Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Wrap-up or Why are Runners Morning People (and I'm not at all)?

I overslept for another race.  It's bound to happen when you get to bed at 3am.  I just happen to be a night owl.  I stay up late all the time, and eventually I just have a 15 hour sleep crash.  It's the way I've always been.  I popped off for a long time after I got home from the drive back after the bridge race.  Last night I thought I could sleep from 3-7 and get up and go run a 5K with Jason.  I didn't.

I was up about 8:30, but that was way too late to make it there before 9.  So I was a healthy scratch for today.  Jason called about 15 minute before the start wondering where I was.  I kind of feel like I let him down a bit.  It's been way too long since we've run an actual race together.  I know we still get together all the time for practice running, but the actual races are the whole point of us doing this.  He had a pretty good time too, much better than I can do, so he's still king of the road between the two of us.

I went into a little of what I call "missed race depression" where I just continue to sleep in for several hours after I miss my race wake up.  I didn't bother getting up until almost noon.  That only happened because I was going over to my friend's for Memorial Day.  So I rolled out of bed and packed up the cooler, bought some Miller Lite, and headed over.  I ate a few brats, drank a few beers, grilled, built a nice fire, and then I started getting a little antsy, wanting to do something active.

We went to the park and played some Frisbee for a while.  That just felt like a warm-up, so Mike and I went for a nice bike ride across the Flint trails for a little over an hour.  There were a lot of deep puddles of standing water that we just decided to go through.  The whole river bank is near flooding, but we still could ride next to it.  It was pretty nice, but bikes are just too easy to ride these days.  It's not as much work with all the speed settings.  It was some exercise, though, and since I missed the run, I'll take it.  After, we each grabbed a Summer Shandy, and watched some Austin Powers.

But yeah, once again the rule applies, I will never make an early race that I'm not already registered for.  It's just a recipe for failure and sleeping in.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mackina(c/w) Bridge Run

If I really wanted to be mean to the very few people that read this, I would make this a two-part cliffhanger, but why bother right?  So I won't. but sometimes making it to races can be challenging.  This time, Thursday night at 8:15pm, I decide I better go out and put on that new serpentine belt for my car.  The belt was getting pretty warn, and it was starting to squeak a bit, so I decided it was something I better do before we make a 3 1/2 hour trip up north to Mackinac City (that's how I spell it, anyway).  So I go to the garage, get out my socket wrench, and put it in the spot and pull up.  I see a small cloud of dust and hear a couple of clinks on the garage floor and inside the engine.  As usual, I went all Q*Bert with the expletives and wondered what the hell just happened.  I crawl under the car and start pulling pieces out.  I find a bolt, a spring, a plate, two sides of a tensioner (one with the tensioner wheel itself), and a little plastic ring (see below except plate and bolt).
 I try to call my friend Ken to give me a lift to the parts store, and he was over a half hour away with family.  Jessi's at work, and I text her to tell her that our vacation is over because my car just broke.  In the midst of this, I realize I'm leaking coolant too, and I'm thinking somehow it knocked my water pump, but luckily that wasn't it.  I spotted a small drip coming off the hose coming from the coolant basin to my radiator.  I turned the hose over to realize it had a nice small leak in it.  So there was another problem, but an easy one.  I didn't know about the tensioner.  Since I've never done one before, I didn't know if all this junk was one piece or not, or if I'd be able to get it back on if it was.

Jessi asked her mom to come get me and take me to the parts store before they closed at 9 to see if I can get it fixed.  Her mom showed up very quickly (which almost never happens), and got me there and back.  The guy and gal at the store were less than helpful, and I had to get them to go back a few times as they kept selecting the exact opposite of what I was telling them the make and model of my car was.  Then I had to go to the back to select the hose I needed because they apparently couldn't match sizes well, even though I had the exact hose with me.  Whatever, though, I got a tensioner, and hose, and both looked exactly like what I needed.  I got the whole thing done, wrapped up, tools away, and coolant back in before Jessi got home.  Then I took it out for a test drive, and grabbed some frustration deep dish pizza from Little Caesar's (onion and green pepper is healthy right?).  I hadn't eaten all day.  Work was busy (so no lunch), after I had been packing, and then the car thing happened.  So judge me if you will, but I thought I deserved it. 

So I avoided having to take a day off work and fix a car, thanks to my future mother-in-law (who is having lunch on me sometime in the coming week), and even was able to drive there and give the car another small text spin before we headed up.  I had a pretty messy day, so I came home and changed.  Then we packed up the car, and drove up.  I'm happy to report that we made it safe and sound, and my temperature gauge stays further down on longer runs than it has in a while, and my gas mileage even seemed to be better.  I am sure that whole car thing was a blessing in disguise now.  That could have flew off on the drive up there, or the hose could have went full leaker on us.  Either way, I guess it was a lucky catch.

We got up to Mackinac City and I stopped in to register and get my packet the night before the actual race (for once).  Surprisingly, they gave us both the shirt and the medal beforehand.  That's kind of odd, because it takes a little of the motivation out, knowing you got a finisher medal coming to you.  For this they just throw it in there like "Oh it's fine, even if you don't finish.  This thing's worthless anyway."  It's kind of made me wonder about these participation medals, but hey, when am I actually ever going to place or win?  Still though, I am starting to feel like one of the crappy players on the little league team (again) that gets a prize no matter what.

We got to our campsite, and this was our view.
We realized we forgot our tent's topper, so we had to go get a tarp in town to save us from potential rain (which did start at 4am that night, only stopping for a little bit until I started the run).  We also needed some D batteries for the air mattress blower.  Decided to eat in town.  Jessi kept saying she wanted a burger, but when we went to a place that had them, we both ordered pancakes for dinner.  Only on vacation...

We built a small fire when we came back and marveled at the bridge and view from the campsite some more (while also wondering why they put the fire pit so close to an electrical hook-up...).

We got to sleep fairly early (about 11:00pm) because I had to be up at 5:00am to get up, ready, and to the pick-up point at 6:15 for the bus.  I kept waking up periodically anyway.  I guess I was nervous about oversleeping and missing the whole thing.  The only alarm we had was Jessi's phone, and I wasn't sure if that was going to be enough to wake us up.  Anyway, I woke up about 4:52, and was getting my clothes together for the race.  I heard the phone go off shortly after, and Jessi say "nooo" and shut it off.  She swears she knew I was awake and if I hadn't been, she would have woken me up when it went off, but I guess we'll never know for sure. 

