Thursday, April 17, 2014

365 days since Boston

A year is a relatively long period of time. Dynasties have risen to great power and collapsed under their own weight and self-importance in less time. My son has gone from a 30 word vocabulary of mostly sweet and adorable words to a seemingly endless string of random observations and various forms of “no”. Indeed, I have changed too. Like I said in my last post, new job, new  house, new face on the “N Sync Mt Rushmore” tattoo I have on my butt… hooray Joey Fatone!!!, and even a greater perspective on my running.

After the bombings at the Boston marathon 365 days ago (my report here), I might argue that running changed too. Whether clear check bags, actually validating bib numbers on shuttle buses, or tight security on the course, the physical changes at large races are very obvious. Less obvious are the changes in people’s attitudes – both runners and not.  The police “disabled” (read: blew up) a suspicious package at the finish line after a mentally disturbed man claimed he had a bomb in his backpack – an event that made national news for two days.

Change isn’t all bad though, it is just different. The change created visibility to the sport that it didn’t have before – regardless of what we might think in our runner centric bubble. As an example, I met one of my 70+ year old neighbor for the first time last night. Her Boston accent was so strong that I could have sworn I saw chowda coming out of her ears. What was she wearing? A Boston Strong T-Shirt. I can almost guarantee that she couldn’t have told me that the marathon was on April 15th last year… but this year she was telling me all about “that cute little blond girl with the Irish name” (Shalane Flanagan).

The good thing is that life goes on. Just like all tragedies, you never forget, but you don’t let it break you. 18 hours after the bombings, I was Sam Adams brewery 10ish miles away from the bombing site.  There was little I could do at the finish line and I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me from doing what I wanted to do.

In the past year, we’ve seen runners unite under the common cause of supporting each other by doing what they love – what we love. We’ve seen group runs raising money for victims or recovery efforts. We’ve even seen more than a few people grab that old pair of “yard work shoes” from the corner of the garage and see if they could run down to the end of the block without stopping….shortly followed by realizing how accomplished it made them feel.

Monday is the 118th Boston Marathon – 365 days after the last. I won’t be there, but I’ll be watching. Watching the runners, but focusing on the thousands of people who have made the event possible for longer than airplanes existed.  117 years of running thus far. Through the power and spirit of everyone, I’m sure it will go on for that many more.  No matter what happens on Monday.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Moving / Home ownership: The perpetual to-do list

The best laid schemes of mice and men, often go awry.

I had my entire spring laid out.  I was going to hit the running hard, pull back my work responsibilities slightly, solve world hunger, get back into a regular blogging cycle, and even spend some quality time with my son.  BUT..... then I got a new job.... and then I bought a house..... all while raising a 3 year old. It is like the hat trick of time commitments. 

So, in spite of my best efforts, the running was pulled back, I haven't been writing as much as I would like, and I haven't brewed any beer in like 2 months!  (Now THERE is a tragedy.) Gone was the planned consistency of my running and everything else. Instead time was focused on early meetings and proving to my mortgage lender why a $150 deposit to my savings account 4 months ago wasn't a cocaine deal and instead was just a normal deposit....from a cocaine deal.

My slice of the 30 year crippling debt american dream...
...and a crazy 3 year old

So, what have I been up to?  Mostly to-do lists.  Endless to-do lists. Each night I have a to-do list with anywhere between 6-10 things listed on it. This is actually my 3rd house I've owned, so I have the advantage and the curse of knowing exactly what I am getting myself into. 

In my 32 years, I've learned a few things.  Life is too short for bad coffee, bad wine (not to be confused with cheap wine which flows like the straits of gibraltar), and bland colors. As such, I had the house painted (oh, also: life is too short to slave away for weeks painting an entire house on your own) half a dozen different colors. They are shades of colors that I had painted before, but really brighten up the place while at the same time making it feel warm. 

Red in the kitchen

Green in my son's room

Dark brown both in the formal dining as well as the master bedroom

For nearly a week, I did nothing but pack and keep my son alive through regular feedings and reminders of "don't put that in there". The nice thing is that I don't have a lot of "stuff" so I could throw things into boxes somewhat haphazardly and hope for the best.

"Throw shit into boxes" also known as"The Adam Method of Packing"

After a week (which really means like 3 days) of packing and taking individual car loads of fragile stuff (wine, mostly) to the new house, a buddy Jeff and I moved everything else in 4 hours.  Well, I moved everything in 4 hours. Jeff headed out after 2.5 to get his nails done or something.

