Monday, December 31, 2007

The Year That Was...

Jan – 83 miles
A new year and new goals to go along with it. I started something new in 2007, running on the 1st. I managed to get some quality runs in despite there being snow on the ground. The goal of 1000 miles seemed obtainable, and my goal race of the Flying Pig Marathon was just five months away.


Feb – 68 miles (151 for 2007)
The month where the wheels came off. At the start of the month we got dumped on by huge amounts of snow – so much snow we didn’t see the grass until mid-March – and while running one day in that snow, and the ice that resulted, I slipped and strained my calf. The resulting drop-off in miles set me back in my training for the Pig.


March – 62 miles (213 for 2007)
It took some getting used to running in the winter – cold, no big deal; snow/ice, totally sucks. I ran a 5k, the Irish Jig, and finished over a minute slower than the last 5k I ran in October. Between the leg issue, the snow, and getting used to my work schedule during the spring I really started to have doubts about the Flying Pig and reaching my goal of 1000 miles.


April – 62 miles (275 for 2007)
T started on the couch-to-5k plan popularized by a formerly great website (damn you active.com!) and as a means to work my way back to running more with my injury I started running some of her runs with her. I realized at this point the Flying Pig probably wasn’t the wisest decision on my part: my two longest runs to date were 12 miles in January, and 11 miles in March. I could probably still run the full marathon, but I wouldn’t enjoy it and would probably end up injured. So, after much deliberation and advice from some friends I switched to the half marathon in Cincy. The leg did start to respond and I started to run easier.


May – 100 miles (375 for 2007)
Finally arrived at my goal race, the HM at the Flying Pig. We had a great time meeting some of the 30s and I got to run my second HM. Let me tell you, running for more than two hours is much easier when there are people you know with you every step of the way (so thanks again Ann, Kathleen, and Joe). My finishing time was a new PR (barely) but on a much harder course as compared to Grand Rapids. I finished the month on an upswing: running was easy again and I ran more miles in a month than ever before.


June – 97 miles (472 for 2007)
T and I ran a 5k the first weekend of June, again my time was slow, but then it was a hot, humid day, so not a great performance on my part. After this race though I decided that the Grand Rapids HM was the goal race for the fall (again) and that if I wanted to do better than I did in Cincy, I needed to take my training seriously. So, take my training seriously I did. I was using Marathon Plan A from Daniels’ Running Formula and I slowed down and actually ran easy runs to build my base up. The rest of the month went great…right up to the point when we left for California/Taiwan.


July – 103 miles (575 for 2007)
T and I spent the first week of July in Taipei, Taiwan, at a conference she presented at, and as a result my training took a bit of a backseat. For starters, it was ungodly hot/humid there and running outside was not likely due to both the weather and traffic. Second, I was supposed to start adding in some speed work – again, not likely. So I managed two runs while we were there, but I wouldn’t trade the trip for anything! After we got back I hit my stride. Runs were easier and I was putting in some pretty good mileage. I ran a 10k at the end of the month, broke an hour, but every race isn’t going to be a PR.


Aug – 148 miles (723 for 2007)
My best month of running for the year. Despite it being the most hectic, due to preseason practices, etc at work, I managed to run 24 days during the month and managed to have some great quality tempo/interval workouts as well. Everything just sort of fell into place training wise.


Sept – 126 (849 for 2007)
I continued to run well, easy runs were getting easier and the quality workouts weren’t kicking my ass nearly as much – even though the workouts were just as tough. It was about this time of the year that I really started to get optimistic about doing well in the HM in Oct.


Oct – 105 miles (954)
Racing month was upon me. Towards the end of September T and I decided to run a 5k that a friend’s running store was sponsoring. I figured it would be a nice way to break up the monotony of the usual runs and as a way to gauge how I might do later in the month in the HM. I set a new PR and realized that 25 minutes for a 5k might actually be possible. Then I obliterated my HM PR by almost 18 minutes at the end of the month.


Nov – 84 miles (1038 for 2007)
Despite the superb performance in the HM, I just had a lot of trouble with my mojo during November. I did manage to help T to a new PR in a 10k on Thanksgiving Day and I met my goal of 1000 miles for the year. Besides that, not a lot of anything went on this month.


Dec – 84 miles (1122 total miles for 2007)
A continuation of November. I struggled to find motivation, plus the crappy winter weather started a bit earlier this year. On the positive, we bought a treadmill so I won’t have the “it’s icy outside” excuse anymore as I look towards my goal race for 2008. I ran 443 more miles in 2007 than I did in 2006. I stayed healthy for the most part. I set a new PR for a 5k and HM. All in all, I would say it was a pretty good year.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas

Just now getting caught up after the family visit over Christmas. I wanted to post pics of two things:


1) Even though it technically wasn't a Christmas gift, here is the latest item T and I splurged on. Pay no attention to the circa 1970's paneling in the finished basement of the apartment please.


2) The very cool new red iPod I received for Christmas. T got eveyone to chip in to help defray the cost (and to keep her from going over our predetermined limit). Have all the music I currently have in iTunes and it is only half full. Busy downloading/importing as we speak.

Now, I need to get back to work on my end 'o the year post.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Announcement

Attention Everyone:

It has been brought to my attention by more than one person that I have been neglecting this blog. One person went so far to ask me if I'd abandoned it. Sheesh. You get a bit busy and find you are having trouble putting thoughts together and they think you've given up!? Just kidding.

I sort of fell off posting here after the HM in October and seemed to lose my motivation for running, as you probably noticed from the lack of runs being listed on the right over there. I can say that I've managed to find my running-mojo again! Today was the 6th day in a row that I've run and I've logged 15.5 miles this week (starting Monday)...and that is good considering what I have in store for myself.

You're probably asking yourself "What the hell is he talking about?" I've signed up to run the HM in Madison, WI on Memorial Day weekend, but that's not my goal race for 2008...no, that would be a different race that has to do with the counter over there. In less than a month registration will open for Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN, and after that point I'll be locked into making my marathon debut (or be out the $$ for the registration) on June 21.

So I need to get my ass out there and run so I'll be prepared.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wow, Look At The Time!

Life has really sucked me in these last few weeks. However, free time is upon me at the end of this week.

Will be back then.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

Sticking with the current template - at least for the time being, but I did change some of the elements and stuff on here.

Added a countdown details to follow - and it will be interesting to see if anyone can correctly guess what it is counting down to...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Commemoration



Three half marathons, three stars.

Yes, the one in the center is pink. Pink for the Flying Pig in May.

Yes, I'm crazy.

1,000 and counting

I started running in 2003 in order to shed a few pounds for our wedding. I drove around Albany, Oregon, where we lived in the car and plotted some routes. I ran a couple of miles here, a couple of miles there, but nothing really consistent. Wedding came and passed. We moved to Eugene, Oregon, later that summer and you can't help but be caught up in the running vibe of Tracktown, USA, so I kept at it. I really didn't start taking it serious (logging miles, having a training plan, etc) until I decided to run the Butte to Butte 10k on July 4, 2004. I know I bought new shoes right after it and logged just over 70 miles the rest of that year. That's right 70 miles in six months.

My running started to take off in 2005...I ran a few more races, ran the Butte to Butte again that summer, this time with T. I started to feel better; I had a training plan and running gadgets. I logged 350 miles in 2005.

I set a goal for myself, and I think T's reaction was one of utter surprise - to run 600 miles in 2006. I planned on running a couple of 10ks, ran some 5ks, started to think about running a half marathon in 2006. Things were going great, right up until the point when we moved across the country. Running seemed to take a back seat to real life, plus trying to get used to running in the heat and humidity of August was a challenge. I'd signed up for the half marathon in Grand Rapids in October. I was woefully undertrained, but went through with it. I liked the experience enough to keep at it. Finished the year with 679 miles, so I accomplished my goal.

2007 I set a new goal. 1000 miles. 321 miles more than I ran in all of 2006. T thought I was crazy again. Started off the year with an injury due to running on the ice/snow. Had to change my plans and only run the half marathon at the Flying Pig in May (which turned out to be the best thing), met some of the great 30s group I call friends. Decided after the Pig that if I was going to meet my goal and have some success with the absurd pastime I need to really focus. I've run more races this year, setting personal records, met more of the 30s, logged more miles.

Why the rambling recap? Today I met my goal for 2007. 1001 miles as of today.

I've met my goal, so it's time for a new one…the goal is now 1200 for 2007. I’ll let you know what the goal is for 2008 in a few weeks. A hint though – 26.2.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Today Is A Great Day...

Today was a great day. All around. Being surrounded by friends and T only made it better.

Last year I ran this race as my first ever HM and did ok all things considered (you can read about it here). In May I ran the HM at the Flying Pig and did pretty decent considering the course, etc (you can read about it here). After the Pig I realized that if I was going to do any better I would have to really dedicate myself and put in the miles/work necessary.

