favorite Intervention) on your forehead or turn into a bottle of rum so that he can drink you, there’s really no point in having you stand there and cry in front of me with that sad, pathetic little anguished face. After all, ‘Tears are just neglect leaving the body.’** That’s the correct saying right?

Since I’m only able to get out about 3 times per week, each run tends to be a hard, heart pounding effort. No time for wasted miles. I haven’t enjoyed a leisurely stop-and-berate-the-roadside-brush run very often. And it has got me thinking a bit. How much longer do I want to push this hard just to edge down my PRs a few seconds here and there? Every runner has that bell shaped progress curve. The PRs come fast and furious at first. Huge leaps and bounds in time and distance inflate your pride like so many enlarged prostates at a nursing home as you work your way through the fat part of the bell curve.

But then, like Sylvia Plath, you find yourself on the down slope. Trapped underneath a bell jar of PRs. Confronted with the question: How fast is fast enough?

Have you ever finished a particularly strong race – set a PR – and asked yourself subconsciously if you could be happy with that for the rest of your life? Do you really need to go faster? Do you have Lifetime PR goals in mind?

This is where envy comes in. I’ve always admired on some level the folks who are non-competitive. They just run, enjoy themselves, barely concerned with the clock. That’s not me. The hunt for the PR is the fun. At least, a strong motivator. But I feel like I’m on the other side of the bell curve now. PRs aren’t set without a ton of hard work. The Law of Diminishing Returns has kicked in with regards to the training. The PRs are harder to come by. Can I be content with them after this year? Do I need to go lower? Will there be a SOS3? What Would Sylvia Plath Do?(WWSPD)***

I guess this is a question all of us face at some point. How low can we grow our branches? How long can I grow my mustache? How big can I enlarge my prostrate?

How fast is fast enough?

I’m not ready to answer that question yet. I’m still in the chase. But the question is starting to dance around in the back of my head. Sooner or later, it’s going to smack me in the forehead like a low hanging oak branch.

Happy trails.

* You remember in the Lord of the Rings movies (you saw them, don’t lie) how the trees came to life and started hurling huge rocks at the bad guys? This oak looked so wimpy it couldn’t even drop its acorn straight. No wonder its sapling was such a mess.
** Copyright Nitmos, 2009.
*** Copyright Nitmos, 2009.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Interactive Nitmos

It’s Monday and while everyone is sulking in their coffee and looking to F.M.S. to brighten their day (you do this right?) I thought I’d stimulate your 5 senses with, well, me. If you think this sounds frightening, wait ‘til we get to Taste.


Here’s a comparative study of two different 5k finishes. My last two 5k finishes in fact. Besides the shirt, you can barely detect any difference right down to the smarmy look on my face. I’m feeling generous today so I didn’t steal the photos from the photographers web site. You’ll have to do the clicking yourself. But, remember, you get to see me so it’s worth it!

Here’s me checking my pulse in 5k finish #1.

Here’s me checking my pulse in 5k finish #2.

See why I don’t buy race photos anymore? How many pictures of myself stopping Garmin do I need?


There’s another podcast up for Banned on the Run, episode 2. More talk of loosely running related topics. Believe it or not, we are trying to get better so bare with us as we refine the format. They say a team is only as good as its weakest member. Anchors aweigh! We’ll keep dragging him through the sand! We need some feedback from you though. Constructive feedback. Or actionable slander. Either way is fine for us. Leave some comments at the podcast home. If you think we would take offense (we would) and you don’t want to leave your name (coward) go ahead and leave anonymous comments. At the very least, that would take us a few extra minutes to track the comment back to your server. But there would always be that unknown as to whether we matched the comment to the correct person, so rest easy. We could never prove definitively that you are the Class A jackhole.


This is where things get weird. I’m sending coded messages through your computer. If you place your fingertips on either side of your monitor and repeat “All hail Nitmos” over and over again (alternate saying available: “Death to llamas”) you’ll eventually receive a transmission directly into your brain. You can take a little of me home with you. Here’s the scrambled transmission I’m sending but, if you decipher it visually, you’ll never let me inside your head like a viral Trojan horse.



