Thursday, May 26, 2011

Harold Camping Predicts My Race Time

This Saturday is judgment day. Not Judgment Day in the fire and brimstone sense but small letter judgment day in the how-hard-did-you-train sense. It’s the Bayshore half marathon this Saturday! It should be Rapturous.

I’ve been having a difficult time determining just how well I’ll do in this race. My training log is filled with data but do I take the information as the absolute truth in text….or as parables for my training in general? Can I apply what I see from a 9 mile training run logged in the Book of Nitmos and extend it to a real life half marathon? How do I interpret the, at times, conflicting data? I did what any insane, hopelessly confused, mentally weak fool would do. I asked Harold Camping, Mr. Rapture 5/21, for help. I figured he had some free time now as his appointment calendar was empty past Saturday, right?

I gave him a quick call.

“Hello? Mr. Camping? I know you are great about studying a book and divining numbers for important events down to the exact day, hour and minute. Well, this half marathon is coming up for me. Can you help me predict my race time if I read to you from my training log? I’m setting goals…and I’d like to be precise…”


“No, no….it’s Nitmos, though you wouldn’t be the first to ask.” Blushing.


“You are such a kidder. We both know he’s more of a baritone and that I have trouble with hair growth between the sideburns and chin. Say, any chance some of the top runners in my age group might have been sucked skyward last Saturday during your most recent Rapture and no one noticed? A few people here and there could suddenly ascend and no one would probably pay much attention unless they were pumping gas at the time and started spraying everyone with gasoline until the hose yanked out of their hands. A few gaunt runners would probably float fairly quickly out of view. I wouldn’t mind an age group medal…might look nice twinkling in the approaching celestial light during your next Rapture! I’m all for selective, sporadic Raptures if it bumps me up the age group rankings if you know what I mean. In fact, put me down for your last Rapture. I’d like to get some bling first.”

“You will live through hell on Earth and battle parched, angry mobs.”

“Yeah, it should be a tough race. The forecast looks okay and there should be plenty of water though, I agree, I will get thirsty. Runners can be surly late race…don’t know about angry. Don’t be so dramatic.”

“Only 3% shall ascend, the rest shall remain behind…”

“Actually, the awards go five deep. Not sure what that is percentage-wise but…Hey, can you give me a finish time?”

“Genesis 1:28 says – "

“Hey, that’s nearly my current PR and very close to what I think I can do now. Let’s hope you’re right. I’d take it!”

“ - Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

“Whoah, that may be going a little too far. 'Rule over every living creature that moves on the ground'? Damn, that would be cool though….at least for one morning. Well, thanks. I’ll talk to you post-race to see if you were right. Don’t go selling all of my possessions while I’m gone. Whether or not 1:28 happens, I still want those shows I have on TiVo. Bye.” Click.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I am shooting for something in the 1:27 range. Two misses in one week could be a bit much for him to bear. As it turns out, ole Harold C miscalculated by five months for his latest Rapture. The Next Great Rapture is actually Oct. 21st which, unfortunately, is five days after my planned Grand Rapids Marathon so it should be a more crowded field (arrrggh, why can’t we rapture before race day to make age grouping a little easier!! (shakes fist at sky))

For now, I’ll just concentrate on the Bayshore Half in two days. I hope he’s not that far off on my race time prediction or it could be a long afternoon.

Maybe if I get that PR, I’ll just extend my arms, throw my head back and wait for my ascension.

I just hope it doesn’t jiggle and spill my post-race beer on the way up. Rapture or not, a dehydrated runner needs his carbs.

Happy trails.

Note: The preceding phone conversation was completely fictional. I won’t call long distance unless it is to an 800 number. And 800 numbers don’t connect to Crazy Land.

Note 2: If you ever google images for 'Harold Camping', you will be surprised to find out how many photos there are of guys named ‘Harold’ who are camping at various parks and like to post them online.

Folks, Planet Gear sent me a cool Sigg water bottle which I have washed and prepped to use but have not done so as of yet. It looks like a fantastic water bottle though as far as water bottles go. They are currently running a Quicksilver and Roxy sale this week through next Tuesday and would like you to go there and check it out. They may have some upcoming sales on GU and Ultimate Direction things as well so stay tuned and check out Planet Gear when you have some time.

And be sure to drink your Ovaltine.

Friday, May 20, 2011

What This Race Means To Me

What does the Bayshore Half Marathon on May 28th mean to me?

Nothing much.

I kid, I kid. It means more than nothing…but certainly south of something significant. It’s my first race of the year and, after a long cold winter and consistently depressing rainy spring, it will serve as a “baseline” race to determine where I’m at and where I need to go for the rest of the year. This isn’t a big showdown race between me and PR. Though there is an off-chance I could PR, doing so would probably inspire one of the following surprised proclamations:

- “Holy shit, a PR!”
- “Damn, I’m faster than I thought…someone get me a mirror, maybe I’m better looking than I thought too!”*
- “I was kidding when I said ‘do not resuscitate’….”