So I did. After the race in Cincy I increased the amount of miles I was running – I’ve been over 100 miles each month since May – and I made the effort to be consistent with doing the quality speed work that the training plan called for. This was my goal race all summer. Today it all paid off.

The weather couldn’t have been better – very cool at the start (34F) with little to no wind to speak of and after sunrise there wasn’t a cloud to be seen for most of the race. I was fortunate to have friendly faces around me at the start to ease the nervousness – one of T’s colleagues and one of the 30s from Kickrunner.com who traveled from out of state to run the race. I had kept my goal for today pretty close – I’d talked about it with 3 or 4 people – because I didn’t want to put it out there and be disappointed if it didn’t happen. My goal was to break 2 hours, my PR being 2:14:52 in Cincy.

We started off pretty easy – first race ever that I didn’t pass someone walking the race in the first 2 miles, which was very nice – and the pace felt good. It was still dark enough that I was having trouble reading my garmin with my sunglasses on. First mile: 9:01

Just past the first mile marker we were merged on to the bike path – pretty crowded and I almost made the jump back into the street just because I felt really boxed in and could feel myself slowing down, but we made a turn, past a water station and things thinned out nicely. Mile 2: 9:09

Fell into a pretty easy pace – having a friend alongside made a HUGE difference. It’s one thing to have snippets of conversations with other runners, but to actually carry on a conversation with a friend – priceless. The miles started clicking by fast enough that I actually looked over and said “these miles are going by pretty quick!” Mile 3: 9:02, Mile 4: 8:54, Mile 5: 8:52

We entered Millennium Park and I felt pretty good. Saw two people I knew – T’s colleague who was running the relay with her, and one of the physician’s covering the event that I work with. Nice to hear my name from familiar voices at this point. Mile 6: 8:45

Out of the park and downhill back to the bike trail. Looked at my friend and said “we might see T, so keep an eye out for her” – sure enough just before mile 8 we saw her! She was looking great. Mile 7: 8:53, Mile 8: 8:48, Mile 9: 9:02

Started to feel the effort in my legs a bit at this point…started thinking about other people I’ve interacted with on the Kickrunner and some of the experiences they’ve had here lately. Some of their words/mantras started bouncing around my head as I passed mile 10 right at 1:29:xx – so I knew that unless something really bad happened I would be able to make my goal. Mile 10: 9:04

Turned a corner, passed a water station and got separated from my friend (after she crossed the finish line I found her and she said she walked that water stop) and kept going. 3.1 miles to go. I tried to keep up with the people in front of me, letting them pull me along for a bit. Mile 11: 8:57

Back towards town. Keep my feet moving. Don’t lose sight of the people in front of me. Mile 12: 8:45

One mile and change to go. Don’t stop now. Gave it everything I have. Passed the Mile 13 marker, 8:25, and powered on to the finish line.

The most beautiful sight was the clock at the finish – it read 1:59:30 – so I new no matter what I’d exceeded my goal of finishing in 2 hours because it took me at least 2 minutes, or so, to cross the finish line.

Total time: 1:57:08. I took 17:49 off of my previous PR.

So:
Thank you Maria – I got comfortable being uncomfortable.
Thank you Dom – TCM didn’t provide it for you, so share in my PR today.
Thank you Maureen, Lori, and a few others – for keeping my goal a secret.

Today was a great day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What?

Excitement/nervousness is starting to build...look at the counter over there.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Into The Wild

First read the book for the first time in 2003 (I think) after reading Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. Krakauer is one of my favorite authors; own all of his books, so maybe this opinion is biased. You decide.

The story has been well publicized over the years since the book’s release so I don’t think I need to be too cautious about revealing elements of the plot. The movie is very true to the book in all aspects: the pacing, the way the story is told, and Krakauer was even hired as a consultant on the film to ensure accuracy.

The idea of leaving the trappings of society behind is intriguing, but actually abandoning society as McCandless did is beyond my comprehension. Even prior to his hike into the wild of Alaska he was living his life by his own rules – something that many of us long to do. However in his quest to live his own way he alienated himself from the people who cared the most for him; his sister, his parents, and the friends he acquired along his journey. The distance to which he kept his friends away probably is what boggles my mind the most. I understand his desire to escape the parents he felt betrayed him, but to put walls around himself with friends I don’t understand. I’ve mentioned in previous posts my thoughts of friends being the family we get to choose in life…maybe it’s just my way of looking at things, but the people I choose to let into my life are the ones that I hold the most dear (Sorry family – I hold you guys in a special place, I just didn’t get a say in the matter of who you are.) His willingness to walk away from those relationships in pursuit of his own fulfillment, I just don’t get.

Emile Hirsch did a wonderful job portraying McCandless…his charm, his intelligence, his loneliness. Truthfully that is the only way to describe the way McCandless spends his last weeks, days, hours…truly alone. The most moving scene in the movie is when McCandless has reached the point in Alaska that he’s ready to return to the real world only to be faced with the cold, hard reality that returning to the life he knew is impossible. The resignation of being stranded sinks in and while he faces the reality of what is to come with dignity, it is truly, truly sad and moving to watch him approach his final hours.

From the book “Into The Wild” and notes that McCandless made in the book “Doctor Zchivago”:

Next to “And so it turned out that only a life similar to the life of those around us, merging with it without a ripple, is genuine life, and that an unshared happiness is not happiness…And this was most vexing of all,” he noted, “HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED.”

It is tempting to regard this latter notation as further evidence that McCandless’s long, lonely sabbatical had changed him in some significant way. It can be interpreted to mean that he was ready, perhaps, to shed a little of the armor he wore around his heart, that upon returning to civilization, he intended to abandon the life of solitary vagabond, stop running so hard from intimacy, and become a member of the human community. But we will never know, because Doctor Zchivago was the last book Chris McCandless would ever read.


Less than three weeks after making those notes Chris McCandless was dead. Dead from boldness. Dead from ignorance. Dead from the direct consequences of decisions he made. Yes, he died alone, apart from everyone who cared for and loved him, but I feel, at least, he died at peace.

The note he makes in "Doctor Zchivago" – “HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED” struck me to the core and has been lingering in the back of my mind since I walked out of the theater Friday night. Do I share my happiness? If not, why not? That has been the thought this great story has left me with, and I’m not sure I have an answer yet.

Not Much Time Left...

See the counter over on the right? Yep, only 6 days until the HM. Starting to get a bit nervous and excited.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Words

Everyone knows the old adage of “actions speak louder than words” and at times I couldn’t agree more with it. But, if we only go by actions we might miss something very special.

Words have power, both good and bad – but I’m focusing on the good with this, words can illicit wonderful things in us. Words can be in the form of long handwritten letters to loved ones, small notes left in a loved ones lunch box, or even in the modern age emails. Words can be spoken face to face.

All forms have importance.

Words have importance. Words can come from people far away and impact your life when you least expect it, and when you need it most. Words can be whispered into your ear so no one else can hear causing that smile to spread across your face.

Words have power. Words should be respected and used frequently. We should share our words with the people that matter to us.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Completion

The process I began on Aug 29 came to completion this past Wednesday night. It isn't exactly what I thought it would be when I started, but I think it couldn't be any better. Thank you Jay.


The Beginning


The End

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Conversations At The Bar

After a productive morning of racing followed by me baking myself during a soccer game T and I decided that we deserved a reward and headed to the New Holland Brewery for a few drinks and some food.

We were lucky enough to get seats at the bar in that lull between the afternoon and evening crowds. Always see interesting people when we are there. Yesterday it was an alumni gathering for the college in the town and a wedding party – complete with bride and groom still all dressed up. Sitting at the bar you’re privilege to conversations that you don’t always here sitting at a table, such as this one:

Guy at bar: I really don’t like anything you serve here. Do you have something that tastes like a Rolling Rock?
Bartender: not really, but the closest thing would be a Zoomer

Or this one:

Guy at bar: Can I get a Corona?
Bartender: No, we only sell beer that we brew.

Both times my jaw almost hit the bar! I mean, come on – how do you walk into a place that has New Holland Brewing over the front door and not get the message that you are in a microbrewery?

I think T and I were the most taken back by the guy asking for the Corona, because you should have seen the look of disappointment on his face because he was forced to drink something brewed on premises.

I remember those times – back in college when I thought Miller Lite was the greatest thing ever bottled. Drank only to get drunk. I don’t think I truly appreciated the differences in beer until I was 25.

Another conversation from the bar:

Woman at bar: I don’t really like strong, hoppy flavored beers…what do you have that I might like.
Bartender: You could try the Harvest Ale, or we have our seasonal pumpkin ale.

See the difference is the last person at least had an education about beer, new what she liked and disliked in a beer. Which person at the bar do I want to be like…the woman. Which person at the bar do you want to be like?