The folks at POM Wonderful sent me some of their 100% pomegranate juice to check out. I won’t bore you with another review as we’ve seen them everywhere. I will say however that one of the many benefits they promote is that regular drinkers are 50% more likely to experience erectile improvement. I gave an audible Hrmpf at that. Me and erectile improvement? That’s like saying Michelangelo’s Statue of David needed a few extra lumps of clay. And what about the ladies? Do you shop for juice based on erectile improvement rating? But whatever. I’ve been drinking it for the past several mornings. It tastes pretty good. Hard to say if I feel healthier but I sure don’t feel worse. Truth be told, it has seemed to promote a nice early morning bowel cleansing. My Ex Lax is going in the garbage. Which brings us to….


Nah, I won’t do that to you. You know I like to keep things high brow around here. A poop joke is just too easy. Besides, I’ve already covered that in the well worn Cube Farter story.

I’ve hidden a few scratch and sniff spots all over this site. Go ahead scratch and then sniff your monitor. You’ll be surprised at what you smell. I’m not going to tell you where to scratch – that ruins the fun for me and everyone sitting near you – but you might want to check out those race photos again. Ever wonder what I smell like as I cross the finish line? Three distinct odors. See if you can pick them all out. One of them rhymes with 'bale feese'.

Now that you’ve gotten to know me so much better, probably time for a shower. Then, shots.

Happy trails.

Friday, July 17, 2009

3 A.G.

The title is not referring to 3rd place, age group. Rather, It’s referring to my new unit of yearly time measurement. In December 2006, Mrs. Nitmos gave me a Garmin 205. The modern running world began for me on that day. We are in the 3rd year of my Garmin based running life. Three years After Garmin – A.G.

I was going through my office desk the other day and ran across some old hand scribbled notes documenting past runs from my early running days sometime circa 2000-2001 (roughly 5 B.G.). It might as well have been cave hieroglyphics. What are all those crooked letters and numbers?

It took me awhile but I was finally able to decipher the runskrit language. Apparently, B.G., I used to keep track of distance and time by using ancient customs such as “memory” and “pencil and paper.” Weird, I know. Boy was I a backwards ass hick back then. You’d think I was from Ohio or something. I remember driving my running route with my car to get an idea on the distance based on the odometer – WHICH ONLY WENT TO THE 1/10 MILE decimal position. What a neanderthal! The really hilarious part is that I also remember being perfectly content with this at the time. After all, what’s the difference between 3.05 miles and 3.12 miles I thought then? (Answer: A PR and SOS2 achieving result. Duh.)

In order to keep track of events that occurred during my run, I’d bring chalk and draw a stick figure running person (with overly developed pecs and a pleasantly toned set of glutes, of course) on the sidewalk. If a dog attacked, I’d say “ooh oohh ahh ahh, hold my mirror” and then draw a picture of the running man being chased by a large fanged animal. This is how I recorded my running history. This is when I wore a Timex sports watch. (i.e. loin cloth)

I’ve evolved quite a bit since then. I don’t “write” down training runs anymore. Writing is for sloped forehead B.G.ers. I track my distance to the hundredth of a mile like a civilized person ensuring that I know exactly how close or how far I’m away from that PR. I’m no longer concerned with hunting and gathering my training runs. Data management and uploading results is more my game.

I stashed my relic running notes away for future marathoners to study. I’m sure they, with their permanently implanted chip constantly uploading data to a central running data computer, will find that and my bulky wrist Garmin, with manual Start-Stop, fairly primitive one day.

As much as I enjoy my Garmin and the steady stream of data it provides, I have caught myself dreaming of what it would be like to time myself in, say, thousandths, or even hundred-thousandths, of a mile. Sure, my last run finished in 5.25 miles. But was that really 5.2532 or 5.2537? And how does that impact my pace per mile? Who knows?

