Friday, April 29, 2011

Hip, Modern Half Marathon Time Trial

Yes, I have to admit, that I’ve been caught up in the hoopla…the spectacle…the marriage of a man of some repute. The cheers, the tears, the years together. Oh, and the beers. Lots and lots of beers. It’s been everything it was billed to be: dramatic, hopeful, grandiose and filled with suits and gold blinge. I haven’t been able to rip my eyes from the TV! It’s been quite a festival of love!

Of course, I’m talking about the NFL draft. What did you think? Royal wedding? Er, no. Wake me when Hugh Hefner gets married. USA! USA! USA! (For the record, my Lions took Nick Fairley, DT, out of Auburn. And now they are married together for a whole career…or, at least, the length of his rookie contract. I wish them well. Maybe I’ll send a toaster.)

Will you be my defensive tackle?

To celebrate this fine occasion, I decided to do a little half marathon time trial. My race is almost exactly one month away. Just far enough away to start panicking and fretting about my undertraining but far enough to not really care that much either. I still got time. My split personalities work great together: one is laid back and nonchalant while the other excessively compulses over every little detail. They usually cancel each other out and I sit back and drink beer oblivious to the inner war within my subconscious. I feel mentally drained but not something that another Schlitz can’t fix. Plus, I’m never actually compelled to action. Is there a more exhausting word to say than “action”?

Here’s the thing: Today’s half marathon time trial would consist of 9 miles at goal pace. I realize that 9 miles does not constitute a “half marathon” but I’ve long been a proponent of adjusting the distance down from the tiresome current distance, 13.11 miles, to something more PR-friendly like 8 or 9 miles. So far, my emails, tweets, letters, manifesto’s, threats, and disgusted harumphs have gone unanswered by the World Half Marathon President. A man can only Harumph for so long before he gives up and grabs another Schlitz. They stubbornly cling to this whole “a half marathon is 13.11 miles” thing. What is the old saying “something something unchanged is something doomed something failure”? Yeah, take THAT!

So, if they aren’t going to reduce the distance, then I’ll need to actually reduce my time to get that PR. What a bummer. Everything always has to be the hard way, doesn’t it?

I targeted 9 miles (or, the “new hip, modern half marathon distance”) at 6:40 pace. For you math whizzes, that would be an even one hour. Nine miles @ one hour. Then, spend the rest of the day watching coverage of the marriages of large men to their football clubs.

How’d I do? Well, as William and Kate might say: Brilliant!

9.0 miles
59:41 time
6:38 pace

Under the new hip, modern half marathon distance (soon to be adopted), I would have just set a PR by 28 minutes! What a huge PR! Bully for me!

Oh, look at that, the Detroit Lions are proposing to a rugged looking linebacker. Always brings a tear to me eye. sniff sniff Time for a Schlitz, a smile, and, maybe, just a few tears. A guy can't help himself sometimes.

The NFL sure does love just right.

Happy trails.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rainy Runday Afternoon

My dog and I are a lot alike.

I realized this the other day as my dog jumped up from the total snorefest she was enjoying by the picture window and eagerly pranced over to me with ears erect just because I shifted a bit in my chair. She detected movement within her delta waves, assumed I was getting ready to take a walk, and hopped right up to let me know she’s totally up for it. Too bad for her that I was just executing a subtle Lean Right to open up room for a fart dissemination. The chair creak gave me away. This didn’t stop her from staring at me for another ten minutes with this hopeful anxiety expressing itself through an exhausting pant. It looks a lot like this:

I will do this until you walk me.

Then, I started nervously pacing the house out of sheer restlessness (and boredom). My usual intra-home itinerary consisted of living room, kitchen, check food shelves for something to eat, swing by front door to verify things were still fine with the driveway, and back into living room to change a handful of channels aaaaaand repeat. I noticed my pooch, eyes intently following, would meet me at the front door whenever I veered that way.