The Greatest 5k Ever - yes, that's the name of the race

This race had been brought to my attention by the manager of the New Balance store (she’s the partner of one of T’s colleagues) and it looked like it would fit perfectly in my schedule: three weeks out from my half-marathon and it happened to fall on a Saturday when I didn’t have any events to cover at work (I did end up having to work but everything worked out in the end).

This was the first race I’ve run that had a 10 a.m. start. It was a nice change of pace but was part of the problem of me having to hurry to work afterwards – I had to skip the hot meal they were providing! The race was held in a park along the Grand River that is used for cross country races by some local high school and the college I work for, and when I found out the location I was wondering if it would be on the paved paths or not. The course map on the website wasn’t the most helpful – it was hand drawn and then scanned looked like. When we got there you could see the course was set up as an out-back/out-back type on the paved paths.

T ran this race as well and we were both running this for our own time so as we were standing at the start waiting for the horn/gun I think we both were a little nervous – ok, I know I was nervous. See the thing is the last race I ran, a 10k in July, I wasn’t pleased with my performance. This race though I had hopes of setting a new PR prior to finishing up the training for the HM in three weeks. After a few words of encouragement the horn sounded and we were off.

I started out near the back so the first quarter mile or so I was getting into a rhythm and passing some people. It wasn’t until about a half mile into the race that I looked down at my garmin: 7:45 pace. WTF? – that’s what I thought to myself. I kept going, passed the one mile marker: 7:56 for mile one. NO way can I keep this up.

Just after the first mile we turned around and headed back to the start/finish – I was still passing people, and I started to find a pace that I thought I could maintain. I could start to feel the heat (why is it above 80F in October?) taking a toll on me as I neared the two mile marker: 8:27 for mile two. Ok, this is the pace I had as a goal, or close enough.

I passed the start finish line and headed out for the other out/back just as kid maybe 12-13 was finishing. Always nice to see the younger kids taking part in this absurd pastime. Here is where I started to struggle. Less than a mile to go, I just want to hold on to the pace as best as I can and finish. Make the last turn and head to the finish with about a half mile to go. Just as I’m approaching the finish I see T – she looks like she’s going strong. I push to the finish and can see the race clock. Even though I know my chip time will be less the clock shows that this is a PR for me. Cross the line, stop my garmin.

Finish time by my garmin: 25:47
Chiptime: 25:48

I took 63 seconds off of my PR. I feel pretty good going into the HM in three weeks. T (she has her own story to tell) and I celebrated with some good beer after the soccer game. All in all a good day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Well...

The tattoo on my leg is almost finished. Just small details to fill in two weeks from now.

After it heals a bit and the colors look like they are supposed to, sometime this weekend, I will post a picture.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Review, What's Ahead

Last week completed all scheduled runs on my training schedule. Only caveat is that Saturday's run instead of being 5 miles was only 3.6 miles because T and I ran on the trails in a local park that pretty much wore us out.

Week Ahead:
Monday 4 miles easy
Tuesday OFF
Wednesday 4 miles easy
Thursday 8 miles (one hour easy + 3x5 min tempo + 15 min easy) *may switch Wed/Thurs since I finish my tattoo on Wed
Friday OFF
Saturday 5 miles (most likely with T)
Sunday 15 miles (2 miles E + 2x5 min tempo + 10 min easy + 2x5 mint tempo + 2 miles easy - good thing I can program that into my garmin)

I'm still feeling pretty good about how my training is going this time around, just hope things continue to go well.

Typical Sunday

Alarm goes off at 7 a.m.

Out the door at 7:57 a.m. for your 14 mile long run - which by the way felt incredible. Great morning for a run, temp was still in the 40s when I started. Never seemed to struggle like I have in the past trying to go that type of distance.

This afternoon: grading, visiting Open Houses - yep, we're starting that process and it has me scared shitless.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Good Stuff...Good Stuff

Tonight’s run might have been the best run I’ve had in months. Felt completely effortless. At one point I looked down at my garmin and saw I was running at a 9:55/mile pace. Did a double take because that number surprised me so much! Last week I was struggling to maintain 10:30/minle pace. Heart rate was right where it is supposed to be. Effortless, that’s the only way I can describe it.

It wasn’t only great in that aspect but whether it was the time of day, or I had a better day at work, or what, but it was just one of those runs that felt good mentally.

A few weeks back we did a CD exchange amongst the 30s on Kickrunners. One of the group took it upon herself to organize a blind exchange. I spent quite a bit of time working on the CD I sent, and received a very positive response from the person I sent it to. I listened to it tonight as a playlist on my iPod. The songs have specific meaning to me and as I was listening to them random good thoughts kept popping in/out of my mind such as:

I’m glad Beaker enjoyed the CD.
I wonder what song she liked the most.
I wonder what song she didn’t like.
This song reminds me of T and our wedding - matron of honor quoted the lyrics in her toast.
Ooooh, this song brings back junior year of college.
Listened to this CD on the way to New Orleans in grad school.
Is that a dead animal on the sidewalk? Yes it is, and not freshly dead.
I see a white mailbox and it reminds me of something McTortle posted.
Little kids playing in the yard – remember what that was like.
Beautiful sunset.

The five miles went by in a blink. I almost went an extra mile just because it felt that good to be out there doing tonight. Tonight was one of those runs that reminds me why I do this…I’m sure that will be beaten out of me tomorrow with the tempo workout.

Monday, September 17, 2007

You’re not going to start chanting are you?

One of my favorite movies is "Point Break". I saw it in the theater at least 2-3 times when it came out (I was still in high school), watched it countless times in college thanks to one of my fellow Evans Scholars also enjoying the movie as much as I do. I know it’s cheesy as hell, but get a few beers in ya…

There is a scene where Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) the surf-guru-zen-master-bank-robber is discussing surfing with the impressionable young FBI agent Utah (Keanu Reeves) after a fight on the beach that Bodhi intervened on Utah’s behalf. In this scene the two are discussing the group the altercation was with and surfing:

Utah
What's their program?

Bodhi
Brains are wired wrong, they're into bad shit.

Utah
Like what? Illegal shit?

Bodhi
Maybe, I don't know. That's not what I'm talking about. They only live to get radical. They don't understand the sea, so they'll never get the spiritual side of it.

Utah
You're not gonna start chanting or anything, are ya?!

Bodhi
(laughs) I might!

Utah
This is me.

Bodhi
So, uh, you still haven't figured out what riding waves is all about, have you? It's a state of mind. It's that place where you lose yourself and find yourself. You don't know it yet, but you've got it.


That’s what running is for me, that place where I lose myself and I find myself.

I’ve tried to break myself of the habit of always taking my iPod with me on runs to give myself some time to think and I’ve actually enjoyed that time to myself. It’s given me time to think of things to post here on this blog, time to mull over problems/issues in my life, and time to just zone out as if my run was a meditative exercise.

Do I expect everyone to feel this way? No. I know that some people will never feel that way about running. To some it will always be a dreaded activity that they must do in order to maintain weight, to some it will always be about beating the person next to them in the race, and to some it will be an activity to be avoided at all costs.

From “Without Limits” one of the movies about the life of Steve Prefontaine, part of a speech Bill Bowerman gives the track team:

Running, one might say...is basically an absurd pastime upon which to be exhausting ourselves. But if you can find meaning in the kind of running you have to do to stay on this team chances are you can find meaning in another absurd pastime: Life.

So maybe I’m just trying to find meaning in this absurd pastime…and maybe I’m hoping someone else will as well. It is nice when someone does share the viewpoint I do on this absurd pastime. You know who you are.

And yeah, I just might start chanting.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Week Ahead

Wow, am I glad this past week is gone. Worst week of running I've had in months. All week I just felt unmotivated, tired, and struggled to get myself out the door to get my runs in. Only ran 21 miles last week.

Thing is I think I know what the issues are:
not getting consistent good sleep
not eating properly and hydrating well throughout the day

Go back a month ago when I was cruising through workouts I was taking care of both of those, last week not so much.

So here it is, the upcoming week's training schedule. I'm hoping that by posting it here all three of you who read this will help keep me honest if you don't see that days run shown over in the right hand column.

Monday - 5 miles easy
Tuesday - off
Wednesday - 5 miles easy
Thursday - 9 miles quality workout: 2x(10 min easy + 15 min tempo pace)+ 2 miles easy
Friday - off
Saturday - 5 miles easy, most likely with T
Sunday - 2.5 hour long run which will be about 14 miles or so

I'm starting the last six weeks of my training plan, the amount of miles per week is decreasing and I'm cutting some of the workouts down to keep myself in line with the amount of miles I'm supposed to be running (note: I'm using a marathon schedule so I'm decreasing the quality workouts in this last six week phase).

Now I just need to eat better and actually drink some water throughout the day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Can You Tell Me How To Get...

