Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Marathon 2 - Electric Boogaloo

Finally got off my electronic rear-end and clicked the register button, so now it’s official. I’d circle it on my calendar if I weren’t such a computer-dependent tool and had some sort of physical representation of time that lived outside my laptop.

Sunday, November 14th – Kitty Hawk, NC – The Outer Banks Marathon

I’m working through injuries now, and have no doubt that my body will entertain me with new and exciting ailments between now and then, but I needed to make this official so I have a singular point on the horizon to aim for.

‘Why the Outer Banks Marathon?’ you didn’t ask, but no doubt we wondering. Nags Head and the Outer Banks hold a special place in my heart and many of my best memories. My family first went to Nags Head for a summer vacation in 1980 and we loved it there. It was a lot different back in those days, but underneath all the changes and growth, the basic charm of the area is still there.

We kept going back every summer for several more years, and after about the 5th summer my parents started talking about retiring there. My sister and I had heard that before, so we didn’t give it much consideration, but in the mid 90s, after having gone every summer since 1980, my folks bought some land in Kitty Hawk and started working on house plans. In 1998 they both retired from the working world, and moved into their Kitty Hawk house. We still go every summer to visit, and now my kids have the Outer Banks as part of their summer memories. This summer when we go visit for the 4th of July will mark the 30th straight summer I’ve visited the beaches of OBX.

The starting line for the marathon is about 1.5 miles from their house, and their little street even shows up on the race map, which I think is really cool. What makes this even better is when I told my folks I was going to do this, my dad signed up to walk the half, which starts at the same time as the full, but goes from the midway point so that the half and full end in the same place. I’ve helped him look up a training plan online, and he’s already building up his walking base, so we’ll be trading training war stories throughout the Summer. I consider my dad one of my best friends, and to my wife’s dismay we are INCREDIBLY similar, and if all goes well we should be crossing the finish line around the same time.

Now that they’ve got my money, it’s time to get serious about planning and training. Looking forward to sharing my trials and tribulations for my second run at 26.2.

Giveaway updates:

Erin at ‘eri-thon: from 0 to 26.2 in 30’ is giving away 3 copies of ‘The Ultimate Runner’, which looks like a great book and I’m not-so-secretly hoping I win. Check it out and enter soon – only open for 2 more days:

Chris at ‘Suck It Up … Rantings of a Runner on the Edge’ is giving away a headlamp and/or Family Guy DVD prior to crushing 100 miles. Final few days for this one too, so visit soon:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Is She Back Yet?

Every year my wife and her group of friends from high school go away for an extended weekend somewhere with lots of sun, and no husbands and/or kids. This weekend is this year’s trip, so I dropped my wife off at the airport at crazy-early AM Thursday morning, and braced myself for handling my kids on my own for 4 days. This annual trip is always a good way for my wife to unwind and recharge, and for me to truly understand how colossally screwed I would be if she weren’t around to keep our house from devolving into something from Lord of the Flies.

I’ve gotten fairly adept at handling the kids over the last few years, mostly thanks to the multi-page detailed instructions my wife leaves me, but this year has proven to be exceptionally challenging. Something is different. Some new variable has been introduced into the equation. I keep waiting for Jeff Goldblum to walk through the door, put a drop of water on the back of my hand, and tell me about chaos theory and how ‘Nature finds a way’. Trying to solve the riddle of what has changed is worthy of the great detectives throughout the ages ….. or maybe not:

Meet Zoey.

12 lbs. of pure, unbridled energy. Zoey joined our family Christmas morning, and it took about 30 seconds for her to win us all over. It’s a good thing she’s cute, because she is a crapload of work to keep up with. Any semblance of routine I had worked out with the kids is effectively crushed by little miss Zoey. I tried working from home the last 2 days, and every time I got on a conference call the dog needed to go out, or needed to come in, or needed to eat, or invented something to bark at, or decided to eat her dog bed, or grabbed the cord from my headset mid-call and ran across the floor trailing the headset and the phone. It was all pretty funny, but definitely made for some long days. She’s actually a pretty well-behaved dog, her timing was just brutal.

Today went pretty well, although if I could type that statement in a whisper I would since we’re not quite done yet. The house is a complete mess, but the kids are fed and in one piece (again, looking for the ‘whisper’ font), and we’re all starting the countdown to Mom’s return.

On the running front, things have been fairly uneventful, which is just how I like it. The knee recovery continues to go pretty well, and this week I upped the runs to 4-5 miles each, with no new pains or increased soreness to report. Tomorrow I’ll be stepping up to 5-6 miles as the upper-bound, and see how my body responds.