“What’s the matter, pup, is there a fire in the barn?!” I’d condescend and ruffle her rigid ears.
-No, asshole, I want to walk. Outside. Like the other dogs I see going by my picture window while you pretend to not watch Teen Mom. Ever hear of an umbrella?-

It was drizzly out. No hard rain. I could have thrown on a poncho and took her for a walk. I had lots of energy to burn. I had missed my weekend long run due to excessive amounts of youth soccer games, rain, and 35 mph winds. After several laps, I realized that not only did the dog want a walk but I needed a run. I could totally sympathize. I was way too energetic for a normal Runday afternoon. Here she was dependent on me for some energy-releasing, high-quality walking. And here I was staring out the window at 35 mph winds, rain, and stuck at home with a 9 year old that would be left unsupervised if I made a run for it. Literally. And this is no regular 9 year old. Ever read Junie B. Jones AND Judy Moody AND Ramona books? Yeah, put those characters together plus some Dennis the Menace and you have the impish qualities of my pre-teen firebrand. She cannot be left alone or there really will be a fire in the barn. We don’t have a barn but I’m pretty sure she could make one and then burn it down before I finished not watching Teen Mom.*

So, I continued to pace; the dog continued to meet me at the door. She didn’t get her walk; I didn’t get my run. I looked into those increasingly sad, brown eyes and said, “I don’t think it’s happening today, girl.” But I wasn’t sure if I was talking to her or to myself.

We both let loose a deeply disappointed exhale and wandered back into the living room. Before long, we were both curled up contentedly licking ourselves.

My dog and I are a lot alike.

Happy trails.

* I really don't watch Teen Mom.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Soccer Hooligans

Our weekend in three photos.

It was another wet and muddy weekend on the pitch for my soccer hooligans. Despite that sun in the background, you can see the field conditions plastered all over their uniforms. My filly took on one of the best teams in the area in her age group and managed a 3-3 tie (probably should have won, in fact!) She netted two goals and a big smile.

My colt's team lost a late heartbreaker 5-4. The team had mud "war paint" on their cheeks but, by the time this photo was snapped, it had worn away.

I believe she is in the house getting a brownie. I hope that's not brownie on her shorts. They kind of look like that famous poopy-pants marathoner's shorts, don't they?

Being that this is soccer, I'd like to point out that there was no rioting in the stands or drunken brawls ending in fires and arrests. It was a mostly docile crowd though my son's English coach did have to tell a parent to stop yelling at the ref at one point. Score one for the English!

I got drunk later that night.


I've been drunk all day.

Happy trails.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Boston 2011: A Postscript

POSTSCRIPT, dateline 4/21/2011, F.M.S. Studios: My last post about the non-World Record World Record at the 2011 Boston Marathon generated some interesting comments. First of all, how dare you be more interesting in the comments than I am in the original post. Don’t you know the proper rules of etiquette when dealing with a host? If my post is going to be hastily conceived and sophomoric, your comments should be ill-considered, poorly researched and, at most, freshmanic. Secondly, I know my own special brand of snark isn’t always detectable by the naked eye upon read through. I operate on an entirely different snark plain than most. It can be easily confused for serious opinion when just the opposite was intended.

To be clear: Having run the challenging Boston course, I can say, from firsthand experience, that the net downhill is not much of a benefit. It’s not like the course starts on higher ground and just gradually slopes gently down to the finish. There are hills. And bumps. And slopes. And general dipsy-doos through-out the entire 26.2 miles. Even though you end on lower ground than you started, your quads and calves have run a gauntlet of torque and submission. It’s fair to say that the Boston course keeps you on your toes with its different challenges on different parts of the course. For comparison, I’ve run Chicago. Chicago is largely flat. It is a much easier course that, I do believe, QUALIFIES for world record time ratification. How can an easier course qualify when a universally accepted tougher course cannot?

I also realize there are rules, regulations, qualifications and governing bodies that have measuring devises and satellites and guys on bikes with chalk rollers that control all of this and that the serious elite marathoners know this in advance. Or should. Still, my point was that, somewhere along the way, COMMON SENSE must prevail. Boston is, perhaps arguably, the premier marathon event in the world. Certainly one of a very few, anyhow. How can a time run on its course NOT be a World Record qualifier?? Have you ever heard ANYONE suggest that Boston is an easy course? Just the opposite, in fact. Isn’t that actually part of its allure besides the tradition?

