Monday, August 30, 2010

Sweet Victory

I made it! I finished the 10 mile Crim run, and I did it in under 2 hours.

The Back-Story:

Tuesday Jason and I went out for our final practice run of the 10 mile out on the trail to avoid injury. That didn't seem to work very well, because in the final mile, my calf started to strain. I foolishly tried to run on it after it was yanking because we were having such a great go at it that day, and I made things worse in the final mile. From that point on, we both stopped running for the week until The Crim, and I put a lot of meds on my calf over the rest of the week.

The night before the race, I had $10 vouchers to see Blondie and Cheap Trick fall into my lap. I debated whether to go or stay home, rest up, watch "Run Fatboy Run," and hit the Olive Garden for the unlimited pasta bowl. You really just can't pass either of them up for 10 bucks and free parking, let alone both, so I went. The short version is Cheap Trick is still solid, and Deborah Harry is still awesome. Luckily they got done fairly early, and I was home and in bed at midnight.

I woke up at 5am the next morning. I showered, put Body Glide in all the necessary places, some icy hot on the calf, set the DVR for the Crim coverage, grabbed some toast and a banana, and charged up the mp3 player. Then I got my shirt, shorts, and shoes on and paced around for a bit before putting on my bib and D-tag.

Jason came over about 6:30 and we walked downtown to the starting line, as I finished a quick Power Bar. We hit the porta-johns (pre-race leak jitters), and watched the wheelers off at the start. Then they let the competitive runners, the 30+ year runners, and military runners go. I was doing a lot of jogging in place to loosen up the calf that felt like it could pull at any moment. There is a reason that I put it on my Colbert "On Notice" board on the fridge. We did some last minute stretching, and took our place behind the green flag for the 10 mile runners.

Immediately we were getting boxed in, and even worse there were walkers up in our section despite them being told several times that they are supposed to line up behind us at the purple flag. I've been over it several times, but here we go again. Walkers are just the bane of my running existence. Winning speed-walking is about the equivalent of winning at a game of online poker with no money involved. The sad thing is, these people cheat like crazy. One woman in particular I have seen at several runs, and she's ALWAYS cheating. The races without a starting block that takes your launch time, she'll take off with the runners, hiding in the crowd, and start walking after there is no crowd. At the Crim, she was running for part of it. I imagine this woman is queen bee of the super-bitches too and thinks she's the best thing since gravy cheese fries. Anyway, yeah, those f***ers got in our way again. Is it just competition bringing out the worst in them or are they just oblivious pricks? Speaking of pricks, I started up the mp3 player, and I just had to start up the race with a little K-Fed. I needed a funny distraction, and when I saw that, I had to play it. It worked for the first mile or so. Thanks "Pancake Man."

It did open up after the start, but not much. When you have nearly 10,000 people running, even a 10-mile span doesn't spread you out too much. My calf was already feeling tight in mile 1, and I was genuinely worried. I pleaded with it in my head, "Please don't do this to me, not today." Meanwhile, I looked at the timer for the first mile and it said a whopping 13 minutes and change (unbeknownst to me at the time, it was over 3 minutes before I got across the start). Mile 2 is where you start to get into the charm of the race. There were people lined down Third street, and the fraternities there were passing out donuts and beer to the runners. I didn't figure I should risk it this time, but maybe in the years to come, I'll partake in all of these station pit stops.

I started pushing through miles 3 and 4 by Mott Park (and grabbed my first water) to make up time, and a lot of people flocked to the woods there to take a public pee break. I was good, except for the calf (still). Then I hit the Bradley Hills, which is over 100' feet of elevation change in less than a mile. They're generally known to any area runner as "Where good Crim runs go to die," but I pushed through them, and grabbed a much-needed Gatorade boost at hill 2. Electrolytes are good, and by then my shirt, with our friend's physical therapy office on it, was soaked, so I'm sure I lost a little bit of what plants crave. I grabbed a water too just before mile 6 to wash the taste out and clear the mouth a bit.

