Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Runaway Groomsman (Crim #5 [4th 10-miler])

Things have been nuts around here lately.  A lot of it's just general life stresses, including the up-in-the-air job thing right now.  When I'm stressed, I tend to run more.  That's good in at least one way, because I have a marathon coming up.  The major bad thing about that, though, is I've had mild ulcer problems before.  I'm hoping they're not coming back, but when your gut burns from drinking water too fast, you kind of have to accept that they might be.

It didn't really help things when, as my wife and I were getting ready for work Thursday morning, our Corgi, Renfield, went into a seizure.  A half-dressed morning trip to the vet for me, and a half day of work missed, and we're not sure what caused it.  It could have been something he ate.  He could have eaten breakfast too fast and that could have caused it, or he's at the age where, if he's going to have them regularly, it will start.  So, a couple doggie pills and a bill later, we're just watching and waiting for if or when it's going to happen again.  Depending on how things pan out, we'll take the necessary action/inaction.

He's okay now

Friday was the rehearsal for my friend's wedding.  The rehearsal went smooth, and we all met up for dinner at Wolverine Brewery in A2.  The groom and bride's family made the food, and rented a room there, while we had a few drinks and watched the Tigers game.  We all got our bridesmaid and groomsmans' gifts.  I have no idea what the ladies got, but the men all got some sweet comic-inspired cuff-links.  I got Iron Man, and the others got Hulk, Captain America, Spiderman, and Superman (one lonely D.C. guy).  Even the ushers got some really good, rare bomber bottles of beer.

I know I never set up the drama of Saturday, but I was running the Crim, knowing that I had to co-best man a wedding at 12-noon that same day in Ann Arbor.  For the record, the Crim starts at 8am.  To run 10 miles, get out of the crowd, get home, and drive to a church over an hour away in the span of 4 hours is a pretty daunting task.  That's not even mentioning the fact that I really was supposed to be there at 11am (an hour early).  

The morning of the Crim hits, and I have this ominous feeling that I shouldn't be running.  I considered dropping it right then and there and just heading to the wedding.  J showed up, and gave me a little pep talk, and suddenly I was ready.  I didn't know how I was going to do it, because my practice times have sucked lately, but I was going to go out there, run my best Crim ever, and get home in time.  I was going to do it for my friend and his wife-to-be.  I wouldn't let myself down by missing the race, and I wouldn't let them down either.  I was going for the two win day.  Besides, this was the friend that tried to talk me into doing the Mackinac Bridge Run on my wedding day (though I chose otherwise).

J and I walked down to the race, got into the corral, and the race started five minutes late (five minutes that I felt I desperately needed).  Group A and B went before us, and then we were off.  The first two miles were changed slightly from the year before, and, to be honest, I missed the spot on Saginaw St. where the big crowd used to cheer us on.  I get why it was changed, though, and I think that same crowd will eventually set up shop on the UM-Flint campus.  It will be an improvement eventually.

One thing's for sure, I went out way too fast at the start.  My first mile was an 8:33.  That is not exactly setting up shop for the long term.  I had to cool it down a bit, and even then #2 was an 8:39.  From there I just kind of did what I could.  I figured whatever I could squeeze out of me, I was banking some good time to make it to the wedding on time.  I kept thinking that I was doing it for the bride and groom.  I was going to push as much as I could, and just ignore how much it hurt.

Crim Stats

That's exactly what I did.  I even strained harder during the second half, to the point where my split at the first half was not much faster than my split time for the second.  Everyone around me seemed to be able to tell how hard I was pushing too.  I had a lot of moral support out there.  Even some cool high school dudes were trying to get me to stay with them and keep up.  That's also exactly what I did.
I crossed the finish with an official time of 1:31:19 for the ten mile race.  That's a 9:08 per mile, a course record, a PR for 10 miles, and pretty much a race of general ass-whipping by yours truly.  I took 16 seconds per mile off my personal best, which was two years ago, and I haven't even been working that hard.  Just like Allen Iverson, I only seem to show up on gameday (practice?), and that's 5 course PRs in a row for my last five races.

Crim Route
I rushed through the finish, grabbed my medal, cut through some people to grab a water bottle, and made my way through the crowd to open space.  I immediately began running side-by-side with the 5K runners to get back to my house as fast a I could.  I'm sure people were wondering what the hell I was doing.  I cut through Mott and got home at 9:53.  J beat me home by just about a minute, as he also ran one hell of a race.  We were showered and suited/tuxed up by 10:05.  My wife couldn't believe that we made it back before she even left, and we all rode down there together (saving a half tank of gas, woohoo!)