The kids have been watching Zoey in the 30 minutes it took me to put this post together. Time to assess the damage. Pray for us.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Totally 80's .... Totally Hungover

(My lovely wife in the lovely blue jumpsuit)

“Nothing good ever happens after 1AM”. So goes the conventional wisdom when stories come out about athletes getting in fights at bars, celebrities doing faceplants on the pavement in front of the paparazzi, and 40ish folks reliving their 80’s glory and getting creative with drink combinations after the DJ has packed up and the alcohol is in full effect.

My wife’s 40th birthday party this past Saturday night was a huge success. Everyone really embraced the 80s theme, which made for some great outfits and a lively night of dancing to some great 80’s music. There were Madonnas a-plenty, everyone’s favorite groundskeeper Carl Spangler, plenty of preppies, and yours-truly went AWOL from Top Gun training for a bit to bring Maverick to the party.

My wife was pretty specific with what she wanted at the party, so it definitely wasn’t a surprise, so I figured I had to come up with some way to surprise her. I’m a man of few words, and not prone to drawing attention to myself in social situations, so I figured singing to my wife in front of all the guests would catch her offguard. Mission accomplished. Fortunately/unfortunately it was all caught on video …

I had resolved that I would keep my drinking at a respectably low level to maintain a slight buzz for the evening, which I succeeded at until around 1:30AM when the DJ had to leave, and we broke out the iPods and started playing our own music. The drinks for the evening consisted of a keg of Pale Ale from a local brewery (which was WAY too good), pitchers of a mixed-drink called a Sweet Tart which was chosen because it had Midori in it so it was a nice neon green which matched the neon-heavy 80’s theme, and jello shots made with 4 different neon-ish colors/flavors of jello. Lots of folks brought bottles of wine for gifts, and one neighbor, as part of a running joke, brought a bottle of Jagermeister. We also tried to come up with various 80’s stuff to have around the house, including neon jelly bracelets, Rubik’s cubes, and Pop Rocks.

Around 2AM, with the party still going strong, suddenly the Jagermeister appears. The last of the jello shots get gathered up as well, and of course the Pop Rocks come front and center. At this point various combinations of these three are tried by many, unfortunately including myself, with varying results. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I can assure you that a jello shot with Pop Rocks sprinkled on top, with a healthy dose of Jager to activate the Rocks does not make for a very tasty shooter. That’s not to say that several rounds weren’t consumed, I just wouldn’t recommend it.

We finally got to bed sometime between 3AM and 4AM, and Sunday was a foggy haze of cleaning up and taking naps. The only worthwhile activity I accomplished Sunday was my stretching therapy, but I checked my workout log and realized that since I got cleared to start running again I had alternated running days and lifting days for 18 straight days, so it was probably good to give my body a rest. At least that’s what I used to convince myself, and pay no attention to the liver abuse that prompted the rest day.

All in all a great party, and my wife had a wonderful time, which made it all worthwhile. Her actual birthday is today, and for a present I got her a new setting for her wedding ring, which she got a few days early and grins every time she looks at it, which is really fun to watch.

One final photo – we setup a camera in the living room for folks to take pictures of themselves in their 80’s attire. I needed to get the camera and flash adjusted so it was just a point-and-click exercise, so I needed a test subject, and my camera-seeking-missile of a daughter was only too happy to fill the role. Here’s one of many shots. She’s only 8, so I see lots of ulcers in this dad’s future.

A couple of good giveaways to link to today, since after the party and the ring I'm a big fan of anything free:

Friday, May 14, 2010

I Feel the Need ... The Need for Speed

Strangely enough the title above has nothing to do with running.  I mentioned in my last post that I'm working feverishly on the finishing touches for a birthday bash for my wife.  Per her request it's an 80's themed party, complete with 80's music, 80's decorations (lots of John Hughes movie posters - man those movies were all so good), and about 80 gallons of booze.  We rented a dance floor that we setup in our family room (which our dog thinks is the greatest thing ever), and we supplied the DJ with a craptastic song list of our 80s favorites.

My attire for the evening will be full-on 'Top Gun' Maverick gear - flight suit, aviator glasses, loads o' hair gel, and crazy-ass scientology rants ..... maybe I'll skip that last one.  To complete the Top Gun homage, and to step well outside of my comfort zone, I'll be making a toast after a couple hours of dancing (and more importantly drinking) and have arranged with the DJ to re-enact the bar scene from the movie with my vocal stylings on 'You've Lost that Loving Feeling'.  Hopefully the crowd will help me with the chorus, and hopefully my wife will rescue me before I have to hit the second verse.  Should be interesting .... hopefully no crash and burn.  I expect plenty of photographic and video evidence, so I'll try and share some in my next posting.