What followed was the normal ebb and flow of unpacking.  You start out with a bunch of boxes, have a beer or two while you think about where to put the boxes, unpack them into the center of the room, decide that you have wayyyyy too much crap, put that crap away (read: under the bed), and then unload even MORE boxes so that it is messier than it was when you started. 

Okay, so maybe that throw into boxes packing stuff backfired....

Okay, starting to make some progress

Damn it. More clutter. Seriously, WHERE do the boxes keep coming from!?

Welp, looks like unpacking is done!

Unfortunately, when the unpacking is done I had all of the normal “shake out the old people smell” items on my todo list.  I needed to hang the sex swing replace batteries in the EIGHT smoke detectors, refill my “glaucoma prescription” to test the smoke detectors, hang paintings, replace some lights, etc etc etc.  The list really goes on and on.

TWENTY dollars worth of batteries. TWENTY

You can take the boy out of the farm, but can't take the farm out of the boy

Home Depot.  My new home

My little handy helper

New overhead lights

Fortunately though, I do allow myself time to relax now and again.  I finally feel like I have enough stuff done that I can get back to a normal routine. I’m running with regular frequency, I actually watched a TV show last night, and…. Well, I’m writing this blog post, aren’t I?!?

Late, quite nights. Second only to early quiet mornings.

My view as I type this

Friday, March 28, 2014

Glam Runner: 1 SELF Magazine: 0

We live in a pretty up to the second world. When was the last time that your email took more than 5 seconds to load and you just sat there....staring.....wondering why the internet troll was taking so freaking long to find your emails and OH MY GOD maybe if I click a few more times it will hurry up and does this mouse even work maybe if I bang it on the desk a few times it will fix it aaaahhhrrgggrrrhhaha. Finally, email open. All Viagra email.  Thank god!! Lovely.

Since we're all used to everything happening at light speed, when someone screws up word gets around FAST.  Such was the case when SELF magazine made fun of a runner for wearing a tutu...while running a marathon....with brain cancer... and did we mention that the tutus are hand made by her to raise money for Girls on the Run.  Houston, we have a (Public Relations) problem. As you can imagine, the internet troll didn't take his time with that one and essentially flung it through every single internet tube, newspaper stand, and TV station as fast as possible. 

What happened was that Monika Allen (Glam Runner) received an innocent enough request to use a picture of her running the LA Marathon in one of her hand crafted tutus. They then proceeded to run it in a "BS Meter" segment that read as follows:

"A racing tutu epidemic has struck NYC's Central Park, and it's all because people think these froufrou skirts make you run faster.  Now, if you told us they made people run from you faster, maybe we would believe it."

Ouch. First Monika saw it.  And then the San Diego NBC station picked it up. I think I saw it on a dozen people's facebook walls linking to either a Jezebel article, version, or one of the many dozen articles that very quickly popped up. Oh yes, this one went viral.

Of course, SELF had no clue that she had cancer (although the "die tumor die" on her friend's bib might have been a tip that SOMEONE did).  The magazine did what they could to try to save face.  They first posted an apology on their facebook page that was quickly barraged by 8400+ comments mostly saying that it was too little too late. It felt like they were somewhat saying: "You can be yourSELF as long as: You don't wear funny clothes while running. But, if you do, we'll ask you for rights to your picture without saying why and make fun of you. (Because, why else would a women's fitness magazine want a picture of you running??) Oh, and when we find out you have brain cancer and the backlash is big enough, we'll apologize. Probably."

The day after a blog post interview between the editor and Monika herself was posted. The interview focused on exactly what SELF proclaims that it should focus on: Being the best you can in spite of whatever anyone thinks, be that fitness, fashion, or whatever.  It really was a good spotlight.  You know, something that you would expect from a female betterment magazine.

From my perspective, as long as runners aren't running 12 people wide and starting on the starting line, I could care less if people run naked - let alone in frilly outfits. The fact of the matter is, people wear what they wear for good reasons.  I almost always wear red on race day because it makes me feel fast. Other people make sure they match head to toe. Others wear tutus or sparkle skirts.  And yes.... some people even wear dumb ass hats.

Ugh, I can't believe people dress up when they run. They're not even runners.

