Wednesday’s run played out the way many of my “I really don’t want to go out and do this” evening runs play out. As I sit at the foot of the stairs on the bottom floor (that’s right baby, Daddy Fat Sax has 3 floors here!!) and fumble with my beanie, gloves, ipod, shoes, etc, I find ways to procrastinate the opening of the door and the exposing of myself to the cold and the dark. I “accidentally” drop my gloves repeatedly…or put them on inside out. “Whoops!” I think to myself, methodically removing them and fixing them with you might call a negative amount of hurry. “Hmm, my right shoe feels a little tight…better re-tie it,” I’ll think, only to untie and re-tie it to the exact same tightness as before.
Eight minutes later I’m finally opening the door, grudgingly breaking into a jog towards something. In the case of Wednesday night, the track that sits about 1/4 mile from my house. I’m most impatient in these early minutes when I’m still not used to the cold and I still feel like crud (an early-part-of-the-run tradition for me). If the ol’ ipod though can find the right song early enough, I can be more quickly inspired.
And as I’ve written before, it’s typically these runs where I end up feeling the best. The ones I have to push myself to even begin. The ones that seem the polar opposite of what I would rather be doing…laying under a blanket on the couch with the gf, standing directly under the hot water in the shower, sparring with the cat while wearing 5 layers of soft fabric (we tend to keep our house a few degrees warmer than a meat locker). Sure enough, after about 10 minutes of deliberate jogging, my heart rate rising and my core temperature acclimated, I was actually by god looking forward to the track workout.
Dist. Laps Time 5kPace 800m 2 2:45 17:11 1200m 3 4:17 17:50 1600m 4 5:42 17:49 2000m 5 7:12 18:00 1600m 4 5:38 17:36 1200m 3 4:10 17:22 800m 2 2:36 16:15 -------------------------- 9200m 23 32:20 17:34
The excitement lasted maybe a lap or two of my ladder workout (800m-1200m-1600m-2000m-1600m-1200m-800m). The goal was to do something fast, but nothing crazy, in order to save the withered-feeling feet, shins, calves, knees, hips, and groin (at least my quads are feeling…average). The opening 800m went a few seconds faster than planned, and each repetition thereafter followed suit. I kept the effort fast but relatively comfortable, the closest I got to 100% effort was on the final 200m. I then came home and checked a site to see what a low-mid 2:50ish marathoner should be hitting those splits in and saw I was pretty much right in the ballpark. Funny how these times scale down so perfectly sometimes.
That all said, I’m ready to be done with the 2010 “season.” I intend to take December completely off…only running at all if Claire wants to do some easy miles, or a burly guy threatens me. Waking up these past few weeks has been a chore. I take the stairs down one step at a time in the morning, a combination of the previous night’s run and the fact that it’s about 21° in the house at 7am. I’m already convinced this was a very successful season for me, and I feel confident I’ll toe the line at Seattle in at least comparable shape to my Portland experience in 2008, which by itself is miles ahead of last year’s White River-induced hibernation. Whether I’m able to *finish* comparably to Portland ’08 is another matter, but as I’ve learned, distance running is often not just the race itself but is instead the time spent preparing for the race. While that may sound like the mantra of someone who usually fails at races, I can’t help but partially agree. I know I’m in comparable shape thanks to nearly a whole year of work, whatever happens for 3 hours one Sunday will happen. With just a couple weeks of tapering ahead of me, I feel safe saying I’ll be healthy when the gun goes off. At least as healthy as someone training for a marathon can wish to be.
Winter training is for the birds though (how I trained for Boston in ’07 I don’t recall)…so I’ll hammer 26.2 more miles and then start inhaling the nachos. That is after all why I run. For the nachos.
A little over five years ago I started blogging about running. Post #1 came on September 5, 2005. I didn’t notice the anniversary pass last month, and looking at my recent posting frequency, I’m not surprised. I did however enjoy jumping in the time machine to see what bullshit I was peddling you guys back then. Nice to see my sense of humor has not adapted to the changing times at all. Seeing as how I’m kinda-sorta training for the Seattle Marathon this coming late-November, and five years ago I was a first-timer marathon noob *trying* to train for that same race, it was interesting seeing how my approach differed then vs now. Honestly. For both races I’ve basically been training alone, bookending a few years (2006-2009) spent running in a local running club and getting "coaching" of sorts, including a detailed schedule of workouts. The time spent in that club, and the simple experience gained from having now run four road marathons and five ultramarathons obviously means I know a hell of a lot more today than I did in 2005. And by "a hell of a lot more" I most assuredly mean "not much more at all really."