At the split the time was saying 56:11, which I felt good about, and was only a little slower than my Blueberry time (in reality it was faster minus the 3 minutes, but you get it by now). The Bradleys did their thing to my legs though, and they were like rubber. I kept telling myself "keep going, keep going and it'll pass." It finally did, and I had a really quick mile 7 breaking past quite a few people that lost their sh*t at the hills. When I hit the middle of mile 8, I was starting to die though. My shirt was completely wet, the shorts were on their way, and I was really dehydrated. I hit 3 water stops in a 1 1/2 mile stretch at mile 8, 8 1/2, and at 9. I still haven't mastered the art of drinking and running at the same time. If I try it, I end up aspirating the water and coughing it out of my lungs for 1/8th of a mile. So I did have to stop, take a few steps, and immediately jump back in a few times. Maybe eventually I'll learn to do it while running like the pros, but it's not as easy as it looks.

Just before I made the turn at Saginaw St. for the final stretch, I flipped the player over to some Rocky IV soundtrack figuring it would help me let loose and finish strong. It did. At the turn, I started running faster, and halfway down the street I ended the race in a dead sprint (or as close as I could muster). I grabbed my 10-mile finisher medal (hell yes!) and Jason found me almost immediately after to tell me "good job." He was happy to see that I didn't finish too far behind him, and was able to go the whole way. We grabbed some waters, and each grabbed a popsicle, then another popsicle after eating those, then another water, then a banana, and then an apple. We ran into Ken and he snapped a picture of us on the bricks, which I have yet to see.

I look focused

Got it!
We went back to the gates and watched the other people come in, rooting them on like the crowds pushed us like a wind at our back, throughout the entire race. Those people help you so much when you feel down and out, and the volunteer stations keep us in business (big time). I almost got back in time for the 8K walk to be off, and walk with Jessi and her family, but I didn't make it. So I waited for them for an hour and a half to see them cross. Somehow I missed every one of them, and waited until it just wasn't possible for them to still be lagging behind (in fact they all were pretty quick). Jason and I gave up and grabbed our much-deserved free pizza and beer, and walked back to my place.

I called Jessi, and she was on her way to the grandparents. Jason and I went over there too, and they welcomed him and fed him, as I introduced him as my friend and trainer. They're so nice, and they always end up feeding somebody's stray it seems. Every holiday, there's somebody's friend there for some reason, and they always take them in like family, which is really admirable. We all shared our Crim stories at the table, and it was really great to get some food in after all of that.

I'm still in disbelief that this happened, and I'm still shocked I finished under 2 hours and my calf never pulled (the realistic goal was under 2:30:00 and optimistically I was hoping for 2:00:00 or under). I've taken it off notice, officially. The official time came in at 1:50:25, which is just over 11 minute miles. I'm good with that. The Blueberry race was 55:44 and it was half the Crim, so I did my job and kept that pace. Now it's time to start going for times the rest of this year. I won't be adding distance. Maybe next year we'll consider some half-marathons and maybe even a marathon, but for now I want to break that 10 minute mile wall. For now, I'm just reveling in my accomplishment, because I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to do this until this month. Maybe I should stop limiting myself.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Blueberry Race was a (Blueberry Pan-)cake walk.

The 8K Blueberry Race came about this Saturday, and I got up at 5:00am on the only day I can sleep in during the weekend. If running does anything, it snaps me back into a proper biological rhythm so I don't wake up late for work on Monday. Normally, my lazy ass would have stayed in bed until about 11:00.

I picked up my packet at the school's gym and had about an hour to kill. I stretched out, listened to some music on the headphones, took the phones off and listened to some pump-up music they had going (most of which was awful, but worked). I actually stopped some Local H on the mp3 player to listen to them blaring Ke$ha (blasphemy!). Yes, I know she's brutally awful, but I still, sadly, kind of like it.

After nearly an hour of stretching, I realized "hey, maybe I should find where this race is starting." As usual, when I'm without a clue, I just started following people, and it led me to a place that said 8K Start. I ran into a teacher from my old high school. He kinda close-talked me for a little bit, asked about my bro and sis and why they weren't out with me, and went into this long rah!-rah! speech about how if I keep on going I can be like this one guy he knows that lost 100 pounds and now wins some of these races. Thanks for reminding me I'm a fat guy there teach, I was not aware (see blog title).