Either way, I got up and ready, and got her up after I was ready to go.  I told her I'd be about an hour (figuring in transportation across and the run), and left to spot where they had school buses lined up to take us across the bridge to St. Ignace.  It has been a long time since I've been on the bus, and I had to sit in back like the bad kid that I never was.
I started talking to the guy next to me with just the usual "where you from" sorta stuff.  He was from Charlevoix and had done this race a few times.  When we stopped, he told me I might as well go ahead of him, since I'd probably be going faster than him.  I kinda scoffed at that, since he looked a little more run-worthy than I.  Then I told him "I plan on taking this one slow and enjoying it, anyway."  We got off the bus, and I took a few quick pictures, and then ran through the start gate timers.

I gingerly made my way up the slope of the bridge through a little drizzly rain.  When I got about halfway across the bridge, I looked behind me to see if I had a clearing.  I couldn't resist hocking a big loogie over the railing at the high point of the bridge and watching it float down out of sight.  Just a stupid childish pleasure that came upon me like a reflex, and was pretty rewarding in its own stupid way.  After the halfway point, the rain really started coming down.  I was drenched, and the camera was getting soaked too.  So I put it away shortly after, but I did get some decent action shots.

On the way down the bridge, the guy from the bus passed me, and I told him he was wrong about his prediction (of me being quicker).  He just responded with "there's still plenty of race left," but I had no desire to chase him.  Like I said, I was just taking my time on this one.  After finishing the bridge, my feet were soaked, and we still had a mile to go to the finish.  I wasn't really tired at all, just sick of being rained on at this point, and sick of sloshing through all the ankle-deep puddles the rain was leaving in my way.  There wasn't any scenery left for me to take in, so it was time to get this puppy over with, get a drink, and hit the restroom. 

I finished, hit the other two objectives, and found Jessi who was waiting to see me finish.  Apparently, I over-estimated how long it would take me (again) and she just missed me.  My fault, I guess, but I really thought the trip across would take longer.  The buses sped horribly going across (48 mph at some points).  Honestly, I don't really like being on bridges, and the run, even the part where you could look down through the little steel teeth and see the water, was less freaky than the bus ride.  So that didn't take as long as I expected.  Oh well, there will be others for me to tell her the wrong time to look for me.  From there we went inside the rec center to eat the provided breakfast, and get some coffee to warm up.
After doing a little touring of Mackinac City and getting Jessi some fudge, we made an executive decision not to spend another night in the tent if it was going to rain all night.  Camping is great, but camping in the rain, just isn't that appealing.  So we packed up all the stuff, and took a couple more bridge photos from our campsite.  Then we went to the park by the bridge to sorta mimic the picture from two years ago (as I promised I'd try to).  I know it's not exact, but I think I look a little thinner.  
Had the sun came out, we would have went back to the site and unpacked and stayed, but it just kept getting worse.  So we left after taking this photo, and we headed back home.  We stopped in Gaylord for lunch at Big Buck Brewery.  I wasn't expecting much, since their website only listed 3 brews, but they had quite a bit more than that (at least 14).  I tried the oatmeal stout and the IPA and both were fairly good.  The food was pretty decent too.  The only thing I wasn't really into was the over-the-top hunter lodge motif that the place had going on, but I enjoyed the rest anyway.  Besides, they were actually good with their service, and even let me buy a growler of a beer that I wanted (unlike New Holland...sorry, I'm still mad at you!).  It even had "special" in the name, New Holland (well it was abbreviated in the S of "ESB," but whatever).

That's my Mackinac Bridge story.  In a way, it wasn't as overwhelming as I was expecting, but that could have just been the rain.  I may have to try it again some day, and maybe do the Labor Day one instead where there's more people.  We'll see what happens.  Time to move on to whatever's next.  I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Listen, this isn't going to work...

I've made some mention in passing that after Easter I took a few steps backward, or at least I meant to.  The Parcel for the Park said otherwise, so I decided to keep doing what I was doing.  "I can have beer during the week, no problem."  Yeah, no problem except for that extra 30 seconds on my short run.  "Oh, it was hot out, and you're still not used to it, you'll be better next time out."  Yeah, no problem, because on a very mild day I added another 30 on top of that.  So much for the idea that I used to be skinny and faster and drink more, so it can work.  My early and late 20s were really nice, but that's over.  I gained a full minute on my short runs in two weeks.  No matter what my 10K said, I had a problem.  On top of that, that scale needle traveled east a little bit.  Nothing major, but enough to make me have to think about it. 

So, I'm re-instituting the weekday beer ban, at least temporarily.  It's not completely the beer itself, it's more the reflex of eating after it drops the blood sugar.  It's not like I was going too nuts and hitting Taco Bell or anything at night, but even the fairly reasonable late night consumption was killing me.  At least now, I catch these things in time to recover and turn things back.

This Saturday was World Expo of Beer, and I took a measured approach to that, only having about 44 total sampling ounces.  There were some pretty good brews there, but the clear winner for me was Saugatuck Brewing's Neapolitan Milk Stout.  I'm not a stout person during the summer, but it was refreshing and thin enough to work for the summer.  The Neapolitan mix was perfect too.  You could taste the chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla hints really well.  The only thing that may rival it would be an actual beer float.  Maybe if you dropped some Neapolitan in a Guinness, but then again, that could be disgusting.  I'm willing to find out.  I'll let you know.

The last few days, I've been really focused on eating healthy, drinking the water, and exercising.  Yesterday, when there was almost nothing in the house to eat, we were tempted to cave to Applebee's for half-off (except for the pounds) appetizers and a Brewtus.  The starving, work late, nothing here combo always ends badly, but I made some rice, spinach, and tomato soup based concoction with a ton of weird other stuff and spices that somehow ended up really tasty (and pretty healthy).  Don't ask me for the recipe, because it was just random spicing to taste that reminded me of a Greek and Thai love child.  I tend to do this a lot while me fiance makes fun of me and my "bogan orphan food."  I must say that the leftovers today were even better. 

I'm dealing with a nice sunburn peel after being out from 9:30am-2:00pm Saturday in a Tyvek suit volunteering for household hazardous waste day.  I had races I could have went to instead, but it has been almost 2 years since I've showed up for one.  It's always good to have more people there that (mostly) know what they're doing, and this was the first time in a while that I didn't have somewhere I absolutely had to be.  I'd like to be a little better as classifying things and doing unknowns, but that's what the experts are there for.  It went pretty smooth all-in-all, and we even got on the news for a split second.