A List Of Things I Have Learned And/Or Do Better
1. Even though I no longer run in that club, I’ve been pretty good at maintaining some sort of consistency and thought regarding daily workouts. Five years ago I was deciding what the run would be as I laced up my shoes. "Hmm…yesterday I ran six miles…maybe today I’ll run eight…?" Or "I haven’t run more than 10 miles since last Thursday, maybe I should try to do 12 or 13 soon…?" Once in the club, I was given a schedule to follow, and though I don’t follow it to a T these days, I still use it as a basic guide. I know I’m doing a long run on the weekend…maybe two…I know I’m gonna try to do something fast on Tuesday or Wednesday. Etc. Looking back at logs from five years ago, everything just looks like junk miles with no direction.
2. I know people…and run with them on occasion. As exciting and interesting running by myself is (don’t get me started), I’ve found it’s actually somewhat beneficial to run next to someone and bounce thoughts/ideas/bad jokes off of them.
3. I make an effort to vary the pace a bit. Back in the day, it seemed almost every run was done at the same low-7:00 pace. Even my couple 20+ milers, to my amazement. Though I think I’m a better runner now, I only sometimes get into the low-7:00 range on basic runs, rarely do so on anything longer than 10 miles, and will typically end up below 7:00 pace only during the speed day. If you avg’d all my miles then vs them all in 2010, I’m probably running everything slower now overall. But I think I’m better for it. Looking back, I can guess that my poor initial attempts at marathons were due to simply being f’ing tired, my legs f’ing shot from hundreds of nearly race-pace miles. Of course if I blow up in late-Nov, that theory goes out the window.
4. My iPod selection is insanely better. Of course…that’s mostly because it’s now the 2gb cream of the crop on the shuffle that clips to my shorts, instead of the 60gb, 11lb monstrosity that dangled from my arm and held all 37 David Bowie albums, of which about 4% was suitable for background noise during a run.
5. I’ve run many many hilly trail miles compared to 2005 (when I only ever ran the relatively tame Discovery Park trails). I’m not a speed demon on the hills, but now I sorta just roll my eyes when people talk about how "hilly" a race like Seattle is. Then I notice sadly that they saw me roll my eyes and rightly think I am an asshole.
6. I’ve become much better when it comes to not caring about my running wardrobe…specifically the short shorts. Some get quite short. This only benefits me obviously, as I will admit to getting heckled by 10 year old boys while their 8 year old sisters cry as my bare legs approach them. I can deal with heckling easily…and I feel confident I can take at least 4-5 of them on at a time if they decide to get violent.
A List Of Things I Have Not Learned And/Or Do Better
1. I still don’t really stretch at all. And outside of short races like 5/10Ks, I don’t really warm up either, or cool down. If you gave me one of those goofy wooden blocks and ordered me to do a "sit and reach" test I’d probably still score in the single digits, and I might pull a hamstring just trying.
2. I’ve sorta stopped racing short races. Aside from the Cougar Mtn races (5, 7.5, 10, and 13 mile lengths) and one random 3k earlier this year, a 25k trail run was the shortest race I’ve done the past two years (research being nothing but my memory…which is impeccable). The main culprit for this is since becoming a homeowner I’ve become a bit more strict with the purse strings and paying $35 to run 3.1 miles (with only maybe ~60% chance my chip will be recorded) looks unbearably unappealing. I mean, I’ve only got so many dollars set aside for booze and cigarettes. Running that 5k means less tallboys later in the week. That said, I’m running my first 10k since 2006 in about a week. I figure I had to do *some* sort of race before Seattle. Lining up at a trail 50 mile doesn’t present the same nerve-racking apprehension found at a fast road race.
3. I still love the occasional Rockstar. That is not a sentence you will hear many runners say or write. But after a 20+ miler…a near frozen douche drink can hit the spot like nothing else.
4. I don’t know which list this belongs with, but holy crap I blogged a bunch leading up to that first marathon in 2005. In my defense I was new to blogging, excited to hear my own voice, and had many stories to tell (poorly). I also felt it appropriate to spend 1200 words describing otherwise mundane 7 mile Wednesday runs for reasons that today escape me. These days I blog maybe once a month. I still enjoy it very much, even if no one reads it, but I feel much more self-conscious about what I write, and I feel I’ve driven so many topics/stories/jokes into the ground that it feels uncomfortable to possibly be repeating myself for the 50th time. A good writer would find a way around this conundrum. When I become a good writer I hope to crack the code.
Yesterday in the mid afternoon I received an email from the fine folks at SRC alerting me and all others on their email list that if we wanted to, in the next 2 hours we could submit our top 10 choices for race numbers (between 1-300). First come, first serve. A neat little idea. Since I was at work, I had nothing better to do and IM’d my brother (also at work and likely bored) for a little brainstorming session.