By 10 A.G., I may not need to push a single button. By 12 A.G., I may be able to track to the millionths of a second for each foot fall. Eventually, I may need to switch to a new unit of time: A.I. (After Implant.)

Those are developments for future generations of runners. For now, things look pretty good here in 3 A.G. At least, I don’t know what I missing. Yet.

Happy trails.

If you aren’t reading Tall Girl Running, you should. The posts, while not as frequent as my crap, are always well written and pretty funny. Go there now. You’re welcome.

I actually met another run blogger last night. As it turns out, Running Spike basically shares a neighborhood with me. I was walking my dog just as he was running by. We exchanged greetings. I destroyed the momentum of his tempo run. It’s nice to know that at least one of you readers don’t appear to be someone who would boil my pets in water. Although, I have to admit, I was a bit disconcerted when he asked my dog’s name. And how she tastes with gravy.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Starting Line Etiquette For Dummies

I think most of you probably know what to do at a race starting corral. There’s a few unwritten rules that most grasp naturally without any help from flow charts and powerpoint presentations. I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to all of you other dummies out there. The adults who still collect beanie babies and laugh hysterically at Disney channel sitcoms. In other words, the idiots getting in my way – and everyone else’s way – but more importantly in my way.

The mechanics of a race start are pretty simple really. It shouldn’t cause such confusion and douchetardation. I was reminded how difficult this process is for some during my last 5k. I actually witnessed a minor assault and a physical threat within 5 seconds after the gun sounded.

There we were hoppin’ and boppin’ around with nervous energy at the start line. I was still checking myself out in my moisture wicking pocket mirror to make sure I looked fan-tastic. (note: I did, obvs.) I knew I’d finish in the 40-50 overall place range based on past experience so I stepped into the starting corrals with roughly 40 runners ahead of me. The gun sounds. The crowd surges forward. I’m whacked in the back by another runner causing me, in turn, to push into the runner in front of me. The guy next to me lunges forward. Or, at least, his torso did. His legs were still running directly next to me. The runner behind him gave him a hard WWF style forearm shiver to the middle of the back causing him to double over. The assailant passes his victim and tosses a “get out of the way of the 6 minute milers, dude” over his shoulder as he careens down the road. The injured party regains his posture and shouts back “hey asshole, I’ll see you at the finish and kick your ass.”

I knew there would be no ass kicking. The assaulted runner was clearly in the wrong starting group. He faded quickly and, most likely, absorbed a few more bruises and torso benders as the trailing 1500 runners slammed into him. The other guy would be in Gatorade nirvana and heading home before Dummy crossed the finish.

He was a 10 minute miler. At best. This is not a commentary on how fast you run a 5k. I think it’s great to see an ever growing number of folks participating in races just for the experience, just for fun, or simply for some social interaction. You can only do a 5k in 40 minutes? Wonderful! You are out there doing it which is more than most.

Just don’t stand at the front of the race pack.

Here’s some easy to remember Do’s and Don’ts in case you are a bit stupid and aren’t picking up on the unwritten rules.


- Arrive early.
- Discard warm-up gear and water bottles.
- Slot yourself with a pace appropriate group.
- Listen for gun. Run smoothly out of the chute just as your pre-race bowel movement did colon polyp free.


- Be someone else’s colon polyp. Do your best to start with the correct pace group.
- Get yourself trampled. If you are beginning runner or over 6 minute miler and you notice everyone around you wearing a high school racing singlet, you are about to be trampled. Fair warning.
- Form a human barrier. This is not an obstacle course. Do not stand shoulder to shoulder with your three running buddies until everyone has settled into pace. You might be chatting, laughing and having a grand ole time but, trust me, everyone else hates you and wants to knock one or more of you down by crashing through your human wall.
- Wait until the gun goes off before deciding to jettison the sweat shirts and water bottles.
- Refuse to hold my moisture wicking mirror so that I can’t go through my pre-race affirmations and flex posing. That’s just rude.

