Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Finding the Balance

Balance is hard. One minute you're looking at youtube home videos of people getting hit in the crotch and before you know it the entire weekend is gone. (To be clear, that is a great use of time.) With a million different things going on, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle bustle and forget to stop and watch some more youtube smell the roses. Spending time with family, running, staring blindly at the TV for 4 hours being social, and even working a little bit all tug at available free time.  Each is important and ignoring one is a sure fire way to go insane. Over the last few months I haven't been doing an awesome job of this - which needs to change.

So, one thing that I haven't mentioned online before that makes the "life" balancing act a struggle is that just last week I crossed the two year mark of being a single dad. As you can plainly see by my yearly blog post count (2011 - 185 posts. 2012 - 154 posts. 2013 - 83 posts. 2014 - 37 posts) the old bloggero got put on the back burner as I was buried in diapers and force feeding vegetables. I have 50% custody, so when I'm not bartering with chips or fruit snacks to get him to eat vegetables, I'm cleaning or running, or doing laundry.

Or doing quick "are there eggs in this pancake batter" freak out (there weren't)

And even sometimes doing the "wow, your teeth SURE ARE BIG!"
(It was a lollipop, not a pacifier...)


My current situation, while not special, does present a bit more of a running balancing act (this is a loosely defined running blog after all) challenge than some.  On days that I don't have my son, I run in the morning. This usually requires a 3:45am wake up so that I can be ready to drive my 1 hour one way commute. On days that I do have him, I run at noon on the treadmill at work - as long as I can find the time. Which, I do about half of the days I need to.

The balance with running and "life" that I resigned myself to about a month ago is that I'm not going to reach my total mileage goals. Honestly I might never be able to run like I did in the past. But, at the end of the day, that is just fine by me because it means spending more time with the little guy and less time grunting and grimacing trying to push out one last mile.

The other tough running balancing act that I'm still trying to work through is having a social life. This one has arguably made the lowest priority on the balancing list: being a good dad, working, running, youtube, brewing beer, blogging, etc. I'm going to work even harder to combine as many of those as possible (hellooo runner blogger daddy group!?!?) to maximize my time. Either that, or I could just get some cats? Everyone loves cats!?

Happy New Year indeed!


Over the past few months, I had been internally beating myself up with my 1) lack of running and 2) lack of blogging. I think that sometimes we all could do for a bit of balance to not only justify the changes in what we're doing, but also to laser focus our time on what is actually important. For me that isn't miles logged or blog posts submitted, but instead it is time and experiences. Time spent with those around me and experiences (that I will hopefully blog about!)  Until then, I'll be the one at the restaurant promising one more french fry if he finishes his "seasonal vegetable medley".


Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Rambles: Fiber, Running, and 99 beers in the box

One of my new year’s resolutions was to try new foods. Let’s all just ignore the fact that I made about 12 others and eating food is the only one that I am NAILING.  Anyway, quinoa comes in a box and is ready in 15 min so I’ve been eating some of that lately.  This week I ate it 3 days in a row.  Let me tell you, it has a LOT OF FIBER. I can’t even mention the disastrous ways I found this out.

My running has been clicking along really well. (Probably the fiber.) I am deep in the pace / tempo cycle with 2 ‘quality’ workouts a week of faster than “normal” pace. As an example, yesterday I did a 10k at 6:21 pace (40:00min 10k) as part of a 8 mi run and felt great. But, it hasn’t been all unicorns and cotton candy. About two weeks ago I resigned to the fact that 60 miles per week is all that I am going to be able to get in. (Note that miles, just like speed is relative. What is just okay for me is omgamazorbs for some.)  Between work, my son, and commute time, I almost literally don’t have any more time to log them while giving myself enough rest (read: no doubles or back to backs). It will get better when it is a bit cooler and I can put out a big bowl of food and a big bowl of water for my son and leave him for 2 hours can run at night.  Until then, I’m making the miles I run count as much as possible.

Speaking of my son, he is at the age where he really does say the most amazing things.  As an example, he was beside himself this morning because I wouldn’t let him eat grapes while brushing his teeth. “But daddy, I want to eat grapes now!”  Try again, buddy.


While running has been going great, I’m having the normal aches and pains that seem to accompany running around 60 miles. I not only wake up with the temperament of an 80 year old man (GET OFF MY LAWN) I also wake up with the joint mobility of one.  Much like the Louis CK stand up bit, I don’t really expect the stiffness and aches and pains to go away, they’re just something that are….there.  Like the herpies. Louis CK went to the doctor to see if there was anything that could be done about some pretty bad ankle pain he was having: Now, if you're 20 and you have a bad shoulder, the doctor will reconstruct your shoulder through miracles of modern science.  He'll take your ear and make a shoulder out of it.  It's weird. But when you're 40, they just give you no options.   They don't care.  He's like, "Yeah, your ankle is just worn out." I was like, "What do you mean?  I injured my ankle?" He's like, "No, it's just shitty now."  I was like, "Well, so just goodbye?  Nothing?  Is there nothing?  You just ... nothing?  There's no option?  It's like, incurable shitty ankle?  That's it?" And he goes, "Well, there's things you can do.  You can stretch.  Uh, for half hour a day, you should stretch your ankle." And I was like, "How long will that take to fix it?" He's like, "No.  You just do that now.  That's just a new thing you do until you and your shitty ankle both die."