So, my basic issue was not that this was a surprise to any of the winners despite my playful wording. It WAS a surprise to me however. Important People with Titles and a part of a Governing Body can point out stats and measurements and net downgrades and tailwinds all they want. I’m talking about COMMON SENSE here. And, look, my COMMON SENSE has way more bolded, capitalized letters than your Governing Body. Every race course is different. Every course presents its own challenges. Some are easier than others. Heck, some are specifically advertised to let you know that it is “the easiest course to qualify for Boston.” Obviously, not every course can be ratified for a world record just because it is 26.2 miles for, as Vava observes, someone will go out and establish a marathon descending Mt. Everest or, as I’d call it, “The Tuck and Roll Marathon”.

But wouldn’t common sense tell you that THOSE are the races NOT to qualify? Those are operating beyond the fair spirit of the athletic event and record books. Sheesh, let’s have a bit of COMMON SENSE and get Boston ratified already. There is nothing intrinsically “easy” that should prevent Boston from qualifying for a world record.

Descending off my soap box….before my ALL CAps key fails. oops, look at that, it already did.

happy trails.


Why are mile repeats so hard? Things are slowly rounding into form. You can’t force speed into a place that doesn’t fit….I know this even as I bang my square legs around the oval track. Ugh.

3x1600m (800m cool downs) at 6:00, 5:59, 6:00 respectively. The hopes for 5:55’s died by 800 meters.

Maybe I made my legs trapezoidal as they start on their journey from square to round to fit in the speed oval. More banging away to come…what comes after trapezoid. Rhombus? Or vice versa?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Boston: The Ultimate Fun Run

Does anyone find it just a little ironic that the Boston Marathon – with it’s rigid to-the-second qualifying standards and reputation as the Big Enchilada of all marathons drawing world class competitors from around the globe (i.e. Kenya) – cannot ratify a time set on its own course as a world record?? It has too much of a net downhill and there may be a tailwind. USA Track and Field told Reuters: “Boston marathon performances cannot be ratified as world records as the course does not satisfy two of the criteria for world records.” I wonder if one of the requirements is: Cannot be set on the world’s most famous marathon course.

I just assumed that Boston, with its reputation as a challenging course and the standard-bearer for certification at courses around the country, would be World Record Qualified (WRQ). I’m sure this is no surprise to many of you but, frankly, this is news to me. (Also, we landed on the moon!)

Why am I pointing this out? Unless you live in a cave (i.e. Ohio), you know that Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai pranced to the finish Monday in 2:03:02 destroying the official world record by 57 seconds (2:03:59, Berlin, 2008). He had time to re-tie a shoelace on Boylston St., if need be. Or lie down on a plush leopard rug right before crossing the line to pose for a sexy photo. THAT’S how bad he pwned Haile Gebrselassie’s official record time. In fact, with a time like that, you have to wonder what took Haile so long.

There seems to be something terribly wrong when the premier event for a sport cannot ratify its champ for world records. What if the Super Bowl champ could not be crowned because they determined that the football used in the game was made of llama skin rather than the tastier, less-spitty cow? Congratulations, you won! Sorry, but we will not be able to confirm your victory in the record books. Wrong ball skin.* What if NASCAR decided to go the other direction at Daytona? Same distance but a bunch of right hand turns instead of left. Nope, no speed record for you. Thanks for coming out and spiking beer sales in the mid-Florida area though. Here’s your money, trophy, and giant ASTERISK to carry around. Clean up your chaw stains on the way out, please.

Is Boston just a glorified Fun Run? Here I am busting my butt trying to “BQ” when, all this time, there was no chance of me setting the world record at Boston? What was I working so hard for? I’ve been playing rope-a-dope with the top Kenyans and Ryan Hall, et al, by never posting an official marathon time better than the 3:12 range. Lying in wait - like Mutai’s pre-skinned leopard - for my chance to pounce, blowing past the field in a stunning 2:02 at a future Boston. And now what? No friggin’ record? You can shove your laurel wreath up my Johnny Kelley if you know what I mean. I’ll save my world record effort for a race that cares.

Perhaps Boston should worry less about everyone else’s BQ and more about their own WRQ. With all of the recent Boston controversy over qualifying times, I’m starting to think that Boston is like the one sober friend of the promiscuous race slut at the bar who is busy BQ blocking everyone else. Then, come to find out, she’s a MAN.