I tend to get a bit wordy so I’ll boil it down even further for you so there’s absolutely no confusion:

(1.) Don’t be a race clogging colon polyp.
(2.) Don’t get in my way (unless you are assigned to hold my mirror.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is:

(1.) Get out of my way or I’ll hit you in the back again.

Is that clearer?

Yes? Good. We shouldn’t have that trouble anymore. But, if you do, you know what to do. Get those forearms ready and strike early (and often). Then you better run like hell because, who knows, the person you hit might be a well trained negative splitter.

Happy trails.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

8 Seconds

The Cherry Festival 5k race report

In professional rodeo bull riding, eight seconds is the goal. The dream. An eternity. You last 8 seconds, you’ve done your job.* You go home happy. In that sport, eight seconds is a big deal. Ask Luke Perry. He made a whole movie about it.

In 5k running? Eight seconds doesn’t mean so much. This past Saturday, I ran in the race I’ve participated in more than any other: The National Cherry Festival 5k. My ultimate 5k goal is to best 18:00. My PR going in was 18:30 (set at this same race last year.) So, how did I do?


Eight measly seconds? This isn’t bull riding. Eight seconds is like 50 feet isn’t it? I could spit a cherry pit that far. Sure, a new PR (drum roll, drop the curtain, wild applause, note the new PR on the list to the right) but it feels a bit hollow. Like when I tease midgets. I didn’t come here(there) for a mere 8 second PR. I wasn’t sure I could get below 18:00 but I was pretty sure 18:15 was in jeopardy.

The plan was miles of 5:45, 5:55, 5:55 and then bust a gut to the finish in the final .11.

The execution?

Mile 1: 5:47

Slightly behind goal but I was congratulating myself for not smoking a 5:35 or something here and undermining the entire race. There was one wispy 70 lb high school gal with legs about as big around as Luke Perry’s forearms that I followed right from the starting gun. I felt sure that there was no way she could keep pace with those spindly legs.

Mile 2: 5:54

11:41 total at this point but I knew I probably needed 11:30 here to challenge 18 minutes. I was still moving pretty comfortably as I continued to trail Olive Oyl. I spent the entire second mile contemplating the physics behind Oyl’s legs not breaking with every foot fall.

Mile 3: 6:02

17:43 elapsed time. Not sure what happened here. As all of you 5kers know, this particular race is an all out, all the time effort. I was giving a lot but, looking back, I’m not sure I gave it ALL. Last year, I remember red lining through this last mile and praying for the finish line…or death. And probably not in that order. I don’t recall that same feeling this time around.

Last .12 (according to Garmin) fraction of a mile: 39 seconds (5:44 mile pace)

The final mile heads down the main street of town where the villagers are gathering for the parade. I never did catch Olive Oyl. I guess one doesn’t need much leg muscle to run 5k’s after all. Either that or she had her femurs removed and is running purely on hardened muscle and cartilage.

I was pretty p.o’ed for awhile over those measly 8 seconds but we’ve come to terms.** In fact, I’ve been twisting around and inspecting that 18:22 to find just the right angle for me to appreciate it more. Last year, my Garmin recorded only 3.06 miles for this race. They redesigned the course slightly this year and Garmin reflected a more accurate 3.12 this time around. See? Eight seconds quicker but .06 farther as well.

Turns out, Olive Oyl (finish time 18:19) was passed in the final two blocks by the overall female winner (18:16). I was unknowingly chasing the female leader the entire time – mocking her pencil thin legs and arrogantly expecting her to fade at some point. If I only had a male uterus like RazZ, I could have been right there challenging for the overall female win. Instead, unlike RazZ, I’m entirely male. I’ll never feel the pain of child birth. (But I did feel the pain of watching my professional football team lose every single game. Every Sunday. For 16 straight weeks last season. That’s got to be worse than a few hours of labor on one single day right? Olive Oyl – and all you other ladies – will never go through something that painful. Trust me.)

