Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Volksläufe 2016: Rebuilding America Edition

I'm pretty sure the last time I have broken the 10 mile mark for a run was the Crim race last year.  My longest run this year was only 8 miles.  Even on short runs right now, I'm posting 12 minute miles.  So signing up for a 20k on July 4th was probably a stupid idea.

Really, my only goals were to finish and "run" the full distance.  Some nice dehydration cramps in the wretched heat almost stopped that, but in the end I did it.  Not fast (a clock time of 2:38), but it's progress, and I did it in style.
My legs are just corpses right now, but I'm going to keep sending them out until they fall off, or I can hit 26.2.  I'm hoping some speed comes back, but I'll live with just the distance.

Other than that, I'm doing everything I said I would.  I'm dropping weight, took up swimming, and slowing the drinking (minus the camping trip).  If I stay in this right direction, I may just make it to the end of Chicago alive.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Wake Up!

So...how have you been?

I know I've dropped off the face of the Earth on here.  The reasons don't really matter right now.

I'm hoping to come back to writing in this thing full time, as I've done something incredibly stupid, and I'm assuming the consequences will be hilarious and dramatic.

I signed up for this thing...

Image result for chicago marathon

It was probably a bad idea, and no I wasn't drinking.  I honestly figured fate would intervene and I wouldn't get picked in the drawing to get in.  I also managed to drag my friend Jason into signing up, and he was also selected.  I think we both needed this to happen, despite how ridiculous it was to sign up for it in our current state.

The hotel is booked, the date is set, and we will be there.

Which version of us will be there?  I'm hoping not the sad, slow, and (in my case) fat version.  I have a ton of work to do.  It's not a complete rebuild from when I started writing here, but it's getting close to that point.  Pretty much just imagine a point where 5Ks are hard again, and that's about right where I'm at.

The work has already begun.  I'm going for a more rounded approach, rather than JUST straight running.  I'm considering even extreme things, like going into actual swimming pools to do that thing where you move your hands and feet and go places in water...I forget what it's called.

Chicago, as much as I've visited since 2003, has almost become like a second home to me.  So I'd like to do well, especially if any of my friends there decide to come out and see me (no laughing!).

Sunday, August 17, 2014

So Frustrated!

This will be short, as there's not much (and nothing good) to share.

First off,  almost all running plans and goals are derailed due to a very uncooperative knee.   It's the same one that's bothered me since October,  but I pushed it too far and now I'm paying the price.  Until this week, I have not run a lick for many many weeks, and the 3 and 7 milers put in this week have me hurting and limping pretty bad.

To substitute for running,  I've been biking.   I planned to go out today,  but unfortunately our bikes were stolen from our garage when the door was open.  This happened right in the middle of the damn day.  So,  my Sunday's been ruined.  Crim is next Saturday.   I am going to try really hard to get through it.   This sucks.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Volksläufe Again (2014 Edition)

I've written about this race so many times, I'm guessing you're all tired of it right?  So, we'll keep this sort of brief.

Yes, Jason and I ate the pancakes before the race again.  However, this time we also rolled the dice with a plate of eggs.
Rather than break out quick this year and try to maintain, I went with a different approach.  It was more like don't really try for the first half, and see what I have for the second half.

About the 5K mark I picked up two runners that didn't seem too happy about me being near them.  They were obviously a couple, and the girl and the guy were pretty much flawless physical specimens.  When the maker created them, I'm sure there was one last squeeze before sending them out in the world.  They were really, seriously, super attractive people.  They also seemed to be super pissed about a fat guy keeping up with them.

I would pull close, and I would hear them get all huffy about it, and they'd hurry up back ahead of me.  It was cute.  They didn't even know that, at this point in the race, I wasn't even trying.  Finally, at the 10K/halfway point, I kicked it up, and left them far behind.  "People should know when they are conquered." I'm also pretty sure the person at the half point told me my time was 68 minutes.  That was awful, if that was true.  I was on pace for a 2:16...my worst at this race.

Anyway, with buckets of energy to spare, I started passing people left and right down the dirt road and over the bridge.  I hit the hills that usually beat me down and leave me for dead, and I pretty much rushed right through them with no trouble at all.

By the time I hit the 15K mark, I figured that, with only a 5K to go, I might as well try to treat the end like a regular 5K.  So I just did my best to sprint the rest of the race.

Now I was really passing people.  I blew by people like they were standing still.  There were a lot of remarks about how much energy I had left.  One woman even asked if she could hop on and get a ride to the finish.  I said, "Sure, catch me and hop on."  She did not catch me, even with my slight detour on the hill to high-five the inflatable Sparty.

I came in with a 2:05:33, which was shocking if the front half was really 1:08.  Could it really be possible that I ran the last half in 57 minutes?  Couldn't be...right?  Maybe I'll find out if there were split times...

