Thursday, June 30, 2011

Death to Soundy

See this lil feller? Mrs. Nitmos got him for me as a Christmas gift. He doesn’t work anymore – a mere five+ months later.

What can we conclude from this?
a) Mrs. Nitmos buys cheap gifts.
b) Apple makes cheap iPods.
c) It would rather commit suicide rather than stay clipped to my sweaty torso for one second longer.

If I plug it in to charge, the little square gets piping hot to the touch within two minutes. The regulator which said ‘charge me’ must have stopped regulating and instead switched over to ‘unleash the fires of hell upon thee’. I always thought my music was hawt but not literally HOT. Its poor little insides must be burned to a crisp.

It’s too bad because I liked the smallness and ease of use of the little device. It’s very much like my penis. It reminds me of this favored set of Marantz speakers I had in my college dorm room. The speakers were way too powerful for that little cement cell of a room so my roommate and I had to exercise supreme restrain not to blow the doors and windows out. My Marantz and me envisioned a long and happy life together…until an impromptu party began…(queue flashback sequence)

It started out as three, then ballooned to ten before finally ending with 20 beer seeking twenty-somethings packed shoulder-to-shoulder in a square dorm room made for two. These were the days when 80’s hair bands were on their way out and grunge was setting up shop on the Billboard charts. Kids were finally realizing that Poison did, in fact, look like a bunch of sissies. Warrant, Winger, et al was getting the mocking they richly deserved. As a long time Hater of 80’s hair bands, it was a glorious time for me.

Beer was drank. Fun was had. My Marantz chirped away at a loud but not obnoxious level with my preferred musical selections. Husker Du, The Replacements, Pearl Jam, etc. But, inevitably, just as we couldn’t control the amount of people flooding into our room, we also couldn’t keep control over the music. I found myself trapped on one side of the room when I heard it. The music stopped, the disc tray slid out, a Def Leppard CD was produced, the tray slid back in, ‘play’ was pressed and THE VOLUME WAS CRANKED. I knew what my Marantz were capable of and the volume was red lined to dangerous heights.

If you’ve been in a car accident, you know there is that moment that probably only lasts a millisecond but feels like an eternity. That moment where you can see everything bad that is about to happen and you are powerless to stop it. I looked at my roommate who was also trapped on another side of the room and mouthed ‘Oh, no’ just as “POUR SOME SUGAR ON ME ooohhh IN THE NAME OF LOVE” screamed through the room. It was loud. Too loud. The sound bounced against the cement walls and reverberated back creating a devilish echo chamber of horrible music. If you’ve been waterboarded, you still don’t know the agony – the torture – of being in that room, that moment.

I knew my Marantz wouldn’t put up with this transgression for long. Before I could wade my way through the crowd to the stereo, I heard the unmistakable crackle and pop of a blown speaker. They killed themselves right then and there. And I couldn’t blame them. I remember opening that CD tray and shouting “Who put this shit in here?!” before flinging the CD like a buzz saw across the room. Fucking Def Leppard killed my awesome speakers. What a way to die.

So, I’m mindful of the last moments of my little iPod. What was it playing when it had enough? I don’t have any Def Leppard on there but I’ll cop to some ABBA. Who doesn’t like a little Mamma Mia when on a road trip with friends? If ABBA killed my iPod, I hope it was Super Trooper and not Dancing Queen.

Now, when running, I’m stuck listening to the birds sing, the wind rustling through the leaves, the melancholy bark of lonely dogs, children frolicking with squirt guns. You know, all that annoying shit.

Here’s to hoping that Apple can fix and/or replace my lil music box quickly so I can once again drown out the incessant sounds of nature and life. I need to match my steps to the thump thump of an angry, aggressive bass. Any more of this pure oneness with my body and the intoxicating senses of the natural environment may send me the way of the Marantz. I’ll zig rather than zag right into oncoming traffic…

Happy trails.

Happy 4th of July weekend! I hope everyone enjoys some quality tunes whilst drinking beer and lighting small explosives in their yard. Go America!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Why Am I Running?

