Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Are runners too particular about numbers?

Coaches preach, present company included, about the specificity of runs.  “Make your easy runs easy and your hard runs hard.”  “Make every run count!” “If you run so hard you puke and you stop your garmin, you’re cheating!!!!” So, it should come as no surprise that runners are a bit specific on their measurements. For example, I can tell you that I ran 8 miles at 7:07 pace on Monday. Furthermore, I ran back and forth in front of my house to make it an even 8.00 miles… lest I run some insane amount like 7.92mi. Blasphemy. Over the weekend I got to thinking on how particular runners are – and if it matters in the long run.

You see, this weekend I had a surprising number of friends racing Ironman Chattanooga.  (Let me be clear, for as much running as I do, I think doing an ironman is completely crazy – in an amazing / awe-inspiring way.) It seems like it was a good day to slog through 140.6 miles as a number of them had great races. But wait…. the course actually WASN”T 140.6 miles.  It was 142.6 – a full 2 bike miles longer than it was expected to be. (There were actually rumors that it was going to be FOUR miles longer than normal.)  For the average ironman, this would increase their time by over 6 minutes or more.  In a sport where carbon fiber jock straps and helmets that look like sperm are the norm, I’m really surprised I didn’t see spandex clad triathletes with carbon fiber pitchforks trying to skewer anyone with a clipboard who looked like they had authority.

If a marathon were any longer than 26 miles 385yds runners would certainly flood to facebook to vent their frustrations, clear plastic homeland security approved gear check bags raised above their heads in silent protest. But, to be fair, some aspects of running are indeed “flexible” with the distance where needed – 100 mile runs are usually around 102-4 miles.  But, by far the vast majority are accurate down to the last meter. If they are not, runners are the first to complain about it.  As evidence of this, stand by the finish line of any major half or full marathon and listen to exhausted runners piss and moan about how their GPS shows 13.3 or 26.7 miles.

So, the question that I had to ask self is “are runners just too particular about stuff”? Should we all take a big spoonful of “simmer down” and stop sweating the small things? I can’t seem to find if there was any sort of “adjustment” for the longer course. I doubt it.  When I ran the Denver marathon and the course was long, our official (and therefore Boston Qualifying) times were reduced by ~30 seconds.  So, the precedent is certainly there.

All told, I’m shocked that 1) this was allowed to happen and 2) it was (seemingly) not a huge deal. In the grand scheme of things, it was a very small percentage of overall distance and time, but in sports where seconds count I would think that people would do terrible things to save that kind of time.  Maybe runners could use a bit of perspective and not worry about the seconds and instead focus on the big picture? For my money, I’m going to keep running exactly 8.00 mile runs… but maybe I’ll go crazy and run without a garmin now and again (on a course where I know the exact distance…. I’m not a barbarian).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Butt hurt, Cutting down trees, and Lolo is a nono

First, let me start off by saying that I hate all of you with your 48 degree morning run posts. The high here today is “only” supposed to be 93 – but only because the humidity is 84%. Look forward to those shirtless January run posts from me when it is 65 degrees.

Last weekend I was hanging with my son all weekend and just couldn’t drag myself on the treadmill for 20 miles…. Or 10 miles…. Or any miles. (Treadmill because it was 105 degrees.) I tried to make up for it the best I could with a 13.1 mile run the day after. Not ideal, but at least it is something.  This week is going better for sure. After that 13.1, I had a great (albeit short) marathon paced run where I ran 1 warm up and 5 all around 6:55. I’m not in PR shape, and certainly not in sub 3:00 marathon shape, but I’m in “respectable” shape which is good enough for me.

I heard the term “butt hurt” the other day and found it hilarious. As in: “oh jeeze, runners get so butt hurt about being called joggers”. I want to start using it more, but I can’t tell if it is derogatory or sexual or something else. I just like it because, you know, butts. Sigh, words are hard.

Lolo Jones was on Dancing With the Stars this season.  Note that I said WAS. She got the boot on the first vote off. I don’t watch the show (busy doing my nails, obviously) but I suppose now without her celebrity dancing career to fall back on she is just going to have to go back to one of the many olympic sports she races in.  Life is hard.

Finally, this past weekend my son was CONVINCED that we were cutting down the 35’ tree in the front of my house. You can sort of see the scale of it in this pic to the left:

I think that he got the idea because I cut down a dying / struggling tree that was half the size of it. Either way, starting at 4:50am on Saturday here is how the conversation with my little lumberjack went:

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".