I did score a bittersweet age group award. In one final insult, just as Oyl was succumbing to her late race challenge, I felt the panting of breath and slapping of feet hot over my shoulder. I kicked it in to hold him off (which begs the question WHY DID I HAVE A GEAR TO ‘KICK IN’ WITH WHEN I SHOULD HAVE BEEN GOING ALL OUT ALREADY?!?!) crossing the finish mat a couple whiskers ahead. I was smugly satisfied with that, at least. Alas, through the magic of timing chip starts, my challenger still bested me by 1 second in my age group. He was 2 seconds behind at the start. (queue wah wah wah trumpet)


Next time – possibly in two weeks – I’m going to run all out in that final 5k mile and hold on like a bull rider at the rodeo. I just hope it means a bit more than 8 seconds.

Number? Yes, numbers:

Official time: 18:22
Official pace: 5:54/mile
Overall place: 46th of 1690
Age group: 3rd of 83

* No, Vanilla, this doesn’t apply to other “activities.” Besides, this would be a PR for you.
** Though I still haven’t forgiven Luke Perry for 8 Seconds.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Bee's Knees

If your reader somehow indicates this was published two days ago, I created this post and time stamped it to detonate Friday morning. If it is screwed up, blame Blogger. I’m away from home and preparing for tomorrow’s 5k. And eating donuts. My folks always have donuts.

I haven’t been very good about announcing blog anniversaries or milestones so, for once, I’m going to recognize one right now: This is post #300! (Queue confetti and balloons.) That’s 300 posts worth of time I could have spent enhancing my career, running, or spending time with my family. I feel sticky (with a side order of depression.)

My previous two century milestones went by without even a murmur of recognition from me or you. Aren’t you people paying attention? Do I have to point it out for you?

- In post #100, I recounted my visit to the doc for, what I was sure was going to be, an anal probing in Paging Dr. Jellyfinger.

- In post #200, I discussed my penchant for awkward elbow running in Akimbo Running.

I’m not one to look back (at least, in this paragraph) so let’s look ahead. I’m in Traverse City right now (don’t rob my house, we have someone staying over and he’s a paroled rapist that describes himself as “having that itch again.” Large fellow too. With herpes.) I have a 5k Saturday morning. How will it go? I don’t know but fate seems to be conspiring against me.

I’m not Calvinistic by nature. Things aren’t pre-ordained. I don’t normally believe things have been pre-arranged to conspire against me but its sure starting to look that way right down to the insects. Specifically, the bees.

Last weekend, my long run left me with a swollen left knee. This happens to me periodically. Forty-eight hours or so of rest, a few bags of ice, things are good to go.

I knocked out some last chance 800’s and was taking my recovery run on the 1.3 mile stretch home. My knee was still a little spongy from the swelling residue but otherwise getting back to normal. I’m about home when a bee decides to make his move. The little prick stings me in the left knee with his, well, pricker. Prick! Why is everyone after my left knee?!? Now I’m itchy and swollen again. Honestly, who fights with a little prick stinger anymore? Evolve already! That’s like throwing stones at a tank. It’s just annoying and it doesn’t do anything (except chip the paint job).

At least, I hope it doesn’t.

I’m looking to set a 5k PR on Saturday. Last time out, I had fruit falling from my anus. It’s the same race again this year but I decided not to make it so dramatic this time. I’ll settle for a tasty pastry. Or a chocolate scone.

If I’m really lucky - and everyone puts their left knee stabbing voodoo dolls away - maybe I’ll break 18 minutes and meet my SOS2 goal. That would really be the bee’s knees.

Happy trails and Have a great weekend!

3x800 final tune-up (with 400m recovery laps): 2:45, 2:46, 2:53.