Thanks to those who posted suggestions on some new running tunes.  To demonstrate my extreme confidence in all input provided by the wise runners who blog, I purchased every suggestion I could find without even listening first, and will give them a spin during my morning run tomorrow.  Couldn't find the David Cook suggestion on iTunes, and the U2 remixes weren't on iTunes either, and I had never heard of them although after a Wikipedia search on them I'm very intrigued.  Will have to see how I can track that disc down.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gimme a Beat

Quick update from the running front – Still doing my therapy every day, and have gotten into an every-other-day running groove that usually goes pretty well. I’m now allowing myself somewhere between 3-4 miles on each run, and have had some discomfort in my knee, but no real pain. Haven’t gotten to the practicing of Yoga yet, but am reading the ‘Athlete’s Guide to Yoga’ book right now, which I ordered after watching the ‘Athlete’s Guide to Yoga’ DVD and realizing I needed a bit more instruction than just diving in. Much of my time lately has been devoted to planning my wife’s birthday party this coming Saturday, for a milestone birthday that rhymes with ‘shmorty’, but that’s probably a good topic for another blog posting about my plans to embarrass myself.

As for the title of the blog entry, I realized on my last jog that I’m spending a lot of time pressing the next-song button on my iPod as I run, and am basically a bit burned out on my current collection of playlists. I’ve got 2 main go-to playlists for running, but after my last training cycle those songs and I need a little time apart to rediscover our love for one another. Thus, I’m taking to the blogosphere for some suggestions for building up a new collection of ear-candy. Once I discovered the wonderful world of Walkmans back many years ago, I found that I can’t run without some sort of music playing. I added podcasts to the mix on my longer training runs for the marathon, just for a little variety, but bottom line … I needs the noise in my ears to makes the feets go.

For reference, here’s a merge of my two go-to lists right now so you get an idea of what I like for running. Many of these aren’t necessarily favorite songs, or things I would listen to while driving if given the choice, but they keep me moving for whatever reason. I don’t look for a particular beats-per-minute or some sort of fancy cadence to match my running, I’m just mostly looking for a good tune with a good beat. I’m open to most any genre, although there’s definitely a lack of country music in my current rotation. If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments and I’ll start loading my iTunes account with some $ so I can start the buying:

Bad (Live) -  U2
Won't Go Home Without You -  Maroon 5
My Life Would Suck Without You -  Kelly Clarkson
Lips Like Sugar (12" Mix) -  Echo & The Bunnymen
Use Somebody - Kings of Leon
Panama -  Van Halen
Pavement Cracks (Mac Quayle Extended Mix) -  Annie Lennox
Poker Face -  Lady GaGa
Crazy -  Seal
Just Dance -  Lady GaGa & Colby O'Donis
Eye of the Tiger -  Survivor
Far Behind - Candlebox
One Slip -  Pink Floyd
Love remains the same -  Gavin Rossdale
Shattered (Turn the Car Around) -  O.A.R.
Sabotage -  Beastie Boys
100 Years -  Five for Fighting
I Am Mine -  Pearl Jam
A Sort of Homecoming - U2
Training Montage -  Vince DiCola
Born to Run -  Bruce Springsteen
Basket Case -  Green Day
Free Fallin' (Live) -  John Mayer
Rock Your Body -  Justin Timberlake
Everlong -  Foo Fighters
The Stairs -  INXS
According to You -  Orianthi
Crazy In Love -  Beyoncé
Love Drunk -  Boys Like Girls
We Will Rock -  You Queen
She Sells Sanctuary -  The Cult
Gold Digger (feat. Jamie Foxx) -  Kanye West
Sober -  Pink
Time Stand Still -  Rush
Somewhere Only We Know -  Keane
Miss Independent -  Kelly Clarkson
My Hero -  Foo Fighters
Shine Like It Does -  INXS
Canned Heat [Album Version] -  Jamiroquai
Disappear -  INXS
Sympathy for the Devil -  The Rolling Stones
Gives You Hell -  The All-American Rejects
Hearts On Fire -  John Cafferty
You Can't Always Get What You Want -  The Rolling Stones
We Are the Champions -  Queen
Just Like Heaven -  The Cure
Happy Hour -  The Housemartins
Rocket Queen -  Guns N' Roses
Breakeven -  The Script
Remember the Name -  Fort Minor featuring Styles of Beyond
The Boys of Summer -  Don Henley

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bustin' Out the Ugly Shoes

I’m slowly allowing myself to accept the fact that I may be over the hump with my recovery issues, and back among the ‘in training’ world of runners. My first small acknowledgement was putting my ’26.2’ magnet back on the back of my truck. I bought it in March after I finished the marathon, but it was adding to my frustration with not being able to run, so I had relocated it to the fridge in the garage until I was back logging some miles. Now it has happily returned to it’s magnetic home on the truck, and seems to be enjoying the fresh air again.