It’s one of those races where I’m going to just show up and see what happens. I do that a lot in life. Others may have kicked ass on exams, quizzes, and SATs but I never – never – lost attendance points. Who’s the dummy now? You in your Cadillac and multimillion dollar home or me typing lame blog posts in my basement while wearing slippers? I think we both know the answer to that. Attendance! Attendance paid for this drop ceiling and sensibly priced basement carpeting. Attendance pays for this HEPA filter to combat the mold spores surrounding me all day and the Claritin I take when the filter doesn’t work. I don’t know what’ll happen on May 28th but I know I’ll ATTEND the event and that’s really half the battle.

Plus, I just love to get my Gu and Gatorade on. Seriously, there’s no place else where you can just suck down Gu and guzzle Gatorade to your heart’s content without getting a sidelong, disapproving glance. I think I’m addicted. Really, that’s why I continue to sign up for races…so I can feed the monster within. Nobody cares if I double fist some Gu while attending, participating or even cheering at a race. In the proper environment, it’s completely acceptable. Light up a doobie at a PTA meeting? You’ll get those angry sidelong – hell, full on frontlong – glances. Go to an Amsterdam café? No one gives a shit. Leave the PTA meeting and casually pick up a hooker on the way home? More enraged frontlong glances from the passing PTA motorists. Hang out at Charlie Sheen’s house sitting on a chair made of interlocked, contorted hookers? No problem.

See? It’s all relative. And speaking of relative….(insert your own Appalachia joke here)

So I’m missing some of the nervous, excited anticipation for race day. To be honest, my excitement levels have decreased with each passing marathon since I first toed the line (i.e. stood nearly 18 minutes behind the gun start literally at the very back of thirty thousand people) at the 2006 Chicago Marathon. There I was all wide-eyed and trembling with excitement. The only thing more numerous than my goose bumps was my adult back acne.** I’m an old, grizzled race veteran now. I still look forward to the races but, instead of dancing back and forth with anticipation and taking in the scene with every sense with which I’ve been endowed, I’m more likely to be yawning and reaching back to try to erupt a few ripe ones on the ole back before things get started. You know, “two birds, one stone” er, “two whiteheads, one set of pinching fingers”…however the saying goes. Some folks get blood “rose blossoms” around their skinned nipples towards the end of a race…..I have them dotted all over the back of my shirt pre-race.

So where does that leave me with this race (besides amongst a litter of rhetorical questions – sorry about that)? I will attend. I will run hard. I hope to run well. But a 15 second PR means the same to me as a 30 second PR miss. I’m ballparking my current fitness level so I can revisit a half marathon later in the year and take a run towards 1:25. Also, the Bayshore takes place in my hometown and who doesn’t like to run well in their hometown? (Rhetorically speaking.)

Just excuse me if I don’t have to nervously pee every five seconds, I seem tired, and my back “itches”.

Happy trails.

*not possible
** sadly, still the case

Mrs. Nitmos would like you to know that I don’t have bad back acne. Sure, occasionally, I have one of those middle of the back ragers where the hands, cloth and soap don’t reach and you have to try to pop it by angling yourself up against a door frame. But, generally speaking, I’m as smooth as a baby’s bottom (if a baby’s bottom had killer lats). She says that, when she runs her hands over my back, it’s like "dragging a palm across an abacus". I don’t know what an abacus is but it must be smoo-ooo-ooth.

Also, Mrs. Nitmos recently celebrated a birthday. You may recall that last year I took her to New York and wined and dined her in an extravagant, credit card buckling fashion. Our luxurious dinners nearly cost the same as a car payment – if I owned a used 1986 Dodge Aries K car, which I do. This year? Olive Garden in Nowheresville, MI. The sands of time shift suddenly and unexpectedly…and seemingly impact the gastro-intestinal tract. Happy birthday! Next year? Arby's. Drive-thru.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When I'm Good, I'm Very, Very Bad

Here’s how it normally works: I silently bitch and complain to myself about the day’s planned race pace time trial all the way up to the moment I step out the door. I make up so many excuses about why I don’t want to run/can’t run, you’d think that I’m Viper. Heck, I even consider skipping the run altogether and posting a review of beer no one is going to drink.

But I goad myself into lacing up the ole Asics and getting out there anyhow. I’m not RazZ; I won’t quit completely.