I skipped the planned bike ride Sunday with my friends Mike and Ken to avoid any more sun.  I ended up doing an un-timed run that day after the sun went down.  It was supposed to be my "fun run."  I did not enjoy it.  It took about 3 tries just to get off the couch and force myself to do it.  I was coming from a family cook out, I had a mini-headache, and just wanted to relax inside where it was cool (maybe pop a tall boy of Genny Cream Ale once the headache subsided), but I ran instead.  I felt like cutting it off early, but I wanted to at least finish my "short route."  There would be no long enjoyable jog that day, but I did it, and that Cream Ale is still in the fridge.

I guess everything paid off, though.  Today, the extra pounds were gone, and Jason and I ran 30 seconds faster than our best time on the home course.  There was some pretty major heat out there, too.  I don't know how much longer I'm going to slide back and forth on being healthy and still somewhat make way to becoming a better runner/healthier person, but I seem to have something figured out.  I'm not letting things get out of hand, and even the slip-ups are a lot less major.  I seem to at least be aware of my issues, and, while I'm not always nipping them in the bud, I eventually confront myself when I need it.  I'm not perfect, and I'm sure there's a Big Mac in my future somewhere (though my fast food consumption is still way down from before).

Speaking of Big Mac, I am running the Mackinac Bridge this Saturday.  The last time I was there was before all this running business.  There's a photo of Jessi and I about 2 months before my first 5K at the Crim, and long before she joined her gym.  I'm thinking we should replicate the photo this year and see how different we look.  I'm bringing the same shirt with me to wear after I finish the bridge run, just in case.  I think I'm just going to enjoy this one.  There's not going to be another 5.6 mile race out there for me to time-compare with, and who knows when or if I get to do this again.  I'm going to enjoy the view, and try not to be scared when I can see the water through the grating far below.  I'm hoping for clear skies and low wind.  See you Saturday, Mac.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Invisible Man Runs Race. Kills PR. Race Organizers Deny Knowledge.

I decided I wanted to run this weekend.  I didn't feel like traveling anywhere for one, and there were two local races.  So the usual indecision came in.  Usually, registration closes on one and I choose the open one, or I simply don't do anything with either.  That's how it usually shakes out.  It's not a perfect system, but it seems to work (not very well).  Friday night I go to sleep, still undecided.

I woke up this morning, got ready, and decided I didn't feel like going anywhere, and it was rainy, so I didn't want to run that much.  I drove to the bank to get some race money and back to the community college about a mile from my house to the "Healing Hands 5K."  Along the way I see that most of the streets blocked off are my home course I run all the time.  I pull in, park, and walk to registration and see the ugly purple shirts, and start thinking how tired I am of 5Ks.  I turn around, walk out, and go to my car.  Then I drive out to Davison for the "Parcel for the Park" instead, get there 10 minutes before start time.  I sign up for the 10K and head off to the start.

There was still a drizzling rain going and I ran into the guy from work that is at a lot of these races.  We basically talked about how small the field was, and I was saying that I hope I didn't finish dead last.  Looking at everyone there, it was possible there wasn't a soul I could beat.  I fired up some Electric Six on the mp3 player, after the national anthem was over, and got ready to go.  Then they led us all to another location for the start, where some much wiser people, who must have done this race before, were waiting.

Finally we were off, and I figured out about a mile in that a lot of the race was going to be the same trail that Jason and I often run.  More familiarity, wonderful.  Even better, the rain just kept coming down harder and harder.  The water resistant jacket I had on was suddenly soaked, and holding large pockets of water on the inside, especially at my arms.  As if I don't usually feel round and heavy enough already, now I felt like a giant water balloon racing through the woods.

With the limited amount of participants, I didn't pass many people, but I only let one pass me, so all was well.  Even he only passed me at the end, and that was because I didn't realize it was almost over.  When we got to the turn-around, I was thinking we were only half way, but it turned out that the turn was about 4 miles in and we took a shorter way back.  I figured I had another mile or two to go when he went past and it was only about a half mile.  Even so, after I saw the end and hit on the burners, I went from about 40 seconds back to finishing 14 behind him.  I had a ton of energy left, despite the miserable conditions.

My time read 59:16 last I saw as I went across, which was about 5 minutes faster than my best 10K.  I turned to the volunteers for a water, and talked to Mark who used to work with me when he was at our water treatment plant.  After I got done chatting him up and keeping him from doing his volunteering, I went in to check if they had any shirts left.  They did, but I decided I didn't want one anyway.  They were too plain and my new rule states that every shirt I gain, I must lose two.  It wasn't worth two shirts or really even the extra $5.  So I went from a potentially ugly purple shirt to nothing, but at least I didn't have to only run a 5K.  I headed to my car, noticing that my back passenger window fell down again (motor's broke), and my car was soaked.  I had no way to prop it up and drove home with it down.  I did get it fixed enough to stay up.  I'm not sure I'll bother fixing it right so it goes up and down, at least not right now.  It did kill me for time, though, and kind of squashed any plans I had for going to Comic Con in Novi.

This 10K was still boring, though, and thinking I was only 2/3rds of the way there when I was actually almost done threw me off.  I'm sure I could do better, but I just don't run that distance too often.  This is only my fourth 10K ever, and you could nearly say it's my first this year, since the only other one was done in the snow.  I haven't learned to pace myself for that distance yet.  Oh well, I can't complain...or can I?

After getting home, taking a nap, and then fixing the stupid window, I checked the results.  I wasn't there.  I checked later,still not there.  I emailed the race organizers and they have nothing for me.  Nope.  Maybe the company keeping the times has something for me to get an official time.  I have a feeling I won't get that though.  I don't know what happened.  I crossed the timing pads, and my number was on me and out front.  Can B-tags get messed up by rain?  Is that even possible? 

I keep coming up with all these conspiracy theories.  Who knows, maybe one person with a grudge against one of my family members removed me, but that's probably fairly ridiculous, as far as notions go.  I'm pretty sure I was there, and I ran.  I got rained on and everything.  They're just trying to keep the fat man down.  It would be a shame if this ended up being the best 10K I had all year, and it never even shows up for me, but I won't let that happen.  More to maybe I should stop slacking off so much.  The results are coming though, and that just makes me more dedicated to not behaving myself.  As I type this, I'm sipping on some Short's Anniversary Ale at 3:30am and watching more old Bond movies.  Not exactly the model running citizen.