Despite the non-world record World Record, the 2011 Boston Marathon was an exciting, record-setting race. Ryan Hall, 4th overall, set a non-U.S. record U.S. record. America’s Desiree Davila finished two non-qualifying seconds behind Kenyan Caroline Kilel for the women’s title in one of the most fantastic finishes ever. And I doubt any of the competitors heard the WR-DQ sad trombone playing in the background as they held up their trophy and reviewed their race splits. Congratulations Geoffrey and Caroline! You won the world’s most famous Fun Run!!

It was only later that they got the asterisk attached to their time. And the Boston crème pie to the face.

Happy trails.

* Is it just me or do I say this entirely too frequently in my life?

I’ve been following Thomas, from Diary of a Rubbish Marathon Runner, who achieved his goal of sub-3 hour marathon this past weekend in Vienna. Go there and read his report. It’s pretty darn good. Congratulations to Thomas!

Congratulations to Nate who bested 3 hours at Boston! Here’s
his recap.

Waiting for Sean’s exciting Boston report

And, of course, Spike’s Boston should be rolling in soon

Friday, April 15, 2011

Randumbery Goes Arm Pit Digging

I used to run this semi regular feature called "Randumbness" about, as you would guess, various random and dumb things going on. It was a nice page filler. You thought you were getting actual carefully constructed content. Instead, you were getting fluff, filler, time wasters. I'm not saying this to foreshadow this post. I'm just saying the post title is Randumbery and if you can put 2 and 2 together....well, we'll both be pleasantly surprised at your cognitive skills.

It just feels like a Randumbery kinda day doesn't it? In the 80’s – ‘member those? - there was a weird series of subversive movies making the rounds called Faces of Death. It spawned several sequels. It was really inappropriate, as I say to my kids now, but at the time we could feel our teenage rebellious innards embiggen with every knock of the mallet on the monkeys skull and every mouthful of brain a diner eagerly gulped down. Monkey brains, a delicacy in some parts of the world! It was one of the scenes, one of the more subdued scenes in fact, in the Faces of Death “films”. But you had to be in the mood to sit through it….much like sitting through Randumbery. I’ve decided for you that you’re in the mood.

Your Pancreas Looks Fat

As the owner of a daughter, I’ve become more aware of the societal pressures on female body image. It struck me in the face the day my then seven year old filly lifted up her shirt to show her rail-thin, rib cage exposed, near starvation level stomach and pronounced “I think I’m getting fat.” After I picked my lower jaw off the floor, I then launched into a series fawning compliments about how perfect she is and how she could eat at buffets for the next two years and no one would notice and that, though her belly button area could lose a millimeter or two, let's be honest, her stomach was perfect size - overall (almost no one will notice the millimeter or two) – for someone her age. Some of that may or may not be true but I’m sure I acted like a real buffoon with all of the over-exaggerated, self-esteem building compliments to combat the spector of anorexia looming behind her.

She looked at me like I was on crack. I eyed my fourth fudge stripe cookie suspiciously and put it away.

I think Stephen Colbert’s recent “The Word” summed things up pretty good. It’s well worth five minutes of your time. Pure genius comedy. Love this:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Buy and Cellulite

Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

How Quickly You Metabolize Quizno’s

The 115th Boston Marathon is Monday. There’s part of me that wants to be there and part of me that’s glad I’m not. I sure as hell didn’t want to have to train through this gawdawful winter. One of my favorite memories of the 2008 Boston Marathon was learning just how quickly my body could take in a solid food through the mouth, process it, and then spray it out my anus in pure liquid form. Total time? About twenty minutes. Long –time readers will recall my unfortunate choice to eat a taco from an airport taco stand in Washington D.C. while awaiting the connection to Boston.

Bad decision. I couldn’t hold anything in for two days. I walked around Boston with an eye towards each restroom as my body continually rejected food. After 48 hours, I figured the bug must have passed so I gambled and ate a few big bites of a Quizno’s sub. Then I ate another. Then I turned slightly green. Then I thought I was Paul McCartney for four minutes. Mrs. Nitmos asked how I was doing and I said “Let it be, let it be.” After a few minutes of gently sobbing with my face in my palms, I headed into the Quizno’s bathroom and sprayed down their stall like a fireman putting out a porcelain fire.