Seriously, how can someone even show their face after dressing up

To be clear, I understand making jokes. I would like to think that this blog does it in at least 5% of its posts. And yes, sometimes those jokes are at other people's expense (Britney Spears, I'm looking at you....) In fact, I remember making a comment about how I was lined up behind a guy in a 5K wearing jeans and a gold rolex watch. The comment wasn't about me caring what he wore, it was about me being behind him! Also, I do understand that wearing funny outfits gets you lots of attention... and boy did Glam Runner get some attention! But, I think what really frustrates me is the elitist attitude that the snarky comment portrayed. As if to say you're not a runner if you don't dress the right way or aren't serious enough.

At the end of the day, running is hard enough. We don't need people worrying if they are wearing the right thing too.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rest: It does a body good

A recent study showed that people who had been up for 19 hrs straight the same impairment as someone who had 3 beers (.05 BAC). (Proof here, because SCIENCE!)  So yes, file this one under either: “if it rains, things get wet” or “hipsters were into this WAY before you were”.  Obvious, right?  It is funny how people (read: idiots like me) have a tendency to forget about obvious things like that as we continue to muddle through day to day life.  I was recently reminded of this in the middle of one of my worst runs in recent memory.

The slow slide into thoughts of amputating my legs started easy enough – a 6 mi run (7:13 pace) on Sat night followed by a pretty tough 14 miler (7:18 pace) on Sunday morning. Oops, looking back those were way too fast.  I’m an idiot. I used to do back to back runs like that a lot, but then I got a stress fracture because of them and sort of stopped.  Anyway, my legs were TIRED after the 14 miler. It felt a lot less like 14 miles and a lot more like the Iditarod. I swear I think I heard someone telling me to “mush”.

On Monday my legs were still hurting, and a smart man would have taken a rest day, but we all know that I waived bye bye to the “man” category when I watched just a LITTLE too much Bravo TV but my schedule allowed for a run and by god I was going to run. Mile 1 hurt….but I might just not have been getting loosened up.  Mile 2 didn’t improve, so I took a short 5 minute 30 second break to give myself a verbal assault that an NFL coach would be proud of.  I slogged through the last 2 miles, but they were NOT pretty.

It was pretty demoralizing on multiple levels. But, I knew what I had to do.  Follow the advice a friend texted and double down on my meth intake. I needed to get some more sleep, take a few muscle repair supplements, and I needed to take a rest day.  Fortunately, my no booze during the week lent deal is helping me get more sleep and unfortunately taking rest days is getting easier and easier to accommodate.  BUT, I am happy to report that it actually worked!  Today I ran 6 miles with no ill effects.  In fact, it was a great progression from easy run to 10k pace averaging 6:52/mile.

Looking back, the cause of my terrible run is pretty straight forward: I was too tired, likely from running too fast. But, sometimes in the moment, it seems that I have a tendency to forget about the “obvious” and focus too much on the goal. (That is what she said.) Just like there are no 5 point shots in basketball, there is no way to cram 4 weeks of training into a single week. Obvious, yes. But so is the fact that drinking and texting is rarely a good idea…..

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Where have I been!?

Blogging is a lot like peeing in the shower working out. When you get into a habit of it, workouts flow and words come to you like a Pulitzer prize winning author. But when you're not in the habit of it, you waste water by peeing in the toilet every action feels forced and more difficult than it should. 

Unfortunately for me, both have seemed like a bit of a struggle.  Not because of any GOOD reason, just a bunch of little "life" reasons. I had family in town for the last week, I bought a house, and I'm in week 4 of a new job. 

BUT, I ran the last two days (my only two of the week, for a total of 20 miles...oops) and things are starting to fall back into place. Which, is a good thing since I have a marathon in 5 weeks. Crap.

So, since my blog has always focused on a lot of pictures, here is what I've been up to the last two weeks.  You can always catch these on my instagram feed here!!

Phoenix gets 7" of rain a year. Who bought tickets to a baseball game when we got 1"?  Yep, me. (it was canceled)

I had NO idea that giving things up for lent was mostly a catholic thing, but I guess it is. Either way, I gave up most drinking for lent (because we both know that I couldn't go completely dry) which has resulted in a lot more ginger ale and diet coke with 8 cherries in it.... because obviously I'm 12 years old.

A lot of crazy happens at 5:30am at work.  A LOT of crazy.

Of course, my son has kept me VERY busy. He is in that "run around 90mph" stage.....which has basically been going on since he was born. Like the idiot ... masochist ... great father I am, we went to the Disney store to find some new clothes. Terror...sheer...terror....