Oh well, on to the next one, which I actually hope will be longer.  I would have much rather tried to run the 5/3rd River Bank Run 25K in Grand Rapids this weekend.  I think, had there been something to justify driving over to the other side of the state and staying over for the night, we would have.  I'm not going to drag Jessi all the way there just for my own purposes, though.  I think I will plan on that one next year though.  I'm already coming up with the 2012 hit list.  Hopefully that wacko isn't right about the rapture coming May 21st, because that's the World Expo of Beer, maybe the WIOG Leaping Lizard Run, and I would have to find where I put my Blondie vinyl and everything for mood music.  It's just a little inconvenient for me.

*EDIT* (5/16/11)

They found my result.  They said the bib didn't register for some reason but one of the volunteers at the finish hand-wrote me in at 59:20.  Sounds close enough to me, and now they have me posted in the official results, so I'm good, and I have credit for my current 10K PR.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stop the countdown to the countown!

Monday night I had just sat down for the night at about 10pm.  Mowing was done.  Weeding was done.  Weed Whacking was done.  I was in the midst of doing my long overdue laundry, with two small loads now flipping in the dryer as one, and another in the washer.  I grabbed "Ender's Game" off the coffee table and start to read, and halfway through the first page, I hear a loud metallic bang.  I checked on everything upstairs and went downstairs, still hearing running sounds, but it was only the washer.  The dryer was still heating, but it wasn't spinning, and I wasn't just trying to boil my clothes, so I shut it off.

I've never even thought about taking apart a dryer before, so I needed a little help from the internet in figuring out what to do.  Once I did though, it wasn't too bad, except for the part where I realized I left a few tools inside the dryer (a phillips head from my multi-screwdriver and a pair of plyers I was using to wedge the drum up while I put on the new belt, which was the problem).  So I got to take it apart and put it back together again a second time just for fun (and even found where those two "extra" screws were supposed to go).  It wasn't too bad.  I got it apart the night it broke, and found a belt (thank you SEARS) and got it back running the next day.

I was expecting it all to take up the entire night, so I was pretty happy with still having sunlight left to go running.  So I geared up and the first mile I felt like I was just floating out there.  Ever since the halfer, I've been tight and felt really heavy out there, and every run has been a little bit of a struggle.  Even with the progress I'm seeing in times, it just felt like it was really hard and even a little painful.  Last night was incredibly easy, and I decided for once just to enjoy it, and not push for any time.  I just wanted to slow it down and enjoy running again, which I haven't done in a while.  So I just went for a nice steady pace, didn't get out of breath, and let myself feel the air and the sunshine.  Even with holding back, it was the 3rd best time I've had. 

It kind of made me think I need to do this more often.  I may even think about just ditching the watch too.  Running was becoming both a chore and an addiction lately, instead of something I just do because I love it.  It was something I had to do because I was frustrated or bouncing off the walls, and while I was out there I was too concerned with pushing and getting a few extra seconds off every time.  I know in the winter, I took myself to task for not working hard enough because I wasn't trying to push it out, and was just happy with myself for being out there.  That needed to be done, but I think I swung everything too far the other way.  I need to take time to enjoy the progress too.  Remember, I was running a 5K at 35+ minutes when I started at the Crim in 2009, and I just knocked out a 27:38 last month.  That's a lot of change in less than two years.  Let's face it, I can't expect that ratio of change to persist forever, so I'm going to have to enjoy things while I'm out there too.  Otherwise, it just won't last.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Awful, Just Awful. I mean, P-A-T-H-E-T-I-C

By Thursday last week, a lot of things were really starting to get to me.  Eventually this ballooned into me having no choice but to go out for one of my "frustration runs."  Now, when I'm running distraught, my feet are almost stomping through the pavement, my body is flailing all over the place, and my form is definitely not the same as when I'm in my usual calm running state.  The point of these are usually just to get it out, and get it out quick.  I normally burn bright, going exceptionally fast, and then just completely fall apart not long into it.  The usual amount of time it takes is probably somewhere between 15-30 minutes.  Most of the time it will all work out to where I die off a good distance from home and have to walk back and think through things after I've burned off all my gas.  It's pretty therapeutic, and gets my wits together, but in no way is it ever to be considered a "good run."

Thursday night, I went out for one, telling my fiance that I would be back when I:  A)  Ran out my frustration. B) Ran out of light C) Ran out of charge on my mp3 player D)  Ran out of energy, whichever came first.  Eventually it was a mix of the dark and the happy running blueberry man on the front of my Blueberry Festival Race shirt rubbing my chest raw that did me in.  I checked my watch and I had been out for over an hour, bad form and all, still not feeling like I purged everything, still not tired, and in complete disbelief that I had gone that long in that state, but more astounded that I hadn't looked at my watch to realize it.  There wasn't any "in zone" running either.  I felt every pounding step vibrate from my foot to my head, and was never really in any state of peace where things around me melted away.

Friday night was a complete emotional drinking blow-up that I haven't had in years.  I'm still completely embarrassed about it, and how I just kind of let it happen.  If you're pounding IPAs and high gravity beers (I know at the Torch it was Shorts Huma Lupa Licious but what I drank at the Red Baron I don't remember), then have a little bit of whiskey and tequila, these things are bound to happen.  Needless to say, there was no happy ending to it, and it involved a lot of sickness and my poor girl driving me home (and a little bit of both combined).  It really wasn't until after that I realized what I was doing, and I felt like a stupid early 20-something again.  It didn't help that I actually had things to do Saturday.

Saturday morning I was in no shape to drive across the state to Holland for the Tulip Festival.  I had planned to run the Tulip race, but obviously that wasn't happening.  It was Jen's birthday and this was her plan, and I had promised to drive the 4 of us (Jen, Ken, Jessi, and I) there, so I force myself into it.  The drive seemed to be over before I knew it because I was focused on how bad I felt, but a little Qdoba and a little bit of Coke on the trip there brought be back to the land of the living. 