Maybe I was still sick. Or maybe Quizno’s is the perfect laxative.

Hella Sounds

Our good blog friend John Frenette from HellaSound has new music available. It’s original running music synced to YOUR pace and designed to burn calories. Have you checked it out? He has several songs in his catalog as well as a free song that you can check out to see what it is all about (according to his email blast).

John so graciously provided the intro music for our upstart podcast, Banned on the Run (currently experiencing production delays, cost overruns, rewrites, rehab, and general apathy), at no charge. How did we repay him for his time? By using it 2-3 times and then not podcasting anymore. Since none of the BotR crew are going to pay him for his time, the least YOU could do is buy a song or two from the guy. Go there.

Going Down

Yesterday’s race pace eight miler was accomplished at 6:43 pace. That’s better than last week’s 6:47 pace but the destination is 6:35 pace. I need to go down more (t.w.s.s.)

I’ll be at six – that’s 6 – soccer games this weekend for the kids. Who would have thought standing on the sidelines eating popcorn, chatting with other parents, and shouting “You gotta want it!” with popcorn shards spitting out of my mouth could be so exhausting? I don’t know why the kids are complaining.

Happy trails.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Am I a Runner If I Don't Get Runner's World?

I’m going to let my Runner’s World subscription lapse. I’m not cancelling it in some sort of angry huff. Nothing’s getting punched. No one’s getting set on fire (this time). This is a big step for me because I normally do many things in an impulsive huff which garners numerous Stern Looks and the occasional Right To Remain Silents and the odd Put Down The Gas Can Or We Will Shoots.

I just don’t think I get much value out of Runner’s World anymore. I’ve had the subscription for at least four years – probably longer – and I dutifully read every issue. It didn’t take long before I realized, as all RW readers eventually do, that most of the features are souped up retreads like a TV sitcom. (Hey, have you ever seen a family sitcom in which the father of the family is a bumbling idiot and his put-upon wife has to suffer all his foibles wearily but gladly? Sure you have. It’s every sitcom.) I guess I’ll go without the biannual Secrets to My Best 5k where Expert A basically confirms what Expert B suggested six months earlier (and the years before that with Expert C, D, E, not F, but G. F was a real bozo.). I like the food and nutrition sections but I don’t do the family grocery shopping and, when I’m in a restaurant, I can’t remember what they said about this piece of fish versus this other piece of fish anyway. Mmmm, mercury! Maybe? Who knows.

But what will I do without the latest show review? I guess continue to ignore them as I always did. The same shoes, just the newer version, receive the Editor’s Picks every time anyhow.

Some of the magazine covers are cool. I mean, the magazine covers with Kara Goucher and the other female running glitterati are cool but then they go and spoil it with all the male posers with painted on abs. Jump back into your Abercrombie & Fitch catalog fellas. No one needs that. I’m in the book store often enough. I can put down the magazines in the high upper left hand corner of the shelf and wander over to see who’s on the RW cover (as long as I don’t expire the five minute wait loitering limit they imposed - for me.)

I don’t have anything against Runner’s World. In fact, the feature articles are often entertaining. I love reading about the history of the sport though, if I’m being honest, there isn’t nearly enough runner on runner knife stabbings.* Who doesn’t like to read about the former Boston winners and Olympic champions? Articles on runners who have overcome significant injury, disease, war, and thresher accidents make some issues into the Hallmark Channel of running magazines. But those stories only occupy 3-4 pages. Is it worth it to subscribe to an entire magazine for 3-4 pages a month? I can cherry pick those off the shelf whenever I’m facing a long car ride or, since it’s only a couple pages, a short car ride to the liquor store.

I feel like I’m turning in my Official Runner Badge by letting my subscription go unrenewed. Aren’t we all supposed to subscribe? If I don’t have a subscription , do I become some sort of rogue, unlicensed bandit. Do I have to turn in my moisture wicking clothes and wear *gulp* cotton?!? Or worse, Ian’s cargo shorts?

If I don’t have Runner’s World, do I not read, er, run?