Anyway, we started up and I ran by the 5K peeps, one of which being a girl I went to school with. We weren't really friends then, but she's always been a really nice, sweet girl, so I'm cool with her and all. I didn't jump out of the gate very fast, and just decided to set a pace similar to what I wanted for the 10-mile. By the time I hit mile 3, it was starting to feel a little too easy. I skipped all water breaks, and just kept chuggin along until I hit the track, and at the finish, I ran into the girl from high school again. Talked to her and her friend, who I assume went to school with us, and she figured I knew, but I didn't.

I talked to the other guy from work that runs, and lost the girls for a bit. I figured they were in getting pancakes, so I headed in for my blueberry pancake breakfast as well and they weren't there. They came in later with kids and husbands and things, and I didn't have room by me to sit. I think they probably figured I just tried to ditch them when I was looking for the guy from work and checking the results. Anyway, it felt kind of high school where I had probably made a social faux pas, and they figured it was me being unfriendly. If they went to school with me, they should just know I'm socially encumbered.

After that I tried to hurry home to catch church. That didn't happend because I spent too much time on the pancakes waiting for them to show up to be friendly, which managed to blow up on me anyway. So I cut off going to church after just going home, and got ready for the Tiger's game. After the run, driving to Detroit, sitting in the hot sun of a day game (which we did win 8-1 over Cleveland), driving back, and going to church, I was pretty much done. We went to bed about 11, which is the earliest in quite a while.

One more practice run with J tomorrow, and then Crim on Saturday. The 8K was easy, so that makes me even more convinced that I'm ready.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I got this...

Jason and I ran the Crim route on Sunday (full 10 miles) plus a little bit to get there from my house. We also did a 10 mile trail run the other night. We're ready baby!

I did a flat out mile and a half sprint to build the wind today until I literally couldn't breathe. If only I could hold that for a 5K and I'd run it in 20 minutes. Maybe I can keep trying to do that.

Blueberry 8K coming this weekend. I'm down about 30 pounds from the start of this. I'm sleeping better, I've got more energy, and it's awesome.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm progressing way too quickly

Jason and I ran, get this, 8.5 miles yesterday. How? I have no idea. It felt great, and I could have kept going. We did two dead sprints during it, even. Today I don't even feel that bad. I'm sore, but no worse than if I had run a 5K. Speaking of 5K, they are getting way too easy. On my worst day there's no chance I would never finish one now, where that was a question earlier in the year.

It's pretty much like this; once I hit a rhythm running, and don't get a side-cramp from hell, I can probably just keep going. There's a much bigger difference between not being able to make it a mile and getting up to a 5K than there is from going to a 5K up to an 8K, or an 8K up to a 10K, and on. The differences in conditioning between them get much smaller after you get in the larger race range, I think. This month, we've been slaughtering on the run, and keep bumping it up without a lot of trouble other than that one super-humid day that destroyed even Scott.

I did get a blister the size of my pinky toe on the big toe, and lost the nail on my second toe on the same foot. My sock was pulled too tight to my toes and instead of adjusting it early, I just let it go. Eventually the toes escaped the sock, but not without collateral damage. I also need to invest in some sort of non-boxers undershorts, because there's some rubbing and other issues I will not go into too much detail about.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pushing it....

We tried the humidity run again, but pushed a lot farther today. Started with a headache, and I popped a few aspirin. I think we're up to about 6 miles now. I didn't eat hardly anything today. No lunch with family, and other than some crackers and applesauce, I didn't eat until I got home tonight about 9pm.

Not a great post, I know. I'm exhausted, though.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Good vs Evil

Today I went up to the YMCA to run the 5K Pizza Run. I grabbed my mp3 player and keys, and 25 dollars out of my wallet (the race cost $21). I set my stuff down on the table as I'm filling out my race card. Somebody swiped my money. For a bit I just stood there dumb-founded and looked under some things on the table. It was nowhere to be found. I kept trying to believe I lost it on the way or left it at the car, but I knew I didn't.