It was a good visit, but I still feel like a piece of crap for making us delay going there by a few hours (trying to gather myself in the morning) and missing the race (which had a really cool burgundy shirt of running tulips).  We still did everything else we planned:  seeing downtown, the big windmill island, the dutch villiage, and New Holland Brewery.  Yes, we still went to New Holland Brewing, even though I hardly wanted to look at another beer.  Good thing I've had most of their beers, the other styles were not that appealing, and I didn't have much to try.  I just wanted to try the Imperial Hatter (Imperial IPA) and the Red Tulip (Red Ale), so I got a 10oz of the Imperial, and planned on getting a growler of the other on the way out for a souvenir.

The food there was quite good, but the service was lousy (and I'm never one to complain).  After requesting my Red Tulip growler, about 20 minutes went by with nobody helping us and our waitress came back telling me they won't do a growler of the Red Tulip.  Apparently, for some odd reason that was the only one I couldn't have.  The Imperial wasn't good enough to get a growler, but I tried to figure out something else I could get.  I like The Poet, but a growler of Oatmeal Stout heading into summer won't ever get finished.  I'm not a fan of Golden Cap or Sundog.  I didn't want a full one of the regular Hatter, because I was already full up of IPAs at home, since Jeff was in Friday.  So I went through all the possible options and just told them to forget it. 

I still don't know the reason they couldn't do the Tulip.  All they told me was that it was a special brew that they couldn't do growlers for.  I guess I don't get what the problem was.  If it's a cost thing, price it accordingly.  I'm pretty sure there was no way it was impossible to fill a jug with it one way or another, so that can't be it.  I just don't know.  I've never had a brewery refuse to make a sale, especially when I only had 1 beer.  It kind of seems bad for business.  They did offer to let me sample the Tulip because I said I wanted to try it, but at that point, I was kind of just done with them.  So I tipped the waitress the standard 18% (which was probably more than she deserved) and we left.  I'm not really one to shun Michgan businesses, but I think they may be on my naughty list now.  It was just disappointed, because I've always wanted to go there, because I love their Mad Hatter so much.  I realized there, though, that I've had a lot of their wares and either didn't like them or they weren't my style.  A few even sounded like bad ideas, and I wasn't exactly adventurous considering the night before.  Honestly, is a Red Ale all that special, anyway?  Probably not.

We didn't get out of there until maybe 9:45, and we had been seated since 8:00, so it even made us late for the return back, and this time I noticed how long the drive was.  It probably didn't help that my back power window crapped out on us and it was half down all the way home, which was cold, loud, and annoying.  Just one more thing to fix, I guess. 

Anyway, Jason and I actually ran last night for about an hour, and it felt pretty decent.  It's getting really warm out so we need to build up everything again.  It's a lot easier with cool air on you, instead of hot sun, and hot pavement that seeps through your soles into your feet.  I'm really starting fess up to the idea that the Half-Marathon broke me a little bit too, and a lot of what's happened lately is a subconcious sabotage so I don't ever have to run that far (or further) again.  So, new goal...when they open up the Crim course this summer for all the registered participants to do their practice run, I think I'm going to try to be one of the people that go through it twice and do the 20, running, walking, or crawling.  Big words, I know, but everybody needs a goal.

Amidst all this trouble, I still lost a few pounds (again).  Rewarded for bad behavior (again), ugh.  I don't feel like I'm winning, though.  Sorry Charlie (Sheen).  If I don't shape up, I'm going to pull my own runner card.  It's bad enough that most of the runners I follow on here are superstars compared to me, but when I'm not even keeping up to my standards, I really feel like a slacker.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Backslide

Jerry in his self-named sitcom Seinfeld once said, "Never bet against the backslide."  While he was speaking to something quite a bit different than where I'm going with this, I think the idea that quitting anything you've been doing for long enough really is "like knocking over a Coke machine," and you do have to "rock it back and forth a few times" before it goes over.

I had just set a new 5K PR (again) up in Midland, while being sick, just a few weeks after finishing my first Half.  Not only that, the Tuesday after, I ran my home course that Jason and I always run in 29:34.  Getting this run under 30:00 was a goal we set for ourselves last summer when we were running it in 32-34s consistently.  Then, again on Thursday Jason and I both ran it under 30 again to seal the idea that it was a one-time fluke. 

Too much success can go to your head.  After Thursday, there was still that left-over Easter candy sitting around.  I had been nursing it slowly, and keeping within my goal calorie range, but screw it right?  I took down the rest of the basket.  Cadbury eggs...eliminated.  Reese's eggs...gone, sandwich baggies of squirrel nut zippers and mary janes...emptied, mallo cups....conquered (the spoils of which were the play money, cha-ching!).  So, yeah, I guess that tells you that I pretty much went on a tear, and also that when the older generation is gone, I, myself, may keep all the "old people candy" makers afloat.

With Lent being over there's also the ability to get back to eating fast food and pizza, swilling pop and beer, and not only negating runs in the caloric sense, but stopping them before they even happen by feeling like crap.  Let's do an honest run-down of shame, why don't we? 

Fast Food - I first broke the levee with the 16" Big John Steak and Onion on Tuesday, which I maybe ran off 1/3rd of on the same day. No other instances to report.

Pizza - I wanted to wait and get an actual good pizza and go out to eat, but I had a nice little frustration day Wednesday. Jessi wasn't feeling well and didn't want to go out so we caved to the call of Little Caesar's Hot-or-Ready Pizza special. We ended up buying two mediums, and two breads, and it seeped into two days of eating like crap. Really bad, I know.

Pop - On Easter I managed to find out about Mello Yello Zero coming out and one of my friends managed to find some. Unfortunately this is the same friend that, like me, has an obsession with MY, so she cleaned the place out of it completely. I vowed not to crack a soda until I crossed its path, and did so at a Speedway near work last Monday. They only had 4 bottles, but I took all of them. I've since finished those, had the Mexi-Coke that came with my Easter basket, and during the Pizza incident split a 2-liter of Wild Cherry Pepsi with Jessi (and by split I mean I probably drank 3/4 of it).  I had two Vernors at a wedding on Saturday.  Also, this Monday night I couldn't shake a headache and I fed it a Coke, which worked. Another piece of honest shame written in the book of truth.

Beer - The shocking thing is I didn't pop one open Easter Sunday as soon as possible. Out of the "Four Horsemen," this is my favorite and the one you'd usually see riding out first to end me. I didn't even feel like having beer that weekend, the next weekend, all during the week. It just didn't even seem appealing, and I was saying that I still think I will stick to the "weekend only" rule. I did actually pick up a six pack of Short's "The Curl" to save for when I did feel like it.