What the hell am I running for?

This thought occurred to me about 7 miles into yesterday’s Sunday 10 mile long run. It was over 80 degrees; sweat pouring off of me; my saturated wrist band crying mercy. I don’t actually have a race on the schedule. I have no training plan. I just kinda ran the half marathon over Memorial weekend and then…kept going with the same basic schedule as if I had another half marathon coming up. Which I don’t.

So, what exactly am I running for anyways?

Well, besides the fact that I love to run. And I get moody and (more) sarcastic when I don’t get my scheduled miles in. Plus, it sure makes my butt tight. I don’t have any desire to be imprisoned long term but, if I were, I just know I’d be the belle of the ball.

The annual Cherry Festival 5k is coming up in less than two weeks. I’ve run this race 9 out of the last 10 years. In fact, it was this race that I got me started running over ten years ago in the first place. It’s been a tradition for me. But I don’t think I’m going to do it this year. I just don’t like where I’m at for a 5k right now. Some folks sign up for races every few weeks and, whether they trained hard for them or not, go right ahead and run them. I don’t. I like to focus in on just a few races a year and work hard to PR those races. I’m not a race whore. If I can’t (or haven’t) put in the work to make a PR effort, then I simply don’t run the race.

I know, I know, there is a subset of the running crowd that likes to roll out the hippie-dippie themes Time Doesn’t Matter and Can’t We all Hold Hands And Run Together and Love The Feel Of The Motion Not The Ticking Of The Clock. Hey, whatever floats your boat. My boat is floated by my competitive spirit. I’m not going to pretend otherwise. I’m not necessarily competitive against other runners – though I do like to see if I can age group place – but against the clock and myself. This, my friends, is where the FUN resides FOR ME. I love to mentally abuse myself if I don’t reach my time goal just as much as I enjoy a virtual high five between my cerebellum and medulla oblongata when a PR falls.

In order to set these time goals, I have to have a plan. Also, I need a race. Currently, I have neither. So, I ask again, what the hell am I running for?

I better get a race on the schedule to focus the training. I’ve been running 800’s, 1200’s, tempos, limbos, etc. Basically, whatever I feel like that day. Heck, on Friday, I went out for a tempo 7 miler and, on my way past a track, decided spur-of-the-moment to do a few mile (1600m) repeats instead. Why? Well, why not? When you don’t have a goal or plan, the answer to “what should I run today” is “anything you want”.

It’s fun – I’m not going to lie – to make up workouts during the first mile of a run. But I’m not sure it’s helping me work towards any specific goal. There are a few 5k’s I’ve normally done at the end of July. Maybe I’ll work towards that. Maybe I’ll choose some new races. Or maybe I’ll just continue to do a random smattering of 800 – 1600 intervals until inspiration strikes.

I guess I really do know why I run. I just don’t know where I’m going to race next.

What about you? Do you know what the hell you are running for anyways?

Happy trails.

Someone order a CAT scan. Mrs. Nitmos and I must be crazy. We let BOTH kids try out for premier level soccer teams. And both made it. Now, we are “soccer poor”. Forget weekend plans…we will be standing along a pitch somewhere watching the seasons change. I miss the days when we could throw a pacifier in their mouths, set the swing to ‘fast’, and still sit on the deck with friends and beer. As long as their little heads didn’t tilt sideways and clang against the rails, you could go on for hours…Now, when the weekend comes, we are busy. I don’t even set up a schedule planner. We are busy somewhere, somehow. Just assume that is the case and life is easier….we’ll figure out the where and how on Friday.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Randumbery Finds Koalas, Chlamydia

I used to run this semi regular feature called "Randumbness" about, as you would guess, various random and dumb things going on. It was 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.

Sorry, I don’t have a cute little alliterative title for this sporadically regular feature. No “Monday Musings”, “Try It Tuesday”, “Wordless Wednesday”, “Three Things Thursday” or “Friday Funnies”. Nothing. Deal with it. There’s just a simple little clever play on words in there between random, dumb, and ran (this is a running blog, get it?) That’s all you get. I don’t do alliteration.