Anyway, I've learned that I can't go out super slow on this race if it's not 90+ degrees out.  I also learned that eggs are okay with the pancakes before the race.  The 2:05 is only a minute more than my best at this course.  That's a good sign, considering I sleepwalked through half this race.  I don't know, maybe I should actually start using my Garmin again.  I've just been in this mode of not being a slave to times and being ruled more by how I feel, how I want to run, and how I work.  I figure that shooting for specific times is just going to hinder the long term goal, and there's just too many emotional highs and lows playing that game.

Anyway, I've also learned that races only have good shirts for the first one or two years that I run them, and then they get boring and lame.
I mean...look at this crap.  Immediate goodwill pile!
You better do something good for the 40th next year.
I still need to bump up the training and I've gotten a little laxed with the lazy days of summer, but I'll turn it back around soon.  Everyone needs a small break sometimes.  I'm still in real, honest-to-goodness training mode this year, and I won't be falling off.  Maybe I'm not PRing like a madman, but I think I'm really setting up well for the marathon this year, and, as long as I stay on track, I'll be shocked if that's not a significant PR.

Also, there still may be a 5K and 13.1 PR in there.  I'm not ruling it out.

Friday, July 4, 2014

In Your Face Steeplechase

It's pretty much impossible to pass on an organized race in its inaugural year when it's less than a mile's walk from your home.  That's pretty much how I ended up doing the Crim's "In Your Face Steeplechase."

The race was on the old Pierce Park golf course, which is usually overgrown, but they cut paths in the long weeds for us to run in.

This is usually how the course looks

The run itself was three one mile loops with hay bails to jump, people heckling you, spectators spraying water and giving out donuts, volunteers handing out pizza, and many other shenanigans.

With the grass still being semi-thick and the ground being so squishy, with the heat, it was actually a pretty tough run for the short distance.  However, it's always easier to run with a friend, especially if they're kinda hot (no, not Jason...)
I was talking about my hot friend the Jalapeño!
Yep, somebody handed these out.
Post race food and drink
Instead of shirts, we got this sweet trucker hat.
In the end, the race wasn't that spectacular, but I can see it growing into a really cool tradition.  If they can get more spectators, and a few more racers, it can be a pretty good party.  In the end I was just happy to have done it, because I was on a former golf course, running to benefit Mott athletics on the birthday of my cousin Zach (June 26th), who was a Mott golfer.  So it was a nice unintended tribute to him.  I'm sure he'd probably think running is stupid, though, and would have wondered why I wasted such a nice golfing day.  Even so, it made me think of him.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I Just (Don't) Wanna Fly

 Considering my extreme fear of flying, doing a run at an airport (Wings of Mercy Runway 5K) kind of seems like a match made in hell.  Add in the fact I was already down a full day Friday with a sore throat and sinus infection, and you really can't expect much.  I'm not even sure why I showed up for this run.  Honestly it was the only part of the entire weekend (June 21st) I was up and moving, and it took a good bit of knock-off cold medicine to make that happen.

As I drove toward Linden's Price Airport (which is pretty much made for smaller planes), I also got the bright idea to get a check in toward my "Layover" badge on Untappd.  Hell, when will I ever be at an airport?  I need 5 check-ins to get that one, and I have to take the opportunities that are presented to me.  Speaking of, there aren't many beer opportunities available for under $1.50 (needed the rest of my $$$ for registration), so I ended up getting a tall boy of Busch Copper Lager.  As much as I hate AB-Inbev, and as bad as I think their products usually are, I actually kind of liked it.  Then again, my taste was probably inhibited at the time, because, like Dewey Cox, I was without a sense of smell.

So, I'm stealthily drinking my beer in my car, and I run into one of my friend's parents, who park right in front of me.  I see them out at races a lot.  However, I'm not usually failing the "my breath doesn't smell of alcohol" test, so, yeah, semi-embarrassing.  Maybe they didn't notice.

I toss the empty can, still in its paper bag, in the trunk, and I start walking around looking at planes in the hangars.

At this point, I'm kind of burning up, and sweating bullets already.  Maybe my wife was right, I didn't need to be here.  I still hadn't registered.  I could go home.  I didn't.  I registered and went out on the runway, taking more pictures of planes.

I also tried to take a photo of the Air Balloons far in the background, which is the only thing I can imagine more frightening to ride in than a plane.


This Place is SCARY

Once it got a little darker and more twilight-looking, we lined up to run.  There were only about 100 people there, so if there was ever a chance that everyone that showed up was a first-timer amateur that was slower than me and I was going to win the thing outright, now was the time!

