Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hey La Hey La The Bigfoot's Back

Last year's Bigfoot Snowshoe Race was as much of a disaster than it was fun.  Just like all good experiences, nothing goes perfect the first time.  This year we sought to do better, come better prepared, and finish this thing faster (i.e. not finish dead last in the 10K)

We got off to a really good start.  The first thing J and I both did was inspect the shoes from last year.  His needed some obvious repairs (they fell apart last year).  After an inspection of mine, I found I actually lost a screw and a nut anchoring my front crampon down and what holds my foot in place on the right side.

So J got the Home Depot to match them up, and I bought a few off of him and went to repair the missing one and tighten down the rest (several were loose).  Then I got some heavy duty, all weather, automotive Loctite and put that on each and every nut/screw connection and submitted them for final inspection.

Inspected by Renfield
With the jobs not being as forgiving this year, we got a late start after work Friday, which made for a dark drive up to Traverse City.  Slippery and dark are not my favorite conditions, but I did some good, slow old lady driving and got there just in time for almost everything to be closed.  There was one place open that we found called JP's Hard Luck Diner.  It was there that I became the ultimate fat kid.  I keep insisting I'm going to be healthier, and I have been trying, but there is this thing inside me that if there's some sort of new food abomination upon man, wholly horrible for me, that is on a menu, then I have to have it.  JP's had the TomTom.  The TomTom is a burger with a over-hard egg on it, which is bad enough.  The kicker, though, is that the bun consists of two grilled cheese sandwiches on either side of the burger itself.
Human Garbage Disposal
The next morning I woke up to get ready for the race, and I quickly realized I forgot my little bag of running goodies.  This meant no body glide and several other things, but most importantly, no athletic tape.  So, despite every time the word snowshoe comes up I think of taping my heel, I was going to have to go without and hope for the best.  I had to hope that just adjusting the shoes right and having time to put them on correctly would save me.  So I just got dressed and drove to Timber Ridge with my wife and J.

We got there plenty early, took a few pictures, and stood around a while watching people's dogs, wishing we could have brought ours.

"Homeboy Shop" pose  We're bringing it back.
My lady and I
'Squatches (The Overall Winner Trophies)
When the race started, I was all ready to get on with it.  I bent down to do one last strap adjustment before the start, and then off we went, except me.  My bib fell off and I stood to the side before the start refastening the thing to my pants.  Not the epic start I was going for.

Oh well, I slowly chopped my way through the crowd, and was making some pretty good time compared to last year.  I believe the course was identical to 2012, and I could pretty much tell where I was going.  I was through the first 5K loop, and I didn't feel like my heel was falling apart or that I had to stop for any reason.  That was a welcome change.  I also finally could see J in front of me, and I wanted to catch him.  When I did, I was going to stay with him for a bit, but he wasn't moving really well and wasn't too responsive to me, so I went by him and kept going.  He said he was kind of enjoying the time alone out there.  I get that.

We both were still leaps and bounds better than last year at that point.  We just had to finish strong.  I latched on to a fellow big guy and we kind of pushed each other back and forth.  I was poised to go get him, but I finally realized that even a properly adjusted shoe wasn't going to save me.  My trail shoes are a bit worn in the back by my heel, and they did actually rub me enough to do some damage.  I could barely tell with the cold until the skin was probably broken, and for the last quarter of the race, I was hurting a bit, and running a little gingerly.  It was definitely not like last year where I had the broken toe, and the skin on my heel was almost completely gone.  It was also the complete other foot (my left) this time.

I'm the Curt Schilling of Snowshoe
Anyway, I toughed it out and finished the 10K Bigfoot at 1:21:18.  For those of you keeping score, that's a full half hour off of last year.  In fact, when I came in, my wife was still reading her Kindle, and not even ready for us to be close to done.  She was shocked when I came up to her and jumped in her chair a bit.

After, we stopped by the hotel for a bit to rest and soak our legs in the hot tub.  The view from the room was unparalleled...
Yeah, that's J in the photo
After the rest, we went on the usual brewery trip.  This year we hit 3 in a row.  We stopped by Traverse City Brewery.  The amber, IPA, and pale are good, but the second round was pretty bad, and I would say skip the rest.  Food was fabulous, though.  I'd recommend the mac and cheese.

We had to stop at Right Brain again.  They moved to a new, larger location, but the quality has not changed. They're still making fantastic beer.  I had the Norther Hawk Owl again, which is their delicious flagship amber.  Then I had the Irish Goodbye, which is the other red, which is a lot smoother, but just not as delicious.  I finished off with the Mangalista Pig Porter, J filled up his growler (we forgot ours) with some IPA, and off we went to the next adventure.

We tried yet another new place called The Filling Station.  It is next to the rail tracks in TC, and it is shamelessly train themed.

The order numbers you put on your table are
 little rolling magnetic train cars

We had two of the flatbreads with some veggie toppings and they are delightful.  The one beer I had was pretty good, but I was not up for any more.  We were tired, and it was time to go back to the hotel.  I spent the rest of the night watching some Cinderella, Alice In Wonderland, and some boxing on HBO, before watching SNL waste Jennifer Lawrence (who is usually pretty funny just on her own) on some very very poorly written skits.

The weather in the morning was horrible.  There was snow, very high winds, and not a lot of visibility.  So we decided to stop for breakfast at the Flapjack Shack.

I'm posing like a doofus on purpose.  Why?  Long Story.
I had a dutch baby pancake.  It was fantastic.

"I ate a baby!"
I can't wait to do this race again next year.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

...And Just Where Have You Been Mister?

First of all, I'd be lying if I said I kept in the groove since you last heard from me and my Dickens 10K PR.  My running buddy, outside of a random run last Friday, has been a little M.I.A. (other than my Christmas Apocalypse party on the 21st, where beer was promised) and so has my mileage.  I can't blame him though.  I can't even blame weather, because I love going out in this stuff.  The plain truth is, I just wanted out of it for a bit, and wanted to enjoy some holiday time.

Don't worry, I'm working myself back in.  I also now have a little help to track running.  My wife got me a Garmin Forerunner 410 for Christmas, which was a really nice, unexpected surprise.  I really didn't think she'd do anything to increase the amount of time I spent away from her and with my pavementy mistress like this summer, but, yet, here it is.

The only real problem was trying to figure it out, which, honestly, took my a while.  I'm not really bad with technology at all, it's just this whole circular toggle thing threw me off.  Sure it's intuitive for you iPod people, but I always buy things with hard buttons and tend to avoid touchscreen type things.  So there was a shamefully long "What the H?" period with this thing.  Luckily I got it now.  Well at least I get the basics.  Some of the extras I'll pick up over time, as I feel like needing them.

I wasn't going to write here until I figured out some annual goals, but this is not going to be a standard year.  There are a lot of mandatory life changes coming, and some are long overdue.  Running may have to take a slight backseat.  I have some general health goals I'd like to accomplish and hold myself to, but I'll get into that a bit later.

This year the running season will begin with the Bigfoot Snowshoe Race in Traverse City.  The Chicago New Year's Day run was more than I felt like spending, and the Frozen Blueberry was this past weekend, where I was just recovering from a horrible week long cold.  My goals for that are simple:

1)  For God's sake, please be faster than last year.
2)  Don't rip all the skin off my heel and bleed really bad during the race
3)  Don't finish dead last in the 10K like we did last year.
4)  Don't get off the path and get lost out in the trails

Pretty simple right?  I'll let you know

Anyway, since every blog deserves a photo, and I didn't have any that applied to what I just wrote.  Here is a photo of my John Denver/Muppets vinyl, complete with its original poster that I found over the holidays.

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