One might think the obvious choice is #1, a race number I’m actually not unfamiliar with. But one would be wrong. Unless you are in the running to win the race, looking down at your bib halfway through the race and seeing "1" serves more as a reminder that you are in fact very far from #1 in both that race and surely other aspects of life. What one wants with a number, if they have a choice, is something they can glance at or think of in a moment of hunger and feel either strength or pure happiness/amusement. Either a tonic to climb over the pain or a pill to help forget it if only for a few moments.
Before I get to my top 10, I’ll relay some of the poor numbers that had to be axed. At first, under pressure of time and with literally millions of options before me, I panicked and just started picking numbers almost at random, starting with athletes I admired (Will Clark, Scottie Pippen, Zack Greinke) and then moving on to even less inspiring choices, like my birthday and my cat’s weight converted to ounces, but cooler heads eventually prevailed thanks to my brother, who felt not the pressure I did and casually started dropping winners left and right.
In numerical order, here are a few he and eventually I was able to bump:
#8 – Steve Young…plus my ultimate goal of 8 hours – Montana was the man when I was a kid, but Young was at the helm when I started religiously watching NFL Primetime at the Carmichael’s house Sunday evenings. Plus he was left handed. And Mormon. And hot.
#9 – The age at which I started shaving.
#19 – Top 20! – By mile 10 I’d probably forgot what 19 meant and get upset.
#23 – Zack Greinke – Maybe last year this would have worked…this year it’d just make me sad and reflexively cause me to drop down and start doing some girl pushups.
#29 – My % body fat and reminder that finishing this race will surely drop it to 28.6 or something much more respectable.
#33 – Scottie Pippen – Would not inspire me or amuse me…would probably only remind me of all the acne I had in 1992. Also possibly the number AC Slater wore on the Bayside football team?
#34 – Bo Jackson – His Tecmo Super Bowl persona is legendary, but at mile 37 I think the last thing I’ll need is a reminder that I am in no position to comfortably sit and play some TSB w/an ice cold glass of Rockstar, nor will I be for at least a couple hours.
#69, #169, #269 – I was once 26, I won’t deny I had a cruddy sense of humor and not all of it has left me.
#80 – Jerry Rice – Obviously the greatest WR ever, but why did he have to go and end his career with the Raiders and Seahawks?
#98 – The year of my high school graduating class. Because nothing inspires me more than the thought of myself at the age of 18, a full head of really bad hair, few friends, and only heroic (COUGHwiffleballCOUGH) greatness in my future.
#103 – A production company I started with Mark Montgomery way back in high school…we eventually had a business license and everything! I think our total gross profit was minus eleventy hundred dollars, so in hindsight maybe not all that inspiring. Fun, but uninspiring.
#187 – Murder was the case that they gave me!
#214 – My birthday! What better motivation to grind through those final miles than the reminder that…my birthday is in 6.5 months?
(and then there were a few we bandied about despite being past the 300 barrier)
#420 – Terry was once 26, but he won’t deny that he had a cruddy sense of humor and not all of it has left him.
#530 – The zipcode to my hometown of Chico, CA. When I stated this one, Terry responded with “ha, loser!”
#619 – Terry’s preference for a zip code number, which points you to San Diego…hometown of one pro wrestler Rey Mysterio, who also has a awesomely retarded move called the “619”. This brought on a potpourri of wrestling-related numbers and got us sidetracked for about 20 minutes.
711 – Their slurpees were once post-run staples on the high school XC team, back when we’d loiter outside by our hot rods and plan the evening’s events…usually N64 parties, donuts, soda, and zero women.
So those were cut. After about 20 minutes I had a list of 10 I was willing to submit. I’ve tried not to think about this since I hit “send” since I knew I’d obviously come up with better ideas once the pressure was gone.
1. #42 – Teen Wolf – Terry’s first idea that got me off the “real athlete” kick and begot a flood of inspiring/hilarious character athletes, none more inspiring/hilarious than Teen Wolf himself. The body hair, the 73″ vertical leap, the ladies, the marketing campaign, the good grades, the jealous teammates, the breakdancing in the high school halls, the pissed principal, biting into beer cans after games, etc etc. Suffice to say that Teen Wolf would not only set the course record at White River, he’d do it with style. And head lice.
2. #3 – Kelly Leak – Speaking of head lice, I’d place Kelly 2nd only to WWWWWWWOLF! in terms of sheer badassery and dominance…plus he was a 12 year old who smoked, rode a Harley, and wasn’t afraid to approach adult women in a ballet class, rattle off his little league stats, and still seem to possess a shot at actually bagging the broad. “I’m hitting .841…I’m on the Bears. You live around here? I got a Harley Davidson. Does that turn you on? A Harley Davidson?”