Runner’s World is a quality magazine although I think they may have reached a bit with the name. World? Nah, there are lots of running events in the world that they don't cover at all. Maybe Runner's City or Runner's Municipality or Runner's Tri-County Area but "World" might be a bit of a stretch. Although I do think it IS especially handy for the new or returning runner. For me, I’m just not getting a lot of value out of it anymore. It’s like when I cancelled my subscription to Bazoombas when I realized I was more of an ass man. Someone would find Bazoombas helpful, just not me. I didn’t try to impugn the entire Bazoomba community. I just stepped away quietly.

The subscription will passively expire in July. I will passively fail to send in a check for another subscription. Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy the nutrition advice. Who knows, maybe after six times reading it, I WILL remember what kind of fish to eat. Then, without fanfare, RW will suddenly stop coming like so many Bazoombas before it.

Unless they get aggressive and send me more unwanted issues and – God forbid - a BILL, then it’s time to get out the ole gas can.

Happy reading.

*Would it kill them to include the phrase “and he let him bleed out on the sidewalk” in just one race recap? Honestly!

Good luck to Boston bounders Sean, Spike, Aron, and anyone else I may have missed. Looks like perfect weather. No excuses. Go get 'em!

But don't eat any airport tacos. Trust me.

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Mandelbaum Plan

One of my favorite personal trainers is Izzy Mandelbaum. I haven’t had a chance to work with him directly but I’ve long admired his training philosophy.

This is not one of those coaches with an “online certification” from a magazine or the University of Phoenix (or equivalent). This is an actual, no messing around, I’m-here-to-bust-your-back old school muscle puller. No task is too big for Izzy. Thus, no task is too big for YOU. Izzy would rather wind up in a hospital than be told he cannot accomplish something. In the absence of all common sense, his approach makes the most sense.

I wish my coach was more like him. Instead, I’m stuck with this ruggedly handsome, surprisingly charismatic, never passed a mirror that didn’t need to be gazed into, impossible to please wanker. Whereas my coach, employs a “sensible” step-by-step approach to turning up the speed and distance over a prolonged period of time, Izzy would have had me going from 6:30 pace intervals to 4:00 within the same work-out. In fact, as soon as I accomplished one 800 at 3 minutes, he would have lifted his bullhorn, shouted “Time to turn it up a notch!” and demanded a 2 minute interval. That might be just the kind of crazy I need right now.

Here’s how the year normally progresses for me: I start slowly due to the long winter, finally getting up to acceptable speed around June/July, feel pretty strong into September/October and then precipitously fall off the speed wagon when the temperatures grow cold again. It takes so long to get back to where I was before that I can only enjoy it for a few months before I’m sliding down the back side again. Sure, who doesn’t like to slide down a back side – know what I mean – but you know what I mean.

This approach has kept me injury free for over eleven years of running but, I think, it’s also stagnated my race times. Every year around this time, I’m fighting just to get back to where I was last year let alone improve my overall performance. In summation: Winter sucks and I should move.

Or I should go with the Mandelbaum Plan. I normally run my 800’s in a high five minute pace (5:45-5:55). I’ve envied the low 5’s for awhile now from the safety of my 30 second, puke-free buffer. In fact, one of the strongest runners in Michigan trains up and down my same running routes. He’s a regular challenger for the overall win at statewide 5k’s, 10k’s and half-marathons. I see him busting out smooth and easy low fives all the time. Occasionally, he even smiles and nods (or is it sneers and mocks?) as I run by under the weight of middle class debt and anxiety. One can only go so fast with a metaphorical banker attached to one’s back whipping one's haunches like a working donkey. (Humans have haunches right?)

Lately, I’ve been passing this local star and thinking to myself: Think you’re better than me, huh? Yeah, that’s it. It’s go time. Step aside string bean. And then I accelerate waaay beyond my comfort zone…for about 10 glorious seconds before collapsing in exhaustion. Aaaaah, my back….my hamstrings…my pancreas. Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.

Or was it? It’s said that “practice makes perfect” and maybe that’s true. I doubt Izzy would give up after a few ruptured hamstrings and one minor heart attack. Maybe I need to “take it up a notch” a bit more often? How often can a hamstring snap anyhow? Doesn’t a build up of scar tissue eventually make it stronger than before? To that end, I decided to ignore my current male order coach and listen to my Inner Izzy during last night’s run. I started my 8 miler in the low 7’s pace, after two miles turned it up a notch to the 6:50’s for a few more, and then cranked up a few more notches down to 6:30’s for the last several miles. The final ½ mile was pushed to a 6:15 pace just to please Mr. Mandelbaum. I was tired but it was, in fact GO TIME so what could I do? I normally would have kept this run at a consistent 6:50-7:00 pace for the duration.