Now that I think of it there was one person that was at the table with me, and filled out the rest of their card at the other table and was acting kind of weird. By the way they were acting, I'm guessing there was a good chance it was them. No way I would ever know, though. All I know is someone did it.

Anyway, because of the slightest chance someone saw it there and turned it in, I asked the registration table if anybody had. Of course not. One of the ladies at the table commented on how "runners used to all be such trustworthy people." Then she asked me if I still wanted to run, gave me a bib, and even gave me a shirt for the race, for nothing. I honestly think this was the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for me. I was obviously flustered, and I didn't have even enough money to race w/o a shirt after my money had been swiped. In the end I was almost even (still $4 down from what I would have had), but I have at least $4 worth of faith in humanity. I think the YMCA is going to get a donation from me when I can afford it, because one of their staff just made my year.

As far as the run, considering I had to push my way through all the walkers and everyone from the very back because I missed the start, it went ok. I still can't seem to break 10 minute miles. I did run yesterday too, and I had a huge lunch/dinner that was still knocking about (Patty Melt, Slaw, and Chips). Either way, I did it, and I finished. Good wins today.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sometimes you just can't win...

Some days it just doesn't matter what you do. I wear a stay dry shirt, and I sweat completely through the bastard. I guess they're not made for big sweaty dudes in post-rain humidity. I guess I must have missed a disclaimer somewhere. The air was so thick, breathing was nearly impossible. I also suffered two attacks of side cramps causing me to stop twice on a 4 mile run. Scott and Jason pushed pretty hard today, and I'm just not up to that pace, so that killed me too.

I even tried listening to the soundtrack to "Rocky IV," but even that couldn't put the spurs to me today. I pushed hard the last mile, but I was so wiped after, I could barely walk back to Jason's to have the celebratory Labatt Blue. I'm not a big Labatt guy, but that's Jason's preference, and any beer is great after a run. Besides, the truth of the matter is that if you deny a free beer of any kind, you're probably a dick. We all have our preferences, but what kind of ass would ever be like "No, I don't drink ______" like it's not good enough for them?

We watched a little of Dr. Who after, and then I went to Meijer. I learned my lesson. It doesn't really matter how close I am to it, I should just go one of the other Meijers. I can never find anything there. There's too much out of aisle impulse buyer set up going on there, which is fine, but please also put the things in the aisle they belong in. If I go to both snack aisles and can't find sunflower seeds because you put them all at the registers, or some special snack kiosk out front, screw that.

All I wanted was a bag of seeds and a 12 pack of beer, and I was in there for 40 minutes. I found pre-shelled seeds, but none with shells in produce. I found only crappy off-brand on the end of a snack aisle, but it wasn't in the actual aisle. It really is set up for somebody that's shopping randomly without objectives, which may work with all the mindless yuppies, I'm not really sure. Never again (I said that last time).

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I didn't do it, and then I did

I didn't wake up and do the Legend 5 mile. I woke up and my back and calf were both killing me. I got a text from Jason about doing it, and I said "I'm out." I ended up sleeping that day until 1pm. Then I made waffles after I had carbed up the night before for a race that never happened. That was probably a mistake.

At least Jason and I played tennis later that day, before coming back and watching the Tigers blow another game against the Red Sox. I know I like them, but those "Sawks" are really starting to get my goat (no Cubs pun intended).

Today Jason tricked me into a 5+ mile run, so even though I didn't do the Legend, he made me pay up those lost 5 miles with a different trail run. We kept taking turns and it kept going farther and farther away from where my car was. I asked when we were looping back, and he kept saying "soon, we're almost there." I thought we were running a 5K, but after running over an hour and then some, I kind of wised up.

Oh well, at least I know I can do my Crim 8K, so I'm happy. I still have to perform on game day, though. Jason also gave me a Labatt Blue after so we're square. Tricky man...
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