Friday, December 2, 2011

Another Change of Venue

Neither Blaine nor I have been terribly enthusiastic about the SLO Marathon. Aid stations are too far from each other and the last station is more than three miles from the finish line. So after mile 23, when you're tired, hot, and dehydrated, there's no orange slices or water stations. Brilliant job, guys. And that's for a $110 ticket.

So we're going to run the Buzz Marathon in San Miguel instead. It was recommended to me by Ann Whit, a woman who I did a sports article about a while back. She said it's a really fun marathon. I sort of got the impression that if Han Solo were a cowboy who ran marathons, this would be his marathon.

Everything about this marathon is great. The following happy list is based on back-and-forth emails I've had with Blaine.
  • $40 entry fee*
  • Money goes toward athletic programs at a local school*
  • It's in February, when the weather is still nice and cool
  • It's an out-and back — less spectators, but you get high-fives from folks going the other direction
  • There's a half-marathon, a 5k and a children-under-12 1-mile run so everyone can participate
  • The track is out in the sticks off public streets — means no car exhaust at all*
  • There are aid stations and porta potties every two miles*
What's killer about this is that even Cassandra has decided she's going to participate unless her messed up foot is too messed up. She'll do the 5k, which is just great. I'm working on getting Jaylyn and the twins to do the kid's 1-mile. We shall see about that.

I think I speak for Blaine when I extend an invitation to all of you nice folks to run it with us. Everyone should be able to do a 5k in any case — maybe this is the time to make it happen. You've got 78 days. We'd love to see you out there.

* denotes that it kicks the pants off the SLO Marathon

Monday, November 21, 2011

Since I Last Wrote

Immediately after my run last night.

Things have happened.

I took a break from running. Not really on purpose. It just sort of happened. I got a little sick and just didn't go back. Well, not for a while, anyway. But I'm proud of how I did get back on the road.

You see, there are a ton of iOS apps with variations on the name "Couch to 5K." The idea being to get people from doing zero running to being able to run 5 kilometers without stopping. Five kilometers is 3.1 miles.

The pride comes in because I was able to get sick and not run for weeks on end to completing 10k on a whim. That's pretty stinking cool.

I'm now running that distance, about six miles, once a week, but I've got to ramp it up. I like running and would really like to get back to my faster pace and longer distances. I've got a marathon coming up, after all.

And things have gotten cold. In the photo above, I'm wearing a long-sleeved mock turtleneck under a normal bright yellow running shirt. I also had gloves and began my run with a knit cap. Oh, and I wore shorts. It was cold. I ended the run with my gloves rolled up exposing more wrist, my sleeves pushed up and my hat tucked into my belt. Weird how much heat a body generates when exercising. No wonder they call it warming up.

Anyhow, I've also learned how to bench press at the gym. My goal is to forevermore be able to bench press my body weight five times on my birthday. I'm about 160 pounds right now and am lifting 90 plus the bar itself which is probably 45 pounds.

And since all the resources I found said you count the weight of the bar, I'm lifting about 135 pounds, not too far off from my goal.

Lastly, as mentioned above, I'm still on for running a marathon with Blaine. I'm more than a little worried about the marathon since they plan on leaving me to my own devises after mile 23. Expect an editorial in the New Times on that topic in the near future. At this time, I don't have a plan for how I'll deal with those last three miles.

Related: the SLO Marathon has a half-marathon and also a 5k. As of this post, it's 152 days away. Plenty of time for all you non-runners to train up for the 5k. Honestly, nothing would make me happier than running with you, no matter what the distances. Obviously more is better, but I don't think I can overstate how happy I'd be to finish the marathon the same day one of my friends finishes an official, timed 5k or half-marathon.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


My girls' 10th(!) birthday was yesterday, and it was really nice. All my friends weren't able to be there because the party was all age-appropriate kids, no toddlers or similar. Everybody who showed up was between 8 and 13 years old. Pretty cool.

We ate burgers and Cheetos and drank fresh and delicious homemade strawberry lemonade. I think it was Cassandra who made it, but Tracy may have helped. Huge kudos either way, on the best drink ever.

Jim asked me a strange question. Well, it was a pretty straightforward question, but it struck me as strange because it's so alien a thought to me.

That question? "You're eating Cheetos? You gonna go guilt-run?"

I have never exercised out of guilt. Ever. I've exercised out of frustration, anger, irritability, and boredom, but not guilt.

You see, I eat well. The vast majority of the time, I eat healthy, whole food without high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated rapeseed oil. And I get a lot of exercise. I make it to the gym about three times a week and run once or twice per week and play disc golf or ride my bike for transportation or walk or what have you.

That's an actual dinner I ate once. I had help.
So when my daughter's birthday rolls around and I eat a handful of Cheetos and more watermelon than I really need, the last thing I need to do is shake it all up like a carbonated beverage in my belly by running. No, I just move on. I gymmed the next day, but it was because I hadn't done anything in two days, not because I was punishing myself for eating Cheetos. Eating Cheetos is punishment enough. What they do to the inside of your mouth and to your fingertips is incredible.

Being healthy is something you are. It's not something you do. But living, being alive, is also something you are and do. Punishing yourself for living is what religious people do. My self-loathing is far too small for that nonsense.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Changed My Mind

I will not be running the Long Beach marathon in October as previously planned. Marathons have quite a steep entry fee and I cannot afford to do two in a year. Further, October is just after September, which is when my daughter's birthday is, and just before December, which is when Christmas is.

So instead, after discussing it with friend and partner in crime Blaine, we will run the very first San Luis Obispo marathon instead.