I do think that I found something that will help a LOT with the aches and pains. A 99 pack of beer!  That is right, Austin Beerworks is doing a limited release of a 99 pack of beer.  It is 7 feet long, weighs 80+ pounds, and is guaranteed to make me look attractive after you drink it and folds out so you can put ice all over it. I can almost guarantee I would feel no pain after that!


Finally, celebrate, rejoice! For it is Friday. And today might be the day. The great thing? What today is the day for is entirely up to you.  Happy Friday!


Monday, August 25, 2014

ALS Bucket Challenge – Directors cut

I really thought that I had avoided it. The buzz was finally starting to die down and my facebook feed was starting to return to its healthy balance of baby pics (swoon) and sweaty men in side-split shorty shorts (also, swoon).  But, alas, I was indeed tagged to do the bucket challenge where you dump a bucket of ice cold water on your head.  As the lack of blogging would imply, I’m a very busy guy now a days and thus didn’t have a lot of time to put something together. Soooo, I had to do a bit of multi tasking. Here is what I came up with:



I’ve had a few questions, so I thought that I would provide some behind the scenes explanations:

As you can tell by the terrible look on my face, the toothbrush water was by FAR the coldest. Since I was actually standing in my bathroom, I only filled the bucket 1/4 of the way full which made the water COLD since I was able to put more ice relative to water.

Yes, I did get water ALL over my bathroom floor. Oops.

Surprisingly, the shower scene got my bathroom floor wetter than the teeth one.

Bonus points if you saw the Boston Marathon coffee mug.

I was home alone at the time, so I had to McGyver a holder for my iPhone.  It involved my son’s playdoh and a kitchen table chair.

I never got used to the cold water. EVER. In fact, I had a headache after I got done.

The video was pretty fun to make, I can see why I have 10,000,000,000 of them in my feed.  I should note that mine was done completely on my iPhone. Free apps for the win!

Finally, at first I wasn’t a big fan of these videos. But now that I am doing it, I love them!!  I kept thinking that as part of the challenge, people making the videos were choosing to NOT donate and instead were choosing to bring attention to themselves. You know, kind of like having a blog….or twitter…or Instagram…Oops.  But, as it turns out, they raised a bunch of money and now I know that ALS isn’t something to do with baseball but instead a debilitating disease. So, kudos to whomever created the challenge (baseball people, ironically) and humbug to those who complain that it is either 1) taking away from other fundraising or 2) you’re sick of them. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday in Pictures

I’m still doing the pic a day, every day. Instagram is the best way to find them.  The more I think about it the more I really love that I decided to do it. With the pics of my legs laying on the couch as the exceptions, looking back on various days is a fun way to put the everyday events into context. Think about…. What do you remember from 2013?  What about Feb of this year? If you are like me or on heavy sedatives probably not much.  In fact, I’m looking to have them put into a big shutterfly style book at the end of the year. Because I mean, who wouldn’t want to come over to my house and flip through 365 pictures of me!?

Here are a few comings and goings over the past month or so:

Chuck E Cheese is just as creepy as you remember.  Scratch that, WAY more creepy

Because it has been balls hot out, I haven’t rode the motorcycle much in the last 2-3 weeks.  Frankly, the swamp ass sweat is just too much to bear. (Double checked bear vs bare on that one.) I hope that changes really soon.


I might do a full post on this, but a few weeks back I picked 2.5 gallons of olives at a public park…..


which then two weeks later turned into 5 quarts and 11 pints of canned olives….


which then a day later turned into 5 quarts and 10 pints of canned olives when my son broke one. Either way I have a ton of olives.


Like I said in my last post, in spite of it being balls hot, I have still been running.  I totally randomly met a twitter friend on the road during the last few miles of death march. Why is it whenever I see friends on the run I feel so terrible that I can’t even do the “fake chipper smile” that guys always do when girls run by?  :*(


Finally, it was my son’s first day of school three weeks ago. The start has been rocky at best as the transition between “YAY SUMMER FUN TIME” and the structure of school has been a bit of a shock. Hopefully that all settles out as everyone gets a bit more comfortable.  I’m not sure if I can handle many more teary “why can’t I just stay home and play with you all day, daddy?” questions.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My fall marathon - Detroit!

Not the official race logo, probably 
As anyone who stalks me on a regular basis knows, I've been racing a bit less frequently than I have in the past. While I would love to say that the reasons are for running's sake alone a la "I'm focusing on the races that matter!" or maybe philanthropic "I'm donating my time to save baby humming birds!" instead they are pretty boring and run of the mill - "I don't have any vacation with my new job".  Gone are the vacation days to celebrate national hot dog day...work wants me to work. Womp Womp.

Ugh, my thesis "blog post summary" sentence in the opening paragraph is boring. Boring Runner indeed!! Hmm, how about this:

I'm running the Detroit Marathon!