Heart and Soul

Mrs. Nitmos came across tickets to a Huey Lewis and the News concert recently. Who’s that you ask? He was big in the 80’s. He’s in the "We Are The World" video making the rounds during all the Michael Jackson tributes. Really, he’s there. Take a look. He’s the dude with the feathered hair and natural chin dimple that looks like one of your hip L.A. uncles.
The stage is a hop, skip, and 800 meter jump from my wife’s office so we decided, what the hell, let’s go. So, Monday night, we went. I’ve mentioned Huey several times before in this space. The fact is – though I like him well enough – there’s about 50% tongue-in-cheek in those reverential comments. As much as M.J. defined pop music in general, nobody defines “80’s pop” to me more than Huey Lewis. “Heart and Soul”, “Heart of Rock n Roll”, “I Want A New Drug”, “Hip To Be Square”…you know the tunes. You’ve tapped your toes to the infectious melodies. Don’t lie. I’m not the only Newshead (Hueyhead?) out here.

Huey was also the first concert I ever attended circa 1986 (?) as a gawky, pimple faced 15 year old.* He was HUGE then. I bought a concert t-shirt that I wore periodically at first until it developed holes. By college, I wore that t-shirt almost every evening to bed, collapsing in a drunken heap of sweat, beer, and, occasionally, vomit. Mrs. Nitmos was there. She endlessly mocked my Huey t-shirt and its permanent yellow crusted armpits and ever increasing gaping hole across the abdomen. It was washed about three times in four years of college. I believe I “let it ride” my junior year. I still have it, in fact. It’s locked away in a trunk with my college paraphernalia. Who gets rid of a t-shirt once your (future) wife has spent so much time hating on it? Not me. You should know that about me by now.

I had an epiphany of sorts while standing at the port-a-potty line waiting for Huey to take the stage. Kenny Wayne Shepherd was finishing his opening act (doesn’t he realize that the only people who go by three names are serial killers and assassins?) and 32 ounces of overpriced keg beer needed to make its way out. The last several times I’ve waited in line at a porta-a-potty I was surrounded by physically fit marathoners talking about PR’s and training regimens. Here, I was boxed in by frayed jean shorts, bulging skirts, fish net stockings – all strained to their limits - and all varieties of smoke. And fat always finds a way out. Mullets? Check. Inappropriate t-shirt slogans? Check.** The strong, overpowering smell of b.o. and fried dough? Check. Safe to say this was not the same type of crowd milling about the Boston Marathon rent-a-johns.

Huey and the News have been touring for thirty years. Their glory years have come and gone. Are they getting any better as a band? Probably not. Are there more hits to come? Most likely not. So why are they still out here playing to increasingly smaller audiences? Certainly, part of the motivation is financial. But there has to be a love of the music - of performing before an audience- to energize a nearly 60 year old man to continue his favored activity after the hits and crowds have stopped coming.

And this is where the epiphany comes in through the acrid deep fried Twinkie stand odor, the gray haired 250 lb hippie with size medium t-shirt from 1992 dancing back and forth in front of me, and the slow, step by step waltz to the front of the urinal line: Will I still have the love to run - just for the fun of it - when my PR days are behind me? When I’m 50, 60, heck, 70 years old?

Though I feel like I have plenty of PR’s in my future, the fact is that I’m nearing the age where there is a certain diminishing returns to my training. The amount of effort it’ll take to continue to set a PR at a given distance needs to be balanced against longer recovery times, less flexible limbs, increased aches and pains, and, ultimately, a body that might not be able to crank out the “hits” anymore. And I’m a competitive, numbers oriented person. Others derive their fun simply by running. I’ve always derived my fun by running against my past self. The thrill of the PR chase. This isn’t a woe is me tale; I’ve got plenty of hits to come. But it is a reality in all of our futures. At some point, I’ll need to put on the moisture wicking apparel, body glide my tingly spots (trim my ear hair), lace up the shoes, and run purely for the enjoyment of the activity. The younger, hipper, squarer runners will pass me by. My Garmin 12005 will no longer report PR’s.

Huey played a pretty good concert. His voice sounded clear and strong. Guess what? The “Heart of Rock n Roll” on this night was in…Lansing, Michigan. Go figure.*** He played all of his old PR’s hits. Though he had less energy than I remembered - a byproduct of 30 years of touring and sold out arena versus local festival dynamics I’m guessing – there was clearly a relaxed joy emanating through the speakers and moving about the stage. He was doing what he loved.