I made it to the church at 11:08, and I was the first groomsman there.  Great success!  I also chose to wear my Iron Man cuff links, which I thought was a rebellious move, but apparently so did ever single other guy.  Even the groom went with his X-men ones.  

The ceremony was beautiful.  The priest even read a few passages from what they wrote about how they first met.  That was adorable.  We all were able to walk up and down the aisle with our bridal party partners without falling.  I was present to hand off a ring.  All was well.

After my co-best manning duties, it was time to jump back into husband duties.  I was back to carrying around the camera bag as my wife did the photo-taking for the wedding (at least when I wasn't in the pictures).  We stopped at Ashley's pub with the bride and groom for a pint or two and some food.  Then we went cruising around Ann Arbor taking photographs, me still carrying a camera bag and also, now, the bride's veil.  I'm one heck of an assistant.

Photo someone took of the wedding party that I borrowed from the facebooks.

After that, we went early to the reception hall to make sure everything was going well before the guests arrived.  A trip to Meijer and a few trips to the gas station for ice, and everything was perfect.  We had a nice dinner, and as soon as the real music started, having a couple Yuenglings in us, there was a party on our hands.  There was also a plastic goose that spent half the night on the dance floor and may have made more photo appearances than even the bride and groom.  There may also be a few photos of me holding a goose going "Gangnam Style" (no maybes about it, they exist, see one below).

Goosenam Style

It was the perfect day for the perfect couple, and we all had a great time celebrating their union.  Not only that, but all the friends and families were really good to each other.  They just have so many good people in their lives, and I'm glad we could all get together for them, and get to know each other over this past weekend.  I even ran into the groom's brother Sunday.  We were both returning our tuxes at the same time, and I popped into the mall bar for a few pints with him and his uncle, and talked about how wonderful the wedding was.

Happy Couple

This year's Crim shirt and my four medals.
2013 Medal

Monday, August 5, 2013

...And The Legend Makes Three

Once again I made my annual trip to Laingsburg to run The Legend Half Marathon.  The general history of this race and I is that it kicks my ass, and my time is usually a huge disappointment.  With my year not exactly going so well for me, and just my general lack of enthusiasm, I wasn't really expecting much from this race, other than finishing.  The Trail Half a few month ago was a 2:43, and I've been running very sporadically due to nagging injuries.

I got down to Sleepy Hollow State Park about an hour early.  This race usually doesn't require you to get there too early, unless if you want to hit the restrooms before the race, that's a different story. No J with me this year, but I did run into another friend.  So I wasn't just sitting around by myself before the race people watching.

We got split up just before the race started, so I just jumped into the corral a couple minutes before.  As with every race, people seem to just start of way too quick, but I figured I'd just go with the flow this time and stay with them.  Early on, I latched on to a guy/girl running couple that was keeping a really nice flow, and a little pack formed around us.

Somewhere between miles 3 and 4, nearly everyone in that group was stung by a hive of disgruntled bees or wasps.  I'm not sure which it was, or where they were coming from, but there were about 5 or 6 people immediately around me that were stung.  I also think that, unfortunately, one of them was allergic, because she swore pretty distinctly, pulled off to the side and looked like she was searching for something quickly in her belt bag (epipen?).  I'm sure that's one of the worst times to get stung too, when your heart is pumping hard and circulating everything faster.  I got a good sting on my right leg that actually bothered me pretty good for a few miles with a strong burning sensation, but it eventually lightened up.  I never really stopped to look at it or pull out the stinger, though.  I just kept running, hoping it wouldn't affect me too much.

About mile 9, I went past my pace couple, who stopped and pulled off for some reason.  So after that I was on my own for a while.  There were other runners around, but at this point in the race they just weren't going steady enough for me and were alternating fast and slow too much.  My mile pace finally started drop off a bit, but, barring a full-on bonk, I was actually in good shape to have my best trail half/Legend course time.  With my lack of training, I felt the bonk was coming, though, so I was just trying to save as much time as I could before it hit.

Luckily it never really did.  Sure, the last few miles of this race are really hilly, and my per mile times dropped a lot, but it was not like the last two years where I just felt I was dying.  There was no drop to a snail's crawl.  I just kept fairly steady at a fairly normal run pace.  I even kind of welcomed the sunny spots at the end and they seemed to do more to energize me than wipe me out.  I just hit the last few mile markers of 10, 11, 12, waiting to die off, and it just never happened.

I pulled on up to mile 13 and booked on through the finish, giving whatever I had left, crossing with the Garmin telling me about 2:21-something.  I grabbed my Legend medal and was handed my pint glass and medal for running all three of the Serious Series (indicated by the pink dot on my bib).