I"ll post pictures of the house I bought soon enough, but I've been spending time going through model homes getting decorating ideas. This is probably going to happen...somewhere.

Seriously, 90 miles per hour.....

The good thing though is that I am putting my son's energy to good use. If only there was a way for him to make dinner without worrying about setting the house on fire... (Also, obviously this activity is a no pants activtity.....chip off the old block)

A few weeks ago I got my FIRST ever speeding ticket.  Oh, I've had tickets, but never for speeding. This one was a camera that got me going through an intersection. (I may or may not have floored it to beat the red light ensure that I was safely out of the way of oncoming traffic.) In Arizona you can take an online course and avoid the points that go on your record. I swear to you, I laughed for 5 minutes at the terror in the last lady's eyes.

Work has been going okay. I'm finally finding a good groove which should afford more time for everything. (This is a local solar company building w/ hundreds of adjustable solar panels on the side)

Finally, running. After more than a few scheduling issues on my part, I was finally able to meet up with Matt V for a few fast stroller miles. (Side note, Matt just ran a 2:55 marathon. So, yeah.) I SWEAR that I'm not as short as this photo makes me out to be. Nor is Matt 6'6.  At least I don't think either of those are true?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Running State of the Union

Since it has 1) been a long time since I have posted at all and 2) been FOREVER since I have done an entire post all about running, I thought I’d give a bit of an update as to where I am at. Actually, not an update,  more of an update on the state of my running. A RUNNING STATE OF THE UNION! So, strap on your least smelly pair of running shoes and crank up Huey Luis and the News (that is everyone’s pump me up go-to running band, right?), it is time to ride your hoverboard into the sunset*** log some miles!

It seems like the president’s state of the union is part pomp and circumstance and part laying out unrealistic goals. Also known as: Fitness Blogging! It is honestly surprising that I haven’t put these together before now.  Either way, a bit of pomp on where I have been the last month or so.

Right now I’m averaging 40-45 miles a week in 5 or so runs. Usually, I’ll do a 15ish mile long run, a 10ish mile mid week run, a 8 mile tempo run and a couple 6 mile easy runs. Frankly, this is the least that I have been running in quite some time.  But, it is worth noting that this time last year I was just getting the approval to run after my second and third stress fractures, so even 45 miles a week is nothing to complain about.

“But Adam!” I can hear you ask, “What about speedwork!?!? Won’t you lose all fitness if you’re not running circles nascar style talking about how the Home Depot Toyota is a little loose in the corners? That is what she said  The short answer is….maybe!  As hard as I try, I just can’t get the motivation to focus on the speedwork. So, I don’t.  Which, probably is a good transition into where my running is going. Obviously my running is going wherever my feet take me - oh god that was a horrible pun and I should just delete it right now. 

Right now I’m doing pretty good (amateur) half marathon training. (Pro half marathon and pro marathon training have VERY few differences.) My long runs are only about 15-20 seconds/mile slower than marathon pace (been running them around 7:15) and my tempo runs are at half marathon pace or a bit faster (been running them around 6:20). The easy runs vary widely based on my constipation level my mood with some being 7:30 and others being close to 6:00. By in large they are more often 7:30ish.

The issue with doing pretty good half marathon training is that, just like poison water Diet Pepsi is IN NO WAY a substitute for Diet Coke, half marathon training isn’t a substitute for kinda good marathon training. I currently self identify as a marathon runner, but is that the correct classification?

I have the NJ marathon coming up at the end of April. There are a surprising number of blogger and twitter friends there, so it should be a fun time.  But, will it be a fast time? I doubt it….and I am okay with that. Going forward I have a decision to make on if I want to continue pushing forward with my faster faster faster approach (that’s what she said) or if I want to rest on my laurels a bit and coast. At what point is running no longer an “all free time endeavor” and just a “regular hobby”?

Right now I’m going to try to get as fast as I can with what I laid out above. I’m going to hold on to my sub 3 marathon dream, but, if I don’t get any faster, that is probably fine too.  Moreover, I am really hoping to get a bit more “well rounded” in my fitness…and MAYBE get rid of my TRex arms.  That might cut a bit into running, but I’m hoping that I can squeeze the time turnip a bit more and find the few extra moments to myself.

*** If you “got” the hoverboard joke, we are friends