When my PR days are gone, I hope I can find a way to continue to run with the same Heart and Soul.

Happy trails.

* I was primarily a forehead zitter which is ironic because this was the FORE! Tour.
** My favorite being the stick figure with a little tiny head over the caption “A little head never hurt anyone.”
*** In the song, the heart of rock is in Cleveland. Cleveland?! Ever hear of Motown? I’m guessing Motown has produced more hits and artists than Cleveland. Quick, name one recording artist from Cleveland.

Monday, July 06, 2009

On $9.99 Explosives and Cheap Fedoras

If I do say so myself, I waxed poetic last 4th of July about the injustice of Michigan’s anti-“good fireworks” laws. You can go here if you want to relive my sad lamentations concerning the lack of severed digits and third degree burns from last year. We have it rough up here in the mitten.

Unlike other states, Michiganians (or Michiganders? Can I get a ruling here?) are apparently viewed as minors. Other grown-up states are allowed access to the full arsenal of holiday explosives. Not us. We are allowed something called “fireworks” but, if those are fireworks, than a Timex with a lap button is as good as a Garmin. I plunked down $9.99 for a sack full of Michigan style holiday cheer. For this $9.99, there was absolutely no hope that I would be horribly burned during ignition. No chance that a bottle would tip at the last second sending a rocket of red, white, and blue trailing sparks into Grandma’s forehead.

This sad little unlit bag sat in a corner of the family lakeside cottage deck fairly yawning from self boredom waiting for the sky to darken. In the meantime, a quick trip to Target unexpectedly scored two black and white checkered fedoras for my colt and my nephew. Fedoras in a kid size? Yes, yes, they simply must be had. The pimp line runs strong in this family. Never too early to get them started. I set up a volleyball about shoulder height and had them back hand it all afternoon to get their pimp hands strong. They had pretty good technique…using a long sweeping motion going from seven o’clock up through the lower part of the volleyball to one o’clock. I left them there to practice and, when I returned an hour later, they now had three volleyballs. Not sure where the other two volleyballs came from but one of them seemed to be new in town and just looking for a place to stay. Meanwhile, a Cadillac ticked away in our driveway as it cooled from a recent trip.

Finally, it was time for the fireworks “show.” Sparklers! Yay. Some longer, inappropriately named sparklers called “Morning Glories” (no kidding). Double yay. Finally, the lighting of the $9.99 sack of Michigan approved fun. Each cigar sized fired work sent an innocent, non-threatening three foot plume of yellow or green or blue or red sparkles into the air. Basically, a deluxe sparkler. Triple yay. It was so safe that the mosquitoes gathered around the new light and barely winced when some sparkle residue attached to their needle nose. The kids with their fedoras took the opportunity to do some robotic dancing in the flickering light. The volleyballs even seemed to be having a good time until my colt noticed, gave one a wicked back hand, and yelled “Get back to work.”

Ten minutes later, the fun was over. We were all safe. Not one of us took a trip in an ambulance. Thanks Michigan, thanks a lot. Next year, I’m going to Indiana to pick up real fireworks so that we can celebrate America in the proper manner: with military grade explosives in the hands of half drunk amateurs and children in cheap fedoras with pimp dreams. God bless the USA!

Happy trails.

In the Shirtless Coalition, I conducted a poll to see who supports shirtless running and who hates babies does not. Turns out, a lot of you are here, are shirtless, and want everyone to get used to it. Fah-bulous!

Poll results - 86 votes (so far):

Support Shirtless Running 35% (30 votes)
Why does Vanilla hate America? 29% (25 votes)
Wants to see Nitmos pecs 22% (19 votes)
Baby hating/Does not support it 14% (12 votes)

If you count the number of folks who just want to see my granite chiseled pecs, that’s a mandate! So, run on shirtless runners! We support you!