Monday night after the headache dissipated, a new one arose. My computer was giving me trouble, and blogger wasn't saving as I wrote my Half-Marathon entry, and I lost half of it. It was late, I was frustrated, and I wanted to finish the stupid thing that night before I went to bed, so I went Curling and had 4 of the 6 beers just finishing that thing up. Sadly, it was probably still better the way I had it the first time, because I was definitely less interested in the rewrite. It happens.

So there it is, the whole story of my success-driven complacency...wait what?  There's more?  Oh, shitake mushrooms (hey, I run a clean show now, people). 

Last Saturday I was planning on running another race.  This time there were 3 I was split between.  I could have went down to Detroit for yet another Belle Isle one, the "Spring Into Nature" race I missed last year.  I could have stayed local and do the Paul Webster Memorial run that  benefits both UM-Flint Students and local children with life threatening illnesses.  Then again, I could have went to Owosso really early and did the Humane Society run.  I even could have visited my step-grandma, who I haven't seen in almost a year, which is too long.  Whatever I did, I knew I should be back for a wedding at 6, but it wasn't a requirement (at least that's what she told me).

The alarm went off at 6, and I wasn't ready to get up, so scratch the Owosso plans.  I went back to sleep and I wake up again at 8 thinking to myself, "Well, I have an hour to get to Richfield park for the Webster Run and I still have time to get ready and get down to Belle Isle, what am I going to do?"  "I think I'm going back to sleep."  I didn't even get up until 10:30, and to compound things, Jessi, her dad, and I went out to Starlite for omelettes and blueberry pancakes.  Probably a nice 1500 calorie swing there. 

Once you start down this path, it kind of affects everything else.  There were a few things I wanted to accomplish Saturday, since I was going to be home anyway, and a lot of it just never happened.  Half the reason I forced myself to that wedding was because I failed so much at the rest of the day.  That only made me worse, because a shirt I haven't worn in 5 years suddenly fit.  Sunday, I meant to catch up on the run I skipped Saturday, but I just ate TV dinners (yes, plurar, as in like 3) instead and watched season 3 of The Wire.  It was just a total system failure of whopping proportions.  Of course with all the big news about Bin Laden Sunday night, it swept the whole day under the rug in my mind.

Since Sunday, though, I've started to turn things back around.  I ran Monday, and did the home route at a 30:32, which wasn't as bad as I hoped.  I needed to see a 32+ time after all this slacking off.  I shouldn't just be able to be almost completely counterproductive for nearly a week, not run for four days, and only gain a minute on a run where I'm not even pushing and my joints feel like rusted hinges.  I felt like I was almost being rewarded for my bad behavior by getting my 3rd or 4th best time on my own home route (that I've ran and timed for over a year now).  Yesterday, I put in another run, so at least I'm back to even on the exercise portion.  The Monday taco night, with the Tuesday taco left-overs put me in a deeper hole in the diet department, though.  Starting today I have to make up for all of this during the rest of the week, and over the weekend, though the other half of me is still screaming at me "Why?  The scale doesn't lie, bud, and you haven't gained a pound, enjoy yourself!"  Cue "The Munchies" ABC PSA from the 80s...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Feverish Loonie Speed

There were two races I wanted to run on April 23rd.  I kept trying to separate them in my mind and pick a clear winner, but I just couldn't pick.  The first one involved running with the Detroit Police down at Belle Isle in Detroit.  It was for a great children's charity, and I still hadn't been to a race at Belle Isle.  On the other side of the coin, there was a race up in Midland being hosted by favorite minor league team The Loons (LA Dodgers A Affiliate), and they were going to give all races a ticket to the game that night.  Both are just over an hour from me.  Both were 5Ks.  I've never ran in either place, but there was a good chance I could run Belle Isle later.  One is only in its second year and the other was celebrating its 5th anniversary, but I couldn't figure out whether I wanted to run a smaller or bigger race either.  I just couldn't pick, and eventually the registration for "Run With the Cops, Not From Them" closed up on me online.  So that kind of made up my mind for me, and I registered for the Loons Pennant Race.

The Wednesday before the race I started getting a really bad sore throat.  Luckily I had Thursday and Friday off from work, due to a mini Easter shut down.  So I tried to rest up and do good by myself.  Thursday the sore throat went away, but it went into a miserable sinus thing with a pretty good fever.  I was burning up, my nose was stuffed but still running all over, my head hurt, and I was just a total mess overall.  Pretty much the same story Friday, and I went to bed incredibly early hoping I could sleep it off.

The alarm came on Saturday, and I started to get up.  Jessi woke up and asked "You feeling any better?" and the answer then was "No."  After getting a shower and getting ready, though, I did feel a bit better.  I was still really sniffly, and about as achey as could be.  The fever was still there, but I went anyway.  The plan was to try to run a little and walk the rest of the way, because just driving in the state I was in was feeling like a chore.

I picked up my packet after stopping in the restrooms on the concourse trying to wash up my hands so the volunteers wouldn't catch my germs.  My face was red as hell, and I was still really achey and feverish.  I didn't want to do this at all, and I was pretty sure my nose would be doing more running than I would.  I went back to the car to get out of the cold wind and sat there until it was about 10 minutes to the start, putting on my bib, drinking some water, and wishing I stayed in bed.

When race time came, I just put on some music early, and stayed off to the side in my own little world away from everyone.  Eventually I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and began running with everyone else.  My bib was obviously for the run, so I figured I better just give it a shot, and off I went.  I could feel every step flowing through my entire body like a wave from the bottom of my foot to the top of my head, and I immediately felt overheated.  However, I did feel my nose start to clear up, and was breathing pretty decent.  So I decided that I could take this one slow, and said I'd be happy with a 32 or 33 minute time.

Early into the run, before mile 1 was over, we went off the roads into the Pere Marquette Trail.  It was about then that tunnel vision set in.  I don't remember the run, anybody around me, hills, bridges, the river next to the path, nothing.  I went into some sort of zone with my music, and the only thing I remember thinking was "I need to get this thing over with."  I just wanted to get to the finish and be done.  I didn't break out of this stupor until I passed the 2nd mile volunteer and heard him say "_____-teen: ___."  I had no idea what he said I was doing, and I didn't care, eighteen, nineteen, whatever.  I didn't even really think about what that meant for my time, whatever he said.  I just went back down into the haze until I came off the trail into the city again.  By then I knew I was almost done.