Khlamydia Koalas

Aww, look at this little guy. If you are like me, don’t you just want to give it an STD?

In what has to be my favorite headline of the year, AOL’s Huffington Post declares “Chlamydia and Climate Change Killing Koalas”.* Um, ‘scuse me, what was that before ‘climate change’??

Apparently, Australia’s cute little mascot, the koala, is being decimated by this common STD. Folks, I know, they are cute. And who doesn’t like a little exotic marsupial action from time to time? I’m no prude – whatever floats your boat – but, c’mon, you can’t wrap it up first? I know I haven’t been to Australia any time recently so don’t blame me. (Fingers crossed that this doesn’t occur in the U.S. llama population as then I might have some ‘splaining to do.) Has anyone seen RazZ lately?

Unless we are comfortable with this iconic animal listed in the Great Book of Extinction under the cause “venereal disease”, let’s think a bit and follow the simple rule: Wrap before you tap. Have a heart and save some of that kwuality koala tail for the rest of us.

NYQ News

My new favorite letters are N-Y-Q: New York Qualified! This has replaced ‘BQ’ as my favorite type of ‘Qualified’ qualifier. Everyone knows about the New York Marathon’s lottery system due to the outrageous number of entrant applications it gets each year. In a nutshell, you can apply each year in a row and are guaranteed entry by the fourth year if you were not randomly selected in a preceding year.

That sounded like a lot of work and, potentially, trip planning for trips that would never occur. So, I never applied. And then someone tipped me off that there is a back door way to get in the race. And since I’m a back door kinda guy…er, never mind. Apparently, NY has a qualifying time standard for guaranteed entry. If I read it correctly – and I’ve read both Moby Dick and Don Quixote – it means that you can bypass the lottery and head right to the front of the line.

And look at that, the time standard for a 40 year old male is 1:30 or below for a half-marathon. I just ran a 1:26+. I guess this makes me…NYQ’ed! Good thing I just turned 40 too because that 1:23 qualifying time for a 39 year old would have been a difficult task. Hooray for Masters leniency!

Now, let’s hope they don’t go changing the requirements ala Boston…

Soccer Saturday

Finally, soccer season is over for both kids. EXCEPT, this weekend is tryouts for next year! (It never ends.) Here’s my colt defending with his left foot while playing, wait for it, left defender for his premier team. Yes, his feet really are that huge. That’s not an illusion caused by the orange shoes. Good luck at tryouts, colt!

And here’s my filly getting last minute instructions from her swashbuckling, debonair coach who wears the hell out of those sensibly-priced Sears St. Johns Bay shorts. Since last September, she’s scored 35 goals in…35 games and is now busy trying to convince Coach St. John’s Bay that she’s ready to move on and play in a tougher league not coached by people wearing St. Johns Bay cargo shorts. We’ll see. It’s 50/50 if we’ll let her do it….much to decide at this weekend’s tryouts. Good luck, filly!

Happy Hrails!

*Or, in runner blogland, I guess that would be “Khlamydia and Klimate Khange Killing Koalas”

Friday, June 10, 2011

Race Day Voodoo

I’m not a superstitious fella. I don’t believe in evil on Friday the 13th or fear black cats or walking under ladders. I definitely don’t believe that blowing out all of the candles on your birthday cake with the first puff will grant you your wish. Do I look like the richest person in the world, the sexiest, and holding dominion over all living creatures? (Well, one out of three ain’t bad though, amirite?) Birthday candles…birthday’s cruel tease. This year I’m going to wish to be a fairly normal – though heavily sarcastic - middle class white guy with too much personal debt just so ONE wish can come true.

There is a certain kind of voodoo I do believe in however: Race day voodoo. This doesn’t mean that I have little runner dolls made up and I callously stick pins in their feet while cackling maniacally. That would be stupid…and a complete waste of pins. The start line is so crowded you can just wander by and jab them into the hamstrings of the lead runners and no one knows from anything about where they came from or if they have tetanus. That’s much more mature than sitting in your car playing with dolls. But usually my race day voodoo is wholly self-contained. No chants, no amulets, no pin jabbing, no sacrifices of llamas (unless warranted…which is always). I have two little superstitions that I do. I don’t know why or how it started but I do them for every race.

