Worldwide clusterf**k

Probably the best explanation of how we got in this mess. It actually makes me feel better about not owning a house.


Thoughts on cross-training

Every time I go through a training season I try to integrate something new into the plans. it can either be a new type of workout or a different weekly line up or a new technique--anything different. this helps keep the training interesting. sometimes it sticks, sometimes it doesn't, but I like to think the end result always improves my running and overall health.

The major things I've worked into this training season is cross-training and ab work. I always had cross-training on my training plans because everything I've read has told me that's the smart thing to do. Actually, if you look through my old schedules you will see "Cross Training" written for every single Sunday. Sure enough, Sunday would come and I would be too exhausted from the the previous day's run and too busy with the errands I neglected on Saturday to do any type of cross training. I realized that if any type of cross training was to be done, it wouldn't be on Sunday.

This time around I moved cross-training to Mondays. Oh Jesus, that first Monday I didn't want to go--so I didn't. The second Monday, I still couldn't talk myself out of bed to go. But the third Monday I shut up the voices in my head that, from a lazy Christmas break, had gotten used to sleeping in.

I mostly lift weights, concentrating on my upper body for no other reason than the idea that I work out my lower body enough through running. Then I finish off the workout with several ab and lower back exercises to help with breathing and posture. I try to do other ab work throughout the week, but on Mondays I dedicate about 15-20 minutes.

It's been a couple of weeks of this cross-training business and truth be told, in terms of running performance there really haven't been any benefits. I don't feel faster or stronger on hills or like I have any more stamina. I figure I have to wait until race day to see if really helps. However, I can say that my stomach has never been flatter--which Wifey seems to like.


Suga, suga

This year I decided to give up cookies and cupcakes for Lent. I tried giving up desserts in general one year and that didn’t work because I had trouble defining what dessert was (is a slice of cake at an in-office birthday party 2 hours after lunch considered dessert?). I was going to just give up cookies, because that is the majority of stuff that I pick on around my office. However, Wifey’s response to that was “cookies? That’s weak.” So I manned up and threw cupcakes in there, which are pretty much the balance of the sweets around the office. (I swear, my office is what keeps the NYC bakeries in business during this recession.)

I resisted giving up all baked goods/desserty-type things not only because it didn’t work last time, but because after running—particularly after long runs—sometimes I just need large amounts of sugar and Gatorade starts to taste like ass after the first 12 oz.

Hopefully, this helps develop some healthier eating habits around the office.


I've got nothing

The running blog muse has neglected me this week. Normally, I have a ton of ideas to write up or experiences to share or gym carnies to tear apart--so many that I never have enough time to write them all up. But this week, nothing. I have some half ideas, but nothing fully baked. Even though I keep a reserve of topics for just such a situation, none of those topics (you know, the posts that you're always meaning to write but never do) are particularly attractive today.

Would this be blogger's block? And the cure would be a little meta-blogging? Eh.

I have 16 miles on schedule for tomorrow. It should be an interesting snowy/rainy 16 miles. Actually, I'm not looking forward to it. The excitement of winter running--i.e., how freakishly cold will it be today and what feats of daring-do will it produce?--has lost it token intrigue. I really just wantto have a run in decent temperatures. 50 degrees is all I'm asking for. Of course, maybe if I didn't go out of town on the weekends that it's nice around here I wouldn't have this problem.


Update: After being behind on my Google Reader for months (since October?) I have finally caught up on all of your posts! No more delayed comments or missed giveaways for me!


Hurling toward the earth

This past weekend we went skiing with a bunch of friends. Aside form the sloping driveway being covered with ice, worn out ski rentals, and having all sorts of delicious food, the high point of the weekend was this video featuring wifey. After several attempts at this challenging run Wifey finally mastered it. So the second time we went down the run I figured I would capture her new-found skiing prowness on tape. Let's watch:

(This video didn't load properly the first time.)


When I can't do this anymore

You know when you're running in a group or in a pack during a race and you're halfway through the distance? There is that point where the excitement has worn off and the conversation has faded. You're stopped taking in the scenery and already discussed the immediate topics (race calendars, training plans, etc.). Your thoughts and efforts turn inward as your running demons slowly rumble from their sleep.

Suddenly, everyone in the group in the same place. Not just physically on the same road heading to the same finish line, but mentally combating whatever dull pain or nagging thought is telling you to stop. At this point, you feel closer to the other runners because you are bonded over your shared struggle. You are all fighting the fight together and you are all going win the fight together. You forget the world around you because you have a group to go through it with.

Then, someone breaks off from the group either to tie their shoe or get water or speed off. You're jolted out of sync and feel a bit alien, as if you had just been dropped back onto planet Earth.

That is how I feel today. While in the middle of this blogging run (coming up on two years now), two of my favorite blogs have separated from the pack for a walking break and I'm not sure if they'll be rejoining the group. I'm about a week or two behind on my posts, but I just read that Feet Meet Street is going dark for a while and that the injuries at Notes of a Non-Runner have taken a turn for the worst.

Reading a (potentially) last post on a blog is depressing. It's like talking to someone with stage four cancer: you're holding out for them, but still make sure to hug them goodbye.

Aside from sending my best wishes to Nancy and hoping that Nitmos's boss institutes a daily blog break, I started thinking about how things would go down here if I couldn't run or blog anymore.

Of course, I would want my last post to be a clever, epic, insightful, thought-provoking, tear-producing, monolithic testament to my running labors--you know, just how you want every post to be but you're never able to invest enough time in writing so you just crank out your immediate thoughts and hope no one noticed the typo in paragraph three before you got a chance to fix it. (Don't bother checking, I already fized it.) But if it just made people snicker, sniffle, and shoe-up (yes, I did reach for the third "S") I would be happy.