Got up at sunrise this morning for a short run, and took another major step towards my mental/physical return to running by digging my new shoes out of the closet, introducing them to the feet that they will be embracing repeatedly over the next few months, and allowing them to roam around the neighborhood for the first time. I bought these shoes about a week after the marathon since they were on sale, and one of my 2 pairs of training shoes was well over the 300 mile mark. I’ve run in Asics Gel Nimbus for several years now, so I went shopping knowing that was what I was going to buy. The interesting thing is that the Gel Nimbuses, or perhaps Gel Nimbii, weren’t all on sale, just this one particular color. I asked the very nice girl working at the store why this pair was on sale, and her refreshingly honest response was “we’ve got a bunch of those in that color in stock, and nobody really buys them because they’re kinda ugly”.

Never one to pass up a sale, for whatever reason, and never one to be terribly concerned about how ugly I’m looking while I’m running, I told her I’d like a pair of the ugly ones in a 10.5. I kinda felt sorry for them like the scraggly looking mutt at the pound. I’ll refrain from making the obvious pun about having a good soul/sole, but as long as they keep my feet happy then we’ll be great friends. I don’t really think they’re all that ugly, but black and silver isn’t the most appealing combo in a shoe, and I like being able to refer to them as my uglies. Here’s a photo of the uglies before they got excited and ran away:

2.8 miles this morning, and everything felt pretty good, although my knee was sore from the start as opposed to gradually feeling sore. This week I’m trying to keep each run’s mileage at 3 miles or less, and next week I’m hoping to up that to 4 miles or less and see how things feel. I’ll keep adjusting my per-run mileage and weekly total mileage each week to build my base mileage back up, then plan to start a true training program in July for a marathon in November. I LOVE running in the heat and really getting my sweat on, and we’re having record highs in the 90s in the Raleigh area right now, so it’s all good. Thinking I might give yoga a first shot on Sunday, if I can fit it in with all the Mother’s Day festivities.

Monday, May 3, 2010

That first step, it's a doozy

2010 has been largely about running injuries so far. I strained my left calf the first week in January, and dealt with that for the next 3 months leading up to my first marathon. Since the marathon I’ve been dealing with IT Band and tendonitis issues in my right knee. The calf issue stuck around so long it eventually became white noise, and was just part of the training. The knee appears to be on the mend, and hopefully will continue to fade into the background as well. One thing these injuries have done is make every run, particularly the start of every run, a little daily lottery for me.

I can remember as a much younger runner that I would throw on shorts, a t-shirt, and some shoes, head outside, and just start running. Usually also had my bright yellow Sports Walkman in my hand – many of you probably had one of these beauties as well – with some sort of mix tape to keep me entertained. There was very little ‘think’ or worry, mostly just the ‘do’ of running. That was the beauty of jogging and what kept me engaged, no drive to the gym, no crowds to work through, and limited planning-ahead involved. Just open the door and go ….. and then come back.

Once my calf got injured, and now with my knee giving me the business, the first step of every run holds a certain excitement/dread as I never quite know what I’m going to get. With my calf, some days the first step would just feel tight, and I could get to a normal stride pretty quickly and feel confident that the run would be fairly uneventful. Some days it would be tight and sore, and I’d end up limping through the first mile or so, eventually getting to a normal stride, and knowing that regardless of how much ice, or The Stick, or massage followed the run, my leg would be angry for a few days to come. Fortunately I only once took that first step and realized that would be the last step for the day because the pain was just too much to risk completely blowing my shot at the race. Regardless, every time that first step was a mystery waiting to unfold.

The reason I bring this up today is that since getting my therapist’s blessing last Wednesday to slowly return to the world of the running I’ve run on Thursday (2.3 mi), Saturday (3.1 mi), and this morning (2.5 mi). Since it has become part of the subconscious routine, and since I’m overly dialed-in to every nuance of how my knee feels, the first step is once again filled with dread and anticipation. Put on my assorted gear this morning, walked a bit for a warmup while my Garmin searched the heavens for satellites, fired up some Train on the iPod, took the first step and ….. nothing. No pain, no tightness, no soreness, no limp, nothing from my calf, nothing from my knee …. just the feeling of foot hitting pavement and insoles doing their thing. This held up for about the first .5 mile, at which point I started feeling some tightness in my knee, but for a brief period of time I was reminded of what it all should feel like. My knee is still a work in progress, and I’m still hitting it with ice, stretching, strengthening, rolling, etc., but that collection of strides gave me a brief glimpse into what I hope running will be like again in the future, and made me that much more motivated to keep after the rehab as religiously as possible.

Still not a fan of Mondays, but the Running Gods got this one off to a pretty good start.