Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Where do I fit in?

Get off my lawn, and TURN DOWN THAT MUSIC.

A lot has changed since 2007.  Hashtags were still that strange thing on the phone (a pound sign? Pound what, exactly?) that no one really knew what it was for, the iPhone was still just a twinkle in Steve Jobs' eye, and blogs were just starting to be known for an online journal instead of someone who mispronounced those shoes that Dutch people wore. Blogging was simpler: something happened to someone, that same person typed it on a keyboard, it was published on the interwebs, and that was that.  Hopefully there was some entertainment value, but lets be honest...not always.

Fast forward 8 years and things have changed. People have personal brands, opinions, and countless ways to count impressions. Now that I am getting back to blogging on the regular (having taken most of 2014 off) I can't help but wonder if my "aww shucks, this is just my life" style of writing is a thing of the past.  Am I clinging to my AOL email address while the blogging revolution passes me by? (I just love that 'you've got mail' sooo much. Makes me think of Meg Ryan.) Where does my blog belong?

To be clear, I don't see anything wrong with the healthy living blogger shift. Sponsored posts and giveaways certainly fill a niche. In fact, some of the most popular blogs that I know of are healthy living blogs - quick to dispense information, and advice, and the all to frequent product review on a wide range of topics. Some well thought out and knowledgeable, and some....well...are not.

My blog has always been extremely loosely based on running. I basically use running as a vehicle to dispense my snark and lame jokes. Sure, I'll tell you how far I ran, MAYBE what my splits were, but more often than not you're going to hear how I about pooped my pants at mile 4 resulting in nearly getting hit by a bus as I turned the corner and oh by the way here is a pic of some crotch chafing.  I will admit that I did go through a "OMG FREE STUFF" phase, but it was short lived and fleeting at best.

The question I keep coming back to in my head is: Should I keep on keeping on? While I write more for me than for others (sorry), should I change my blog to have 12 sponsored banners on the sides with guest posts and sponsored posts thrown in more frequently than not? Ultimately, the answer I always come back to is not changing. This corner of the internet is my life story. Not my running story, or my dad story, or my which chocolate energy gels works best story.  So, look forward to more of the same. Hopefully, a lot more boring stuff. And seriously, you call that noise music?  Get off my lawn.


After that missive, I would be remiss if I didn't post a quick update on my weekend and my running. Simply put, this weekend was exhausting, amazing, and one of the better weekends in recent memory.

My son started soccer which essentially consists of five minutes of twenty 4-6 year olds kicking a ball and 55 minutes of that same herd chasing after 20 separate soccer balls.  It is as adorable as you imagine it being. The class he signed up for isn't a ton of actual soccer matches I don't think but instead teaches more fundamentals. The plus side is that I haven't taken a soccerball to the crotch yet while practicing, but I assume that is right around the corner.

The highlight of the weekend was watching monster trucks. Simply put, I have to think that this was the highlight of his year so far. They were VERY loud (even for me), so in spite of being scared at times he loved watching the seemingly larger than life trucks fly through the air.  Oh, and watch them do backflips. A truck. Doing backflips. Insane.

This is what I get now when I tell my son "at least look like you're happy!" after a series of bad pics

Like I mentioned before, I've been a single dad for 2.5 years or so. Up until recently, I've worked my running schedule around the 50% of the time that I have my son. That involves plenty of night runs, noon time runs, and often front loading or back loading my miles in the week. It is tough, but I work through it.  No excuses.

Recently however, I've started to hire a babysitter once a month so that I can get in a 16-20 mile run w/out pushing the running stroller.  The reality is that pushing the stroller for much further than 8 miles really messes with my legs and makes me get very cranky.

This past weekend I was going to do 18 miles but instead I did 12. No really GOOD reason why I dropped those miles, but I think part of it is that I no longer have a spring marathon on the books (I don't think).  More to come on that later this week.....

"Pleeeeeese daddy can I play my iPad while you are running!?!?!?!"
(Just go ahead and ignore my lime green underwear here...)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

3 Things Thurs: Getting Older, Palpitations, and Shrinkage

Cold weather makes me old
Getting older
I ain’t afraid of no ghost.  At 33 years old, I don’t mind aging. In fact, one of the best reasons for being a guy is that gray hair and laugh lines make you look MORE attractive.  God bless America.

Although, I have noticed that my friends in their mid to late 40s seem essentially “my age”, my metabolism has certainly slowed down, and I’m sore in all sorts of fun places each morning. But, that said, I’m not sure what to think about a new radio station that I found that plays music from my youth being called “classic rock”. Of course, to add insult to injury, it is WAY down on the dial as if it to say “look old guy, we know that you don’t want your music too far away from the NPR station on 88.1. So, here you go”. I swear to god if they start running Depends adult diaper commercials….