In the meantime, we're also training up for a half Iron Man. The plan is a simple one. We've both (almost) got bikes, and there are no less than five swimming pools in the area. So we'll start at one of the pools where we will swim. Once done, we'll hop on our bikes and ride about 30 miles, then stop and run 6 miles. It'll take planning, of course, but why the heck not?

Additionally, I'm looking at some much smaller triathlons with my kid. Three laps in the pool, a 2.2-mile ride to the high school track where we'll do 2 laps, 1/2-mile.

So plans change. But that's fine. It's not like I'm derailed. I'm just reorganizing.

But since there's about 230 days to go before the marathon, this blog is turning into a general fitness blog instead.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 29, 2011

New Route, Limitations Understood

Last night, I had a great run. Not my longest ever, but a really good run. I did 8 miles and my pace was 9 minutes per mile. I stopped twice: once to pee and once because it's a new route and I got slightly lost and confused. Had I done neither of those things, my time would have been closer to 8:45 per mile, I think. But when you gotta go, you gotta go.

The new route is killer. It's an almost 2-mile loop on a residential street with great visibility. I never ever felt like I was in danger and that's cool.

Here's a map of the route:

The loop is pretty obvious. I run counter-clockwise. All runners run counter clockwise. I don't know why that is. E represents home. I only run that little leg to and from the loop.

I learned pretty definitively that 8 miles is my soft limit for short runs. Let me see if I can explain that.

Good socks are expensive. Cheap socks are cheap. For short runs, I run in cheap socks. But after about 7 miles, the socks hurt my "ring" toes, if you get my meaning. Expensive socks are made of wool and don't hurt at all, but I can only do so much laundry, so I save the good socks for runs greater than about 8 miles.

Next, I run out of fuel at about 8 miles. I can keep going after that, but it's absolutely no fun. I need to pick up some gels to down at about miles 6 and 10 to keep me going.

Mind you, for once I'm not complaining. Oh, I could complain about it, but I now know a legit limit, why it's a limit, and how to get past it. Which sounds like a success to me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Pair of Lessons

I took a week off running. I wasn't feeling great and didn't want to get sick. Plus, I just needed some time off running.

I started up last night with the intent of doing a quarter-marathon but only got five miles. Glad I cut it short, not so glad I didn't cut it shorter.

You see, I ran without my knee brace. I thought to myself, "it's not really doing anything. I'll give it a shot without it on a short run." A great idea in theory, I suppose, but in practice, that knee brace does a lot. It keeps my knee straight which keeps my foot and hips straight which keeps my other knee straight which is why my other knee — the one that never has a brace on — hurts this morning.

Well, it doesn't hurt. It aches.

For all that, I had a great pace. I'd have had it down to 8:30/mile had it not been for taking a wrong turn and getting confused and standing there trying to figure it out for however long it was. The trouble was I started running down a street I usually run up. It was familiar but wrong and I couldn't figure it out for the longest time.

Oh, well. It was a good run and I feel basically good this morning. I wont run without my knee brace any more, so that's a good lesson to have learned.

On my last big run, some people were having a party at a house along my run. I talked to them a little bit every nine minutes or so as I ran past. It was a weird little relationship. I ran 10 miles doing laps past their house, they were hideously obese and disgusting and smoking and drinking out of beer bongs. But they also approved of what I was doing. They filled my water bottle for me once and cheered for me every time I went past.

It's weird how encouraging cheering is, even when it's coming from people you solidly disapprove of. Maybe it's because I value my running and when somebody else values my running — even if they don't value running for themselves — it feels good when they let me know.

My goal for this week is another 6-mile, quarter-marathon run and a 13-mile, half-marathon run. I need to go to the bike shop to get some gels first.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Thought I Learned How to Snack in Kindergarten

My last big run was supposed to be 11 miles, but I only had 10 in me. Why? Because 10 miles is a damn lot of miles, that's why. And there's this nutrition issue.

You see, I told my iPod that I'm 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds. A while back, I ran 7 miles and my iPod told me I burnt 817 calories. By way of comparison, a Dunkin Donuts Coffee Coolatta is 904 calories.

The point is by the time I'd finished 10 miles, I was out of fuel. Hell, by 8 miles I was out of fuel. Mile 8 was hard, mile 9 was miserable and mile 10 was more harm than good.

So what am I going to do when I run 26.2 miles?

Well, eat, that's what. And I need to practice doing it now. So I ordered one of these:

Camelbak Quick Grip, $19

It's called a Camelbak Quick Grip. The backpack thing, I mean. the water bottle is a water bottle, and I already run with one of those. I guess I sort of figure that the water bottle backpack has enough room to store some raisins or orange slices or gels or something. I can have a quick bite around mile 6 and have the fuel I need to get to mile 10 when I can have some more.

I dunno. Maybe I'm being stupid. Maybe what I need is a little lunchbox I can leave on my route with a little letter that says, "please don't steal my running food. If this box is gone when I get back, I'll kick your ass."

Problem is then I have to run a mile with a box, so I dunno.

Maybe I need one of these instead. It just seems so effing big.

Camelbak Delanay, $39.

It's a belt pack. I don't know how I feel about that. It's horribly nerdy, but it's got storage for what I need on the big runs. Is it the tool I need? Is it stupid? Does anybody have one I can try out? Do they have a rental I can try for $1 a day? Am I missing an easy and obvious idea that has nothing to do with this stuff? Help!

Ok, that's enough from me. I ran 10 miles and also ran out of fuel. I'm an idiot and need to fix it and don't know how and don't really want to spent a ton of money doing it.

In my next post, I'll write about the drunkards who cheered for me on my 10-mile run. That was great.