T had this on her blog...did the "test" about 3 weeks ago or so and I'm just now getting around to posting it. It lets you know what Sesame Street character you are:

You scored 89% Organization, 53% abstract, and 76% extroverted!

This test measured 3 variables.

First, this test measured how organized you are. Some muppets like Cookie Monster make big messes, while others like Bert are quite anal about things being clean.

Second, this test measured if you prefer a concrete or an abstract viewpoint. For the purposes of this test, concrete people are considered to gravitate more to mathematical and logical approaches, whereas abstract people are more the dreamers and artistic type.

Third, this test measured if you are more of an introvert or an extrovert. By definition, an introvert concentrates more on herself and an extrovert focuses more on others. In this test an introvert was somebody that either tends to spend more time alone or thinks more about herself.

You are very organized, both concrete and abstract, and more extroverted.

Here is why are you Big Bird.

You are both very organized. You almost always know where your belongings are and you prefer things neat. You may even enjoy cleaning and find it therapeutic. Big Bird is never sloppy and always under control... pretty good for a 6 year old bird living without a family.

You both are sometimes concrete and sometimes abstract thinkers. Big Bird can be quite dreamy at times and has no problem using his imagination. At the same time he is also practical and can be methodical in his search for answers to questions. You have a good balance in your life. You know when to be logical at times, but you also aren't afraid to explore your dreams and desires... within limits of course.

You are both extroverts. Big Bird gets along with everyone. He makes friends easily and always has a positive attitude. You definitely enjoy the company of others, and you don't have problems meeting new people... in fact you probably look forward to it. You are willing to take charge when necessary or work as part of a team.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Interesting Question...

T and I were walking out of Costco today on our normal Sunday grocery run when I noticed a disply for cabinets, carpet, tires, and caskets. Yes, you read that right, caskets.

My only question is this: do you have to buy caskets in packs of 4 or 5 like everything else in the store?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Accomplishment

They come in all shapes and sizes. They happen at work and in our personal life. They can be something as simple as being told "nice dinner" after fixing a meal for a loved one, or as major as a promotion at work (and the accompanying raise).

I think the ones that matter most are the accomplishments that are personal in nature - dropping that clothing size, starting an exercise program, finishing that race you signed up for, completing that project around the house.

I've had some in my life recently...some were mine, some were T's, some were friends'.

Just wanted to say a hearty "Well Done" to all of them.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Mug Club

No, it's not some sort of Harry Potter fan club.

T and I spent Saturday doing some shopping in Holland, MI. Some time at the outlet mall and then in downtown Holland before setting up shop at the New Holland Brewing Company.




Enjoyed a nice IPA, one of the ones that is brewed on-site and in small batches. Very tasty.



New Holland has a Mug Club. $40 per person to join, one year membership. Get some great discounts on beer, some great discounts on growlers, discounted admission to some of their events, and they have events that are for the Mug Club members only. We inquired about joining. Bartender tells us there is a waiting list of 34 people and memberships expire at the end of the month and if they aren't renewed then the membership is available and that most likely we're looking at a 3-4 month wait and would we want to go ahead and get on the waiting list. We tell him yes...a guy next to us at the bar (Mug Club member himself) says, "you can always say no later!"

Bartender disappears...comes back about 1 minute later and tells us that if we want to join/pay today there are availalbe slots. Hell Yeah! Sign us up!

T is member #304
I'm member #310

We get our own personalized mug.

September 2nd

Important date for T and I. September 2, 2000, was our first date. It was a Saturday night, I was in Nashville with a friend to see Miami beat Vanderbilt.

Met T for drinks in downtown Nashville afterwards.

Rest is history.

August Recap

Here are the numbers:

For each week of August (including the two partial weeks) the number of miles I ran -
39
18
35
39
43

For the month I ran 148 miles. New record. Old record was July 2007 when I ran 103 miles.

Consistency is paying off.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My Path...


This post was first put to paper back in the first days of July when T and I were in Taiwan. Had plenty of time to think…almost 27 hours total on an airplane and 5 days in a foreign city can provide ample time for things to come and go in your mind.

The idea for this artwork just hit me out of the blue before we left on our trip. T and I were watching something on PBS, a program about Sting and lute music – don’t ask. The musician performing with him had a lute that had a labyrinth on it…it stuck with me. The idea of a labyrinth resonated with me as a statement on our journey through life…so I googled it. Came up with some images. Decided on one as a tattoo. My statement. But we were leaving for Taiwan in less than 4-5 days. T wouldn’t let me get it done before we left. So we traveled to Taiwan…

My posts “Standards” and “Friends” were frequently bouncing in/out of my thoughts then and “Friends Part 2” I actually sat down and wrote while we were there as a result. I’ve rewritten/revised the following many times. I hope it makes sense:

We travel through life as if we are on a path. We can’t really see where it is leading and we can only really look back where we’ve been.

We can choose some of the companions with us on our path.

Some companions choose us.

Friends may be on a similar path for awhile…our paths may converge or they may eventually diverge and leave us to our path.

Paths of friends and family may overlap, but no two paths are the same.

I am fortunate to share my path with a wonderful person. I’ve been fortunate to be guided along my path by wise people when choices of direction were required. Without their guidance who knows where I’d be. I hope to repay their kindness by guiding others when needed on their path.

From my path I can see certain friends…some friends have drifted further and further away with each passing year. And with each passing year new friends’ paths seem to draw nearer to mine.

So to honor my path, I’ve placed a symbol of it on me…a symbol that resonates with me. Not a map. Who has a map for their life’s journey? No, not a map…but a representation of the twists, turns, dead ends, and the open reward. My path.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What a Difference a Year Makes

Things are going pretty well all things considered. First week of classes under my belt, fall sports in full swing, and my training for the Grand Rapids Half Marathon is going better than I could ever expect.

This time last year I was getting used to a new state, new job, and trying to train for my first half marathon. Looking back at the amount, and quality, of miles I put in leading up to the event I probably was overreaching a bit in even attempting that distance. Probably lucky I didn't injure myself.

May - 75 miles
June - 57 miles
July - 14 miles (ok, so there was the move across the country which should be factored in but still)
August - 45 miles

Not exactly the best mileage base.

Segue to this year. Since the Flying Pig in May I've been doing soooo much better. Starting in May I've really been consistent.

May - 100 miles
June - 97 miles
July - 103 miles
August - 121 miles (with 5 days left in the month and 27 miles on my schedule for those 5 days)

In all of 2006 I ran 679 miles. In 2007, through today 8/26 I've run 697 miles.

Four out of the last seven weeks I've been over 30 miles per week. Those other three I ran 24, 27, and 18. I've been running at faster paces with an easier effort (not only my perception but at a lower heart rate - gotta love gadgets).

Today I completed a workout that last year might have killed me: 2 miles of warm up then 100 minutes at marathon pace - between 9:45 and 10:00 min/mile. I ran 10.7 miles in 100 minutes and my average heart rate for that time was 159 beats per minute. Not too shabby.

Consistency has paid off. Now I just need to keep it up for the next 9 weeks.

Feeling much better, more confident about October 28th.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Back to the Grindstone

Classes start today. Which means in addition to all the stuff that has been going on the last two weeks, all hell will break loose. All the winter and spring sports will want to start "workouts" this week, which means we have to scramble and get some of the administrative things done so that can happen (paperwork, newbie physicals, etc), plus our soccer field is undergoing a major renovation: installing turf and due to some snafus it has been delayed being completed. So we add another degree of difficulty to things by the soccer teams practicing off-site and playing their first home game Wednesday somewhere else in town. Yeah.

Managed to get up and get my run in this morning...not too bad except for the monsoon that is currently parked over us. Got some great looks from people today.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The End...

Of preseason practices that is!

Classes start tomorrow. I've agreed to teach three classes this fall - two of them in the athletic training education program, and one class titled "Exercise, Nutrition, and Stress". Probably best described as your basic wellness class for college kids.

I'm sort of torn though. Yes, it means extra $$, but it's also the extra time prepping, etc. Not much I can do now though. I'm locked in. Yeah, the fall will be busy but not even close the level of hectic that is the spring. That's probably my one iron-clad rule - I'm not willing to teach classes in the spring because of baseball, etc, and the constant state of flux schedules are in because of the weather.

Since I've been seriously slacking on the blog...In other news:
T and I have made a decision...in the next few months we're starting the process to look for a permanent residence here in Michigan. Yes, that means what you think it means. We're looking to buy a house, and not anywhere near where we live now. Looking to move closer to, or in, Grand Rapids proper. No, neither one of as any clue how to go about doing this. Should be fun.

T's mom came for visit...had a great time. Her and T spent some quality time together. All three of us had a great brunch on Sunday (before I had to go to work - LOVE my job) and we spent one day in Kalamazoo walking around and had lunch/beers (ok T and I had beers, her mom had wine) at the Bell's Brewery.