1) My bib is pinned with only three pins: Two at the top and one at a bottom corner.

I don’t know why. Maybe it’s my Midwestern values. Why pin a bib with four pins when it really only requires three? Let’s not be wasteful. (I don’t want to hear from the Two Pin Mafia in the comments either. You guys are just being cocky.) It seems a bit pretentious to use ALL FOUR PINS for your bib. Who am I after all? Maybe Ryan Hall can use all four. Certainly Geoffrey Mutai gets four pins if he wants them. The rest of us, know your place, and use three. And for God’s sake, the toilet doesn’t need to flush all the time. “If it’s brown, flush it down. If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s nutty, leave it for others to marvel at.”

2) I invert my Garmin, wearing the face inward.

Again, I don’t know how this started but there I am strapping the ole Garmin on upside down. This one might have begun due to my own shameful vanity. The Garmin 205 face is so damn LARGE, like walking around with an iPad strapped to your wrist, that I started inverting it so that, from the outside, only the thin little wrist strap shows. And, like Pringles and shaving, once you start, you just can’t stop. I strap it on like this every time. If you look at my last post, you can see me pushing Stop on my inverted Garmin. Most folks just think I’m checking my pulse which makes me seem like some sort of super cool doctor so, really, it’s a double win.

I believe both of these superstitions have contributed to my race day successes. And, sure, it doesn’t hurt that some of my age group competition is lying in a medical tent with bloody pinhole marks dotting across their IT bands but that’s none of my business (anymore). Perhaps they should have had a horseshoe over their head?

Do you enjoy any race day superstitions? I assume everyone showers before running a marathon right?

Happy jabbing.
________________________________ sent me a Sigg water bottle to try out and "review". I don't want to forget about this since I promised that I would post something goes:

How does one review a water bottle? It's a cool design: silver, metallic, looks like a giant suppository. It holds water well, no leaks. Water seems to stay cool for a satisfactorily amount of time. Basically, everything you could want in a water bottle outside of self refilling and long, gentle shoulder massages. Plus, it sure beats trying to walk around with water cupped in your hands for two hours! would also like you to know that they are having a Father's Day sale on Gu and Ultimate Direction stuff.

Thank you for the water go there and get your own. Oh, and be sure to drink your Ovaltine.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Run Angry: A Sexism Story

How many of you knew that another Nicholas Cage movie, Drive Angry, was released on DVD recently? You might have missed it at the theatre. I was thinking about seeing it but then stopped to get gas and it was gone in 60 seconds. In fact, by the time you get done reading this sentence, it’s already been moved to the discount bin at your local video store. And by the time you get done reading this sentence, it’s now one of the movies available for 3 box tops on the back of your favorite Kellogg’s cereals (right next to Mannequin 2: On The Move). But, at the very least, it provided me a title from which I can derive a blog post.

I’m not a pleasant person. In fact, when I race, I can be downright persnickety…bordering on bile-spitting angry. Add in a pinch of sexism – directed at me – and you get the full on furrowed brow (great name for a band, by the way*). Usually I’m the one making sexist comments - not receiving them - so this was quite the switcheroo.

I was the victim of unrelenting sexism through-out the entire Bayshore half marathon course. Why? Apparently it was because I had the nerve to run with a group of female runners for much of the race. See? Here I am about 8-9 miles in running just behind the, at the time, #2 female half marathoner.