Heart Palpitations….again
For me, social media is a hierarchy of how much I share. Twitter: Most bodily functions and inner workings of my brain. Blog: Normal musings and life antidotes. Facebook: Internet cat memes, 24 mac and cheese recipes before you die, and pics of my son for my mom. So, while this already cleared the twitter test (Bodily functions), I hadn’t decided if I was going to post it on my blog for fear of freaking out my mom. So anyway, Tuesday morning I had another round of heart palpitations.

For everyone that can’t run the google machine, heart palpitations are when electrical signals in your heart fire incorrectly and your heart flutters. Mine will normally jump to around 230ish beats/min, I’ll get a bit dizzy, have chest pains, and generally just feel like I’m going to pass out. They’re lovely. I battled with these in 2011-2012 during which I had a full EKG workup, wore a monitor for a month, and essentially came out of it with the diagnosis of being healthier than god damn Secretariat.

This last time was ‘minor’ in that they went away after a few minutes, but I never did feel quite ‘right’ for the rest of the run (which I did finish, because I’m an idiot). Caffeine and dehydration triggers them and I guess I’ll just monitor those and go back in if they happen again.

So, you’re telling me we’re all supposed to be surprised when a football gets cold and wet it loses a little volume?I mean, who hasn’t dealt with a little ‘deflation’ now and again?  Isn’t there an entire “sitting in bathtub on the side of a cliff” industry dedicated to fix this?  Look Patriots, believe me, I know. Maybe you were just really tired and weren’t feeling it. Maybe you even had too much to drink and couldn’t focus.  Just do what we’ve all done and pump a little air into it and power through. You can do it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2014 Mesa Turkey Trot 10K Race Report!

Note that this is a (very) late race report that I'll probably double post in its correct "timeslot" as well. Hopefully I'm better about getting these out in the future!

Nothing makes me feel better about eating 4,000 calories later in the day than burning off 500 in the morning. It is called balance, people.

Time: 39:05
Pace: 6:18
Place: 37/1979 (top 1.8%!  Whaaaa!?!?)
AG: Place: 4/105 (Top 4%! Not bad….but lots of ‘trotters’ I’m sure)

I’ve done the Mesa Turkey Trot 10k race 6 of the last 7 years. I LOVE this race. It really exemplifies my running: You want to go all out with some of the fastest people on this side of town? Sounds good.  You want to walk with a stroller and a puppy while wearing a turkey hat? Sounds good. You want to plan on running fast only to be pushed 5-6 rows back because a bunch of kids want to sprint off of the starting line? Eeehhhhh, yeah okay we got that too.

The course is usually a bit boring, but it is always flat, well supported, and super fast. If those three traits don’t describe me, I don’t know what do.

I run either squares or out and backs, so this race is basically my wet dream

This year, in spite of my lack of speedwork, I was going to go all out and see where I was at.  I haven’t gone all out in a 10k for 2 years so pacing was somewhat of a stab in the dark. Granted, not totally as I had ran a few fast 4 mile tempo runs within the past month.  In spite of that, little did I know, my stab in the dark at pacing was a lot like peeing at 2am in the dark – I realized about half way through that I had made some serious miscalculations.

The race started just like many others. I went there with my running partner/buddy Ryan who was hoping to run it all out as well.  We went on a half mile warm up jog with some bursts at what I hoped would be my race pace – 6:10ish. I peed in a bush and lined up at the starting line. I told Ryan that I was going to stay with him for a while but we were obviously going to run our own race. Each of us had headphones on with Abba and Queen loud music cranking.

The course was a bit different this year, instead of looping through a neighborhood, we were doing two circles on somewhat main roads finishing in a local park. Not sure the reason for the change, as you will find out later, hopefully they change it back.

First Half:
My strategy with 5K and 10K races is usually to run even splits. I want to settle into a pace and try to hold it.  So, when we jumped out at around 6:15ish, I wasn’t too worried. Unfortunately any worries about paces were fleeting as around the 0.3 mile mark my shoe came untied. ROOKIE MOVE. I was a bit ‘frustrated’ when I realized it and threw my handheld water bottle 20 yds in front of me to clear my hands to retie it. Trust me, this kind of logic makes sense in my three year old head. Once I was able to do that, I joined the pack noticeably frustrated. I instinctively tried to catch up to Ryan, but that had me running 5:40s for half a mile or so.  Once I realized that I was already starting to pant hard and was being an idiot by trying to catch up, I backed off and settled back into 6:20ish to try to settle down.  Mile 1 and 2 were 6:17 and 6:22 respectively – including the shoe tie.