**aside on Bell's: slowly starting to miss Oregon a little less as time goes on, and the fact that I've found one of the ales Bell's makes that rivals Mirror Pond by Deschutes doesn't hurt. Even though Kalamazoo is 45 mins or so south of GR, pretty much can count on T and I spending some time there. Especially if people come to visit - hint. hint.

Completely ontrack for my half marathon in October. Mileage is up, effort level is easier, running is good. It's given me a chance to work through some stuff...work and personal. If things continue like they have I'm looking forward to a great day on 10/28.

Tattoo...not trying to sound pissy here, but when you leave a comment leave your name. Yes, I can with hold the design until I'm ready. It's my body and artwork that I'm adding to my body. The process starts on Aug 29, at 6 p.m. There is a good chance that a pic of what is done that night will be posted shortly after.

All I can think of now...need to figure out if the rain is going to let up enough for me to get my long run in today or if I need to readjust my schedule (and no it's not an Oregon/PNW rain...it is coming down out there!)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

August Already?

Wow, the summer sort of just up and vanished! Seems just like yesterday I was complaining what to do with all my free time this summer, and as of yesterday it was back to work. Yep. Classes start August 20th, and fall sports get cranking this weekend. Ahhhhh, love those early mornings and long days of preseason!

This year though just looking at the schedule it seems a bit easier – only one week of men’s soccer (not denigrating the women’s program, they just aren’t my day-to-day responsibility) before school starts and the volleyball team is only practice two times a day and will be done by 3:30 p.m.!

Where it gets interesting is that I’ve taken on two classes to teach this fall – so I have just over two weeks to get at leas the first week of those classes planned/prepped. Plus I have to shoe horn my running plans into all of this craziness.

In regards to the running plan – I’ve got T keeping me honest this year, and I’m suspecting she may be a bit of a drill sergeant and stay on my ass about getting my runs in, so I’m going to have to be diligent.

Oh, and I’ve figured out something to add to my existing tattoo, and I’m just waiting to hear back from the artist before I start on my second. Yes, they are addictive.

As previously noted on this blog the last week of June and the first week of July were a bit busy, you might say. So I’m only one month behind updating how my running is going for 2007 compared to 2006. Without further delay here it is:

# of Runs 2006 # of Runs 2007 Miles 2006 Miles 2007
April 15 15 76 62
May 17 22 75 100
June 12 21 57 97
Total 44 58 208 259


I am running the Grand Rapids Half Marathon (again) this October so I’m way ahead of where I was last year at this time, even factoring in the Anaheim (ran twice) and Taiwan (ran twice) trips. To further add to difficulty to my training I came down with a cold – two Julys in a row! – it limited what I was able to do for a few days, I just didn’t feel like running. I ran my highest amount of miles in July (103) and I’m now back on pace to make my mileage goal for 2007: 1000 miles.

All in all I think I’m doing ok. The miles I’ve run this year, equal about ½ of all the miles I ran in 2004, 2005, and 2006 put together.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Taiwan Re-cap

I’ve been most delinquent in getting this posted – but in my defense there was a sick T that needed to be nursed back to health, plus a horrid summer cold that did me in for a few days. Not that those excuses hold much water, but they’re all I’ve got.

Here goes:

We left for Taiwan on Friday night – flight left LA at 1 a.m. Quite possibly the best flight I’ve ever been on in my life. Although the ambien might’ve had something to do with that as well. Managed to sleep for about 6-7 hours (I was actually asleep before the plane left the terminal) and then killed the rest of the time watching movies and talking to the guy next to me. He was on his way from Florida to Viet Nam to visit his family. Garnered some wisdom – when in Viet Nam, best place to exchange your cash is the black market.

Unlike in Anaheim when we arrived at the hotel, The Howard Plaza Hotel, our room was ready for us, plus we had a breakfast voucher for each of us for every day we were there. Nice accommodations. Even had a copy of “The Teachings of Buddha” in the nightstand along with the New Testament.

Being the adventurous sorts that we are we decided to walk from the hotel to the conference center so T could pick up her materials/etc. Uhm, not the smartest move on our parts. Let me describe the weather in Taipei City while we were there: temperature at 9 a.m. – 35 C (which converts to 95 F) and while I have no data on the humidity, I’ll put it this way, walking from the door of the hotel to the corner, a distance of maybe 100 yards you were drenched (soaked through t-shirt) in sweat. To say we were sweaty/smelly is not exaggerating in the least bit.

Oh – biggest thing that was hard to get used to? Being stared at. Worse for T, her being a tall woman, but still felt like everyone was looking at me at times.

Best Experience: Tuesday night we went to dinner with all the people in attendance that were associated with the University of Oregon (all of T’s lab mates). One of the current students in the lab is from Taipei. Her parents treated us all to a nice sit-down dinner. There were 12 of us, all seated around a large round table. Table had a giant lazy susan in the middle. The people from the restaurant came in and asked if there were any food preferences – T piped up, no beef. Next thing, food just starts appearing. You just rotated the lazy susan until you could get what you wanted. Not sure all of what I ate, but I do know that the shrimp were to die for!

Learned a Taiwanese and Japanese toast that night – gan bei (Taiwanese) and kampei (Japanese). Means the same thing in both languages: bottoms up! Lucky for me as we went around the table I’m not sure how many times toasting everyone individually with this, that in Asia they drink out of what we would consider juice glasses. Helped on the individual toasts but they did add up. Amongst the 12 of us we consumed 23 L of beer.

After dinner we went for a traditional Chinese foot massage – wow, was that nice. For $55 US T and I each received a 15 minute head/neck massage followed by a 45 minute foot/ankle/calf massage. To say it was relaxing doesn’t do it justice!

As you’ve seen in the pictures we took a tour of the northeast coast region, later that night we ventured out to one of the night markets. Only way to describe the night market is part flea market, part “taste of…” festival, and part black market. And we managed to get there and back on mass transit.

Last night there was spent at the National Palace Museum, gala put on by the conference. Had the chance to see some great artwork/pottery. I can honestly say I’ve seen Ming dynasty vases.

Flight home – ugh. Too long, too bumpy, not as good of seats as the flight over. Then we had to spend the night in LA before flying home on Saturday.

All in all…great experience. Once in a lifetime experience. As I/we wade through more pics, some more might show up on here.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

uhg

I truly hate being sick in the summer. Have come down with a cold. T is out of commission with strep throat.

Lots of fun around the house these days.

I apologize for not getting the pics from Taiwan up yet. I'm a slacker and my head hurts.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Finally...

Trip Report...California first. The highlights:

Don't stay at the Anabella Hotel in Anaheim. While the facilities themselves were fine, the service sucked. I've travelled quite a bit over the years, business and pleasure, and I've been told my room isn't ready. We waited six hours for our room, and after being guaranteed it would be ready by the 4 p.m. check in time, we were finally in our room at 4:30. One day of our stay, the maid service hadn't been by at 4:30 p.m., and no, we didn't have the "Privacy Please" on the door.

One night we had dinner at The House of Blues in Downtown Disney, T, myself and two friends. Outside table. This woman walks by, conversation at the table stops due to the fact that she is very well endowed. From the table next to us this guy leans over and says to me, "I'm gay and I noticed those!"

At professional meetings/conferences women will wear some crazy "cute looking" shoes to look good and you can totally tell they spend about 10 minutes a year wearing them from how they walk.

Downtown Disney

- "Jedi Mickey" at one gift store.


- Lego Store...life size Darth Vader


and R2-D2. Need I say more?

- Friday night we're walking back to the hotel to get ready to leave for Taiwan and I hear the President of the Oregon Athletic Trainers' Society scream "PARKERS" from the balcony of the "New Orleans" restaurant. Naturally I flashed her my boobs and promptly received some beads from her.

Don't trust the Super Shuttle guy to drop you off at the proper terminal. We had about a ten minute walk to the correct one in order to catch our flight to Taiwan. The look on our faces had to be priceless at the Air China counter when the woman asked us where our entry visas were as she quickly flipped through our passports. That's right we were flying China Airlines. We were in line to go to Beijing, not Taiwan.

All in all a great time. Had the chance to catch up with some great friends, and actually learned a thing or two at the conference!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Friends...Continued

I’ve gotten some very thoughtful comments on “Friends” – Mary, I’m holding you to yours.

I’m glad I’m not the only person out there struggling with this issue.

The internet is a great thing, it’s made people around the world accessible – hell, and I was able to return email while we were in Taiwan and spend a few minutes chatting with a friend who lives in Boston! But as much as the internet has been a good thing it is also part of the problem.

Yes, without the internet I wouldn’t have met a significant portion of the people I call my friends, but it’s also the bane of those friendships! Until we all have a Star Trek holodeck installed in our houses there is no way to meet up with them on any type of regular basis, kick back, have a good beer and solve the world’s problems.

That’s the reality. We’re here in Michigan while they are scattered throughout the country, and most are not in an easy driving distance.