Fortunately for me--who takes days to formulate and write a post--the second I read Nitmos's and Nancy's posts I knew exactly what my last post would be. Not only that, but I already know the opening sentence, last sentence, and the frame for pretty much everything in between. So what would the post be about? Let's just say it would be very appropriate for me and this blog and that a snicker and a sniffle would probably be produced--most likely at the same time. And that's all I'm saying about it!

And what about the rest of you? Do you all know what you'll say when you can't do this any more? Would it be sad? Uplifting? A hilarious riot? Would it be the greatest story ever told or would it be a humble bow? I think it would be cool to know.

PS - to Nitmos and Nancy, keep on running in your own ways. You'll be in my thoughts when I'm out there trying to bash away my running demons.


7 on the 7th

I was so caught up with my reoccuring knee pain on Sunday that I completely forgot to write up my 7 on the 7th race. My bad Run To Finish.

Like all virtual races it had it's pros: small crowds, no registration fee, started right on (my) time, no time penalties for potty breaks, allowed headphones, no time limit, easy to follow (self-created) route. But there were also lots of cons: no mile markers (thank God for Fenny), no aid stations, no water stations, no expo, no goodie bag, no medal, no gear check, no timing chips. So it's always a bit of a toss up.

However, I also signed up for the 16-mile extra challenge division--more than doubling the required distance. I was thinking of running on flatter routes by the river, but because I was running with the Super Runner's Shop I was kinda stuck doing the first 8 miles in Central Park--so I just decided to keep going in circles until I racked up the 16. It wasn't my best run, but it's only the first 16 miler of the year:

Distance: 16.01 miles
Time: 2:22:10
Pace: 8:52 min/mile



Just to make it official, I've updated my race calendar with the new Spring line up. I won't be doing the National Half-Marathon this year: tight times mean that I had to pick between New Hampshire and DC, and New Hampshire was the cheaper option (and didn't require me to take a day off work). For my Spring Marathon I now have my eyes set on the Flying Pig Marathon--which I've been thinking about doing for a couple of years now.

Speaking of training--I had my first 16 mile run of the season yesterday and man was that hard. I did a couple loops around Central Park since it was also my first run with the Super Runner's Shop group this year (restarting my attempt at getting a free pair of shoes). Those hills tore me apart, especially my knees. I've always had some degree of pain in my knees toward the end of long runs (who doesn't develop some type of knee pain while Marathon training?), but I feel like it's more pronounced this training season.

I'm thinking that it's a mental thing rather than physical (typical runner mentality, right?) because my knees were destroyed after Newport and I didn't take care of them after the race. So I just have that stuck in my head, nagging at me during every long run. Also, yesterday I didn't have Liam because I knew it would be rude to bring him to the running group, so I didn't have anything to focus on except for what was hurting.

Whatever the pain is, I did treat my knees to an ice pack yesterday. Five minutes on both knees and then ten minutes on each knee. Since I was already cold from being outside in sweaty clothes I didn't much appreciate the ice, but it seems to have done the trick: no pain this morning. Let's hope it continues this way.


Liam is back form the dead

I had a level three freak out this morning (for reference: level one = "oops, I spilled the milk," level five = "wait, where's my wallet?"). As I was getting ready to head out to the gym, I went to grab my headphones and iPod Shuffle, Liam Garu, but they weren't in their usual place. I thought, "that's weird, I always put them in the--OH MY GOD I LEFT THEM IN MY JACKET!!!"

Why the freak out over the jacket? After Sunday's 14 mile run we did laundry and guess what got tossed in there with the rest of the running clothes? Yup, my running jacket, complete with headphones and Liam zipped up in the pocket. And not only did they go through a 30-minute wash cycle with soap, I also let my running clothes air dry--meaning that everything was wet for a good couple of hours.

I grab my running jacket from the drying rack and sure enough Liam and the headphones were in the left pocket. Crapadoodle. I try pressing all the buttons, but nothing lights up. Crap, he's a goner.

I leave Liam at home and instead grab Masahara (my full-sized iPod) for the run, deciding that I will sort out what to do with Liam while at the gym.

During the run, I go through all the possible scenarios:
  1. Go to the Apple store, tell the truth, and have the Geniuses laugh at me for trying to get a replacement for free--probably won't work
  2. Go to the Apple store, tell them how Liam just suddenly gave out and as for a replacement--eh, I wouldn't be the first to try to pull that
  3. Go to the Apple store, tell them I went on a run and that midway through Liam gave out on me and that he hasn't responded to anything I've done--ok, that's more believable
  4. Go to Tekserve (the unofficial, shadier cousin of the Apple store here in NYC) and see what kind of Jerry rig they can do--might be a viable option prior to #3
  5. Sell Liam online and use the profit to subsidize the purchase of Liam Garu Jr.--"that's just not right" according to Wifey

When I get home, on a whim I decide to plug Liam into the computer. Normally, if I'm having a problem with an iPod, plugging it into the computer tends to fix it--maybe it'll fixed a soaked iPod? Who knows?

So I plugged Liam into the computer and all of a sudden the lights start blinking and iTunes pops open showing all the songs on Liam. No. Way. I unplug Liam from the computer and plug in the headphones. Somehow, someway, music started coming out of the washed headphones from the washed iPod. Unbelievable.

I have no idea what happened or how I got so lucky, but this is the second time that Liam has been completely soaked in water and survived. Nothing short of a Wunder iPod.