So I started pushing hard, and regained my awareness of the people around me, my aching body, the fact that I felt like someone lit me on fire, but I didn't care.  I knew if I got to that finish, I could stop running, and that was all I cared about.  That was, at least until I hit the turn.  I saw the clock and couldn't believe my eyes.  I was still looking at getting a time under 28:00.  So I tried to push and cross the finish before that clicked over, and I didn't quite make it.  My clock time was a 28:04, and it still didn't register.  I grabbed a water and a banana, sat down on the steps and enjoyed a nice rest.  I got back up just after, still feeling like crap, and then it hit me...I probably just set another PR, while sick, without even feeling like I pushed myself too hard.  How is that even possible? 

I tried to find some sort of explanation by looking at the winning times and seeing some indication that the race was short.  It was a loop, so the all downhill explanation isn't there.  Everything seemed to be in order.  The winner times seemed about right to me.  I even heard a few comments saying they thought it was a bit long.  I went back to the finish for a bit to watch a few others come in, especially the 35 minute people, because that's where I used to be, so I love going back and rooting them on.  I was wiped, though, and the sickness started coming back.  I went back to the car and took a nap.

I was considering just driving home and skipping the game at this point, but I felt better a bit better after some rest.  I still probably should have just went home, but I walked to the Boulevard Lounge instead, and got a burger and a cranberry juice.  By then I was doing alright, and I decided to stay for the game.  I went back to check on my official time as they were giving out the awards to the age group winners, a 27:38. They had my town listed incorrectly as Midland, but I felt like I owned the place at that point, so it was okay. So much for breaking 10 minute miles, I just broke 9.  I loitered around for a few hours, walking around the town.  There were a few hours there where the sun was out and it felt like it was baking some of the sickness out of me.  It didn't last long though, and it got really cold and cloudy again.

I was still thinking about leaving, but I stayed for the whole game.  I did have to get a hot chocolate and stand by the fire pit to make it through, but it was worth it.  The game ended with a Loons walk-off double in bottom of the 9th, after an appearance from the Rall E. Camel on the big screen.  There are a few kids there that will probably be Dodgers eventually.  They've already sent on Clayton Kershaw and Jerry Sands, and I think they'll turn out a few others in the coming years.  I'll have to head back for a few more games this year, because it's great, affordable fun, even when the weather's miserable and you're sick.

Brenty Claus (sans red suit) Conquers the Martians

When you're leaving for a new destination race, even within your own state, sometimes it's just best to leave a good deal early.  This, and "don't buy any running shirts, you'll get plenty along the way" are the only 2 major pieces of advice I've come up with over the nearly two years I've been going at it out there on the road.  It doesn't matter if you have directions or not, things can happen.  The race can get moved at the last second, you could have trouble finding somewhere to park, or your registration could get misplaced.  Anything can happen.  What happened before our first half marathon was kind of interesting.

I knew the Martian races were happening at a place called Ford Field in Dearborn.  What I didn't know was that everything in Dearborn is named after Ford.  When I got to where I thought we were supposed to be, I saw a few of the 26.2 and 13.1 signs on cars, but it seemed like there weren't enough people there.  When we walked in all geared up for running, a clerk at the desk of "Ford Field" asked us if we were there for the race.  After telling her affirmative (if you take your K-9 to Human translators out we actually said "yes"), she said, and I'm not kidding "Ok, you want to be at Ford Field, not Ford Field."  Yes, really.  So after staring at her blankly, which I'm guessing happened a lot that day, she told us how to get there.

After following her directions we ran into a mass of people and no parking, but Jason eventually pointed out a "For Lease" sign on a business, which is just as good as a "Free Parking" sign.  We quickly got out of the car and followed the masses to where they all seemed to be going, and found out the place was just a big field/parking lot. field, I get it.  After picking up our shirts, we had 5 minutes until race time.  So we just had to slip on the shirts under what we had on, pin on the bibs, throw the rest of the packet stuff away, and get in line for the race.  So much for a warm up and a stretch, or even mentally calming down after nearly missing the start.  Like it or not this race is happening now...and, oh crap, I forgot my headphones (Coby 2) in the car.

Jason and I wished each other luck, and off we went.  The start was an immediate uphill, which tightened up the calves instantly.  In came the immediate doubt, and around me I heard a few others vocally expressing the same.  Just then, I heard somebody yell out "Brett Favre!  Brett Favre!"  I look up and there's a silver-haired, middle-aged man that could probably pass for Favre out getting his mail and crossing the street as one of the racers called out his doppelganger's name.  You could tell by his smirk that he'd heard that one before.  That got me laughing and I took the next few steps a little lighter.

Not long after, I came across an Army soldier running the half-marathon with full backpack, and figured that if he was running it like that, I could probably make it with my human weight too.  Still though, how bad-ass are our service men and women?  Me and another guy talked with him a bit (as much as our breath allowed) and found out he just got back from Iraq, and apparently this was how he was spending his down time.  Somebody deserves a B.A.M.F. on their wallet, for sure.

About mile 2 or so, I was starting to get into a groove, and we had the pleasure of running down a highway ramp, and headed into a ridiculously long stretch of straight shut down mini-highway.  It was nice to run in a place that was relatively flat, but it was also pretty open, and my face was collecting a nice film of dirt the whole way.  From mile 2 on, all I could think about was getting to the turn-around, and apparently it couldn't come fast enough, because I was pressing hard.  At one point I actually caught Jason, which was proof I was going way too fast. I was pressing into 9 and some change minute miles getting to the half point, and for the distance we were going, this was not a good idea for me.

Despite that, I kept pushing on, and hit the turn-around, only to have the mental block come in with me thinking,  "wait, I gotta do this whole thing again?"  I slowed down to a running version of dead crawl and, though I didn't stop, it was looking like I might as well have.  Then it happened, again.  It seems that somehow, whenever I feel like I'm going to fade out, I get a little friendly push or some divine intervention.  About mile 7 or 8 a bigger guy like me still forcing himself toward the halfway point threw out a low five to me, and told me "Keep pushing, you're doing it for all of us."  At that point, I really did feel that this thing wasn't just for me, it was for all us big guys out there.  I had to try to be the best of us, try to be the fastest guy my size, and get this thing done to do us all proud.