So, yeah, I’m thankful for the internet bringing the world closer, just feels like its put us on an island at the same time.

Ok, pity party over…back to regular stuff.

Promise to have stuff on the trip later this weekend. LOTS of pics to download and figure out the best way to post.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Homeward Bound

We're heading back to the states today. Will arrive in Grand Rapids on Saturday.

Full trip report plus pics to follow hopefully by the middle of the week.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Taiwan Update #2

Hey everyone...back at the gaming den/Internet cafe while T is at the conference.

Ok...so we made it here no problem. T gave her presentation yesterday. In fact she ended up being asked to stand-in for the co-moderator! Lucky for her, her former office mate at the University of Oregon was the other co-moderator. Ended up with a nice shirt as a gift for stepping in.

I spent yesterday walking around the area around the hotel. To say this is a busy place would be an understatement of EPIC proportions! There is a large department store about 2-3 blocks down from the hotel along with a plethora of shops, but the thing is they don't open until noon, and don't close until at least 11 p.m.

In fact the whole city is a night owls dream! The shops are actually busier at 10:30 p.m. than they are at 10:30 a.m. Evidently the place to do shopping (you know who you that should be expecting gifts!) is a the night markets. Planning on hitting one of them either tonight after our dinner or tomorrow.

So, while I was walking around by myself yesterday I was trying to figure out some sort of plan for lunch...MANY small restaurants/food stands along my route, BUT absolutely none of them had English anywhere near the menu. So I threw in the towel and headed back to the hotel to take advantage of the lunch buffet. Set me back $650 in new Taiwanese dollars (exchange rate is 1:32 US to New Taiwanese)so roughly $20. Good food.

T and I walked around trying to find a place to eat dinner. Found a great place. We get seated. Handed menus. Nothing but Chinese characters. I'm getting nervous. Luckily they sent someone over who spoke English. Small dinner, some pork dumplings, shrimp fried rice, and we split a Taiwan beer. Total cost: $517.

We both got a laugh about that.

We're taking pics. Won't be able to post them until we get back though.

Once we get home Saturday it will probably take me a few days before I can get them edited and put together along with a complete summary of the trip - there were some funny moments in Anaheim as well.

OK...gotta run. Who knows when I'll get online again. Talk to all most of you when I get back (you know who you are!)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

TAIWAN BABY

If this doesn't make any sense, it's because I'm in the middle of what could be called at best an online gaming den, and at worst an internet cafe.

Trip is going well.

Getting stared at by just about everyone.

It's hot - 35C, not sure what that is in F - and humid here. To hot to do any running outside even though I want to, and even if it was cool enough to run the maniac drivers would get me.

Let's just say that lanes seem to be a fluid concept at best. There's also nothing like almost being run down by a scooter as you walk down the sidewalk.

Ok, gotta go now...my hour here is almost up.

Becky - if you read this, tell Grandma/Grandpa all is well and I'll call 'em Saturday when we get back!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Friends

WARNING - this post may result in introspection and deep thoughts - WARNING

T and I leave for the NATA Annual Meeting in Anaheim, CA, on Tuesday morning. There will be familiar faces that we haven't seen in any number of months. There will also be familiar faces absent due to any variety of legitimate reasons.

This has started me thinking about the topic listed in the title of this blog.

I've lamented to both of you reading this that this past year has been a struggle professionally and socially. Professionally has been covered in a previous post.

So, this one is about the social aspects of our adaptation to life in West Michigan. In a nutshell, haven't made a lot of friends. Have made plenty of acquaintances, but just a very small number of friends here locally.

We haven't been able to find our niche. But to be honest, we haven't put forth a lot of effort. Unlike past situations coworkers have not resulted in the friendships and regularity of spontaneous interactions. Maybe part of it is the location we actually live in...while we tell people we live in Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids proper is about a 15 minute drive. We're really out in a rural area on the very outskirts of Grand Rapids.

Not a horrible place to live, just not the kind of place to which T and I would naturally gravitate. Lots of churches around us, not a lot of local neighborhood restaurants, 99.9% of our food options are chain restaurants,
and virtually no neighborhood bars. I would kill for a place like Cornucopia in Eugene. A place you could decide to go to, get there in five minutes, and then call friends to join you for a drink.

Back on topic - so we haven't found a place to meet new people with similar interests that we can interact with on a personal level here in Michigan. "here in Michigan" the key part of the previous phrase. I've mentioned a few times before the online running community that I am an active member of (ok, I like to think I'm an active member), www.coolrunning.com, and more specifically the group of 30-somethings that post on a daily thread in the newbie forum.

Great people, a lot of them are from Minnesota - go to my post "Nice People" to see the difference at least one of them from Minnesota made - and have a great interaction with everyone there. I've really made some great friends there. Unfortunately they aren't the kind I can call up and say "hey, come on over, I've got a growler of Mad Hatter" without giving them at least a month or twos notice so they can check airfare and to see if they have any vacation left. Kind makes it difficult to have a drink with them.

So while my face-to-face interaction has been limited, I'd just like to say thank you to all of them for making this past year a bit more friendly.

You know who you are, I don't need to bother listing your names.

Thank you.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Saturday

Summer time…what do all the cool kids do? That’s right they ride bikes! What are two 30-somethings going to do on a beautiful Saturday? That’s right, go for a bike ride. Well, I went for a five mile run this morning and then on the bike ride.

A 15.64 mile bike ride.

Rode on the Kent Trails Bike Path…goes from the suburbs into downtown. It runs along the Grand River, and the pics of us on the bridge is where the trail crosses it. The Grand Rapid Marathon and the 5/3 River Bank Run are run on this trail.





We pretty much did a loop. My legs are shot, and I’ve got a long run on the schedule for tomorrow.

We get back to the truck and T decides to see what it’s like for triathletes to run right after the bike ride (probably because we passed a guy on the trail doing a brick workout…as we passed him I asked how far he was going today. His answer, 112 miles on the bike, now a 7 mile run. Nearly fell off my bike!)

All in all a pretty good Saturday.

Now tomorrow, we just need to start packing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sad Day for the Miami Family...

In my four years at Miami University, I had to opportunity to meet many remarkable coaches as I progressed through the athletic training education program. Two in particular stand out: Randy Walker, the head football coach at the time, and Terry Hoeppner, an assistant and future head coach of the football team.

Both of these men took the time to express gratitude/appreciation for what we were doing as athletic training students, would interact with us like we were people, and were genuinely nice guys.

Randy Walker died of a heart attack almost one year ago.

Terry Hoeppner died today of complications of a brain tumor.

They are, and will be missed.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Frustration

Mentioned earlier my struggle to occupy the massive increase of free-time that I have due to the summer months/10 month work contract. Still haven't made much progress on that front, but I'm trying.

The thing I have realized is this: being back on in the eastern time zone you can only watch Sportscenter so much before you want to poke out your eyes in the morning. Back in Eugene I was lucky to be able to catch the last hour it was on because my mornings consisted of getting my run in, breakfast/coffee, and reading the paper.

I mentioned back near the start of this blog that I was unimpressed by the paper here in the greater Grand Rapids area. These lazy summer mornings would be perfect for reading the paper, if it was only worth reading!

Just makes me miss the Register Guard that much more.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Check This Out

If you want to see how incredibly bold/brave/crazy T is, just head over to her blog for a stunning reveal of something that she has been working on over the last month and a half.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tattoo Update

Well, here it is. It's completely healed so I had T take another photo (god love her, but she can't hold the camera still enough so she had to take about 8 pics for one to turn out clear enough to post).

Mr. Cramer, since you asked: the design is one that I found on a logo for a running store in Eugene...with some modifications: made it bigger and the artist changed the shape of the head a bit. As for the colors, as you can see the yellow is a bit brighter now that it is healed. I liked the idea of red/orange/yellow to make "him" look like he is made out of flame.



So far the response has been good...hell, my mother didn't flip out so that's cool.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Green Thumb?

Posted pictures when we first potted the plants and put them out on the deck. It's been about a month since then so I thought I'd put up some pictures of their progress.





Lastly, here is proof that we actually have tomatos already!

State of the Blog

I've been putting this post off for about a week now. Wasn't sure how big of a deal I should make out of the 100th post. I was trying to come up with something profound to say...instead I thought I'd just go with this:

I started the blog as a way to stay connected with some of the friends I have scattered all throughout the country when we moved to Michigan. Still trying to do that.

Then I provided some comparisons between Michigan and Oregon. Plan on re-visiting that in an upcoming post.

And, I've tried to keep all three of the people reading this updated on my attempts at running. Check.

So, I guess you could say I'm making progress on what I intended to do when I started this whole thing.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Interesting...

Wanted to share the following with all of you - some may recognize it (yes, I asked him first and screen names only) but it's worth reading again.