Any time you step outside of your comfort zone and spike your training time/distance you are rolling the dice and risking injury. But Nitmos v.2010 and Nitmos v.2009 think they are better than me. Well, it’s go time!

Or maybe I just picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue.

Happy Izzying.

8 miles @ 6:47 pace.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Shades of Yellow

Some see the world in black or white and some see shades of gray. Some of you annoyingly chipper folk see the world in rainbow swaths like a bag of Skittles. You, of course, can screw off and take your glowing personality to a commune, hippie.

I see shades of yellow. I’m officially out of winter maintenance mode and looking to regain lost speed created from a few months of fudge stripe cookies and remote control molestation.* This means that my workouts have gotten harder, more sweat is produced, and my urine has become a deeper, more electrifying shade of yellow. It’d be nice to look into the toilet bowl and enjoy the water show without judging the level of my hydration but, for over-analyzers like me, that’s just a way of life.

Oh, look at that, I need more water.

My bizarro coach, that devilishly handsome brute, has been on my case recently to get rid of my winter baby fat. It might be fun to poke at and giggle, like the Pillsbury Dough boy, but it sure doesn’t help me get around a track any faster. I feel every fudge stripe by the third 800. Maybe playing Ring the Large Intestine with a Delicious Chocolate and Graham Treat wasn’t such a good off season hobby. My coach reminded me of this after my 4th interval yesterday as I cooled off with heavy breaths and a few dry heaves. He poked me in the belly, whispered “How’d that feel, chubs?” and sarcastically giggled. Cheeky bastard.

Wow, it looks like liquid gold!

My speed is nowhere near where I want it to be at this point in the season. I’m suddenly thinking a PR in the half-marathon this May probably isn’t going to happen. I’m still about five pounds over fighting weight. I’ve really tried to clean-up my eating habits. Mrs. Nitmos and I ditched the kids this past weekend and, thus, ditched the horrific corporate restaurant chains, for a nice little local dinner. I bypassed the steak and baked potato and enjoyed a delicious grilled salmon with green beans as part of my quest to eat better. Of course, the salmon was resting against a hunk of prime rib and what was there to do but eat that too? I wasn’t raised as a prime ribist.**

I need an eclipse pinhole viewer to look into the bowl. I may need an IV.

I had a hard go last week. I turned every planned tempo and easy long run into a game of beat the clock. I tried to force feed some speed back into my system through culture shock. Eight planned-tempo-turned-hard miles one day then eleven “easy” miles became two easy, nine hard. Voices were telling me to Take it easy and Back off. I did this all under the watchful gaze of my coach – what does he know anyway – and now, I think, he’s laughing at me.

Coach, my urine has been dark yellow lately. I don’t think I’m hydrating properly.

Or maybe you’re just a wimp
, he responded. You gotta want it! Yig-wee, damrite. By now 4 x 800 (400 meter recoveries) under 2:50 pace should be as easy as consuming five finger ring fudge stripes one by one. Instead, my legs were heavy, my mouth dry, and there was a bit too much wiggle in the abdomen. I finished up in the low 2:50’s for each but did not meet my plan. Even though we’ve moved from the Joy of Sixes to High Fives, my coach was displeased.

As I trotted out my final easy 400, I could feel his harsh judgmental gaze following me around the track. I self-consciously pulled my flopping shirt down over my exposed gut like a teenage girl with a muffin top and skinny jeans at the mall. By the time I completed the intervals, my coach wore a self-righteous smirk that mirrored my self-loathing grimace.

What shade do you think your urine will be now, boy? He barked.
I dunno but I bet a dark yellow.
Then we better keep running you until it turns up red.

He’s really starting to get pissy with me.

Happy trails.

*The “2” button has rubbed off and I’m told the remote, between sobs, has accurately shown a local detective how it has been touched on a little stuffed remote dummy in the police station. Sketch of my thumb pending.
**being discriminatory to prime rib.