Mug, Legend Medal, Series Medal

I stopped at the curb just after, and pulled out the stinger from my legs with my nails (shocked it was actually still there and didn't pop out at some point on the trail).  Then I met up with my friend and sat down for a bit.  Eventually he had to take off, and I did my usual trip down to the beach to jump in the water, cool off, and rinse off all the sweat.  I think every summer race should end at a lake.  That's one of my favorite parts of this one.

Just PRed for a Trail Half.  I should look happier

After that, I swapped out for some clean clothes, and stopped at the Stone Grill Pizzeria in Laingsburg, where I completely undid all my calorie burning with their "mac & cheese pizza," which was awesome.  One day, I'll have to have a regular pizza there, not just penne with cheese on bread, because the crust was just perfect.  This time though, I had to go with something weird and off the reservation, because that's what I like to do at new places.

Mac & Cheese Pizza.  Yum.

Now Entering the Non-Running Portion

Anyway, I'm sorry I haven't been on much and haven't written. A lot's been going on. I did over 100 hours of bus riding back and forth to Las Vegas to be in my best friend's wedding and make a speech for that. I didn't really think I'd like Vegas much (I don't gamble and I'm not usually allured by flashy towns), but I actually had a really good time, without dropping a lot of money. I got to spend some time up at the old strip and the new strip. I drank several weird, new beers. I had my very first In & Out Burger. I got to see a Queen LED light show. Saw a few hours of the World Series of Poker live at The Rio. That, plus seeing my friend, his new wife, his parents, and his friends (some I've met, some not) was all worth it. Even the hotel stay was nice, for the very very few hours I was there and actually sleeping.

Hello Cowboy

Me by New York, New York.  The only photo proof I was in Vegas
until the wedding pictures show up.

Getting there and back was a bit more dodgy, though.  There was a bus driver that abandoned us on the way there.  I had a guy on my bus that said he was the second person to invent electricity and that the government had stolen his two Nobel Prizes.  This man was also at one point shirtless and eating barbecue ribs on the bus, making a mess of everything.  That same man actually was on the same bus as me when I headed back home a few days later, too, but he seemed more level.  Maybe he went to the City of Lights for a medication adjustment.

Anyway, the way back was a nightmare.  Our first bus broke down at the station.  I missed my first connection in Denver, and that cost me 5 hours, and rerouted me to Indianapolis.  I was supposed to catch a bus home from there that I missed by 30 minutes, due to our driver taking his sweet ass time, taking all breaks and not even bothering to try to make up some time.  So when I was told I would have to ride back to Chicago and get home 10 hours later than I was initially supposed to, I had a tantrum in the station that I honestly am surprised didn't get me detained.

Usually, in a travel situation, if you are a person threatening lives, throwing baggage around, calling the city/state you're in at the time a "sh*thole/Northern Mississippi/A place that should be completely dug out, filled with water, and made into another Great Lake, punching signs and knocking them over, and screaming obscenities to where the entire station can hear and is looking at you, well.....you usually don't get too far.  In this case though, I just got back on a bus for Chicago, not much more than an hour later.  When all was said and done, I was home 12 hours later than planned, at 1:30am.  Then I had my wife take me to Taco Bell, and some idiot chick in the line ahead of us, who apparently didn't get her cinnamon sticks, tried to back right back up to the window without looking and hit my wife's car.  Luckily it did no damage, but I was in a mood and got a lot of nice choice words in.

Last weekend we did our annual canoe trip.  This year we did it without canoes, though.  Everyone else wanted to try tubing, and I just kind of went along with it.  We had a nice Friday night by the campfire talking, eating food, and having a few beers just before the rain hit.  My brother-in-law talked me into shotgunning two of them, and with my 5am wake-up that morning, I didn't last much past dark, retiring about 9pm.  We chose the 3 hour tube trip at 10am, and that was a wise choice.  We got rained on a little bit, but we still were able to float down and get a good chunk of sunshine, and the 10am start was late enough for us to grab breakfast at a little diner in town.  As soon as we got back from tubing, though, a really heavy, relentless rain hit, and we all said, "screw it" and picked up the entire camp in 20 minutes and went home.  It's no fun being in tents when it's pouring, and we already had one night of rain.  It was a good decision.  The rain up there never stopped, and as we were heading home, it was dumping buckets down, enough that it was actually really tough to drive in.

Vacation Hats in the On Position

Vacation Hat Couple

I think I've chosen a signature pose


Tubing is Alright
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