3. #00 – Misc – I know it wasn’t between 1-300, but I had to include it just in case it was possible. Follow in the footsteps of Jeffrey Leonard, Robert Parish and…most importantly, Willie Mays Hayes. Also, I’m just guessing but I wouldn’t be surprised if Chubby from Teen Wolf also wore double zero. (nope, i was wrong…he wore 55)
4. #71 – Bill Goldberg – One of the stars from the heyday or pro wrestling’s comeback in the late 90s and the name I always drop when I want to make my brother wince and/or laugh. Terry’s over-the-top impersonations of Goldberg are always gold. The mere thought of them makes me laugh. So why not use his number from when he sporadically played 3 seasons in the NFL before donning the ol’ fanny pack and climbing into the squared circle?
5. #12 – Tanner Boyle – The yin to Kelly Leak’s yang on the Bad News Bears, Tanner never backed down from anybody, even going toe-to-toe with Kelly Leak himself before a game when Kelly dared call him a “runt”. He might fail at White River, but not for lack of trying and not for lack of swear words on the course or fisticuffs with fellow runners.
6. #99 – Ricky Vaughn – Wild Thing from “Major League,” a movie that should be thought of more highly than it is…which is pretty damn high to begin with. Rick Vaughn’s badassery has been hampered by the 80s-era cheese “Major League” expels when trying to get “cool,” but it’s all worth it for the scene early on when he, Willie Mays Hayes and that boring Jake Taylor guy go to dinner at a nice restaurant. Vaughn wears a sleeveless leather vest with a tie, lamenting that “I look like a banker in this.” In my head, had I gotten this number, my opponents on the White River course would be the douchey guy that Jake Taylor’s ex is dating, and I’d be Vaughn in my banker suit. “You want me to drag him outta here…kick the shit out of him?”
7. #13 – Pedro Cerrano – Pedro from “Major League” was a little too religious, relying a bit too much on superstition for my tastes, but his ensemble when arriving to Spring Training (full length open black trench coat…no undershirt), and his practice of shaving his head with a bowie knife, is the kind of mind frame I would want to have when the chips are down at mile 7.
8. #11 – The number of tackles Bill Goldberg racked up in his three NFL seasons. Every time I looked down and saw “11” on my bib I’d think to Bill Goldberg tackling somebody and doing that Bill Goldberg-thing he’d do in WCW after spearing/injuring some jobber…and what Terry did before occassional ABs in the wiffleball league.
9. #25 – Barry Bonds – Only two actual human athletes made the cut, and he’s one. The greatest hitter who ever lived, arguably the greatest all-round player to every play the game, inspiring me, the greatest runner–from Chico California–to ever grace this course. The amusing thought here…hmm…only thing springing to mind is Bonds acting all surly to fat sportswriters and their hawaiian shirts that are covered in mustard stains and diet coke. That’s never not amusing.
10. #22 – Will Clark – And the other human athlete. My first-ever athletic hero, I’d also find amusing the thought of him cackling at me in that voice of his to “gidder dun!” or spitting tobacco juice at me & calling me a faggot runner.
I also plan to bring the ol’ iPod shuffle with me for only the 2nd time ever. I plan to merely use it at certain points when I find myself both a) in need and b) completely isolated. If I was guaranteed to have a fellow runner nearby at all times, I’d forgo this plan, but I distinctly recall last year’s race, when I saw WAY more people than I thought I’d see actually wearing earbuds, including a few elites, and I distinctly recall being alone for 90% of miles 27-50 and wishing I had some goddamn music to break up some of the monotony. The shuffle weighing about the amount of a standard-issue postage stamp, and being about as cumbersome, was the final straw. I have 7.5 hours on it, ready to go. I know I will not be alone for 7.5 hours of the race, but I also know my patience level will be less than usual and I will be skipping many songs if they don’t fit the exact spirit I’m jonesing for.
The 7.5 hours is led by the Three Kings of Peter Gabriel’s “Sky Blue,” 69 Boyz’ “Tootsie Roll,” and, of course, this:
(Oh yeah, this morning I found out I indeed got #42. Only a couple days to find myself a long brown wig and let my body hair grow back in.)
Same thing as last Tuesday, just a little faster.
Set 1: 11:51 (5:52/5:59), 2:00 jog rest
Set 2: 11:44 (5:51/5:53), 2:00 jog rest
Set 3: 11:31 (5:45/5:46)
Total: 6 miles, 35:06 (5:51 pace)
Including rest jogs, 6.5 miles in 39:06 (6:01 pace)
Had some pasta w/swedish meatballs for lunch, for obvious reasons.