Suddenly I was back up, and catching back up to the people that just passed me in that bad stretch.  In mile 9 I made a friend and she said it was about this point that she wonders why she does this to herself.  I said that in another mile I'll be pushing farther than I've ever run before.  Then she said something about how "we" would probably have to stop in a bit.  I assured her I didn't plan on walking and kept going, eventually losing her, but Jason passed and lost me about this point as well.

Mile 10 hit, and so did the temptation.  All around me people were dropping like flies, stopping to walk, and I was passing the lot of them, but there were so many ahead, around, and behind me that just quit there.  It would have been so easy just to join them.  I thought, "Well you did the Crim distance, that's pretty good, right?  Everyone else is walking, there's no shame in that, right?  Look, everyone else is taking a break."  I just couldn't do it.  I don't know what it is in me that just refuses to let these races beat me, but I just won't surrender defeat like that.  So I kept pushing toward that Army water station I knew was up there from the trip down, and as I approached I started to realize something.  I was in uncharted waters.

I just breached the 10 mile mark, and I was still running.  Not only that, I looked around me, and there were only the skinnies.  There were no big guys ahead in sight.  I was all alone, and I was noticing the volunteers were really excited to see me up there.  They really cheered me especially hard, and it wasn't long after that when I started hearing it from the runners too.  It may sound cheesy, but it was the first time I really felt completely respected out there.  People just kept verbally tipping their cap to the fat guy passing them or keeping close to their side.

However, the real challenge was yet to come.  Every long race seems to have its race-breaker.  The one spot that is put in, by design, to break all of us and pull our running legs out from under us.  I didn't know it, but that was about to come.  Instead of going back up the ramp with a slight incline like I thought we would, we cut slightly off to the left onto a trail, and then, after a hard left, there it was.  It was a nice short, but steep, hill and a lot of races were buried there that day.  I know I passed more than 10 people just in that very short stretch.  I didn't come out unscathed, either.  I know I really slowed down from that hill, but not anymore than anyone around me, and I was still gaining here and there. A man next to me said to his son "See that girl with the water bottle, we can get her," and I followed with them to pass her in mile 11.

I continued to get a lot of respect the rest of the way.  It seemed like every other person I passed at this point wished me well, because a lot of us had been fighting each other off a lot of the way on the back side of the race.  One woman, who I had been going back and forth with for the past 5 miles told me "doing this at your size is amazing" and I didn't even take offense at all.  I just took it as it was meant, as a compliment.  It was the first time that I felt like I earned everyone's respect out there.  I know at this point that I belong, but to hear that much from others letting me know I do was just, I don't know, almost an out-of-body self-realizing experience.

As we neared mile 13, I hit the nitro.  No matter how far the race is, it seems that seeing the indications of the end make me find something left I didn't know I had.  I lost the people that had been fighting to keep in my range, and started picking off some others as I hit the last turn.  I tried to keep the sprint, and I did until i finally hit the end.  I turned and rooted on the others in my group to the end, and chatted it up with the lady again, and told her good job.  I grabbed my water, and then realized that I was a bit woozy.  I guess running for that long and suddenly stopping will do that to you, so I started to walk it off a bit and got my wits back.

Eventually I found Jason up getting some bagels and pizza, and trying to recover.  He was dead too.  I got my banana and a bagel, and stretched out for a bit.  Then we had to go get more water, and sat down at a picnic table.  There was a lot of discussion about how maybe we better not ever try a full marathon, how dead we were, how we felt, and how maybe we won't ever do even a half marathon again after that.  I guess our "10 miles is just as good as 13.1 if you feel good after 10" training program wasn't as accurate as we thought.  That last 3.1 is hard, both mentally and physically.  Well perhaps it was harder, because is was actually 3.4.  Yep, the Martians measured wrong, and we did end up going .3 long, so I have an actual time and an adjusted time (to correct for the .3 extra) for that race.  What kind of cruelty is that, you horrid aliens, making us poor Earthlings run an extra .3 just for fun?  Oh well, my actual time for the 13.4 was a 2:24:11, and the adjusted (for 13.1) is a 2:20:53.

After the race, we lumbered back to the car and drove to Miller's Bar.  Miller's is semi-famous in Michigan and is often touted as the best burger in Southeast Michigan.  After waiting about 30 minutes we took two seats at the bar, and probably lost the bartender's attention the second we ordered our drinks.  With Jason off drinking completely and me in my non-alcohol Lenten phase, the water and cranberry juice probably didn't excite him too much.  I think since we weren't boozing, we kind of got snubbed.  Our food took forever, but at least we were getting the best burger ever, right?

Well...I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion.  We we're perfectly primed subjects to be impressed.  We were exhausted, starving, and completely anxious for the burgers.  They just didn't deliver for either of us, though.  I thought it tasted a little like a mix of McDonald's and this place up in Traverse City called Don's.  Not bad, but not the Excalibur, be all and end all, we were primed for.  Honestly, an average Flint or Detroit burger will blow them away any day.  That being said, though, if you are in the area, it is still worth the trip.  The cash only honor system where you tell them what you had and they ring it up is charming, and it's fairly reasonable in price.  It's just not something I would go out of my way and travel for like many people have.

After eating we headed back to the finish to get a photo of us together, and got roped into taking down a tent, which had a loose pole that popped out and hit me on the leg.  Luckily it didn't do much more than bruise me, because it could have been a nice lump or a broken foot.  Wouldn't that be the breaks, getting hurt after a race while trying to do nice and help the coordinators take a tent down off from a platform (see below).
                                                                 Finish Photo (an hour later)
                                                                      Martian Police

                                                                Shirt Front and Medal
                                                                  Back and Medal
Anyway, that's how it went, and despite the post-race whining and crying, I'm already signed up for another halfer.  I have shaken off the bad feelings and still think I want to do the full marathon, it may just not be this year.  I actually recovered from the whole thing pretty well, and was already back running the Tuesday after.  That was probably too soon and I did take a little down time the next week after a sore knee, but I got right back in gear after that.  After sifting through some photos and looking at times, I found out there was one guy about my size that beat me, but I also found out that this guy is actually a semi-well-known, fully-sponsored, fat runner guy.  So he's maybe the best of us, and you know what, I'll get him next time.

Still more to come, I haven't caught up quite yet...

*5/26/11 EDIT*

Jason managed to find us in a video from the Dearborn Patch.  Starting at about 0:56 and ending about 0:59 you can see us come and go on the left bottom of the screen and run through the frame as we started out the journey.
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