Unfortunately, the damage was already done.  By mile 3 I was already working really hard. It was hotter than I had expected at around 55ish. Certainly not hot, but hot enough for me such that my shirt was already soaked all the way through.  That said, I was able to hold pace for the most part, but I knew that it wouldn’t be for much longer.  Mile 3 was another 6:17.

Second Half:
Races are hard. Even in the shortest of races, I have to battle the “maybe we could just take a walk for a little bit” daemons. “Come on man, just for a little bit…to see how it feels?” I battled these hard right after the half. I slowed down for a quarter mile to 7:00ish pace to catch my breath and hopefully push towards the finish. It worked, kind of, and I was able to squeeze the throttle back down and get back into the mid to upper 6s.  Unfortunately, in the middle 2-3 miles, I had settled into a pocket void of other runners directly around me. It made the ‘we should walk’ daemons even harder to battle, not having anyone around to help push.  Having settled squarely into the pain zone, mile 4 was 6:38. Ouch.

(This is when 99% of the runners hate me.)  I was also a bit frustrated as there was an ever so slight uphill somewhere between miles 3-4-5 that really seemed to take the life out of me.  By ‘slight uphill’ I mean about 10-20 feet of gain.  Not exactly Mt Everest.  Maybe it was more like Pikes Peak or Mt Whitney – certainly in the Rocky Mountain range and not the Appalachians.

For the last 2 miles or so, I finally found someone to run with.  A younger female was also struggling so I mentally tried to place my exhaustion onto her tried to motion to her that we should run together / finish together. She seemed to get the hint as we ran together for a while…until she outkicked me at the finish….because I’m chivalrous and that is what I do. Certainly had NOTHING to do with the fact that I was completely spent.  Mile 5 and 6 were 6:46 and 6:26.

Before I knew it, I hit the 6.05 mile mark (9.7km) and was finished!!  WAIT, WHAT?!  Yes indeed, the course seemed to be significantly short. I confirmed with a few other runners that it was not just me and that everyone was showing short. While I understand the physics of GPS watches, I have to think something was awry as I should almost never be short in a race.  There were no underpasses or large trees, no opportunity for wrong turns to cut the course, it was just flat out too short.  That said, since it was a certified course, it must have been okay?  Who knows…

Final thoughts:
Overall, this really wasn’t a good race. Like, it was actually a pretty terrible race.  I went out too fast, didn't run enough speedwork, etc.  I’ve ran 5mi tempo runs, while labored, at about the pace that I ran this race. (Well, and I ran a half marathon pretty easily only 20 sec/mile slower a few months later.) But, I really think the mix of no speedwork and going out way too fast caused the crash and burn.  So, I guess I got a little bit of what I deserved. Either way, it was a good excuse to load on 4000 calories later in the day!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

For Running's Sake, kind of

I like to set goals.  Whether it is how many Oreos I can eat at once (only 2. Ugh.), if I can sit on the toilet for 10 minutes without my legs going numb (50% of the time), or whether I can hold out after the 37th time my son asks for another piece of candy (usually, no)......goals are important.

The same goes for my running. My running has always been a way to achieve some other type of goal.  A means to an end. First it was lose 50 pounds. Then it was run a marathon. Run faster, quality for Boston, a marathon in every state...finally coalescing with breaking 3 hours. Even if only to be able to have a fifth second beer and still stay healthy, running was there to help me along.  To be clear, I enjoy it a LOT, but there have always been goals to be met where by running was the vehicle. A very painful, sweaty, code brown threatening vehicle. Like when I lost my virginity! 

In a recent post, always my philosophical compass, Jamoosh at Das Mixture opined about the old days of running just for fun. As I was reading a story about him jumping over a curb (which only he could squeeze a blog post out of ) I wondered aloud if I should take off my Garmin and rip off my bra and throw it in the air, literally throwing data to the wind.  Would I enjoy running as much if it was no longer a means to an end?  Would the end somehow justify the means by taking up some other sport enabling me to stay healthy?

Honestly? I don't think so. I think if I were to stop setting goals and just "run" I would instead "eat myself into a stooper" and become one of those guys that yells at the TV news. I need the goals. I need the nagging in the back of my head, "Adam, what are you doing today to run a PR?" That isn't to say that every one of my runs or other activities has to be a non stopped action packed interval session, but overtime my personality is such that I need to crescendo to a few key points throughout the year. 

To that end, my crescendos this year will hopefully be to: break 3 hours in the marathon, 17:30 in the 5K, and run 2250 miles.  Probably in decreasing difficulty, I'm not sure that I can do the first one without the 2nd two, and I probably can't do any of those without the last one. Either way, I'm going to enjoy the journey not only as a means to an end, but also as a way to run for running sake a little bit more. Who knows, maybe I'll find a big curb to write a blog post about!