As indicated by the link to the right, I frequent the forums on www.coolrunning.com - more specifically the 30's thread in the newbie cafe. Good group of people. When it comes to running ability we run the gamut there...from people just starting to someone who is a member of the Clifbar pacing team. The following was posted in response to someone new to the endeavor and their frustrations by PhillyTom (tomjanosfky@gmail.com):

It's hard to read advice online and not read between the lines but just keep in mind that most people here are just trying to help each other through the same sort of thing. I'm not trying to be critical, just to help.

First, patience. I know people have said this before, but the only impatient runners I know at our ages are ex-runners. We have all been there. There are people for whom running just comes naturally, and pain-free, but none of them post here as far as I know. There is an absolute wealth of knowledge coming from the 60+ people who hop in and out of here on a given week. I get more out of here than the books I read by coaching pros. (And keep in mind even they aren't sure about what they are talking about.)

Running can be a cruel master. But grappling with the fact that there is so much mystery in making our bodies do something that they are clearly genetically selected to do (i.e. run) is to me, half of what makes it fun.

There is no magic formula for how to get there. 3 x shoe size + 2 ^ sqrt(pi) will not give me my magic weekly mileage. C25K is not "right". It is also not "wrong". If the same thing worked for everyone, it would be easy, and it's not.

My $.02.

You are running too fast. Slow down. When you think you can go no slower, slow down. The key sentence to me in your post was that you ran a PR mile on Saturday and you are hurt now. I ran a PR 5K on Sat and I hurt. That's what PRs do. I have the benefit of having a bigger mileage base and faster recovery since I've been doing this longer (1.5 yrs) but since Sat I've run nothing but easy.

Recovery. To me the point of C25K and any training plan is to get the right balance of stress and recovery. I think this is the central idea of any plan. From the micro (run 200m, jog 200m), to the mini (hard day, easy day), to the macro (3 weeks hard, 1 week cutback), to the seasonal (~3 weeks down time after race season) it is all about tearing yourself down and letting your body build back up (recover).

Barring a pre-existing injury or genetic predisposition, if you are getting hurt it is likely overuse - i.e. you are tearing down too much and not building back up.
How do you recover better?

Don't work as hard. I remember last winter having to walk downstairs backwards on Mondays because I ran my 6-7m long runs too hard on Sunday. I was running too hard.
Recover more. RICE. Walk more. Cross train. Swim. Bike.

Use the resource here as best you can.

You want to know more about how to balance running and xtrain? Email LL or Theia. They do it right.

Maybe C25K is too aggressive. Work through the ideas there and come up with a less aggressive plan. Post it for feedback.

Lose weight. How much do you weigh? How tall are you? Running itself is hard enough, and added weight makes the stress even greater. You can lose 0.5 to 1 lbs a week while in a running plan without killing yourself (ask Moon, or Bard, or Voodoo, or me). The lighter you are the easier it is to recover.

The better you can recover, the more you can run. It's a virtuous cycle.

But even best conceived and best laid plans don't always work. Ask anybody here. Sometimes you think you are doing everything right and the goal race isn't there. There are surprise injuries, weather that screws up a goal race, and sometimes that training plan doesn’t give us the result we thought it would.

When people use that phrase 'listen to your body' this is what they are talking about. It's not about slowing down when it hurts. That, as you've seen, is probably too late. You need to find your personal line. Mine isn't yours and yours isn't anyone elses.

Oh, and I'm no expert either.


Great perspective and very well expressed.

Briefly

I apologize about not posting anything in over a week.

Real life got in the way. T and I had to make an unexpected trip to Cincy over the weekend and into the first part of the week for my Grandmother's funeral.

We will return to regularly scheduled programming in a bit.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Additions Part 2

This one not quite so permanent as the tattoo (more on it later), but T and I both just upgraded our cells phones...we had them for two years and it was time for a new phone.

T got a cool red razr and even though I got a new PDA back in Dec/Jan I got this and let me tell ya...mine is AWESOME.

Without revealing details of our plan, we are getting more stuff and paying less than before.

It's pretty cool to be able to check my email from the middle of Costco, and to have everything at the ready...contacts/tasks/calendar. I've only had it less than a week and it has been nice.

For example, T and went to some wineries this past weekend and I was able to type in a few notes about specific wines that we both enjoyed without having to pull out my PDA or a notepad. Just typed it into my smartphone.

Tattoo Update: it is healing quite nicely. Since I posted the picture (it was taken right after it was done) the colors have changed quite a bit. The yellow is much brighter and I will post another pic in a few days after it has completely healed along with some other thoughts about it as well (just because Mr. Cramer asked so nicely).

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Additions

Not that I intended it to (hell, I'm not exactly sure what my intentions for this were when I started it) but a significant portion of my recent blog entries have been about running and my attempts at the Grand Rapids Half Marathon and then the Flying Pig Half Marathon. I've been running consistently for four years now...started down this path so I wouldn't look like a Jabba the Hut impersonator at our wedding back in 2003, and I'm still at it. It's something that I enjoy doing (and enjoy the health benefits) and it has afforded me the opportunity to meet a great bunch of people, both locally and around the country via the interweb and the 30's thread on Cool Running. See link to the right. It's also provided a sense of accomplishment. That's hard not to realize after crossing the finish line of a race like the Flying Pig.

Hopefully I'm not boring you too much with all of this...

So, I decided to make a statement. I consider myself a runner - race results are not a criteria - and decided to commemorate that fact. With a tattoo.



Maybe I'm crazy but I like it.

And before anyone asks...no, it really didn't hurt. More of an irritation than anything.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Land of Confusion...

I've entered that nebulous time of year where I'm not sure what to do with myself...summer.

Most of my professional life, ok all of it but one year, I've had the luxury of having large junks (June & July) of my summer off from work. Sometimes there were no expectations to be in the office, others my contract was only for 10 months - paid over 12 of course! Learned that lesson the hard way. It's that time of year again...

I've got some projects...organizing and cleaning around the house, but on a day-to-day basis I'm not sure how to fill the hours of the day!

So far I'm successfully sticking to my training plan and the extra time helps with that and I'm thinking of taking a class at the institution where T works, but beyond that I'm at a loss.

Anyone have any books the suggest for my summer reading list?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Green Thumb?

I've often mentioned to T that when we have a house of our own I'm going to grow a garden. We still don't have a house of our own, but I do have a garden.

After many months of our apartment feeling very unlived in, we went to The Home Depot yesterday to procure some supplies/advice on growing some vegetables on our deck (which actually has some size to it). We came home with the following plants: a tomato, a roma tomato, a hot banana pepper, a cucumber, rosemary, and basil, pots for each and some soil (ok, we got too much soil, but that just gives me the excuse to go back tomorrow and get bell pepper and squash plants).

Put in an hour or so today to get everything potted and going. Here is how things look on day 1. There will be periodic updates on how things progress throughout the summer.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Recent Upgrades

T and I decided to spruce up the place a bit...last weekend we cleaned the house top-to-bottom, hung some pictures (no comments on how long we've been here and we are just now hanging pictures), etc.

This weekend has an outdoor focus. Spent almost $200 at Home Depot on supplies to grow some veggies/herbs on the back deck and a table (no chairs - couldn't find any that we really liked) for the deck.

You might say it finally looks like people actually live here.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Spiderman 3

"Batman & Robin" has often been cited as the movie that killed super hero films. Come on, admit it. You went to see that great film starring George Clooney!

Well, as I walked out of the theater Saturday after seeing "Spiderman 3" I looked to T and said, "That movie just killed the Spiderman franchise." As a huge comic book fan/reader growing up I'm just hoping that it doesn't kill off all comic book movies!!

Don't waste your money on this one.

1) The visual effects are not anything you haven't seen in a film - nothing ground breaking.
2) The script was way over the top: Peter Parker re-enacting the strutting down the street scene from "Saturday Night Fever" actually made me laugh out loud, the whole "I forgive you" moment at the end, and so many characters and plot lines I wanted a cheat sheet to help me!
3) The acting. Tobey Maquire does not do "bad guy" very well at all. Kirsten Dunst does NOT need to star in any musicals ANY TIME SOON. But then, the script may have been at fault.

It would be interesting to see how much the ticket sales drop off was from opening weekend to this past weekend. I'm just glad we went to a matinee.

Also, this is just my opinion (ok, not just mine, T agrees with me) and I'm not a movie critic.

Graduation

Well, she did it. T graduated this weekend. Many of you are probably scratching your head right now and thinking..."she graduated? thought she did that last summer?"

Not her PhD people! That was last year.

She graduated from the Couch-to-5K (C25K) training plan yesterday morning. Nine weeks of struggling to get used to running paid off Saturday when she successfully completed the 5/3 River Bank Run 5K here in Grand Rapids. She ran with great effort, met her two goals (not to walk, finish under 40 minutes - 37:15 finish time), and managed to run negative splits for the race.