Alexis is as excited as I am!


In spite of my lack of vacation, I'm doing a whirlwind trip to Dirty D (is that what the kids call Detroit? God I'm old) to run my 21st marathon. As I sit here watching Alexis over and over again pretending she has different voices I'm 11 weeks away from the race. Plenty of time to put in quality training time and get after it!

When trying to decide on a fall marathon to run, I had lots of things to consider:

One race or two?!  I was hemming and hawing about the possibility of running a "practice" race early in the fall (Mid September) and then running a "real" race later in the fall/winter (Early November) but ultimately that was going to be too expensive and settled on just one (October). Frankly, people bitch about $120 for a marathon, but the real money is the $300 in housing, $200 in rental cars, $100 on cheap hotel wine and $500 in flights. Saving $40 bucks on the race itself barely hits the radar. So, one race it was - sometime in October.

Fast or slow? If I wasn't going to go for a blistering fast PR, I could pick about any race.  Race with "hell" in the title? Sure! Race with "challenging but scenic" in the description? Why not!? Some random obstacle course race with wild dogs that are on fire that you jump over and electric eel filled streams you have to run through?!  Uhhh, yes?  No, none of those would work, I wanted a flat course that I could possibly set a PR on.  Too many people try to run a fast race and then pick the "widowmaker marathon and 10k" to do it on.  Not me! I wanted it flat and fast just like I like my double mint.

New State? This one is obvious, yes. New state.

Large or Small? I've found that I do better at the larger races if I'm trying to go fast. I can run with others and the crowd can cheer me on. The crappy reality is that in the smaller races there aren't a ton of people running faster than 3:15 and me inside of my head without anyone else around is NOT a good thing.  So, big it is.

Sunday Funday Since I really don't have much vacation, I needed to find a Sunday race so I could fly out Friday night and fly back race day.

Do I know people running it? This is really what swayed me one way or the other. Given the 5 criteria above, there were really only a handful of races that fit the bill. I currently know of a handful of people running Detroit and I am sure that I'll find more.  So, Detroit it is!

More about the race in a post later in the week!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hard runs are hard

Hard runs are hard....and other completely obvious revelations from my miserable 18 mile run on Sunday.

Heat and Humidity make runs hard
Last week was supposed to be my first 60+ mile week in as far back as Daily Mile goes in their weekly view. (The start of the year...7 months...yikes.) I came close at 55 miles, but couldn't quite get it due to an errant meeting that was scheduled over my 13 miler. Seriously, don't work people know that lunch is for running and not meetings!?  Anyway, I might as well have ran a billion miles because that is what my long run felt like. As it turns out, 80 degrees and 75% humidity aren't ideal running conditions. Who knew!? My legs were like bricks and my breathing was much higher than it should have been. (If I get around to it, I have a post on "why" running in the heat is hard rolling around in my head.)

When it is hot, I sweat a LOT
I think we can all agree that I'm a hot mess. But, drama filled social life aside, I'm what is eloquently put as a "heavy sweater".  I sweat before runs, while eating spicy food, yes even during "that", and even after showers trying to get ready.  As a result, I always carry water when I run no matter the distance and during the heat and humidity common this time of year I always have to plan to refill the 40oz of water that I carry. But, when my shorts were already completely soaked after 4 miles, I knew that I was in for a tough one.  Here are a few pics of me trying to cool off after 4 miles on Sunday:

So sweaty. Ugh, I look gross.
Wait, what am I grabbing in that first pic??

All told I drank 70oz of water with refills of my bottles at mile 4 and 9. I drank all I could while running, but still ended up losing 6 pounds (151.6 --> 145.2) before and after. Yikes.  I tweeted about how most ultra marathons will only let you lose 5% of your body weight before they threaten to pull you.  That was 4% for me.  So yeah, I didn't pee until 2pm.

Patient running partners are a godsend
Finally, regardless of pace, no one wants to be the "slow guy/gal". When I ran with my 2:50 marathoner buddy Matt I was quick to tell him that he could "go ahead without me" at any time... which is exactly what I told my running partner Ryan when I bonked hard at mile 13. We had been running pretty consistent 7:40 miles up until that point when the wheels fell off my run. I took a quick break to eat a gel, which then turned into a walk break, which resulted in slowing down the pace by 45 sec/mile....and then walking at every road crossing...  My 7:40s turned into 9:30s including the walking. 

Normally we'll chat about running, family, beer, (not necessarily in that order) and other various things (not as much about booty shorts as you'd expect), but I was pretty silent those last few miles. The only thing that snapped me out of it was running into twitter buddy Emily. Before then, Ryan was quick to point out that he didn't care how fast we went and that the walk breaks were just fine. Which, was a good thing, since I really couldn't do a ton about the walk breaks!

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That run was probably one of the worst runs that I've had in 6 months. I think what frustrated me the most was how quickly I went from "this is hard" to "omg, I'm dying". A lot of it was the conditions but even more of it was mental. I'm going to try to work in more marathon paced runs and progression runs to try to work on my mental game and tackle it again in a few weeks!