That Furrowed Brow started out knitted and became furrowed after the seventh time I heard “You go girl, beat those guys!” from one of the passing female marathoners on the other side of the street or one of the coffee sipping umbrella-toters along the way. I was actually mixed into a group of three women – weren’t they lucky? – in the pack of ladies trailing the overall female lead. I heard:

“Let’s go girls!” - 18 times
“Yeah, girls, go get’em!” – 9 times
“Woo-hoo, beat those boys!” – 37 times
And “Who’s the virile sex cannon in the gray shirt?!” – one time**

Now, why did they have to go getting all sexist up in here? If you cut me, do I not bleed? If I run, do I not race? Sure, I was once accused - in my own comments - of wearing a running skirt due to my spindly little legs hanging out of my shorts like a strand of spaghetti hanging through a strainer. And, yes, I cleverly wear a sports bra to prevent my enormous pecs from slapping me in the chin (look at the picture, can’t tell I’m wearing one, can you Russ?) And maybe I’ve read Cosmo a time or two (just for the pictures, I’m not a pervert). I do loofah. A fella likes to exfoliate. But, I think obviously, I appear to most as a dude - granted with understated masculinity.

There could be no confusion. These were outright sexists attacks aimed at yours truly. Here I was busting my ass, doing the best I could, and every single comment was encouraging the group I was running with…to BEAT ME?!? Look, I just came here to run a race, not be the victim of some coordinated anti-male runner conspiracy. I started shouting back, “C’mon guys, show the skirts whose boss!” One young lady shouted “You got him, girl!” and I sneered back “Hey, what’s for dinner, toots?!” It got ugly out there, let me tell you. Ever been booed at a race? Drop a few sexist cliché bombs and see what happens. Spectators started hissing at me; I started growling at them and punching at the crook of my arm in an exaggerated F*ck You flip off motion. It was full on WWF for awhile. I think someone took a swing at me with a metal folding chair.

Finally, I’d had enough and decided to speed away from the female peloton. Here I am kicking into high gear and, for the honor of men everywhere, making the pass. Not photographed? Me looking over my shoulder shouting “Does my PR make you look fat?” (I will be copyrighting this.)

Green - with envy

After building a nice 25 foot lead I offered up the following nugget: “I still got extra testosterone to burn, honey.”

Finally, after another 50 feet, I yelled out confidently, victoriously “Susan B. Anthony sucks!”

I didn't want to do it. Kinda felt like I had too.

Now, despite all evidence, I’m no angel. Walk me past a grocery aisle with cantaloupes and you will hear a few giggles and a comment (and maybe, just maybe, I pick up two of them and do a little imitation). I saw the remake of I Spit On Your Grave and felt a twinge of sympathy for the guys. And I’m a firm believer that, while men should never wear side split running shorts or run topless (except me, of course), women should be encouraged to do both. Jell-o? Good for one thing: female wrestling. But should this make me a target for rampant sexism? No, I don’t think so. Me not likey. Me not likey long time.

You know what I realized during my sexist half marathon experience? It’s more fun making the sexist comments than receiving them. I think I’m going to stick with that. That’s the real lesson here.

Happy trails. And Run Angry!

*Format stolen from Denis Leary's Why We Suck.
This was unspoken but I got the very strong impression from one spectator that this is what they were thinking.

Hey, here’s an obligatory finishing shot of me pushing my Garmin stop instead of looking at the camera. Or, am I texting this post? Believe me, by mile 10, I already had half of this post written in my head and thought I’d get a jump on things before getting to the finish.


It should go without saying that the preceding post is intended for sophomoric humor purposes. While I did hear numerous Beat The Boys comments, they made me chuckle. In fact, several of the commenters realized I was in the group and would yell “Woo-hoo, Go Girls…Beat those boys!...And go guys too!” Adding the last comment in after eventually noticing me in the pack.

Friday, June 03, 2011

"Holy Shit, A PR!"

The 2011 Bayshore Half Marathon Race Report

No, I wasn’t Raptured. I stood out there ten yards past the finishing mats with my head thrown back, arms extended, and my shorts around my ankles (don’t ask why) and…nothing. No Rapture. Not even a slightly uplifting breeze to move me from a “leans left” to a “tilt right”. Just a few angry, jeering shouts such as “Get out of the way, you fool!”,Look at this idiot!” and “You call that a penis?”