Needless to say, I am very proud of her.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Even More Flying Pig

Group shot of the 30-somethings (from www.coolrunning.com) at the expo:


Three of us crossing the finish line together...like the cool t-shirts?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

More Flying Pig

Ok, so I've completed two half marathons. Six months apart. Second one was 9 seconds faster than the first. To give some perspective on the two courses degree of difficulty I've posted elevation charts generated via my FR305 and www.motionbased.com.

The Grand Rapids Half Marathon:



The Flying Pig Half Marathon:



See the difference? Makes me really happy with my time/effort last Sunday.

2007 Flying Pig Half Marathon

Beware! Long post to follow!

Flying Pig HM Race Report:

Made it to Cincy Friday afternoon after a stop at REI near Ann Arbor/Detroit (couldn’t pass up the anniversary sale). Had plans to meet up with the rest of the 30s from www.coolrunning.com on Saturday at the Expo. After a brief sight-seeing tour of downtown T and I made it to the expo with time to spare, so I grabbed my race packet, got my shirt/bag/poster, and browsed all of the exhibits before meeting up with the group.

What a group! Bob, his wife Maggie, Joe (Voodoo), Joe (Mmoon), Frankie, Ann, Beth, Amy, her husband Brian, Kris, her friend Nick, Elizabeth, Charles, Larry, his family, Kathleen, and Robert…after some great conversation (with a bit of healthy teasing thrown in for good measure) we made way over to the restaurant for dinner, Campanello’s. The most interesting thing about dinner: our waiter didn’t work there, he was asked to help out since they were so busy that night! Nice first day on the job…here’s a group of 21, oh and by the way, we put them on top floor of the building! Food was good, but nothing spectacular. Made it back to my parents’ (yet another nice thing about this race, no hotel to pay for) and was in bed by 9 p.m. for the 4 a.m. wake-up.

Thanks to a small dose of Ambien (prescription drugs rule!) I slept surprisingly well. I wouldn’t want to get up at that hour everyday, but I was ready to go. Managed to make it downtown – I know downtown Cincinnati the worst of any place I’ve ever lived – and park without any trouble. Made our way to the rendezvous spot and met up with the group. Pictures were taken, strategy discussed, and the early hour was discussed before we made our way to the start. Quick pit-stop in the bushes – no I wasn’t the only one – and we were ready to go.

Kathleen, Ann, and I were running together since our goal time was pretty much the same. We lined up behind the 4:30 pace group and started people watching prior to the start. Let’s see, we had a guy dressed up as Mr. Incredible (and believe me he shouldn’t have been), a guy wearing a rubber pig mask, and various other people dressed like swine.

Starting to get nervous.

National Anthem.

BOOM!!! – they actually started the race with cannon – and we were off.

Mile 1
I struggled to find an even pace at the start, mostly due to a typical early race crowd, complete with passing a ton of walkers in the first mile or two. I had my FR 305 set to auto lap every mile, and again like a typical race it was signaling mile marks just a bit ahead of where they were on the course. Lap time: 10:37

Mile 2
First bridge of the course, started to get a bit more comfortable as the crowd started to thin a bit. Lap time: 10:23

Mile 3
Second bridge of the course…mentioned to Ann and Kathleen how much nicer/easier this racing this is when you have people to run with! Lap time: 10:27

Mile 4
Last bridge and we were back in Cincy. Saw T and Maggie on the course. Lap time: 10:00 even thanks to the down portion of the bridge.

Mile 5
Mostly downhill along the river. Started to get myself prepared for when we turned North and the hills started. Still feeling pretty good at this point honestly. Lap time: 9:53

Mile 6
Now the race really starts. We turned north and started climbing. Gained just over 100 ft of elevation in this mile. Lap time: 10:26

Mile 7
Here’s where things really got tough. We turned on to Gilbert Ave and really started to climb. We gained another 125 ft of elevation or so before we even turned into Eden Park and continued to climb. Legs were feeling it bad. If it hadn’t been for Kathleen and Ann, I would have really slowed down at this point. Lap time: 10:41

Mile 8
Finished off Eden Park – nice view of the river – and the big hills. Lap time: 10:29

Mile 9
Running through Walnut Hills…starting to see more people along the side of the course. Just enjoying some flat ground…ok, not really FLAT, but at least there were some downhill portions mixed in! This is where all of us half marathoners split from the full people and headed back towards downtown. Lap time: 10:08

Mile 10
Ok, we thought the hills were done, but we’re still climbing! Not enjoying this as much anymore. By the marker for mile 10, my FR305 was off by a good 0.10-0.15, so as we crossed the marker I hit the lap button so I could keep track of the last 5K. That’s right, only 5K to go!

Mile 11
Ahhhhhh, downhill!!!! Kathleen (who I think held back just a bit to run with Ann and I) let gravity take over and pulled away. I tried to do the same, but wasn’t as fast as her. Felt nice to run fast and not really have to work for it. Lap time: 9:07

Mile 12
Legs are tired now. Starting realize I didn’t drink enough. Ann and I turn around and find Joe (mmoon) next to us! Where did he come from! Lap time: 9:43

Mile 13
Enough with the hills/inclines! Lap time: 10:06

Finished in 2:14:57 (a new PR). All three of us, Joe, Ann, and myself. Grabbed our medals, and hit the food/water. Could really tell I didn’t drink enough on the course. According to my FR305, I ran 13.39 miles (10:08 pace) as compared to the official results of 13.1 miles which works out to a 10:18 pace.

I’ll take either.

So…overall very pleased. The Pig half was a MUCH tougher course than the Grand Rapids half. The Pig averaged a 9.7% grade on the hills while Grand Rapids was flat. While my training left something to be desired this time around, I was better prepared for the Pig. I still need to be more consistent with my training – which is what I’m focusing on over the next 2-3 months – and have a better race plan (fluids, etc) when I give this distance another shot.

I had a great time and met some great people. Only question left is this: where will the next 30s meeting be?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Nervous Much?

We leave for Cincy tomorrow - stopping by REI near Ann Arbor/Detroit to hit the anniversay sale...not to mention it's been 9 months since I've been in an REI and once you get used to having one 5 minutes away that amount of time away is HARD.

Only 3 more nights of sleep until the Pig.

I'm sure I'll do fine.

The race is offering text message tracking for runners...if anyone out there is interested in following my progress email me your cell phone number and I'll include it when I'm at the Expo.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Four and Change

4 Days, 22 Hours, XX Minutes according to the Flying Pig website.

Down to the last few runs, hoping to get in my last hill workout today if the weather holds off...heavy thunderstorms last night and the will sunrise happened about an hour and a half ago, you really can't tell because the sky is that dark with clouds. So, I'm holding off on my run until later this afternoon.

So, am I prepared? Think so. Especially with everything I've dealt with...my leg, the crappy weather (both during the winter and in April), the mixed up baseball schedule that really made it challenging to get my long runs in.

I do remember the point that was driven home by the Grand Rapids HM was that I needed to be more consistent with my training. Have I been? Yes, and no. I've done better, but if my goal is to move up to the full 26.2, I've got to do better. Maybe I need to go back to my idea of using this blog as a way to "hold my feet to the fire"...you know, put my training plan on here and hope that the 2-3 of you who are reading it will not let me off the hook when I rationalize my way out going for a run.

Starting to feel the nerves a bit about Sunday...1) while yes, I feel better prepared than in October, I'm afraid/nervous that I will be DFL. 2) Meeting some fellow posters in the 30s thread on the coolrunning.com forums (see link at right) and yes I'm afraid I'm going to embarrass myself. 3) Worried that asking her to get up with me and get to the race for a 6:30 a.m. start might be a bit much to ask of my non-morning-person-wife

I know, I know, I'm probably crazy.

Monday, April 30, 2007

That Soon?

Ok, according to the website we have less than 6 days until the start of the Flying Pig...starting to get a bit nervous.

Here's the deal: as mentioned following my first (and only HM) back in October, I was drastically under prepared (mostly due to an ability rationalize missing/skipping training runs) for the Grand Rapids HM. This time around I feel better prepared...especially in the last few weeks, but due to the unexpected reappearance of winter the first week of April and the havoc it wreaked on the baseball schedule, my training suffered a bit down the stretch. Not where I want to be, but I think training-wise I'm in a better place than October.

Ran 2:15 in October, so that is pretty much my goal for Sunday. Of course the Grand Rapids course is pretty flat. The Pig isn't.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

IN OTHER NEWS:
Jessica - kick some ass this Saturday.
Trevor - Congrats on the BQ this past weekend.
Maria, Bob, Larry, et al - sounds like you guys had a blast in Jersey. Will see some of you this weekend.

Without giving too many details (not sure how she would feel about it) please keep my Mom in your thoughts/prayers (if you do that sort of thing). She is dealing with some health issues right now and it would be greatly appreciated.