Another thing the poll revealed is that there is still a strong contingent of folks wondering why Vanilla, the banker,
hates America. Short answer: I don’t know. He claims to be an American but then O.J. claims to be innocent too. What can you believe? I just know that – if I wanted to prove my patriotism – I wouldn’t do it by attacking Feet Meet Street, taking a curiously-timed sabbatical during 4th of July, and driving down home values. Right-o?

I'm a bit behind on everyone's recent races. I'll catch up with everyone soon. I think. Or I'll completely ignore you all. You probably deserve that anyhow right?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Star Spangled Nitmos

You might have noticed my penchant for referring to myself in the third person. I like to do that. Nitmos thinks it’s pretty cool.

If you are a long time reader, you might also have noticed my equally penchanty penchant for modesty and humility and complete lack of self-aggrandizement. In fact, if there was an international award for being the Most Humble, I think I would win. Easily. That being said, who doesn’t want to be “spangled”? I was Bangled for a brief time in the late 80’s/early 90’s and that was fun. To be spangled is “to adorn or cause to sparkle by covering with or as if with spangles”. In other words…win an age group award?! I’ve been spangled with a few of those. One of which was a completely unspangled coffee mug though (like they couldn’t have hot glued a few spangles to it?!?). I’d like to add to the collection.

My SOS2 kicks into high gear over the next few weeks. My first 5k for the season is in 9 days. Am I ready? Well, let me ask you Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. Rhetorical, is a banner spangly? Rhetorical answer: It depends on the banner.

I’m ready to race. Whether or not I’m ready to meet my SOS2 goal is another thing. Sub 18 minutes? Who set that goal? I must have been snuffing some 18th century Mount Vernon home grown tobacco in the middle of a Carl Spackler Cannonball when drawing up that one.*

To meet sub 18 minutes in a 5k, you have to average around 5:45 minute miles. Running a 5:45 mile? No problem. Running three 5:45 miles? No problem, again. Running three 5:45 miles consecutively? That’s where the problem begins. My original plan was to run a mile, rest for a few minutes, knock off another mile, rest a bit longer, and then finish in a blaze of 5:45 glory. Boom! Sub 18 5k!

Then I read the race rules. Apparently, this particular 5k uses a “running clock” format where, get this – once the horn sounds – does not pause the clock for any runner as it records the amount of time it takes from start to finish. What the hell? If I’d have known that, I would have trained differently. All of this interval training has gotten me to the point where I can run my 5k at my desired speed…in intervals. And then the race does not support interval racing? Dude, there is going to be a lot of pissed off runners. Nitmos is not pleased.

To make matters worse, the race is held as part of the conclusion of the town’s yearly week long festival. I see a parade and fireworks already on the schedule. Talk about pressure! If I don’t meet my goal, what are they going to do about the parade and fireworks? What’s the point? Seems a bit presumptuous to plan a PR celebration when I wasn’t even clear on the race rules.

All I can do – all any of us can do – is show up and do the best we can. Race the 3.1 miles consecutively, per their guidelines, without a recovery jog and see how it goes. I’m hoping for a PR at the very least. I’ve done lots of intervals. My quads and hammies are strung tighter than a two string Susanna Hoffs model Rickenbacker guitar. If you turn me sideways you could play Walk Like An Egyptian on my taunt leg muscles (with a little tune bending on my whammy bar if you want – wink wink – know what I mean?)

I’m not racing this 4th of July. For those of you that are, I wish you the best. I hope that you win something star spangled.

I have another week to wait for my fireworks display. I can already feel the spangly age group award draped around my neck.

But if I don’t meet my goal? Blame it on Nitmos.

Happy trails and Happy 4th of July!

* Please see definition #2 for cannonball. At all costs, do not allow yourself to view definition #3.

By the way, I have been carefully monitoring the results from my shirt poll on the Shirtless Coalition post. The results are…interesting. I’ll talk about them more next week while Vanilla is on sabbatical and unwilling/unable to respond. Much like the British were unwilling to respond at Yorktown.