When apathy strikes, the first step is often the hardest. I have this curiously incurious intellect. I convince myself that I’ll cut down my planned 9 miles to 4-5 miles making a difficult race pace run into a comparative walk in the woods. It buoys the spirit and offers an acceptable compromise to the psyche. Well, I don’t feel like nine miles but I can do five. Let’s get the shoes on! I’ve done this a hundred times but I still fool myself. I know that, once running, I’ll complete the entire planned distance but it helps to get me out the door. I must be a complete English banker boob to continue to fall for this every time. Now I know how Ian feels. But, sometimes, whatever works, right?

So when I’m in one of those not so motivated moods and I’ve played mind games just to start the run, you’d think that my planned pace and distance would crash and burn like so many Christian Slater television series launches, right? Wrong. The more I complain, the more I make fun of my favorite blogger targets, the better my run goes. It’s like my hatred of hard effort, RazZ, Viper and Ian fuels my running success. My best runs often follow 3-4 hours of solid internal bitching. I get out there and I can just feel the anger and annoyance flowing through my lungs and expelling like so many twangs of the banjo. My legs churn effortlessly like Bobby Flay’s mixer through some potatoes. My feet beat back the sidewalk like a banker cackling at a struggling debtor with an anguished, outstretched arm pleading for mercy. When I’m done, the apathy and complaining have poured through the pores creating an ever expanding PR -paced puddle on the kitchen floor beneath me as I drink post-run water.

When my mood is bad, my runs are very good. Hate and anger breed PRs.

Conversely, when I’m good, I’m very, very bad. Sometimes, the weather is perfect. The birds are chirping. My hamstrings are loose and stringy. Heck, the banjo doesn’t even sound like the ominous precursor to ass rape. I want to run all day and all night and a bit more the next day until Breaking In is on. If someone asked me if I wanted to re-mortgage my home with the devil himself, I’d at least listen to the rates.

But this happiness and motivation only lasts for a mile or two. It gives way to pain, struggle, grimacing, sadness, more grimacing and, ultimately, failure. My planned pace and distance isn’t met. The joy and positive energy dissipated like a delicious Flay steak released with a gaseous shart a few hours later. Gone. Nothing to show for it except some indigestion and less laundry soap. When I’m happy and relaxed, my runs suck. Plain and simple.

Positivity In = Failure Out
Negativity In = Success Out

I must have the hate and rage and annoyance and disgust in order to run my best. I want to get this run over with right fucking NOW. I run with purpose and intensity. I run to conquer goals and show no mercy. I run to GET DONE.

The other kind of running works great when I’m not preparing for a race. I love to watch butterflies frolic and birds chirp. If I need to slow up to clear room for a toddler on a tippy tricycle, so be it. It’s a lovely day and this just gives me a few extra moments to enjoy it. And, awww, look at the little horn. Running relaxed is certainly less stressful…but also less successful.

If I’m approaching a race – as I am in less than two weeks – you better watch out. There’s a freight Hate Train rolling down the sidewalks. It cares not of butterflies and banjos, Bobby’s and bikes. It cares only of PRs and Completing This Damn Run.

It leaves old PRs and tipped trikes and skinned knees in its wake.

Happy trails.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Speed Work: Nature's Laxative

Speed training is really shitty. I’m not making one of my usual clever puns or excuses to slip in a vulgar word on a public blog. Balls! I’m above that. No, I mean literally shitty. Here’s how it works (presented to you in short, masculine Hemingway sentences):

- I run intervals.
- I sweat hard.
- I am the envy of all that bear witness.
- I feel a small lump in my abdomen.
- I fear it is a hernia. Or the track made me pregnant. No, no, it’s a hernia.
- I run home for a shower.
- My hernia starts sinking lower.
- Now it pokes its head out to have a little looksee.
- I realize it is not a curious hernia and rush to the bathroom.
- I explode like I just sat on a chocolate grenade.
- I didn’t save anyone. I am the only victim.
- Clean up in aisle Ass.
- Oh, the humanity.
- I go about my day.
- I sit on three more chocolate grenades at various intervals throughout the afternoon.

This happens every time I do speed work. If I do 4 x 1600 meters at the track, I also do 4 x explosive poo on the toilet. It’s gotten to the point where, if I’m feeling a little backed up, I consider throwing on my shoes and hitting the track. I tell Mrs. Nitmos, “You know, I’m a little clogged from yesterday’s steak. I’m going to hit the track. Can you have the light and fan on with a book or two prepped on the bathroom sink. Make sure a back-up role of paper is close by! I’ll be home in 35 minutes.”

Tuesday is track/speed work day for me. And Tuesday afternoon is Call the handyman to fix the ceiling fan day as well. I have him on speed dial. We are thinking about putting in an open air retractable atrium. At this point, it just makes more sense.