It was cold out. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

The weather was darn near perfect. The Bayshore races, oddly enough, take place along the shore of a bay. For the half marathon, they bus you out 13 miles to the middle of a farmer’s field where a mini shanty town of chilly runners spring up in the hour before the race. Then, you run back in from the peninsula. The hard straw is crunchy beneath the feet and the naturally growing ground brownies aren’t nearly as delicious as they sound. Very oaty. The buses pull up every few minutes depositing more shivering runner’s into the crisp, cool 50 degree morning air. The runner’s were dancing side to side trying to keep warm and chattering their chatterboxes while the cows mooed anxiously in the next corral. Everyone likes hamburgers and I think they knew it.

Grand Traverse peninsula: Home of wineries, cherry trees, and animal feces

It’s not exactly Hopkinton but it is a unique and charming race environment: The beautiful Grand Traverse Bay on one side and a myriad of cherry trees and livestock on the other. No one felt out of place pissing on the straw and cherry trees* either, which was nice. The rain pelted down in the final 30 minutes leading into the start of the race and I thought I was in for a wet one (t.w.s.s) After the national anthem two minutes before the race started, the hard rain gave way to a light, cooling mist. Really, it couldn’t have been more perfect. This mist held up for the duration of the half marathon. It was like someone running next to you the entire way with one of those misting fan bottles surrounding you in a cocoon of cooling breezy air. Damn, if I could bottle that race day weather, I would.

I won’t bore you with text of the mile by mile breakdown. Let’s just say that the race unfolded precisely as I had desired. I can’t follow a disciplined pace plan in a 5k, 10k, or marathon but, for some reason, half marathons I nail right to plan. Example? I targeted 59:40 at nine miles. Actual? 59:37. Also, I wanted slightly descending mile split times, starting easy for the first 3-4 miles, and then picking up the pace. I wasn’t nearly as consistent in my splits as last September’s half marathon but, overall, right to plan.

My goal was to beat 6:40 per mile pace and make Harold Camping appear the fool (again).

Here, in all of their glory, is my mind numbingly boring race splits (for my personal posterity):

Mile 01 6:43
Mile 02 6:49
Mile 03 6:45
Mile 04 6:41
Mile 05 6:25
Mile 06 6:37
Mile 07 6:31
Mile 08 6:29
Mile 09 6:37
Mile 10 6:37
Mile 11 6:33
Mile 12 6:39
Mile 13 6:27
Last bit 5:58 pace (46 seconds)

Numbers? Yes, numbers:

1:26:37 time
13.11 miles (Garmin sez 13.13 miles)
6:37 pace

26th of 1652 overall
of 86 in age group

A new PR by 66 seconds! (drum roll, cymbal crash, and update my side bar…eventually). To be fair, my Garmin measured this course at a more accurate 13.13 miles compared to my race last September which recorded a 13.29 distance and led to me making all sorts of derisive comments about the length of the course. So, if you consider the .16 difference in Garmin between the races and a 66 second PR, realistically, I’m probably running about the same as I was last September. But, you can only run the course presented right? So, a PR is a PR! And now you know why I stood past the finishing mat with my arms out and pants down. In other words, I was in “PR pose”.

Overall, I am very pleased how this race turned out. Of the dozens of races I have run, there are only a handful where you feel completely satisfied afterwards…I had a plan, I followed it, the weather was perfect, I felt strong, PR resulted! Besides the lingering taste of ground brownie in my mouth, everything went right to plan.

Except the Rapture. Oh, and Camping’s prediction was wrong again.

Eventually I sheepishly pulled my pants back up and wandered through the refreshment line to grab some cookies (with a few eye rolls and “ewwww”s from the volunteers) and headed to my car. While I was enraptured with the results, I wasn’t Raptured. Enough were, however, to leave me in 5th place and awarded an age group medal.

Into the drawer it goes!

Happy trails.

*Remember that the next time you buy tart cherries. They may just have been hydrated by hundreds of pre-race jittery runners. That’s what gives them the unique flavor.

Stay tuned next for a secondary race report about the rampant sexism I encountered while running this race. If you are easily offended, you’ll no doubt be horrifically offended by the off-color way in which I discuss this sensitive topic!