Not to play spoiler, but that didn't happen.  The leaders left me in their dust as usual, and it was just up to me to run a good race, despite the sickness.  Most of the race was very straight down the large runway, with a few double-backs and a small loop off to the side.  So, most of the race, you had a lot of real estate and racers in front of you, in your line of sight.

That must have helped me a lot, or maybe I just got the right mix of hops and cold medicine.  Nobody will ever know.  I hope none of it was on the banned PED list.  I cruised in with a 24:49, flat 8 minute mile pace, and logged my second best time ever.  Yep, again, no PR.  Could it still fall this year, though?  Sure, it's a 24:32.  We're talking seconds...

I was very happy with this race.  I wish I knew I was closer to breaking my time.  I probably would have forced it more.  I just wanted to survive it.  Since I ran a 26:39 in the Flushing Evening 5K just 3 days before (when I was still well), I just wasn't expecting to get near the PR.

Still, I can't complain, and I got a yellow shirt with print that glows in the dark.

Glow-in-the-Dark is cool

I should also mention that this is also considered practice for the Air Force Marathon, where there will also be planes (I'm assuming).  So yeah, that will be my marathon #3 (unless I fit another in before then).

Friday, June 27, 2014

I Missed The Bus (and that is something I will never ever ever do again)

Since you're going to be singing it to yourself after the title anyway, here it is...
(Rest in Peace Chris Kelly)

Anyway, that's exactly what happened...

Jason and I drove down to the Art & Orchard Festival Fun Run in Washington Twp.  Even though we were there several minutes before the race start (we were delayed by traffic blockades), we missed the shuttle that takes you to the race beginning as we were registering.

At that moment you have 2 choices: seek a refund and forget about it OR get half-assed directions from some squirrely guy to where the race starts, try to find the start, try to run it and stay on the course, and hope you don't have to walk or run it again to get back to the vehicle.

We chose door #2.

We got to the race start 15-20 minutes late.  There was nobody there.  There was no starting mats, no starting line, nothing.  We weren't even 100% sure we were in the right place, or running the right way, until hitting the "Mile 1" marker.

Is this it?  Who cares?  Let's run.
We kept running, and eventually saw volunteers picking up a former water station around 2 1/2 miles (no water for us).  We didn't see any official racers until we passed the 10K start, and many were walkers.  That's okay, though, because the scenery was nice.  There were a lot of farms, streams, and even an overpass and pavilion styled to be like barns.  Also, since we weren't sure we'd ever get a finish time, we were treating it like a fun run, sticking together, and trying to enjoy the day.

Stream Shot

Ok, it's starting to get fun

That overpass is barn-like!!!

As we caught the actual racers, therre was a candidate for State Rep. named Peter Lucido who was bribing runners for votes by giving us water at stations.  I can't vote for him, so it did him no good in my case, but if I could...I'd still be undecided because I need to know where he stands on the issues.  Also, bottle with his face got littered all over that nice trail.  So, if those didn't get picked up, the environmentalist in me may say "Nay!"

Political Water Bribery...
Anarchy Ahead?
It's hot out here

Barn Pavilion
(I wish I had a marker to add a "D" to this sign)

All Finished

After finishing the race, we still needed to figure out how to get back (preferably not on foot).  We talked to someone with the race about our situation, and they had the DJ announce that we would like passage back to our vehicle.  Just then, the Bee Gees "Stayin' Alive" was played, and we starting singing it with modified lyrics as "Give Us A Ride" instead.

Apparently that worked.  Some younger girl offered us a ride with her.  However, her mom noticed this and, since we're so incredibly scary with our pink sunglasses and breathable fabric, she offered to take us instead, putting herself in harm's way.

On the drive back, we stopped at Arts & Jakes for a beer and food, where I may have had the best personal pizza I've ever had.  When we pulled in, we almost went somewhere else.  I don't put any stock in mini-mall bars.  They usually have no charm, no specialty foods that are their own thing, and just no real variety.  This place had a little of all that.  Did I mention the food was amazing?

Anyway, we both had a hard cider called Flannel Mouth from a Blake's Cidery there, and we got to wondering where that was.  So we found out it was just on our way home, only about a mile or two out of the way.  SOLD!

I bought three 750mL bottles of different variety
Sadly, so far, none of them have topped the Flannel Mouth.

More recaps still coming.  It seems like I run more than I can write right now.  One of the few drawbacks of not having a partial desk job anymore.  That and not being able to waste half my day watching the World Cup.

P.S. - I did find the results to this race and, according to Hanson's Ract Management, Jason and I ran the 15K in a time of 10:19:55 with a 66:39 per mile pace.  Since this was my first ever 15K, if I ever run another, the PR bar is going to be set pretty low.  I did not realize we were that slow...heh heh.
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