Why do people take pills to get things moving down there? Just hit some intervals at your local track. Bran, fiber, Metamucil….it’s all a bunch of poopycock*. The answer is right at your local track. I’m still working on the scientific formula – which I hope to present to Runner’s World sometime next year when the restraining order has been lifted – that equates Intervals, Distance, Meat Consumption, and Effort into an equation that can be used to anticipate your colon reaction.

Something like:

(I x D / M.C. (ounces)) / π x E = # Chocolate Grenades Expected

It’s still a work in progress. Eat your heart out Einstein. (What the hell does E=mc² mean anyway? What does Meat Consumption have to do with energy?? And why on Earth would you square it?) But way to look like Doc Brown from Back to the Future, Einny. Cliché!

If you don’t want to go through all of this trouble just to rattle the ole Stink Locker, I guess you can still do manual disimpaction the old-fashioned way: The Bobby Brown-Whitney Houston way. No link. You’re welcome.

Happy….BOOM goes the chocolate grenade!

*Not a gay joke.

1600 meter intervals in the 5:58 range. Looking for 5:55's just for the numerically pleasing sameness but, so far, no success.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Who Brought the Beach Ball?

Sorry I’ve been out of commission all week. I just flew in from Pakistan….and, boy, are my arms tired!

I can’t tell you what I was doing there. I promised important folks that I’d keep my lips SEALed. I can tell you that I learned how long it takes to slowly melt a person from the ground up. About 40 minutes.

I can also tell you that the Call of Duty folks have nothing to fear from the major news organization’s war game animations. Have you seen those mission simulations they are playing on ABC, NBC, CBS, et al? I didn’t think anyone still operated a Commodore 64 or Tandy 1000 computer but, there it was on national TV. Eight bits of power in action! Er, no thanks, I’ll stick with Qbert.

I think my favorite moment last Sunday, as I settled down in my bunk somewhere in the Arabian, was watching the celebration in the U.S. We sure can celebrate with the best of them. As a rule, we don’t like effigy burning. However, we are not opposed to telephone pole shimmying and beach ball bopping.

Did you see the beach ball? Seriously, LOVE. THIS. Only in America does someone head out the door to join a celebration over the death of a world terrorist and think to themselves: wait, let me grab my beach ball first. I mean, one wasn’t just lying there in the street. And most people don’t have them already inflated and sitting around in their living room. No, I’m thinking that someone got all jazzed up, put on their jacket and shoes, and realized something was missing. Death of public enemy #1? Check. Cab money to the White House? Check. Few dollars extra in case my hooting and hollering requires a Taco Bell run later? Check. Okay, set to go….except, oh shit, I almost forgot the beach ball! I can blow it up on the way.

Have the terrorists won? If we still have the desire and foresight to inflate brightly colored, rainbow-striped plastic balls on the way to a death celebration, I’m thinking No.

This is a running blog so it is incumbent upon me to tie this into running somehow. Luckily enough, I’m up for the challenge. Last week, I unveiled my Hip, Modern Half Marathon Time Trial. It seemed well-received. Most of you would also like the half marathon distance adjusted back a few miles to make PR-setting a little easier. I believe public consensus is congealing around this goal like so much burnt tissue and bone. (BOOM! Tie in!) But, I’ve found a way to make it even more Hipper and Moderner.

I usually do some mile repeats during the week…maybe some 3 or 4 X 1600 meters. Ever do 3 x Aircraft Carrier? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Those things are looong and gusty. And God forbid 'things' are being tossed overboard at the time. Ugh, obstacles! Holy Carl Vinson, I was exhausted.

Yesterday, I managed a hipper, moderner half marathon time trial of 9.5 miles @ 6:40 pace. This was a slight step back from the 9 miles @ 6:38 pace last week but still right on race goal pace. Plus, considering all the dead weight dragging and beach ball bopping from earlier in the week, my quads were shot. Death celebrations are never good for speed work. I believe Galloway has a chapter about that in his last book.

Don’t put away the beach balls just yet. It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday. Moms rarely like burnt effigies but they seem appreciative of a friendly game of beach ball bopping kept at a safe distance from the fine china and dinnerware. If you are a Mom, Happy Mother’s Day! If you have a Mom, Happy Mother’s Day! Otherwise, I hope Ian has a nice Sunday.

Now, get out there and SEALabrate you fools! (I know I have already….but you didn’t hear that from me.)

Happy trails.

Things have been busy lately. I haven’t made the rounds to catch up with all of you. I will soon. Ever been “debriefed”? Apparently, it’s a long process.

Btw, baseball games feature heavy beach ball bopping. NASCAR, besides drunken, toothless hillbillies, features plenty of midriff muffin tops boppin' beach balls. We recently learned dead terrorists inspire beach ball bopping. Why not marathons? I rarely see a beach ball being bopped around the crowd during a race. Are we not beach ball worthy?