Friday, April 01, 2011

'Not Harmful Enough'

Apparently, the radiation I’m inhaling is fine. Don’t worry about it. At least, that’s what the voice on the radio told me.

I was in the middle of an aggressive eight miler last night (Limbo Run) accompanied by the local alternative rock station streaming hard thumping angst into my brain and out my stride when interrupted by this news story. Local scientists, armed with some sort of blinky light, bippity-bop box with a spinning gyroscope attached (one assumes), had detected a slight uptick in the amount of radiation in the Michigan atmosphere due to the disaster in Japan. I’m huffing and puffing along, gobbling vast quantities of air as a runner hog tends to do, while listening to this. It caused a slight hitch in my huff. Of course, the kicker was the pronouncement that the levels detected were deemed ‘not harmful enough’. For what??? They didn’t say.

“Not harmful enough”? Are there three scarier words – besides “Pauly Shore Presents” – in the English language? That “ENOUGH” just hangs on the end of that sentence fragment doesn’t it? I was raised with classic Midwestern values so I prefer NO radiation in my air just like I’d prefer no mercury in my water and no Snooki on my TV. Apparently none of those things are happening any time soon.

I like to order a nice piece of salmon when Mrs. Nitmos and I head out for an evening of decompression from the kids. But I can’t just look at the menu and order salmon. I look at the salmon’s description, how it is prepared, where it came from, and consider the cleanliness of the restaurant and guess as to whether or not they know how to properly store and prepare this delicate dish. (I may have low level OCD. I’m hoping the radiation cures it.) Then I recall the articles from Runner’s World that warns you against certain types of salmon (Atlantic Ocean, I believe) due to suspect fishing methods and pollution. But, of course, I can’t recall exactly what I read. Did it say NOT to have this type of salmon…or this was the SAFE one? Usually, I say Fuck It, eat it, and wonder deep into the night if I just ingested poison.

I’m pretty good though at compartmentalizing my fears. I’ll never go to a psychologist because, if he opens that one door near the back behind those old Dostoevsky novels, a shadow of anger and fear will come rushing out that’ll end with me chewing on his scapula bone, like stripping the chicken from a drumstick, while crouched at the top of his bookshelf moments before being tazed and landing with a thud on the floor. I told you not to go in there. So the fact that I’m being slowly poisoned by every needful inhale will get shoved under the door of the dark room along with every other nauseating memory and unhappy fact. It’ll probably come to rest next to Giving Grandma a Back Rub.

I can only do what I can to stay alive and remain healthy. I can run. I can eat (reasonably) well. I can crunch and stretchy band my evenings away rather than couch and potato chip it away. I can sacrifice llamas and drink their blood to fuel my strength. Or do that just to blow off steam. All of this is within my control. And, in the end, that still may not be enough. We are all subject to the whims of external forces. Air currents, corporate pollution, an inattentive driver, roving packs of revenge-seeking llamas: these are things that can undo all the done up effort.

It’s pretty hard to be healthy these days. The air may or may not be poisoned; the drinking water contains toxins; my running shoes are unnatural and I should be running barefoot. My parents are still convinced that my running caused my arthritis. And who hasn’t heard that ‘all of this running is going to ruin your joints’? Damn, it seems to me that runners – marathoners particularly – are the unhealthiest people on the planet. After my next race, I’m going to check myself into the hospital to get my radiation and mercury levels tested and, what the hell, get some x-rays to see how my running shoes have ruined my knees.

Or maybe I’ll just forget about all of it and keep on doing what I do. Sure, fleeting thoughts of air pollution will creep in from time to time as I gasp my way up a tough hill. I can ignore the teenager leaning out his car window shouting “Run faster, asshole!” before screeching off down the street. My post-run water will come strained through the Brita filter. I’ll take all of the negative and shove it deep into my little dark room behind those old books.

The door labeled ‘Not Harmful Enough’.

Happy breathing.

I realize the folks in Japan, the Pacific Ocean, and the western states have it worse than us Michiganders. This is something I’m both horrified and thankful for. However, you don’t call yourself “Michiganders” so, really, who deserves a telethon hosted by Kanye?

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